My phone vibrates in my pocket but it stops almost immediately. Not that I would answer. My brothers and I are riding like the wind to where I know Takeshi keeps Nathan. It’s an all-hands-on-deck situation and I am floored by it.
Sure, it’s mostly about Takeshi wanting shit on the Riders but so far, while we were preparing nobody has even made a comment for revealing who and what exactly Nat is to me. Well, almost nobody. When Ava was briefed in the situation, she did two things. The first was to look me in the eye and say something between the lines “bring Nathan back safely and make an honest man out of him or I will kick your ass”. The second was to do exactly what Tor wanted her to do before Tor even told her so which pissed him off.
And now we are heading there. Wood decided it would be safer to do it tonight. Tomorrow they would be expecting us. That is why he and Lil’Ed rode alone to scan the area. They didn’t get too close but they reported Koreans guarding the place tightly. Takeshi is in there. Nathan is in there.
At the thought of the two of them being together, I boil. I do not know who Takeshi is anymore, it seems like I never really knew him but this I know. He will hurt Nathan before delivering him to me, dead or alive. The other thing I know? He is dead sure I would never tell the Riders.
Takeshi is projecting. I know he said he pretended to be in love with me to get me to do shit but I know better. He was as much into me as I was into him. He might even loved me like I do love Nathan. But not quite. I would risk anything for Nat. I came out to my brothers not knowing what would come out of it but I did it for him. If the Riders will kick me out after all this is over, I don’t care. He is worth it. If Tor wants the arrow burned on my back because I lied, I don’t fucking care. All I care is for Nathan to be alive and well. And perhaps he will find it in him to forgive me.
“ETA, 10 minutes,” Wood says from the comms.
Wood and Vince are running point on this and they chose Rage and Bjorn to be on the frontlines. Ironhand and Vik are the ones that stayed behind on lockdown to keep the Valkyries and the kids safe. The kids.
I glance at Wood’s back as he rides in the front. Bjorn is right next to him. Both fathers. And yet they are here, risking their lives for shit I brought onto them and haven’t even flinched. I know Tor is riding right beside me, Runner on my other side. Daniel is here despite his age. The thralls are riding too with us. Ava is doing her thing too, Tor was on the phone all the time. My brothers. My friends. My family.
My fists tighten around the handles. After all this is over, I might have to give up all of it. And I might have been fine with it if I had Nathan cause he would be my all. But I fucked up with him too. I should have been open and honest with the people that mean the most to me. Whatever happens to me, I deserved it.
Save Nat first, self-pity later.
“What the fuck?” Wood breaks the usually formal way he communicates via the comm. “Weapons hot. Don’t break formation. Runner and Daniel, I need you up front. Bjorn, Rage protect Tor,” he commands. “Lil’Ed cover our rear.”
Calling Runner and Daniel means he needs the best shots in our midst. I look up ahead and I see it. An SUV is totaled against the rails. A bike is close to the car and a four SUV are stopped close.
“I am going to take post on the hill on my left,” Wood announces.
My heart is ready to leap out of my chest. I can’t see exactly what Wood sees but when he swerves out of the way, I see what has him so fucking on edge. Nat. Nat is there, on his knees. Takeshi is right behind him with a gun against his head right next to a racing bike
“NAT!” I scream.
“Do NOT break formation, bror,” Tor orders and Bjorn gets right before me to stop me from doing exactly what I was planning: ride ahead and save Nathan.
“NAT!” I scream again as we all ride up.
From the three of the SUVs men come out with guns in their hands taking cover behind the doors. The last one goes up the road, probably to cut any traffic. Takeshi raises his hand to stop them from firing but he still has his gun pressed up against my man’s skull.
“FAN!” My throat scratches me from all the screaming.
“Lugna ner dig!” Tor yells once more.
Calm down? CALM THE FUCK DOWN? There is a gun pointing the man I love and that motherfucker is telling me to be cool about it.
“Keep the formation,” Wood orders. “Keep the fucking formation so we all get to go home tonight. With Nathan.”
That last line makes me breathe.
We are now close and Vince raises his hand and we all halt. I search for Nat and I see him looking at us with a deep scowl as if he has no idea what we are doing here. I am here for you, old man.
Nathan searches between a sea of cuts and helmets and then spots me. He pins his eyes in mine. His body straightens and a smile blooms on his lips. For that smile, that smile that says he is happy to see me and not just because he has a gun against his head? I would gladly die for that smile.
“Stig, with me,” Tor says and pulls his stand. “Rage.”
Rage growls. Honestly? I am a little sorry for these guys. It’s been a while till Rage has killed or even just maimed someone.
“I am in position,” Wood says via the comms and I know his scope is on Takeshi’s head.
“Do not lose it,” Tor hisses as he passes me by.
As if Rage has any other mode, I shake my head and pull my stand.
“I am talking to you, bror,” Tor says to me.
Only then I realize that my hand is on my gun. I carry my laptop in my special made saddlebag and that is my real weapon but my hand is on my gun.
“Everyone,” Tor walks up ahead. “I need Takeshi alive. I do not care if he is hurt. I need him talking.”
No one answers. Tor gave an order.
We walk the space between us and them and I see Takeshi is tensing and looking at my formidable brothers with a deep scowl. The hand that holds the gun shakes a little before he finds himself again.
I can’t help but smile. He never saw that coming. He never thought that I would come clean to my brothers, never thought I would risk everything for that man. I would risk everything cause without him I got nothing. And I was a fucking fool to reach the point where I needed an asshole like Takeshi to show me that. On the other hand, I might just owe Takeshi for making me see the real light.
“Nat?” I ask when we are close enough.
“I am OK, pr-” Nathan bites his words.
I bite down my jaw. He is still trying to protect me. My man, my amazing old man.
“Let him go, Takeshi,” I turn to the man I want to kill right now.
“No,” he says.
“Stig, allow me,” Tor takes the lead. “Now, Takeshi, is it?”
Takeshi keeps his stone-cold face. Though I catch it. That side glance to where Rage is standing. The Hellhound has joined the party and is tugging at its leash. The knives are in his hands and his knuckles have gone white. One word. One word from Tor and Takeshi will see how he looks on the inside before he bleeds out.
“I am the King of the Riders and I am giving you a chance here,” Tor says in that sweet tone that fools everyone.
“You? You are giving me a chance?” Takeshi chuckles. “You see my men back there?”
Tor smiles sweetly. I swallow. Tor smiling like that is even scarier than Rage.
“Ah, your men,” Tor nods and clicks his tongue.
My King beckons over Takeshi’s shoulder. He grabs Nathan closer to take a quick look. Headlights are approaching. SUVs come up, the one with the Koreans being one of them and a big limo. Men pour out all of them. Gigantic men with no necks. The door to the limo opens and from the car Ava unravels.
She is in an elegant black long dress but I see the thick needles holding her long hair up. She says nothing just goes up to who seems to be the leader of the Koreans. She extends one hand. One hand with a ring on it.
The man takes one good look at the ring, bows and lowers his gun, takes that hand and kisses the ring. Ava nods and goes back in the limo. Everyone packs up and leaves. The Koreans too.
“What the-?” Takeshi is seething. “You will pay for this!!” He yells at his departing allies.
“My friend,” Tor coos. “I’d be more worried about myself if I were you.”
A red laser dot appears on Takeshi’s white shirt. Wood doesn’t need that shit to get his target but as intimidation tactics go, this one is on the spot. Takeshi sees the dot and swallows. And then Wood, just for the effect, he points the dot further and further up till Takeshi knows it is between his eyes.
“I am in a magnanimous mood,” Tor says. “Let the man go, tell me who fed you the info and I am going to make you a deal on top of letting you live.”
Tor is not a rush man. Sure, Wood could plant a bullet between Takeshi’s eyes easily. But leave it to Tor to see this as a business opportunity while thinking how to deal with the Yakuza so this won’t come to bite us in the ass again in the future.
Takeshi turns to me. His beautiful face is a mask of hatred. I tracked all his moves. I had the secret hope that it was all him, some personal vendetta that means that all this shit is on me and nothing else threatens the Riders. But what I found was frequent communication with the head of the Yakuza himself. Whatever is going on, runs deep.
“You want me to give him to you?” Takeshi rattles Nathan up to use as a shield. “Do you know why he,” he spits my way, “wants him alive?”
He eyes me in warning. Either I help him out now or he will expose me. I do not move a muscle.
“They are fucking,” Tor shrugs the comment off. “Stig told us,” he adds nonchalantly “What I am more interested in is why you want shit on the Riders.”
Nathan has a gun leaving a mark on his head, he seems battered by the obvious car crash but Tor’s comment is what seems to break the relaxed mask he has on his face. He turns to me and then at Tor and then to me again. And then one last time at Tor just to be sure. When he finally rests his eyes in mine, I smile and nod.
“Well, why didn’t you tell me that?” Nathan shakes his head.
And then he moves faster than my eye could catch. He twists his body slightly and wraps his arm around Takeshi’s arm, the one that holds the gun, and with two moves not only he disarms him but has the gun in his hand and pointing it at his former captor.
Tor, Rage, and I simply stare for a few seconds at the scene before us.
“Well…” Tor says. “That was anticlimactic.”
I act without thinking. I know all guns are trained on Takeshi right now so I pull Nathan away from him and into my arms.
“Stig?” Nat manages to utter right before I seal his lips with mine.
Everyone is watching I know but I do not give a fuck. My man was at gunpoint! I… I have to feel him.
I pull his whole body flush against mine. Nat seems to still be at shock but when I move my lips softly against his, he responds. He grabs me by the cut and tilts his head to demand access in my mouth and I give it to him. My hands cup his face and I get lost in the moment.
I am sorry, I am so fucking sorry. I love you. I love you. Jag älskar dig! Jag älskar dig väldigt mycket, I repeat in my mind again and again while caressing his tongue with mine.
“Uhm…” I hear Vince through the comm. “I think I got an idea for a porn movie.”
I chuckle against Nat’s lips and I pull away a little, enough to look into his eyes. His bright smiling eyes. My man, my old man, I smile back at him.
“Rage, get him!!” Tor suddenly screams behind me.
I look over Nathan’s shoulder. Takeshi has drawn a fucking katana from that bike and is coming for us. Without even thinking, I hold Nathan tight and I twist us around trying to get Nathan out of the way but he is holding on to me tightly.
I hear Rage growl behind me and I know the Hellhound got Takeshi. And I feel nothing so it means that last attempt was for nothing.
“Stig!” Nathan yells looking down at my torso. “No, no, no!”
“Fuck!” Tor is on me. “Tell Tom to move in. How far behind is he? Nathan, are you OK?”
Nathan? I scowl and search my man. And there on his chest, right under his shoulder I see blood running. How the fuck?
I look down at me. Blood. Way more blood than on Nathan.
“No, no, baby,” Nathan grabs me and pushes me down on the road. “No, fuck no!”
“It’s OK, kärlek,” I raise my hand to his worried face.
He leans in and takes my lips in his. And that’s when the pain hits.