Knock On Wood (Riders of Tyr #6)

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I fidget, I know I am so I stop fussing with my hair or the rings on my fingers or the dog tags around my neck. Vince looks at me and I lift my chin with a side smile. I am good. I am good, I repeat in my head, trying to convince my fucked-up mind.

“What have we got?” Tor sits in his seat at the Thing.

It’s only the ones that actively work in our enterprises so it’s Tor, Vince, Stig, Daniel, Jab and me. We have these meetings once a week. It’s ridiculous to see hardened, seasoned bikers sit around a table with the rune of Tyr carved on it and look at business reports and pie charts but Tor and Daniel do not fuck around and the others got on board quickly.

“Daniel, report on the escort?” Tor demands.

“Things are going well. Ava is breathing down my neck, making sure the girls are happy but other than that we are good.”

“By Tyr, I love Ava but she is getting on my nerves. The days-off for the whole escort, the daycare, the sessions with a psychotherapist that has already cost us four girls leaving, the yoga, the vetting of our clients...”

“It’s good, brother. Girls are happy, clients become regulars and steady. Some bought exclusiveness on girls making us tons of money and easy income. And a hell of a leverage. We got most politicians almost every day. It’s great. Before we paid those assholes, now they pay us and we can hold it over them at any time. Brilliant.”

“OK, OK. Vince?”

“We are close to entering the Chinese market, brother,” Vince glances at me.

We’ve been working together across the Bay at the studio we set up there with the Chinese. When I think of the real reason I rode across the Bay to be part of this, I bite my lip. It was right after Iris became Rage’s Valkyrie. I couldn’t... It would turn out bad if I stayed.

I used this as an excuse and have been pretending to enjoy it ever since. How can Vince stomach these fucking mewling bitches crawling the studio? Sure, I’ve fucked some of them to save face but that doesn’t mean I enjoyed it.

“China is coming down hard on porn but hey,” Vince chuckles, “even communists need to jerk off. And we have quality porn. Wood and I test the product personally.”

You are supposed to smile now, I remind myself and I do just that. I wink at Vince with a side smile and turn to Tor that is mocking me.

“Jealous, brother?” I smile at him.

“Never been big on Asian pussy,” he fires back.

“Never been big in any pussy you mean,” I joke and the whole table bursts into laughter.

It’s like I am back in the SEALs. That’s how we teased and joked after a day’s work. A work that included people dying. Most times enemies, sometimes ours. But still, we would make crude jokes, dispel the heavy shit in our heads, prove we were tough as hell. No one is that tough.

“I did some research on our competitors,” Stig motions us to look at the screen.

“I am sure you did,” Vince throws at him. “I see your hand is calloused.”

Stig flips him and turns to his screen. There is a chart there and I am proud to see we are doing good.

“We are holding good on our genres, the cowboy shit Vik set up is still our best-seller and the live sex cameras make us a shit-load of money. Vik, being the whipped-pussy he is now after Lysa, proposed we focus on our female clientele. Porn targeted at women. And he thought maybe we should stick to what we know. Biker porn.”

“Well, maybe I should consider a career in this shit,” Tor raises his eyebrow.

“Hey, hey, hey,” Vince cuts him off. “If anyone deserving a career in this shit, that’s – and I am not ashamed to say so – Wood. I mean, he is Wood.”

“Fuck off, brother,” I pin him with a hard look.

“He is right, man," Tor jokes. "I still remember the day we took you to the escort to haze you. The bitches practically lost it over your dick.”

“If I remember right, one refused to...accommodate you,” Daniel joins the chorus.

“She said you’ll ruin her goods. Is it that big?” Tor asks.

“Man, I wish I haven’t seen it. Makes a man feel inadequate, you know,” Vince chips in. “I walked in on him fucking our main star, Zhilan.”

Vince keeps on talking and I hear the brothers laughing. I am not laughing. I did fuck Zhilan a few times ever since I got in Cisco. She is a professional and seems to know we do this purely for fun. Or venting in my case. How would they all feel if they knew I picked her cause her name means “iris”? How fucked up is this?

“These guys got me worried. Not businesslike worried, like creepy-alert worried. They sell like crazy in the Deep Web,” Stig’s tone brings me back to the meeting.

All eyes are on the screen wall and I see a huge man have some girl, half his size, in bonds and fuck her hard. The girl seems to be suffering. I turn away from the wall and grab my beer.

“Is it...real?” Tor’s voice is cold.

“Can’t tell, man, and that worries me.”

“None of our concern,” Tor is a cold motherfucker.

I glance at the wall once more. It’s another video, some girl in a blue, school uniform walks up to a grey fat man behind a desk. And then the camera focuses on her face. Stig moves to stop the video from playing.

“No!” I get up and my eyes are fixed on the screen.

“What the fuck, brother? Does this shit float your boat?” Stig frowns.

“Freeze the damn image,” I order and he does as told.

I look at the face dominating the Thing’s wall and I feel my heart beat like crazy. I am fucking losing it, I try to talk myself down but it’s impossible to tear my eyes off that face. Those fucking eyes. Those big, huge eyes. Grey eyes. Same as... I look upon the rest of her face and I find more. Her lips are the same, the nose too, the color of her skin, her hair.

“You know that bitch, Wood?” Tor demands.

“Print this for me,” I bark at Stig.

“Seriously? You’re asking me to print that for your own personal spank bank?” Stig jokes.

I hit the table with force and a few beers are spilled. I lean over the table to Stig and I see he eyes the knife still resting before me. I may not be as quick with it as Runner or as lethal as Rage but I know how to fucking use it.

“Fucking print it!”

“OK, OK,” Stig looks at the screen and then turns back at me. “It’s in my office.”

I say nothing just put the knife in the holster get out of the room. This is fucked-up. This is more than fucked-up. Am I losing it? Am I finally losing it?

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