©February 2021 by 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: Canva
Editing: T.O. Smith
A loud knock sounded on the chapel doors, dragging me from the books that I was working on. Yeah, I had a secretary and a treasurer, and yeah, I trusted them, but I always did a check over the books after they did their work.
I was thorough kind of man – sue me.
“Ink, what the fuck is the matter now?” I snarled as I looked up from the paperwork scattered in front of me to where someone was pushing open the meeting room doors. I knew it would be Ink. He was the only fucker in my club brave enough to face me when I was in the middle of doing something important.
I had a rule. If someone wasn’t dying, don’t fucking bother me.
Kyle and Roger held both doors open as Ink strode into the room with a woman hanging limp in his arms. She had blonde hair that was tangled with leaves and sticks, some of it streaked with blood from her face. She was small – tiny really – and young.
I abruptly stood up from my chair, my eyes trained on Ink, waiting for an explanation. “Found her outside behind the club house.” Ink gruffly informed me as he gently set the young woman on the table. “She’s unconscious. Somebody beat her half to death.” He told me.
I strode around the table so I was standing beside the woman. “Kyle, get me a bucket of warm water and a washcloth. Roger, get me the fucking first aid kit.” I barked as I gently pushed the woman’s hair away from her face.
She was actually beautiful beneath all of the blood, bruising, and swelling – made me wonder who the fuck hated her enough to want to do this to her.
She groaned softly, her face scrunching up with pain as my fingers skimmed lightly over a bruised part of her forehead. “It’s alright, sweet girl.” I crooned as Kyle rushed back into the room with a plastic bowl of warm water and a washcloth. “I’m going to take care of you.” I assured her.
Goddamn, what was it with me and the fucking damsels in distress?
Adelaide had been the first woman I had taken in – taken under my wing. She’d been so broken. Tristan – her ex – had fucking destroyed the life inside of her. And I couldn’t turn my back on her; I couldn’t let her go.
A pang sliced through my chest at the thought of the woman that would always hold a piece of my heart. I’d go to the ends of the fucking world for her even though she was no longer mine.
And here I was, yet again about to fall into the same fucking trap.
But I couldn’t fucking help myself.
The blonde’s eyes slowly fluttered open, revealing the most beautiful, blue eyes I’d ever seen in my life. They were a startling shade of blue – as blue as the ocean on a bright, sunny, Summer day.
They stole the damn breath from my lungs.
She jerked back from me in alarm, her chest rising and falling rapidly as panic set in. Those blue eyes darkened the slightest bit, terror flashing in her eyes. She quickly scrambled into a sitting position, and I could see her heart thumping wildly against her breastbone.
I quickly reached out and gently grabbed her shoulders, halting her movements before she toppled onto the floor on the other side of the table. “Hey, hey,” I soothed as I gently ran my hands down her bruised arms. “Easy, now. I’m not going to hurt you, sweetheart. I just want to help you.”
She swallowed hard as her eyes ran over my face. After a moment, she silently nodded. I looked at the men behind me. “Leave us.” I commanded.
Ink’s eyes met mine with a questioning gaze before he left the room with the other two men, knowing better than to question me. If it was something extremely serious, he would go against me. Something like this? He trusted my judgement.
“Can you walk?” I asked her once the chapel doors shut behind Roger, and we were alone in the chapel.
Instead of answering, she slowly slid to the edge of the table, and I stepped back, allowing her to stand. As soon as her feet touched the floor, she cried out in pain, her legs crumpling beneath her. I quickly caught her in my arms, desperately trying to ignore the soft curves pressed against me. Despite her being so small, she had little dips and swells to her body that were already driving me wild.
Fuck, I really needed to get laid.
I quickly set her in one of the more comfortable chairs. “I’m going to clean your face up, okay?” I told her. “Just relax.” I coaxed. “Do you know who hurt you?” I asked her as I dipped the cloth into the warm water and rung it out, gently wiping the dirt and blood from her face.
“I was kidnapped.” She told me quietly. I let my dark eyes meet her blue ones, rage pulsing through my veins on her behalf. “My dad – he’s the president of The Outlaws MC. I left a few months ago – trying to escape him and his shit – but he tracked me down.” I’d heard enough about The Outlaws MC to know they were only trouble. I’d never dealt with them, and I made sure none of my men or women got tangled up with them either. But I had always kept my eyes and ears open for them, making sure to keep them as far away as I could. “I managed to escape, and I just kind of ran through the woods until I passed out here before I could knock on your door.”
That explained why she was found behind the clubhouse, and it explained why she knew she could run here for protection. Being as she was the daughter to The Outlaws MC President, she would know who her father had alliances with and who he didn’t.
“My VP found you.” I informed her. “His name is Ink.”
“And yours?” She asked me as I gently began cleaning her cuts with alcohol wipes, making her wince slightly.
I shot her an apologetic smile for hurting her, surprising myself with how gentle I was being with her. The only woman who I’d ever truly been able to be gentle with was Adelaide.
I ignored the pain in my chest at the thought of that beautiful woman.
“Joey.” I informed her. “I’m the President.”
“Joey Dirks?” She asked me as she swallowed hard, nervousness flashing in that pretty, blue-eyed gaze.
I nodded, watching as fear momentarily slid through her gaze. I frowned, wondering what had her afraid of me. “Something on your mind, sweetheart?” I asked.
She swallowed hard. “I met your woman Adelaide a few years ago.”
I snorted, my heart twisting in pain at her words. Adelaide was far from my woman since she was now married to River and carrying their second child together. I held in a fuck ton of feelings around her when I went to visit her and when she came here with River. But she was happy. She was taken care of.
But I promised her I would always force her to keep me with her. I was her reason for still breathing. And I wouldn’t ever break that promise to her, no matter how much it killed me inside.
After everything I had put her through, she deserved for me to give her the best parts of myself.
“Adelaide hasn’t been my woman for a few years now.” I informed her. “She’s married to another man with two kids and one on the way.” I let my eyes meet hers again. “What’s got you so afraid of her?”
When Adelaide had been here, she’d been a monster – a monster I created. When I took Adelaide in, she had lost all fight – al purpose.
So, I gave her a purpose. I taught her how to breathe again.
“When I turned sixteen, I was going to see if I could come here for protection, but Adelaide turned me away at your gate – told me if I knew what was good for me, I’d go back home.” Elaina swallowed thickly. “She’s certainly a force to be reckoned with.”
I released a soft laugh at that. That, Adelaide was – even now. She loved hard, and she loved deeply. And she would destroy the fucking world for those she loves. Now, though, River just did it for her.
“I can assure you that Adelaide doesn’t live here anymore.” I informed her. “So, what’s your name, sweetheart, and how did you escape?” I asked her, wanting to steer the conversation away from the one woman who would always be my first love – the woman who would always be a piece of me.
She looked down at her hands. “Elaina.” She murmured. Fuck – a pretty name for a beautiful woman. It suited her. “And it sounds stupid, but I managed to kick him in the head when he had me down on the floor. I took off for the woods, knowing he wouldn’t think to look there for me.”
I gently hooked my index finger under her chin and raised her face up to meet my eyes. Those blue eyes sucked the air from my lungs again. I barely resisted the urge to rub my chest. I knew this girl was trouble, but I couldn’t fucking help myself.
I don’t know how I always found myself in these damn predicaments, but I was already falling in deep with this woman.
“Sweetheart, nothing about that sounds stupid.” I assured her, my tone gentle. “That was incredibly brave, and as long as you’ll stay here, you’ll have protection within my club.”
“Thank you.” She whispered, so much relief flooding her stunning features at my words that it tugged at my soul.
I could see it clear as day on her face. She had been through too much shit for such a young age.
The chapel door opened, and Ink strode in. I ripped my eyes from the pretty blonde in front of me and glowered at him. “One of these days, you mother fuckers are going to make me install a fucking lock on that door.” I snapped at him as I stood up to my full height to face him.
I crossed my arms over my chest, waiting on him to tell me why the fuck he’d interrupted my discussion with Elaina. “River is riding in with Sam and Adelaide in a few hours.” That familiar ache settled in my chest. His eyes were understanding. He knew how much it hurt me to have her around, but I would never walk away from her; he knew that – understood it, even. Which was another reason he was a damn good VP. “They’ve got a shipment coming in close to here, and they need a place to crash for the night. I told River it was fine.” Ink informed me.
I felt the tension radiating from Elaina’s form, and I gently placed a hand on her shoulder. “Make sure the spare rooms are prepared.” I told Ink. “And inform Jessie to cook extra.”
Ink nodded and strode from the room. “I thought you said -” Elaina choked out as soon as the door was closed back behind him.
“I said she doesn’t live here anymore.” I reminded her. “Not that she doesn’t visit.” I shrugged. “Besides, you’ll find that she’s mellowed out a hell of a lot.” I informed her. “Now come on. You need a shower. I should have some clothes you can fit into. If I don’t, I can ask Jessie – my sister. You two are probably about the same size.”
Elaina slowly stood up from the table, her legs holding her up this time. With my hand on her lower back, I led her from the chapel and down the hall to the very end where my room was located across from my sister’s. I pushed open the door and allowed her to go in first before I stepped in behind her and shut the door behind me. “The bathroom is through there.” I told her, pointing towards the slightly open door. “Towels are in the cabinet above the toilet. Feel free to use whatever is in the bathroom. I’ll have the clothes on the bed by the time you get out.” I informed her.
I turned away from her, striding towards my dresser. I had her alone in my room, and temptation was fucking knocking, begging me to make a move. But she was hurt – injured – and had just gone through something traumatic. The last thing she needed was an asshole, territorial president like me making bold ass moves on her.
“Joey?” She asked softly as I turned my back to her.
I looked over my shoulder at her, arching an eyebrow at her silently, waiting on her to continue. “Thank you.” She murmured before she strode into the bathroom, shutting the door behind her.
Fuck me; I really did have a thing for the damsels in distress.
Adelaide, pretty girl, I’m going to need your help. I fucked up with you, but goddammit, I don’t want to fuck up with her.
I drew in a deep breath, closing my eyes as I gripped the top of my dresser, seeing the pain in Adelaide’s beautiful eyes as I closed my own. “Pretty girl, please don’t let me fuck this up with her, too.” I whispered. “Few minutes, and I can already feel that I’m in deep.”
I watched as Ink let River, Adelaide, Sam, and the kids into the clubhouse. Axel instantly ran over to me, squealing with happiness. I couldn’t help the grin that stretched over my face at the sight of the little boy. I had a special place in my heart for Adelaide’s kids. And seeing her as a mom? It did some shit to my cold heart.
“Uncle Joey!” Axel screamed as he catapulted himself into my arms.
“Hey, kid.” I laughed as I settled him onto my lap. “Have you been good?” I asked him.
He enthusiastically nodded his head, but I knew that was a lie. Every time I was around, he was giving everyone a run for their money. The kid was trouble, and he was always doing some shit he shouldn’t be.
River snorted. “He got into the cookies in Adelaide’s nightstand drawer, and he’s been a nightmare since.” He informed me as he strode over to the bar, going straight for a beer that my sister slid to him without him even having to ask.
I smiled at Adelaide, ignoring the pang of hurt in my chest as she settled herself in between River’s legs where he placed his hand over her small baby bump. “Life treating you good?” I asked her as I watched Sam scoop Jaxon up into his arms out of the corner of my eye.
She shrugged. “Morning sickness is kicking my ass, but I’m doing good otherwise.” I frowned slightly. I hated it when she went through anything that made her the slightest bit uncomfortable.
I opened my mouth to respond before I saw a blonde-haired, blue-eyed woman step out of the back hallway wearing my clothes. My mouth ran dry as all of my blood rushed straight south to my dick.
Holy fuck, she was beautiful – and sexy as fuck wearing my clothes.
I gently set Axel on the floor as I stood up and strode over to where she was standing, nervously scanning the room. I could feel Adelaide’s eyes on my back, but for the first time in history, I didn’t feel like shit for having eyes for another woman.
Elaina was something else entirely for me.
A small smile tilted Elaina’s lips as her eyes landed on me, and my heart raced double time. Fuck. I was in deep – real fucking deep with her. How did this shit happen to me so fast?
“You good?” I asked her, cursing myself when my voice came out gruff. But this woman in front of me was so damn clueless, she still hadn’t picked up on how much and how easily she affected me.
“The shower was great.” She informed me, a little more comfortable now that I was there with her. My heart swelled a tiny bit at the fact that I was the one able to bring her comfort – to make her feel safe. “I wasn’t sure what to do with my clothes, so I left them in your hamper.”
“All good, sweet girl.” I told her. Without thinking about it, I grabbed her hand in mine and led her back over to Adelaide and River. Adelaide was watching me curiously, and River had a knowing smirk on his face. I rolled my eyes at River, and his smirk widened.
He knew I was in deep without me even saying a word. It was the first time I’d willingly walked away from Adelaide to go be with another woman.
I felt Elaina stiffen next to me as soon as Adelaide turned her brown eyes to her. I clenched my jaw, protectiveness swelling inside of me for the blonde at my side. I gently squeezed her hand – a silent reminder that I was still right here with her.
“I remember you.” Adelaide abruptly spoke up, as was her true style. She didn’t beat around the bush for shit. Elaina squared her shoulders and tilted her chin up at Adelaide, and pride swelled in my chest. Not many people had the balls to stand against Adelaide. She was a dangerous woman by herself. With River and his club backing her as well? She was practically untouchable. “Somebody fucked you up pretty damn good, huh? Tried poaching on another woman’s territory again?” Adelaide asked her, a careless, humorless smirk twisting her lips, that monster I had created flashing through for a moment.
“Calm yourself.” River told her sternly, his hands squeezing her hips. “Elaina, been a minute.” River greeted. “Last I heard, you had run off from your old man.”
“You know her?” Adelaide demanded as she turned to face her husband, her eyes narrowed at him. I clenched my jaw. I may love Adelaide to fucking death, would go to the ends of the fucking world for her, but she was treading on thin ice right now.
River nodded at her. “Elaina Giddons. Her old man is a nasty fucker. I deal with him because his territory is so close to mine, but he’s mostly a problem that I’d like to eliminate.”
“How’d you end up back here?” Adelaide asked as she swung her angry, brown eyes to Elaina. Elaina flinched at my side, stepping closer to me on instinct. I tightened my hand around hers, narrowing my eyes at Adelaide.
“Adelaide.” I snapped at her, slightly pushing Elaina behind my body as I narrowed my eyes at the beautiful woman in front of me. “That’s enough.” I growled.
“You suddenly protective over a bitch that’s going to ruin you soon?” Adelaide snapped at me. I growled – a soft warning for her to shut her fucking mouth while she was ahead. “I know all about Yeller Giddons and his fucking MC. I can fucking guarantee you that she’s making you play right into her hands.” She snapped at me, her eyes burning with fire.
“You don’t know a damn thing about me, Adelaide.” Elaina snapped as she came out from behind me. Her face was pale, but despite her fear of the woman in front of me, she was standing strong. I squeezed her hand again, pride swirling in my chest for this little spitfire beside me. “And you don’t know the first thing about Yeller nor what he’s capable of.”
Adelaide stepped up closer to us, and River quickly yanked her back to him, his hands tightening on her hips. “Oh, I know plenty of what he’s capable of, sweetheart, and I saw you in that same room with him, watching as he beat the fuck out of me.” Adelaide snarled at her. I bristled, a thousand conflicting emotions swirling inside of me. “Watch yourself, bitch.”
Elaina snatched her hand away from me and stormed out of the club house. I didn’t know who the fuck to be angry with. But I had promised Elaina protection within these walls, and that meant I also had to protect her against the woman in front of me.
I pointed my finger at Adelaide, my hand shaking with my rage. “You need to learn to keep your fucking mouth shut.” I snarled at her. She glared up at me, hurt flashing in her eyes, but I tampered down my need to comfort her. “River, get your fucking woman in check.” I snarled at her husband.
With that, I stormed out of the club house, running to catch up to Elaina. She was power walking through the gravel lot, heading straight for the gate.
Fuck, she couldn’t leave here. She’d have no fucking protection out there. Her old man would fucking kill her.
I caught her around the waist and pulled her around to face me. “Hey, hey, don’t go anywhere.” I begged her. “Adelaide doesn’t know a fucking thing about you.” I reminded her, trying to calm her down.
“She was right.” Elaina snapped up at me. My blood ran cold at her words. That’s the exact opposite of what I was hoping to hear. “I did stand there and watch as he beat the fuck out of her.” Elaina informed me. I clenched my jaw, momentarily tightening my hands on her waist before I forced myself to relax. “But I had no damn choice, Joey. And that’s something she’ll never listen to.”
“Why didn’t you tell me that?” I asked her, tightening my hands on her waist again when she tried to move away from me.
“You’re still in love with her, Joey.” I closed my eyes, drawing in a deep breath. Fuck, I was hoping she wouldn’t catch onto that. “I knew it the moment I brought her up in your chapel. I need protection, and I wasn’t going to jeopardize that by telling you.”
Adelaide could frankly kiss my ass at this moment because there was a beautiful, blonde-haired woman standing in front of me who was making me feel more than Adelaide had ever done the entire time we’d been together.
How this shit was possible this fucking fast – I didn’t know. But I wouldn’t question it.
I gently drew Elaina against me. “And if I told you next to nothing would stop me from protecting you, Elaina?” I asked softly.
She swallowed hard, tears burning at her beautiful, blue eyes as she swallowed thickly at my words. “Joey . . .” she whispered, her sweet voice breaking on my name.
The moment was interrupted by the sound of motorcycles tearing onto my lot, and I threw us both to the ground as gunshots rang out around us. Her loud, terror-filled scream ripped through the sound of the gunshots, and my blood pounded in my veins as rage – fucking white-hot rage – pulsed through my body.
Someone was looking to fucking die today.