That seemed like my cue to leave, except I still hadn’t talked to Buck about a job. The more I thought about working at The Line, the less realistic it seemed. Maybe I should just let it go … I mentioned this as I helped Marie, Maggs, and Em clean up the food tables. Dancer had taken her boys to her mom’s house a while ago and hadn’t gotten back yet.

“Why don’t you talk to Buck and decide after that?” Maggs suggested, piling half-eaten bags of chips into a cardboard box. “I’ll help you find him. Let’s get this finished first, though. All this shit needs to go into the kitchen.”


“Here, give me the box,” Marie said, reaching for it. “Sophie, can you grab that other one?”

“Sure,” I said, picking it up. Marie was really sweet—she’d spent half the night talking about her wedding, which was just three weeks away. She’d made it very clear that she wanted me to come, no matter what was up with Ruger.

Now I followed her into the Armory through a back door, leading past a set of bathrooms into the large kitchen area. It wasn’t anything special—not a professional kitchen. Still big, though, like you’d find in a church. Three fridges, lots of counter space, and a big, round garbage can that had overflowed onto the floor.

We both stopped, staring at it.

“Jesus, I cannot believe what pigs these boys can be,” she muttered. “Take the f**king garbage out when it’s full. Doesn’t take a genius.”

“You think we can handle it?” I asked, considering the can. It was packed hard and looked heavy.

“Only one way to find out,” she replied. We set down the food, stuffed in as much of the spilled garbage as possible, and then each grabbed a side. It wasn’t easy, but we wrestled it out through the kitchen and into the main lounge of the Armory, which I hadn’t seen yet.

“Holy shit,” I said to Marie, eyes wide. The place was full of men drinking and women walking around all but naked. There was a bar with a naked chick giving body shots. My eyes skittered away only to land on another girl whose head bobbed up and down over a man’s lap. He sat on a ratty couch, leaning back with his eyes closed, one hand wrapped tight in her hair.

“Just ignore it,” Marie muttered, rolling her eyes. “Bunch of dumbasses. The Dumpster’s out in the front, across from the parking lot. The geniuses who designed this place didn’t put in many external doors. Built to be a fortress. Annoying as hell.”

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We lugged the garbage across the room, and I felt my cheeks burning. Then a man came up and grabbed the heavy can on my side.

“You girls should’ve asked for help,” he said, smiling at me. He was kind of cute, I realized. A little older—probably in his thirties. He had a long beard, tattoos (they all had tattoos, I figured it must be in the bylaws or something), and he wore a cut with one of those little diamond 1% patches. His name read “D.C.”

“Thanks,” Marie said brightly. “Grab the door for us, will you, Soph?”

I opened the big main door leading out into the front parking lot. There were more guys out there, sort of standing around—the guys I’d seen earlier, who didn’t have very many patches on their vests.

“Prospects, get your asses over here and take care of this garbage,” D.C. yelled, and two of them jumped up to grab the can.

“It needs to go back in the kitchen when they’re done,” Marie told D.C.

“No prob, babe,” he replied. “Who’s your friend?”

Marie and I exchanged glances. I could tell she didn’t want to introduce me, but neither of us wanted to be rude, either.

“I’m Sophie,” I said, taking the pressure off her. “I’m just visiting. In fact, I’m heading out soon.”

Marie opened her mouth to add something. Suddenly a giant man came up behind her, swinging her up and twirling her around before throwing her over his shoulder.


“I need f**ked, woman!” he declared, smacking her ass. Then he carried her back into the building as she shrieked in protest.

I suddenly found myself alone in the dark with D.C. and the prospects. None of the younger guys looked me in the eye, and I thought very hard about the warnings I’d been given earlier.

Yup—I was in the negative on every detail.

“Nice brands,” he said. He reached up to trace the stupid hickies Ruger had given me. “You belong to someone?”

Now that was a loaded question.

“It’s complicated,” I replied, glancing around. I don’t know what I was looking for. Kimber would know what to do at a time like this, I thought darkly. “I need to get back inside, find the girls. I’ll just … go over there,” I added, nodding toward the big gate in the wall to the side of the building. The gate I’d come in before. No way I would be walking back through that clubhouse by myself, not after what I’d seen in there.

“I’ll take you,” D.C. said, wrapping his arm around my shoulders and tucking me in tight next to his body. I smelled booze on his breath.


“Hey there!” Em yelled, waving at me from the gate. I’d never been so happy to see someone in my life. She walked over to us, her smile bright and sweet. “Thanks for finding Sophie, D.C. I need to get her back now—Ruger’s up next in the ring, and he’ll be super pissed if she misses his fight. They live together, you know.”

D.C. let me go and I ran over to Em. He frowned at me.

“Told you it was complicated,” I said, my voice wavering. “Sorry?”

He snorted as he turned and walked back into the Armory, slamming the door behind him. The remaining guys looked everywhere but at me and Em.

“Jesus, I could kill Marie for leaving you with him,” Em muttered, grabbing my arm and dragging me across the parking lot toward the gate. “At least she yelled at me to go get you as Horse carried her past. Never leave a sister behind, you know? That could’ve gotten ugly.”

“Um, she didn’t really have much choice,” I said. “Horse just grabbed her and carried her off. It happened really fast.”

“All Horse thinks about is sex,” Em snapped, her voice heavy with a mixture of disgust and what sounded suspiciously like jealousy.

“At least Marie sent you out here,” I said. “Would he have hurt me?”

“Probably not,” she said, her voice smooth. “But odds are good he’s drunk. You get a guy drunk enough, he doesn’t always hear the word ‘no.’”

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