“I could see it killed him, letting you go.” Ky lifted his hand and my hand to press against his forehead. “He would’ve owned you from the beginning if it weren’t for me. All I can think of is what if he don’t make it? What if he don’t come back? Then, f**k…” He sighed heavily, eying me in sorrow.

“He just got you, after f**kin’ years of waiting. He talked about you all the f**kin’ time, the bitch with the wolf eyes. Even searched for the fence for years. He’d drag me with him. We’d scope the forests all around Austin for hours. He only stopped searching when we went to war with the Mexicans. He’d about given up hope. His old man wouldn’t tell him where the drop site was, no matter how much he asked. Honestly, the places we dumped stiffs changed so much, I don’t think his old man could even remember. Then his old man went to Hades and that was it. Zero chance of finding you. “

My heart ached so much. Styx had been looking for me for years? He had been driven to see me again, to come back to the little broken girl he had briefly met one summer’s night? Dear Lord, I may never ever see him or feel his touch again. I did not feel I could cope with this pain in my heart.

“Mae?” Ky prompted quietly.

I took a deep breath. “You had your reasons for keeping us apart. You are a good friend. I can see he loves you very much.”

Ky’s blue eyes widened as he whispered, “Fuck, bitch! Rip my balls off. Rim my ass. Don’t just forgive this shit. You would’ve been with him all this time if it weren’t for me. Fuck! Lois probably wouldn’t have died either!”

I did not give a response. I could not. I was numb, silently terrified that Styx was dead. Someone else I cared about dead.

The long creak of a floorboard groaned behind us and I glanced over my shoulder to see Rider enter the room. His tired face broadcast confusion as we all sat motionless and in total silence. Then as the realization for our silence dawned, Rider’s face lost all color. It was all he could do to flop down on a barstool. Despite his differences with Styx, Rider seemed genuinely devastated by the apparent news.

As our eyes met, Rider’s expression slowly changed from shock to sympathy, and he mouthed, “I’m sorry.” This only served to rip my heart apart even further. They were both such good men. Both held a special place in my heart.

The clock ticked slowly, very slowly.

After fifty endless minutes of waiting, the mood in the lounge changed from that of vain hope to one of resolved certainty.

Ky reluctantly released my hand, my fingers feeling numb from holding his so tightly. Ky stood, the Hangmen, Beauty, Letti, and I watched him with bated breath. Tiff and Jules hovered in the cover of the doorway, eavesdropping on their lover.

“Brothers,” he began with a quiet, strained voice. “I—” Ky’s voice cut off as a distant growl of an engine sounded outside. Ky’s eyes sought mine before he sprinted for the exit. There was such a clamber of bodies jumping to their feet. The brothers were like a herd of buffaloes as they stampeded for the door.

Much to my great annoyance, my legs could not move no matter how much I willed them to. Beauty grabbed my hand, pulling me from my seat. That was all it took; my muscles jump-started, my mind hopeful and I sprinted out of the door and across the yard to the compound’s closed metal gate.

A single headlight approached and my heart jumped to my throat. I closed my eyes and prayed, Dear Lord, please let this be Styx. Please let this be Styx.

The roar of the engine grew louder and my eyes snapped open. Under the glare of the compound’s lights, a bike came into view. The rider? It was too dark to make out who…

No… I could hardly believe my eyes.


Gripping the gate, cold metal beneath my palms, my heart beat faster as the bike revved down. Oh no, something was wrong. Styx’s movements were all wrong. Balance! He was slowly losing control of his bike.

“Open the f**kin’ gate!” Ky screamed at Pit. Pit ran to the gate’s lever and slammed it down. The heavy contraption made clunking noises, signifying movement, only to shudder to a stop.

“For f**k’s sake!” Ky called out and squeezed through the small opening between the fence and the gate. Pit ripped off the gate’s electrical panel and began fiddling with the wires, trying to fix the problem. Just in time, Ky grabbed Styx as he fell off his bike, no longer able to precisely balance its heavy weight.

He appeared to be badly injured.

Before Styx collapsed completely, Ky wrapped his large arms around Styx’s chest. Styx’s eyes were glazed and unfocused. Leaning heavily on Ky, Styx whispered something. I could not hear what was said, but Ky nodded in my direction. Styx’s head lifted up, searching my way, then his beautiful large hazel eyes fixed on me.

Shrugging off Ky’s aid, Styx began limping toward me, blood drenching his clothes, cuts and slashes marring his face, and his dark hair was almost black with blood. He looked like he had been mauled by a pack of lions. Every inch of his body seemed to be bleeding, soiled or injured.

The brothers were silent as they watched their president weakened. Flame literally growled beside me, AK and Viking restraining him by his arms. From what, I was not sure.

I ran along the bars of the gate, heading for the small gap, but Styx aimed for where I had been standing and he slumped to the ground. With great difficulty, Styx tried to remain upright. He used the steel bars of the gate to bolster his waning strength and, kneeling on the tarmac opposite my man, I pressed my chest against the bars, grasping his face in my outstretched hands. Styx, my Styx, badly injured but still oh so beautiful: large hazel eyes, perfect nose, sharp stern features, and his rough, unshaven cheeks. He was so beautiful… so strong. And he desperately needed me.