©January 2021. T.O. Smith. All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either a product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Cover Design: Noxity de Lucora
Editing: T.O. Smith
**Please note: NOT PROOFREAD.
“Come on, Adelaide, it’s time to go.” Joey told me, a scowl settling over his features as I continued dancing on top of the table, not paying him a bit of mind. Joey was a control freak, and though I loved the man, he was overbearing – too much for a woman like me that needed freedom and independence.
We didn’t mix, no matter how much we wanted to. We were oil and water.
“You’re fucking wasted, girl. Get your ass down here now.” Joey snapped up at me. I only continued to ignore him, and though I knew it was pissing him off, I couldn’t bring myself to care.
“Loosen up, bro. Let the girl have fun.” I heard his twin, Jessie, snap at him. “You’re always up her ass. She’s not your girl – not right now. You two ended that.” She reminded him.
“She needs a goddamn man to put her in line.” Joey snapped back at her. “This shit has gone on long enough.”
I clenched my jaw, my body momentarily stopping before I forced myself to start again, forcing myself to block out the familiar pain of losing my best friend – exactly one year, torturous year ago.
“Am I interrupting something?” I heard a voice I hadn’t heard in years ask us.
I abruptly stopped dancing – so quickly that I instantly lost my footing since I was so wasted. A shriek left my lips as I fell forward, my arms flailing for something to grasp onto. With a muttered curse, Joey quickly caught me in his muscular arms before I could face plant on the floor. Despite the rage I could clearly see in his eyes, he gently set me on my feet on the floor before he released me, the muscle in his jaw ticking. “I told you to get off of that table, Adelaide.” He snapped down at me, his frame easily towering over my shorter one.
Momentarily forgetting about our visitor, I grinned up at my for-the-moment-ex as I sloppily pressed my finger to Joey’s lips. ”Shh.” I told him, drawing out the sound. He narrowed his eyes at me. “You’re such a party pooper.” I slurred.
Joey rolled his eyes at me, but I saw a smirk twitch at his lips for a moment. He’d never been one for joking and messing around, but somehow, I seemed to kind of bring out the brighter side of his personality. But that was probably due to the sort of strange dynamic we had together.
Oil and water.
But fuck if we didn’t deeply care about each other.
Joey was always so damn serious, but I was the woman who smoothed out his rough edges.
I was eighteen when I’d joined his club, and it was my twentieth birthday when my best friend lost her fight to cancer and I started my downward spiral – getting deeper into the life of an outlaw.
“It’s been a fucking year, Adelaide.” Joey snapped down at me.
I narrowed my eyes at him, fire lighting up my gaze. Joey clenched his jaw, a look of regret passing through his eyes before he smothered it, evenly meeting my burning gaze. “You really want to do this?” I snapped at him, my words still slurred, but that one sentence sobered me up a tiny bit.
It was my birthday today – my twenty-first birthday at that – which meant it was exactly a year since I’d lost my rock to cancer.
He clenched his jaw. “We’ve all been waiting for you to come around, Adelaide, but enough is fucking enough.” I could have breathed fire at that moment as I glared up at him, my hands tightening into fists. “You’re twenty-one fucking years old today. It’s time to get your shit together.”
I sent a right hook against his face, not giving a fuck about the consequences. His face swung to the left, and I instantly saw blood well up on his lip and trickle down his jaw. He turned his blazing, dark eyes to me, danger glittering in their depths. I swallowed thickly, knowing how volatile Joey could be. Jessie quickly grabbed him, pulling him back from me before he could retaliate like I knew he wanted.
I felt large, calloused hands settle over my bare shoulders, sending a shiver racing down my spine. I would know those hands anywhere.
My best friend’s brother that I had once been madly in love with.
That was before he shattered my heart on my eighteenth birthday.
After last year, I was beginning to think my birthdays were cursed.
“Why don’t you go cool off, Joey?” Tristan suggested, his voice filled with so much coldness that some of the people around us stopped dancing and turned to see what was going on.
I flung Tristan’s hands off my shoulders, stepping closer to Joey. If I had to choose, I wanted Joey. We may be oil and water, but he didn’t rip my goddamn heart out of my chest. I could always count on Joey when it came down to it.
“How about you get the fuck out of my clubhouse, Grim?” Joey snarled at him. “And keep your fucking hands off my woman.” Joey growled, grabbing my arm and pulling me flush against his frame.
I squeaked in shock when Tristan quickly grabbed me and pushed me behind him before he stepped toe to toe with Joey, both of their heights evenly matched, though Joey was just a bit more muscular – a little more older. “I was here to make a deal, Joey.” Tristan snarled at Joey. “Do not forget that you owe me.”
Before I could begin to voice my questions, I leaned over and vomited all over the floor.
“Fucking hell, Adelaide!” Joey snapped as Jessie quickly gripped my shoulder and held my hair back out of my face. “You’re cleaning this shit up!” He barked at me.
“Ignore him, sweetheart.” Jessie told me softly, rubbing my back soothingly as I retched again. “You alright?”
I nodded at her, not admitting weakness. I never would – especially not in front of Tristan. Standing back up to my full height, I glared up at Tristan. “Why are you here, Tristan?” I demanded. “This club doesn’t owe you shit.”
“I’m here to make a deal with Joey.” He turned his gaze to Joey. “In exchange for us leaving your crew and your territory alone, I want Adelaide. You deny me this, and I’ll fuck wipe your goddamn club off the face of the earth.”
Joey’s face lit up with an almost uncontrollable fury, as did my own. This was my home – my family – my fucking crew just as much as it was Joey’s. “Over my fucking dead body, Grim.” Joey snarled, calling Tristan by his street name. “Adelaide is mine."
Tristan’s eyes darkened with rage. “Let me make this clear, Joey.” Trevor said with chilling softness. I swallowed thickly. This wasn’t the Tristan I remembered. This was a monster. “I will be leaving with Adelaide tonight with or without your consent.” I narrowed my eyes at Joey in a silent warning. He better fucking protect me. I would not be fucking leaving with Tristan. An understanding passed between us; Joey would do what he could to keep me with him.
That was all that I could ask for. “We can do this civilly, or I can start dropping bodies until you give in.” Tristan snapped at Joey, not missing our silent exchange. “Which is it?”
“Hold on!” I shouted, holding up a hand. “Don’t I get a fucking say in this?” I snarled up at Tristan, my eyes blazing with rage.
Tristan shook his head at me. I sneered at him, and his lips twitched up into a smirk at my rage. I couldn’t fucking believe his audacity. I didn’t want him – didn’t want to be with him.
He had fucking ruined me. Because of him, I was a mess of a fucking woman.
He turned his attention back to Joey. “Well, which is it?”
Suddenly, something hit me hard in my temple, and I let out a cry of pain, my vision quickly darkening as I began to crumple to the floor.
“Adelaide!” Joey roared.
The last thing I remembered was gun shots and Tristan’s muscular arms wrapping around my body before I could drop to the ground.
My head was throbbing, and I could taste stale vomit in my mouth, not to mention it felt like I’d chewed on fucking cotton balls all night.
Fuck, I had partied way too hard last night.
I slowly ripped my eyes open and cursed softly as I quickly took in my surroundings. This certainly wasn’t the fucking clubhouse.
And normally, I woke up with Joey’s arm thrown over my waist as he snored next to me. But Joey definitely wasn’t anywhere to be found
So, where the fuck was I?
The bedroom door opened as I began to push myself up into a sitting position, my head spinning at the movement, nausea rising fast in my throat. Tristan strode into the room, a disgruntled scowl settled on his features. I forced myself to swallow down my vomit.
I would not show any kind of weakness in front of him.
Fucking hell, I hadn’t seen him in three years – not since he had ripped my heart out and stomped all over it in his steel toed black boots on my eighteenth birthday at my birthday party.
I hadn’t even seen him at my best friend’s funeral – his twin’s funeral.
“Morning, Addy.” He said, shooting a devilish smirk my way that still had my stomach twisting into knots. Fury laced through my veins at myself.
Christ, he couldn’t really still be able to affect me like this, could he? It was unfair – life was fucking unfair – and half the time, I felt like it was laughing at me in my face.
“Why am I here?” I demanded to know, wincing when the sound of my voice just made my head hurt so much worse than it already did.
Tristan silently strode over to me and grabbed a bottle of medicine off of the nightstand and a bottle of water. Different emotions swirled in my gut. He had thought about how I would feel when I woke up – enough to set medicine and water near me so I would have quick access to it when I woke up.
I hated that it made me long for more of that care.
“Here.” Tristan’s gruffly spoke up, holding out two pills and the now opened bottle of water.
Silently, I took the medicine, keeping my eyes steady with his. I didn’t care how he made me feel. I was here because of him. I wanted to know why the fuck I wasn’t with the Sons of Hell. “Well?” I demanded.
He shrugged. “I found out that for the last three years, you’ve been with Joey’s crew.” He informed me, his anger twisting his features into a snarl, but he didn’t intimidate me. Instead, I only got angrier at the fact that he thought he had any right to be pissed about what I’ve been doing with my life when he was the one that brutally ripped my heart and soul apart.
“I brought you back here where you belong.” I opened my mouth to snap at him, but he kept going. “Why the fuck were you with Joey’s crew?” He snarled down at me.
“Because three years ago on my fucking birthday, Tristan, you fucking ripped my goddamn heart out.” I snarled at him. His face paled slightly at my words as he swallowed thickly. “I wanted you to hurt as much as you’d hurt me.” I admitted angrily. “So, I fucking betrayed you by joining the one fucking crew you can’t stand.”
“Did Helene know?” He demanded, the muscle in his jaw ticking with his outrage.
My own smirk twisted my lips. “She told me it was a fucking great idea.” I retorted, lying straight through my teeth, but he didn’t need to know that. Helene had thought Joey would be a good rebound guy for me – nothing more. She hadn’t expected nor wanted me to get in so deep with him. “She hated you for doing that to me.” I reminded him.
His face fell the tiniest bit. “I know.” He said quietly. “I fucking remember.” He admitted.
I shook my head and slid off of the bed. “I need to get back.” I told him, not wanting to continue on with our conversation. What happened between us was done – it was over – and I had no urge to rehash old feelings, to reopen those wounds deep inside of me.
“You’re not going anywhere, Adelaide.” Tristan informed me, using my full name.
I narrowed my eyes at him. “Who the fuck are you to dictate my goddamn moves, Tristan?” I sneered. His features darkened. “I’m fucking grown. I’m no longer that naive little eighteen-year-old girl that begged you to stay and love her.” He flinched. “I have shit I need to do, and I can’t fucking do that if I’m here.” I snapped.
Tristan glared at me as he shook his head. “You’re here now, Adelaide. You’re done in Joey’s crew, got that?”
I picked up the closest thing to me – which happened to be a lamp – and threw it at him. He ducked, letting it crash against the wall and shatter into pieces as it fell to the floor. “I’m not fucking done any goddamn where, Tristan Groves!” I shouted at him, my chest heaving up and down with rage. Who the fuck did he think he was?
Tristan made it clear three years ago how he felt about me. I turned to someone else, and that someone else actually cared about me and loved me in his own fucked up way.
Joey and I may clash heads, but he had never fucking abandoned me – not like Tristan had done.
Tristan stormed over to me, his eyes almost black as they swirled with rage. I swallowed hard, remembering the kind of rage Tristan kept under his tight composure that he always wore. I tilted my chin up defiantly despite my heart pounding hard in my chest. Tristan had never put his hands on me before, but I’d seen what he was capable of doing to other people.
If he put his hands on me, he would quickly realize why I was Joey’s woman.
I was fucking dangerous – lethal.
He gripped my chin in his grip, his face a mask of absolute rage. “Don’t you dare do something like that again, understand?” He softly snarled down at me.
I let a smirk twist my lips. “Or what?” I taunted.
I squeaked in shock when he gripped a fistful of my hair and yanked my head back, covering my lips with his. In one quick step, he had me pushed against the wall, his hand sliding around to hold the back of my neck as his other hand tightly gripped my hip. I gasped, opening my lips under his demanding ones as my body surrendered to his. My nerve endings curled tightly, and desire swept through my core leaving me throbbing and wet as his tongue slid along mine.
Fucking hell, I had forgotten what it was like being with Tristan.
The shrill ringing of my phone jerked me out of the moment, and with a gasp, I shoved him back from me, my eyes widening in horror.
What in the hell had I been thinking – doing?
Tristan cursed, his chest heaving up and down as he tried to catch his breath. “What the fuck is that noise?” He heatedly demanded.
“My phone.” I grumbled, moving towards the sound only to find it on the floor beside the bed.
I answered the phone, sighing. “Yes?” I asked.
“Adelaide, you know I’ve tried protecting you from Joey for the last year since you went off the rails, but I can’t do anything this time.” She told me right off the bat, her voice sounding slightly panicked.
“What now?” I demanded with a sigh.
“You’re with Tristan.” She told me. I grunted. It sure as fuck wasn’t by choice. “Joey is pissed, Adelaide. You can’t come back, Adelaide. Promise me that you’ll protect yourself.” She begged.
I snorted. “Jessie, Joey and I have fall outs all of the time -” I tried assuring her, but she quickly interrupted me.
“No, Adelaide, this time it’s different.” She told me. I clenched my jaw, glaring at the sheets of the bed as I sat down. “He’s destroyed your entire fucking room, and he’s got a meeting this afternoon with a hired hitman.” She informed me. I swallowed hard. My life just took a major downward spiral; Joey had officially turned his back on me. “You need to stay hidden.”
“Thanks, Jessie, but I can take care of myself.” I reminded her quietly.
I hung up, clenching my jaw to hold in my emotions. I quickly pulled up my texts and went to Joey’s number, a smirk twisting my lips as I prepared to piss him off even further. I couldn’t help it. I was hurting.
I was destructive.
Can’t wait to see what you’ve got planned, Joe- Joe. Love you! -Adelaide.
My phone pinged with a text message a moment later, and I felt Tristan hovering over my shoulder as I opened it and read it.
What the fuck are you talking about? -Joey
“What the fuck is going on?” Tristan demanded. When I didn’t answer him, he gripped my arm and swung me around to face him, his face a mask of rage. “Fucking answer me, dammit.” He snarled down into my face, his eyes narrowed down at me.
I shrugged, moving back from him. My heart and mind started going nuts when he touched me. I hated it. I couldn’t let him affect me like he used to. I wasn’t that same young, foolish, naive girl anymore.
My phone pinged again, this time with a text message from an unknown number.
Wherefore art thou, Adelaide? Tick. Tick. Boom.
“Fuck!” I shouted, gripping Tristan’s wrist in my hand as I pulled him towards the bedroom door.
“Addy, what the fuck?!” Tristan shouted, trying to pull me to a stop.
“We’ve got to get out, Tristan. This place is about to fucking explode!” I barked at him over my shoulder, my heart pounding in my chest.
Something in my gut told me this wasn’t Joey’s doing. He wouldn’t have had time to have a talk with a hitman yet, nor to set up any kind of plan.
Someone was after Tristan.
We rushed out of the old, rundown house right before the house shook with an explosion. The last thing I remembered was Tristan throwing me to the ground and covering his body with mine before everything went dark.