Authors: Kathryn Thomas
I skidded to a stop and jerked the passenger door open and threw my small bag into the floor before I fell into the car and slammed the door. Cain was only seconds behind me, handing me the shotgun as he slid behind the wheel. He started the car and jammed it into reverse, and revved it hard, the car flying backwards as I struggled to snap my seat belt. When we hit the road, he flung the car around, ground it into first, then revving the engine and dumped the clutch that launched us as the tires wailed in protest.
He drove the car hard, revving the engine all the way to the redline before shifting. “Shit!” he muttered as four Harleys rounded the corner one block ahead. He braked hard, and spun the wheel to the right, the car skidding around the corner before we raced down the road.
I twisted in the seat to look behind us. “They’re following us!” As I watched the Harleys rapidly closed the distance between us.
“Hold on!” Cain careened the car around the corner, fighting the wheel, the car on the edge of control, as I gripped the hand hold and held on for dear life.
As soon as the car settled, I looked behind us again. They were quite a bit farther back, but rapidly closing the distance again. “Here they come!”
Once again, Cain tossed my little car into the corner suicidally fast. He clipped the grass on the inside of the turn, nearly taking out the street sign and causing the rear of the car to slide out. He caught the slide but not before we were in the yard of the house on the other side of the road. We crashed through some low bushes lining the drive before blasting back out onto the road.
“You’re going to get us killed!” I shouted over the roar of the straining motor.
“If we don’t lose them, we’re dead anyway!”
I looked behind us again. The motorcycles were farther back than they were, but rapidly gaining. “They’re faster than we are in a straight line!”
“I know! I know!”
I felt Cain lift off the power, and then at the last moment, slam on the brakes before turning hard to the left, just missing a car pulling to a stop at the corner. I whimpered in fear at the near collision, but then looked behind us again. We were slowly, but steadily, inching away from the pursuing bikes, gaining a little bit of ground each time we turned. If we could just stay in the tight narrow streets of the neighborhood, we might be able to eventually lose them.
“Right, right, right, right!” I shouted, but it was too late and Cain couldn’t make the turn. “Shit! This takes us to the main road!”
Cain kept his foot down, my car giving everything it had to our escape. I could see the stop light fast approaching and I pressed both feet hard into the floor, trying to slow our approach.
I was too afraid to even scream as Cain blew right through the red light, never slowing. How we missed hitting anything as we crossed four lanes of traffic at over seventy miles per hour, I will never know. As soon as I could breathe again, I looked behind us. The bikes were just crossing the road, but were
back, obviously held up by the traffic.
“Where to?” Cain asked as we slowed hard and he dodged down another back street.
“Uh…” I grunted. I was getting turned around from the high speeds and all the twists and turns. Then I saw a landmark, the back of a shopping center I was familiar with. “Next stop sign, make a left. Go to the end of the road. Then make a right. Go to the light and make a left. That will put us on 190 headed toward Lacombe. There will be too much traffic for them to do anything there. Left!” I shouted as we roared to a stop behind a minivan, the diver of the minivan taking her own sweet time to make the left. The moment she began to move, Cain darted out on her bumper and passed her on the inside.
“A ways.” I heard the rumble of the Harleys and I could see them pulling out and making the left to follow us. “Here they come again.”
They blew around the minivan as I watched, once again rapidly closing the distance between us. I looked out of the windshield but I still couldn’t see the end of the road. I looked at the speedometer and it was creeping toward one-hundred just as Cain banged my car into fifth. Almost as soon as he shifted, Cain slammed on the brakes and I looked up in time to see a car pulling out from a cross street as my car growled under heavy braking. I braced myself for the impact because there was no way we were going to be able to stop in time. Fortunately the car saw us coming and stopped, allowing Cain to pass in front of it, but we had lost so much speed in our panic braking that the bikes were almost on us.
Cain downshifted and held the throttle down, but our race with the bikes was lost. “Can you shoot that thing?” he asked as he shifted.
“I can try!” I picked the shotgun up, pointed it out of the back, and pulled the trigger. The recoil nearly tore my hand off and I screamed in pain as I dropped the weapon, but one of the riders fared worse. The pellets had passed right through the canvas top of my car and one of the Bulls went down in a tangle of metal and flesh. I didn’t know if I had hit him or just scared him. Either way, it was one less bad guy to worry about.
“Are you okay?” Cain asked, but his eyes never left the road.
“I almost broke my wrist!” I wailed as I held my hand. I worked my wrist. It moved, and it didn’t feel broken, but it hurt like hell. “I can’t do it again, Cain!”
Two bikes pulled up alongside, one on each side. The rider on Cain’s side pointed a pistol at us. Before the gunman could pull the trigger, Cain slammed on the brakes and the two bikes shot past us, the third hitting the back of the car with a hard thump before the rider went down in a rolling, sliding, tumble. Cain then downshifted and floored the car, allowing us to shoot past the two remaining bikes while they were still braking.
“Pump the gun and get it ready! We can’t get away, so we are going to have to stop and fight!”
“No!” I could see the end of the road approaching, but there was so much traffic that we would have to stop before we could turn.
“It’s the only way!” He glanced in the rear view, then once again braked hard, and whipped the car to the left. “When I stop, you get as low in the car as you can! Stay down!”
“Cain! No!” I shrieked in terror.
I racked the shotgun and held it for him. As soon as I finished he slammed on the brakes and yanked up the parking brake. The car hadn’t even stopped moving before he was out, dragging the shotgun from my hand.
I bent at the waist and cowered, watching out of the open driver’s door as Cain turned to face the pursuing bikers. The shotgun roared and I heard the screaming screech of tortured metal as it slid along the pavement then a thud as the bike hit the back of the car. Cain pumped the gun, but before he could fire again, I heard the sharp crack of another gun. Cain grunted and dropped backwards onto his back. The gun cracked again and I heard a high pitched ping. I saw Cain kicking away but then he popped up again and the shotgun bellowed. There was a moment of quiet then I heard the sound of a motorcycle hitting the ground.
I rose up and watched as he walked toward the back of the car, pointed the gun low and pulled the trigger. He racked the gun and moved a little farther back before pulling the trigger again. He stood still a moment before tipping his head back and staring at the sky, his face a mask of pain. When he turned I could see blood running down his right arm and dripping from his fingers.
I scrambled out of the car and ran to him. “Are you hit bad?”
“Don’t know. It hurts.” With a hiss he gently worked his Hellhounds vest off.
There was a nasty tear in the front of his arm, and a deep gouge in his side. I wasn’t a doctor but it didn’t look fatal. I looked around and people were staring out of their windows at us.
“We have to go!” I whispered urgently.
“I know.” He handed me the shotgun then turned toward the car. He took a couple of steps then went stiff as he bared his teeth and hissed. “You’re going to have to drive.”
“Okay.” I helped him into the car the hurried around to the divers side. I stepped around the bike piled against my car and noticed a hole in the trunk lid and rear fender of my car. The car didn’t appear to be leaking anything so I assumed it would be fine.
I dropped into the driver’s seat, adjusted the position so I could reach the pedals, and then we were off. Just as we began to move I could once again hear the wail of sirens.
“Yeah. Don’t stop. Just keep going,” he panted.
I raced away, turning this way and that to try to evade any cops that may be looking for us. Fifteen minutes later we made it to the 190 and I drove at normal speeds. Except for a small hole in the trunk and fender, a scuffed up rear bumper and a torn convertible top, my car looked like any other red Mazda MX5.
“How are you doing?” I asked. He was sitting hunched over to the right, his face pale and lips tight.
“I’ll be okay,” he said, but his voice made it clear he was anything but at the moment.
“We need to get you to a doctor.”
“No! Doctors have to report gunshot wounds. Just get me to Dallas. We have a doctor we can trust. She will fix me up.”
“That’s eight hours away!”
He forced a smile when I looked at him. “It’s just a flesh wound. In the movies those are no worse than a splinter.”
“This isn’t a movie, Cain!”
“No…and I’m not Rambo either, and it hurts like hell. But I can make it to Dallas.” He forced another grin. “You will have to be gentle with me tonight if you decide to take advantage of me.”
I couldn’t help but snicker. I wasn’t going to take advantage of him, but the fact that he hoped I might made me feel better that he would be okay.
Cain had managed to get Alex away from the goons on the bikes, but they had to stop in Baton Rouge. The bleeding had mostly stopped, but Cain’s arm and side were killing him so they stopped at a Walmart and while he waited in the car, Alex bought him a new shirt along with a first aid kit and a bottle of Tylenol to help him deal with the pain. The wounds may have only been superficial, but she could tell he was hurting. A few miles down the road they stopped again. Throwing his vest over his shoulder to hide the blood, they used a restaurant restroom to clean him up, butterfly bandage the gouge in his arm and side closed, and then wrap it in gauze. A new shirt made him presentable, even if he did walk and sit with a leaning, stoop-shoulder appearance. They had a simple meal before the long push to Dallas and Cain downed a half-dozen of the Tylenol.
The rest of the drive proved uneventful and as the drugs began to take the edge off his pain, he slept for a time. A couple of hours later, when he woke up she was holding his hand. As he struggled up out of sleep, he became aware of Alex’s hand in his and gave it a gentle squeeze as he smiled.
“You saved me,” she said. He couldn’t see her face well, the glow of the instruments providing the only illumination, but he could see that her eyes were wide as she looked at him occasionally.
“I would do anything to protect you…you and our baby,” he said softly. “Anything. Why didn’t you answer your phone?”
“I looked when you were sleeping. It was on silent. I forgot to turn the ringer on after you called. I didn’t know you were calling. I’m sorry.”
“How did you know?”
“We caught a couple of Bulls sneaking around in our territory. They were bragging how they knew about you and how you were going to pay the price for us screwing them. They had left hours ago. I caught the first flight I could to try and beat them there. I had to save you.”
“How did they know about me?”
Cain rocked his head from side to side against the seat back. “I don’t know. I don’t know anything. They have been one step ahead of us the entire time. There must be a mole in the club. I can’t believe one of the brothers would sell us out to the Bulls, but somehow they know every move we are going to make. A war is coming and a lot of innocent people could get hurt.”
“I don’t know. Nobody knows. A few brothers remember when we got squeezed. I didn’t know this, but we used to bring in our guns in through Houston. About the time your parents died we had to move it to New Orleans. That’s all anyone knows. Nobody knew about the Hounds killing anyone, especially a cop. I’m not saying your grandparents are wrong, but nobody knows anything about it. I’m sorry.”
He watched her as she drove. She was so beautiful and strong. He wanted to make her his, but he was afraid that she was lost to him forever.
“You will take me back to New Orleans when this is all over and get out of my life?” she asked, not looking at him.
“If that is what you want.” He wanted to beg for a second chance, but couldn’t. He had done all the begging he would with her.
“I will stay in Dallas until you deal with the Bulls. But then I want you to take me home. Do I have your promise?”
“I will. You have my word.”
He forced a smile. “I will do anything for you.”
They arrived at the Hound’s clubhouse just before dawn, having driven through the night. Cain had called ahead and the Hounds’ “private” doctor was waiting when they arrived. While Alex watched, the doctor stitched Cain up and shot him full of antibiotics and something else that she said would help with the pain and let him sleep. By the time Alex got Cain home, the drugs had taken effect and knocked him on his ass. She had to help him into his apartment as he was barely able to stand on his own. Cain’s apartment was a one bedroom and he mumbled something about putting him on the couch so she could sleep in the bed, but she dumped him into the bed anyway.
She tugged his boots off before she kicked her own shoes off and crawled into the bed beside him, both of them still fully dressed. He was barely aware of her movement beside him before the drugs took him again and he drifted away into sleep.
Read on for an excerpt from the breathtaking conclusion