to get a handle on it, and is not only is putting his hands on the red-haired young waitress, but he’s in an armed standoff with the bouncer and the bartender.

“For fuck’s sake,” I growl.

We’re minutes away from local law enforcement being all over here. And the last thing I need is some posturing, small-cocked local sheriff deciding to go poking his nose where it doesn’t belong simply because he doesn’t like the look of my cut.

As I watch, the bartender says something to the asshole Switchblade and, whatever it is, it’s enough to get Switchblade to take the knife from the waitress’ throat and wave it at her.

The second that blade leaves the young woman’s throat, she sinks her teeth into Switchblade’s arm and, as the greasy man screams, she squirms out of his grip.

Then the bartender attacks. Bat high, she clocks the man square in the face.

“Oh shit,” Snake says. “Crash, if you’re not going for that, I might. That chick can swing.”

She swings again, catching Switchblade in the gut. And she follows with a thrust to the groin that the creep barely dodges.

All hell breaks loose.

Shouting, screaming curses and threats, Switchblade’s brothers rise from their seats and run to join the fight.

I look over at Mack. He’s got an expression on his face like a rabid dog that’s aching to snap it’ leash.

“This isn’t our fight,” I say. “We stay out of it.”

Then that asshole Switchblade rips the baseball bat out of the bartender’s hands.

And the back of his fist meets her face. She wobbles on her feet, her face snaps sideways, and I see blood drip from her nose.

I’m out of my seat before I know it, charging right into the fight. And my brothers are right behind me. They’ve got their targets — the other Death’s Disciples — and I’ve got mine: that motherfucker Switchblade.

So much for staying under the radar.

The bouncer and I crash into him at the same time, both of us barreling into him and slamming him hard into the wall. I feel the seismic crash as the force of our impact resonates through me, turning me numb for a second, before I regroup, cock my fist back, and ram it into Switchblade’s ugly face.

“I will knock your crooked face back into alignment, you piece of shit,” I growl as I drive another blow into his face, then another, and then punctuate my rage with an elbow that cuts a bloody line across his cheek so deep I can see bone.

He staggers, hits the ground, and I kick him in the face once for good measure. His body goes limp.

“That’s what you get for touching a woman, you degenerate cocksucker.”

 I turn to the bartender. She’s wide-eyed, her bright greens lit up with surprise, and her mouth is open in this shocked and sexy ‘o’.

Then those greens narrow. Shock gives way to anger, and her full lips set in a hard-edged frown.

“What the fuck did you just do?” She says, her voice barely rising over the shouting and sound of thudding fists as my brothers let loose drunken brutality on these small-town pieces of shit that think they’re man enough to wear an outlaw’s cut.

“He did this to himself,” I say. “Once he hit you, I didn’t have a choice.”

“I had this under control,” she says, wiping away some of the blood streaming from her nose with the back of her wrist. “Now you’ve just made a whole fucking mess of everything.”

I look at the thick streak of blood on her wrist, then back to her. “That’s what you call under control, huh?”

Behind us, Teddy grunts as he hefts Switchblade to his feet and starts carrying him outside. The rest of the fighting dissipates as my brothers knock the piss out of the locals.

She snorts, and another thick drop of blood drips from her nose. “Fine. Thanks, Mister…” She pauses for a second to eye my cut. “Secretary?” Is that really your road name? How, uh, modern of you.

“Fuck no. that’s my rank. Call me Crash.”

Nodding, she holds out her hand. I take it. For a woman who knows her way around a bar fight and doesn’t flinch at a busted nose, her hands feel soft and delicate.  “Nice to meet you, Crash. I’m Violet. And your next round is on the house.”

“Sorry to tell you, Violet, but we won’t be staying to enjoy those drinks.”

“You’re telling me that getting in a bar fight doesn’t make you want to have a few drinks? Are you really a biker?”

“I’m a biker who has shit to do. And I’m a biker who doesn’t like the wrong kind of attention. Which means, after this fucking mess, my brothers and I are due to get the fuck out of town. before the sheriffs start poking around”

“Running, huh?” She says. There’s laughter in her eyes. She knows I’m not running, but she can’t resist pushing my buttons.

“Not a chance,” I say, and I nod toward the blood-spattered bat in her hands. “But it’s not like you need a guy like me around, anyway. You seem perfectly capable of handling those Death’s Disciples on your own, right, Slugger?”

“I’d rather not have to. All I want is to tend bar, have a nice quiet life until ski season starts in Aspen, and then rake in the cash when those rich folks come down to Carbon Ridge to do a little slumming. But now, with what’s just happened, and with Switchblade’s reputation…”

She looks about to say more, but the only noise that comes from her full, flirtatious lips is a scream. And behind me, that scream is followed by another from the bouncer, Teddy, and I turn my head just in time to see him slump to the floor, with Switchblade standing over him, holding

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