My life has been about three things- brotherhood, good times, and women. Easy. Nothing complicated. That was until Willow Swift came barging back into my life, face bloodied, banging at the gates of The Henchmen compound calling in a favor owed. Now a marker is a marker and I had to make good, but if there was one woman in the world I didn’t need in my life, it was the hard-as-stone, hot-as-sin Willow Swift and whatever mysterious ghosts from her past that were haunting her present.
My life has been nothing but two things: hard and complicated. The last person I wanted in my business was the notorious love-em and leave-em Cash, but I needed help and he was the only one I could lean on without worrying about him finding out about my past. But I was starting to wonder if maybe he was his own kind of dangerous bent on tearing down some things I had long since learned were not possible for me- like falling for a guy I could not, ever, let see the real me.Books in Series:The Henchmen Series by Jessica GadzialaBooks by Author:Jessica Gadziala Books
Reign had church at the compound like he did every Friday. He had left ten minutes before, dropping a nine millimeter on the kitchen counter beside me and kissing down the side of my neck.
"Give me an hour then you get your ass in the truck and drive to the compound," he said, squeezing my ass before he moved away.
I listened to his bike rumble off as I looked down at the gun. Reign wasn’t exactly a romantic and I never expected that to change. But he showed me he loved me in his own ways – like when he left me alone but always made sure he left me with a gun. It was his version of flowers and candy. Protection. Safety. They were some of the things I came to appreciate most about being with him. I may not be some withering flower, but it always gave me the warm and tinglies to know that he prized me enough to want to make sure I was always safe.
The abrupt tap tap tap on the sliding glass door in the dining room had my heart flying into my throat and my hand automatically grabbing for the gun, pulling off the safety, and aiming it into the darkness.
I moved slowly out of the kitchen, reaching my free hand into my back pocket for my phone and hitting Reign’s number.
Whoever was at the door was in all black, making them all but invisible in the darkness. But then a white hand slid out of the sleeve and reached upward, pulling the hood off their head.
Janie. From Hailstorm, the survivalist camp on the hill. I had met her a little over a year before when she and her leader, Lo, helped Reign, Cash, and Wolf save me from the skin trading psycho called "V" who had kidnapped and tortured me for months to try to get my father to agree to some kind of deal involving using my father’s shipping containers. V had been under my father the cocaine kingpin’s care (read: imprisonment) since then. My dad and I had managed to make amends despite him lying to me my whole life about being a normal, upstanding businessman. Hell, who was I to judge" I fell in love with a gun running biker who had proved quite adept at taking lives.
But ever since that night, I had never even caught sight of anyone from Hailstorm. Not even Lo. From what I could tell, Reign and the others hadn’t heard from them either.
Janie being at the backdoor… I had no idea if that was good or bad.
"Babe… the fuck could you need to talk to me about already" I just left…" Reign’s voice found my ear.
Janie’s eyes found mine and she said something while watching me, most of which I couldn’t make out. But I caught one word. Help.
Then she pointed to the phone by my ear then brought her finger to her lips in a shushing motion.
I didn’t do that. I didn’t keep things from Reign. That wasn’t how our relationship worked. But there was a woman who once helped save me at my back door asking for help and asking me to keep it quiet.
"Summer," Reign’s voice cut in, sounding concerned.
"Oh, oops," I said into the phone, trying to sound flustered. "Sorry. I didn’t mean to call you."
There was a short pause. "You sure" Everything alright""
"Yep fine. Just trying to crack the code to the safe and find the fun guns," I said, teasing him.
"Summer I swear to fucking Christ if you touch one of the…"
"I’m joking," I laughed, rolling my eyes as Janie watched me, head tilted to the side. I still had the gun aimed at her. Maybe she saved me once, but I learned my lesson in blindly trusting people.
"Wouldn’t put it past you," Reign grumbled, likely remembering the time he let me use a fully automatic AK for the first time. I hadn’t realized how much of a kick it would have and ended up stumbling and accidentally shooting the side of the compound. No one got hurt or anything, but he never let me live that down.
"Go to church," I said, shaking my head. "I’ll talk to you later."
"Promise me there won’t be any new holes in my house when I get there."
"No promises, but it’s unlikely."
Reign sighed and I could just picture him raking a hand down his face. "Alright. I gotta go."
"Love you," I said, the words still heavy with meaning. It wasn’t the flippant love ya’ people fed each other to end a phone call. I meant it. I felt it down to my bones. And my words echoed that.
"Love you too," he said in a matching tone before he hung up.
I took a deep breath, tucking the phone back into my pocket and walking toward the back door. I flicked on the porch light and reached for the lock. As she reached for the handle, I backed away, gun still raised. I was good with a gun, so was Janie, but she had me beat on any other kind of fight. I wasn’t letting her get near me until I knew what was going on.
"What are you doing here"" I asked as she walked in, closed the door, and sat down at our dining room table like she had done it a hundred times before.
"I’m… in a situation and I need your help."
"I’ll call Reign back…" I started, reaching for my phone.
"No," she said, almost a little hysterically. It was such an unexpected, out of character tone for her that I froze.
"What’s going on Janie""
"I can’t tell you that without getting you involved. But I need you to do something without telling anyone that I have asked you to do it."
"You want me to lie to Reign"" Again.
"Yes. But it will keep him safe. And Cash, Wolf, the rest of the Henchmen, and your dad."
My dad" And all of the Henchmen. Christ. What the hell did she get herself into"
"Does Lo know about this""