Authors: Nicole Snow
I had to make my way over to him...one of the pros took over for me with Roller, the first of two young men who'd come to help Emma, along with that older lady from the hospital. Whatever the hell the club's nurse had done to me in the past, I was grateful for her connections. Half these people could've been dead by now if her friends hadn't shown up.
Other sick people on the ground stopped me along the way, begging me to turn them over or wipe their faces. I did what I could, welcoming the distraction. Guilt twisted me in knots, and soon as I was feeling sick too, wondering if having me close would only make Sting feel worse.
Rumors about poison were floating around. Tank and the prospects seemed to be the only guys who weren't hit, and they disappeared entirely after a little while. One of the slutty girls who hadn't gotten sick was tending to Stinger when I tried to slip by.
I was about to pass when a hand shot out and grabbed my collar. I spun, anger flaring when I saw it was Emma clawing at me.
“This man needs you, and there's only so many of us. Help me out!” She pointed to Stinger, shooing the slut aside so I could move in.
I relaxed a little when I saw he was halfway out of it. I kneeled by his head, gingerly blotting the sweat off his face, checking the IV in his arm like Em told me to make sure it wasn't pulled out.
“There's something else I need to know,” she growled, shooting me the look that said she wasn't going to take no for an answer.
She asked me about the Rams' clubhouse, more than ten minutes of back and forth, once again forcing my memory into dark places it refused to go. I tried to describe the filthy place as best I could, focusing on Stinger's handsome face to soothe the pain.
Finally, she darted off, satisfied. I must've given her something useful without knowing it, but the woman was nuts if she intended to go there alone.
Sting opened his eyes for the second time and looked at me.
“Alice? What're you doing, baby? Alice...” This time, he fought to keep them open, whispering my name over and over like a healing mantra.
“Don't fight me...you're gonna be okay. Just rest,” I told him, dipping my cloth in cool water and running it across his brow again.
It was a long hard night. Stinger's chills and dry heaves faded after a few hours. I stayed with him the entire time, cooling off the artificial fever induced by the poison, watching his breathing and making sure the IV stayed in his arm like the nurse told me.
The paramedics and Em's friend, Linda, worked all around us. I kept thinking about where Em had taken off too. I had a bad feeling she was going to catch up with Tank and the other guys. The bitch nurse was tough, but I wasn't sure she was ready to fight
It was near dawn when the prospects rolled in. Stone got wheeled in bleeding and went straight to the infirmary. Looked like he'd been shot.
Tank and Emma showed up about an hour or two after that, right around sunrise. I watched her drag him in, both of them heading for the little table where Blaze was stretched out with Saffron. The giant's face was twisted and his arms hung limp. They were both scratched up, bruised, and a few blood splotches were visible on their clothes.
Whatever, at least they'd come back alive. That gave me hope the Rams had lost the latest fight. My ears perked up and I listened closely for confirmation. Tank was speaking quietly to Blaze, sitting next to the Prez with Em's support.
“Yeah, boss. Yeah. All fucking dead. We made sure. My arm's kinda fucked from busting out when they tied me up. I'll be fine. We just gotta saddle up and go back to their rathole to take out the bodies and comb the place over...”
My hands started shaking. My tormenters were dead. Finally.
My memory was still scrambled six ways from Sunday, but at least I didn't have anything left to fear. And if the club had finished up with their rivals, there was no reason to stay here a second longer.
I looked at Stinger again. He'd fallen into an uneasy sleep, twisting and grunting every so often, his body working quietly to re-charge after sheer hell rampaged through his veins.
No, it wasn't just Tank and Emma and the rest who'd freed me. There were times when I hated the handsome man beneath me, but he'd been looking out for me. He'd tried.
That had to count for something, right? I couldn't just run off without saying goodbye...
Without much thought, my hands slipped into his, still trembling with shock. Sting opened his eyes when he felt them. His fingers tightened, stronger than I expected for his weakened state.
“What's wrong?” he asked, struggling to raise his head. “Everything all right, Alice?”
“Yeah.” God help me, I smiled. “Never been better. I just wanted to apologize for being such a bitch this past week. I know things have been rough – really fucking rough because of the situation with Tank and the Rams. I get why you did what you did now. You needed to help your guy...”
His grip tightened. He shifted his hand, covering all of mine. Guess it would take a lot more than some stupid poison to lay out this man and sap his strength permanently.
“It's not too late, Alice. We can put all this shit behind us. Forget about the past. All you got to look forward to is your future, and I can help give you that.”
I couldn't break the intensity in his gaze. The light in his eyes said he was offering me something equally amazing and scary. It was my turn to feel my stomach twisting, anxiety circling every muscle I had.
“Maybe you don't want that,” he said. “I get it. You need to be your own woman, go off for awhile and figure shit out. Whatever happens – don't run. And you damned well better not forget me. Because you need anything, baby, anytime and anyplace, just call. I'll be there in a heartbeat. Don't give a shit if I gotta go all the way to Timbuktu to find you.”
I closed my eyes.
Leaving was going to be a real bitch with the trip he was laying on me, thicker than sin.
He raised his free hand to his lips and hissed.
“You don't have to decide shit today. And you don't have to spend your time looking after my sick ass. I'm feeling better...pretty sure I can take it from here.”
I wasn't a hundred percent sure about that. He was well enough to move without puking his guts out, yeah, but his color was so pale. Half the guys laying around the clubhouse looked like ghosts. The crap in their whiskey had really taken a lot of out them.
“Fuck that! I'm staying until I'm totally sure you're better, Sting. That's what Emma told me, and I'm going to listen.”
“Really? You two are on speaking terms now?” He flashed me a huge smile. I watched his lips quirk up and melt into dimples, feeling my heart spin when he did.
God, he was adorable. Well, about as
as a big, mean, heavily tattooed biker could be. I ran my fingers up over his arms, absentmindedly thinking to myself, wondering if I should really leave.
To be honest, I wasn't ready to be out in the big crazy world by myself again – especially when I hadn't figured out who the hell I was or where I'd come from. But I wasn't ready to stay here either. I definitely wasn't ready to be with this man.
I saw the way life was around here. I'd come from a rough patch, I figured that much, but I wasn't cut out to be anybody's old lady. And if I let Stinger in, even a little bit, wouldn't it be jerking him down that path?
I nodded slowly. “Yeah. I can put my grudges aside, Sting. Especially the petty ones.”
He reached up, circling his arm over mine, grabbing me near the wrist. He sat up higher, reaching for the water bottle at his side. I watched him drain it as he held onto me, fully up now, swinging his thick legs over the side of the table.
“You can do a lot more than that, girl. You've got a good heart, and you're motivated when you're not letting that wall of fucking ice cloud up everything.” He was still smiling, more softly now, beaming at me like his belief alone was enough to patch my whole screwed up world.
“You really believe that?” I whispered. “How the hell do you know?”
“Because I never want anything unless it's worth it.” His self-assured growl told me his energy was returning quick. “And I want you, Alice. Need to see you get over whatever the fuck happened to you before. I gotta see you thrive, baby. You deserve to be happy doing whatever the hell you want, and no asshole's gonna hold you back when I'm here.”
I wanted to say, but stopped just short of it coming out of my mouth.
I never invited this and I'm not sure I invited you either –
He flicked his wrist. Stinger jerked me toward him easily, like I was light as a feather. I sprawled to the edge of his lap, reaching one arm around his neck when I stumbled.
Exactly what he was waiting for. Lightning flashed in my head with one second to spare before his lips touched mine.
It was like dynamite going off. I quaked, I purred, I shuddered in total, absolute shock as he pulled me tighter, closer, burying his lips against mine. Thank God he'd cleaned his mouth because there was no stopping this.
I want you, Alice.
I remembered that part, a thousand times more important than what came after it, stronger and sincere as the lightning in his lips.
Stinger groaned into mine, tasting them, smothering my mouth with his. Then the groan began to melt into a long, low, drawn out growl. I realized I was smooching with a beast that had been kept on a very short leash for far too long, and no poison was going to stop him when he finally had his chance to frolic.
He kissed me hard, deep, thrashing his tongue against mine. I melted in his arms, amazed at the uncontrollable purr coming out of me. Power and fury picked me up and carried me away, all while the same conflicted questions burbled to the top, the only things preventing this from being a moment of pure perfection.
I didn't know if this was our first kiss of many or our only parting kiss. Hell, what did it matter?
Right here, right now, living in the present instead of the foggy past, I gave myself to him. When he sensed me folding, edging up onto his lap, his kiss came hotter and faster.
He only gave me a couple seconds of air before diving in again, pushing his tongue deeper into my mouth, exploring me, opening me, loving everything he tasted. His hands went places...up around my back, tracing down my spine, accenting the tingle sizzling through every nerve. Then they dove low and cupped my ass, giving it a fierce squeeze as he thrust his tongue against mine, back and forth, rhythmic and wanting, a wordless play that told me how bad he wanted to –
“Fuck. Fucking shit, baby. You taste so goddamned hot.” He broke the last kiss, struggling for air.
I did the same. He'd sucked the life out of me, all my vital heat, leaving me empty and needy, but still craving more each time I let my eyes wander up over his broad shoulders and study his gorgeous face.
My hands were locked around him, shaking like leaves. Jesus, the sickness hadn't blunted that spicy masculine sent I'd inhaled before.
Comforting. Consoling. Mostly just
I breathed deep. Every part of me was on fire, bending in a blaze that swept to my toes and then rushed back between my legs. It burned straight through my skin, leaving nothing in its wake except the sopping wetness melting in my panties. I wondered what it would feel like to have my hands around his neck while he was between my legs, fused to me, pushing his trademark growl into my ears as he took what we both needed so bad.
I moved in for another kiss. Most of the other brothers and their girls were asleep around us, or else so focused on each other it was like we had the place to ourselves. Still, we couldn't go all the way here.
Stinger stopped just short of pressing his lips to mine again. “Come on.”
Without another word, he grabbed my hand and led me up. We were halfway down the hall to his room when he lurched and fell against the wall.
“Shit!” His curse bounced on the floor and hit the ceiling. “Sneaky motherfuckers and their poison...hope Tank and the boys hurt 'em bad before they bit it. What kinda assholes lay a grown man down with something he can't even see? I can handle bullets, knives, bombs, but this shit...”
He couldn't see it, but he could obviously feel it. Stinger was on his knees now. I rushed in to hold him up, sighing as the flame coiling up my brain went out. Getting him back to a hundred percent wellness was all that mattered now.
We were both idiots to let lust runaway with him in this state. Let alone how I'd feel after going into that room, running on pure instinct with this dangerously sexy man...
Fucking him was absolutely crazy. I had to get him down, safe and secure and comfortable, for more reasons than one.
Inch by inch, we struggled forward. I pushed the door open and helped drag him through. When I helped him onto the bed, I held my hand to his head, and then two fingers to his neck. His pulse, breathing, and temperature weren't worrisome enough to summon any of the medics.
He'd tried to do too much, too soon. We shouldn't have kissed.
Not that I regretted it for a single second. If this was goodbye – and I had an ugly feeling it had to be, for everybody's good – then he'd left me something wonderful to remember.
“There.” I pulled the blanket I'd been using for days up over his shoulders.
He was fading out as he lay there, the savage energy I'd felt before dying in sheer exhaustion. He grunted, turning over. I slid into the little nook next to him.
He'd held me like this the very first night I was here. Now, it was my turn. I wrapped my hands around him, marveling at how hard he felt against my palms, warm muscles mingling with smooth cold leather. His chest was just like the rest of him – rock slabs packed together tight, hard as the Bitterroot Mountains, dark and menacing and beautiful if they were as inked as his arms.
Had to be, if the shirtless brothers I'd seen around the clubhouse were any indication.
“Baby...” he whispered, trying to fight passing out. “I'm fucking sorry. I regret not getting my hands on those bastards myself. I should've fucking killed them, slaughtered their asses after what they did to you...”