Chapter 3

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I probably shouldn't have gone to town. It's not like we'd been told to stay away, but I was already in quite a mood. From that messed up vote, to that last altercation with Hawk, and everything else that always mess up my mind.

We were supposed to do patrols together. They hadn't said anything about not coming to town by ourselves. Still, it probably would have been a smart thing to buddy up even for that.

No one ever accused me of always, or ever, doing the smart thing.

I pulled my bike into a space in front of the Iron Heart bar. I should go down to the diner and grab something to eat. I needed something to calm me down. Hawk's words were still bouncing around in my head, and I couldn't take it. Still, as I walked down the sidewalk toward the door of the bar, my gaze took in everything. Three bikes sat in spots a little ways down from mine. My stomach twisted up tight at the sight of them. One of them had a decal of a white-ish bird in the corner of the windshield. A dove, I told myself. Except its wings were spread out, just the way the Ivory Crows' patch looked.

I stood, frozen for a moment, fighting with myself. Part of me wanted to go barging right into the bar and calling them out, making a scene, taking them down. The other part wanted to ride back out of town. Icarus told us not to approach any of them, not to start anything. But, God, did I want to start something with them.

No. I had to be careful and watch my step. I was never good with that, though. Still, I headed down to the diner after all. Hopefully by the time I came back out, they'd be gone, and I could get a drink in peace before heading home.

I hated feeling like I was tucking my tail between my legs and skulking away. But, I didn't want to disobey a direct order less than an hour after it had been given. Sure, I had a history of that, a full file of disciplinary actions during my time in the Corps. But, even that would be extreme for me.

I almost reached the diner when the door swung open. Three men in heavy boots stepped out. My gaze slid up their bodies. Two wore chaps, but the third just had on a worn pair of jeans. Before my gaze even reached above their waists, I admit my attention snagged longer there than it should have--Hawk had gotten me stirred up, and I couldn't seem to help it--a glob of saliva landed in front of me. I didn't need more evidence, still I kept looking up.

Until I took in their cuts. Yep, Ivory Crows. I didn't bother reading the names on their vests. Who they were didn't matter. All the Crows were the same. Don't approach, don't instigate, don't...

"Fucking garbage," one of them muttered, breaking off my mantra.

We were supposed to respect members of other clubs. It's what we all lived on; respect. I didn't show anyone respect who refused to give it back.

"The fag would never be allowed to stay in our club. And they parade him around as lieutenant," another said. "Bet they all take it up the ass."

I planned to walk around them, or even better turn and ride back out of town, but that comment was more than I could take. It didn't matter what order Icarus gave. Hell, it could have come straight from Chief. I wouldn't have heeded it at that moment.

No one talked about Hawk like that. Not in my hearing.

I turned, took in his tag, Viper, then punched him in the face. Before I knew it, I was being hit: in the stomach, the jaw, the back. I hit my knees but surged up again and struck my own blows. I don't know who I hit or how many times, or how many blows I took from them. Everything swept away until my ears were ringing from an elbow to the side of my head.

A roaring sound swept down the street then quickly cut off. I hit my knees again and tried to shake away the ringing sound. It didn't work.

"Looks like the other pansies came to your rescue. Lucky you. Next time we kill you."

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