Assuming they didn’t kill me first.
“Nate Evans. Always a pleasure.”
I smiled at my least favorite law enforcement officer, because some twisted part of me was almost relieved he’d finally fucked up bad enough for us to take him out. The once and future prince of the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department sat tied to a metal chair in the center of our interrogation-slash-torture room, face covered with fresh bruises.
Not a bad look on him.
Bolt loosened the bandanna gagging Nate’s mouth, smacking him on the head in the process for good measure. Deputy Dick had pulled Maggs over for “speeding” once.
Bolt wasn’t a fan.
“Have you lost your fucking mind?” Nate demanded. “I’m a cop. They’ll be looking for me—they’ll never stop. Not even you guys can kidnap a deputy and get away with it.”
“I got a feeling Bud will find evidence that you were embezzling, and that you took off,” I said slowly. “Sounds like a cold case to me. Ya think?”
“You can’t do this,” he said, shaking his head in blind denial. “My family will destroy you. This isn’t how it works.”
“I think it’s safe to say that today, this is how it works,” I told him, feeling a smile creep across my face. “You fucked up, but I have good news for you. You still got a shot to get out of here alive.”
He shook his head and spat.
“You’ll never let me go,” he said. “You know you’re fucked.”
“But you said I was fucked if I didn’t let you go,” I countered mildly. “You should probably work on those threats a bit. These contradictions are confusing, and you really can’t afford to have us get frustrated, now can you?”
“I think I should be the one to do it,” he told me. “I don’t really have anything against him. Not personally, I mean. You all have too many reasons to want him to suffer before he dies, so letting me kill him fast would really be the merciful thing.”
“You’re probably right. You know how sloppy I get when I’m pissed off, and then the prospects will have a big mess to clean up.”
Horse carefully took off his cut, folding it and handing it to Bam Bam. Then he picked up a hammer and started toward Evans, whistling a familiar tune faintly. I tried to place it …
“The Wheels on the Bus.”
Fucked-up shit, but that’s sort of what we loved about Horse.
Seconds later he brought the hammer down hard on the good deputy’s right hand. The man started screaming like a baby.
“So, here’s the part where I tell you I changed my mind about making it fast,” Horse said, his tone friendly. “It’s just so much fun, you know? Now I’m going to break all the bones in your feet so you can’t walk ever again …”
Nate shrieked and babbled, tears running down his face.
“Oh, c’mon,” Bam Bam said, his voice heavy with disgust. “You fucked that girl and sent her down there to die. You blew up London’s house. Then you blackmailed her into shooting Pic. Now you’re whining because of a broken hand? I thought you were hard-core and shit, but you’re just a little girl with a badge.”
Nate’s jaw started working, and we waited patiently until he managed to form words.
“I’ll do anything you want,” he gasped. “Just don’t hit me again. Don’t kill me. I don’t want to die.”
“How ’bout this,” I said slowly. “You call your friends down south and tell them me and London are dead. Murder-suicide, or some such shit. If they let the kid live, we’ll let you live.”
“How do I know you’ll keep your promise? You can’t afford to let me survive at this point.”
I sighed heavily, rubbing my temples with a thumb and finger.
“You know, I almost don’t want him to call,” I told Horse. “Jessica is a pain in my ass, and if she comes back home, I won’t get as much pussy. Doesn’t change anything in terms of the war if we save her. Why don’t you just have some fun with him, and then when you get bored we’ll shoot him?”
“Okay,” Horse said, shrugging.
“Wait!” Evans shouted.
I cocked a brow at him. “I thought we couldn’t afford to let you live? That’s what you just told me. What’s the holdup?”
“While he’s still alive, he’s still got hope,” Bam said, smirking. “So now he’s gonna do exactly what you tell him, because every minute he’s breathing means he could still get out of this. Am I right, Nate?”
“Get my phone,” Nate said, sweat breaking out on his forehead. “I’ll make the call.”
“We’ll dial for you, ’cause we’re helpful that way,” Horse said. “People don’t always give us full credit for our warm, fuzzy side, but it’s definitely there. We just love to help.”
“Fuckin’ Mother Teresa of the MC world, Horse,” Ruger chimed in. “Brings a tear to my eye.”
Gage snorted and tossed me the man’s phone.
“Who do I call?” I asked. “Remember, if you double-cross us, you die. If Jessica dies, you die. You got a lot more to lose here than I do, because I really don’t give two shits about the kid. Might be easier for me if she doesn’t live. Something to keep in mind.”
“Julia Strauss,” he said. “That’s the number.”
I scrolled through the contacts, finding the name. Then I hit the call button and put it on speakerphone. It picked up, but nobody spoke.
“It’s me,” Nate said, eyes darting quickly around the room. I wondered if he’d warn them. Probably not. The man was too much of a coward to sacrifice himself for a cause. For once I agreed with him—the cartel wasn’t worth a sacrifice, and they sure as shit wouldn’t appreciate or reward one. “It’s done.”
There was a pause, and then a man with a deep voice and faint Spanish accent replied.
“You sure? We didn’t hear anything on the scanner.”
“No police report,” Nate said. “London called me after she shot him, and I went out there. Now she’s dead, too, made it look like a murder-suicide. I left them—we’ll let someone else find the bodies. You can let the girl go now.”
The man gave a harsh laugh.
“I’ll authorize the transfer to your account,” he said, and the line went dead.