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Chapter 11

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The next afternoon, Caleb took the seat at the head of the club's table. The wooden gavel with gold inlay lay in front of him. He didn't use it, but his hand itched to pick it up. Not yet, but he'd be able to use it soon. Instead, he cleared his throat loudly.

"All right. Let's call this meeting to order."

The club members sat up straighter in their chairs and directed their attention to the head of the table. A dozen full members sat around the long oak table littered with ashtrays and mugs of beer. They were a grizzly bunch who would scare even the most hardened soul. Pledges sat in chairs against the back wall.

A late-comer entered the room, slamming the door behind him with a heavy thud. A one-way mirror facing the main room of the clubhouse rattled in its frame. Its view showed a few naive back-warmers sitting at a table waiting for their men. One had boobs so big they could be mistaken for missiles. A hanger-on bounced around behind the bar like an eager puppy with a new toy as he prepared a round of drinks.

The late-comer, Ian, grabbed an empty chair as he did a double-take at Caleb sitting at the head of the table. He asked, "We're having church without Sonny?"

Caleb's stare penetrated Ian's pock-marked face and seared his skull. He shrunk back from the table.

"If you had been here on time, you would know that Sonny and Aces are not back yet. They got hung up on their run. And this issue with the Outsiders couldn't wait."

"I didn't know."

"Well, now you do. Got any more fucking question? Or can I get started?"

Ian sneered and shook his head, doing his best to maintain some dignity. Everyone else remained silent as Hysko nodded in approval. Caleb paused to make sure he had everyone's attention. He did. A mouse's fart could've been heard from between the walls.

"Some of you probably heard it already. But if you haven't, the Outsiders are trying to muscle into our territory."

Wild Bill flipped his long black ponytail over his shoulder. "No way."

"They have." Caleb growled, "They've hit one of our businesses and told them to start making their payments to them."

"That's bullshit," Sal shouted. He was a young hulking member with a shaved head covered in tattoos.

"We'll cut out their God damn hearts," Ian said.

Without warning, the door swung open. The hanger-on came to the front of the table and rested a hand on Caleb's shoulder. "Do you guys need anything?"

"In fact, I do need something." Caleb leered devilishly at the man.

He pulled a large hunting knife from a sheath on his belt. Light danced off the blade. Several sets of eyes pinched around the table.

The man who would never have what it takes to join the club got a big smile on his simple face. "What do you need?"

"Your hand."

"What?" The hanger-on's voice squeaked.

He looked around the room nervously. The members ignored his pleading eyes. Instead, they shared a knowing look with one another.

"Put it flat on the table," Caleb ordered. His voice flat and low.

"All right."

With trepidation, the hanger-on placed his hand on the table in front of Caleb. Beads of sweat broke out on his forehead.

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