Home > Undeserving (Undeniable #5)(17)

Undeserving (Undeniable #5)(17)
Author: Madeline Sheehan

And here was this girl. With nothing. Day after day, fighting for her next meal, braving the weather, robbing truckers, and risking everything just to reach a city that, more likely than not, was going to eat her alive.

Yeah, he felt like a first-class asshole.

Debbie spun around suddenly, forcing Preacher to a lurching stop. He nearly reached out to grab her to avoid falling straight into her.

“I’m really sorry for taking your stuff,” she rushed to say. She peered up at him through thick lashes. Her expression twisted. “I was just, um… I was…”

Having steadied himself, Preacher lifted his hand, signaling her to stop. “I get it. I ain’t even mad.”

He wasn’t mad—not anymore. And he did get it. Her story had struck a chord in him. If anything, he wanted to do more for her. An old denim jacket and the paltry sum she’d taken from his wallet didn’t seem like nearly enough.

“So, uh, I’m gonna go… thank you…um, for everything.” Debbie tucked her thumbs beneath the straps of her backpack and offered him a tiny smile. He watched, somewhat transfixed, as a dimple appeared high on her left cheek.

She really was a good-looking girl, and sweet, too… when she wasn’t stealing his shit.

Hesitantly she turned away.

Jamming his hands in his pockets, Preacher watched her go, her steps heavy and slow. Something continued to niggle at him; he really wished he could have done more. Offered her a hot meal or a ride. Something. Anything.

Pulling his hands from his pockets, Preacher stepped forward. He was lifting his arm, about to call out to Debbie, when a figure stepped in front of him.

“Demon.” The tone was gruff, commanding. Downright cold.

Stiffening, Preacher dropped his arm to his side and met the gaze of the man blocking his path.

Dark hair, dark eyes, a thick mustache, he wore a denim vest covered in patches, the most noteworthy of which were the PRESIDENT patch above his left breast and the 1% patch above that signified him as a one-percenter—an outlaw.

99% of motorcycle clubs consisted of men who enjoyed riding, or whose hobbies included chopping bikes. Riding was more of a pastime for them, not a way of life. Then there were the criminal clubs; a small percentage of men who embraced a very different sort of life and set of rules.

Men like Preacher. And whoever the hell this guy was.

A Caucasian male of average height and average weight, he was older than Preacher by at least ten years. He wore no name patch, and there was nothing particularly remarkable about him, no distinct features that identified him. And although Preacher was younger, taller, and fitter, he didn’t doubt the man was dangerous—not for a single second. You didn’t become the leader of a group of outlaws without good reason.

Most outlaw clubs were a volatile bunch on a good day, and with Preacher being who he was—the vice president of one of the more well-known and infinitely more lucrative criminal clubs—his elevated position in the Silver Demons earned him respect from other clubs. But there were always those few that preferred the mayhem of the life over the business side of it, and it was those clubs that Preacher knew to watch out for. They would take him on for pure sport.

A glance over his shoulder and a quick look around showed Preacher what he feared—several men rapidly approaching, all wearing identical denim vests.

Preacher’s hands flexed into fists. They were boxing him in.

“You don’t remember me, do ya?”

Preacher met the president’s smug expression with a bored look.

“Should I?” His tone lazy and uninterested, Preacher lifted a single, speculative brow. If he remembered anything The Judge had attempted pounding into him, it was that you never showed weakness to your enemy. Preacher might not have the upper hand here, but you wouldn’t think it to look at him.

A sly smile split the president’s lips. “Trick,” he called out, gesturing with his hand. A denim-clad man jogged forward, pulling something dark from inside his vest. Recognizing his leather cut, Preacher’s nostrils flared wide. What was with today and everyone stealing his shit? It should be in the Bible, an eleventh commandment: thou shalt not take another man’s leather.

“You always leave this just lyin’ around?” The President flashed him a smile twice as shrewd as his last.

Preacher regarded him coolly. He hadn’t left anything just lyin’ around. His club cut had been inside his duffel bag, and his duffel bag had been tied to his handlebars with a sequence of complicated stopper knots.

But instead of tearing his vest away from the asshole who’d dared touch his shit, Preacher took a breath. He wasn’t getting out of this with his fists or the lone blade in his boot. This, whatever this was, was going to require his wits.

The president continued to study him. “Name’s Rocky. Was at your clubhouse in the city ’bout four, maybe five years back. Knocked a few back with you and your boys. Wouldn’t expect you to remember, though. You’d just gotten VP, barely outta diapers back then. Didn’t have that pathetic excuse for a beard you got now.”

Rocky paused and laughed, though he didn’t appear any more or less amused than he’d been moments ago. It was all an act. Every smile, every frown, every move this man made was a well thought-out, calculated plan. Nothing he did was without purpose.

Preacher stayed silent, waiting for Rocky to get all his bullshit mocking and posturing out of the way and get to the point. He didn’t bother trying to recall when exactly the man had been to his clubhouse. The Silver Demons had entertained a lot of people over the years. Preacher could hardly be expected to keep track of them all.

“Preacher?”

Everyone turned toward the interruption. Preacher’s eyes widened when he found Debbie approaching, and growing wider still when one of Rocky’s men moved into position behind her. Heavily muscled, eyes vacant, he looked to be all brawn and very little brain.

She was aware of the man flanking her, but she kept her eyes on Preacher—big eyes full of questions and, oh hell, full of concern too. He silently cursed her, taking back every nice thing he’d thought about her. She was a stupid girl, walking straight into quicksand thinking it was the beach.

Another man moved to stand in front of Debbie, and like vultures surrounding their prey, both men began to circle her. The shift in positions allowed Preacher a glimpse at the backs of their vests. The top rocker identified them as Road Warriors, and below it was a center patch—a crude and childish rendition of a Viking warrior holding a spiked club. A bottom rocker proclaiming their location was noticeably absent.

Preacher knew them—or rather, he knew of them. The original Road Warriors had been based out of Virginia, but in recent years, they’d become more of a roving band of gypsies. They had no real business dealings unless you considered creating chaos a business. They were usually found working security at bars and concerts, but they were best known for their parties. There was a running joke about their club: no man left a Road Warrior party without getting knocked out, and no woman left without getting knocked up.

“You my dinner, sweetheart?” One of the men circling Debbie paused in front of her, laughing.

Debbie quickly sidestepped him only to be blocked by the second man. “She ain’t big enough to be dinner,” he mocked. Grabbing his crotch, he sneered at her. “This here’s what you fuck before you fuck.”

Debbie looked pleadingly to Preacher, and Preacher whirled on Rocky, all pretense gone. “Call your dogs off, Rocky,” he growled. “Right the fuck now.”

Rocky glanced between Preacher and Debbie, the calculating gleam in his eyes glowing brighter. He shrugged. “They gotta blow off steam somehow. If not…” Another shrug. “They end up turnin’ on one another.”

Struggling for calm, Preacher took a step toward Rocky, enough of a movement to command the attention of every Road Warrior present. Everyone stilled; all eyes shot to Preacher.

“Give. Her. To. Me.” Preacher’s quietly spoken words were punctuated with rage.

Rocky studied Preacher. If he was bothered by Preacher’s proximity, he didn’t show it. “Or what?”

“Or whatever the fuck you want, you won’t be gettin’ it.”

   
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