Only two biker sleeps to go.
Brutality came with the job description of being an MC president.
Mark ‘Axel’ Tucker wasn’t a violent man by nature.
He didn’t get off on bones breaking, and blood splattered over his clothes. But he knew how to handle himself and his business when people stepped out of line or tried to get one over him. He had zero tolerance for bullshit and backstabbers.
“Clean this garbage up,” he spat, looking down at the wasted pile of shit that was once one of his dealers who’d thought it was clever to skim off the top and no one would notice. He’d worked the piece of shit over with his fists, preferring teaching a lesson the old-fashioned way.
Until he’d turned twenty, Axel had been dirt poor. A kid who didn’t know where his next meal was coming from. His teen years were spent permanently hungry, never having good sneakers or new clothes. So for some piece of shit to assume Axel didn’t know, down to the last cent, how much money his club was bringing in was a bad mistake.
The guy was bleeding and bruised, hanging onto life by the plaque of his teeth. He’d begged for his life like the rat he was. Axel didn’t feel gleeful for putting the hurt on someone; he didn’t have Ruin’s constitution for torture. But examples had to be made of traitors, and he was bitterly disgusted that he had discovered someone untrustworthy in his employ.
Little maggot got off lightly because he was still being sent home to his family alive and not dumped in the river. Moreover, he had enough on his plate already dealing with a serial maniac who’d been dropping dead bodies on their doorsteps for weeks to frame the Diablos.
One day, Axel would catch a break. But today wasn’t that day.
Two of his prospects rushed forward and dragged the guy to his feet. Blood dripped out of him like a faucet.
“Get your family packed up and fuck off out of my town, Will. If we see your face, it won’t go as nicely as now. You understand?”
“Yeah, yeah, Axel, I’m sorry, man.” He dripped blood from his lips. Excuses and apologies were ignored.
“Get him out of my sight.” He issued with authority, and the prospects dragged the guy over to the rig to drop him off.
“What happened to honor among criminals?” asked Chains. Axel’s VP was just as disgusted.
“Fucking Gen Z.”
Behind them, Reno chuffed a laugh. “Thank fuck I scraped in as a millennial. What are you, Chains, a boomer?”
“Fuck you, kid.” Laughed Chains. “Now, we heading back to the clubhouse? Because I have business with my future Mrs.”
Axel smirked, leaving the scene behind Chains’ strip club, The Den, and got into step with his friend and VP as they headed toward their bikes. “Is Monroe giving you trouble?”
“She’s as ornery as that cat that wandered into the club last winter and scratched everyone up when we tried to feed it.”
Axel smirked. He wished his friend luck with his future wife. He still didn’t know why Chains had put his neck into the noose and volunteered for a marriage of convenience with a business associate’s daughter.
It sure as hell was not something Axel would sign up for.
His one turn at domestic bliss was more like a Freddie nightmare.
His daughter, Roux, was the only good thing from his short-lived relationship with Selena.
No seventeen-year-old kid wanted to be a father, but Roux was the best accident of his life. And now he had two hellions to call him Grampy.
A grandfather at forty-two. No wonder his bones creaked when he got out of bed each morning. Those kids were aging him before his time, but he wouldn’t have it any other way.
Family and love were Axel’s driving forces.
Everything he’s ever done was for the good of those he cared for.
Roux might now be under the care of her husband, The Butcher, a member of the Renegade Souls MC, and Axel knew that the man had already been through hell for Roux and would go through more. But that didn’t mean Axel took his foot off the father pedal. He’d untangled himself from a disastrous deal with the Mexicans when they firebombed his house a few years back. And now he was about to cut free from Donahue’s agreement just as soon as the ink dried on Chains’ marriage license and the Irish got their criminal asses across the ocean to set a new, more lucrative deal in stone.
Axel was sick to death of trading with boys pretending to be entrepreneurs. But, at least, he knew the Irish had their code of honor, much like himself.
He wasn’t looking for a quiet life, that was for the average Joe. He enjoyed gaining money by any means necessary. Besides, he’d be bored in a day if his job comprised of clocking in and out.
His outfit might not be as big as some MCs around the country, and he was okay with that. He liked his finger on the pulse. But, the bigger they expanded by adding new chapters, he would lose some of that control.
The prospects went to do their job dropping off the thieving scum. Chains climbed on his bike. Axel got into his RAM and told Chains he’d see him later. He wanted to pick up food before he headed back to the club. Being away for a few days in Colorado to celebrate his birthday with his girl and her family meant he was behind on shit.
Axel Tucker hated desk work more than anything; he’d rather have his eyelids stapled to a table most days than sit behind a desk and deal with the bland side of owning numerous enterprises. Only a carton of noodles would appease him and his hungry belly. While waiting for his order, something outside the Chinese restaurant caught his attention.
At first, he thought he was seeing things.
Had to be, because no dummy in this town would ever attempt to break into his truck.
They’d have to have a screw loose to even think about fucking with anything Axel owned. He was well known. Not only because of his MC status, but he was also a landlord to many of the Laketon’s townsfolk, both domestically and privately.
It was said people feared him, but he’d always taken care of the town and plowed enough money to subsidize when the economy tanked.
He’d stopped hard drugs; he never shook down businesses for a cut of their profits, and the club was sometimes hired as muscle to resolve trouble for those who couldn’t give their own beat downs.
As he stared out the restaurant window at the bundle of clothing attempting to break into his truck, his feet rooted to the floor. Stunned for a second.
They were checking all the RAM doors. It was the colder months, and Utah got hit hard with the icy fronts during the fall, but the person was dressed like they were going on a six-month expedition to Iceland. The hooded overcoat looked four sizes too big, and the wool skull cap was pulled down on their forehead. Most likely, it was a teen trying their luck.
“Un-fucking-believable,” he murmured as he watched them take a tool out of their coat and fiddle with the door until it popped open. He didn’t think they’d continue to break in. It was obvious his RAM was the new model and, therefore, worth a fucking ton. Any thief, even not knowing whose truck it belonged to, would be stupid to go for something new. But there Axel stood as he watched the baggage of clothing climb onto the tall step and haul themselves into his truck.
Axel turned to the counter and rapped his ringed fingers to gain the server’s attention. “I’ll be back in a minute.”
“Sure thing, Axel. Carl is wrapping it up to go now.”
He strode out of the restaurant, standing by the opened truck door while the body sprawled over the passenger seat, rooting through the glove compartment. He watched them palm something and wiggle backward.
That was when they encountered the bulk of Axel.
“Finished robbing me, have you?” he growled.
Anger and disbelief bubbled inside of him.
The body froze like a deer caught in a hunter’s trap.
When he got his hands on them, he realized they weighed next to nothing, just a bag of bones in oversized clothes.
“Get your goddamn hands off me before I kill you.” the person threatened, and Axel realized the voice was feminine as he thought, a teenager.
“I’d like to see you try, you thieving shit. Get the hell out right now.” He helped by dragging the body down the steep height, catching them before they landed in a heap.
They went wild in Axel’s hands, trying to fight themselves free. He caught elbows in his ribs and jaw before stopping the flailing by crowding the body against the truck. He blocked the legs with his knees and shackled both arms with a hand, and with his free one, he yanked down the face scarf.
She looked too young to be on the streets.
Axel saw peeks of colorful red hair. Her skin was too pale, and when he grasped her chin to hold her head still, she was icy cold as she bared even white teeth at him like an animal.
“Don’t touch me,” she hissed. “I didn’t take anything.”
“Is that so?” He asked. Some anger disappeared because what kind of fucking parent let their kid roam the streets like this bag of bones? “Open your hand. Let me see what you’re holding.”
Guilt entered her green eyes, and Axel freed her arms but kept her barricaded so she couldn’t run off. He saw how they darted left and right, gauging if she could push him out of the way and make her escape.
He weighed two-thirty pounds of lean muscle and also towered over her by at least a foot. She was small and too thin. If she could push him down, that meant Axel was already dead.
Axel waited until she unlocked her fingers and opened the palm, showing a tightly scrunched five dollars.
Now he was surprised.
He took it from her, smoothed it, and held it between two fingers.
“This is it?”
“Yes.” she snapped, “you have it back now, so can I go?”
It didn’t make sense. “You break into my forty grand truck to steal five dollars? Empty your pockets.”
She bristled, and if looks could kill, Axel would be a corpse in biker boots. He wasn’t playing around with this thief; he had a belly to fill and a night of paperwork.
“Either empty your fucking pockets, or I do it for you.”
“You dare touch me, and I’ll scream so fucking loud your ears will bleed while they drag your ass off to a cop car.”
Axel chuckled. The balls on this one, she kept surprising him.
“I would only have to hold you upside down and let everything fall out. Now show me your goddamn pockets.”
“That’s all I took, you giant idiot man.”
With the passenger door still wide open, he pinned the thief to the side of the truck and leaned in to yank the glove compartment open with the other hand. He always kept a roll of money, probably around six hundred, give or take.
Color him surprised it was still there.
“All you took was five bucks?”
“To get a sandwich.”
Fuck’s sake. Something gnarly twisted in his gut at the challenging way she held her chin high, like she was embarrassed by the admission.
“Why didn’t you take the entire roll?”
“I wanted food, not to buy a yacht on the gold coast.”
Funny little shit.
Without thinking, he grabbed her to throw her into the passenger seat.
Panic covered the waif’s face even as the gloved hand tried to shove by him. It was a wasted effort because Axel pushed harder and kept the woman in the seat.
“This is kidnapping!”
“Hardly. Stay the fuck there, don’t dare try to move.”
“You’re not taking me to the cops. I’ll say you kidnapped me.”
The cops. Now that was hilarious.
Axel wouldn’t voluntarily go to the law. Ever since he became the President of the Diablo Disciples MC and walked his own lawful path, the badge holders had made it their mission to pin any crimes on the club they could.
It had worked in the past. Not so much in recent years, and not now he had a crooked cop in his pocket to keep him abreast of the shit the law was doing.
“You try to move, and you’ll see what happens, and it won’t be the cops.” He warned. Axel watched those green eyes flair with temper, but she had some control over her tongue because she clamped her mouth shut and pulled the scarf back around her face, masking most of her features again.
Axel let off a shrill whistle and gained the attention of the restaurant hostess. He motioned with two fingers, and she came to the door carrying a white takeout bag. He fished in his pocket to pay, but the woman smiled. “It’s on the house, Axel.”
“Tell Carl thanks.” A few months back, he’d made a problem right for the chef when he encountered a wannabe gangster trying to shake him down for protection. That guy didn’t like the talk Axel had with him, so Ruin, his club enforcer, got to play for a while until the guy was no longer a problem. He handed the hostess a tip for bringing the food out. She gave him sex eyes, but he had a bigger issue to deal with than thinking about his dick. He slung the food into the back seat and slipped behind the wheel.
“Where are you taking me?” she asked finally, after he’d been driving for a minute.
“Home with me,” he told her through his clenched teeth, surprising himself. Because the intelligent thing would be to leave her on the sidewalk, let the waif have the five bucks, and leave the problem behind. “You stole from me. So now you owe me, do yourself a favor and shut up.”
He was going to blame the lack of thought on his fucking hunger.
Copyright© V. Theia 2023.