Chapter 62

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I'll never forget the day I was accepted into my first crew. Their oath, their mantra, is still tattooed in my mind.

"Our blood is protected by our brothers, our bikes ridden with pride. We are family. We are free. We ride for tomorrow, together, today."

I don't belong to a crew or a gang anymore, but I feel the weight of those words. My blood was protected tonight. I had someone to fall back on and I didn't need an oath or a bike to merit that. These outcasts are my family, and they saved my fucking life. What the hell did I do to get so lucky? What does God expect in return for this?

Danny drops the gun. He starts to quiver. Todd bends down and picks up the pistol, tucking it in the low cut of his jeans. Then he runs outside to help his men take down whoever is fighting them outside the warehouse. Danny sinks to the floor and just sits there, rocking back and forth.

I am a complete mess as Nick gently takes my chin and forces me to look into his eyes. I don't even realize he is saying my name.

"Jess, can you please talk to me?"

I hear shouting outside and that's when the police sirens sound. My heart sinks. I am about to be in deep shit.

"Nick, you need to go."

He shakes his head and unties my ankles quickly. "No way, I'm not leaving you like this."

I'm probably not as bad as I think I am because I'm strong enough to stand my ground. "You'll lose your job, probably get arrested–"

"Do I look like I care?"

"Why are you still here?" I ask. "After everything I did to you – lied to you, broke up with you for stupid reasons, plotted to kill someone the entire time we were dating – why do you want to risk your career – hell your life – for a washed up street rat?"

He stares at me. We hear police voices through speakers, commanding whoever is left standing to get on the floor and put their hands on their heads. I know the fight is over and I'm scared for what is about to happen when they open up those doors. Nick is blinded by something, and he's going to go down for it.

For some reason, I have the best idea I've had all night. I really wish I didn't have to do this, but it's my only option. Nick cannot go to prison for this. It's me who deserves it.

I summon my last ounce of energy, twist back my arm and throw my fist into Nick's face. It's not the punch that knocks him out, but the fall he takes into the desk covered in tools. I wince when his head hits the corner and he crumples on the ground.

I stand over his body and then I turn to Danny. He looks up at me with eyes more bottomless than the pits of hell. I can't help but blame myself for this mess. I brought chaos to the life of a family who did not deserve it.

Garcia is dead. My mission is complete. The streets are safe again and the Mafia are no longer threatening my life and those I care about.

So why do I feel like I lost?

The doors to the warehouse are flung open. Red and blue lights blind me. I throw my hands up. You'd think the cops would treat me a little nicer when they see that I'm more broken than a barrel going down a waterfall, but they see their fellow officers on the floor around me and the law is lost to them.

"Get on your knees!" one of them shouts, his gun directed at my chest.

That's when Danny raises a shaky hand and points it at me. "Sh-she did it," he mutters. "She killed my father."

This kid is literally bi-polar.

I stare at Danny. I say nothing. I'm usually quite keen to defend myself, but for some reason I feel as if I deserve to take the fall for Garcia. I was prepared to, anyway.

Danny's tired, bloodshot eyes don't even say they're sorry.

"You have the right to remain silent," says the cop. It's a speech I've heard too many times in my life. "Anything you say and do ..."

From there, everything is blurry. I think I literally pass out from blood loss and exhaustion. I keep seeing Nick's eyes behind the gun as I'm forced into handcuffs and dragged from the warehouse. There are policemen and ambulances everywhere. Bodies are scattered across the ground. Garcia's security, Von Tesse's men, the Southbend Bikers and the East crew. I try not to look at their faces for fear I'll see Billy's or Sam's or even Jez's. At one point, I swear I see them zipping Connor up in a body bag.

I don't remember the rest. Not until I wake up in my cell again. Number thirteen. It feels different, no longer home. I feel trapped and I want to be free again.

But I won't be free. I'm going to be charged, put on trial and sentenced to life in prison for the catastrophe I caused.

And hey. I deserve it.

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