As soon as I’m done, each of them snatch up their glasses without so much as a ‘thank you’, and I hustle back to my bar and to cutting limes.

I get two chopped before my mystery guest is back at the bar.

“For someone who doesn’t want to get involved, you sure are hanging around a lot,” I say. I try to keep my eyes on my work, but there’s something about his face — and his deep blue eyes — that messes with my concentration.

“We’re just passing through on business. And I’d like things to be nice and uneventful.”

“And you want to know if the Death’s Disciples will make your business trip into something messy?”

He smiles. It’s charming, but cold. “Right.”

I shrug, pour myself a drink, and think while I sip it. “Unless you sprout breasts, red hair, and change your name to Kendra, you will probably have a pretty quiet night here in Carbon Ridge. As long as you remember to tip your bartender.”

His smile fades. “How long have they been after her?”

“It’s not ‘they’. It’s just one of them: Switchblade.”

“You didn’t answer my question.”

“A while. It’s nothing. But…” I say and then, thinking better of involving him in my business, I finish my drink and turn back to my limes, hoping he’ll take the hint. This isn’t his mess, and the last thing I need are two groups of bikers tearing up my bar because they don’t know how to handle their problems except with guns and violence.

He reaches across the bar and grabs my wrist. There’s fire in his eyes. Apparently women being hurt is a trigger for him.

“But what?” He growls.

Before I can answer, there’s shouting from the kitchen. Emilio. And Kendra. I look up to see Switchblade’s seat is empty. And, from the kitchen, I hear Switchblade’s voice cutting through my best friend’s screams.

“You can’t hide from me forever, bitch,” he roars. “I am tired of your fucking games.”

My blood goes cold and my stomach drops.

Tonight will not be a calm night. Far from it.

Then I hear Kendra scream in pure terror.

I shake my hand free of the stranger’s grip and reach beneath the bar counter to grab my baseball bat. My heart pounding in my chest, I glare at the stranger. “Go back to your seat, I got this.”

Then, I turn and run back toward the kitchen, with Teddy right on my heels and my bat raised and ready to strike.

I’m steps away when the door to the kitchen flies open and Switchblade emerges. With one arm around Kendra and a knife to her throat.

Chapter Two




She’s right. This isn’t my mess. And, even if she weren’t straight-up telling me that I should stay out of her business, I’d still stay out of this mess. Because, sitting in the parking lot out in front of the Timberline Tavern, is a truckload of cargo that’s bound for Kansas City and needs to stay as far away as possible from any law enforcement attention.

Though, for all she tells me to stay away, the fire in her green eyes and the swivel in her curvy hips sure makes it hard.

Shouting erupts in the kitchen and I take my glass and head back to the table, where Mack, Blaze, and Snake are all waiting for me.

“So, are you going to hit that, or what?” Snake says.

I shake my head. “Not a chance. First thing tomorrow, we’re on the road. That means no fucking around tonight.”

“Seriously? We can’t spend a little while here? This town is nice, and I’ll bet there are some wicked trails in the mountains. I could use a good hike after spending too much fucking time behind the wheel of that fucking truck,” Blaze says.

“No way. We’re up early and we’re back to driving in shifts, just like before,” I say.

“Crash are you really going to pass up a chance to spend a little quality time with that ice queen with the nice rack? Because, what, you’re worried your ass will be tired?” Mack says.

Snake laughs. “If he gets with that bitch, his ass might not be tired, but it will be sore.”

“What are you saying?” I say.

“He’s saying that she looks like the type to want to put a collar around your neck and that baseball bat up your arse,” Mack says. “And she’s hot enough that, if I were single and if she asked, I just might fucking consider it.”

“Look, what people do on their own is their own damn business, but that isn’t it. I’m just not interested. This trip is about business, we can relax once we’re to Kansas City and drop the cargo off with the buyer.”

Blaze, Mack, and Snake all trade looks.

“He’s still pissed about Rosa,” Blaze says.

“That’s got to be the reason he’s being such a fucking idiot.”“Watch your mouth, Blaze,” I snap. “I ended it with her, yeah, and it fucking sucked after all these years, but it was time. But the reason I don’t want to get involved with the goddamn bartender is because we have fucking work to do. There’s no time for other shit.”

I stop talking as I notice Blaze, Mack, and Snake all have their eyes trained somewhere behind me. Until this moment, I’ve tuned out the shouting and commotion going on back there because it most definitely is not my business, but now I turn around. And can’t help but take in a sharp hiss of breath.

One man from the scumbag local MC — the Death’s Disciples — has his arm firmly around some young woman, with one hand on her breast and another holding a knife to her throat. This creepy motherfucker, who I assume is Switchblade, has hair so oily you’d need a goddamn dipstick

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