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Posts tagged ‘a-z challenge’

A to Z: Z is for Zenith

Last time, we left Cassie and Icarus taking Henry down. And the state police showing up. Now, to what happens next for them.

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Cassie held on to Grady as he rounded another curve on his bike. They’d been back at the clubhouse for nearly a week now. She could hardly believe he’d let go of her at all in that time. They hadn’t discussed much of what had happened. Or what was going to happen next. They’d just held onto each other as much as they could.

The police had only held him for a few hours, until they could sort out everthing that had happened. Cassie was sure her statement had gone a long way to getting Grady released as soon as he was. And the reason Henry was still sitting in a cell, despite his connection to the sheriff. Hopefully he would not be getting out for a long while. If ever again.

Jake and Daniel were sitting in another cell as accomplices. She hoped they wouldn’t be getting out, either. But, when they did, they wouldn’t have jobs in the sheriff’s department any longer. She could at least be thankful for that. Whether the sheriff had known what they were doing or not, he couldn’t very well back them and come out looking very good.

She wrapped her arms a little tighter around Icarus. “You okay back there?” he asked over his shoulder.

“Very okay,” she told him.

She caught the edge of his grin before he looked back toward the road. She hung on to him as they took the final turn to the lookout point they’d gone to almost twenty years ago. She had some rather fond memories of the place.

Grady stopped the bike and she slid off from behind him. By the time she’d removed her helmet, he was off the bike and pulling a blanket and small basket of food out of one of the saddlebags. The cook from the clubhouse had put together some sandwiches and things for them. She grabbed the two bottles of water they’d brought along and joined him where he’d laid out the blanket.

When they finished eating, Cassie leaned back against him, covering the hand he had resting on her stomach. “I was going to quit,” he said.

“What?” She tried to turn toward him, but he held her in place.

“I was going to quit the club. Take you, Birdie and Trace if they wanted, and go find somewhere we could all find peace. Would you want me to do that?”

She couldn’t believe he was asking her that. “Why would you do that? That club is so much of who you are. And I’ve seen the good you do for people. Why would you just give that up?”

“That doesn’t mean anything if I constantly have to worry about who’s going to come after you. You’re what matters to me, Cassie.”

“And you matter to me. I love you, Grady. Whether you’re here with the club or we go somewhere else and you find another way to help people. That’s what you’ve always wanted to do, though. Even before. You can’t give up doing that.”

He hugged her a little tighter to him. “I guess we’ll stay then. All I want right now is to spend the rest of my life with you. That sound good?”

Warmth flooded through her, and she couldn’t tone down her smile. “That sounds perfect to me.”

He turned her toward him and took her mouth in a long kiss before laying her down on the blanket. Later, after watching the sun set, she climbed back on the bike behind him, and they headed back for the clubhouse. To their home. She knew this wasn’t the end. But, she was glad to have every moment she could with him. She wasn’t going to take another one for granted.

~~~~~~~~~

And that’s it! I hope you enjoyed the ride as much as I enjoyed taking you on it. There’s more in store for these characters. I should be starting to put Devil’s story(Dance with the Devil) up on Wattpad soon(you can read the first 2 stories there as well) and am just starting to write Hawk’s. I’m not sure whose will come after that.

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A to Z: Y is for Your Love

Last time, we left Icarus ready to go and rescue Cassie. And Chief reminding him of priorities. Today we’re back with Cassie. Will she be able to get away? Read on! We’re almost done.

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Cassie opened her eyes to light streaming through the window Wraith had climbed through the night before. There was no one there now, though, she could feel someone watching from the doorway. Henry, she realized turning her head slightly. Her mouth was dry, and her stomach ached. They hadn’t given her anything to eat or drink since they’d grabbed her. And now her heart sank, knowing Grady still wasn’t here for her.

He was coming. He had to be.

Henry sauntered into the room, and she tried to force her body up into a sitting position. She got herself somewhat braced against the wall, but that was about the best she could do without the use of her hands. “You ready to start begging for that forgiveness yet, Cassandra?”

“I don’t need your forgiveness, Henry. You should be the one asking for it. You took advantage of a scared young girl who found herself pregnant and no way to get in touch with the father. And you held it against me every day. My trust in you, what I thought might be love. You used it to hurt me. And to hurt my son. No, I won’t ever ask you for forgiveness, Henry. And I’ll never give you mine.”

He was in front of her in two strides. His hand shot out and her head bounced off the wall from the slap. “Do not ever speak to me like that again, Cassandra. I beat it out of you once. I’ll do it again. Don’t doubt it.”

“Oh, I never have,” she said, wiping the blood from her mouth on the shoulder of her shirt.

He turned and started to leave the room. But, Cassie heard the roar of engines down the street and propped herself up on her elbows. That had to be Icarus. If it wasn’t, she didn’t know what she’d do. Henry had apparently heard it too. He sent a glare over his shoulder at her. “I’ll take care of that. Once he’s gone, you won’t have any other option but to apologize and accept what I offer you.”

“Never,” she spit at him.

“You’ll see,” he said and started out of the room.

No, she wouldn’t. She knew taking care of it didn’t mean sending Grady on his way. He would never go without her. Not again. Which meant Henry likely planned to kill him or smehow have him arrested. No. She couldn’t let that happen.

Cassie rolled onto her side and twisted her wrist around. She could feel it slicked with blood. The ties had already dug into her skin. And she felt it catch. She couldn’t just give up, though. Grady wouldn’t give up on her. Cassie bit her lip as pain seared through her hands, but then one of them was sliding out. She let the ring fall away from her wrist and and pushed herself up on the mattress.

There wasn’t anything but the mattress in the room. Certainly nothing she could use as a weapon to help Icarus. She’d need to find something once she got out there. Henry had left the door unlocked, apparently thinking there was no way she could get free. She stepped out into the hallway, keeping an eye out for anything she could use. She found a heavy canister near the other end of the hallway. She almost dropped it but managed to hold on as she creeped forward.

“Let her go, Kearns.”

“Grady,” she murmured. That was his voice out on the front steps. He had come for her.

Henry just laughed. “You can’t actually think I’ll let you get your filthy hands on her again. She’s mine now, Hartson. You lost. Get used to it.”

“I haven’t lost anything. You will let her go. We have the state police waiting just down the road. If she doesn’t leave with us, it only takes one call, and they’ll be here to take you in on abduction charges and anything else they can find. I imagine they’re already at your house searching it for the drugs Trace told them about.”

Henry didn’t sound nervous when he laughed again. “Like I’m actually going to believe the state police are going to help a gang of outlaws like you.”

“You should. First we aren’t a gang or outlaws. And Eric Parnell still hs contacts in law enforcement. They believe what he tells them. And they’ll believe Cassie when she tells them you’ve held her against her will. Let her go now, and this won’t go so bad for you.”

“He’s right,” Cassie said, stepping forward. “I’ll tell them exactly what you’ve done to me and to Trace, Henry. I imagine you’d be lucky to make it out of prison. Especially if they knew what you’d done to a boy you raised as your son. Add in that you’re a cop, and I doubt you’d have any friends in prison. ”

Grady’s gaze snapped up to hers, and she could see the relief shine in his eyes. Henry jerked around to face her, his mouth falling open. “What are you doing? Put that damn thing down.”

“I will. If you let me go with him now.”

He laughed, and for the first ime it sounded a bit unhinged. “You can’t actually believe that will happen. I’ll never let you go again.”

The canister trembled in her hand but she raised it up. “I won’t stay. No matter what it takes, I will find a way to get away from you.”

“Get away from her, Kearns,” Grady yelled from just outside the door.

He didn’t though. Cassie swung the canister at him, knocking into his arm just as a shot sounded. She could barely hear Grady’s shout over the deafening echo. But, then he was at her side, holding onto her while still aiming his gun at Henry. Henry knelt on the ground, holding one wrist in his other hand. It seemed to be bent at an angle now.

“You’re all right?” Grady asked.

“I am now,” she said. “Your love had me holding on. I knew you wouldn’t let me go.”

“Never again,” he said, pressing a kiss to her mouth just before two state troopers pushed their way into the house.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So what’s next? Do Cassie and Grady get to live happily ever after? One more scene to go.

A to Z: X is for By eXample

Last time, we left Cassie finding some hope that she’ll be free and safe again soon. Today we’re back with Icarus, who is finding his own hope.

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Icarus couldn’t sleep. He’d given up on it around midnight, coming down to the living room instead. A few people had been around, but most of them gave him the space they could obviously tell he needed. He’d poured himself a glass of whiskey then continued to stare at it for the last couple hours. This was how it had strted befre too. The inability to sleep. Using alcohol and drugs to try to numb the pain. Then, Chief had arrested him. He didn’t want to know how far down that dark path he’d have gone if it hadn’t been for that.

He couldn’t do it again. He needed to keep a clear head so he could help bring Cassie home once they knew anything.

He finally set the glass aside when he saw Devil approaching him. “You think that’s better than going off half-cocked when the person you love is taken?” he asked, nodding at the glass.

Icarus shook his head. “No. Just another way of doing the foolish thing. Although your way did see Hawk safe. A lot better than this will for Cassie.”

“Only because you and the other guys were right behind me. And, speaking of Hawk, he and Wraith just got back. Chief is bringing them in here so you don’t miss any of it. He wanted me to clear the room out for now.”

“Then, I guess you’d better get to that.”

Devil gave a quick salute and went to do that. There were a few grumbles, but everyone else left the room. They’d be clued in as soon as they had a plan in place. Icarus had to smile a little despite everything. A big change had gone over Devil in just the last couple months. Ever since he’d stopped denying who he was and who he loved. He was definitely coming into his own, just like Icarus always thought he would.

Chief came in, Hawk and Wraith trailing behind him. Hawk nodded at Icarus, but his gaze didn’t leave Devil. Chief came straight to Icarus. “They found her,” he said.

His gaze shot back to Hawk, but the other man gestured toward Wraith. “He’s the one who talked to her. I wanted to take the guys on guard out and bring her out of there, but I was told I was acting just like my lover boy,” he said with a wink at Devil.

Icarus looked back to Wraith. “You really were able to talk to her?”

He nodded. “They had her alone in a room. I slipped in through the window. She was doing okay. I told her to hang on at least until morning. That we hadn’t abandoned her. That there was no way you wouldn’t come for her. She knows, man. She’ll be waiting for you.”

He took a deep breath then nodded. “Okay. What are we going to do?”

“You,” Chief said, pointing a finger at him, “are going to go up and get some sleep. You’ve always believed in leading by example. So, you need to start doing that. In the morning, you’ll take a few Riders, and you’ll get your woman back. You know what matters, Grady. Protecting the ones you love. That’s the example we lead by here. Justice only comes once that’s secured.”

Icarus drew in another deep breath. “You’re right, Chief. I forgot it a little bit, but you’re right. We get Cassie out of there, then I can worry about making sure he never comes after her again. He doesn’t get to take what I love wthout consequences.”

Chief sighed. “Not exactly what I meant, but close enough. Now, go up and sleep. All of you. We’ll get her back in the morning.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Will they get her back? Will Icarus get his justice?

A to Z: W is for Wraith

Last time we left Icarus ready to go after some vengeance once he gets Cassie back. Today we’re back with Cassie, and she ends up with a visitor.

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Cassie leaned her head back against the wall, forcing tears back once more. She’d gone along with Jake and Daniel easily enough. Not that she’d call it of her own free will. But, she hadn’t put up a fight. She hadn’t wanted Jake to take it out on Barbie if she’d fought back before they were away from the clubhouse. And as soon as it was out of sight, they’d pulled over, put a cloth around her eyes and tied her hands behind her back with something she figured was only a step away from zip ties. She couldn’t have fought back if she wanted to. And suddenly she had. But, even as she’d tried, one of them had hit her with the side of a fist, if she could guess by the feel of it. It had stunned her long enough for them to climb back into the front and pull onto the road.

She hadn’t even been buckled in, so she bounced around every time they hit a bump. And she swore Jake hit every bump he could as hard as possible. She didn’t have any way to brace herself or even see what was coming. She’d smacked her head on the window several times and the seat in front of her even more often. By the time the car stopped again, her head was throbbing and spinning, and she was sure she was going to be sick.

Neither of the men cared. They yanked her out of the car and shoved her up the walk toward the house. She fell twice, and they just handled her even rougher. Then, they’d left her alone in this room, but they had at least removed the blindfold. She wasn’t sure if she could have taken much more of that. Still she felt like she was going to lose it.

She didn’t have a clue how much time she’d been here. Except night hadn’t quite come yet. Where was Grady? Was he going to come for her? How would he even find her? What had Henry done to him? Told him? What was he going to do to her? When would he get here? Where was she? This wasn’t the house she’d shared with Henry for eighteen years.

All those questions kept circling in her head the longer she was forced to sit here. By the time something happened, she wasn’t sure she’d have any sanity left.

And that was probably their plan.

Cassie gasped as she saw something move in the window. She blinked, sure she had to have imagined it. Maybe this was how losing her mind started. Seeing things that weren’t really there, that couldn’t be there.

But, the face was still there. She blinked again and recognized it. She couldn’t remember his name, but she knew she’d seen him talking to Grady out at the clubhouse. What was it they called him? “Wraith,” she breathed out the name as it came to her.

Then, the window was sliding up, and he somehow made it inside. She didn’t know how. She wasn’t even sure she could have fit through it. “You came,” she said on a sob. “You all came for me.”

He smiled slightly but put a finger over his lips. “Icarus is losing his mind,” he said, his voice barely even a whisper. “There is no way he wouldn’t come for you. But, Hawk and I are only here for surveillance. We had to find where you were before the rest could come. But, they will come. You just have to hold out a little longer.”

“When?”

“Morning most likely. By the time Hawk and I get back and we hammer out a plan. But, we will be back for you.” He went still then pushed to his feet. “Morning,” he said again then nearly slithered out of the window, closing it again behind him.

A light feeling washed through her. She could make it through one night. Then, Grady would be here. He’d take her away from this. She wouldn’t have to suffer through that life again.

Then, she heard footsteps in the hall outside the door, and it nearly drowned out all that hope. “One night,” she whispered. “You can get through just one night.”

But once the door opened, Henry stepped through the room, and she wasn’t so sure about that any more. He sneered at her. “What a man you got for yourself, Cassandra. He hasn’t even tried to come after you.”

She held on to what Wraith had told her. And didn’t let Henry’s words dig in under her skin. Instead she held her head high. “You won’t get away with this. Not this time.”

He laughed. “I aleady have. I told him if anything happens to me, they’ll know just who to throw into the most secure cell possible. He’s not going to risk it. Not for you.”

“I’m not a kid anymore, Henry. I don’t believe every word you say, or that you’re trying to protect me. I believed it once, and you treated me worse than he ever could have. You won’t make me believe it again. He’ll be here. And you’ll be the one going down.”

“You just keep believing that. You’ll figure out the truth eventually. And you’ll come crawling on your knees for my forgiveness.” He paused for a moment, a wicked light coming into his eyes. “I might just grant it. If you beg enough.”

She was going to be sick. Even more so when he told the men, “Put her over on that mattress.”

She threw her body to the side as they came toward her. “No, she yelled. “You’re not putting your hands on me.”

“Don’t worry, sweet Cassandra, I don’t plan to. Like I said, not until you come crawling on your knees to me. But I figured even you would appreciate a soft place to sleep for the night. Tomorrow you can start working on that forgiveness.”

She held her tongue as Henry’s two men lifted her from the floor and dragged her over to the mattress, laughing as they just dropped a thin blanket over her. They didn’t even free her arms. So, she doubted she’d get any sleep anyway. But, that didn’t matter. If Henry did leave her alone, she would be fine. Grady would be here in the morning.

And then she could finally go home. With the only man she’d truly ever loved.

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Wow, I didn’t think I could hate Henry even more, but I achieved it with this one. Will Wraith come back with the other Riders in time? Why couldn’t hey just take her away now?

A to Z: V is for Vengeance

Last time, we left Icarus understanding exactly what had happened to Cassie. Today, we’re sticking with Icarus as he has to decide what to do next.

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Icarus walked down the stairs, feeling about twice his true age. He hadn’t been able to clear his head. But, he knew he couldn’t waste a lot of time wallowing in his guilt and fear. They had to get Cassie back, and burying his head wouldn’t help accomplish that.

Birdie waited for him at the bottom of the stairs, and he could see the concern pinching her face. She was too young to be looking at him like that. It should be the other way around. “Where’s Trace?” he asked in an attempt to get the attention off him. The two of them were usually attached at the hip when they were at the clubhouse.

“Chief wanted to talk to him. About what happened when you were there. I don’t need to be told when I shouldn’t be litening in. It’s club business.” He studied her face, but other than gnwing at her lip, she didn’t show any sign of that being a problem. Still he had to be sure. If he did decide to quit, he wanted to know whether she’d feel she needed to stay or not.

“Are you okay with that?” he asked.

She shrugged one shoulder. “It is what it is. I’m more concerned with the bruise on his cheek, and the fact he winced when I hugged him.”

In the chaos of realizing Cassie had been taken, he’d almost forgotten about Trace falling. “He had the wind knocked out of him. I don’t think it was much worse than that.”

“It’s bad enough. I can’t believe that fucker put his hands on him again.”

Icarus’ lips twitched up at that. That was his girl, fiery to the last. “Never change,” he murmured, putting an arm around her shoulders.

“I don’t plan to,” she said, kissing his cheek. “I’m going to wait for Trace up in my room. You’ll get her back, Dad. I know you’ll do everything to make sure that happens.”

“I can’t let her go again,” he said. “Especially when she didn’t want to go this time either. And this time there’s more I can do about it.”

Birdie gave him another hug then went up the stairs and disappeared into her room. He felt a little steadier as he headed out of the house and saw Trace leaving Chief’s side. Before he reached him, the president called two of the other lingering men to him. Wraith and Hawk. He didn’t hear what Chief told them, but they both nodded and headed back for their bikes. He could imagine what orders Chief had given them, as they both had a strength with surveillance. And Wraith had always seemed to have an uncanny ability in finding people. Even more so than Hawk. They’d make a good team for this.

Icarus just wished he was going along. He wouldn’t be leaving without Cassie if they found where she was being kept, though. And he was sure Chief didn’t think that was the best way to go about it. He just wanted to get her back.

“Chief,” Icarus said, coming up beside him, “I’m sorry for earlier.”

“You have nothing to apologize for.”

“I lost it a bit.”

The older man let out a sound halfway between a snort and a laugh. “If that was you losing it, I’d like to have you at my side in a crisis. The woman you love was taken from you. I get it. I’ve never told you about Eric’s mother, but trust me when I say I get it. And I wasn’t able to get her back. Are you feeling better now at least?”

Icarus had never known much about Bull’s mother, except that she’d died when he was younger. But, even Chief’s vague explanation told him quite a bit. He didn’t really need to know more. And he stll had to answer Chief’s question. “Better? No. But, my head’s a little straighter.”

“Good. That’s all I can ask rght now.”

“You’re not going to keep me out of this. I’m going to get my vengeance, sir. You won’t keep me from that.”

“We’ve never been about vengeance, Grady.” Icarus knew the older man meant business when he used his real name. “It’s always been justice. That’s not going to change now.”

“And sometimes those are one and the same.”

“Sometimes,” Chief agreed. “Just make sure this is one of them before you take a step you’ll end up regretting.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Will Chief try to keep him out of it? Will Icarus get his vengeance? Or will he end up regretting his next step?

A to Z: U is for Understanding

Last time, we saw how Henry’s men got to Cassie. Today we’re back with Icarus as he starts to understand what happened.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Icarus stared at his phone even after he’d ended the call with Chief. He couldn’t do anything else. He felt some of the men gather around him, but he couldn’t even make himself look up.

“Dad, what’s going on?” Trace asked from right in front of him. “What happened to Mom?”

Icarus wasn’t even sure he understood it. Actually, he did. Only too well. “He sent men after your mom,” Icarus said, his voice dull. “Chief didn’t give me all the details. We’ll talk about it when we get back to the clubhouse. But, he has her. I failed her.” That’s what he understood best of all.

“No, Dad,” Trace said, but Icarus couldn’t listen to him right now.

“Everyone, on your bikes,” he ordered. “There’s nothing we can do here. We have to regroup and come back.”

“We can’t just leave her with him,” Trace argued. “You don’t know what he’ll do.”

Icarus forced himself to meet his son’s eyes. “I do. But, there’s nothing we can do right now. We have to figure out what happened and how we’re going to get her back. I won’t stop until we do, though.”

He expected Trace to argue, but his son seemed to understand how things were as well. He hated it just as much as Trace did, but he wasn’t going to risk Cassie getting killed by going in half-cocked.

But, he could barely focus on the road in front of him as they headed back toward the clubhouse. All he could remember was the look on Cassie’s face as he got ready to ride away. The fear. That’s what had stood out the most. That he wouldn’t come back to her, that he’d fail.

Well, those fears had been realized, hadn’t they? He’d failed her. Icarus slapped his palm against the handlebar as they stopped at a light. It didn’t help diffuse any of the emotion surging through him. Yet, he did it twice more before Bull glanced over at him and shook his head. He knew it didn’t do any good.

When they pulled into the yard, Chief stood on the porch as if he’d been waiting for them. He probably had been. Barbie stood beside him. As they started climbing from the bikes, she hurried down into the yard toward Bull. Except she came right to him instead of her husband. “I’m so sorry, Grady,” she said, her arms wrapping tight around him. “So, so sorry.”

“It’s not your fault,” he told her but glanced over her head at Bull. As if he could explain it. But, his friend only shook his head.

“It is,” she told him. “I should have stopped it.”

He felt Bull stiffen next to him. “What are you talking about, Barb? You promised me you wouldn’t take any risks right now. How could you have stopped anything without breaking that promise to me?”

Chief walked down to meet them. “She went on her walk, Eric,” Chief said. “They grabbed her then. And drove up here shortly after you left. Cassie and Raven were still on the porch.”

Bull was suddenly pulling Barbie away from Icarus, his arms going around her. “Are you all right? Did they hurt you?”

“I’m fine,” she said. “We’re fine, Eric.”

That last part struck Icarus as odd, but Chief was already continuing. “They threatened Barb. If we didn’t send Cassie out, he’d shoot Barb right there.” His lip twitched slightly, but Icarus didn’t see anything funny in the situation. “He thought she was my old lady. Didn’t realize she’s even more important than that to me. Because she’s yours,” he said, looking at Bull. “But, I wasn’t going to hand Cassie over. Because she’s yours,” he said, nodding at Icarus. “And both of you are mine.”

Barbie set her hand on Bull’s chest. “I think she figured it out,” she said then reached out for Icarus’ hand and placed it on her stomach. “She wouldn’t let me, us, be sacrificed.”

Icarus looked up into her face then and realized why she and Bull had been acting odd the last couple weeks. “A baby. You’re having the first baby of the club.”

“I tried to stop her,” Chief said. “I couldn’t fail you like that. But, she took the impossible choice out of my hands, Grady. I’m so sorry.”

“It’s not your fault,” he said, choking on the words. “It’s not any of your fault.” He made sure to take Barbie in with that. “Henry sent those men here and ordered them to take her. And I’d have never forgiven myself if you’d been hurt,” he told her. “But, now we have to figure out how we’re going to get her back. Because I won’t leave her in that hell a second time.” He turned away. “I need a few minutes then we’ll meet to discuss this.”

~~~~~~~~~

How will they get her back? Will they get her back? Icarus isn’t putting blame on them, but will he forgive himself?

A to Z: T is for Taken

Last week, we left Icarus realizing he’d been drawn away from the clubhouse for a reason. Today, we go back a little in time to see exactly how they got to Cassie.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Cassie felt like her feet were glued to the porch. What was happening? She was supposed to be safe here. Grady had promised her she would be. They shouldn’t have been able to find her.

But that was definitely Jake driving that SUV up the drive. She’d always felt a little uneasy when he’d come by the house to see Henry. Jake was probably only too glad to do Henry’s bidding.

“No,” she whispered. “No, I can’t go with him.”

“You won’t,” Chief said, stepping up behind her and putting a large strong hand on her shoulder. “Go in the house. I’ll take care of this.”

But before she could do what he said and take Raven with her, the SUV jerked to a stop and the back door opened so fast she could only assume whoever was back there had kicked it open. Someone stumbled out, another figure following right behind.

Chief’s hand tightened slightly on Cassie’s shoulder. “Barb,” he breathed.

Looking closer, cassie saw Barbie was exactly who had stumbled out of the SUV first. “No,” she gasped, taking a step forward. She couldn’t let Barbie be used against her.

But, Chief yanked her right back. “Grady would never forgive me if I let something happen to you.”

“You can’t let anything happen to her either,” she insisted. “She’s your son’s wife. Eric would -”

“I know, ” Chief said gruffly. “I know, Cassie, but it’s my job to protect you today. I can’t fail.”

She wanted to argue with him about that. She wasn’t any more important than Barbie was. Barbie had been a part of this group from the beginning. And a part of all their lives longer than that. It would devastate just about everyone in this club if something happened to Barbie. Whereas Cassie really only meant something to Grady and Trace.

“How’d they even get to her?”

“She doesn’t like to watch the men leave. Especially lately. So,  she says good-bye to Bull and goes for a walk. They’d have seen her from the other side of the property.”

Cassie didn’t know why the ‘especially lately’ part was significant, except that Bull had been acting more protective of her lately. So, she wondered. “You have to let me go, Chief. I won’t forgive myself if she gives her freedom or life for mine.” Or, if Cassie was correct, her baby’s life. “You have to let me go.”

“This is an impossible choice,” he said, and she could hear the battle in his voice. “I think of Grady as much of a son as Eric. And you’re his. I can’t choose one of you for the other.”

But, the man was pushing Barbie closer to the porch, and Jake stepped out, his gun pointed at Cassie. “Send her down here, old man, or both of them die.”

“I know that’s not what your boss sent you here for. He wants her alive. But, I’m not sending her back to that hell. There’s no way.”

“Then, I guess you’ll be saying good-bye to your old lady.”

They didn’t even know. Cassie doubted they cared who Barbie was really with. It was all the same to them. And she wouldn’t be able to live with it. “Don’t,” she said, jerking away from Chief’s hand. “Don’t hurt her. I’ll go with you.”

Chief choked out her name, and she knew what he was thinking. But, she couldn’t let that stop her. She kept her shoulders straight and her head up as she headed toward Jake. She might be quaking inside, but she wasn’t going to show them her fear. Barbie glanced up at her as she approached. “Don’t do this,” she said. “It will kill him.”

“I have to,” she said. “Henry hasn’t left me a choice. I’ll see you again when this is over.”

If she survived this. Because she knew Grady wouldn’t rest this time until he knew she was safe. She just had to hold on until then.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Will she survive? Will Grady be able to get her out of it? What is going to happen next?

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