That sobered me.
“What about Max?” I asked. “What happens with him?”
“That’s club business,” he replied. “You don’t ask—you trust me to take care of it. He’ll be punished and he definitely won’t bother you again. If he does, I’ll kill him.”
“You’re serious, aren’t you?” I whispered. “You’d really kill him?”
“He f**ks with you, he’s dead. That’s the way it is. Enough questions—now show me how you load your gun, babe. We’re gonna practice every day until you’re comfortable with it, can do it without thinking. This gun is part of you now. You got me?”
“I got you.”
“Oh baby, you have no idea,” he replied ruefully, brushing back my hair and tucking it behind my ear. “No idea at all. Now let me watch you shoot. Chicks with guns are hot.”
December 10—Three months later
I’d love to say that things got easy after that. That every day was a new, perfect adventure and life with Horse was like living in a Disney movie with motorcycles instead of carriages.
That would be a big fat lie.
Horse had been by himself for a long time and he was in need of the occasional attitude adjustment. I’d already lived with one ass**le and I wasn’t in the market for another one. He claimed I could be a raging bitch myself. I can’t say he was wrong about that.
But it was never boring.
For every bad time we had there were ten good ones, and they were very, very good. Horse and I had been working through his list of fantasies and I could attest to the fact that using the pink vibrator with him was a lot more fun than using it on my own. Gary had been a slam-bam-thank-you-ma’am kind of guy. Horse was creative and the only thing he liked more than f**king me was making me come.
This worked for me.
I didn’t learn what happened to Max. I knew he wasn’t around for all of October and most of November, although he reappeared at the Thanksgiving party, slinking around the armory like a half-drowned cat, all grumpy and defensive. The rest of the club seemed to ignore it, so I did too. It was okay. Not quite as good as castrating him with a dull spoon would have been, but life is all about compromises, right?
Especially life in the Reapers MC.
That was another thing I had to get used to. I hadn’t just moved in with Horse at his house. I’d moved into the club, which was as much a family as he’d said, albeit a really weird family. The heart of the club was the armory, a place I kept hearing about but couldn’t quite wrap my head around until I saw it the first time. Maggs called one morning to let me know we were having an impromptu barbeque. I was supposed to make a “shitload of that f**kin’ great potato salad” (a direct quote from Picnic) and be ready at four when she’d come and get me.
The armory, as I discovered when we arrived, was an actual National Guard armory that had been purchased by the Reapers fifteen years earlier. It was just outside of town, three stories high and built like a fortress for obvious reasons. It had a large, walled courtyard in the back and by large, I mean big enough to park lots of cars and trucks and bikes. There were several sheds and outbuildings too. Most of it was paved, but it also had a grassy area with picnic tables, a giant fire pit and a swing set complete with children running around screaming and laughing.
Not exactly what I expected. Neither was the party that followed. It was wild and crazy, but not nasty like the one I’d gone to with the Silver Bastards. This was a family gathering, and I saw for the first time just how tight everyone was. We laughed and danced and took stupid pictures and ate way too much food. That night Horse brought me up onto the roof, laid out a blanket and taught me just how much nicer drunken Reaper sex could be when it didn’t end with a shooting. The kids were long gone by then and I could hear other couples in the darkness. It should have felt uncomfortable but it actually kicked ass. Go figure.
Now it was three months later and things were really good between me and Horse. I’d be starting school in January. My divorce was still working its way through the system, but Gary—as predicted—wasn’t causing any trouble. I’d been to see my mom a few times and she seemed happy enough for me, although she wanted to come and check out Horse and the club for herself when she got out.
The only thing missing in my life was Jeff. Apparently he was in touch with the Reapers sporadically and had even paid them some of the money he owed. Not much though. I still hadn’t talked to him, but I’d gotten a couple of emails from an anonymous address. They said to lay low and hold on, that he’d take care of things soon. I broke down and replied, telling him I was fine and to worry about himself, not me. I also set up a new, anonymous secret webmail account and gave him the address. I trusted Horse, but my brother’s life was on the line and to say my man had a conflict of interest was an understatement from hell. I needed to be able to communicate with Jeff privately. He sent me a couple of notes after that, but they didn’t really say much.
On the bright side, Horse and I were getting ready for our first Christmas together, which was pretty exciting. I’d decided to go shopping with the girls at the Spokane Valley Mall that day. Cookie and Maggs were the leaders of our little group, probably because they needed the support of their sisters even more than the rest of us. The Reapers looked out for them, of course, but being away from your husband long-term had to suck, especially for Cookie. Her little girl, Silvie, cried for Bagger almost every night.
That would be ending soon. We’d just gotten word that Bagger would be home right after New Year’s. He’d been out of touch a lot lately, and Cookie was pretty close to the end of her rope when we got the news. That’s why we’d hit the mall—to find the perfect welcome-home ensemble at Victoria’s Secret.
“I want to look hot, but not slutty,” Cookie said, digging through the nighties. “You know what I mean?”
“Babe, he’s not gonna care what you wear. Remember what he said after you sent that video?”
Cookie blushed and I burst out laughing. Bagger had liked the striptease quite a bit…after he knew for sure none of the other guys had seen it. I’d “met” him on Skype a couple of times now, and it was clear the man worshiped Cookie and his daughter, and he didn’t like the idea of sharing her at all.
“I still can’t believe I let you talk me into that,” Cookie said finally, wiping away tears of laughter. “I can just see it now. Silvie will be fifteen years old and she’ll find it on my computer. How am I going to convince her to wait for sex when she sees me doing something like that?”