Scarlett Cole’s (writing as S. Cole) electrifying new MC Romance series continues this week with the story of a traitor to his club who finds redemption with the one woman who can save him, and I have a sneak peek for you.
Once we’re parked at the lot for the drop, I get off my bike and cross my arms. “What were you doing tonight?”
Spark shakes his head, blond hair whipping in the wind before he secures it with an elastic. “Nothing much. You?”
I don’t believe him, but I’m guessing it was related to pussy. The corners of his mouth turn up in a slight smile he manages to stop. But I’m not the man to be holding others accountable for lying right now.
Not when I’m up to my eyeballs in lies and half-truths.
“Was doing Jessica when King hammered on the door and asked me to do this,” I say.
Spark laughs. “For a holy man, Saint, you don’t know the meaning of the word abstinence.”
I wish I could tell Spark the truth. I hate the fact he thinks I am something I’m not. But I search my memory banks anyway to find a response that Spark expects.
Though Dad’s sermons were all about fire and brimstone, I have a wider range of knowledge from reading the Bible every day for the past two years. Decent stories if you ignore everything that’s wrong with organized religion. Sometimes, I lose track of which Bible the verses come from, but it’s not like these men know the difference between their King James and their New American Bible. “A loving doe, a graceful deer. May her breasts satisfy you always. Proverbs five nineteen. It’s as if God personally instructed me to worship those double Es of hers.”
Spark chokes out a laugh as a black sedan pulls into the lot. “This him?” He places his palm on his gun.
I do the same, purely for protection. It’s not his usual ride. “Probably.”
As I’m carrying the envelope, I walk to the sedan, and the window lowers. “New car?” I ask when I see Jasper’s nervous face.
He reaches for the envelope I’m holding. “This has helped pay off some debts.”
I like the kid. Vex, our resident tech genius, checked him out. Young, hungry. But a mountain of debt and two kids before he turned twenty. I don’t begrudge him the cash. In fact, I’ve not reported that I know his name. Because when the web closes, I don’t want this kid caught up in it all.
Some in the ATF might think that makes me corrupt.
I’m past the point of giving a fuck.
“Don’t flash the cash around,” I warn. “It’ll make it easier to find you if anyone comes looking, yeah?”
He looks confused by my concern. “Yeah?”
“Sort your debt out first. Or you’ll be stuck doing shit like this for the rest of your life, kid.”
Jasper nods, but I know he doesn’t really hear me.
The car peels out of the parking lot. I watch the dust swirl as I walk back to Spark. “Well, that was easy.” I smooth my hand through my beard. I don’t love it. It itches. But it does the job of helping me blend in with bikers well. And it will make it harder for the Iron Outlaws to identify me in public later, as they have never seen me without one.
Spark grins at me.
“What’s funny?” I ask.
“Just thinking you look a lot like Jesus, the one on those cheap candles with the weird-looking heart.”
I shake my head as I climb on my bike. “That’s the sacred heart of Jesus you’re shitting on.”
“I’m not shitting on it . . . but you’ve got to admit, they could have gone with a better design.”
“O Sacred Heart of Jesus, for whom it is impossible not to have compassion on the afflicted, have pity on us miserable sinners.”
“Miserable sinners? It’s either us or a seventies rock band.”
I flip my middle finger in his direction, and he laughs. I can’t help but grin. He’s right. If Jesus were a white man with blue eyes as opposed to an actual man from the Middle East, I probably would agree that I do look like Jesus.
I reach to start my bike when a large black truck careens into the parking lot. It’s swerving erratically. When it slides to a halt about thirty meters away, the rear passenger door opens, and a young woman leaps out and runs towards us. She’s barefoot, wearing a black dress or negligee. The cut is revealing. It’s short, the color harsh against her pale skin.
My first thought is that she’s hot, but then I realize as she gets closer that she’s running for her life.
She runs straight toward us; the stones and gravel must be carving up her feet.
“Help me. Please. Help.” Her voice is tortured, her face covered in fresh scratches and bruises. She’s young. Maybe mid to late twenties.
“Fuck me,” Spark mutters and climbs off his bike. I do the same, mentally urging her to keep running to us.
When the driver gets out of the truck, I see he’s a slimy-looking fucker. A military wannabe. A weekend warrior.
“Get back in the truck, girl,” the man yells to her.
“No,” she shouts, then looks up at Spark. “Please help me.”
“How many in the truck?” Spark asks me.
I squint. “One in the passenger seat.” The man makes a move to open the door.
“Were you alone in the back of the truck?” Spark asks her.
She nods, rubbing at her wrists. Oh, sweet Jesus. The wounds have all the markings from trying to get free of rope or cuffs. “They tied my wrists.”
Spark steps towards the guy, and I tuck the girl behind me. “We’ve got you,” I whisper.
“Get the fuck out of here,” Spark yells. “I don’t rate your chances.”
The first bullet whizzes by my ear. The next hits the fence behind us. Spark and I start firing rounds. Neither of us wants a body to clean up—that would be hard for me to explain to the ATF—so we aim to wreck the truck. The tires, the radiator, the windshield.
The shooter dives for cover.
“You got her?” Spark shouts.
I take her hand and help her onto the back of my bike. She’s shaking. Numb. Silent. But those brown eyes of hers, so filled with fear, tug at me. “Yeah. Know a place I can take her. I’ll meet you at the clubhouse.”
I exit the lot, racing ahead of Spark. After ten minutes of her shaking behind me, I pull over and climb off the bike. Slowly, I remove my cut and tug my hoodie over my head. No sudden movements; I don’t want to scare her more than she already is. “Here,” I say, handing it to her. “It’s not much, but it’ll keep you warm enough until I can get you to a police station.”
“No,” she says, fear causing her voice to waver. “Please. I just need somewhere safe to sleep tonight. I can’t face the police yet.”
“But . . . evidence,” I say, reaching for her chin and tipping her face so I can see her injuries properly. She jerks back from me as if I stung her. Classic abuse signs. I nod in the direction we came from. “You know that guy? Husband? Boyfriend?”
She shakes her head. So not a battered wife or girlfriend.
Her body is wracked with tremors, so I ease my hoodie over her head myself. “I can take you to the ER. Or to Switch, the medic in our club. You want me to call someone to come get you?”
Again, she shakes her head. “Please. I need some clothes. And some cash maybe.”
“Nothing open this late at night,” I say. “Cash I can do. I got some at my place. But you sure I can’t take you to the cops?” I get paid by the club, but it gets handed straight to the ATF. At least, it did when I patched in and finally got paid. Recently, I’ve been taking a little off the top. The bureau has been getting pissy about my expenses. Complaining that the sting is dragging on. They don’t realize the predicament I’m in. I shouldn’t end up out of pocket because the expenses policy doesn’t currently cover everything I have to buy.
Tears fill her eyes. And I’m a sucker for tears. Want to fix what’s broken. Like I used to for Mom and Rae. Because for all dad was a preacher, a saver of souls in the pulpit, he was the taker of them in our home. A violent and malevolent presence.
“I need a minute,” she says.
I want to tell her I’m an undercover agent, that she’s safe with me. Instead, I fight it down. “Look, my place is clean, safe, and about an hour away. I can take you there, help you get some clothes in the morning, then help you figure out what you want to do. Okay?”
She blows out a long slow breath. “Okay.”
I offer her my hand. “My name’s”—I flip through the options, my undercover names merging with my real ones—“Saint.”
“My name is . . .” She looks around for a moment. “Briar.”
It’s a pretty name, but to me, it’s clear we both lied.