Breezy Simmons was born into a ruthless motorcycle club—and now that she’s out, she’s never going to be that girl again. But when her past catches up with her, Breezy must go to Sea Haven to seek out the man who almost destroyed her. The man who chose his club over her and left her feeling used and alone.
As vice president of Torpedo Ink, Steele is ride or die for the brothers he lived through hell with. He never thought he’d find something as pure as his feelings for Breezy, or that keeping her safe would mean driving her away with cruel words that turned her love for him to ash.
Now, Steele won’t let her walk away twice. He’ll do whatever it takes to make Breezy his woman again—especially when he learns the real reason she came to him for help, and that the stakes are higher than he ever could have imagined…
Related collections and offers
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Breezy Simmons leaned against her pickup for a moment, staring at the large building that housed the Torpedo Ink Motorcycle Club. Her heart beat so hard in her chest she was afraid she might vomit. The world spun uncontrollably, and she quickly leaned down, putting her head between her legs, drawing in great gulps of air. She caught a glimpse of two men on the other side of the compound as her head went toward the asphalt, and she didn’t recognize either of them. That made her pounding heart sink.
She couldn’t possibly have the wrong club. This had to be them. She was running out of time and options. She slowly righted herself and took another cautious look around. The two men stared at her from across the parking lot. She was careful not to look at them too long. She didn’t want them coming anywhere near her. She needed to get in and out very fast.
The Torpedo Ink compound was extremely large and had a high chain-link fence surrounding it. There was even razor wire up on top of the fence, making the place look like a fortress. The rolling gates were wide open, and she’d driven her truck right inside, parking as close to the clubhouse as possible. She’d deliberately left the door to her beat-up pickup open and the engine running. Hopefully, no one recognized her, and she could get in and out of the building quickly, once she asserted these were the right people, the ones she was looking for.
In the early morning hours, the club was just beginning to stir. Clearly, they’d partied hard over the weekend. In the enormous side yard, the one with the beautiful ocean view, she could see embers in fire pits glowing as the breeze stirred them up. A man with his back to her watered them down with a hose. He wore a tight tee and jeans, but no colors. Still, she knew this was the home of the club that called itself Torpedo Ink. She sent up a silent prayer that this was the one she’d been looking for.
There were empty bottles strewn around the grass and on the ground to the side of the building in the wide expanse of open field. Cars, motorcycles and trucks were scattered around the parking lot, although no one parked where the club did. Their motorcycles were lined up neatly and a prospect watched over them. He sat on the curb looking at her. She was parked too close to the precious bikes, but she didn’t care—other than that it had drawn the attention of the prospect.
Another long line of motorcycles was parked a short distance down from the clubhouse and a prospect watched over those bikes as well. He looked at her without much interest, which indicated to her that those bikes belonged to a visiting club. He wasn’t as interested in protecting the grounds as the one closest to the clubhouse.
She had to get this over with. Just being in such close proximity to an MC made her sick. The fact that she knew what went on at the party made her even sicker. That this might be his club, and she had to risk running into him, made all that far worse.
Breezy squared her shoulders, dragged the envelope off the seat and turned all in one motion. The prospect was on his feet. If she knew for certain this was the right club, she would have thrust the letter into his hands and left, but she was guessing from a process of elimination.
She purposely hadn’t kept track of him, especially when she’d heard, a year after she’d left, that eighteen members of the Swords had set up the international president for assassination and had, allegedly, wiped out a number of members and then disappeared. She knew who those eighteen members were immediately, and knowing them, she knew it was possible when others said it wasn’t. She’d run as far from the life as she could, and now she was being pulled right back in.
The parties. The violence. The utter disregard and disdain for women. She shut that down fast and walked with brisk, purposeful steps to the club. She yanked open the door and went right in. It smelled just the way she remembered. Booze. Sex. Weed. Her stomach lurched. God. God.
She couldn’t stand walking into the clubhouse, let alone anything else.
The common room was enormous. One side held a long, curving bar, in the center of the room were tables and chairs, and the other side had several couches and armchairs. Sleeping bodies were everywhere. A woman picked up bottles and put them into a garbage bag, dumping paper plates in along with the other trash as she moved through the mostly naked bodies strewn around the floor. She glanced at Breezy but didn’t say anything. She kept picking up trash as if on automatic pilot. Breezy remembered what that was like. She could have been that woman.
She didn’t recognize any of the men that she could see lying on the floor or slumped in the chairs, and her heart sank. She paused by the bar, her gaze going from one face to the next. Half-naked or naked men and women were draped in chairs around the room or on the floor. Most snored softly, but one woman was busy going down on a man with wild blond hair and ice-blue eyes. Three teardrops were tattooed at the corner of his eye like ice drops dripping down his face.
He slumped in a chair looking almost bored, his eyes at half-mast as the woman knelt at his feet, her mouth busy, while another woman kissed her way up his chest. Across from him, a second man who looked exactly like the blond, obviously his twin, watched, his fist around his impressive and somewhat intimidating cock. With a jerk of his chin, the one with the teardrop tattoos indicated to the woman kissing his chest to go to his watching brother. She immediately dropped to her hands and knees and crawled between the thighs of the other twin.
It was them. The right club. The men she had searched for. She’d found them. She recognized the twins and her heart kicked into overdrive. How could she not recognize them? They were gorgeous men. As cold as ice, but beautiful. The one with the tattoos, Ice had been his name, suddenly lifted his gaze and met hers. Her heart stuttered at the recognition she saw in his eyes.
She slapped the envelope onto the bar. “Give that to Steele.” She turned to go, her gaze sliding around the room once more.
At the sound of her voice, three women stirred in the far corner of the room, their sleeping bodies pushed aside by the man who lay under them. The movement drew her eye. He half sat, shoving at the dark hair spilling onto his forehead. It was thick and wild, a little out of control. He blinked drowsily at her. Her heart faltered. Stopped. They stared at each other, her stomach lurching.
Breezy threw dignity to the wind. She ran. Fast. She heard the sharp whistle following her, but she had already flung herself into her pickup and thrown it into reverse, foot stomping on the gas pedal. She pressed down hard, and the truck roared as it backed all the way through the rapidly closing gates. Men poured out of the clubhouse, she could see them through her windshield when she glanced at them but they were mostly naked, and the gates had closed behind her with a loud clang. She was on one side, the side of freedom; they were on the other, those gates holding them in. For once, luck was on her side.
She backed straight into the street, thankful it was so early and there was no traffic. Throwing the pickup into drive, she nearly spun out of control as she overcorrected before straightening out and taking off toward Highway 1. She had a plan, just in case, and she was grateful she’d made it. Her entire body trembled, so much so that it was difficult holding on to the steering wheel. She did though, her knuckles turning white.
Why did it hurt? He’d made it very, very clear she was nothing to him. Another club girl. No, lower than that. A whore. One her family had pimped out. A drug mule. Nothing. She was nothing. She’d thought he was her world, and all the while, he’d been plotting to take down her family’s club. She’d loved him. He’d used her and then thrown her away, shattering every dream, every hope she’d ever had.
Her vision blurred, and she swiped at her eyes, furious that he’d made her cry again. That he could make her cry again. She’d cried enough tears over him. The liar. He was just like all the others in the clubs. Women were nothing to them. Nothing. They used them. Humiliated them. She’d been born into that life, but she didn’t have to stay there. She wasn’t that girl. Not anymore. Not ever again.
She pulled off onto the little narrow dirt road she’d scouted earlier, just in case she was recognized. She knew they’d come after her; after all, she was the daughter of their mortal enemy. She drove the truck as far down as the narrow road allowed, right into a thick grove of trees. The track had long since been abandoned and it was overgrown with shrubbery, vines and trees. She parked, hastily got out and covered the pickup with the branches and vines she’d cut earlier in preparation.
When she was positive the truck couldn’t be seen from any angle, Breezy crawled through the driver’s window, reached into the back and pulled a blanket around her. She couldn’t stop shivering. Even her teeth chattered. She let herself cry, but she did so silently, and she told herself she wasn’t crying for lost dreams or heartache. She had so little chance of being successful and yet she had to be. There was no room for failure. None.
She closed her burning eyes and leaned her head back against the seat, trying not to think about Steele. She didn’t know any other name for him. She’d only known him as Steele. She should have realized that if you’d been with a man for a year and he hadn’t told you his given name, he wasn’t into you. But she’d been young and desperate, and he’d been the white knight. She’d been so stupid. She hit her head on the back of the seat multiple times wishing she’d been smarter. Wishing she’d been born into another family. Another life. Wishing time hadn’t run out on her.
It took only a few minutes before she heard the roar of pipes as motorcycles moved in force down the highway. It sounded like an army was coming after her. Out of stark fear, she slid down farther on the seat. It was going to be a long wait until night. She’d had no choice. She knew clubs. She knew on a Sunday morning, after partying all night, they would be sleepy, and she’d have her best chance at getting away if she was recognized. She also knew she didn’t dare go out on the highway until nightfall. She hadn’t slept in nearly forty-eight hours, and this would be her only chance for a long while. She closed her eyes and willed herself to stop thinking about anything she couldn’t control and go to sleep. It didn’t work, but she tried.
Lyov Russak—Steele, the vice president of Torpedo Ink— whistled loud and long, raising his hand high, pushing his way through the soft flesh of women to spin his finger in a circle, indicating to Absinthe, who manned the monitors, to close the gates fast. He shoved his way to the surface, cursing in his native language as he got to his feet.
Her voice. He’d never forget that voice. Breezy Simmons. His Breezy Simmons. The girl that had forever made him a sick fuck who still, to this day, thought of her, dreamt of her and pretended every woman he tried to be with was her. That was how truly fucked up he was.
He had never confessed to his brothers that he had somehow, inadvertently or not, become the very thing they despised. The thing they hunted. He was ashamed of that. Ashamed, not because of the terrible mistake, but because he couldn’t get the way she felt wrapped around him—and his cock—out of his mind. It was nearly all he thought about, and that made him the sickest fuck out there.
She was even more beautiful than he remembered. She’d matured. Her figure had matured. He’d just caught a glimpse of her, one small glimpse, but his body had recognized her almost before his brain had. All that thick, tawny hair, those large green eyes. So green it was like looking into an emerald sea. His entire body clenched, and he pushed aside the women lying sprawled over top of him.
The Demons had come for the weekend, bringing their women with them, and the two clubs had partied hard. He’d drunk too much, the way he usually did at these events. He’d indulged far too much in his attempt to be with women, the way he also did at the events. The endless cycle that got him nowhere because he fucking lived in hell. The woman who could have changed all that was leaving. Walking away from him—again. No, make that running away from him. It wasn’t happening, and he didn’t care how much of a monster that made him. She wasn’t getting away from him twice.
Across the room, Ice and Storm were pushing women off their cocks and rising to their feet. Keys and Player untangled from the women they’d been with and rushed the door with the twins. Steele was right behind them, practically shoving them out of the way just in time to see the gates slam shut, effectively stopping pursuit as her truck backed out onto the street in a furious rush.
“No. Fuck no.” He swung his head toward the prospects. “Get after her. Don’t fuckin’ lose her. I mean it. You stay on her.”
It was definitely Breezy. She was older. Three years older now, but it was her. She’d stared at him in absolute horror, and he couldn’t blame her. What the fuck? He’d looked for her covertly, after Torpedo Ink had completed their mission and taken down the Swords president and weakened their club, but she’d dropped off the face of the earth. That had been the plan—for her to disappear—but he always thought he’d be able to find her. And he’d tried—God, but he’d tried. When he’d driven her away, he’d told himself he wouldn’t look for her, that he’d let her go. He’d lost that battle with himself, not that it had done him any good. He had searched, over and over but he hadn’t found her. Now she’d walked right into his lair and he wasn’t about to let her get away.
“She left something for you, Steele,” Ice said, shoving his hand through his hair. He shook his head absently at the woman who tried to drape herself over him. “Sorry, babe. Time to leave.”
“I could stay with you,” she whispered, her hand sliding down his belly toward his cock.
He gave her a friendly slap on the ass as he expertly avoided her hand. “Sorry, babe. Need you to get on home, wherever the fuck that is.”Ice turned away from her, striding across the room to the bar where he’d seen Breezy put something. He picked up the envelope and turned it over. It was plain white. No writing on the outside.
Steele took it out of his hand and went striding out of the common room to the hall where their private rooms were. He needed to get dressed fast and get on his bike. Find her. He had to find her. He hesitated as he grabbed a pair of jeans. He couldn’t go to her stinking of other women. She’d know. She’d smell them on his skin. Urgency made him yank up his jeans and drag a shirt over his head. She already knew. She’d seen the women piled on top of him. He could explain later. Right now, the most important thing was to make certain she didn’t get away. He grabbed his colors and slid into them, feeling whole the moment he put them on.
Ice, Storm, Maestro, Keys and most of his other brothers joined him as he half ran out of the clubhouse to his bike. The Demons had rallied, news sweeping through the compound that something was up, and they were supportive of their new allies, immediately offering help. Player was already directing the search, sending bikes in various directions. The prospects had said they’d seen her truck turning south, toward the Bay Area, so that was the direction he was going. Absinthe had gotten her license plate number off the camera continually sweeping their parking lot.
Steele threw his leg over his bike and had it roaring within seconds. Then the wind was in his face and his brothers were at his back as he tore down the highway looking for his woman. He’d been the one to end things, and it had been ugly. Really ugly. Deliberately ugly. He’d said things to drive her away—and she’d gone. She’d managed to take pieces of him with her. She’d stolen those pieces from him, and he’d known when she left, he wasn’t going to get them back.
He’d been angry. He’d been afraid for her. He’d been so shocked that just by being with her he’d become everything he most despised in the world—a predator. It hadn’t mattered how it had happened; he’d only known it couldn’t continue and he’d sent her away. No, he’d driven her away. He increased his speed, straightening out curves and hurtling down the highway as fast as he could travel without putting himself in the ocean. He was risking doing just that, but to find her, to see her again, was worth anything. Then Keys and Maestro slid up next to him, moving in perfect unison with him, and he realized he wasn’t risking just his life—he wasn’t alone. His brothers were with him every step of the way. Lately, he’d come to realize, Keys and Maestro guarded him the way Reaper and Savage protected Czar. He didn’t need or want it, but they stuck to him like glue. He slowed a fraction, just enough to be safe as they searched for the one woman he knew had cut out his heart and kept it.
Breezy slept fitfully, waking at the least little sound, such as a branch scraping across her rust bucket of a pickup. It sounded like a saw rasping over the paint and yanked her out of her dozing over and over. She climbed out of the truck only when it was absolutely necessary and she had to use the bushes. Each time, she forced herself to drink more water. She’d given up eating, but that only made her feel slightly faint. She wasn’t hungry anymore, but thirst persisted in spite of her desire to ignore it. She drank water, and that meant more trips outside the truck, which meant she was at risk.
She watched the fiery ball of the sun begin its drop into the sea. The sky turned all shades of golden, and then orange spread through the low clouds drifting overhead. She had to admit, as sunsets went, it was pretty spectacular. She could have settled here in Northern California. She didn’t like big cities, and this area was far from that. Truthfully, she needed to be in a city, to disappear. There, no one cared or noticed a waitress working in a diner. In a smaller town, like Caspar or Sea Haven, everyone would notice.
She had been so careful, keeping her head down, working, nothing else. Just staying off the radar and as far from the club life as possible. Still, she’d been pulled back despite everything she’d tried to do to prevent that from happening. The life was insidious, and once in, it seemed there was no way out.
She was crying again, and that always gave her a vicious headache and annoyed her. She had stopped crying three years earlier after she’d spent weeks giving herself a headache and little else. She’d stopped, gotten on her feet and taken care of business. She’d been proud of herself for every accomplishment. Then her world had fallen apart and she’d had no choice but to make certain Steele got that letter. Everything depended on him getting it and following the instructions. That was important and yet she knew following instructions was very unlike Steele. She didn’t even know for certain if it would matter enough to him that he’d do it for her.
The sun plunged into the sea and she immediately began preparations for leaving. It was nearly time. She climbed out of the window and began removing the branches and vines from around her pickup. She had to back the truck straight along the road for a good thirty feet before there was a wide enough area for her to turn around.
She made it the thirty feet without using lights as the darkness was only just beginning, inky streaks running through the very dim light. As she started up the road, heading away from the ocean and toward the main highway, she saw that a small tree had fallen across the dirt track. It didn’t surprise her, given the wind. Fortunately, the round trunk looked more like a sapling than a mature tree, one she could handle by herself.
Sighing, she turned on her headlights to illuminate the area, so it would be easier to shift the fallen tree. Pulling gloves out of her glove compartment, she pushed open her door with the soles of her boots and slid out. She was tired, afraid and anxious to be gone from Torpedo Ink territory. Just the thought of that dangerous ride along the highway was terrifying. She planned to take the Comptche-Ukiah road leading away from the coast. It would take her off the highway. They probably thought she hadn’t done any research or planned ahead—after all, she was a stupid female to be used for carrying drugs or weapons or prostituted out on behalf of the club. She couldn’t actually think.
Bitterness nearly choked her. She detested MCs and all they stood for. She crouched, took a breath and reached down for the trunk. The moment she had her hands on the tree, arms reached around her, caught her wrists and yanked them behind her back. She rose up fast, throwing her head back to try to make contact with her attacker’s head. He grunted when she smashed into his chest, but he had already secured her wrists with zip ties.
“How many times did I tell you to look around? You forgot all my training, babe.”
Furious, and more than a little scared, she spun around and tried to kick him the moment he let her go. She had forgotten, damn him. He blocked the kick hard, numbing her leg when he defended himself by striking down on her shin to deflect the blow. She tried again, and he blocked a second time with equal power.
The breath hissed out of her lungs and she bent forward as far as she could, drawing her hands up as high as possible, intending to slam them back down as she came upright fast in order to break the zip ties. He’d taught her that as well. Before she could straighten, his hand was on her back, holding her down.
“Breezy, you’d better calm down before you get hurt.” Her breath hissed out of her lungs. “Go to hell, Steele. You have no right to lay one finger on me.”
“That’s not exactly true, sweetheart, and you know it,” he said.
“I’m not part of your club. I’m not part of your life in any way. Just get the hell away from me.”
He didn’t let her up, his palm pressing her down while he texted one-handed. “You always were a smart little thing. I looked at the tapes we had of your ride.” He sounded derisive. “Babe. Really. You’re driving a shit truck. It’s a rust bucket if I ever saw one. There was no way it could have gotten that far ahead of us, even if we were a minute or two behind, which the prospects were. That meant it was a process of elimination on which road you’d turned off onto. I also remembered you as being extremely patient when you needed to be. That meant you were going to hide out until nightfall. It gave me plenty of time to track you down.”
“Let me up.”
For one moment, she was afraid she might spontaneously combust—and not in a good way. She stayed quiet. He had to let her up sometime.
“I’m not real happy with you.”
Staying quiet went right out the window at the bite in his voice. “I really don’t care whether you’re happy or not. Let. Me. Up.”
“You ask nice. You don’t want to play hardball with me, Breezy, because you won’t win. Not when I’m this pissed. Didn’t have much to do when I found the truck but wait for you to wake up, so I read the fuckin’ letter.”
Her heart jerked hard. Fear shot through her and she went very still, no longer resisting or struggling to get free. If anything, she tried to make herself smaller, frozen like a little mouse with a big predator about to pounce.
“I read that fuckin’ letter eighteen times, Breezy. Eighteen. I showed some restraint by not going near the truck because I might have strangled you. I still might.”
His palm moved up her back to settle slowly around the nape of her neck, his long fingers curling around either side of her throat. “You get how really fuckin’ pissed I am with you?”
“You get how I really fucking don’t care?” she spat back. Let him kill her. She was dead anyway. “You threw me out, Steele. I begged you to let me stay with you. It was humiliating, and I still did it. Then I begged you to go with me when it was obvious you wanted me gone. You made it abundantly clear that I was nothing to you. A whore for the club that kept you warm at night. I can repeat verbatim what you said to me, if you’d like. So don’t get all self-righteous on me.”
The fingers tightened, digging into her throat. The thumb pressed into her chin. His other hand bunched her hair in his fist and slowly pulled her to a standing position. She stared up at his set features. He was even more gorgeous than she remembered, and she dreamt of him every night. Every night. That made her a masochist.
Unlike most of the others he rode with, he had few scars on his face. They were mostly on his body, covered with ink. She knew every scar, every tattoo. She had traced every one of those scars and tattoos with her tongue. With her fingertips. She’d memorized them until they were etched so deeply in her brain, she could have drawn them and gotten every detail perfect.
She wore his tattoo on her skin. He’d had his friend ink her for him, a tattoo of his design, right across the top curve of her butt, an intricate pattern that she always thought was beautiful. She had a love/hate relationship with that tattoo. The ink beads dripped down onto her buttocks, both cheeks, but high up, the intertwining lace wove his name there, declaring her his property. His. She’d loved that. It had meant something back then. Now, not so much.
She’d been shaking, and he’d held her hand and whispered to her, beautiful, loving things, things that had made her laugh or want to cry with happiness. All the while his friend Ink had tattooed the custom design on her. It had felt intimate. Loving. She often thought of that day and the way, for the first time in her life, she’d felt important and loved by someone.
He shook his head slowly. “You’re coming back to the clubhouse with me.”
She flinched. She couldn’t help it. She didn’t want to go anywhere near that place again. “Once was enough, Steele.” There was sarcasm in her voice. Maybe bitterness. “One look, one smell, and I knew I was so finished with that life. You managed to fall right back into it once I was gone, or were you still participating while we were together? I should have known it would take more than one woman to satisfy you. You always had such an appetite.” She made that as nasty as she could manage.
She didn’t look away from his glittering midnight-blue eyes. She’d always thought he had the most beautiful eyes, ringed with all those dark lashes. The color of his eyes was unusual, in that they were so dark one had to stare at them a long while before realizing they were actually blue. His hair was wild and always out of control. When it was longish, it was decidedly unruly, falling into his face, but it didn’t make him look young. Nothing took the cold from his eyes.
She found that his friends, the ones he mostly ran with in the club—and at that time they’d all been riding with the Swords—had eyes that were flat and deadly. She’d been young enough and stupid enough to get a thrill from that. Now, she just knew they weren’t good people and she didn’t want any part of them.
“Did you come here to kill me? To kill Czar?”
If her hands hadn’t been tied, she would have slapped him right across the face. She’d risked everything to warn him. To warn Czar. And some man named Jackson Deveau she’d never even met. She’d risked everything just to do the right thing. “Screw you, Steele. Yeah, that’s exactly what I did. I came here and left you a letter detailing how I planned to kill you all.” Sarcasm dripped from her voice.
In the distance she heard the sound of pipes as two Harleys approached. She saw their lights once they rounded the bend. There would be no escaping from this if Steele didn’t let her go. She raised her gaze to his once more. “You know what the stakes are. Let me get out of here. If I can’t—”
He shook his head. “You aren’t going anywhere, Breezy. We’re going to put this before the others and take a vote.”
Horror swept through her. “We’re not something to vote on, Steele. What’s wrong with you? Just let me go. I warned you. I warned Czar. It’s up to you to warn this Deveau.”
Steele transferred his hold to her elbow, and she closed her eyes and took several deep breaths. Her only hope was to convince Czar she was no threat to anyone. The others had always followed Czar’s lead, even within the Swords club, much to the chagrin of the president of their chapter. Czar had been the enforcer and very trusted. No one suspected, not for one moment, that he—and the others—were plotting to assassinate the international president and bring the club to its knees. Of course, she was gone by then. Long gone.
The motorcycles reached them. She recognized Maestro on one, with Keys riding behind him. Ink was on the second bike. Her heart sank. She shook her head, trying not to feel desperate. A few hours could cost her everything. She looked up at Steele again, to catch him watching her. She should have known. Steele could be so completely still, it felt like he could disappear. His energy would get so low that you could forget he was in your space. He never missed anything when he was like that. He took in the smallest detail.
He wasn’t a particularly small man either. He was a good six feet, all muscle, but not bulky about it. The definition was there, and not an ounce of fat. When she’d been with him, she’d been self-conscious about the softness around her tummy, but he had assured her time and again that he loved every inch of her body. She remembered how he’d looked at her with those cold eyes, just watching as if any second something would happen and he didn’t want to miss it. He wasn’t looking at her that way now. Now, it was more like he was about to shred her to pieces. He didn’t have to; he’d already done it long ago.
She remained silent when he nodded toward the truck. What was there to say? She started toward it, Steele pacing along beside her, one hand on her arm as if he feared she would bolt for the cliff and toss herself over it. That wasn’t likely, but she clearly had made a mistake. She should have just shot him and then made her run.
He yanked open the passenger door, put his hands on her waist, lifted her and tossed her easily onto the seat. Slamming the door again, he indicated his bike, telling Keys without words the keys were in the ignition. His Harley was big. It was powerful. It was hidden in the brush just as cleverly as her truck had been. He’d been the one to teach her self-defense moves. How to break out of zip ties. How to hide her vehicle if there was need. Always to have a plan. He’d warned her repeatedly that she had to pay attention to her surroundings.
She pressed her head against the seat and closed her eyes, keeping them that way even when he shoved the seat back and took the driver’s position. “You should have told me.”
Breezy glanced at him. Steele. He could always make her heart flutter and butterflies take off in her stomach. Always. He did so now in spite of everything, and she hated herself for that. For being weak.
“Let’s just get this over with. Is Czar waiting? Because I want out of there as fast as possible.”
“He’s waiting, but you aren’t going anywhere. You may as well understand that right now. The Demons are already gone. They cleared out this afternoon. We’re all set to deal with this as soon as we get you back to the clubhouse.”
“The Demons take all your women with them?” “Breezy—”
She cut him off. “We aren’t together. We never really were. You made that very clear, Steele, so there’s no need to explain yourself. You like sex. I get that. You like all kinds of sex. I get that too. I was one of the ones serving your needs; I certainly know your appetites.”
His expression hardened. “Don’t fucking pretend we weren’t on fire together, baby. Right now, hating me the way you do, you still want me. You think I can’t tell when a woman wants me?”
“I’m certain you know everything there is to know about sex and women wanting you, Steele. You make an art of it. All of you do. My body may remember what it was like with you, but so does my brain. You’re bad news. I thought the Swords were bad, but you were worse. Far, far worse. At least they were up front in the way they treated me. My father turned me into a whore when I was fourteen. He told me straight up it was the only way I was worth anything to him or the club. He made me carry drugs and service other clubs to cement deals. I was so low, he let them beat the shit out of me right in front of him, but at least I knew what I was to him—to my brother and every other member of that club. You made me think I was worth more than that to you.”
She couldn’t stand looking at him, so she turned her head away and stared out the window into the night. She’d gone over and over every single detail of her life with him, looking for signs that she should have caught along the way that it had been a charade. A complete sham. She’d just been so young and stupid.
“Breezy, come on, baby, it wasn’t like that and you know it.”
“Don’t. Don’t, Steele. I’m not that same girl. You saw to that. I’m not naïve anymore. It may take hard lessons, but they get through. You made yourself clear and I heard every word. I made a life for myself and . . .” She broke off, her lungs seizing. It took a few minutes to find a way to breathe again. “Did you really assassinate the international president of the Swords? That’s what the rumor mill is saying. The Swords hate you more than any other enemy and there’s a price on every one of you.”
“He had the biggest human trafficking ring in the world, Breezy. He was even allowing his clients to use and kill men, women and children on his designated freighters and bury the bodies in the ocean. He had to go.”
“Czar joined first. And then one by one, the rest of you.” She made it a statement. They’d joined the chapter in Louisiana, the one her family belonged to. Czar had risen to power fast. He was that scary, and Habit, the president of the chapter, had relied on him heavily. Whenever Czar had recommended a prospect, Habit had been more than happy to oblige him. Each man had been as cold as ice and equally as deadly. They’d made the chapter extremely strong.
“That was the plan.”
“You rode with them for three years before you sent me away.” One of those had been as a prospect, and he’d just watched her. A year of them dancing around each other. Another had been with her as his old lady. His woman. No one else had dared to touch her or try to use her for anything in that year. She’d been safe for the first time in her life. And then he’d told her the truth. He didn’t want her anymore. He’d never wanted her in the first place. She’d known all along her father had given her to him with the idea of currying favors from Czar and his very strong companions. Her father had wanted to be part of that.
“Five years Czar was with them. I rode with the Swords for four years.” He turned off Highway 1 to Caspar. “A fucking lifetime.”
“You spent four years with them, another year after you sent me away, and yet you could so easily betray them?” She knew he could. He’d spent a year with her and she hadn’t meant anything to him.
“They’re all scum, Breezy. Every last one of them.” She couldn’t help it. She glared at him. “And you aren’t?
You rode with those men, pretended to be their brother and then put a bullet in them? You killed a bunch of them, didn’t you? You and your friends.”
“Yes, we did,” Steele replied evenly, without one iota of remorse. “I’d do it again in a heartbeat. Believe me, baby, I don’t lose any sleep over it.”
“I’m sure you don’t.” She was equally as sure he didn’t lose any sleep over her either. There was evidence of that when she found him lying naked under three women.
“You’re avoiding every subject but the one we need to talk about.”
The lash of anger in his voice sparked her own. She wanted to swing around on the seat, put her boots up and slam them right into his chest. Drive them right through his black heart. She sat very still, blood thundering in her ears.
“You need to let me go. I’ve worked this all out. All I asked from you was to follow the plan. That’s it. In all this time, that’s all I’ve asked. I know you’re busy with your parties, Steele. That’s clear. But maybe this once, for a few days, you can skip getting drunk in order to be ready in case you’re needed. I’m going in first and taking all the risk. Maybe your three women can take turns giving you blow jobs and keep you happy while you wait to see if I get killed or not.”
He slammed on the brakes, gave her a hard look and jumped out of the cab. She watched him round the hood, toss the keys to one of the prospects and then he was yanking open her door. He caught her chin in hard fingers, forcing her head up so she was looking into eyes glittering with sheer anger. “If you think I’ll let you go into that hornet’s nest you’ve got another think coming. He’s my son. I’ll be the one going to get him.”