Authors: Kathryn Thomas
“That’s what’s in the bag?”
“Yeah. Samples from their shipment. New Jersey let me choose three of each. At first glance it looks to be on the up and up, but something isn’t right here. I’m supposed to give New Jersey a call in a couple of days and let them know what I find. New Jersey is keeping their options open, but if I can’t find something, we’re in a world of shit.”
“Go get some sleep and then do what you have to to fuck the Bulls.”
Cain blinked at me. “Where did that come from?”
“I’ve been talking to the club. Thad gave me the story on the club and the Bulls. I was wrong about the Hellhounds. I’ve been wrong all along.” I looked at my feet. “I’m sorry.”
Cain wrapped me in his embrace and held me like I was the most important thing in the world, and I was content to stand there for as long as he wanted to hold me. Finally, he let me go. “Let me get some sleep,” he murmured before he kissed me. “Wake me up in a couple of hours so I can get to work. I want to get this done so I can think about other things tonight.”
He smiled at me in a way that made my toes tingle. “Use your imagination.”
I woke Cain at lunch when I took a tray of food to the room we had slept in. We ate together, talking quietly, reconnecting and letting the threads that bound us grow stronger. Our relationship had been a long series of hard knocks, but we were making it through and each time we gave them a chance, our bond became stronger and more resilient.
After his shower, he joined me in the large open room and began to pull large, dangerous-looking weapons from the bags. He had six weapons, three samples of two different types of guns.
“What are those?” I asked from my chair. They didn’t look like any gun I had seen outside of a movie.
“This is the M4A1 Carbine, 5.56x45, with the full auto trigger group,” he said as he skillfully began to disassemble the weapon. “There are several variants, but these are made by Armalite.”
I said nothing, as most of what he said went right over my head. All I knew is that it looked incredibly deadly. “And the other one?”
“That’s an AW50F, fifty-cal.”
“Big gun,” I murmured.
“Yeah. You can really reach out and touch someone with that one. It’s an anti-material rifle from Great Britain, designed to punch big holes in other people’s shit.”
I said nothing else as I watched him break the first gun down into all its various pieces. I could tell he didn’t like what he saw as he sat it aside and repeated the procedure for the second and then the third.”
“Fuck…” he muttered as he finished taking the third gun apart.
“I don’t see anything wrong. These look like first run, unused weapons.”
“But there has to be something, right?”
“That’s what I thought, but I don’t know what it is.”
He quickly reassembled the three guns and put them back in the bag, picking up the first of the larger guns. He repeated the procedure on the three guns and then reassembled them. He didn’t look at all happy.
“No,” he murmured. “This is
“But there has to be
“I don’t know anymore. I don’t know how they can do it.”
“Look again,” I encouraged. “There has to be something, something you missed.”
He stared at the weapons with a look of defeat. “I didn’t miss anything.”
“You must have. If the deal is too good to be true, then it is. You said yourself that the Bulls probably had everything they had tied up in this deal. So they can’t take the loss. The answer is there, Cain. You know it is. You just have to find it.”
“I didn’t miss anything!” he insisted.
I rose out of my chair and sat down on the couch beside him. “Do it again,” I said softly. “Show me how you take it apart and tell me what each part does. How it works.”
He sighed and I could tell he was humoring me. He pulled one of the smaller guns out of the bag. “Okay. First, you open the bolt like this…”
As he broke the gun down, he handed me each piece to look at as he told me what it was for and what it did. “You want to try to take the next one apart?” he asked softly.
“Can you show me one more time?”
He picked up the next weapon and slowly went through the breakdown procedure again.
“Now you do this one,” he said as he handed me the last weapon.
“The M4A1 Carbine. What did you say carbine meant again?” I asked.
“Shorter than normal.”
“Oh yeah. That’s right,” I muttered as I began to take the gun apart. I got stuck a few times and Cain had to help me, and at no time did I move with the practiced assurance that he did, but I finally had the weapon in pieces.
“You’re not going to set any speed records, but good job. You want to put it back together? You just do everything in reverse.”
I started working on it. Cain sometimes had to point at the next piece to go in, but I was slowly getting it back together. Then I couldn’t get one of the little parts installed no matter how I tried. “I can’t get this doohickey in,” I complained as I struggled with the part.
“That’s the Charging Handle latch and spring. Here let me show you,” he said as he picked up the same two parts from one from the other guns. “The handle pin goes through this little hole, then the spring attaches there,” he said demonstrating with the parts in his hands. “No. You need to push the pin in first, like that, then….” he trailed off. He looked at the part in his hand and then looked again the part that was giving me such trouble. He picked up the other part from the table, and compared it to the one in his hand. “Son of a
“What?” I asked, afraid that I had done something wrong.
He handed me one of the parts. “Read that number to me, slowly.”
“Let me see that,” he said as he took the partially assembled gun from me and quickly took it apart again. He then made little piles of like parts.
“What are you doing?”
“Checking something,” he said as he sorted. Parts sorted, he began to carefully look each of them over and I saw a slow smile form on his lips.
“I’ve got them, the sneaky bastards. I’ve
them. Look! See how some of these parts have the same numbers stamped on them? Those are serial numbers. There shouldn’t be any duplicates. None!” He jumped to his feet and started pumping his hips and arms, grunting like he was fucking someone hard. “Thad!” he bellowed as he stopped.
“What?” Thad asked as he appeared.
“We’ve got them! The Bulls, they’re selling clones! Cheap clones. Look at this.” He carefully explained to Thad what he found, showing him the parts.
“What about those?” Thad asked pointing at the bigger guns.
“I haven’t checked those yet, but I bet they are the same. I wanted to let you know as soon as I discovered this.”
“Check those out and, if they are the same, let me know. Then give New Jersey a call. It’s time to drive a stake into the heart of those fucking Bulls. Good job, Cain. I mean that. You have really saved our ass this time.”
“Give me ten minutes,” he said with a grin.
I had never seen so many guns in my life.
Gianni Castellino had just arrived with eight goons dressed in suits and the cache of weapons they had purchased from the Bulls. It had taken them almost four hours to turn around and get back to Dallas after Cain made his call.
“Here are the six weapons I kept from your last shipment,” Cain explained to some guy while Gianni looked on impassively. “As you can see, some of the serial numbers of the internals match. Not all, which makes me think they have a mixture of parts they are building them from, but, in any case, that raises some red flags.”
“You found that in the AWs as well?” the man asked.
“Yes. Let me show you something else.” Cain picked up a piece. “I hit that with a hammer,” he said as he handed the piece to the man, who inspected it closely.
Earlier I had seen Cain smash the piece with a hammer. I didn’t understand what he was doing until he explained to me that the part shouldn’t break. Bend, yes, but not fracture like that. I saw the man’s lips thin. He obviously understood what he was looking at.
“Yeah. You better check them all, but I bet you will find they are all made from the same shitty metal.”
The men started pulling the guns out of bags and breaking them down. It took almost an hour for Cain and two others from New Jersey to do the entire cache, but they found out that there were five sets of serial numbers on the internal parts for the M4A1s, and three sets on the AWs, but no duplicates on the frames. I wasn’t sure what that meant, but it appeared to piss off the guys from New Jersey no end.
“Do you have the samples?” Cain asked.
Two guns, one of each type, were handed over. Those were likewise broken down. None of the serial numbers matched any of the others.
“May I?” Cain asked.
The guy that I had determined was New Jersey’s weapons guy gave a nod. Cain set the piece on a hunk of steel he had obtained and gave it a solid whack with the hammer. He picked it up and handed it to the man. I could see it was bent, but not broken.
Gianni made a face that would have scared the shit out of me if he had directed it toward me. “Thank you, Cain. You have saved us from a potentially embarrassing situation. I should have trusted you.”
“You’re welcome, Mr. Castellino. This whole deal smelled from the beginning.”
“Rest assured, we will deal with the Blacktop Bulls.”
“Gianni,” Thad said stepping forward. “Let us take care of them, if you don’t mind. We know the lay of the land down here better than you do. And we owe them something for killing three of our guys. It’s time we pay that debt.”
“They tried to fuck us, Thad. We can’t let that stand.”
“No one has to know. But we will make sure to send your…salutations.”
I watched as Gianni thought it over. I hoped that he would decline Thad’s offer but I knew he wouldn’t. “Thank you, Thad. If there is ever anything I can do for you, you need but ask. No hard feelings?”
“None,” Thad said, offering his hand. “It was just business.”
“I’m glad we understand each other,” Gianni said, taking his hand.
“If we find a stash of cash, we will return it to you.”
“Keep it,” Gianni said as he released Thad’s hand. “Consider it a down payment for our next shipment. When can you supply us?”
Thad looked to Cain, and Cain scratched at his face as he thought. “We didn’t tell our supplier to ship when you went with the Bulls. So ten days on the water, call it two weeks at the earliest, more likely three by the time we get the arms cleaned up and assembled. It depends on how fast our supplier can line up a container. Unless you want us to air freight them, but that is going to cost you a ton.”
I could tell Gianni wasn’t happy with the news. “No, don’t air freight them. We’re taking it in the ass on this deal already. I’ll figure something out. Maybe I’ll dip into our reserves. You want this shit?” he asked as he waved his hand at the mass of disassembled weapons.
Once again, Thad looked to Cain. “We’ll keep it, but we will sell it for what it is. A bunch of cheap Chinese shit. Somebody may want it,” Cain said while bobbing his head.
I thought it was interesting that Thad deferred to Cain, but then I realized that he nearly always did when it came to handling the weapons and the customers. Cain was obviously a well-respected and trusted member of the club.
“Anything we make off the sale, we’ll put fifty percent on your account,” Thad added.
Gianni smiled. “More than fair.” He waved a hand. “Let’s go. It’s a long way to Newark.” The men started toward the door, but then Gianni stopped and turned back to Thad. “Let me know when it’s done.”
“You got it,” Thad replied.
“How the shit did you figure that shit out?” Garrett asked loudly two hours later, his voice slightly slurred, as he draped an arm over Cain’s shoulder and leaned on him heavily.
I was behind the bar and the Hellhounds were celebrating. The booze had been flowing freely from the moment New Jersey had left the clubhouse and Cain was the man of the hour. Everyone wanted to hear how he had managed to, as one member had put it, “pull their dicks out of the wringer.”
“I had just about given up,” Cain explained for the third time, “but Alex wouldn’t let me. I was showing her how to strip and reassemble an M4 and explaining what each part did. She was having a little problem with the Charging Handle and I was helping her. That’s when I noticed the serial numbers were the same on two, then three, of the pieces.”
saved our ass! I knew you weren’t smart enough to do it on your own!”
“Fuck you! You’re drunk,” Cain snarled, but I could tell from his smile he was basking in the glow of his club.
“Yeah, but you’re ugly
Cain gave him a push that almost sent to the floor and Garrett roared out his laughter. “To Alex and Cain!” he shouted as he hoisted his glass. “Here’s to a love that’s a thousand miles long but comes in six inch installments.”
Everyone laughed, including Cain. “More like twelve inch,” Cain replied loud enough for everyone to hear.
“Mmmm…more like eight, I think,” I said, just loud enough for those near me to hear, making them snicker.
“Why don’t you let someone else tend for a while? Have a drink and celebrate. After all, you helped solve the problem,” Cherie said when she finished giggling at my remark.
“Hardly,” I replied, a little flushed. “Thank you, but that’s okay, Cherie. I don’t mind.”
“It’s no problem,” she said as she stepped behind the bar with me. “What can I get you? If it’s fancy, you will have to tell me how to make it.”
“Cherie…I can’t.” I lowered my voice. “I’m pregnant.”
That stopped her cold. “You’re pregnant?” she whispered. “Cain’s?”
“Does he know?”
I gave her a look. “Of course he knows.”
“What did he say?”
“He’s excited about it.”
She stared at me a moment then a slow grin spread over her face. “Hey everybody!” she called loud enough to be heard over the merry making. “There’s a new Hellhounds on the way! Alex is pregnant!”
My heart nearly stopped and I burned in embarrassment as the room fell silent. It took a moment before the news sunk in, but then the room erupted into cheers and congratulations. Every member of the club first pounded Cain on the back, if it was a guy, or gave him a hug, if it was a girl, then hugged me and offered their support and congratulations. I was overwhelmed with the outpouring of goodwill and began to cry and laugh at the same time.
Thad was the last to offer me a hug. “Cain’s?” he asked softly.
I nodded but said nothing.
“He’s a good man. He’ll take care of you. If there is anything any of the Hounds can do, don’t be afraid to ask.”
“Okay,” I murmured as he released me and I stepped back. “Thank you.”
“I’ll talk to Carol and find out who she recommends for you.”
“Carol?” I didn’t recognize the name.
“Carol Arnold, our doctor. She’s an orthopedic surgeon, but she will know somebody.”
I knew her only as Dr. Arnold, so getting her last name made it click. “Thank you,” I said, not having the heart to tell him that I wouldn’t be staying after the Bulls were taken care of.
“We take care of our own,” he said with a smile.
Cain and I were snuggling on the couch as the party began to wind down. After the news that I was pregnant, the Hounds wouldn’t let me tend the bar anymore and had insisted that get off my feet and rest.
“Are you ready to go?” he asked.
“Yes.” I whispered just loud enough for him to hear. “I want you to take me home and I want you to make love to me when we get there. Can you?”
He grinned. “I can certainly try.”
“I don’t want to hurt you.” From the arm and hip pumps he had done earlier, I was pretty sure he was up to the challenge, but I didn’t want to pressure him again.
“Don’t worry. I’m feeling much better.”
“Good,” I sighed and snuggled in a little closer.
We sat for another few minutes before Cain pushed me up and got to his feet. “Thad, Alex and I are going home.”
“Okay. Thanks for everything today. I’m not kidding when I said you saved us.” Thad offered his hand and Cain took it, before they pulled each other into a backslapping hug.
“Thanks, brother. It’s all for the club.”
“I know,” Thad replied before he looked at me. “Take care of him.”
“Oh… I intended to,” I purred then smiled as I watched Thad flush.
“No! What I meant was…never mind,” Thad said with a chuckle as he shook his head and turned away.
I kicked the door to Cain’s apartment closed and pulled him to a stop by the hand. “Shall we try this again?” I whispered as I began to unbutton his shirt.
He didn’t answer, but stood still until I finished my task, pushing the fabric off his shoulders and allowing it to fall to the floor. The moment his arms were free, he pulled me in tight, holding me as he stared into my eyes.
“What?” I breathed.
“I have been wanting to do this,” he murmured as he took my lips for his own, kissing me thoroughly as his tongue caressed my lips and tongue. I broke from the kiss with a gasp, my color up and my womanhood flooding. Oh yes, I wanted this, too.
He came back in for another kiss, but I put my hand over his lips. “Save it…” I cooed as I stepped around him, took his hand, and led him to the bedroom. As I coasted to a stop at the bed, I began to turn to him, but he put his arms around me and pulled my back to him, his hands softly cradling my breasts as he slowly kissed my neck, his breath so warm and erotic I wasn’t sure I could stand it.
I curled a hand behind his head, holding his lips to my skin. “Yes…” I sighed as he teased with me lips and hands. His hands slid under my blouse and softly caressed my bulge. I wished I had worn a button down shirt so that he could open me up and not have to stop this delectable kissing.
He stepped away from me and eased my top off. The moment my arms were clear, I reached behind me and released the catches of my bra, but left it hanging on my shoulders, wanting him to reveal my breasts in his own time. He stepped back in close, his chest hot to my back as his lips returned to my neck and his hands to my torso.