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Outlaw: Part 1
By Katana Collins
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2017 Katana Collins
All rights reserved.
Four Months Later
Patrick Flanagan came to quickly. Or at least, he thought it was quickly. His head was resting on the steering wheel, his shoulders and chest slumping forward like dead weight. He blinked awake. What happened? Where am I?
Brushing his fingers over the symbol at the center of the wheel, he glanced around, eyes darting back and forth. He wasn't in his car, his Pantera. Why wasn't he in his own car? He squeezed his eyes shut, thinking hard. The memory slammed into him, hard and fast. Oh, that's right. He stole this one. Some poor, unsuspecting fool's Toyota that they left running in the parking lot of a Hannaford. When will people ever learn? Leaving the car running is to a car thief what an unattended T-bone is to a stray dog: irresistible. An invitation to steal it. A big fat target with flashing lights that says, "Take me! I'm easy!"
Red and blue lights streaked into Patrick's car. Two cop cars were just now rolling to a stop behind him. He couldn't have been out that long. Breathing deeply, he pulled himself together, wincing as he pushed himself off the wheel and sat straight up.
What the hell caused him to wreck?
He backtracked the evening's events — the meeting between the Harrison Street Crew and Sauceda's crew. He wasn't at the meeting, though. He was the decoy if cops came into the area. He saw the cruiser and took off to distract them, pull them away from the docks, and it worked like a charm. Until — oh yeah. That's what happened. A fucking cat darted across the road or ... hell, for all he knew it could have been a raccoon. And going sixty on a 35 mph back road, he swerved, smashing into a post-office box. He must have knocked himself out.
He watched in the mirror as the cops in one cruiser jumped out of their car, holding their guns out. Shouting some nonsense about getting out of the vehicle.
Thank God he'd thought to choose to steal a car with tinted windows; they couldn't make out his face. He smiled at them in the reflection, knowing they couldn't see a damn thing. They couldn't see his HSC vest or who he was or even that he was flipping them off.
Wiping at the blood trickling down the side of his face, he gave it another few seconds. No one was getting out of the second cruiser. They were the smarter cops.
"Okay, girl," he whispered, brushing his hand over the steering wheel. "Sorry to do this to you, but we don't have a choice." Hopefully this Toyota's tires were okay, because if not? He was about to find out the hard way.
Punching into reverse, Patrick backed off the Southie curb, tires squealing as he slammed the clutch with his foot and put the car in gear.
He took off, leaving the officers with guns scrambling like Keystone Cops. The cruiser that was smart enough to leave their engine running took off after him. The night air cut in through the sunroof, blowing his curls wildly around his face and cooling his sweat-damp strands. Felt fucking great.
The blue and red lights hit the reflective rearview mirror, nearly blinding him. He pushed harder and could smell the smoke of the engine, but at least it seemed the tires were holding up. Those damn police lights wouldn't have been a problem if he hadn't been trying to push up to 80 mph in the curvy back roads of Southie. But at that speed? A momentary flash of lights blinding you in the mirrors could result in your car wrapped around a telephone pole.
Oh, wait, he thought, chuckling to himself. Been there, done that.
Instead of slowing down, Patrick tightened his grip on the steering wheel. Squinting through distraction and the headache pulsing at his temples, he pressed even harder into the gas pedal. He had a job to do — one job tonight to accomplish for Rig and the Harrison Street Crew. And that was to intercept any cops in the area and get them as far from the docks as he could, then get back to Megan's Pub in time for the money drop off.
And pray to God that the two tasks don't get in the way of each other.
He turned up his radio, Black Betty blaring through the speakers, and he couldn't help the little smile that tipped at the corner of his mouth.
This shit was fun. No way around that. Even if he got caught, the getaway was exhilarating. Adrenaline pumped through his veins so fast that he could practically feel the chemical change.
The blue and red flashing lights were gaining on him, the two headlights nearly kissing his bumper. But that was the plan. Keep them with him until they were out of the vicinity.
Maneuvering around the other cars on the road was always the hardest. Slowpokes sticking to the 35 mph speed limit — good for them. Patrick slid from right lane to left, grabbing the small bag of Pop Rocks he'd left in the cup holder. He poured a bunch into his mouth as a distraction to the blood dripping from the cut on his head and the pounding headache.
The sizzle of retro hard candy and sugar increased his pulse as the onramp to I-93 came into view.
This was it. "Come on, piggies, time to huff and puff," he said with another glance in the rearview mirror. Then, he slammed his foot down on the accelerator, jolting forward with an additional 15 mph. Not so fast that they couldn't keep up ... but time to get down to business.
A sixteen-wheeler was in the right lane of the highway moving slow enough to be a problem, but fast enough that Patrick couldn't get off the on-ramp without hitting the brakes. With the cops on his ass? Hitting the brakes was not something he wanted to do.
"Shit," Patrick muttered and nervous sweat trickled down his neck. Instead of sliding into the proper lane, Patrick stayed where he was, the car lurching as the on-ramp turned into the textured shoulder of the highway. Vibrations rumbled beneath his ass as he overtook the truck and abruptly swerved in front of it, just behind a Volvo.
The right lane was packed with cautious drivers slowing down at the sound of the police sirens. That's what responsible citizens do: They pull over. Slow down.
The good news was that the left lane was wide open.
With a quick glance over his shoulder, Patrick slid into the left lane. The cop had fallen back a few cars behind the truck. A cakewalk, Patrick thought.
He dipped under the tunnel funneling him from South End Boston, taking him right into downtown. Something — someone would be waiting for him on the other side of that tunnel.
He just didn't know what yet.
Up ahead, the light from the edge of the tunnel came into view, growing larger and larger. The cop tailing him hung back — still close enough to follow, but slowing down significantly.
A second siren echoed ahead of him. He exited the tunnel, traffic beside him slowing and stopping at the sounds of sirens and lights coming up behind them.
He zipped beyond the tunnel, back out into Boston Center. From the next exit's on-ramp, he could see another cruiser entering the highway.
Reinforcements. A high-speed chase in the middle of Boston wasn't something the police overlooked. Not with the tense political climate these days, and Jeremy Chiccarini actively trying to eradicate the car clubs from Boston.
If I can smoke one cruiser, I can smoke two.
Except, this cruiser wasn't attempting to chase him; it was staying to the side, off the road and blocking the shoulder. Glancing in the rearview, he noticed the cop behind him had slowed down even more. Still on his tail, but much farther off in the distance, the blue and red lights little pinpricks in the dark night.
Up ahead, he heard the whomp of a helicopter. A quick glance confirmed that it was not a news helicopter, but a police air monitor. Something was up. They had a plan.
Patrick chewed on what was left of the Pop Rocks in his mouth, enjoying the crunch as he thought hard.
No one was on the road up ahead — his tires. They must be trying to take out his tires. And that's why the cruiser was blocking the shoulder, so that he couldn't go around whatever they had set up.
Well, shit. This wasn't good. Every exit was blocked leading up to the tire blowers, and he was already two exits beyond where he was supposed to get off, heading toward North End now.
Patrick eased off the gas, slowing down. Tension was palpable in the air. He could see the cops positioned behind their cars, guns ready. The off-ramp was just beyond the roadblock. They had barricaded the other ramp, cutting off civilian access to the highway.
Once he had slowed down enough, Patrick gripped the E-brake and, with a deep breath and a quick Hail Mary, he yanked it, spinning the car in the opposite direction. The flow of traffic behind him was at a crawl, staying far behind the scene. The cop that was on his tail continued its advance; this time head-on. Shoving into fourth gear, Patrick accelerated once more, heading in the opposite direction of the highway flow and directly toward the flashing lights and headlights of the cop. It was a daring game of chicken, but one he knew he'd win. They had no idea if he was armed and shooting at him wasn't an option.
He picked up speed, just above seventy — not too crazy. In his rearview mirrors, he saw the cops who had set up the barricade scrambling to get into their car and chase him the other way. The helicopter overhead stayed just above him.
Perfect. Fast enough to cause alarm, but not so fast he would lose control.
Two thousand feet from the cop. One thousand. And as he hit just a few hundred feet, he pulled the E-brake again, turning into the cove between the north and south highways where cops wait to pull you over. The tires screeched beneath him and he could only imagine the damage he was doing to this poor Toyota. A cop was waiting for him there, just as he had anticipated — but with Patrick going sixty in that turn and the cop standing still, he didn't stand a chance.
Patrick slammed into the stagnant cop's back bumper and turned onto the opposite highway, going in the other direction on I-93, back with the flow of traffic.
No tire-popping roadblocks there. And as suspected, the cruisers following him couldn't handle such a fast and unexpected turn.
Two down, one to go, he thought, looking to the sky where the helicopter still tailed him. He took the next exit, sliding off it easily. Though still speeding, he was cautious not to go too fast, sticking about twenty above the speed limit. He was certain that they were calling in other cruisers to cut him off ahead. Patrick snaked his way through the city, traffic taking its toll on his speed. He dodged, weaving in and out of the right and left lanes while also taking random turns that were completely unpredictable.
Though it took twice as long, he finally pulled up to a parking garage in the Government Center. He slammed into the red and white arm that was supposed to make you stop and take a ticket, cracking the damn thing right in half. Completely covered from the helicopter, he breathed a little easier as he raced up the ramp, curving around until he reached the third floor of the parking garage, safely out of view. He could hear the sirens behind him — the additional cruisers knowing just where he was pulling up. There was no time to fuck around. He didn't even bother sliding the stolen car into a parking spot. Pulling his baseball hat lower over his eyes, he grabbed the rest of the Pop Rocks in his gloved hand, a few spilling onto the driver's seat as he climbed out of the vehicle and slammed the door shut. Peeling his vest off, he shoved it into his messenger bag and straightened his REO Speedwagon T-shirt, thankful that it wasn't a Celine Dion concert that night at the Government Center. Walking quickly but casually, he made it to the elevator, hitting the fire alarms one by one along the way.
A roar of panic swept around him and below him at the Government Center as he stepped off the elevator into the sea of people exiting the concert. Fear and anxiety was a potent force and the crowd wasn't walking anymore — they were running toward the exits. Half of them flooded the garage toward their cars to escape, the other half went to the train station or just straight ahead — anywhere to get to safety. Patrick kept pace with the crowd until he reached his car, his Pantera, which he had parked in a dirt lot outside of the concert earlier that day. He slipped the attendant a twenty-dollar bill and casually climbed inside, peeling his gloves off and tucking them in the dashboard.
It was going to take Patrick forever to get back to Southie, especially with all these roadblocks. But if he kept to the speed limit and didn't get pulled over, he should make it to Megan's Pub in plenty of time to finish the drop-off for Rig and the club.
He smiled. The exhilaration of the chase made his body convulse with excited shivers. Pulling out his burner phone, he texted Rig, the president of HSC, his car club, his family. His home.
All's well. No more cops should be wasting time near the docks tonight.
It only took a moment for Rig's response to come in. Good. Get your ass back to Southie. Deal is taking longer than I thought to secure, but I want you at Megan's ready and waiting.
"Aye, aye, boss," Patrick said, with a mock salute to the phone. He texted confirmation that he was on his way before he slid his vest back on and made his way back down to Southie.
And the night's only begun, he thought.CHAPTER 2
Patrick Flanagan waited inside his car. Heat pressed down on him like a thick, wet blanket. Sweat drenched the entire back of his T-shirt, soaking into his leather vest and creating a sort of binding glue that stuck the two fabrics together. It was hard to believe that only a few months ago Boston had been buried under two feet of snow. How one city can have such extreme changes in climate was something he'd never understand.
For what felt like the millionth time, Patrick checked his phone. It had taken him about thirty minutes to get back down to Southie. The screen lit up, but just like five minutes earlier, there were no messages from Rig. How long did it take for two car clubs with similar interests to strike a damn deal? It was in everybody's best interest to pool their money together to help Donovan's campaign against that douchebag, Jeremy Chiccarini. Peace between their clubs would solve their problems.
Then again, the Sauceda Crew's leader Carlos Sauceda wasn't exactly the Harrison Street Crew's number-one ally these days. Oh sure, HSC and the Sauceda Crew had agreed upon a truce a few months ago, but how long can you expect that to be upheld when one of your main guys murdered Carlos Sauceda's older brother? That fucker had it coming, beating up Shane's sister Kelly when they were dating. But Carlos didn't see it that way. It was the murder of his club's president. His brother by club and by blood. You don't get over that shit with a simple handshake.
Patrick ran his finger across the HSC, Vice President patch on his vest, the stitching coarse and rough beneath his calloused fingers. Everyone in the Harrison Street Crew could feel the threat of battle between the clubs looming, like a storm in the distance. But the longer they could stave off that potential disaster, the more likely for the hurricane to be downgraded a few levels.
He glanced down the other end of the parking lot, where one of Sauceda's members was sitting in a souped-up Pontiac. The guy had his arm draped casually out the window, his eyes cast down onto a phone that illuminated his face with a blue hue.
Yeah, that revenge was coming. But Sauceda would be an idiot to lash out now, given how closely the cops were monitoring the car clubs. Chiccarini made sure of that. He made sure that there was a cop on every fucking corner, watching for any activity that he could use to benefit his campaign.
That campaign was going to come crashing down, soon. The photos Charlie had found of Remy's bloodied-up prostitutes and the subsequent payoffs were good. Enough to kill his current campaign, but probably not enough to land him in prison. They needed more on him. And they needed the other club's help to get it. HSC didn't just want him out of their 'hood, they wanted that asshole locked up for life. Or worse. Preferably worse.
Though Patrick's devil-may-care attitude was known around the club, darkness percolated beneath his easygoing smile. Like a peaceful ocean with a shark looming below the surface. And if Shane said the word, Patrick would be at his side in a heartbeat, burying the body of Remy Chiccarini.
Excerpted from Outlaw: Part 1 by Katana Collins. Copyright © 2017 Katana Collins. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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