*PLEASE BE AWARE THAT THIS EXCERPT CONTAINS VERY STRONG LANGUAGE AND GRAPHIC SEX*
I watch as the cluster of tiny needles punch into my skin, Zeb’s hand strong and steady as he completes the last layer of color to the deep, dark-red roses he’s etched onto my thigh. I have a lot of tattoos now, each and every one of them designed and given to me by Zeb – Vice-President of this New Mexico chapter of the Soldiers of Darkness MC. My husband. A dangerous man; an outlaw; the kind of man I once would have been terrified of, in my other life. Now he’s the man I love – a different kind of love to what I’ve known before, but it’s the kind of love I need. Now.
‘All done, princess. Go take a look at your old man’s handiwork.’
I slide off the chair and go over to the mirror to check out my new ink – an intricate design of roses and thorns winding their way around a deep gray handgun. It’s beautiful, in a warped, wrong kind of way. I love it. I love Zeb. I love my life here in New Mexico. I mean, it was never how I’d imagined my future to turn out – married to an outlaw biker, living in the U.S., far away from my home in Britain; I never imagined myself as a woman who’s killed. Yeah, I killed a man – the man who tore the life I should’ve been living away from me. He had to pay for that. He had to go. And I’m OK now. I’m all right. All of that, it’s over. It’s done. And I love the new life that came out of all that crap. I get off on the risks that come with it. I’m a changed woman, and there isn’t any going back now.
‘So, fucking, sexy,’ Zeb growls as he winds an arm around my waist, pulling me back against him, his teeth gently nipping my earlobe as he holds me. ‘What did I do to get an old lady as hot as you, huh?’
I turn to face him, and he gently rests his hand against my neck, tilting my head back slightly, and he kisses me, long and deep and slow. ‘You just got lucky,’ I gasp as his other hand cups my ass and presses me against him, his hard-on digging into my thigh, and I want him, right here, right now, in the back of his tattoo studio. I want him. So he’s about to get even luckier.
‘This is why I like you naked when I ink you,’ he murmurs, and I reach down and unzip him, pushing him back onto the tattoo chair. ‘Makes this shit a hell of a lot easier.’
I smile and straddle him, lowering myself down onto his rigid cock, taking him deep, arching my back as he leans forward to suck on my nipples, his hands grasping my hips, keeping me steady as I ride him.
‘I’m busy, Hal.’
‘Yeah, I can see that, but Mack needs you over at the clubhouse.’
I turn my head slightly and smile at Hal, Mack’s Road Captain. ‘Hey, Hal.’
His face breaks into a slow leer as he watches Zeb fuck me. It’s not unusual, for anyone to walk in on us, fucking. It’s what we do, and we don’t care who sees. Yeah… I get off on that, too.
‘Get outta here, Hal.’ Zeb’s breathing turns more ragged, and I know he’s reaching his climax, so I turn my head back to face him, kissing him hard and slow and I hear the door close, so I know we’re alone now. We can finish this in private. ‘Baby, you are killing me,’ Zeb groans, his fingers digging into my flesh as I push down onto him, moving my body slightly so he sinks deeper into me, and that’s when it hits him; when I feel him come, feel him spilling out inside of me and I reach down to touch myself, stroking my throbbing clit until my own climax rocks my entire body from the tips of my toes to the top of my head. It’s a glorious shiver, a beautiful relief. ‘You fucking kill me.’ He grins, and I smile again as everything starts to slow down, but I stay straddling him. I want him inside me for a few more minutes before I have to let him go.
‘That’s my job,’ I whisper, my mouth resting against his as I speak.
‘Yeah.’ His grin widens. ‘It is.’
His hands move up to the small of my back, his fingers splaying out against my skin and I throw my head back as his mouth once more covers my nipples, first one, then the other, his tongue flicking over them, sending another glorious shiver coursing through me. But I know he has to go now. Mack needs him. And despite an obvious friction that still exists between the two of them, they work well together, as far as the MC’s concerned. Along with Sam, who seems to have taken on the role of “business manager”, they’ve got it all running pretty smoothly.
‘I’d better go,’ he sighs, gently lifting me off him, and I reach for my T-shirt, pulling it on, and he catches my waist and pulls me against him again. ‘I kinda get off on that T-shirt, boots and no panties look. Gets my cock hard all over again.’
‘Mack needs you.’ I smile and press myself harder against him, because I like to tease. I like to play with this man; with any man. And Zeb likes me to do just that, to show every other guy what they’d love to have but will never, ever get. They don't even get to touch. Because they know what’ll happen if they do. But I can tease them. I can play with them. I have his permission. He likes it. But there are exceptions. He doesn’t want me anywhere near Mack, not in that way. And I understand why. I’m not sure I can trust myself to be that close to Mack, in that way. ‘You’d better go.’
He cups my ass and squeezes it gently before he slides a hand between my legs, and I push down onto him, kissing the base of his throat as he throws his head back and groans loudly. ‘She’s freakin’ killing me!’ he shouts, and I laugh, and he takes my face in his hands and brings his mouth down onto mine in a crushing kiss that, quite literally, takes my breath away. ‘Later, beautiful.’
‘Yeah.’ I smile as I watch him grab his jacket and leave the room. ‘Later.’ And I sit down on the edge of the chair and spread my legs, gently touching myself. He’s left me wanting more. And this is the only way I’m going to get that satisfaction now.
I light up another cigarette, but I’m only doing it ‘cause I’m tired of waiting for Zeb to get here. And I know I’m only agitated ‘cause I know what the hold up’ll be. He was giving Izzi new ink this afternoon, and when Zeb and Izzi are together it usually only ends one way, Jesus, they fuck more times a day than most people would think is physically possible, and they don’t care where they do it either. Man, even I’ve caught them at it like rabbits on freakin’ coke; they don’t give a crap. And, yeah, there’s a part of me that’s jealous as hell, I mean, I still want that woman like I’ve never wanted anything or anyone before in my entire, sorry fucking life. I want her. So does every other guy in this club, they all want her. But the difference between me and them is that, one day, I’ll have her. I’m just biding my time, waiting patiently ‘til I can make my move.
‘You need me for something?’
I turn to see Zeb saunter into the chapel, all arrogance and attitude but, hey. That’s a family trait. I can hardly hate him for that. ‘Yeah. I do.’
‘So? What’s up?’
He leans back against the door and flips a cigarette between his teeth, lighting up, and all the time his eyes never leave mine.
‘Sorry. Have I dragged you away from something important?’
He holds my gaze, and his face breaks into a slow grin. ‘Nothing that can’t wait. She’ll keep.’
There are times when I still want to punch the bastard into the middle of next week, but I hold back because, for now, he’s useful. This club needs a man like Zeb. Nobody messes with him, they wouldn’t freakin’ dare. ‘I’ve been doing some digging.’
‘Into what?’ Zeb blows a stream of smoke up into the air and again I just want to hit him. For some reason he’s aggravating me big time today, but maybe that’s just because I know where he’s been; what he’s been doing. I can smell her perfume on him, and that makes my stomach dip slightly, but I pull back and throw him a look that tells him I ain’t in the mood to be fucked about.
‘Into who the fuck grassed me up to Viper.’
He looks at me for a second or two before he takes one last drag on his cigarette and stubs it out on the doorpost. ‘Maybe you should just leave that alone now, Mack. I mean, Izzi – she sorted it. She got Viper off our backs.’
‘Izzi killed him, yeah, but that wasn’t sorting shit, Zeb. For her, maybe, OK. It’s made her feel better; she’s moved on now. But I still need to find out who the rat is, because I ain’t happy about having one here in our club. Don’t matter which chapter he’s in, he’s gotta be rooted out and dealt with. And I think I know who it might be.’
Zeb raises an eyebrow and walks over to the window, looking out into the compound. There ain’t all that much going on out there today. Most of the guys are either at the tattoo studio or helping Sam out with whatever shit he’s got going down, although, I got a few of them over at the new bar we got opening in a few days’ time, making sure it’s all ready to go. I guess I kinda miss Laney’s. I’m hoping this new place’ll fill that void.
‘Who?’ Zeb asks, turning to face me.
‘My old V.P. back in North Carolina.’
‘Odi?’ Zeb raises an eyebrow and folds his arms against himself. ‘I thought all your brothers were solid.’
‘Yeah, well, sometimes even those closest to you can’t be trusted.’
‘How sure are you ‘bout this?’
‘Not one hundred per cent certain. Yet. I gotta couple of people helping me out back home, so, I’ll wait and see what they come up with. But he was the only one I told, Zeb. About coming here, to New Mexico. He was the only one I told. No-one else needed to know.’
‘Don’t mean that he didn’t tell anyone else. Or that someone else, somehow, found out.’
‘That’s what I need to know. And that’s why I ain’t doing anything ‘til I got something definite.’
‘And what then? If it is him, what you gonna do?’
I narrow my eyes as I stare at him. ‘I’m gonna sort it.’
‘You want to know every fucking detail? ‘Cause I ain’t got that covered yet, OK? Let’s wait and see if my hunch is right, then we’ll take it from there. I just need to know I’ve got you on side for this one. I might need your help.’
And it fucking pains me to say that; to admit that I might need his help, but it’s a possibility. Zeb’s a freakin’ machine, capable of shit even I ain’t done, and he’ll make sure we put this crap to bed, for good. Ain’t no one disrespecting the club Cooper built up; the club he left in my hands. He had no time for rats, and I ain’t either. So we find this brother, and we deal with him. Then I can concentrate on what I really came here to do.
Zeb shrugs and moves away from the window. ‘You know I got your back on this one.’
And I’m gonna try and be grateful for that.
‘That all?’ He grins again, and I feel my stomach take another dive. ‘We good?’
I sigh and sit down at the head of the table. I got stuff to do, so, yeah. I’m done with him now. ‘Yeah. We’re good. I’ll see you back here tonight.’
‘Ain’t one to miss a party, brother.’
I watch him leave then sit back in my chair, throw back my head, and let loose the longest sigh of frustration.
I look up as Sam walks in.
‘Am I running an open fucking house today?’ I pull myself to my feet and slide my hands back through my hair.
‘You seem agitated,’ Sam continues, his eyes following my every move, which kinda pisses me off.
‘Didn’t get much sleep last night, is all.’
‘Maybe if you tried finding yourself a proper place to live instead of crashing here every night…’
‘I like it here.’
He stares at me for a couple of beats, but he drops the subject. Which is wise. Whatever his blood connection to me, I still can’t think of him as my father. I can’t go there, it’s way too soon. Maybe I never will be able to see him as my father, I don’t know. And I certainly don’t want him acting like he is, I ain’t dealing with that crap.
‘Everything’s fine. You want something?’
He moves further into the room and closes the door behind him, which causes me to eye him suspiciously. ‘Izzi.’
‘What about her?’
‘You still dealing with her and Zeb all right?’
I laugh. I can’t help it. What the fuck does this guy think I am? Some love-struck teenager who can’t get over losing the hottest girl in school to the biggest jerk in class? ‘Unless there’s something club-related you want to talk about, I got things to do, so…’
‘You don’t think you, Izzi and Zeb are club business?’
I place my hands palm-down on the table and lean forward, fixing him with a look that, I hope, tells him I ain’t doing this. ‘Like I said, Sam, unless there’s something club-related you want to talk about, I’m busy.’
He walks towards the table and stops once he’s opposite me, his hands in his pockets, an almost impassive expression on his face. ‘Do you think Izzi’s OK?’
‘How the fuck should I know? What the hell are you asking me for?’
‘Because you care about her, Mack.’
I let out another laugh, but there’s a slightly nervous edge to that one that I manage to pull back from. No way am I letting him think he’s getting to me, I’ve had enough of this guy’s amateur psychology. ‘I think Izzi can look after herself. She don’t need any of us to do that for her.’
The room fills with another heavy, loaded silence and I’m really pissed off now. Where does he get off coming in here, laying his cryptic shit on me?
‘Let it go, Sam.’
‘Is that what you’ve done?’
I ain’t doing this no more. I got enough to be dealing with, I don’t need this crap. ‘Let it go.’
He gets the message. He ain’t that stupid. He knows when to leave things alone. ‘This job we’ve got Thursday night…’
‘What about it? I thought everything was all sorted?’
‘It is. Just checking all your men are up-to-speed.’
‘It’s a simple drop-off, Sam.’
‘We shouldn’t consider anything to be “simple”, Mack. Not in this business.’
I open my mouth to say something, then decide against it. He’s no stranger to this life. Just because he don’t want to wear the cut or ride with us don’t mean he don’t understand the way things work. He knows. ‘Everyone knows what they’re doing.’
‘Good.’ He makes for the door, and I keep my eyes on him. I still don’t fully trust him, and I think that’s my right. I’m still working him out, so, yeah, I’m wary. ‘Try not to draw too much attention to yourselves before then, OK?’
He turns to face me, and I throw him a questioning look.
‘This party tonight. I know you’re patching in a couple of new members, and I know how these parties…’
‘What’s your point, Sam?’
‘There’s no need to draw any unnecessary attention to the club, Mack, that’s all I’m saying. We’re still newcomers to this town, so let’s not aggravate the locals any more than we have to. Let’s make them grateful we’re here to look out for them.’
I narrow my eyes as I stare at him. ‘You saying I’m not running this club right?’
‘I’m saying you became distracted. Maybe you still are…’
‘Hey! You wanna stop right there? I ain’t fucking distracted…’
He takes a step towards me and his eyes, man, they’re seriously intense. And for the first time I see a piece of me in there, in him, and that kinda freaks me out for a second. ‘You were distracted when you came here. And I think there’s a part of you that’s still distracted, and you need to lose that, Mack. You need to focus, or we can’t do this. You still want Izzi? Then you need to walk away.’
‘I thought that’s what you wanted, me and her…’
‘It was. It was. But she threw us a curve ball when she fell in love with Zeb. And I’m not sure you’ve dealt with that yet. I’m not sure you’ve accepted it.’
I laugh in his face, he ain’t doing this shit. ‘I ain’t distracted.’
He raises an eyebrow, and I swear, I could lay him out right here, right now.
‘If you still want her, Mack, then you need to walk away. Things have changed. Everything’s different. And this club matters to you, I know it does. It matters. And all it’ll take to fuck everything up is one, stupid act. Don’t you agree?’
‘I think you need to watch what you say to me because you are sailing dangerously close to pissing me off, big time.’
‘You’re not a weak man, Mack.’
‘Now, like I said, let’s not draw too much attention to ourselves with this party tonight. OK?’
Seriously? He’s just leaving that conversation there? What the fuck…? But I ain’t got the energy to react to his crap. ‘I thought you had connections in the police department.’
‘I do. But there’s only so much my man there can do for us, so…’
‘So, what? A couple of beers then send everyone home before the clock strikes midnight?’ Yeah. I’m getting real pissed off now.
‘Lose the sarcasm, Mack. I’m trying to help, that’s all.’
I narrow my eyes again and lean back against the window-sill, folding my arms. ‘You don’t get to tell me how to run this club, remember? That ain’t your role.’
He just throws me a smile that irritates the crap outta me, and walks away, leaving the door open behind him which, for some reason, fucks me off more than anything. Or is it just the fact that Sam is about the only one around here who can see through my shit? And that makes me nervous. Like I said, I still ain’t all that trusting of him, and until I got good reason to let those doubts go, I’m gonna stay wary.
© Michelle Betham 2016
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