My brother was a man of strength. He prided himself on his word and his ability to knock a man down with one punch. He wasn’t someone you messed with. When things did knock you down, you got up stronger.
That was his attitude, and the attitude I was brought up with. We didn’t have a dollar to our name, but we had our word and the ability to stand up for it.
He was a pillar of strength, taking full custody of me when I was eight—but, as soon as I turned eighteen, he went back to the only life he knew: club life.
He had turned his back on it to bring me up, and as soon as we landed back in this country and I was considered old enough to look after myself, he went back to the Vipers’ Motorcycle Club.
It wasn’t like he just dropped me for the club—no, I was the one that drew the line.
I told him, club or me.
Needless to say, we barely spoke now. He picked a life as a criminal over me, and that still stirred the acid in my stomach. After everything that club did to him, he went fucking back to it.
That’s the thing with bikers—they are more loyal to strangers wearing the same patch than to their own blood.
After Scorp’s message early this morning, I tried to call him and beg him to reconsider siding with the Devil. I had a vague memory of Colt Hudson from when I was young, but, based on the recent articles about his release, siding with him would lead to a certain death.
Each of my calls went straight to voicemail, so I had no choice but to jump out of bed and pay my brother a visit face-to-face.
By the time I pulled up outside Scorp’s house, it was pouring rain. I flipped down the mirror, checking the thick layer of foundation I’d applied before leaving the house. I couldn’t bear the thought of my brother’s disappointed face if he saw the fresh bruise, my first, nor the thought of what he might do to Elliot if he did see it.
Assured my complexion was flawless, I grabbed my purse from the passenger’s seat, opened the car door, and sprinted through the downpour for Scorp’s porch.
I banged on Scorp’s front door, ringing the doorbell non-stop, but there was no answer. I reached down and lifted up the doormat, praying that Scorp still hid an extra key there. Relief filled me when my eyes landed on it.
Unlocking the door, I stepped into the stale, warm air of the dark house. It smelled of weed, man, and home. We’d grown up in this house until I was eight. Scorp had always had a strange attachment to it.
My heart sank when no one answered. I was too late. My fear for his life went up a notch—it wasn’t like him to doubt himself like he had in those messages.
That’s when I saw it. In the dark of the living room, a glowing ember of a lit cigarette. A hooded figure sat there. Tall, dark, menacing. Dripping wet from the storm outside. Staring right at me.
“Where is he?” the man growled.
I went completely numb, scared out of my mind. Who was this stranger? What did he want?
“I don’t think he’s home. I…” My breathing hitched as the man stood up, pushed back his hood and revealed his face.
Some men you can just tell are trouble, and, as I watched him shrug out of his leather jacket, I knew that trouble was exactly what I was looking at.
Wet strands of dark hair fell in front of intense, smoky blue eyes. Pale scars laced the backs of his large hands. Tattoos detailed his bare, muscled arms and disappeared under the collar of his vest, which was embroidered with a symbol I’d seen tattooed onto my brother’s chest when I was six years old.
Shit, who the hell was in my brother’s house?
My eyes flicked to the kitchen. Looking for any weapon I could find.
“Wouldn’t do that, kitten,” he growled. “You seen my tat. You know what I’m capable of.”
Bikers? Yeah, I knew exactly what they were capable of.
His eyes ran over me, too. Slowly. From my long, dripping hair, down my slim legs, to my silver heels. The fact that this dress was likely see-through thanks to the rain would be noticeable. He wasn’t a gentleman about it. He didn’t look away. Instead, his eyes lingered longer on my breasts.
I watched him take a damp box of cigarettes from his pocket. He pulled one out, lit it, and took a long drag, all while he continued to stare at me. Chills spread through my body.
I wasn’t stupid. I knew what had him staring. It was the fact that I wasn’t wearing a bra.
“Should I tell Scorp you dropped by?” I spoke, trying to gain his attention, and was surprised when he actually looked me in the eye.
“Are you his woman or something?” His words were clipped and short. I heard pure and utter frustration in his tone.
His woman. Such a typical biker thinking that all women answered to a man. Bikers. A disgust rolled through my body.
The club was the reason that Scorp and I had a falling-out. I hated the club. Seeing as I was alone in the house with this man, there was no way I was going to admit that—plus, if there was one thing men like him abided by, it was the fact that a woman who was considered the property of another member wasn’t harmed.
“Something like that.” I felt like I needed Scorp’s protection right now, and if saying I was his woman would stop this man from looking at me like that, then I’d fucking use my brother’s name.
After all, Scorp had one hell of a reputation.
“Well…” He leaned down over me, using his height to intimidate me.
“If ya wanna stay his woman, you better go and change before I fuck that so-called dress off you.
It’s see-through, in case you didn’t know.”
With those words from his mouth, my judgment of him was sealed. Typical alpha male thinking he had the right to do such a thing.
He was acting like he had been in a cage and I was the first woman he was allowed to be around.
Maybe I should redirect him and his bad mood to one of Elliot’s strip clubs.
I couldn’t stop myself from crossing my arms and narrowing my eyes at him. “So is your shirt, but you don’t hear me complaining.”
I moved to walk past him. Instead of stepping out of my way, he blocked my path with his arm.
“You and I both know you aren’t club property.”
Again, I felt like I needed to reference a line to the club so he didn’t hurt me. The man’s eyes had the ability to kill.
“I owe my life to the club.” And that was true. The club got Scorp and I out of the country when I was young and he was looking at doing serious time in prison. How he got out from under those crimes was a secret he still kept.
“Move your arm.” I refused to touch him. “Now.”
“Or you’ll do what?” he challenged.
That’s it! I was done being the girl that took crap from every male. What made this stranger think he had the right to question me in my own brother’s house?
“Move or I’ll make you,” I gritted out.
Right now was a perfect example of my brother being right and me being wrong, because I wasn’t carrying a weapon like he always told me to.
“Guessing by your reaction, you know who I am?” He looked at me.
Yeah, I knew exactly who he was—he was another biker who thought he knew better than everyone else.
I tilted my head, watching him, and used the power of silence to have him questioning my next move.
“What ya really doin’ here, kitten?” he wondered aloud.
“Zero of your business.”
“You’re Scorp’s woman, where is he?” he tried again.
“I’m not his woman.” I gritted the words out in frustration. “I’m his sister.”
Not wanting to spend another minute with a man that saw women as possessions, I added, “How about I message him?”
With a nod from the man’s head, I brought up Scorp’s number, hoping that a message about a stranger in his house would gain his attention.
Learn my place. My eyes began to water and I quickly blinked back the tears. This was not the time for crying.
From the man’s twisted expression, it seemed I hadn’t been fast enough.
“You alright?” The words sounded uncomfortable, as if he’d never said them to anyone before.
“My guess is he’s at the clubhouse.”
“Want me to pass a message on to your brother?” He threaded his jacket back on.
I couldn’t stop my lips from twisting sourly. “He’s made it clear that he is more your brother than mine.”
“At least he knows his place.” His words caused me to freeze for a beat. How the hell had he managed to rephrase the same words my brother had just used on me?
“Go to hell,” I spat. Who the fuck did he think he was?
A cocky grin spread across his face. “I just got out.”
My breath caught in my throat as the pieces of the puzzle fell into place. Lightning cracked through the sky, making the hair on the back of my neck stand up as I asked, “Wait, are you…?”
A wicked gleam lit his face. “Colt Hudson. The Devil.”