Jeff looked at Max, puzzled. He never saw the biker’s hand lift and for the second time in ten minutes I found myself screaming a warning too late for someone I loved. Jeff’s head exploded. Literally exploded, chunks flying off. One of them hit me in the face, which I didn’t notice at the time because in the instant Max shot him, Jeff’s hand spasmed and pulled the trigger on his own gun. A second shot rang out almost instantly and I felt a line of fire across my arm. I ignored it because my brother was dead, my lover was almost dead and I had a really, really bad feeling that I’d be dead, soon too.
Max looked down at me, tapping his gun against the side of his leg. He wore the same puzzled look he’d had the night he’d attacked me.
“He’s going to die,” Max said, looking down at Horse thoughtfully. “Your brother was right about that. You might as well let him go, because his blood is getting all over your clothes.”
“What’s wrong with you?” I whispered. “Why would you do this?”
“Money, what else? Get out of the way unless you want me to shoot you too. I want to f**k you first. Your call.”
My eyes widened as he raised his gun and pointed it right at Horse’s head. This was it. Horse was out of time. I needed a distraction, just for a second.
“Oh my god, I’m covered in blood!” I squealed suddenly, pulling my hands away from Horse to tear off my shirt and bra. Max’s eyes went straight to my tits right as my hand grabbed my gun. A thousand memories flashed through my mind in an instant, but the one that stayed with me was the sound of Horse’s voice, that first day he taught me to shoot.
Just remember, you ever point this at a person, you shoot it right at his heart and you shoot to kill. Never point a gun unless you’re ready to end a life.
I lifted my gun and pointed it straight at Max’s heart like I’d practiced hundreds of time. I didn’t even think as I pulled the trigger over and over and over until I ran out of bullets. Like Jeff, Max’d pulled his trigger as he died but his arm had dropped just enough to miss us. I crawled over to his body and grabbed his gun, taking it back with me as I climbed onto Horse, sitting on the rags as I grabbed my phone.
“Maggs, are you there?” I asked, my voice.
“What happened?” she demanded, her voice steady and calm. Apparently Maggs took gunfire in stride. “The guys are on their way, they’ll be there in two minutes, tops. They had GPS on your car. Are you okay?”
“Horse needs an ambulance,” I said, my voice shaky. “I think he’s still alive. Max and Jeff are dead. Please save us, Maggs. I’m really, really scared.”
The barn door burst open in front of me and I dropped the phone, bringing Max’s gun up and pointing it at Picnic, Bam Bam, Duck, Ruger and a couple other guys I’d seen at the armory, guys from another charter.
“I want cops and an ambulance,” I said, and my voice might have been weak but my hands were steady.
Picnic surveyed the scene, his face calmer than seemed reasonable.
“Max tried to kill Horse,” I told him. “He killed Jeff. I don’t trust any of you. I want an ambulance for Horse and I want you out of here.”
“Babe, I have no idea what went down here,” Picnic said slowly. “But you have to let us help Horse. Put down the gun.”
“No f**king way,” I replied. “Max shot him in the back. I’ll shoot any one of you f**king Reapers who try to touch him. Ambulance. Now.”
“There’s one on the way,” Picnic said. “Bam’s called it in. But if you’re sitting there holding a gun on us when the cops get here, that’s going to make it a lot harder for them to take care of Horse. He’s our brother, we aren’t going to hurt him.”
“Max was his brother too.”
“A bad thing happened here,” Duck said, stepping forward. Something about his voice mesmerized me, and his eyes looked soft and sad. I watched as he crossed the floor and sat in front of me, about three feet from the gun. “Don’t make it worse. We can still control the situation, but not if you get in a shootout with the cops.”
That startled me.
“I don’t want to shoot the cops, I just want to protect Horse,” I said.
“How are they going to know that?” he asked reasonably. I heard sirens in the distance. “You’re running out of time, let us help you through this, okay?”
I wanted to agree and had opened my mouth to tell him when something tackled me from behind. Duck’s hand darted forward at the same instant, wrenching the gun out of my grasp as Ruger rolled me away from Horse’s body. He held me down, hand over my mouth, and leaned his face in close to mine. His expression was intense, almost feral. In the corners of my eyes I saw the guys spring into action, throwing things into a bag, which Bam Bam grabbed before he took off running out the back door of the barn.
“All hell’s gonna break loose when they come in here,” Ruger told me, his tone urgent. “They’re probably going to arrest you, maybe all of us. Keep your mouth shut. I don’t care what happened here and I don’t care who did the shooting. You keep your mouth shut and the only time you open it is to ask for a lawyer. Keep asking for a lawyer ’til you get one, we’ll send him to you. Do not talk, you got me?”
He pulled his hand away from my mouth and I nodded, eyes wide. A single cop came flying through the door and stopped abruptly, obviously shocked at the scene.
“Holy shit!” he yelled, reaching up to grab his radio. “We need backup now. Everyone, hands up where I can see them. Get off that girl, let her go.”
Ruger rolled off me and stood, backing away with his hands raised high. The others followed suit and then I joined them. The lone cop watched us anxiously as EMTs rushed over to Horse, bundling him onto a stretcher and hauling him out the door. More cops arrived, which was the start of a very, very long night.
I asked for a lawyer and eventually I got one, but he couldn’t answer the one question I cared about.
Was Horse still alive?
He felt detached from his body, almost floating. Pain roared through him. Voices echoed in the background, along with sirens. Then the world went black again.
More voices. Pain, but muted. Horse opened his eyes slowly, taking in a blurry room and a bright white light. A woman stood over him, asking him questions. He tried to answer, telling her his name, but he was so damned tired. He needed to sleep.