I woke up instantly at the message they were coming, and the next question quickly followed. “Who is coming?”
“The Club. One of the members just arrived at the gate to tell them to open it. It’s a van with Three Tequila and Mongo, plus all the others that were at the hospital.”
“On my way,” I sent. I rolled out of bed and reached for my jeans. Rori stirred, then buried her face in the pillow. The scent settled her, and she fell back asleep as I got dressed. I walked out and went down to the parking lot just as the convoy was rolling in. Nothing was left to chance with the danger the Club faced, and the gate closed, and a truck pulled back behind it as soon as they were through.
I watched from the back as Mongo led Three Tequila through the crowd gathered to welcome her. She reassured everyone that she was fine, but the mood was still grim. Everyone knew that the Sons of Tezcatlipoca was out there, and no one believed they would stop with Harleigh’s abduction. These men had killed three of them, and biker gangs don’t forgive that.
We all filed back into the clubhouse, where the Prospects and Steel Ladies were cranking out breakfast for the new arrivals and those who had slept in. The place was packed, even with the people who had left earlier for Ocala. I didn’t stick around, my spot in bed was getting cold and I’d rather be with my mate. I checked again with the patrols, who were changing shifts. All was quiet.
I went back up to the room, stripped and tucked into bed with her. When we sleep, we are like rare earth magnets in that our limbs just start attaching to each other. As soon as my head hit the pillow, she has started to glom onto me as I wrapped my arm around her shoulder. My other hand went through her hair as her head rested on my chest. I was a lucky man, not just to have such an amazing young mate but to have found her so early in my life. The Pack she raised with me was just a bonus.
I drifted back to sleep, dreaming of her belly rounded with our child.
Jose Correria’s POV
Previous night, Orlando Safe House
What had been meant as my revenge had gone wrong.
Papa had known for years who the DEA agent was who had betrayed him. I was raised by my Uncle Manilo, raised in the Sons of Tezcatlipoca and raised to be the next generation leader. My father was not around to see the destruction of the Prussians. That gang was to blame because they patched over the Satan’s Riders, who had patched in Andrew Killian, who had betrayed us all. The Sons never forgive, they wipe out.
By the time I could walk, that gang was no more. The ones closest to the DEA agent were captured, tortured and killed as an example of why it was a bad idea to fuck with us.
I turned eighteen while Papa was in prison and was nineteen when he was released. The Feds were watching him, and he’d never get close to Sean Ryder. Instead, he had called me into his office at the Club’s Los Angeles chapter. When I walked in, Papa was there with the Presidents of all the US chapters. “Sit down,” he said. I did, pushing back questions, and waited for them to talk. “They tell me you have learned well, that your Jaguar is strong.”
“I have listened and learned to be what I need to be,” I said. Status among our kind was earned, not given. I had spent much time on my back with teeth at my neck during my training in the mountains with the other Club shifters. It was only in the last year that I was able to hold my own.
“It is time to prove your worth to the Club and your readiness to start your own Chapter.” I smiled, thankful they had seen it was time. A dominant young male could not coexist in the same territory with another dominant male; pretty soon they would fight, and one would die. We were all related, descended from the same bloodline, and the Club demanded more. The solution was to start new Brotherhood chapters with the younger male taking new territory. “We have selected men to start the New Orleans chapter with you. They are loyal and strong men, who will not back down from the turf wars that will be needed to gain control of the docks there. With control of ports in Houston and New Orleans, our Cartel partners will stabilize their shipping routes.”
“I understand what you need, and I will accomplish it,” I said.
“We know you will. The men are waiting outside. You are to take them to New Orleans to scout out a new Clubhouse and your opposition among the gangs. This is the intelligence report on the ports.” He handed me a thick file. The Cartel intelligence operation was better funded than the American intelligence agencies, and the information was more complete. They employed hackers, agents and informers like no one else. If it could be learned, it would be. My men and I would review it carefully, find the weak points and ruthlessly exploit them.
“What is my task to prove my worth,” I said. There was always something, usually involving killing.
“It is time for us to take our revenge on the man responsible for your mother’s death.” He tossed another folder across the table to me; on the cover was a photo of Andrew Killian in his Prussian cut. “His life has been on borrowed time. I intentionally left him alone all these years because I wanted to watch him die in front of me. Every night in prison, I went to sleep praying to Tezcatlipoca for the chance to watch his eyes go blank. I cannot travel to him without hurting the Club, and you are of age now to avenge your Mother. You are to take a few trusted men to Orlando and take revenge for both of us. I want you to film every moment of his torture and death and bring it back to me. Do this and you will have proven your worth to the Club and to me.”
It was an assignment I would be honored to perform. I was shocked Papa would not be there himself, but this traitor did not deserve to spend another day breathing. His wife and daughter were his on borrowed time, and they would be killed in front of him before I gave him the mercy of death. “I am humbled you would allow me my revenge, and his bloodline will not survive to the end of the week.”
“You will prove yourself or die trying,” he said. “There is no coming back here for you.” He and the other Chapter Presidents stood, I did as well. Papa came around the table and crushed me in a hug. “You will make me proud, and you will be a great leader of men. I look forward to seeing how you take our revenge.”
“I love you, Papa.I will not fail.” The other men congratulated me, then I walked out to meet the men selected to go with me to the new chapter. Having grown up in the Club with Manilo, I knew almost all of them. They gathered around me in the Clubhouse. “Thank you for volunteering to start the New Orleans Sons of Tezcatlipoca. We leave in the morning. Settle your affairs and be here by eight.”
Most of them left, but I held back two men. Ghost and Ripper were strong humans, loyal and smart, both men had my respect. Club rules prevented them from taking the President job, that could only go to a blood descendant, but they were my choices. “Ghost, I want you as my Vice President. Ripper, you as Master-At-Arms.”
Both men smiled as I said that. In a new chapter, the leaders were chosen, not elected. “Hell yeah,” Ghost said. “New Orleans is not going to know what hit it.”
“Thank you,” Ripper said. “I won’t let you down.”
“Good. Ghost, you start looking at the New Orleans file. I’ll need you to obtain a location for a clubhouse, we want it close to the docks. Pay attention to the street gangs and bikers in the area and figure out which we need to deal with first. Ripper, you and I will be taking two men to Orlando, there’s a traitor and his family to kill.”
Ripper’s smile was wide at this. He got his name after Jack the Ripper and was famous for his knife fighting. He was an expert at torture with it, able to inflict hours of pain without the victim bleeding to death. “Who is the target?”
“The DEA undercover agent who got my Mom killed and my Papa put in prison,” I said. “He goes by Sean Ryder now. He retired a few years ago and lives in Orlando with his wife and daughter.” I showed them photos of the family.
“This is going to be a fun job,” he said. “We get to fuck both of the women, right?”
“Of course, and after you cut his eyelids off, that fucker won’t be able to stop looking at them as they are taken by us all.” It was our way; just killing them wasn’t enough.
That was earlier in the week. I had left most of the men in New Orleans while Ripper, Taco and Loco rode with me to Orlando. We didn’t plan to stay, so we drove towards his house right after lunch. We all wore gloves and bandanas to avoid leaving DNA or fingerprints behind. Ripper and I got off our motorcycles a few blocks away and broke into the house while they were eating sandwiches in the kitchen. In moments, the two were bound and gagged. We turned them over then went and got our motorcycles. “Where is the daughter,” I asked.
“According to her college schedule, she should be here. Her last class ended at ten.”
“We’ll just have to amuse ourselves until she arrives home.” When we went back in, they had moved Sean to the bedroom where his wife was gagged and tied face-down on the bed, her clothes ripped, her face bruised from where they had hit her. Sean had been hit in the face a few times and was gagged with his own Steel Brotherhood t-shirt. “Did he give you any trouble?”
“Nothing we couldn’t handle,” Taco said. “Camera is set up as you asked.” The small camera would show both of them from the side as we did our work.
“Good. Ripper, set up your stuff.” He had carried in a bag with his torture implements. Pulling over a table within view of the two victims, he plugged in a big soldering iron to heat up. Pliers, hammers, scalpels, surgical instruments, and larger knives appeared until a small propane torch and igniter took the stage. “You know who we are?”
Sean nodded, still defiant. “Then what happens here this afternoon should be no surprise to you. Your treachery cost my father his freedom and my mother her life. I am going to enjoy every second of your suffering.”
“Hold him tight,” Ripper said. “Don’t make a move or you’ll lose the eye.” Using a scalpel and surgical pliers, he pulled Sean’s left eyelid up and carefully sliced it away at the base. Sean was trying hard not to scream as the blood covered his eye. Ripper cut the other one, then used the soldering iron to cauterize the wounds. When he was done, he used water to wash the blood from his eyes and face. “Now you watch. Watch what happens when you betray the Sons of Tezcatlipoca.”
We kept one man on the lookout for their daughter Harleigh and cops while the rest worked them over. For the next two hours, Sean Ryder watched his wife being gang-raped, brutalized and tortured. We didn’t leave him alone either; Ripper carved on him with his knives, we cut off fingers, smashed toes and turned him into a bloody mess. By the time we put a bullet in Kelly’s forehead, he was barely alive and the smell of blood and burned flesh was thick. “We need to do it now,” Ripper said.
“Carve the symbol,” I said. He used his knife on the barely conscious former agent. I picked up the camera, bringing it closer as I brought out my pistol. Placing it at the center of the concentric circles, I looked in his eyes. “For my mother,” I said, then I pulled the trigger.
Brains splattered on the dresser and wall behind him.I stopped the recording and put the camera in my pocket.
“Shit, she’s here,” Loco yelled.
We all ran out, covered in blood as she backed into her parking space. I pulled out my pistol, but she took off. I fired a few times, and I saw her bike wobble as she was hit, but she kept going. “AFTER HER,” I yelled.
She was fast, then she was through the gate of the Clubhouse for the Steel Brotherhood. The men were shooting at us and I was hit in the left arm. The others were dead, so I got the hell out of there.
I pulled over a mile away and took off my cut, then used a spare shirt to reduce the bleeding. I used a burner phone for emergencies and texted that I needed a doctor and a place to stay. A few minutes later, an address came up. I drove to the Cartel safe house, where a doctor stitched me up and left me alone.
The next morning, a man from the Cartel visited. “The girl is in the hospital and under police protection,” he said.“Sloppy.”
“I will make it right,” I said.
“Not now. The death of the agent and the prosecutor has every alphabet agency on alert. You wait until she is no longer under police protection before you try again. Does she know anything?”
“She saw me, she saw our cuts.”
“They know of the Club already, that doesn’t matter. Can she identify you?”
“It was only a few seconds. Maybe.”
He nodded. “We’ll find out from our people in the DEA.” He handed me an address. “This is a property in Ocala, bring reinforcements. You’re going to have to take her from the Brotherhood.”
I nodded. “They aren’t an outlaw gang, and they got lucky. My men will take care of it.” I thought back to my vow. Harleigh Ryder had to die or I could not return. When he left, I got word to my Vice President and told him to go to the address. I didn’t say anything else that the Feds could intercept, and the burner phones would be destroyed after this use.
It took me a few days to heal up. No humans knew I was a Jaguar, or that my healing would be so quick.
A phone call told me that cops were swarming the hospital and Harleigh was missing. “Fuck,” I thought to myself. “The Feds have taken her.” I requested secret transport me to Ocala and my men, knowing from the news coverage that the police and Feds were all watching closely. Lying in the back of a minivan, we made our way to the property.
I met with my men and we came up with the plan. We couldn’t get Harleigh yet, but we could avenge the loss of three of my Club members at the hands of the Steel Brotherhood. Vans had been parked on a road behind the house, and we sneaked out under the noses of the police who were watching the place.
We could hit the Brotherhood and be back before they could get a warrant, and the cops would be our alibi.