“You ready?” I look over at Violet as she pulls her long, dark chocolate hair into a ponytail. It’s eerie sometimes, how much she looks like her brother. My man. Or my old man, as he’s known in the club, seeing as I’m the only female member of the Ghost Riders and the club’s sergeant-at-arms. Even with him being a fed, they’d let him in easy. Well, maybe not so easy. He did have to break a few laws to keep my ass out of jail, proving to everyone that he’s always chosen me first. My Vincent knew how much this club meant to me, so that meant protecting it, too. And he had and does still. For the last six months, he’s proven that to me and anyone watching that it would always be that way.
“Hell yeah,” Violet answers, shooting me a smirk. I bend down to make sure her ankle weights are on tight so they don’t knock against her or slide all around. “Those things are fucking heavy.” She lifts up each foot one at a time, testing them. Then she starts bouncing back and forth, warming up her legs. Violet actually looks to be fitter than me. We are about the same height, both on the shorter side, but I’ve probably got about twenty pounds on her. Vincent’s Italian home-cooked meals every night aren’t helping, but I’m not going to go complain about that. I still know I can move. I’m just not sure she’ll have the strength to carry the rifle for long sprints.
“Yep, but they work,” I reassure her, standing up. Running with ankle weights is a bitch, but you’ll thank yourself for having trained with them the first time your feet hit land that isn’t so solid. Sand and mud sink, making your strides hard and heavy. This way, you’re always prepared for the extra weight. And when you are on solid ground and you take off in a sprint, you move even faster for longer periods.
I pick the rifle up off the ground and hand it to her.
“All right, so you’re the first I’ve gotten to try this out on. Pres knows I’ve been working on something out here, but I haven’t told him yet. I’ve just been playing around with it, and I thought you’d be a perfect fit to try it out.”
For a few weeks, I’ve been putting together a practice field out on the land beside the range. It’s a place where people can do drills or maybe even have paintball tournaments. I’ve wanted to do something to expand business for the range as I own part of it with the club president, Lucias. I miss the adrenaline that comes with being on active duty.
Out here on the course, it feels like old times. I know not all my brothers look at our time overseas like I do. They see it as being filled with blood and pain, but me, I see the moment I finally found a home. A place I belonged. I fought with them, and when we returned to the States, we stayed together. The same team working together, but now we just do it for the club instead of the government.
Now I’m helping Vincent’s little sister train. I’ve been helping her practice shooting for weeks in between her classes. She’s good and learning fast. She also wants in the club something bad, and I’m keen on the idea because soon I won’t be able to be the club’s eyes in the sky anymore. At least for a few months. Can’t lie on your stomach for hours if you’ve got a pregnant belly in the way. But that’s a secret I haven’t shared with anyone else yet.
I also know Violet to be loyal to a fault. It’s how all of Vincent’s family is. It’s the way they were raised. I’m just not sure how happy they’ll be when they find out all the little things she’s been doing at night. She’s the youngest, the baby of the family, but she’s nothing like Vincent’s other four sisters who are always going on and on about marriage and babies and the latest fashion and what everyone should make for the next family barbecue. She has a taste for adrenaline, like me.
She’d talked about enlisting, but I’d talked her out of it. I’m sure Vincent would rather her be here than a whole other country away and in harm’s way.
“Let’s do this,” she says and stops jumping around.
“High noon at all times.” I point to the rifle. “That’s the fast way to move with that one.”
She nods, doing as I say.
“We’ll start off easier. Around the lake and up that hill. When you get to the top, you’ll see your target.”
She nods again.
“Feel it V.” I drop my head back and look up at the sky. The sun is coming up. I snuck out of bed on Vincent early on a Sunday morning. I’m sure he’ll be popping up soon. I want to be done before we get busted. “Feel the wind. Feel it as we move up the hill. Because with each step, it will get heavier, and it will affect your shot. Think about it every step of the way. Think about your breathing. If you’re running too fast, then you’ll be out of breath. How will that affect you when you hit the ground to take your shot? Feel it all because all of it counts. Every. Little. Thing.”