“K-Ky, get Rider in the tr-truck. I’ll g-grab M-Mae!”

Ky did as instructed. Styx picked me up in his arms and sprinted back to the provisions truck. I looked around the area from the shelter of Styx’s arms, but the attackers’ were gone. Brothers mounted their bikes, fury on their faces and Flame, Viking, and AK roared off in the direction of tire marks.

They were going after the gunmen.

Ky dived in the back seat with Rider and Styx tucked me in beside him in the passenger seat. I heard a thud on the bed of our truck and when I looked back, Bull was putting Lois’s limp body in amongst some blankets, then he wrapped her up in a tarp. I felt sick and tears streamed like rain from my eyes. The wheels gained traction and we raced down the trail.

“Rider. Rider!” I panicked, swerving in my seat to see him clutching his arm in pain.

“Mae, y-y-you o-okay?” Styx asked, spittle flying as he forced his words.

My head snapped to face him. I lifted my hand to my arm, seeing my blood. Numbly, I nodded my head. Styx then looked in the mirror back at Ky.

“H-how’s he d-doing?”

Rider. He was asking Ky about Rider.

“Shot straight through the shoulder. Entry and exit wounds, lotta f**kin’ blood. Should be okay. Seen worse last year in the war. I’ll ring through for Doc Brett, though. Got half the brothers heading to guard compound, half tailing us. The psycho trio have gone after the bastards who shot at us.”

Ky busied himself with making calls, while Styx drove ridiculously fast back to the compound. I could not speak and Styx was clearly furious. I could tell by his gritted teeth and white knuckles gripping the wheel.

As we turned into the compound, half of the brothers were outside, loaded with huge guns. As we stopped, they whipped open the doors of the truck and dragged Rider out of the back seat and into the clubhouse. An older fat man holding a large black bag puffed behind them. Doctor Brett, I presumed.

Styx walked round the truck and picked me up, running straight inside the bar.

Beauty came barreling over. “Jesus Christ! What the hell happened? One minute Lois was alive and breaking her heart crying, the next, f**kin’ carnage!” She stilled, her hands beginning to shake. “Fuck. They killed Lois…” she whispered. “Poor bitch… she… she…” Beauty trailed off, unable to finish her sentence.

The bar quickly filled with brothers and Styx held me against his hard damp body as Beauty pressed something against my wound, fighting back tears.

Fuckin’ drive by! Ky’s voice shouted. I realized Styx was furiously signing, his arms tight around my shoulders as Ky translated.

What the f**k! First the f**kin’ Russians drop the deal. Then we get a f**kin’ drive by!!! Styx looked right at me, Ky following his ASL, and he ran his cheek along the top of my head. Lois took a slug between the eyes and they even fired at Mae. WHAT. THE. FUCK???

I shivered in fear as I listened to his harsh words. Beauty hugged me close.

“Styx, you’re scaring the f**kin’ shit outta her,” she said quietly. I could not stop picturing Lois’s shocked face in my mind, her lifeless body slumping to the ground. Why did you have to come here… I have nothing left…

Poor Lois!

Styx bowed his head and he was handed a drink by Bull, which he threw back in one. He still did not let me go, his arms tight around my neck.

Styx slammed his hand on the tabletop twice and the room grew silent, all eyes on him, Ky, as always, moved beside him to translate.

Bull, Tank, Smiler—find out what you can from the good sheriff. He should know if any new f**kers have moved into our territory. Asians, mobs—any new movement. Someone is playing on our turf and the f**kers don’t even have the balls to do it face to face. Bastard Balaclavas. Shit keeps going south and we’ll be on lockdown.

There was a mixture of firm head nods and miserable groans around the club. I had no idea what a lockdown was, but I could hazard a guess.

Some f**ker’s trying to mess with the club and I won’t rest ’til we have f**kin’ answers and some ass**le dead!” Bull placed another drink in front of Styx and he tossed that one back too, then he went back to signing.

We find out who it is and take them out. Styx pointed at Tank, Bull, and Smiler, who were preparing to leave. Under the radar, yeah? The last thing we need is that ass**le Senator Collins breathing down our neck.

The three men nodded their understanding and went out the front door, the sound of their bikes soon fading in the distance.

Finally, Styx turned to the rest of the men in the room. Mae—Styx pointed at me, Ky’s voice loud and stern as if Styx were saying something important—is under my protection and y’all know what that means.

I frowned and looked to Beauty, who offered me a watery smile. My heart broke for her. She had lost a friend today and she was hurting. The entire club was.

Mae was nearly killed today… Lois f**kin’ was. We were either tailed by the f**kers from compound or someone leaked intel last minute. And by Christ, it better’ve been the first or I’ll rip the rat apart limb by f**kin’ limb.

I shivered at his threatening words. The men in the room were clearly uneasy too.

Rider’s been shot in the shoulder. Doc’s with him now. I’m f**kin’ raging at this whole cock-sucking mess!

Ky’s cell phone rang, cutting through the heavy atmosphere Styx’s words had generated. “Yeah?” he answered, and after a few seconds looked up at Styx, slamming the phone back shut.