The joking between these men was so refreshing—so different to the anger and hierarchy of Dagger Rose.
“They’ve been dealing with the books. Melanie’s also been working on befriending more reporters for when Kill decides to make the final move,” a biker with a bald head and long beard said, looking at his wristwatch. “I reckon they’re only minutes away.”
“Oh, and Jane’s been typing up that report you asked for, Kill. On the leaked files you handed to the local gossip column last month,” another middle-aged biker said.
“Did it get traction?” Arthur asked.
The biker nodded. “Turns out, it did pretty good. Might be a good avenue. Enlighten the housewives first and they can badger their husbands. Then when they hear it mainstream—least the seed’s already been planted, if ya know what I mean.”
I have no idea what you mean.
My concussion headache had disappeared but listening to this code brought it right back.
When the bikers spoke of these unknown women—working side by side in Club business—my blood blistered with pride. However, my mind couldn’t comprehend this fundamental change. What had Arthur created here? Equality for men and women? A true family rather than women simpering to every whim of their men?
“That’s a good angle.” Arthur nodded. “Let’s do more of that. Mo, whatever else we have low-key, leak it to one of the cheap rags. Let’s see what sort of unrest we can begin by low-balling it. If we can unseat the current democrat, all the better.”
What on earth is he up to?
I’d expected conversations about war and massacres but here they were talking about media, housewives, and God knew what else.
I looked with fresh eyes at the Club. I’d been brought up in a lifestyle that held no bearing to this new existence. I was lost … but also strangely liberated.
Arthur’s eyes landed on mine. He smiled softly. “You’re jumping in when we’ve been juggling these things forever. You’ll catch on.”
I shook my head in amazement. “What are you doing here?”
“Making the world a better fucking place, that’s what,” a biker with a topknot replied.
Arthur grinned. “That’s about the gist of it.” His eyes were bright and reminiscent of the intelligence I was so used to. “I learned everything of what not to do in a Club, thanks to our upbringing. I fashioned Pure Corruption on things that didn’t work in theirs. And made it my oath to create something unbreakable.” He waved once again at the vacant chair. “Sit. Take your place. Time to get to know your new family and learn all our secrets.”
I wished I was lucky enough to have a father like Thorn Price.
He’d taken me to get my exam results. He’d sat outside the school without any argument, then taken me out for a beer to celebrate earning the highest scores the school had ever seen.
He didn’t pry about my fresh bruises. He didn’t tease me about how I felt about his daughter.
He was a class fucking act and I was jealous that he wasn’t my father.
But then again, I was glad he wasn’t mine. If he had been, Cleo never could be. —Arthur, age seventeen
I hid my smile as Cleo edged away from the exit and made her way to the empty chair.
Her features couldn’t hide the confusion or questions. She looked amazed and also slightly awed.
I hadn’t stopped to think how strange this would be for her. How lost she’d be in our long-term goals. How scrambled she’d feel when she finally learned the truth.
What she saw was still so small. She wasn’t ready yet to understand the big picture. Shit, I’d worked on this for four years and still had moments where doubt stuck a gun in my gut. We weren’t just taking on cartels or rivals. We weren’t just bloodthirsty and violent. We were working for the greater good—only nobody but us knew it yet.
The rule-makers—the stinking government—looked down upon us as lowlife scum on the fringes of society.
They had no idea what was coming.
I mean to change everything.
Once again, I’d dragged Cleo into my world without taking her feelings into consideration. She might not want the level of commitment and lofty aspirations shared by my men. She might not like the goal of reform we’d all been working toward. Shit, for all I knew, she might prefer the way things had always been done—just like the idiots who’d tried to steal my leadership the night Cleo came back to me.
All my worries could’ve been extinguished with a simple question. But once again, I’d barreled forward with no time to think.
I have to stop doing that.
She had to be first in my life—that was the way love was supposed to be—but in order to do that, I had to finish what I’d started.
We’d lived separate lives and now we needed to find common ground—to learn to coexist.
“It’s okay, Cleo. Sit. Stay.”
Her eyes flickered to mine.
Our entire childhood, we’d been taught that only full-fledged members were allowed in Church. No wives. No prospects. No children.
Yet here I was ripping up the fucking rule book and treating the meetings like family get-togethers where everyone had a voice. And I did mean everyone. Kids were allowed to join if they’d had an issue with school. Parents of members were welcomed if they needed a favor or loan.
We turned no one away and that was why we all fought together. Because we fought for each other first and foremost.