Turning to face the seething mass of brothers, we didn’t speak as we watched the spectacle of back slaps, hugs, and loudly broadcast reminiscing between Wallstreet and the older members of Pure Corruption.

I nodded. “Their leader is back.”

“No.” Cleo tensed. “Their leader is you.”

Wrong, Buttercup.

I knew I should’ve had the balls to tell her before this.

I was only temporary.

I always knew Cleo wouldn’t accept Wallstreet’s return happily. She’d made no secret that she was wary of him. I understood her need to keep her distance, but at the same time, Wallstreet wasn’t Rubix. He wasn’t cruel—only ambitious.

And I could deal with ambitious because that curse infected me, too.

Matchsticks appeared, bearing gifts in the form of beer for me and a daiquiri for Cleo. “Good to see the old bloke out of the slammer.”

We clinked beers in a toast and downed a few gulps. “He deserves to have a good night.”

Cleo stiffened but Matchsticks took another drink. “I think this party will go on all week with the amount of supplies Grasshopper arranged.”

I laughed.

Ever since I’d been released from the hospital, I’d let Grasshopper stay in control. To start with, I’d itched to take back leadership—to hold the gavel at Church and oversee every detail. But that wasn’t my future and the sooner the members grew accustomed to having Grasshopper lead, the better.

For everyone.

Today was all about celebration. Tomorrow was all about preparation.

We had no time to waste. The past few weeks, our campaign hinting at certain frauds and hidden cover-ups had been leaked to magazines and smaller TV stations. We’d planted the seed of unrest—now it was time to get bigger, louder, and jump into the political stream with the ammunition we’d gathered.

I was looking forward to it but also dreading it at the same time. The moment we put ourselves forward, along with our lofty goals of changing the way the globe was run, we could kiss privacy and indiscretions goodbye.

I’d never wanted to deal with politicians or dive into the seedy world of lawmaking and bills. But sometimes a calling demanded certain sacrifices in order to deliver the ultimate satisfaction.

Look at Cleo.

She’d been forced to live a life she didn’t want but in the end she valued everything so much more. I was envious of her contentedness. I wanted that. And the only way I would get it was to become someone I never thought I’d be in order to seek that ever-elusive goal of achieving something far bigger than myself.

Taking another swig, I watched the party atmosphere spread around us. Matchsticks headed toward Roderick and Spokes and Wallstreet prowled the room, nodding at the renovations, occasionally giving me a thumbs-up. I wouldn’t admit it but his appreciation and awe at what I’d achieved warmed my fucking heart.

I’d done well.

I was proud.

However, even with the joviality and happiness at having one of us return, there was an aura of loss and sadness. Mo should’ve been here. He was an original. He deserved to see his Club go full circle.

Every time I thought about Mo and Beetle, a dagger dug into my heart. I missed them. A shitload. Especially Mo because he’d been staunchly on my side once I’d won him over.

He was loyal to the end.

“Arthur?” Cleo popped into my thoughts. Her red hair flamed like living hell with burgundy, gold, and bronze.

She truly was a walking fire.

I forced myself to focus. “Yep?”

Her long legs captured my attention. Encased in tiny jean shorts, the elongated muscles of her thighs and calves made my mouth dry. The grey T-shirt she wore hung off one shoulder revealing a black bra strap. We’d kissed and petted over the past few weeks but we hadn’t had sex.

After my head surgery, I was given strict rules on what I couldn’t do.

Unlike last time, I followed them religiously.

It didn’t stop my cock from swelling now, though, or the overwhelming need to be inside her. Yanking her close, I breathed in her ear, “I want you tonight.”

Her eyes hooded. “How long did the doctor say to abstain?”

I licked the shell of her ear. “Yesterday. I’m in the clear to fuck you, woman.”

She shuddered. “I don’t think I’ve heard anything better.”

My cock hardened even more. “You eager to have me inside you?”

“Eager is an understatement.” She lowered her voice. “I’ve been wet for you for weeks.”

Fuck me. I groaned under my breath.

Would I ever get used to how beautiful and perfect she was?

Positioning herself in front of me, she whispered, “Why wait until tonight?”

The moment the words registered, I couldn’t stop the inevitable. I needed this woman. I needed her now.

“You don’t know what you’ve just done.” Grabbing her wrist, I stalked forward.

Her laugh webbed around us as we beelined toward the exit. Moving past Matchsticks, I shoved my beer into his hands followed by Cleo’s half-drunk daiquiri. “Keep that. We’re leaving.”

Matchstick’s mouth popped open but he didn’t have a chance to say anything as I yanked Cleo across the room.

It wasn’t easy navigating the swarms of people or avoiding the intoxicated happiness infecting everyone. Each delay, each mumbled conversation, only made my cock harder. My jaw clenched. Cleo didn’t help fucking matters by wriggling forward to sashay in front of me and biting her lip whenever my fingers graced her lower back.

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