Probably spending that time with London. Comforting her.
Maybe even fuckin’ her right at this minute.
I imagined slowly strangling the man, watching his face turn purple and his eyes bulge while his legs kicked and bucked in desperation. Nothin’ fucked up about that, right?
Christ, but I wanted inside that woman.
Knew from the minute I’d seen her six months ago she’d be the end of me. Put her off bounds that same night, although I’d been hell-bent on staying away from her. Women like that were trouble—definitely not club whore material, which meant she’d probably get all pissy about a one-night stand, and not in the market to be an old lady, either. Nope, women like her wanted picket fences and nine-to-five husbands so pussy-whipped they forgot their own names.
Add in the fact that she was the first reliable cleaner we’d found in nearly three years? Recipe for disaster.
Now I’d hit uncharted territory, because I’d tasted her and the taste wasn’t going away—time to face reality. Sooner or later I’d take her, and that fuckwad of a boyfriend wasn’t going to get in my way. Hell, if she knew all the games he was playing, she’d get down on her knees and beg me to step in.
The image of her down on her knees … now that was a thing of beauty.
Maybe I should blow off The Line, track her down. Evans was the biggest problem—so far as she knew, he was still Prince Charming. I’d planted the seed, but now I had to step back, wait for him to fuck things up.
He would, of course.
Man like that could only pretend for so long. London needed to see his shit for herself, otherwise she’d always wonder, which would be damned inconvenient for me.
Fuck me … Why should I give a shit about her regrets?
Losing my damned mind.
“I’ll hit the strip club with you,” I told Bolt. “See if the brothers want to join us. Been a while since we all went out.”
Bolt grunted and we climbed into the truck, big diesel engine roaring to life. I felt the weight of the trailer tug at the rig as I started cautiously down the mountain. By the time we hit the halfway mark my phone came to life, pinging as the messages and texts I’d gotten while we were out of range downloaded.
“Shit, sounds like Grand Central,” Bolt said, raising a brow. “You think we got a problem?”
I slowed the truck to a stop in the center of the narrow logging road, grabbing the phone for a quick look. First up was a text from Horse saying we needed to talk—maybe news from the south? Seemed like we heard new stories about the cartel every day now. They were plowing through the Devil’s Jacks’ territory way too fast, which was very bad news for the Reapers. The Jacks were our buffer zone, the first line of defense against the southern gangs.
But Horse’s message wasn’t what really caught my attention.
The fact that London Armstrong had called three times and left two voice mails stopped me dead in my tracks. I hit the button.
“Hello, Mr. Hayes,” she said, voice strained but still full of that strange formality she used to distance herself. Fuckin’ ridiculous—I’d sucked on her lips and dug my fingers into her ass. Time to start using first names. Instead of pissing me off, though, it kind of turned me on. ’Course everything she did turned me on.
“It’s London. I have a favor to ask—do you think you could ask around about Jessica? See if maybe she’s gotten in touch with anyone in your club? She was pretty angry Friday night after you left. In fact, she took off. I thought she’d come back by now, but she hasn’t.”
She hesitated, then spoke again, her voice shaking. “I’m starting to get worried.”
Fucking great. Not enough that the little brat got herself into constant trouble—now she had to go running off, too? I seriously doubted that she’d talked to anyone at the club. They all knew she was hands off, not than anyone gave a shit. Girls like her came and went, and nobody paid much attention. If one disappeared, there was always another to take her place.
London was in a different class and I didn’t like the idea of her worrying. Woman had enough shit to deal with already. I hit play on the second message, which she’d only left about half an hour ago. This time she dropped the pretense of formality.
“Reese, I’m really worried about Jess. Can you call or message me? I know things are … awkward … between us, but I’d like to rule out whether she’s with someone from the club. Nobody has seen her.”
“Fuck,” I muttered, then glanced over at Bolt. “Give me a sec?”
He nodded and I stepped out of the truck, hitting the callback button. She answered on the fourth ring.
Her voice was tense, but I still liked the sound of my name on her tongue. Of course, it’d sound sweeter if she was screaming it into a pillow while I pounded her from behind. Funny how that worked.
“Got your messages, sweetheart,” I said. “I’ll check with the brothers, but if she’d shown up at the Armory, they would’ve told me. They know she’s not supposed to be out there.”
“You don’t think she could’ve gone to someone’s house?” she asked, her voice tentative. “Maybe one of those men we found her with the other night?”
“No way. Painter and Banks wouldn’t touch her, not after I put her off-limits. Hate to break it to you, but she’s nothing special. Not worth a fight at the club.”
“I see,” she said, although she probably didn’t. Outsiders never did.
“What does Deputy Dick have to say? He helpin’ you out?”
She made a strange, strangled noise, which she tried to cover with a cough.
“Nate told me kids her age take off all the time and not to worry about it. And no, he’s not around. I’ve only talked to him once—he didn’t return my calls yesterday, and he’s working this morning. I guess they’ve got a lot going on this weekend. Mandatory overtime.”
Lying asshole. What kind of game was he playing with her? My inner caveman decided it didn’t matter. Fuck safety, and fuck picket fences. London Armstrong obviously couldn’t take care of herself, which meant someone needed to step in and fix this shit. If that meant claiming her, so be it. As for Evans, I’d put that fucker in the ground a hundred miles from the nearest town with a clear conscience the next time he decided to play games.
Proud of you, baby, Heather murmured.
I growled, because my dead wife didn’t get a vote. If she really cared about me, she wouldn’t have died. And London? I’d had enough of her shit, too. That bitch was gonna be mine and I didn’t share.