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Were they moving? he thought as something bumped and he felt it throughout his body—

All at once, the argument in the cigar bar came back to him, he and Axe going at it hardcore, Elise running out after them, Novo showing up … the lessers—

Releasing the seal of his lips, he mumbled, “Dead? God … Rhage dead?”

“Only lessers,” she said, before forcing her wrist back at him.

He exhaled and returned to the drinking. And after what could have been years or at least hours, but was probably only ten minutes or so, he went lax, the floating, blissful feeling of satiation working to calm him better than any amount of morphine.

It was the most perfect high.

But he couldn’t get lost in the delicious sensation. Not with that female standing over him as she was.

“I’m gonna be fine.” Or at least, that was what he meant to say. It didn’t seem to come out right. Either that or his hearing was going.

“What?” she asked, leaning in as if proximity might work as well as a Google translator set to stupid.

He cleared his throat and forced his brain to come back online. “Elise okay? Axe?”

“Both fine.”

“You?”

She held her arms out and moved around in a circle … and not for the first time, he noticed she was a damn fine female, if a little intimidating. She was just so tough, that body filed down to all its hard, muscular edges.

As Peyton started to become aroused, he took that as a good sign.

“I’m glad nothing hurt you,” he said roughly.

“Are you getting emotional on me?”

“No, you’re turning me on.”

She seemed nonplussed for a second. Then she started to glare at him—which for them was probably progress. As in, things getting back to normal.

“Are you kidding me?”

He shrugged. “You’re an attractive female. Surely I’m not the first male to tell you that. And what can I say, I’ve always had a healthy regard for the fairer sex.”

She threw her head back and laughed. But it was not a happy sound. “Let me get this straight. You and I are in the Brotherhood’s mobile surgical van, on our way to the training center because you were shot and now have a tube in your head to reduce brain swelling … and you’re coming on to me?”

“My gray matter isn’t the only thing getting bigger.”

“You’re like the indestructible slut, aren’t you.”

“You know, to most people, slut is an insult.” He tried to lift his hand to make the point. And failed. “I personally take it as a compliment. Shows commitment to my work.”

“Your work?”

Considering everything that had happened tonight, they might as well spend the trip to the training center arguing: He was rattling around inside his skin, and that energy needed an outlet—and shit knew she could give as good as she got.

“Sure,” he said. “I work at being with the females. Practice makes perfect and all.”

When she just re-crossed her arms over her chest and leaned back against the wall again, he frowned. “If we’re moving, shouldn’t you be sitting down?”

“Yes, but I don’t want to.”

“Far be it from me to suggest reasonable behavior.”

“That’s the first intelligent thing you’ve said.”

“Since I’ve regained consciousness?”

“Since I’ve known you.”

He started laughing, but it made his head hurt, so he stopped. “Tell me something … where were you last night?”

“I’m sorry?”

“Do I need to speak more slowly? I’m the one with the cracked skull.”

“What the hell are you talking about?”

For a moment, Peyton entertained the possibility that he’d had a stroke and he had slipped into aphasia. But no, he was speaking correctly.

“I called you last night.”

“No, you didn’t.”

“Mmm-hmm.” He went to nod his head, but the stinging pain stopped him. “I sure did.”

“Not from your phone, you didn’t.”

Oh, right. “Shit, it was on Elise’s. She had to leave it with me so she could go fuck Axe.”

Yes, he sounded bitter. Which was a little rich, considering the guy had probably helped save his life tonight.

Take out the probably.

Novo frowned. “Axe was with me.”

Now Peyton was the one pulling a blank. “I’m sorry, what?”

“Axe took me to The Keys.”

Peyton actually tried to sit up. And as he gasped, Novo put a hand on his chest and forced him back down.

“Will you stop moving?” she ordered.

“What the hell is he doing taking you to The Keys? No female should be going there.”

A bump in the road made everything hurt on him, as if the asphalt itself was taking her side.

Oh, and you want to talk about a death stare? If he hadn’t already been flat on his back, her glare would have blown him out of his loafers.

“I asked Axe to take me there, for one thing. And I had sex with a woman, so yes, there are females at that club.”

Peyton blinked a couple of times. Then pulled his laconic mask into place. “I didn’t know that was your thing.”

“I like women, females, men, and males.”

“And Axe.”

“Yeah, and Axe.”

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