But I’d be taking this bitch with me.
We struggled with the gun, both of us trying to keep a hold of it. I rolled her, trying to get control, but my head hit a rock and I saw stars for a moment. The gun shifted but my finger was on the trigger. With a laugh that sounded manic to my own ears, I pulled the trigger.
The sound of the gunshot hurt my ears, adding one more part of my body to the long list of things that hurt.
I didn’t know how, but by some miracle I’d been able to get to my feet after Helena had shot me in the leg. I’d limped into the woods, hoping to hide from her in the trees. I’d picked a good place to hide and had watched as she had stopped and searched for me for a few minutes. Funnily enough, I’d thought I was safe.
Until I’d seen Liam headed right for her. He hadn’t seen her but she’d caught sight of him. I couldn’t let him walk into an ambush. “Liam!” I’d called out to him, alerting him to my exact location.
And Helena as well.
That stupid cunt had reached me first, but Liam hadn’t been far behind.
That was how Emmie had found us. With my husband shielding my body with his own, offering to die for me. I was going to kick his ass later, but right then I just wanted to hold on to him and tell him how much I loved him. Didn’t he know that trading places wouldn’t save me? It would only condemn me to a life of pure torture without him.
The gunshot was still echoing when Liam left me where I was and ran toward the two motionless bodies several yards away. Emmie was on her back on the muddy ground but I couldn’t see if she was breathing.
“Emmie,” I cried, but there was no answer. No. No, I needed my frenemy. Who would I banter with? And Mia… Mia needed her mother. Nik needed his wife. Everyone needed her, including me. “Emmie, don’t you fucking do this to me. You’d better be alive.”
There was no noise for a long moment as Liam bent over her…
And then there was the smallest laugh followed by Liam cursing. “I’ll live,” Emmie promised as she slowly sat up with Liam’s help.
“Yeah, but she won’t.” Liam pushed Helena’s body aside as if she were nothing more than day-old trash. Which was exactly what she was. “Do you need help getting up?” Liam offered her a hand and after a few more moments of catching her breath she took it and got to her feet.
“Well, that’s over.” She looked over at Helena’s lifeless body with cold anger. “I kind of wish I could kill her again.”
“Yeah. Me too.” Liam bent and lifted me into his arms and for the first time I didn’t complain and worry about his leg. I had my own leg to worry about at the moment. The bullet was still in my damn calf. “Think we can find a voodoo doctor and bring her back so we can take turns?”
Her laugh filled the air and it was almost cathartic. Emmie laughing was a rare thing lately, and hearing it right then pushed home for me that it was over. The stalker was gone. The bitch who had shot me in the chest all those months ago was gone.
But instead of laughing like Emmie was doing, a sob bubbled up in my chest and I buried my face in Liam’s neck as the tears fell.
It was over.
Finally, completely, over.
Liam’s arms tightened around me. “Let’s get you out of here, little Brie.”
CHAPTER THIRTY SIX
With Liam carrying Gabriella, I slowly followed them. There were still things that needed to be done. Mia and Harper needed a hospital and I suspected Gabriella did as well. The rain had reduced to an annoying drizzle as we headed for the spot where I’d left Shane.
We’d barely gone a few yards, however, when an entire army of men with guns appeared.
Well, a small army at least. I recognized the one called Spider and the three men who had to be Hannigans with their blond hair and odd green eyes. Jesse was with them, and so was Nik, holding Mia against his chest like he was never going to let her go.
I stopped when I saw my husband and it was only then that it finally hit me. I’d just killed someone.
I’d pulled a trigger and taken someone’s life.
I waited for the guilt to consume me, but all I felt was an overpowering sense of relief. I moved forward, needing Nik more than I had ever needed him. One strong arm wrapped around me and pulled me against him, like he was never going to let me go either.
“What happened?” Jesse demanded as he inspected me, then Liam and Gabriella. “We heard a gun go off.”
I buried myself deeper against Nik, not wanting to admit what I had done. I didn’t feel guilty, but what if Nik was disgusted by it? What if he didn’t trust me after this?
“She was going to kill us,” Gabriella explained. “Emmie saved us and then she and Helena started fighting. Helena had the gun…and it went off. I thought Emmie was dead.”
Nik’s entire body stiffened and I could feel the heat leaving him. He pulled back. “Are you okay?” I couldn’t figure out how to get words to leave my mouth and his hand started skimming over my body. “Answer me, baby girl. Are you okay?”
All I could do was nod.
“She had no choice,” Liam was telling Jesse now. “She shot that Helena bitch.”
If I hadn’t been there to catch Mia, Nik would have dropped her. His knees seemed to have given out on him and he fell to them in front of me. I pulled Mia close, felt her soft breath on my neck and said another prayer that she was still okay.
Nik was sobbing now, his arms wrapping around my waist as he buried his face in my stomach. “I thought it was you,” he cried. “I thought something had happened to you. That I’d lost you.”
I was still having difficulty trying to speak so I just thrust my fingers into his hair and held him against me. I felt two strong hands on my shoulders and was thankful that Jesse was there. He pulled my head against his chest and I felt the tears spilling over. The three of us stayed like that, each of us crying with relief that it was over.
It was several minutes later before someone cleared their throat, forcing us to focus on what was still going on. “We should get the females to a doctor,” the one I thought was named Hawk said. “Flick says the mother needs some antibiotics as soon as possible. She’s burning up with fever.”
Oh, shit. I’d forgotten about Harper. I bent, still holding Mia, and kissed the top of Nik’s head. He wiped his face and stood, but reached for Mia immediately. “Let’s go.”
“Did Harper have the baby?” Gabriella asked them.
“Violet’s here,” Jesse assured her. “She seems fine, but Harper is sick.”
“Where’s the closest hospital?” Liam asked Spider.
“There’s one about ten miles north. We’ll get you there soon, rocker.” He walked ahead of us but before we reached the others he turned to face us. “I need to know what you want me to do with the body of the female.”
That had us all pausing. I’d never had to deal with a dead body before. That was something new for me. I had no clue what should be done with it.
“And the man. He’s still alive,” Spider went on. “Do you want us to fuck him up and let him go? Or…” He shrugged. “Your call, ma’am.”
I blinked. “M-me?”
“You’re running this show, ma’am. Flick said we were to do whatever you needed.”
I couldn’t make that kind of decision right then. I’d just killed someone, and needed to get my daughter to a doctor. Dealing with Sean was at the bottom of the long list of things I needed to deal with. I turned to face Liam who was still carrying Gabriella. “You decide,” I told her. “He’s the one who took you. It’s your choice.”
The little Italian rocker lifted her head. “Me?” She frowned. “I…” She blew out a sigh and finally shrugged. “Can you make it painful?” she asked Spider. “I mean really, really painful?”
The big man with the black widow tattoo on his neck grinned, but it was the kind of grin I was sure followed the angel of death arou
nd. “I can make it as painful as you want, ma’am.”
“Make him eat his own dick,” she whispered, as if she spoke too loudly someone would stop him. “Make him choke on it.”
Spider tipped his head at her. “Yes, ma’am.” He turned back toward where Shane and Harper were still with Felicity. “Boys, let’s wait until Bash and Jet get here. Then we can have some fun with the child thief.”
“Sounds like a plan, brother.”
Harper had a fever of a hundred and three by the time we got to the hospital. She was taken immediately up to the maternity floor and pumped full of fluids and antibiotics while Violet was taken into the nursery to get a full exam. She was four weeks early, but she was still crying and a nice five pounds, two ounces, so the nurses weren’t too worried about her.
Mia needed a lot of fluids to flush the rest of whatever drug she’d been tranquillized with out of her system and only once she was taken care of did I let the ER doctor tend to the deep gashes on my arms and face. I needed a soft cast for my hand since I’d fucked it up good kicking Helena’s ass, but nothing was broken.
Gabriella had to be taken into surgery to take the bullet out of her leg. The doctor called the cops, but I was ready for them when they came in to question me. The MC guys were off dealing with Sean and getting rid of the bodies, so I told the cops the truth. That Harper, Mia, and Gabriella had been taken. We’d found where they were being kept and were able to get them to the hospital.
None of us knew where Helena and Sean were.
It didn’t get any truer than that. I had no clue what Felicity’s guys would do with the bodies and as long as I didn’t know, then I wasn’t lying.
After they left I stayed with Mia. She was sleeping peacefully now, but she still looked pale. I stood over her bed, memorizing every little feature of hers even though I already knew them by heart. Nik stood on the other side of her bed, doing the same.
“We almost lost her,” he muttered and lifted his troubled ice-blue eyes to me. “We nearly lost you both.”
I reached for his hand and we linked fingers. “But we didn’t. She’s safe now. Safer than she’s been in a long time.”
“Do you even remember Helena? Was she really one of Shane’s many?”
I shrugged. “I don’t know. Probably. I can’t remember any of them, so I can’t tell you for sure.”
“Promise me this won’t ever happen again, Em. I don’t think I can handle any more of this shit.” He clenched his jaw. “If I need to leave the band, if my life is affecting our kids’ safety and your own, I don’t want it anymore.”
I sucked in a surprised breath. “This wasn’t your fault Nik. It was mine. I’m a bitch, and I was never gentle with anyone’s feelings. I’m still not. But we can’t go through life worried about hurting someone’s feelings and them turning into some psychotic nut job.” I glanced down at Mia. “All we can do is make sure that she’s protected. That’s all any parent can do.”
“And you. I want you protected too.” Still holding my hand, he walked around the bed and pulled me into his arms. “I nearly lost you tonight, too. Baby girl, I heard that gun go off and I nearly died right then. My heart was still beating and I was still breathing, but until I saw you with my own eyes, touched you, I was dead inside. You are my everything, Emmie. Without you, nothing else means anything. Don’t ever make me live without you.”
Fresh tears stung my eyes. “Nik…”
“I love you,” he whispered as he lowered his head and brushed a butterfly-soft kiss over my lips. “I love you more than anything in this world. I refuse to live in it without you.”
My heart filled with all the love I had for him. “I love you, too. You are my world, Nik. Now and forever.”
It was a while later before I could make it up to the maternity floor to check on Harper. I found her room and carefully looked in on her. She was asleep, but Shane was sitting up in the recliner beside her bed, holding his baby in his arms. Seeing him, I quietly closed the door behind me as I entered the room.
He lifted his dark head and grinned up at me like the proud father he was as I took a peek at the pink bundle in his arms. “Look at what my amazing wife did, Em.”
I returned his grin. In that moment the chaos of the day faded away. All that mattered was that moment. Shane holding his little Violet. “She’s beautiful,” I assured him, looking down at my newest little niece. “She looks a lot like you,” I murmured as I took in the baby’s features.
“You think so?” He shook his head. “I think she looks just like Harper.”
“Harper’s lips and hair. Your eyelashes.” I traced a finger down her soft cheek. “Your jaw.”
“I hope she has Harper’s eyes,” he whispered.
I lifted a brow. “How many Stevensons do you know with anything but blue-gray eyes?”
“Violet’s different, though.” He lowered his head and pressed a kiss to his daughter’s forehead. “She’s so beautiful I can’t stop looking at her.”
I sat there with him for a long while, both of us watching Violet. She was the perfect mixture of Harper and Shane. So beautiful that I couldn’t keep my eyes off of her. The longer I sat on the arm of his recliner, however, the more I felt how much pain my body was in. Every muscle hurt, every bone ached. I knew I needed to go, to leave Shane alone with his new little family, but I wanted to talk to him first.
“You did good tonight,” I said, praising him. “You helped Harper bring Violet into the world and you didn’t fall apart.”
His head slowly lifted, but his smile had disappeared. “I’ve never been so scared in my life, Emmie. I saw all that blood and whatever else was coming out of her and I wanted to freak out, but she needed me.” He shifted the baby in his arms a little and leaned his head back, frowning at the ceiling. “But she told me the one thing that made me realize it was okay.”
I glanced at Harper, still sleeping deeply. “What was that?”
“That she and Violet are mine and that means that their blood is my blood. It’s true. The truest thing I’ve ever known, Em. And I reminded myself over and over again that they are mine as Harper pushed our baby girl into the world.” He sighed tiredly. “From the minute I knew she was pregnant, I thought I would fuck all this up and I was sure I would do just that tonight. But I didn’t.”
I smiled and pressed a kiss to his forehead. “That’s how it is, Shane, when you love someone more than you love yourself.” I kissed him again and stood. “Get some rest, okay?” I headed for the door. “I’ll see you in the morning.”
I paused with my hand on the door. “Yeah?”
“Helena is really gone, isn’t she? She’s not going to hurt Harper again, right?”
I bit my lip. No one had told him what had happened and I didn’t think I could tell him right then. “She’s gone, Shane. Forever. She and Sean are two people you will never have to worry about ever again.”
“I love you, Em.”
I blinked back a fresh flood of tears. “I love you, Shane.”
The barn was in nothing but ashes now. A few pieces of the rotted old wood were bright with hot embers, but other than the smoke filling my lungs, there was little evidence of the chaos that had taken place there that night.
Normally when it came to this part of a run, I was emotionless. The part where it was time to play Angel of Death and end whatever fucker who had gotten on the MC’s bad side. This time I was boiling with a rage I hadn’t felt in a long time.
This fucker had taken two females, one of them an innocent little baby. I went a little insane when it came to men who mistreated females, but when one of them was a baby I got pushed over the edge. I was going to relish every moment that was about to come.
“Where do you want him?” Colt asked as he and Raider lifted the still unconscious man that the rocker’s wife had called Sean.
I kicked over a half charred wall of the barn. The edges were still smoking and a few ho
t spots were glowing red. I nodded for them to lay him on the wood. Fuck, this was going to be fun.
“She knocked his ass out good, didn’t she?” Hawk’s voice rumbled beside me. “Little pregos had some serious strength.”
Flick blew out a long breath. “I always thought she had a hidden badass side.”
Jet and Bash dropped down onto the grass a few feet away, watching me with eyes that were neither amused nor full of dread. They were pissed they’d missed out on everything, but they had been on the other end of the fifteen-mile radius the Italian rocker’s phone had been tracked to. By the time they’d gotten there, the others were already loaded up and headed toward the hospital.
“What about the dead bitch?” Raider asked as he dropped his end of the unconscious man.
“Acid’s the best way to go. I’ll find some after Spider deals with this sonofabitch,” Jet assured him.
I moved through the ashes, looking for a piece of wood that was still hot enough to wake the fucker up. Grinning when I found what I needed, I headed back to the motionless body. “Hold him down,” I told Colt and Raider.
Colt sighed and Raider groaned, but neither said a word as they grabbed his arms and legs. I bent down and pulled Sean’s shirt up, then touched the red-tipped wood to his stomach. The smell of flesh burning filled my nose seconds before the man was forced awake. “Ahhhhh!” he screamed. “Ahhh. What? What?” He turned his head left and right, saw Colt and then Raider before realizing that they weren’t the ones hurting him.
Terrified eyes lifted to me and I grinned down at him. “Hello, Sean.”
“Who the fuck are you?” he demanded in a voice that practically squeaked with a mixture of pain and panic.
I crouched down beside him, so he could see my face better. Bash had driven the SUV he’d been taken in earlier that night down the hill and had turned the headlights on so that we could see better. “I’m your worst nightmare, motherfucker.”
“What?” His voice rose—so high it hurt my ears. Damn. I wasn’t going to be able to deal with that shit. “I don’t know you. I haven’t done shit to you. Let me go. Let me go.” He struggled against Colt and Raider’s hold but both men outweighed him by a good fifty pounds of solid muscle.