“You want to f**k her,” Picnic said bluntly. “You can tell when your dick gets hard, did you know that? Probably tough for you to understand, seeing as most of the time you’re just jacking off, but most men like to stick their cocks—”

“Shut the f**k up,” Ruger said, wondering whether it’d be a bad move to punch out his president in front of so many witnesses. Probably. Might be worth it.


Picnic laughed.

“So you gonna send her home?” he asked. Ruger shook his head.

“I send her home, she wins,” he said. Picnic raised a brow.

“What is this, junior high? You’re the man, lay it out for her.”

Ruger took a deep breath, forcing himself to think instead of just lashing out. He needed a good fight or something, some way to blow off the tension. There’d be boxing later. That would do it … hopefully.

“I lay it out, she wins,” he admitted finally, scowling and running a hand through his hair. “That’s the problem. She called me on my bullshit and I can’t talk my way out of it. I make her leave, it’s like I’m saying she was right about the club being dangerous and a bad influence for Noah. Not to mention making me look like a f**kin’ pussy in the process, because I can’t handle having her around.”

“One, you’re a dumbass,” Picnic said. “Two, she’s right. Club is dangerous for an unclaimed woman, particularly tonight.”

“I get that,” Ruger said. “That’s why I’m gonna protect her. You got a cure for the dumbass thing? That part’s kickin’ my butt, gotta admit.”

“Nope,” Pic said, clapping a hand to Ruger’s shoulder. “But I know something that’ll make you feel better about the situation.”

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“What’s that?”

“Pulled pork sandwich,” Pic replied. “Beer. Then—if you’re smart, which I’ll admit is a stretch—you’ll take your girl somewhere and f**k her ’til she can’t walk straight. She may win, but who gives a damn, ’cause she’ll be suckin’ your c**k for the foreseeable future. I find that works wonders.”

“You’re a f**kin’ asshole.”

“I get that a lot.”


I wasn’t horribly hungover the next day, but I wasn’t eager to start drinking again, either. This was probably just as well. Despite my alcohol-fueled tough talk, I really didn’t want to make trouble at the party. I Googled the address, then drove out to the Armory early that evening, after I dropped off Noah with Kimber. She’d ended up spending the night on my couch, waking up more than a little worse for the wear.

I suspected she’d be in bed about five minutes after she got the kids down.

I was nervous driving out to the party. The Reapers’ clubhouse was a couple miles off the highway, toward the end of an old state road. I passed a group of four motorcycles headed for the highway, ridden by men dressed a lot like Ruger. Tattoos, jeans, boots, and black leather jackets. Loaded saddlebags.

They didn’t appear to be happy campers.

The building itself surprised me. I guess I hadn’t expected the Armory description to be so literal, because this was an honest-to-God converted National Guard building. Three stories tall, walls built to withstand tanks, and an enclosed courtyard with a gate big enough to drive a large truck through.

There were quite a few people there already. Lots of guys, all of them wearing their distinctive colors. They had different states or towns on their lower patches, but the Reapers’ symbol and name were the same.

Unsurprisingly, there were lots of motorcycles, but also quite a few cars, most of which had been parked in a gravel lot off to the side. A younger guy wearing a cut without very many patches waved me over in that direction, so I pulled in next to a little red Honda. Four girls who’d clearly been drinking for a while poured out. They were young, slutted up, and ready to party. Last night I’d noticed that the club women weren’t afraid to show off their bodies—Dancer rocked a pair of jeans and backless top in a big way—but the Reapers’ old ladies looked somehow more classy and confident than this bunch.

Maybe it was about the attitude? I got the impression these girls were on the prowl, and that they weren’t necessarily planning to be too picky.

They ignored me entirely, giggling and taking shots of each other with their phones. I guess I didn’t rate their attention, which was both depressing and a bit of a relief. Not that I cared how I looked—I’d gone with a basic T-shirt, my standard cutoffs and a pair of flip-flops. Despite my fight with Ruger yesterday morning (not to mention my margarita-fueled belligerence last night), I really did want to keep things low-key.

I wasn’t sure what to expect at a Reapers party but I figured I’d be fine if I stuck with my girls.

I’d sent a text to Ruger letting him know I was coming. He’d replied with a reminder about our conversation, which almost convinced me to change into something sluttier just to spite him. Then I pulled my head out of my ass. Ruger losing his shit was not something I wanted see, no matter how satisfying it would be to defy him.

Defy him? Christ, how old was I?

I also texted Maggs, Em, Dancer, and Marie. They said to come straight through to the back, where they were setting up the food outside. They’d asked me to stop off and buy a bunch of extra chips, so I’d hit Walmart on the way.

Now I trailed behind the slut brigade, their big hair, loud makeup, and microscopic clothing providing plenty of cover as we walked toward the big gate in the courtyard. A couple of guys stood outside, obviously monitoring the entrance. The gaggle flirted with them and then passed on through. They probably thought I was a total hag in comparison, I realized glumly. A little lip gloss wouldn’t have killed me. Apparently giant shopping bags full of chips counted for something, though, because the men welcomed me enthusiastically enough.

Sex appeal is great, but there’s nothing quite like food to win a man’s heart.

“I’m Ruger’s almost-sister-in-law,” I told one of the guys, who nodded me on through. I followed the narrow driveway that ran along the side of the building until I reached the main courtyard out back—a broad, open space that was a mixture of parking lot and grass. Loud music blasted through giant box speakers, and evergreen-covered mountains surrounded us on all sides. It really was a gorgeous place—much nicer than I’d expected.

A good-sized group of children darted through clumps of adults and took turns playing on a giant, clearly homemade swing set, complete with a fort at the top. There were men everywhere, far more men than women, although another group of girls followed me. I guessed the men had been there earlier and now the rest of the guests were arriving?

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