“GPS,” she said shortly. “I don’t want the Devil’s Jacks tracing us with it, and we can’t leave it here.”
“What if we need it again?”
“We won’t,” she said. “Dad and Ruger will find us. Don’t worry. By tomorrow it’ll be like this never happened. In fact, I don’t want to talk about it and I don’t want to think about it. Got me?”
“Got you,” I said, narrowing my eyes. Em grabbed the second chair and dragged it over toward me, sitting down.
“Want me to take the gun for a while?”
“Thanks,” I said, handing it over. It was surprisingly heavy, and after the first few minutes my hand had started cramping. I stretched my fingers, looking out across the long gravel driveway into the trees.
“No offense,” I said slowly. “But that was the shittiest girls’ night out ever.”
Em gave a short, startled snort of laughter.
They crested the small rise overlooking the house and Picnic slowed, raising a hand for the others to stop.
Ruger pulled up next to him.
“That’s my girl,” Picnic said, his voice full of pride. “Goddamn, did something right with her.”
“Both our girls,” Ruger muttered. He felt his chest unclenching, a ball of tension he hadn’t even realized was there letting go. “Shit, didn’t know she had it in her.”
Em and Sophie sat on the front porch like two neighbors visiting over sweet tea, except Em held a gun trained steady on Skid. His mangled, bloody form lay in the dirt, arms stretched up behind him and wrapped around the porch pole.
“Think she killed him?” Ruger asked.
“Hope not,” Picnic replied. “Bad enough already, without her having to live with that. Not to mention messy as f**k for us to clean up.”
“That’s the truth,” Ruger replied.
“It’s Dad, we’re here for you!” Picnic yelled down, waving at her. Em kept her eyes on Skid and her gun didn’t waver.
“Glad you came,” she called back. “I could really use some help.”
“He the only one?” Pic asked.
“Hunter left a couple hours ago,” she shouted. “It was only the two of them.”
They rode slowly down the hill toward the house. Ruger studied Sophie carefully as he parked his bike, but he couldn’t see any signs of serious harm. She looked exhausted, her eyes darkened with smudged makeup, but that was all. Em seemed worse off—her face was pale and a bruise was starting to form on her cheek. White, bloodied strips of fabric had been tied around her leg.
“Stay where you are, girls,” Pic said shortly as he dismounted his ride. Ruger did the same, following him over to the man on the ground.
Skid was in rough shape. He wasn’t moving, and Ruger saw trickles of blood seeping from his nose and mouth. More soaked the dirt, although he couldn’t see where it was coming from. Ruger approached the man carefully, kneeling down to check his pulse.
Still alive. The beat was faint but steady.
“He’s not dead,” he said. “What’s the plan?”
Picnic rolled Skid with a foot. Now they saw the wound—he had a gaping gash on the back of his head.
“He’s been bleeding, but not too bad,” Em said. “Don’t know if he’s passed out from a head injury or from shock. Sophie kicked his nuts to hell and back.”
Ruger felt an instinctive shrinking in his own nether region and glanced up at Sophie. She gazed down at them, her face as smooth as a sphinx’s.
Perfectly calm. Way too calm. Shock, Ruger figured.
Picnic stepped up to his daughter and held out his hand for the gun. She gave it to him, and he wrapped an arm around her shoulders, pulling her in close.
Ruger looked to Sophie again and she turned away. Then he heard the crunch of footsteps in the driveway behind him.
“How we gonna play this?” Bam Bam asked, eyeing Skid. Ruger glanced over at his president, wondering the same thing. Would they put the bastard in the ground or not?
“Not in front of the girls,” Picnic said, squeezing Em tight. “Ruger, you and Painter take them, get them safe. Call the medic. He can meet you at the clubhouse. We’ll clean up here.”
Em shook her head, growing tense.
“Don’t kill him,” she said. “You do that, there’s going to be even more fighting.”
“This is about the club, Em,” Picnic replied softly. She glanced down at Skid, then leaned up on her toes, whispering in her father’s ear.
Em pulled away, eyes clearly pleading.
He shook his head at her and she crossed her arms, taking a step back. Interesting. Picnic narrowed his eyes, and the two stared at each other for long seconds. Then Picnic sighed.
“Okay, we’ll take him with us and dump him somewhere he’ll be found,” he said. “See if you can find something to bandage him up with, Bam.”
Ruger looked down at Skid. Intellectually, he knew letting him live was probably a good idea. All other issues aside, Em and Sophie didn’t need that kind of baggage.
He still wanted the f**ker dead, though.
They could always take him out later. If they did it right, the girls would never know.
I didn’t know how to feel as I rode home with Ruger, exhausted and drained from the adrenaline. We’d separated from the rest of the club, which broke into different groups going different places. He’d wanted me to get checked out by a friend of the club who was an EMT, but I insisted I was fine.
Which I was. Physically.
But now that it was over, I was so furious with Ruger that I wanted to scream and hit and kick his big, dumb ass for getting me into this shit. I also wanted him to hold me and make me feel safe again, which was ridiculous.
I’d never be safe around him.
More than anything, though, I wanted to get back to Noah. I wanted to hold him tight and make sure we never, ever had to worry about something like this happening again. Different plans kept running through my head, including changing my name and moving to a different state entirely. But I had a good job now, one that might actually let us get ahead.
I just needed a wall between me and Ruger. I’d draw the line—him on his side and me on mine, with no crossover. If I did that, we’d be fine.
But even angry with him, it felt right and safe to lean against his back as we drove, arms wrapped tight around his stomach. Every inch of Ruger was strong and solid. The leather of his cut lay under my cheek, broken by the embroidered fabric of his Reapers patches. His stomach was made of hard muscle that rippled under my fingers every time he leaned to take a curve.