“Nice you could join us,” said Picnic, sitting at the head of the table. “Thought Serena might have sucked you in. Get lost in that snatch of hers?”
“It’s five o’clock exactly,” Horse said, shrugging as he draped his large frame across an empty chair. “What can I say? I’m a precisely tuned, high-performance machine, unlike you and that crap-ass bike you ride.”
“Fuck off,” Picnic said, grinning back. Then his expression grew more serious. “Okay, boys, we got something important to deal with today. I think you all know we’ve got a thief. Jeff Jensen, computer guy, out of the Yakima Valley. Got back from seeing him this morning, no progress at all.”
“He’s the guy handling our offshore stuff, right?” asked Ruger.
“Yeah,” Horse replied. “Computer genius, knows his shit, our transactions are untraceable. God knows we’re paying him for it too. But it’s not enough. He’s been skimming for months. Been tracking it down for a while now, already gave him opportunities to make it right, so it’s not just a matter of him screwing up. Definitely skimming. It’s small compared to our total volume, but we can’t let shit like this happen. Bad for business.”
“We let one do it, they’re all gonna try,” Picnic said. “We start losing respect, next thing you know the girls at the Line’ll be giving drinks and lap dances to another MC.”
“So what’s the damage?” asked Bam Bam.
“We’re right at $50k,” Horse answered. “It’s been push and pull, he grabs a couple grand, then tries to pay it back. He’s gambling, maybe using. I hate to lose him as an asset because we don’t have anyone else in the fold to replace him. That’s why we’ve given him so many chances to make things right. But his losses are getting bigger—as of last week he was only into us for $20k total, so it’s escalating fast. We let him go much longer and we’ll be down serious cash. He might even pull a runner on us.”
“We should put him in the ground,” Max said, voice firm and cold. Horse glanced at him, surprised to see his face flushed, the little muscle in his jaw flexing with suppressed emotion. Max was still on probation, and it wasn’t usual for a guy in his position to talk so much during church. Max’s blood tended to run hot though. He was one of the hardest men Horse had ever met, which was saying a lot. “We’ve done everything but lead this guy to the shitter and wipe his ass. He’s always making promises, always got an excuse, but nothing ever changes. You should’ve seen him last night. He’s definitely tweaking. Time to cut our losses.”
The words hung heavy in the air.
“How much does he know about club business?” asked Duck, a Vietnam vet who couldn’t make the long runs anymore. He spent most of his time in the clubhouse drinking beer and telling the girls stories about back in the day when men were men and women knew their place. Horse didn’t much like the man but he’d still trust him with his life.
He’d trust any of the brothers with his life.
“Too much,” Horse replied, his voice heavy. “Way too much. He’s a liability if we don’t take out some kind of insurance.”
“What kind insurance is good enough for a guy like that?” asked Max, clearly spoiling for a fight, although damned if Horse could understand why. “He’s a liar and a thief. The money we’ve been feeding him for his work should be enough for anyone. Instead he’s livin’ in a shithole, smoking weed and waiting for his sister to bring home her f**kin’ pathetic little paychecks. What kind of man lives like that? Even if he started playing it straight, we’d never be able to believe him. Probably full of all kinds of crazy lies.”
“That’s the truth,” Picnic murmured. He looked up at Horse, his face grave.
“We in agreement here?”
Horse glanced around the room, seeing Jensen’s death written in every face. He couldn’t argue with them—the man knew way too much. He needed to be removed.
He thought about Marie, what she looked like when she was pissed at him, spitting fire like a little dragon. Damn, he wanted to get inside that woman. Once wouldn’t be close to enough. As usual his dick stood up to salute the idea, but what really pushed him over the edge was the thought of Marie crying over that lame-ass bastard.
He couldn’t let that happen.
“What about the sister?” he asked.
“What about her?” Picnic replied, voice carefully neutral.
“She’s gonna be my old lady. Some nice insurance there,” Horse said, aware of the pointed looks several of the brothers gave each other. “And when it’s family, we take care of business different and you know it.”
“Last I heard, she wasn’t on board with that,” Picnic replied slowly. “Girl didn’t even ask about you last night, Horse.”
“There’s precedent. Not all old ladies start out with their priorities in line, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be claimed if the president approves it and the members agree. It’s happened.”
“Sure, thirty years ago,” snapped Bam Bam. “They did all kinds of shit back then. We’re livin’ in a modern world, bro, you can’t just kidnap some chick and take her home.”
Duck snorted and slammed his hand down on the table, startling everyone.
“You pussies talk about the modern world like we give a shit about their rules. Remember who we are,” he boomed. “We’re men—one percenters. Fucking kings of the MC world. We don’t follow the rules, we make our own goddamn rules. My brother Horse wants a woman, wants her bad enough to come to the club and throw down for her. He ever done that before?”
He looked around the room, glaring at each man in turn.
Horse bit back a grin. Duck on a roll, hadn’t seen that one coming.
“Our brother has come before this club and let us know his intention to take an old lady,” Duck continued. “The situation is complicated. We all know he’ll put the club first, so we hear him out and back his play. He may not always be right, but he’s always our brother. You little cocksuckers need to think about that, ’fore I show up here one day and find you growing tits in place of your balls.”
Duck sat back with a grunt.
“How ’bout you tell us what you really think, Duck,” said Ruger, laughing and relaxing back into his chair. “Jesus.”