Ever since Wire (Dixie Reapers MC), when Outlaw played such a prominent role in keeping Lavender safe, I’ve been asked for his story. Well, guess what … Today, I’m sharing the cover for Outlaw, which will release March 6th at Changeling Press or March 13th at retailers!
I hope you enjoy today’s cover reveal!
~ Harley ~
Broken. Alone. Until an angel showed up and proved I’d only been waiting for her.
Cover Art by Bryan Keller
Elena – I’d lost my parents as a kid, but a reverend and his wife took me in. They were good to me, even if there had never been many hugs. Then they started pushing me to marry a man I didn’t want, so I ran. I should have known the moment I walked through the clubhouse doors of the Devil’s Fury that my life would never be the same. I just didn’t count on a bad boy biker being the one to finally make me feel wanted.
Outlaw – The Devil’s Fury are my family, my brothers, but I’m not the same man I was years ago. I’m scarred and broken, or so I’d thought. The little Latina who came to the clubhouse then pulled out a damn book to read had my attention right away. When someone tries to hurt her, I know that I’ll keep her safe. In fact, I’ll just keep her. She’s awoken a part of me I’d thought I’d lost. Didn’t count on her bringing trouble with her, or nearly losing her, but she’s mine and I will fight for her to the very end.
Did you miss book 1 in the Devil’s Fury MC series? Find out more about Dingo here –> http://bit.ly/2tzp89y
About Harley Wylde
You can follow Harley on Amazon, Twitter, or Facebook. Get New Release notifications (for US readers) by following Harley on BookBub! Want to talk more about the Dixie Reapers or other Harley books? Join the Wyldlings on Facebook!
Published by Changeling Press
Cover Artist: Bryan Keller
Meiling — All I’ve ever known is pain. My life has been far from a fairy tale. No parents. No friends. Just an endless nightmare that I can’t wake from. Until the day a man offered me his hand and promised to keep me safe. I’ve never trusted anyone before, but there’s something about him. Maybe it’s insane, but I know he won’t hurt me, and when he puts his arms around me, for the first time in my life I feel loved.
Dingo — I’ve always had a soft spot for women and kids in trouble. One look at Meiling, and I knew I had to protect her at any cost. The beautiful girl with the wounded soul. After all she’s suffered, all I want is to make her smile, make her feel secure, and give her a chance to find happiness. But first, I need to take out the men and women responsible for hurting her. It might get ugly, and messy, but they don’t call me Dingo for nothing. I’m a crazy bastard, and I won’t stop until she’s safe. I just didn’t count on falling for her along the way.
Publishers warning: Meiling’s past isn’t pretty. Dingo and Meiling’s story deals with issues of human trafficking, bureaucratic corruption, and vigilante justice. This book contains darker themes that may trigger some readers.
or pre-order for February 14th at online retailers
All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2020 Harley Wylde
I slipped Dingo’s shirt over my head, smoothing it as it fell to my knees. Even though I didn’t have on panties underneath, it was still the most covered I’d been for as long as I could remember. I didn’t see a hamper so I tossed the towels over the top of the shower so they would dry, then cautiously opened the bathroom door. I could hear the TV going and saw a pair of booted feet propped on the coffee table, even though I couldn’t see the rest of him. Scurrying into my room, I shut the door, then stared in amazement.
Sacks. Lots of sacks. They were just from one of those twenty-four-hour stores, but as I peeked into each one, I saw clothes, shoes, and other things that had to be for me. They were all in my size, and Dingo hadn’t mentioned his sister would be visiting. Since they were in the room he’d said I could use, it had to mean they were mine, right? Tears gathered in my eyes. I ripped into the package of panties and slipped on a pair, loving the way they actually covered my ass. The only two pair I owned were thongs and I hated them. The bras were a soft material that wasn’t the least bit transparent, and the clothes…
A sob built in my throat, but I tried so hard to hold it in. Jeans, modest-looking shirts, and shoes that were made for comfort and not to entice men. I lost the battle and tears streaked my cheeks as I cried so hard my throat and chest hurt. Booted steps came running toward the room, and Dingo must have slid to a stop just outside. He didn’t barge in, at least not right away. As my cries grew louder, he pushed the door open and rushed inside.
“Mei? Honey, what’s wrong?” He dropped to his knees next to me.
“I-I-I…” I couldn’t even tell him why I was crying. I just gestured to the bags, then threw my arms around him and held on.
Dingo held me, letting me soak his shirt with my tears, and he gently rubbed my back. Eventually, I got myself under control and took a few shuddering breaths. He rested his cheek on the top of my head, just holding me. Not once did his hands try to roam somewhere inappropriate. Beau was the last person to hold me like this, and I’d only been fourteen. I hadn’t realized until now just how much I missed it. My foster dad’s version of affection was vastly different.
“When’s the last time someone bought something for you?” he asked.
“My foster parents gave me only what they were required to purchase, and the clothes were never like this. No one’s ever been this nice to me.”
“They aren’t much, Mei, but I wanted to make sure you had enough clothes to get by for at least a few days. You’re welcome to use the washer and dryer off the kitchen whenever you need to, and we can always get a few more outfits.”
I fisted his shirt and lifted my head. The concern in his eyes, the gentle way he held me, it was all overwhelming. Men had taken what they wanted from me ever since I’d hit puberty. Not once had I ever kissed someone just because I wanted to, but right now, this very moment, I wanted to kiss Dingo. Before I could second-guess myself, I pressed my lips to his. He tensed and drew back, his gaze searching.
“Mei, you don’t have to do that.”
“I know,” I said. “I did it because I wanted to.”
There was a moment of hesitation in the way he held himself, the look in his eyes, and then he leaned toward me. This time he kissed me. Dingo threaded his fingers into my hair and held me as his mouth devoured mine. I melted against him, feeling desired for the first time in my life. Cherished. Men had wanted me before, but they’d wanted to take not give.
Dingo broke the kiss with a groan and pulled away.
ABOUT HARLEY WYLDE
“You did what and you want me to do what now?” Yale stared at me hard like I’d lost my fucking mind, and I honestly couldn’t tell him I hadn’t. I mean, what I was doing for Saylor was nuts and could cost me everything. I mean, the rip I would get wouldn’t necessarily be a total career-ender, but the trust it could damage with some of the other guys in the rest of the department? That was something you could never get back. You make a big enough questionable decision like this one and you could wind up having every decision questioned.
“Yale, I know –”
“I don’t think you do know Poe!” He went to his office door and shut it and I stood there feeling three inches tall compared to the prosecutor’s five-foot-five even though I was well over six feet. I looked down at him as his gaze smoldered in my direction and a muscle in his jaw ticked.
“Hey, none of you were really like this with Youngblood,” I said with a nervous laugh and his eyes blazed.
“One, Youngblood knew Chrissy. Two, Chrissy was gainfully employed with a degree, and with a roof over her head. She wasn’t some unknown street musician making poor life decisions driving across the country to live with some sight unseen internet boyfriend!”
“Okay, so maybe she was having a solid blonde moment – I mean, she is a blonde but I’ve already agreed to let her stay for a couple more nights.” I was hedging on the timeline hard, but Yale was smokin’ hot and acting more like my dad than my equal and brother. The only reason I wasn’t telling him to go fuck himself right now was that I could see how worried he was and truthfully, I got that.
If my best friend Blaze had come at me with this shit, I probably would have blown a gasket of my own, but there was just something about Saylor Grace and it wasn’t something I could explain. It was something that had to be experienced, and I thought that it was too damn convenient that she was parked outside Yale’s office at lunch and I figured if I could get Yale on my side, the other brothers would follow.
Yale was, after all, one of the toughest nuts out of all of us to crack. That, and I knew, if he just met her – even for only a few minutes – Saylor Grace would have him on her side and she could use every ally she could get in this city on her new start.
“I’m just asking if you could drop this off to her at lunch. If I did it, I’m gonna be late for my shift.”
He breathed in slow, in through his nose and out and grated out, “Fine, but only because I want to have a look at this girl so I can judge for myself and you had better be at church tonight.”
“Whoa, hey,” I said handing over the key on its key chain. “This isn’t club business.”
“Really?” he asked, holding up the fob with the key with the club crest on it. “You’re part of this club, Poe, and being part of this club means we look out for you as much as you look out for the rest of us.” He took a seat on the edge of his desk and I suddenly felt like I’d been called into the principal’s office. I tried not to smirk at the mental image. Now was totally not the time.
“That means, when it looks like one of our members is about to go off the rails it’s our duty and responsibility to get him back on track.” He fixed me with a hard look.
“Look, Yale, I know it sounds completely batshit fucking crazy, but I swear. She’s a good girl. She radiates it.”
Text Copyright © 2020 A.J. Downey
Publisher: Changeling Press
Cover Artist: Marteeka Karland
Rain — The gangs of the underground can be brutal. I know this well and have the scars to prove it. So when a team of rough-looking men start nosing around the slums of Rockwell, I make it my business to know what they’re up to. One in particular catches my eye. He’s rough and scary looking, but his touch is gentle when it needs to be. He’s older and more experienced in every way than me, but I’m still drawn to him. I’m not sure why, but I want him. And when I let him take me, I’ll savor the experience until it’s time to go.
Arkham — The little pixie warrior is a conundrum if ever there was one. She’s strong and capable but scarred inside and out. I can’t fix what’s broken inside her, but I can share her burdens and make her part of my circle. I’ll take her with me, with Bones MC. She’ll be protected there.
But who’s gonna protect her from me?
**WARNING** Bones is a rough MC. They can be violent, but they’re protective to a fault. The men love sex and the women don’t shy away from it. If you think you can handle their brand of loving… read on!
Get it TODAY at Changeling Press
or pre-order for January 31st at retailers
All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2020 Marteeka Karland
“What the fuck are we still doin’ here? We cleared this sector yesterday.” Arkham wasn’t usually one to complain, but this micromanaging shit was for the birds.
“You pay, we come play.” Torpedo was the top man in the field on this mission. He and Arkham took point as they walked down the street. They weren’t in Afghanistan or Tripoli, or Ukraine. They were in a moderately sized city in the good ole U. S. of A. called Rockwell. ExFil had been hired by a group of disgustingly rich hero wannabes to help locate a runaway. Kid had been missing for three days, and his mother, who was a member of the staff of said disgustingly rich hero wannabes, was more than frantic. They insisted the child was in this area of the city. How they knew that he didn’t know, but orders were orders.
“How the fuck do these guys know that kid’s in this part of town?” Goose had been vocal about his protests from the get-go. All of it because of the micromanaging. “We’ve searched high and low. The kid ain’t here.”
“It’s not like we’ve got anything else to do. We’re gettin’ paid by the hour. They want us to look here, we look here.” Shadow was the newest patched member of Bones and probably the most levelheaded and calm person Arkham knew. “We just flex some muscle if we see anything suspicious and be ready to bean someone if they need it.”
“Yeah. Way wide latitude,” Arkham grumbled. “I don’t like this.”
“Cain knows these guys personally,” Torpedo said. “If he says go, we go. We follow orders.”
“Ain’t never been good at following orders.” The back of Arkham’s neck was tingling like a son of a bitch. Never a good sign. “’Specially not from no pretty-boy, badass wannabe.”
“My understanding,” Torpedo explained, “is that these guys are the real deal. Seems Cain served briefly with Azriel Ivanovich. He’s part owner of Argent Tech.”
“The company that makes all those pretty gadgets Data is always forcing us to use? I hate the bastard already.” Arkham wasn’t opposed to technology per se, he just hated being forced into it. “Most of that shit is just used to dumb down the real work. I mean, I can fuckin’ shoot straight and follow a compass. And I don’t need a fuckin’ leash shoved up my ass in the form of one of those fancy GPS things he hardwired into our radios and phones. Hell, even our fuckin’ bikes are tracked. Where’s the end?”
“You’ll have to take that up with Data and Cain.” Torpedo shrugged, his body posture letting Arkham know Torpedo was just as vigilant as he was, even while carrying on the conversation. “I just make sure you use it.”
“Next thing you know he’ll be wantin’ to tag us with some kind of chip under our skin.”
“It’s already being discussed.”
Arkham stopped dead in his tracks. “I will bust a motherfucker up.”
Torpedo looked over his shoulder, grinning. “Gotcha.”
Though he continued the disgruntled conversation, Arkham was only half paying attention to his brothers. Their actual mission was extremely vague. All they seemed to do was patrol the poorest section of the city and give people mean looks. They’d questioned every single person they saw, but no one had seen the boy. Arkham had no idea if he believed any of them or not.
The streets were mostly dark at night. Though the streetlights were replaced almost daily, by the end of the day they’d all be broken out again. Drug deals routinely went down in rundown buildings in the process of being renovated, though the team from ExFil had stopped some of it during their search. Drug sales continued regardless. Arkham thought Bones more suited to this than ExFil, but their employer had insisted on the paramilitary version. While Bones was the rough and ready MC, ExFil was the more disciplined and civilian accepted military-like organization run by Cain. This city needed the military, not the outlaws. Conditions had seemed to improve somewhat, but there was still a long way to go. Oh, well. Not his turf. Not his problem.
“How the fuck did a place like Argent Tech end up in this shit hole? It’s no bigger than Somerset and has way less to offer. Not to mention at least a third of the city is nothing more than slums. These people certainly don’t benefit from the tech giant.” Shadow had that part right.
“I agree, brother,” Arkham said. “Not sure what our goal here is, but it seems like more of a policing effort than searching for a missing kid. I’m ready to tell ‘em all to shove it up their ass.”
“The point is for us to give Ivanovich and his associates the help they need in locatin’ a missin’ child. And they are tryin’ to better the place.”
“You’re just trying to defend Cain’s decision to take this job, Torpedo,” Arkham groused. “You don’t like it any more than we do. If they’d let us do this our way, we might have found the kid already. That’s what’s pissin’ me off.”
“Ain’t sayin’ you’re right. Ain’t sayin’ you’re wrong. But if you don’t shut the fuck up about it, I will turn Suzie on your ass so quick it will make your head spin. Stunner might have let her use most of the red and green glitter on him, but I know where there’s a whole fuckin’ tub of pink glitter, and I’ll point her in the right direction.”
That got a laugh from everyone. Evan Arkham snorted. “Harsh, brother,” he grumbled.
They passed the next hour in silence. Still, that tingle between Arkham’s shoulder blades persisted. They were being watched. Had been since they’d gotten off the Goddamned plane. “When I find that son of a bitch, Imma throw him a beatin’.”
“What the fuck are you talkin’ about?” Goose had turned and was facing away from them now, guarding their six as they slowed their trek down the sidewalk.
“Someone’s been watchin’ us since the second we got off the fuckin’ plane.” Arkham tried to watch his area, but he knew the threat was from above. Now that he’d mentioned it, he gave up all pretense of pretending not to be actively seeking their stalker. He raised his gun to the rooftops, putting his infrared goggles in place. Everyone followed his lead.
“I thought I was just being paranoid,” Goose muttered.
“No.” Arkham had learned long ago to listen when that sensation was trying to tell him something.
Just as they rounded the corner, Arkham spotted him. “Got the bastard,” he muttered. “Two o’clock, theater roof. He’s got a rifle scope, but I can’t confirm a weapon.”
“Copy that,” Torpedo said. “Shadow, you and Arkham fall back. See if you can go up the back way and get him from behind. We’ll patrol the alley to the west. If he follows us, should be easy pickin’s for you guys.”
“Radios on,” Arkham ordered. “I’m not losing anyone to a rookie mistake.”
“Got it,” Shadow and Goose confirmed on top of each other.
“Up the east side. And don’t kill him unless he deserves it.”
“He already deserves it for giving me a headache, “Arkham said, readying his rifle.
“Bastard has it coming.” Torpedo didn’t argue. Arkham was a hard ass, but he wouldn’t make a kill unless it was warranted. They all knew it and didn’t insult him by suggesting otherwise.
Shadow was the best partner he could have for a situation like this. The man’s special talent was disappearing into the shadows. Hence his name. Arkham was good, but he let Shadow take the lead on this one. If Arkham was spotted, Shadow would already be in position to defend him. It hurt to admit the big man was better than Arkham at anything, but truth hurts sometimes. Only meant Arkham would be working on that particular skill set even harder.
It took them seven minutes to gain the roof and another one to lay eyes on the target. He was slender, small. A boy? Arkham stayed put for several minutes. Shadow followed his lead, not breaking cover before Arkham gave the word.
The kid followed the perimeter of the roof, never taking his eyes from the team below. If he knew they were light two men, the kid didn’t seem overly concerned. He stopped right next to Arkham. He could have reached out and touched the boy. Two more steps, and he’d run into Arkham. Instead, he stopped, never taking his eye from the scope.
“You’re all clear,” the kid said. “They’ve made a circle around the theater. All four of them. If you’re going to take them, now’s the time.”
Three things registered for Arkham. First, his team was about to be ambushed by an unknown number of hostiles. Second, the kid wasn’t a boy. It was a girl. Third, she was deliberately deceiving whomever she was talking to.
Erotic romance author by night, emergency room tech/clerk by day, Marteeka Karland works really hard to drive everyone in her life completely and totally nuts. She has been creating stories from her warped imagination since she was in the third grade. Her love of writing blossomed throughout her teenage years until it developed into the totally unorthodox and irreverent style her English teachers tried so hard to rid her of.
Title: Wicked Warden
Series: Vicious Vipers 1
Author: Lynn Burke
Genre: MC Romance
Release Date: January 14, 2020
He’s the only man my father can trust when the cartel attempts to take us out. A vicious motorcycle gang member, he’s deadly with his fists and firearms.
He’s also the bastard responsible for my mother’s death.
I’m the one who’ll make him pay. A too-young, too-innocent woman he lusts after but refuses to touch.
He might believe he’s strong enough to withstand my plans for retaliation, but I will bring him to his knees and have my revenge.
Even if my heart dies along with his.
“We have to go.” Dad tugged me toward the exit. “Stick to my heels—don’t look at anyone, don’t speak to anyone.”
I nodded dumbly, using my free hand to swipe tears from my cheeks in an attempt to be the strong woman he wanted. If only he’d have offered a quick hug—the thing I always longed for and never received—the fortifying sense of having firm ground to stand upon, to depend upon outside of monetary means.
“The car’s at the end of the alleyway. You’ll get in the back, lay down, and stay down until I say.”
I nodded again, knowing to never argue with Dad’s commands.
One last quick scan of my face and he turned, grasping the exit door’s handle. Dad peeked out head moving left then right. “Stay close,” he whispered, pulling the door open far enough for us to slip through.
I stepped out into the dark after him, my breath loud in my ears as cold bit at my exposed, over-heated skin. Dad’s dress shoes slapped on the sidewalk, my heels clicking as we hurried up the alleyway.
A crowd still stood at the front of the club, but Dad pushed through, people closing back in behind us as we fought to get to the car.
I kept my focus on his tense shoulders rather than scan the crowd for faces I might recognize—my guards, or his men from the compound I’d called home. Every muscle inside me trembled, shaking my limbs. The second we escaped the throng, he headed toward a tan car I didn’t recognize, his head in constant motion as he scanned the immediate area.
Dad grasped the car’s back door handle.
“Get in!” he shouted as people began screaming behind us.
He yanked open the door, and I dove in headfirst, my heart in my throat.
Oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck…
I curled up on the cloth seat, hugging my knees to my chest, trembling from fear as much as the cold.
Another gunshot sounded, and Dad slammed the door behind me.
Please be okay… I clenched my eyelids shut.
A third shot sounded through the ringing in my ears, and I bit my lip to keep from shrieking, curling even tighter into myself. Tears rolled down my cheeks, and I held my breath … waiting. Needing Dad to be okay. Needing him to get in the car and take me far away from the shit.
The driver door tore open, and a quick peek revealed Dad hopping in.
“Fuck!” He pulled away from the curb like a bat out of hell, tires squealing beneath us, and I clenched my eyes shut again, trying to still my breathing and calm the fuck down. Rather than spew a million questions and distract Dad as he muttered curses and sped down one road after another, I kept quiet except for sniffles when my nose threatened to drip.
Violence came with Dad’s line of business. I’d learned that first hand, and the aftermath of that war had left me without a mother, left my father broken and shut down toward his only living relative—me.
The only daughter.
The only heir to the fortune and empire he’d built from running drugs with a cartel I wished I didn’t know anything about.
“Shaun!” Dad barked. “Get your seat belt on. Now.”
He swerved, and a car sped alongside us as I sat up. Two men sat in the front, neither of which I recognized.
The one in the passenger seat raised a gun.
“Gun!” I shrieked, and Dad slammed on the brakes.
Lower lip between my teeth, I slid out of the shoulder strap and laid back down, curling up as tight as I could.
Dad stomped on the gas again.
Metal scraped—the car shifted.
Dad cursed low and long…
We sped up. He slammed the brakes again enough to tumble me off the seat had I not had the belt across my lap. More speed, more metal screeching—tears and snot mingled on my face, but I couldn’t be bothered to care.
I’d always thought keeping my eyes closed as a child meant no one could see me, that I hid in my own little world. Untouchable. Invincible.
I’d learned the day Mom died, the closing of one’s eyes couldn’t shield one from the horrors in life.
The car suddenly shifted—spun.
I bit my lip, tasting blood as I whimpered.
Sounds of screeching—metal smashing—a loud explosion.
Our car came to a standstill, silence engulfing the air around us.
© Lynn Burke 2018
$25 Amazon gift card and a signed paperback copy of Wicked Warden (US only)
Direct link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/c0e4595c91/
Lynn Burke is a full time mother, voracious gardener, and scribbler of spicy romance stories. A country bumpkin turned Bay Stater, she enjoys her chowdah and Dunkin Donuts when not trying to escape the reality of city life.
Social Media Links:
Published by Changeling Press
Cover Artist: Bryan Keller
Nikki – Being tortured and watching the father of my child die has scarred me. There are deep wounds etched into my soul that no one can possibly understand. They think I loved him, that I’m mourning, but I’m not. The horror of that day lurks in the shadows of my mind, and I can’t seem to break free. Not until Ashes drags me to my first ultrasound and I see my son for the first time. I owe it to him to do better, but it’s too late. I’ve lost my job, and I’m losing my apartment. I should have known Ashes would swoop in like a knight on his shining Harley to save the day.
Ashes – It’s my fault that Nikki lost Bane, that their kid will grow up without a dad. My cousin is responsible for what happened to them, and I can’t undo that pain. So instead, I take care of Nikki the best I can while trying to maintain some distance between us. I’ve loved her for years, but I can never tell her. Renegade, the Road Captain for my club and her brother, would kill me if he knew that Nikki plagues my thoughts day and night. I never counted on taking her home with me, or getting caught in the shower with her. But our happy-ever-after wasn’t quite in reach. When a series of events nearly tears us apart, I vow that I’ll do whatever it takes to get back to her. It never occurred to me that she’d be the one to save me.
or Pre-Order for January 10th at Retailers
All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2020 Harley Wylde
I hated seeing Nikki like this. What should have been a joyous time for her only made her sadder. Losing Bane, especially in such a brutal way, had done a number on her. It had been half a year since his death, and still she was barely living. None of us had a clue the two had been so close. Even her brother, Renegade, had been kept in the dark. I’d made it my responsibility to keep an eye on her. If it weren’t for my addict cousin, then Bane would still be alive, and Nikki wouldn’t be facing motherhood alone.
Her belly swelled with her kid, hers and Bane’s, and I thought she was pretty damn adorable. Even when she hadn’t showered in a few days, there was just something about Nikki that made you look twice. She wasn’t stunning, or gorgeous like the women in Hollywood, but the girl-next-door look was really doing it for me. Not that I would touch her. I had no right. Besides, she was still mourning the loss of Bane.
“Hey, Nik, your calendar says you have a doctor’s appointment today. Shouldn’t you be getting ready?” I asked as I leaned against the entryway to the living room.
She’d curled on the couch, still in her pajamas, and was staring vacantly at the TV. I knew she wasn’t watching it because a movie that looked damn close to soft porn was playing, and that wasn’t her thing. At least, it hadn’t been since I’d started coming over here every week.
“Nik.” Moving farther into the room, I hunkered in front of her, slowly reaching for her hand. I gave it a slight squeeze, pulling her attention to me. “There you are, pretty girl. Come on. You need to shower and dress for your appointment. I’ll give you a ride.”
I nodded. “Doctor. Have to check on the kiddo and make sure they’re all right.”
Her eyes turned glassy with unshed tears. “I’m supposed to find out the sex today. I get to see my baby and I…”
I reached up and wiped away the tear that slipped down her cheek. “I know, sweetheart. I know. I’m so damn sorry Bane can’t be here for this, but you don’t have to go alone.”
I’d like to think Bane would have been with her every step of the way, but I honestly didn’t know. He’d enjoyed the club pussy as much as anyone else. The fact he’d been with Nikki, and she was the sister of our Road Captain, made me think he’d been more serious this time. If he hadn’t died and he’d fucked around on Nik, then Renegade would have gelded him.
She gave me a slight nod and I helped her stand. Not trusting her to actually take a shower and not just crawl back in the bed, I led her down the hall to her room. I’d picked up a bit the last time I was here, but the place already looked like a cyclone had hit. From what I knew of Nikki, she’d been something of a neat freak before losing Bane. The men who took her had beat her pretty bad, but even worse, they’d made her watch as they tortured and killed Bane, a Prospect no one had realized she was seeing.
I went into her bathroom and turned on the shower, set out a clean towel for her, then stepped out. Nikki shuffled past me, more zombie than human at the moment. I left her to it and started picking up the mess in her room and stripping the bed. When I turned to shove everything in the hamper near her closet, I sighed and stared at her. She was still standing in the bathroom, vacantly looking at the shower.
She needed help, but she refused to go talk to a shrink, and Renegade insisted she’d be fine and to leave her be. I couldn’t, though. Either my brother wasn’t aware of just how bad Nik had gotten, or he was choosing to ignore it. I understood he was preoccupied with his new woman and daughter, and the kid they had on the way, but that didn’t change the fact his sister needed him. I could go to the Pres and ask him to speak to Renegade, but I didn’t want to do that. Nikki needed someone, and I was happy to help. I considered it penance for my fucked-up cousin being responsible for what happened to Nikki and Bane.
“Nikki, I need you to take a shower and get ready for your appointment,” I reminded her again.
When she still didn’t move, I knew I’d have to take things further than I should. I reached up and eased the elastic from her hair, letting it tumble down her back. Bracing myself for however she might react, I reached for the hem of her shirt and slowly started to lift it, hoping like hell she’d snap out of it and shove me away, then undress herself. Her bare breasts came into view, and I slammed my eyes shut, and cursed the fact I was getting hard. It was all kinds of fucked up. I managed to get her shirt off, then shoved her pajama pants down her legs. Settling my hands on her hips, I noticed she hadn’t been wearing panties. It was tempting to let my hands wander over that smooth skin, but I held back.
I brushed past her and tested the shower water, warming it a little more, before I reached back and took her hand. I tried really fucking hard not to look anywhere but her face as I stuck her under the shower spray. She sucked in a breath, her eyes going wide, and I could tell the moment she was coming back to the present and getting out of her head.
“Ashes?” she asked.
“Yeah, Nik. Just… shower, okay? I’ll put some clothes out for you, then wait in the living room.”
My gaze dropped to her breasts, and I knew it made me an asshole, but I couldn’t seem to stop myself from going even lower. The swell of her belly made my fingers twitch as I fought the urge to reach out and place my hand there. Nikki seemed to read my mind and reached out, taking my hand in hers, then pressed my palm to her belly. I stared a moment before looking up to see her watching me.
“It’s okay if you want to feel the baby,” she said. “You’ve been here every week helping take care of us. It’s almost more your kid than Bane’s.”
I shook my head. “No, Nik. The baby is yours and Bane’s, and everyone knows it. The kid will know it too. We’ll all tell him or her about their dad, and how he died trying to save you. He’ll be a hero in his kid’s eyes.”
Her lower lip trembled. “I’m scared, Ashes.”
Ah, hell. I could handle about anything, except tears. I slipped off my cut and laid it on the counter, then toed off my boots. I stepped into the shower and gathered Nikki in my arms, not caring that I was getting soaked. She cried and clutched at my shirt. It was all kinds of fucked up that she was naked, and my dick was more than aware of the fact. If Renegade saw me right now, he’d kick my ass.
“Everything’s going to be fine, Nik. You don’t have to do any of this on your own. The club is behind you one hundred percent. You know that, right? It’s not just Renegade. We’re all here for you.”
She sniffled and looked up at me. “No, not everyone. Just you. My brother hardly comes by, and I never see the others unless I go to the compound.”
I bit my tongue before I said something I shouldn’t. I’d thought long and hard about her situation. The fact she lived alone and didn’t have anyone to check on her, other than the club, meant that she’d be safer at the compound. If anything happened, it would take too long to reach her. Hell, that was if anyone even knew she needed help. I wanted her to move behind the gates, but it wasn’t my place to say anything. She wasn’t mine.