Authors: Kathryn Thomas
“No… all the way. I want to feel all of you against me,” I breathed, putting a finger into my mouth and sucking on it. “Please, baby, I need to feel you against me.” I needed every advantage I could get, so as he began to pull his shirt over his head, binding his arms, I leapt from the bed, grabbed the alarm clock with both hand, and brought it down on his head with every ounce of strength I possessed. The clock shattered in my hand and Boyd went down with a grunt. I knelt on his back hit him again with the largest piece I had left and then dove for the gun.
I was just pulling it from the holster when he was on me, bleeding profusely from a large cut on his head. He was immensely strong and I kicked and scratched as we struggled. He grabbed my face, growling in rage as he tried to twist my head off. His hand was over my mouth, trying to cut my wind off as he squeeze my face in his vice like grip. I sunk my teeth sunk into web between his thumb and first finger, his scream mixing with the screams of the bitch one room over. He reared back, my teeth so firmly in his hand that he started to pull me off the floor before a chunk came loose. I spat it out and kicked away from him. He was bleeding badly from the hand in addition to his head as he began to rise. I could see death in his eyes and I knew I was in a fight for my life. I got to my feet first and brought the gun down in a crushing blow on the back of his head, trying to cave his skull in. He fell to the floor again, rolling to his back and raising a hand to protect himself as I jumped on him, swinging the gun in a blind fury of fear and rage. The first blow he blocked, but I got through with a clean strike on the second one, hitting him just above the left eye, and he went still, but I kept hitting him, bringing the gun down in four more whistling arcs as I pounded the gun into his face and head.
I stopped, still astraddle him, breathing hard. I felt sick. I scrambled to my feet and raced to the bathroom. It was a much a pigsty as the rest of the place, but I quickly rinsed my mouth out and washed the blood splatters off of me before I could puke.
Feeling better I quickly gathered my clothes and dressed, checking Boyd for a pulse. He still had one, damnit, and I thought about shooting him, but that was a step too far. I took his phone, and the gun, and slipped out, hurrying along the walk and down the stairs.
The moment my shoes touched the parking lot, I began to run. I didn’t know where I was, and I didn’t care. I just knew that I had to get as far away from the motel as I could, as fast as I could, and the direction didn’t matter.
I ran, phone in one hand and gun in the other, until I was gasping for breath. As I stumbled to a halt, I shoved the gun between my waistband and my hip and pulled my shirt over it. As I bent at the waist, trying to catch my breath, I touched the keypad on the phone, thanking god that it wasn’t a smart phone that could be easily locked.
I dialed Cain’s number, then sucked in a great lungful of air and stood up straight. The phone rang and rang, and I prayed he would answer. When it went to voicemail I whimpered, hung up, and dialed it again as I began to walk.
Once again the call went to voicemail, and once again, I hung up and then redialed the number. I knew it was karma for not answering Cain’s frantic attempts to get in touch with me after the shooting at
I entered the restaurant on the corner and sat down where I could see the door and tried the phone again.
“Cain!” he snarled after a few rings.
“Cain! It’s Alex! I—”
“Alex! Thank God! Where are you? Are you okay?” he shouted. Before I could answer I heard a man roar in pain in the background. “Stop! Stop! Quiet! I have her on the phone!” he screamed to someone before he came back on the line with me. “Where are you?”
“I’m at the corner of Denton and Ayers. There is a restaurant there called Sweetpea’s.”
“Denton and Ayers,” Cain said to someone. “Where is that? Is that in Dallas?” he asked me.
“Got it. Fuck…you’re right smack in the middle of Bulls territory. Go in the restaurant and find a seat where you can see the door. If you see
riding a black Harley with a grey bull head painted on the tank, you get the hell out of there, okay? We’re coming as fast as we can, but it’s going to take a little time to get there. You are all the way across town and we may run into trouble.”
“Should I call the cops?”
“No! We’re coming. Just don’t move. I need five guys! I’m going for Alex!” Cain yelled, clearly talking to someone else. “We’re coming, Alex! Sit tight!” he said before he canceled the call.
As the waitress saunters over I slump down in the booth. “What can I getcha to drink?” she asked as she slid a menu and a glass of water in front of me.
I didn’t have a cent on me, and I was too terrified to eat anyway. “Just water.”
“Okay. I’ll be back to check on you in a few minutes.”
I picked up the menu like I was reading it, peeking over the top. I saw a black motorcycle, then another, race by, but I couldn’t tell if there were bulls painted on the tanks.
A few minutes later the waitress strolled up. “Know what you want?”
I was in a bind, but I was sure Cain would cover me when he showed up. “Just the burger plate and fries,” I mumbled as she wrote.
She held out her hand for the menu. “Got it.”
I didn’t want to let the menu go, but I handed it to her and she turned to walk away.
It didn’t take long for the meal to arrive. It smelled good, but I had no appetite and every time the door opened, my heart nearly stopped. I nibbled at the burger, drawing out my meal as I prayed that Cain would arrive soon.
As I watched the door, I saw black motorcycles racing back and forth in the street. Some were two up, with a woman on the back, others solo. Twenty minutes after I arrived at Sweetpea’s, a motorcycle stopped at the curb and a man and woman dismounted. I continued to chew my burger, keeping my head down, but watching the door from under my brow. The two, I had to assume Bulls, walked away from the bike in opposite directions.
The man and woman were clearly looking for me, and I debated bolting, but before I could make up my mind, the door opened and the man entered and looked around. I slowly leaned over onto my left hip and slipped the weapon from inside my pants and tucked it under my right leg.
The man turned and went into the other room first, then returned to the room I was seated in. He made it only three steps in before he saw me. As recognition dawned on his face I pulled the chrome revolver from under my leg and pointed it at him. I had shot my gun all of about five times in the two years that I had owned it. It stayed in the bedside table drawer most of the time, but the handgun I held, though a lot bigger and heavier than mine, was enough like my own weapon that I knew how to work it.
“That’s far enough,” I said as I slid out of the booth, the gun still pointed at the man, the few other customers staring at me with slack jawed amazement or panic.
“We’re going to kill you, you bitch,” the man snarled.
“Not today, you’re not,” I sneered, trying to keep up the brave face as I began to step backwards.
“You’re not going to shoot me,” he said as he took a step toward me.
I saw the woman that was on the bike with him step into the restaurant and immediately pull out her phone. It was about to get real and I tightened my finger on the trigger. “Not one more step,” I warned as I took another step back.
He paused, and I took another step back, but when he stepped forward again, I squeezed the trigger, causing the gun to roar. I didn’t know what kind of gun it was, but it packed a
of a lot more punch than my little revolver did as the recoil tried to tear the gun from my hand. The man was so close that I couldn’t miss, and he went down hard, the glass behind him shattering and every person in the place screaming and ducking.
I stood for a moment in mute amazement that I had actually shot someone, before I turned and ran. More Bulls would be arriving soon and I didn’t want to take the chance that they would come in with guns blazing.
I hit the emergency exit at a full run, the buzzer sounding as I banged through the door. I turned right and pounded around the end of the building. I looked behind me to see the woman giving chase.
I had a substantial lead her, and she was a lot heavier than I was, and I was beginning to pull away from her, my legs fueled by my panic. I tried to jump some hedges, didn’t make it, and fell with a tumbling roll. I bounded back to my feet, grabbed the gun again and ran, not even feeling the fall.
I heard the bellow of several motorcycles behind me and I turned. Four bikes were charging across the parking lot toward me. As they skidded to a stop, I whirled and brought the gun up. Three guys, one of whom I recognized as the thug I smashed over the head, and Sloane dismount. Two of the guys pulled their guns and pointed them at me as Sloane drew her razor.
“I’m going to fuck you good, now,” Sloane snarled as she flicked the razor open.
“Take one step and I’ll kill you!” I screamed, my hands shaking so badly I could barely hold the gun.
“It’s four against one, you stupid bitch. You can’t win.”
“Who wants to die first, then?” I screamed, thrusting the weapon in their direction. Before they could answer, I heard several pops in the distance. All our heads turned in the direction of the gunfire.
“Kill —” Sloane began.
I squeezed the trigger the moment she spoke and the man in the middle screamed as he dropped. I was aiming for his chest, but I had hit him in the crotch. I turned and ran toward the gunshots as the other goon open fired, but I was a moving target and after a moment, the shooting stopped. I circled back around toward Sweetpea’s, literally running for my life. I popped out on Ayres as I saw six motorcycles around the corner, charging hard in my directions. I turned and ran toward them, praying it was Cain and not more Bulls.
I recognized Cain just as he skidded to a stop, his bike falling in a crash as he leapt from it. I ran toward him, gasping in effort and fear.
“Get down!” he screamed as his weapon came up. I slowed as fast as I could then dropped as six guns bellowed. When it was quiet, I uncovered my head and looked behind me. Three bodies were on the ground, riddled with gunshots. I surged to my feet, dropping the gun, and ran to Cain, throwing myself into his arms.
I was bouncing on my toes outside the courthouse in excitement. It had been three days since my ordeal and today Cain and the other five Hellhounds were being released from custody.
I spent a night in jail while the cops checked my story, but between my crashed car, my detailed description of the inside of the Red Rug Inn, the smashed clock and the cuts on Boyd head, not to mention the testimony of the diners in Sweetpea’s and several witnesses that I wasn’t even aware of in parking lot where I shot the second man, I had been released without charges.
It was a little harder getting the Hounds sprung. I had to endure a prolonged and harsh lecture by the judge about calling the
in a kidnapping situation, but in the end my pleading that the Hounds had been coming to rescue me and had saved my life and the life of our child, swayed him and he had granted them bond.
The moment Cain appeared, I dashed up the three steps and, once again, flung myself into his arms. He held me tight as I cried into his shoulder, the other five Hellhounds gathering around to thank me for my heartfelt pleading on their behalf. I tucked in tight and walked with Cain and the other Hellhounds to the parking lot where the rest of the Hounds were waiting, along with five motorcycles. Cain would be riding with me in his truck since my car and his hog were damaged beyond operation.
I held back as the Hounds greeted each other with hugs and back slaps. I had kept to myself in Cain’s apartment after being released by the police, ashamed and unable to face the club.
“I’ll see you at the clubhouse later,” Cain said as the group began to mount up before he turned to me.
“I’m sorry,” was all that I could think to say.
I could tell he was hurt, and I didn’t blame him. All of this was my fault, and we both knew it. “I realize now it was a setup, but I have something to show you. Can we go back to your place?”
He looked at me and I could see the anger and pain burning in his eyes. “Yes. But then I think you need to go. I will buy you a plane ticket home, as I promised.”
I nodded somberly. I had prepared myself for this and I could feel my tears threaten but they didn’t fall.
We drove to his house in silence and I sat down at his computer. “Can you log me in?” When he had, I opened my email and clicked on the link. I stood, moving from in front of the computer without saying a word.
Cain looked at me and then sat. He spent a couple of minutes looking at the documents and then looked up at me. “Is this true?”
“Sloane said it was.”
“And you believed her?”
“I know. That’s why I just decided to leave. I didn’t know what to believe anymore.”
He turned back to the screen and spent the next forty minutes looking through the documents. He got up and retrieved a flash drive from the bedroom and copied all the files to it before he deleted them from the server.
“Where?” I asked, suddenly afraid of what he might do.
“To get some answers.”
We rode in silence until we arrived at the clubhouse. “Cain…I don’t want to go in. This is all my fault.”
“Yes it is, but part of being a Hellhound is owning up to your mistakes. Are you a big enough person to walk in there and admit you were wrong?”
I started to cry. “I don’t know.”
He sat, staring at me, waiting for me to make a choice. I opened the door as I sniffed. “Let’s go.”
When we walked in, the party that was underway fell deadly silent. “Why is
here?” Eva asked.
“We have some business with Thad,” Cain said. “She’s still my old lady,” he added, his tone making it clear that he would still protect me.
“She fucked you, Cain! She fucked us all, and look what it got us!” Cherie snarled. “I liked you, Alex. How could you do this to us?”
“I’m sorry,” I said as I looked at my shoes, but then I raised my head. “I’m sorry for all of this. It was all my fault. I didn’t intend for any of this to happen, but…” I stalled, not wanting to outright accuse the club of killing my parents.
“The Bulls gave her some documents that makes it appear that we killed her parents about twenty years ago,” Cain finished for me. “It was obviously a play to try to use her as leverage, but the documents appear to be legit.”
I held my head up, though I wanted nothing more than to slink out of there with my tail between my legs.
“Can we see them?” Thad asked.
“Right here,” Cain replied holding up the flash drive.
“Come on,” Thad said and Cain and I followed him to his office.
Thad looked through the documents. “Why didn’t you bring this to us, Alex?”
“Because I was afraid. Afraid if the documents were true and you had killed my parents, you would kill me, too, to keep the secret. But I couldn’t be sure, so I didn’t want to go to the cops either. So I just decided to leave, to go home and forget all about the Hounds.”
“And now?” Thad asked.
“I don’t know. You risked so much to save me. I don’t know what to think. I’m sorry, Thad. I really am. I wish I could take it all back.”
“Is it true?” Cain asked.
“Honestly, I don’t know. But I think I know someone who will.” When he rose from behind his desk, I stepped back and lowered my head in guilt, but he pulled me to him and held me. “I’m sorry you had to go through all of this,” he said softly. “We don’t keep secrets from each other, Alex, and it appears that we may be keeping a big one from you.” He released me and I had to grit my teeth to prevent myself from crying. “Let’s see if we can get you some answers.”
When we stepped into the main room, all eyes were on us. “This club owes Alex some answers,” Thad said, then paused as he met each person’s eyes. “She should have brought her concerns before the club. She was wrong to not do so, but she’s new and didn’t know. But we’re much more in the wrong. She asked us a simple question, ‘Did we kill her parents?’ and it appears that we may have. This club doesn’t keep secrets from each other. She is one of us, and we may be keeping a secret from her right now. When she asked, I should have dug deeper into it rather than just assuming that she was wrong. Cain and I are going to go and try to find out the truth now.”
“And if she is wrong?” Cherie asked, her face hard.
“Then she was wrong. We all make mistakes. Her mistake was to not trust us, but of all the mistakes that we have made, that seems pretty low on the list, doesn’t it?”
“And if she is right? Are you going to the cops?” Eva asked, staring into my eyes.
“No. It won’t bring my parents back, and none of you are guilty. And you gave so much for me. No… I would never do that. I owe you too much to ever turn on you.”
I stood my ground, meeting their eyes, until Thad pressed his hand into my back to start me walking. “Let’s get you some answers.”
“What is this place,” Cain asked as we stepped out of his truck.
“This is Grapevine Lakes Assisted Living,” Thad said. “Del Kozlowski lives here.”
“The founder of the Hounds?” Cain asked in surprise. “I thought he was dead!”
“Not dead. Not yet,” Thad said as we stepped up to the door and he rapped on it solidly with his knuckles.
“Who is it?” a man’s voice called from inside.
“Del? It’s Thad. I want to speak to you a minute.”
The door opened and a silver-haired, stoop-shouldered man was standing before us. He appeared to be in his late eighties, and slightly frail, but I could tell that he was once a powerful man. He smiled at Thad and then his eyes went first to me, then to Cain.
“Del, this is Cain Rodgers and his old lady. They’re Hounds. Can we talk to you a minute.”
Del stepped back and we entered the tiny apartment. There was one central room that functioned as both living and eating area with a small bedroom behind. “It’s good to see you, Thad,” Del said as he settled into a well-worn chair.
Cain and Thad took the two chairs, and Cain pulled me gently to sit in his lap.
“Del, do you remember about twenty years ago, anything about an investigation into our business?”
“Twenty years? That was a long time ago.”
“I know, but can you remember anything about it?”
“Why do you want to know?”
Thad nodded at me. “There was a cop killed about the same time. This is his daughter. She has evidence that he was about to shut us down.”
Del looked at me. “What’s your name?”
“Alex. Alexandria Bernhardt.”
Del continued to look at me. “I remember,” he finally said, never breaking eye contact with me.
“Did we do it?”
Thad and Cain looked at each other, but said nothing.
“It was all fucked up,” Del said slowly. “I sent Griffin and a couple of the new guys to Houston to talk to our guy on the docks. We had gotten wind that the cops were pressuring him. I don’t know how they tracked him down, but they had.” Del continued to look at me. “Your dad, he was a bulldog. When Griffin got there, he found out the guy had turned and he called me, wanting to know what to do.” Del finally broke eye contact with me and looked at Thad. “I told him to kill him. If he talked, we were fucked and the lot of us were going to jail.”
“I didn’t know any of this. Why did you keep it from the rest of the club? Why didn’t you tell me about this when I took the chair?” Thad asked.
“Because of what happened next. Griffin found out that…what the fuck was that guy’s name?”
“Kendrell?” Cain suggested.
“Yeah, Kendrell. Before he killed him, Griffin found out that Kendrell had talked to a Dallas cop. Kendrell had the signed papers where he had given his statement and everything.”
“So you had him, the cop, killed?” Thad asked.
Del looked at me. “No. I never gave the order. I didn’t even know about it until it was done. Griffin came back into town and told me Kendrell was dead. I thought that was the end of it. I didn’t even know about the statement until much later.”
“So who killed her father?” Thad asked.
“Griffin, and the two others that went with him to talk to Kendrell, Chuck Holly and Jim Peters.”
“Jackknife Jim Peters, the President of the Bulls?” Thad asked loudly.
“What the fuck?” Cain muttered.
“Griffin decided that he would handle the problem of the cop himself. I don’t know if he knew I would never give the okay to kill a cop or what, but after the death made the news…he admitted that he had set it up. He was right proud of himself, how he had made it look like an accident.”
“How did Jackknife get to the Bulls?” Thad asked.
“We had a meeting of the club, just the founding members. The heat was coming down on us. The cops couldn’t prove it was us, but they knew. We took a vote. Holly and Peters were stripped of their colors and expelled for their involvement. Peters joined the Bulls and I don’t know where Holly ended up. He just disappeared.”
“Son of a bitch. No wonder the Bulls have it in for us,” Thad said. “What happened to Griffin? Wasn’t he a founding member, too?”