“Come on!” I yell at the screen.
If I suspect that the one that just shot me in the head is a 12-year old, I will actually shoot myself in the head for real. What the fuck? I used to be good at this. What is wrong? Truth is, I know exactly what is wrong. The same thing that is wrong every year, this day.
I take off my headphones and get off the gamer’s chair I have paid a small fortune for. What am I to do with myself today? Mingling with the Riders seems so little. After all, a lot has changed lately. Most of my brothers are at their own homes with their Valkyries and I don’t know all the new thralls that well. And hanging with Tor and Vince...
I love being with the Riders. They took me in and they treat me well. They value my skills and let me be most of the time. I check all the “hacker-nerd” boxes so they don’t ask too many questions when I am lost in my world.
What wouldn’t I give to have someone close to talk to today. Or any day. But I can’t. I won’t. Not after what happened the last time.
Ava, I recognize the voice. This is exactly the distraction I need. Whenever Ava comes knocking, interesting things happen. And I need interesting right now more than anything.
“Coming!” I yell.
I go for the door without bothering to put on a shirt. I don’t see Ava like that and Bjorn knows that. He doesn’t know why, but he caught us working in my room with me in my briefs and I am still alive. He only growled threateningly. Twice. So, I guess we are cool.
Does he know? I am suddenly paranoid. He can’t know! I take a deep breath to calm down. It’s the day. It’s nothing but the day. Be cool, stay cool.
I go for the door and open it with a whoosh. Ava is smiling her big smile at me. I like Ava. She is the only one that gets me, at least the way my brain works. I hate lying to her but it’s for my safety and everyone else’s probably. Even so, I can’t but smile at her.
“What’s up, doll?”
“I need a favor, Stiggie.”
“At your service!” I fake bow.
Only when I come up, I see the man standing behind her. Fuck, I struggle to keep my eyes on Ava but I glance up to him again before I manage to focus on my friend. When I do, I find Ava looking at me with a clear question in her eyes. Was I ogling? Keep it together, Stig!
Which is a bit hard to do. The man behind her is doing two very distracting things. First, he eyeing me from head to toe. And then he just stands there. And yes that’s distracting when he is looking like he does.
“Ah, Stig, I want you to meet Nathan. He is an old friend of mine,” Ava says and points at the man behind her.
Nathan takes a step forth and focuses his green eyes on me. He extends a lean, muscular arm to me and I just look at his rough palms. Handshake! I take his hand in mine and I swallow. Yep, rough hands like I said, calloused and harsh. Nothing like my “I’m typing all day on my laptop” hands.
I move to take my hand away out of the most confusing handshake I ever had but he tightens his grip making me look up. There is a faint smirk on his lips and his eyes roam my body once more.
“OK, Nat here needs some help,” Ava interrupts and I am grateful.
“What kind of help?” I hope I didn’t squeak.
“Our kind of help,” Ava raises an eyebrow.
“Why don’t you help him?” I ask.
That’s good. Pretend he is not right there, that he doesn’t exist and that he isn’t hot at all. It might work and he will either disappear or be offended and leave.
“It’s some dangerous shit,” Ava gets serious. “I promised Bjorn. Never again.”
“Oh, cool,” I tilt my head. “So, it’s absolutely fine for me to risk my life for that friend of yours? Do I look like I don’t enjoy drawing breath?”
I keep my eyes trained on Ava but I can’t help but be aware of the man. He is close and there is a power radiating off him in waves that threaten to drown me. Tak Tyr, I am a very good swimmer. That’s till he moves closer and leans to me.
“I’ll owe you,” Nathan says.
Throw me a life jacket, please! My pupils widen at the feel of his voice in my ears. Equally rough and deep. And there was an undertone of a promise hiding in those simple words. OK, I did wish for Ava to bring me something distracting but now I get why people say be careful what you wish for.
“You know how it goes, Ava,” I am still ignoring him. “It will have to go through Tor.”
I wince at the thought. I know that any of the Riders wanting to do shit outside the club have to talk it with Tor first. He is the one to decide if it won’t come back to harm the club. But for me, the rule gets even stricter. Tor sees me as an asset and is quite reluctant to see me work outside our club. Sometimes he makes me feel as if I am an object, a tool.
“I’ll talk with Tor,” Ava is the only one that can face the King face to face. “I just wanted to ask if you were up for the task.”
Work with the guy still drilling a hole in my skull? Nope!
“Sounds dangerous and boring,” I yawn to prove a point.
“OK, Sherlock,” Ava teases. “Tone it down a bit. I am sure you will find it interesting.”
“There is a kid involved,” Nathan adds.
“Yeah, I am not feeling it. Now,” I grab the doorknob, “I left a game in the middle so...”
I am wearing my most dismissive look and make a move to close the door. One last glance, I promise and I look up to Nathan’s face. His stubble is crowning his smirk and he is frowning amused. There is a challenge in his look but I am not picking up that glove.
“When did you become such an ass, Stiggie?”
“You know me, doll,” I chuckle. “I get bored easily.”
Before she has the chance to say something, I close the door and take a deep breath. That was close, I shake my head and grab the controller. Fate is mocking me in my face.
"Thing!” Vince yells outside my door.
I check the clock. Evening. I’ve been crawled up in here for the whole day. Still, it’s a long way to sleep. I guess I will be skipping that today like I always do.
I throw some cold water on my face, light a joint and head to the Thing with my laptop under my arm. I do hope this session doesn’t need my attention. I want it to end quickly so I can go back into oblivion and let this wretched day pass.
I enter the room and take my place. Only Vince and Daniel are in but not long after, all the brothers take their seats. All but the King.
Tor is not one to make an entrance so if he is not here, it means that whatever this is, it’s still on.
“You look like shit,” Vince says.
The Herre makes it his business to know everything about all the brothers. I like Vince and I hate hiding shit from him but...
“Rough night,” I reply. “Wanna share?” I offer my joint.
“It’s Thing, man,” he gives a rare scowl. “We need to be sharp.”
“Well, I am smarter than all of you, so I need to level the plain.”
Vince is ready to tell me exactly how he feels about my comment when Tor enters. And he is not alone. Motherfucker!
Nathan is at his heels and as soon as he enters, his eyes focus on me. And a smile is formed on his face. A smile I don’t like. Not one bit.
“Brothers, this is Nathan. Ava vouches for him so he is good. Now, he has a favor to ask.”
“Stig, you will help him out on his case.”
“Yeah, how about no?” I say still ignoring Nathan.
“Did I ask?” Tor scowls. “Was there a question mark anywhere?”
“I am in for club business but what I do in my spare time is my deal,” I retort.
“I am making it club business, bror.”
"Förlåt, bror," Tor’s look turns ironic. ”Vad sa su precis?”
Perhaps Tor wants to switch to our mother tongue but I want him to know I am not working with him.
“You heard me,” I growl. “No.”
“Again. You make it sound as if you have a choice.”
“Fine,” Tor smiles and it’s not a nice smile. “Prepare the knife,” he turns to Ironhand.
The rest of the brothers shift on their chairs but none say nothing. I try to keep a straight face. But I know what that means.
I heard the rumors but I only saw the knife used once. On Eric. The Rider way of erasing the Tiwaz, the arrow of Tyr off a brother’s back.
“A bit drastic, don’t you think?” Vince comes at my aid.
“The bother here,” Tor keeps smiling, “disobeyed a direct order. Nothing much I can do,” the bastard shrugs.
“Listen, I didn’t mean-,” Nathan starts.
“This does not concern you,” Tor cuts him off.
“And yet it does,” the man says carefree.
Maybe Nathan does see it but I get the subtle glance Tor gives Rage. Me under the knife and Nathan torn to pieces. That’s how this stupid thing will end.
“I asked for a favor but if the boy here doesn’t want to help...”
Boy? Is he talking about me?
“I don’t need your help,” I hiss.
His deep green eyes turn to me. For a moment there, I forget everything. Focus! I ignore his worried look and turn to my King.
"Tor, stoppa det här,”
“Nej, bror. You will either do this or not.”
“Why do you care?”
“Not your place to question my decision,” Tor narrows his eyes. “What I don’t get is why you won’t do it.”
I can’t but swallow hard. Being under Tor’s scrutiny is a bad place to be.
“LoL championship this week,” I lie. “I wanted to watch, play and bet.”
“If that’s what you want, min Kung.”
"Fan ta dig, Stig. Work with Nathan.”
Damn it! I guess Fate wasn’t done mocking me.