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Bound Together

By´╝ÜChristine Feehan

1


IF they were going to get out of this alive, they were going to have to be ghosts. Viktor “Czar” Prakenskii faced his men and their disapproving faces. He detested arguments, especially, like now, when they had very little time.

“Let me clear the way,” Savva “Reaper” Pajari said. His eyes were flat and cold. Ice-cold. There was no emotion whatsoever in his voice.

Viktor knew he was the cause of that emotionless voice. He had that on his soul forever. There was no taking back their childhood or the things they’d had to do to survive—things that Viktor had conceived—just like this job. It was all on him, and he wasn’t going to allow them to surround him like they all preferred, keeping him safe. This was his mess. He had never been able to put the brakes on, to say enough. For him, it was never enough, and where he went, the others followed.

“Not happening,” he said, his voice low, terse. He was angry, but not at any of his brothers. At himself. He’d chosen a path and one by one they had followed him. His path had led straight to hell. “We don’t have time to argue. We knew walking into this it was a trap. Nothing has changed.”

Dmitry “Storm” Koval sighed heavily. “We all voted, Czar, just like always. Stop trying to carry us on your shoulders. We chose this life. All of us.”

Viktor clenched his teeth. That was a blatant lie. None of them had chosen their life. Not a single one. They all shared a common beginning. Each of them had parents murdered by a man named Kostya Sorbacov, because their parents hadn’t agreed with Sorbacov’s politics. He had taken the children to the most brutal orphanage/school ever conceived in the hopes of shaping them into assets for his country—at least that’s what they all thought at first.

“That’s bullshit, but we don’t have time to debate right now. The longer we wait, the more men they’ll have guarding this place.”

The thought of what he was going to find turned his stomach, but then, it always did and he kept doing the same thing over and over. Five years of his life had been given to this mission. Evan Shackler-Gratsos was the number-one human trafficker in the world. Viktor knew he couldn’t stop everyone, but he was determined to take the man down. That decision had cost him five years of his life, possibly his marriage and the knowledge that the men he called brothers had made the choice to follow him into hell, just as they always had.

He refused to argue with them any longer. He simply gave them a small salute and pushed through the wall to find his entry point. The warehouse where a chapter of the infamous Sword motorcycle club had set up shop, already renting out the young girls they’d acquired only a scant two to three weeks earlier, was in the industrial district. They moved the girls often in order to stay one step ahead of the cops.

This time, they had more new girls, most between the ages of eleven and sixteen, just the age Evan preferred to add to his stable. They lasted longer. Right now, they were “training” the new girls, which meant beatings and rape to get them to the point where they felt hopeless and so afraid they would do anything they were told.

Viktor knew what that was like. They all knew, and yet for five long years they’d ridden with the scum, wore their colors and defended them when they went to war. For this. For these moments. To take some of it back, and hopefully draw Evan out into the open where they could get to him. So Viktor could get to him. Evan Shackler-Gratsos represented every one of those pedophiles and sadistic monsters that had run the school. The rage that burned so hot in Viktor’s belly night and day had come to demand the death of the human trafficker.

They’d wreaked enough havoc over the years to keep every Swords chapter on alert, especially when they brought in new girls. Viktor ran two teams, and often they hit two chapters simultaneously, but lately it had become more difficult. Evan demanded the girls bring in money day and night, seven days a week, so even when baiting a trap, they kept the women working and the lines long. It was no different in spite of the storm brewing.

There were guards hidden in the brush surrounding the warehouse on all sides. The roof connected with a second warehouse housing mostly heavy equipment for a local contractor. Viktor chose that building to make the penetration into the Swords’ makeshift brothel. There were at least two guards between him and the building.

The chapter was spread thin trying to surround the building as well as keep the work going. They had to have guards inside to make certain the women were doing as they were told and that the customers didn’t abuse their privileges without paying. They needed men guarding the outside line in order to keep it moving properly. All the while they feared the mystery crew that freed their slaves and killed the members of their chapter would strike.

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