“No, I don’t fucking know where I am.” It was hard to run and talk too. “In the country somewhere. There’s a barn. You can’t miss it since it’s on fucking fire.”
“What?” I heard a voice I recognized in the background and realized I was on speaker. “I saw smoke about a mile back.”
“Emmie, Mia is sick,” I said again, in case she hadn’t heard me. “They drugged us but I think he overdosed her.”
“Harper?” Shane’s voice filled my ear now. “Is she there?”
My side was starting to hurt from the running but I didn’t dare stop. “In labor.”
“I’m coming, Brie. I’m coming,” Liam promised.
Tears blurred my vision. I started to answer him, to tell him I knew he was—that I knew he would always come for me—but a sharp pain in my leg had me falling on my face.
“Sonofabitch,” I yelled, knowing exactly what had caught me.
That cunt had shot me.
Liam reversed the SUV like he was Vin Diesel in one of those Fast and Furious movies. I held on for dear life as the tires squealed and we were suddenly going in the opposite direction. “Where is the smoke?” he snarled.
“It was a mile back,” Emmie told him.
We’d lost contact with Gabriella but Emmie already had her phone to her ear, letting Nik know that we had found them. “Hey. I know where she is…Don’t yell at me. I’ve found our daughter.” She rushed to tell him what road we were on and where we were headed and then hung up. “Nik is only about three or four miles away.”
I barely heard her as I tried to see past the headlights. The rain had slowed down, but it was getting darker by the minute. My need to find Harper and Mia was only growing after hearing that one little word.
Harper was in labor.
Violet was coming.
“There,” Emmie yelled out. “Turn there.”
Liam didn’t even hesitate and I was pretty sure he didn’t touch the brakes as he made the sudden sharp turn onto an old, dirt road. The farther up the road we went the stronger the scent of smoke was until we could see the flames in the distance.
Harper wasn’t in there. She couldn’t be.
Gods, please don’t let her be in there.
“Stop!” Emmie screamed and Liam’s foot finally touched the brakes. If I hadn’t been wearing my seatbelt I was pretty sure I would have flown through the windshield.
“What?” I demanded as I looked out the windows. “What is it?”
But she was already out of the back seat and running. Liam and I jumped out and ran after her. The barn was only about a hundred yards away now and, seeing Emmie headed toward it, I followed.
“Mia!” she screamed. “Mia, where are you?”
“Emmie?” The voice was faint, but I would have known it anywhere. “Over here.”
With my heart beat echoing in my ears I took off toward the sound, moving away from the flames of the barn. The dark was working against me, though. “Beautiful? Keep yelling, baby. I’m coming.”
“Shane!” her voice broke on a sob. “Shane, hurry.”
My feet were taking me blindly forward, her voice guiding me to her.
Then she was there, lying on the ground with Mia in her arms. Even in the darkness I could see that her face was pale. Emmie appeared beside me, her cellphone’s light showing me the area around her.
The rain dampened grass she was sitting on. Mia’s pale face as Harper held her against her chest.
Sean’s motionless body at her feet with a 2x4 beside her.
“What happened?” Emmie asked as she dropped down beside Harper.
“He came out of nowhere. I was afraid he was going to hurt us so I hit him with the board.” Harper was crying, tears running down her face as she offered Mia to her mother. “Please, Em. She’s sick. She was throwing up and said she was dizzy. Gabriella said that Sean drugged them, and that she thought maybe he overdosed her.”
“Gods,” Emmie whispered and took Mia. She patted her cheek. “Mia. Mia, open your eyes.” She tapped harder, her voice pleading. Tears burned my eyes as I watched Emmie holding her, begging. “Mia Nicole, open your eyes and look at me. Now!”
Mia moaned. “Momma, my tummy hurts.” Her voice was faint but it was music to my ears.
A sob shook Emmie. “Baby, I’m sorry. So sorry. We’ll get you better. Momma will take you to a doctor.”
“Oh, God,” Harper breathed.
I moved fast, dropping down next to my wife and reaching for her hand. She clutched my fingers, squeezing to the point of pain as a contraction gripped her entire body. “Shane, she’s coming. Violet is coming.”
“Now?” I couldn’t draw a deep enough breath. “Right now?” This wasn’t happening. It couldn’t be happening. I had no idea where the nearest hospital was. I sure as hell hadn’t seen a sign for one in the last forty miles as Liam had driven us out that way. We were in the middle of nowhere and our baby was coming.
“Now!” she cried as she bent in half with the pain.
“Fuck! What do we do?” I asked, but I didn’t know who I was asking. “Call nine-one-one! Call a doctor! Do something, Em.”
“Where’s Liam?” she asked, looking around. “We need to get her to the SUV.”
Liam? I had completely forgotten about him. He’d been right behind me at one point but as soon as I’d heard Harper’s voice I’d stopped caring about anyone else.
Off in the distance I heard what I hoped was a vehicle and saw not one but two sets of headlights. A small shot of relief filled me. The MC guys. They could help. I grabbed Emmie’s phone and started waving it, hoping the light on it was bright enough to show them where we were.
“Someone needs to go get them,” Emmie said. “They might not see us.”
“I’ll go.” I was quicker, I would get to them faster.
“No,” Harper sobbed. “Please don’t leave me. She’s coming.” Her hold on my hand only tightened more. “Please, Shane. I’m scared. I don’t want to do this without you.”
“Watch Mia,” Emmie said, getting to her feet in a hurry. “I’ll be right back. I swear.”
Mia moaned again, but turned on her side and weakly curled into a ball as tears poured down her face. I was just thankful that her eyes were open now. “Mia?”
“I don’t feel good,” she whispered weakly.
“Aw,” Harper screamed. “Oh, God, this hurts.”
I was sweating bullets, more terrified now than I had been when she’d been missing. I was going to mess it up. I knew I was going to mess it up. I couldn’t handle blood and whatever else was about to come out of my wife. I’d lose it and wouldn’t be able to help her when she needed me the most.
“I have to push,” Harper cried now and my heart stopped. “Help me get my pants off. Please. I have to push. She’s coming.”
My hands were shaking so badly I could barely help her pull her maternity pants and panties down. The light from the cellphone showed me the first glimpse of what was to come. Her clothes were soaked with a thick fluid and there was blood mixed with it. I shuddered, my stomach already roiling at the sight.
“Shane…” Harper’s voice was suddenly oddly calm, all traces of her pain and fear gone as she forced me to meet her gaze. “I need you to help me, babe. There’s only you. Violet is coming. Right. Now.”
I nodded, sucking in one steadying breath after another. “Okay.”
“She’s your daughter, Shane. Your daughter, means your blood. So whatever you see, remember that it’s yours.” Realizing that calmed me. My blood. I was okay with my blood. It was everyone else’s blood that freaked me out. “I’m yours, babe. That means my blood is yours, too.”
“Right.” I nodded again. Their blood was mine.
Their blood was mine.
“Ahhhh!” She fell back onto the ground, her back arching as another contraction shook her. Her body trembled and she reared up with enough force that freaked
the hell out of me. “She’s here.”
I moved the phone to better see and saw exactly what she meant. Holy fuck. Her legs were bent, her thighs spread and I could see Violet’s head as she tried to make her entrance to the world. My blood, I reminded myself. My. Blood.
“You’re doing good,” I said, trying to praise Harper as I stroked her legs. I didn’t know what else to say. My brain was shutting down and I was trying to figure out what I needed to do next. “You’re doing good.”
“Make this pain stop,” she begged me, tears pouring down her beautiful face. “It’s tearing me apart.”
Tears spilled out of my eyes but I barely noticed them. “I know, beautiful. I know.”
She was panting now, the contractions having stopped for the moment, but I knew that it was only going to be a short reprieve. I pulled my shirt off, figuring we would need something to clean the baby up with just as another contraction hit.
The scream that filled the air was going to haunt me for the rest of my life, but no more than the sight that filled my eyes in that moment. Harper pushed again, her cry echoing off the trees around us, and I reached down to help pull Violet out into the world.
She was so small, and covered in blood and things I couldn’t begin to describe. It was a terrifying sight, yet incredibly beautiful. I could barely make out her features in the dim lighting, but saw Harper’s perfect bow-shaped lips and a head full of caramel-colored hair. Almost immediately I started counting toes and fingers as I cleaned her up, patting her on the back to get whatever she was covered in out of her lungs in case she’d swallowed any of it.
Violet started crying just as Harper fell back, exhausted, as she sucked in several deep breaths after having just pushed our daughter into the world. I wrapped Violet in my shirt and started cleaning her up as her cries filled the air. Around us everything seemed to go still, as if nature was welcoming this new life to the world.
“She’s beautiful,” I told Harper as I held the baby close.
She gave me a weak smile. “I knew she would be,” she whispered, her voice hoarse from all the screaming.
I put Violet on her mother’s chest, needing her to hold the baby because things were still complicated down below—as in, the baby was still attached to the umbilical cord, and that cord was still attached to something inside of Harper.
What the fuck was I supposed to do now?
“Emmie,” I said, bellowing her name. “Emmie, I need your help.”
I heard running feet and lifted my head in time to see Nik, Jesse, Felicity and four of the MC guys running toward us. All the men stopped at the sight of me trying to help my wife, but Felicity jumped into action. “Hawk, I need your knife and some rope…shoestrings. Someone give me a shoestring.”
She was beside me now with a lethal-looking knife in her hand. Someone handed over their shoestring. She tied the string around the cord, close to Violet’s stomach, making sure it was tight before she used the knife to cut the cord. “Harper, you’re going to have to push again,” she urged.
“I’m so tired,” Harper told her. I noticed she was sweating and hoped it was from all the pain she’d been in—all the exertion she’d had to do giving birth. But something about her eyes told me she was sick. She was running a fever.
“I know, sweetie, but this is important. The afterbirth has to come out.” She gave her a pat on the leg. “One more push is all you have to do and this will all be over. You did so good. Your daughter is out here where she’s safer.”
Nik moved forward, his eyes only for Mia, and lifted her into his arms. She moaned. “Daddy.” She was practically lethargic now. “I don’t…feel…good.”
“Where’s Emmie?” Nik asked me, and I was thankful to take my eyes off of what was going on with Harper to look up at him.
I frowned. “She ran to meet you so she could bring you to us.”
“We haven’t seen her,” Jesse bit out.
“Emmie?” Nik pulled Mia closer. “Emmie?” he said, yelling her name again. “Where are you?”
Jesse turned to look back the way they all had just come, ready to go looking for her, just as a sound that had my stomach bottoming out filled the air. It wasn’t a scream, or a cry, but it was one more thing about that fateful day that would haunt me for the rest of my life.
A single gunshot echoed in the distance, followed by a silence that nearly shattered my soul.
CHAPTER THIRTY FIVE
I had to get to the approaching vehicles. That was what I had to tell myself as I ran faster than I had ever run in my life. I had to get help for Harper, had to get her and Mia to the closest hospital. Nothing else mattered.
Get. To. Those. Vehicles.
One foot in front of the other. Pound. Pound. Pound. My heart was beating so fast it was going to explode soon, but as long as I got to Nik and the others, told them where to find Mia and Harper, then I didn’t care.
They were getting closer, and I was nearly there when I tripped over something hard. With a curse I picked myself up and glanced down at what had tripped me. A phone. What the fuck?
I picked it up and found the light on it so I could see better. The picture that came up on the screen didn’t surprise me. Gabriella holding her nephew, Jordan, and Liam hugging them both. Their smiling faces only made me realize that she hadn’t been with Mia and Harper.
Where the fuck was she, then?
And where had Liam gone off to?
I glanced around me, looking for any signs of them. Nothing.
I heard a sound coming from behind a few trees to my left. It could have been Gabriella. She could have been hurt and needed help. I was torn, wanting to run to meet the approaching vehicles and finding the other woman at the same time. I couldn’t do both.
The decision was a hard one, but I owed Gabriella my life. I couldn’t just leave her there if she was hurt. Holding her phone up as a flashlight, I headed toward the wooded area where I’d heard the noises.
I walked a few feet farther, ready to call out to her. But the sight I nearly stumbled on stopped me cold when I saw Gabriella lying on her back with Liam lying over her, using his own body as a shield.
“Don’t do this,” Liam pleaded to the woman who was pointing a gun at his chest. “She’s done nothing to you. Let her go and take me. I’ll do whatever you want.”
Helena didn’t look like she cared much which one she shot right then, as long as she got to shoot someone. Instinctively I knew, though, that if she shot Liam, she would shoot Gabriella next. I moved forward slowly, trying to be quiet, but as much as her attention was on the two on the ground, I knew that the bitch couldn’t hear me.
“She’s done nothing but get in my way. Over and over again. She refuses to die.” Helena blew out a frustrated sigh. “She had to save that little brat and even though I shot her twice in the chest she just wouldn’t die. I can’t let her go now. She knows who I am and will tell Shane.”
Liam shook his head. “She won’t. Shane won’t know. Just let her go. Please. You can shoot me, I don’t care. Let me take her place.”
“Sorry, rocker boy. I can’t do that. You’re Shane’s friend and he won’t like it very much if he has to bury his friends.” She sighed and crouched down over them. “Besides, I kind of like you.”
“Touch him and I’ll gut you,” Gabriella snapped at her and I nearly cried in relief.
She was awake? She was alive?
Thank gods. Oh, thank gods.
Helena laughed at Gabriella’s show of defiance. “Ballsy, aren’t you?”
“I got bigger ones than you, cunt-face.”
“I can actually believe that. Definitely bigger ones than Reginald, that’s for sure.” She made a disgusted face. “My husband never really had enough balls to satisfy me. Too bad you have to die, Gabriella. I might have liked you in another life.”
“I can do without friends like you, psycho.” Gabriella spit at her. “Shane is going to kill you
when he finds Harper. Just wait. I wish I could see your face when he ends you.”
“Shut up, Brie,” Liam commanded. “She’s going to kill you.”
“Nah,” Gabriella assured him. “How is she going to do that when Emmie’s about to beat her ass?”
I had about two seconds to realize Gabriella had seen me before Helena was standing again and looking around. She glanced behind her and then to the right. The idiot was so sure she hadn’t been found, however, that she didn’t even bother to glance to her left.
All the fear and anger I’d been bottling up all day—all my life—poured forth and I charged Helena. Her small frame hit the ground, her head bouncing off the ground and making a nice thud sound that gave me a hell of a lot of satisfaction. The gun dropped to the ground beside us but I didn’t pay it any attention as I lifted my right hand and slammed it into her face. The pain that shot up my arm was completely worth it when I saw her lip was bleeding, so I did it again.
Behind me I heard Liam and Gabriella moving around, but I was too caught up in the pleasure of decimating the woman who had turned my life upside down. This stupid cunt had destroyed my peace of mind, taken my child—twice—and who knew what would happen to Mia now?
She was so sick.
So—I punched Helena again, feeling her nose break under my fist—sick. Again I punched her. Over and over until my arm felt like it was going to fall off. I grabbed her hair and started slinging her head, using her like a yo-yo and ripping one handful after another out. She screamed in pain and anger and tried to fight back, but I didn’t feel her nails on my arms and face. All I felt was the boiling rage as it bubbled out and I took my vengeance out on her. I saw my mother’s face, then Vince Grady’s, both faces seeming to switch one after another as I tore Helena Brennen apart.
Gabriella’s warning came almost too late as I suddenly felt the gun pressed into my stomach. The bitch must have gotten it while we’d been struggling. The barrel was hard and cold, but I wasn’t afraid. If this was going to be the end of me, I was ready to go.