“Yeah,” I answered. “We’ll talk about it more at the next church. Gotta say, if it comes to puttin’ a bullet in his brain, I won’t cry. Gage, look into extra security for the girls, too—at least until we know what caused that explosion.”
“Pic, you got a minute?”
I looked up to see Boonie, his face thoughtful. A young man stood next to him—prospect. Had a real hard edge to his face, although I wouldn’t peg his age much higher than nineteen or twenty. Old eyes.
“Wanted to introduce you to Puck,” he said, nodding toward the kid. “Been prospectin’ with one of our chapters out in Montana. Things got a little hot for him out there, so he’s moved into the Valley for now. Thought he might be helpful to you.”
I sized him up. Kid was tall with short, dark hair. Built like a fuckin’ Marine, but his tats were all biker. Both arms covered in full sleeves, and a scar running across his face that made him look like an ax murderer.
“What’s your story?” I asked him.
“Grew up in the club,” he said, holding my gaze steadily. “Dad was a patchholder. Dunno if you ever met him? Went by Kroger.”
I nodded my head slowly, because damned straight I knew Kroger. He’d been killed on a run down to Cali, three years back. At the time we assumed it was cartel, but no real evidence.
“Feelin’ motivated, are we?”
“Something like that.”
“We’ll find something for you,” I told him. “Might come out of it with a patch, you do good enough.”
His eyes flickered with something I couldn’t quite read, and he nodded. Boonie and I exchanged back slaps, and I started downstairs. Lotta guys would be heading home this afternoon, but others would be spending another night. Needed to check on food, make sure everything was ready.
Hunter caught my arm on the stairs. I paused and stared down at his hand, because he had no fuckin’ business touching me.
“Think me and Em are gonna head out this afternoon,” he said.
“What, not enough to move her four hundred miles away from me, now I don’t even get to see her for the weekend?”
He frowned and shook his head.
“Not like that—she’s got cramps, feelin’ sick. It’s been smooth sailing so far, but I want her home and in bed.”
I felt something tighten in my chest.
“Let’s take her in to the ER,” I said. “Better not to fuck around with this shit.”
“Yeah, that’s not gonna happen. I already suggested it and she laughed at me. She says she’s fine, she went off to get a pedicure with the rest of the girls, but I think she needs to rest, maybe go see her midwife on Monday. We stay here, she’ll wear herself out tryin’ to do everything with everyone.”
“I hear you,” I said, although I hated him for it. “Better be safe. Keep me posted, okay?”
“You got it.”
He started down the stairs, the Devil’s Jacks colors on his back taunting me. Asshole.
Asshole who takes care of our little girl, Heather reminded me.
I had to give her that one.
Still didn’t like him.
“Admit it,” Em said, narrowing her eyes at me. “I was right about the color.”
I looked down at my feet and wiggled my toes, which were now painted hot pink. I wasn’t a hot-pink kind of person, and the toe bling was almost beyond my comprehension … but I had to give her credit.
“You were right,” I admitted. “It looks fantastic. I always go for the traditional look. Never would’ve tried it if you hadn’t bullied me into it.”
She grinned and I laughed, taking a drink of my iced coffee. Me, Darcy, Em, Dancer, Marie, and Sophie had all taken off for the mall after breakfast in search of the perfect pedicure. Surprisingly, Maggs Dwyer had met us there—apparently she’d been Bolt’s old lady for years but had dumped his ass recently. I got the distinct impression he’d done something horrible to her. The women were all clearly pissed at him, but they didn’t offer any details and I didn’t ask. Ignorance is bliss and all that, because I still had to work for the guy at Pawns.
I wasn’t totally comfortable with my brightly painted nails, but if nothing else they were fun and playful. My toes looked like they’d been dipped in a vat of flamingos. Make that flamingos on fire, with bright red accents and brilliant sparklies.
“Ladies, this has been fantastic, but I’d better get going because I have to work this afternoon,” I said reluctantly, standing up from the table we’d taken over in the food court. “I just hope I don’t gack my nails while I’m at it.”
“Pisser,” Em said, pouting prettily. “I was hoping we could go shopping until the men finish their Top Secret Important Biker Business.”
“Maybe tomorrow?” I asked, flattered that she’d invite me along. Em sighed.
“It’ll have to be another time,” she said. “I think we’re headed home this afternoon. I’ve been cramping a little—no big deal—but Hunter’s all worked up about it. He’s terrified I’m going to break or something.”
She rolled her eyes and we all laughed. Then I waved good-bye and headed out to my van.
The first hint something was wrong was the open driver’s-side window. I never left my van open. (Not that I had anything valuable in it, but I carried enough equipment and cleaning chemicals in the back that I worried some little kid might get in there and get hurt. My insurance agent had spent forty-five minutes three years ago explaining the concept of business liability to me, and I’d been irrationally nervous ever since. The man was a sadist. He should’ve worked as a high school guidance counselor, because not one of those kids would’ve been brave enough to have sex after a sit-down with him.)
The second red flag was a business-size manila envelope sitting on the seat. A white mailing label had been stuck to the front, but instead of an address, one word had been printed in large, black letters.
In a movie, this is where the bomb squad gets called out. But it didn’t look big enough for a bomb, and I lived in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. We’d already used up our entire town’s annual drama quotient on my house. I reached down, my fingers trembling, and picked it up. A black smart phone slid out.