“You’ve got to be kidding me!” Tor puts his beer down and eyes me.
“I wish I was, brother.” I light a cigarette.
“Are you positive?” Tor turns to Rage.
“Fuck!” Tor runs his finger through his hair.
"Stig,” I eye the Rider sitting across me, “can you locate where this film was taken, who filmed it, circulated it?”
“I have tried, brother. The rumor says somewhere in Texas, real hillbilly shit. But where exactly... They are fucking good and this is the Deep Web we are talking about. But I will dig deeper, reach out to people now that I know... Goddamn it! And I made fun of you that day.”
“This stays between us,” I talk straight to Bjorn. “Iris can’t know. She may get her hopes up and we can’t be sure...”
Bjorn nods in understanding. Aside from Rage, he is the Rider that cares for Iris more than the others. And me. There’s me, I bite my bitterness down.
“What do you need from us?” Tor asks and Rage eyes him frowning. “Why are you looking at me like that, brother? Iris is your Valkyrie, you are a Rider. We always have each other’s back.”
“I am in!” Vik hits his hand on the wooden table. “You came for us when Lysa was in that fucking cage. I am returning the favor.”
“I’m in, too,” Runner erupts and lifts his chin to Rage before turning to me. “You were there for Magda, Wood, and I am not letting you go in alone. And this is Iris’s sister we are talking about.” Runner nods at Rage that is barely holding it together.
“Appreciate it, brothers. But for now, we do our homework. Rage and I will go in. Gather intel, know what we are up against, form a plan. Then we strike. If we see an opening, we take it. Search and rescue. Better to be in small numbers. Done that shit a thousand times overseas.”
“You know what, Wood?” Vince hits me in the back. “When you go all SEAL on me, I get a little hard.”
I shake my head and flip the man. I had the suspicion that the Riders would stand beside us on this, but this is... We always have each other’s back. Like we did back in my team. I take one deep drag from my cigarette and let the dark thoughts dominate me. I hope I won’t let them down too.
“OK, then. We go to work. Thing over,” Tor declares and we pour out the room.
Iris is there waiting for Rage and we both stiffen when we see her. She looks at both of us and smiles frowning her eyebrows. I give her the fake wide smile that I have mastered over the years but Rage goes to her and encloses her in his arms with worry, shielding her from the truth, from all that is bad in this world. Iris looks at me over his shoulder with an inquisitive look. I shake my head to dismiss her worries. Rage may not be able to hide his feelings but I am a pro at it.
She saw the bruises on our faces, the gush Rage’s fist has opened on my lip, the tear on Rage’s eyebrow but she asked nothing more. That is Iris. The cutest, sweetest woman in existence.
“I have to go, baby girl,” Rage bites every word out.
“Work?” Iris is so in tune with him, she senses that something is wrong.
“I got some shit to deal with,” I intervene, “and I need Rage.”
Iris’s jaw drops a little. She never mentioned it to spare me the embarrassment but she knew what went down. She knew I was going to claim her and she knew how fucked up Rage was over it. I still remember that day in Bjorn's wedding. But the pain is now duller. One day, I hope, I won't feel it at all.
Iris searches my eyes but I give nothing up. She mustn’t know about that Tamie shit, not till we are sure and her sister is safe. If Tyr willed it and she is dead, there’s no reason to give Iris fake hope only to crash it down. I glance at Rage but his whole focus is on his Valkyrie. He clenches his fists over and over and his shoulders tighten.
“Come on, man,” I say to keep him calm. “Let’s get ready. Tomorrow we ride.”
He doesn’t move, he just cups Iris’s doll face and makes her face him. Her eyes melt with love when they meet his and a sweet smile adorns her perfect lips. God the fuck damn! It's not just seeing Iris choose him over me again and again. It's that look of adoration that I never got from anyone, ever in my life. A sharp pain goes through me and I clench my jaw. Without saying anything more, I head for my room.
I grab a half-full bottle of vodka and down it in three gulps just to feel that liberating buzz. Anger and agitation rise in me and I don’ t need that wacko shit right now. I need to be focused and ready, alert and deadly.
I take my trusting CheyTac M2000 rifle and I close my eyes. I go through the motions and disassemble it in seconds even drunk as I am. I am preparing for battle and battle is all I have.
But it doesn’t work. All of the shit I carry with me, they clash inside my head. Loud explosions, bullets flying, helicopters, screams, fire, orders, fear, nightmares, guilt. And spilled brains all over me. My leg is twitching and my hands go wet.
I need to calm down so I go out. Somewhere familiar cause being in the wrong place right now might make me explode. I ride straight to our escort and go in. Ironhand and Tar are on duty and both invite me over.
“Does Chiara know what you're doing tonight?” I ask Ironhand.
He says nothing just pins me with a dark look. It’s not that the giant was fucking our merchandise before. I doubt he’d start now that he has Valkyrie. Even less now that Chiara is carrying his baby. But he is a man of duty and his duty is to protect our properties. Afterall, he will ride straight to Chiara after his shift is done.
Tar, on the other hand, has proved that he could be a younger, darker version of Tor and has two girls in his arms while fucked-up drunk. That last thing is the main reason Ironhand is still around. Tar is a good man, made Rider quickly after he caught a bullet for Tor and he fits right in but he needs to pace himself.
“Wood,” I hear a purr behind me and I mess with my beard.
I turn and Tanya is stunning as usual. Long hair. Luscious lips. Amble, natural breasts. She is one the biggest earners in the establishments and has an exclusive contract with one of Silicon Valley’s billionaires that is currently paying for a helipad made in one corner of the estate so that he can come in and fuck Tanya between lunch meetings and shit.
“Tanya.” I take her all in.
“In for some fun?”
“For a cock like yours, Wood, always. It would be a nice change from that half-boiled carrot I have to entertain and pretend I love.”
Tanya comes up to me in slow, seductive moves. She is a true vixen that one, a true professional and a fucking stunning woman. I should be rock hard right now but I am not. Not so easy to stir the dead, you see. But when Tanya rubs her body on mine, I finally feel something. Her hand goes boldly between my legs and with a few, expert moves, she makes me semi-erect in my jeans but by the way her eyes sparkle, I’d say it’s good enough for her.
“Lead the way.” I pull her to me and she wraps her legs around my waist.
That’s exactly what I need. Tanya’s big breasts in my face and my cock inside her, pounding hard. Tanya will never complain. I will fuck her and fuck her harshly. Enough to forget myself and lose the dark thoughts after me. Tomorrow I got shit to do, a mission. A fucking rescue mission.