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By´╝ÜCandace Blevins

“I take this to mean you’re gonna peddle women in our town, too.”

The door opened and two more men came in, and Duke smiled inwardly as the Chattanooga group looked Brain over with surprise. He didn’t look much like a biker — tall, thin, and lanky. He was their hacker extraordinaire, but he also threw a helluva punch.

“Sorry it took so long. I’m Brain and this is Dawg.” He pulled a chair out, flipped it around, and sat beside Duke facing the chair’s back. He leaned forward, pointed to the map, and started talking. “From a purely retail point of view, the Third Street / Orchard Knob area plays best.” He moved his hand. “Couple properties on twenty-third look promising, but there’s a wooded lot on Bailey I really like, though it would throw a wrench in logistics when it came to the bar and bike shop because they’d be a few blocks away. Good retail location could more than make up the security expense, though.”

“You’re sharing an awful lot.” Chief Keller’s face was closed off. Not pissed, not as cold as he’d been earlier, but still rather unhappy.

Duke let Brain talk. “No reason not to. Don’t wanna appear we’re invadin’ your city. Our bikes are loud, and we like to take in the needs of the neighborhood for the noise as well as our partying. Our bar will draw lots of people, and when we throw a party at the compound, same thing. We offer rides for those who drink too much at our parties, and we keep drugs out of our territory and especially our places of business. We try to be good citizens, but you gotta know we’re gonna be loud, and up at all hours of the night. One house with a family, we’ll help fund their relocation if it doesn’t work. Ten houses with families, maybe we shouldn’t move there.”

The Fort Oglethorpe chief had been mostly silent, and now he sounded skeptical. “You’d worry about disturbing families?”

Bud spoke up at this. “Family’s everything. Whether it’s the brotherhood of our MC family, or my kids and old lady, or your wife and kids. Family is everything. We find we’re causing problems for one in our neighborhood, we’ll work with the head of household to fix it. If that means us stepping up to help them relocate, we will. If it means soundproofing the kids’ rooms because the single mom likes the protection we offer by being right next door, we’ll help make it happen.”

Aaron wasn’t sure they were heading in the right direction, so he interjected. “The compound has a wooded area, and there’ll be a paintball battle tonight. Three teams. Neighborhood and MC kids on one team, MC and law enforcement on another, and a team of kick-ass women on the third. Tonight it’s kids against the men, and the winning team takes on the women.” He looked at the three men he’d brought down. “I’d like to see the three of you team up with these guys, but you gotta understand, a month ago the women won, so ya’ll need to head out back and get to know each other, the lay of the land, and talk strategy. This is serious business.”

“Who are the women?”

Bud sat back with a grin. “My old lady, her best friend, the woman who lives two houses down, a schoolteacher from the elementary down the street, and a few MC girlfriends. We got several teams of between eight and twelve, depending on who shows up. Sometimes we let the kids choose two teams, and they play to find out who the best team is, so that team can play us, but as of now it looks like we’ll just need one team for the kids.” He sighed. “One girl on the team, she’s trying to get together a girl posse to take on the boys. I like they’re learnin’ skills, but I worry for the rest of us.”

Chapter Three

When Gen’s tears grew to the point she couldn’t see, she pulled her car over and called Frisco.

His voice was just what she needed to hear. Her big brother would always take care of her.

She stuttered as she tried to say his name, but he knew it was her.

“Gen, sweetheart, what’s wrong?”

“Can I come to your house?” She managed through her tears. God, her heart felt as if it were breaking. “Maybe stay in the apartment over the garage tonight?”

“Where are you now?”

“I just left my house but I didn’t make it very far. I pulled into the Northern Tool parking lot because I can’t freaking see. I hate crying.”

“Isaac and Cassie are at the club. I’ll see if they can come to you, one of them can drive you here in your car, and the other can drive Isaac’s. Okay?”

“I can drive. I just need a minute to get myself together.”

“Okay, Gen. Just talk to me a few minutes before you go anywhere, then. Mom told me you might have a buyer for an entire block of property you have listed downtown, and they don’t have their own agent. That could mean big bucks, right?”