Shade watched from a seat in the darkened corner of Evie’s living room, as she came through the front door, her startled eyes meeting his as she stepped into the room.
Shade stared back at the woman who had been his friend since high school. Evie, her boyfriend at the time, Levi, and he had been an unbreakable trio that had gone on to join the military together. He and Evie had remained close friends throughout the years, even after Levi’s death. When she had made it known that she intended to join The Last Riders, he had tried to dissuade her, knowing it was a emotional reaction to losing Levi. Meeting her now husband King, Lily’s father, had been good for her. Every day, he saw a little more of the woman she used to be, before she had been raped and lost Levi.
“We need to talk.” Shade kept his face impassive. It was because of their friendship that he was there in her home.
Shade watched as Evie carefully placed her purse down on the coffee table. “I guess I don’t need to ask what about. How’s Mag?”
Shade’s expression didn’t alter at her question. Mag was Cash’s grandmother, who was recovering in the hospital after unknowingly eating poisoned beans intended for Lily, at the yearly town festival.
“Better. She’ll be at the hospital for a couple more days,” he said grimly.
“I’m surprised Cash didn’t come with you.”
“I told him it was my problem to deal with. He doesn’t agree. He wants to take Brooke out himself, but I told him no.” Shade got up from the chair and walked to the window, staring out at the small town. “He doesn’t need the death of a woman with a small child on his conscience.”
“You’re not worried about your own?” Evie asked.
“I don’t have one.” Shade shrugged.
“Shade, you have feelings. I don’t know why you think you don’t. Lily shows you’re capable of loving someone.”
“She’s the exception.”
“I don’t believe so, or you wouldn’t be here,” Evie said softly.
Shade turned to face her. “I’m here because you’re a Last Rider, and we’ve always been honest with each other, Evie. Brooke’s not going to stop until she hurts Lily, or I stop her.” He stared into her eyes, seeing the flash of pain she couldn’t hide.
“She’s my fraternal twin; I grew up with her and know her better than anyone else…” As Evie paused, taking a deep breath, Shade braced himself for her to ask for mercy on her sister’s behalf. “There is nothing redeemable inside of her. You think you have no conscience and can’t feel for anyone?” Her lips gave a mocking twist. “I begged my father for a cat when I was younger, and he finally allowed me to pick one out from the shelter. I was surprised when Brooke actually seemed to like it. She played with it all the time and even let it sleep curled up against her. We had that cat for six years, and it ended up being more hers than mine.
“One night, a boy she had been dating for a couple of weeks came over and had an allergic reaction to the cat. He wouldn’t come inside after that. A month later, the cat disappeared. I searched all over the neighborhood for it, kept going into the backyard thinking it would come back. I finally noticed a mound of dirt had been dug next to our garage. I dug it up and found my cat. Its throat had been slit, and it was wrapped in the blanket it always slept on. When I told Brooke, she never shed a tear and never admitted she had done it, but I knew she was the one who had killed it.
“Believe me, she’s the true psychopath. Do what you have to do.”
Shade gave a brief nod before asking, “What about your nephew?”
“He’ll still have a father, who’ll be better off without Brooke. Besides, it’s only a matter of time before she hurts one of them if they get in her way.”
“I can’t wait long. It’s not going to be easy to hold Cash back.”
Once Evie nodded, showing she understood her sister’s death was imminent, Shade went to the door.
He turned back to face her.
“Let Cash handle Brooke. You don’t need her death on your conscience.”
Shade gazed back impassively at Evie. “Cash is the one with a conscience. Me? I won’t feel a thing when I pull the trigger. I never do.”
Shade saw the doubt in Evie’s eyes.
“Your love for Lily shows you’re not as emotionless as you say.”
“Brooke claims she loves me. That’s why she tried to destroy you and kill Lily,” Shade mocked.
“You’re nothing like Brooke.”
* * *
The cold had been getting to him lately. I must be getting soft, Shade thought wryly to himself. He would have to remedy that soon; he couldn’t afford to be soft.
Protecting Lily kept him on his toes. He had never known a woman who managed to always be in the wrong place at the wrong time as often as her. She needed his skills and strength to keep her safe, and keeping Lily safe was his number one priority. Without her, he didn’t want to think what life would be like for him or others who would be unlucky enough to be near.
He stomped the snow off his boots before going inside the small office building. It was late enough that there wouldn’t be anyone to see him enter.
Making his way to the office of Knox’s wife, he bent over the lock, taking a few minutes to open the door. Then, sliding inside, he made his way into her private office and went to the window which gave him the view he had come to observe.
As he watched Brooke lay her son down in his crib to sleep, in hindsight, Shade thought he should have known Lily would change his life. It had taken two women to satisfy him the night after seeing her for the first time and then hours before he could purge her from his mind enough to sleep. And that had only been the beginning.
Standing in the darkness, staring at the church across the street, his mind played back over the series of events that had led him to that place in time…
“What are you staring at?” Razer asked, turning away from the sheriff who was pretending he didn’t know them while inspecting their motorcycles.
Shade nodded toward the two women standing on the sidewalk across the street. His dick grew hard while staring at the young woman delicately eating an ice cream cone, imagining her tongue flicking against his cock as she sucked on him.
A low whistle had Shade glancing at Razer, who was staring as avidly as he was.
A reaction he had never had before flooded through his bloodstream. At first, he didn’t recognize it, but the longer Razer stared, the feeling became stronger.
Shade managed to gather control long enough to notice the details of the woman who had stopped his breath. Her long, black hair fell in waves down her back, almost touching the curve of her ass. She was tall and slim, which was different from the women he usually fucked. He liked curvier women. They didn’t break as easily from his demands. He also preferred large breasts, which the woman seemed to have from what he could tell under her loose dress. What held his attention, though, were the violet eyes which seemed to hold a wealth of pain he wanted to soothe away.
“Damn, I need to take that ice cream away and give her something better to lick,” Razer hissed in a lust-thickened voice.