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I missed my own birthday?

The wall of rain came, soaking everything in its path, including the man in the suit who stood his ground, smiling as his hair flattened to the top of his head. “I am going to court tomorrow to file the offer with the probate judge and demand that the grove be properly appraised. You can either sign off on this now or ready yourself for a battle that you’re not going to win. A battle you can’t afford.”

The law in on our side.

The law is on our side.

I saw red. So much red that I wished that a lightning bolt would come out of the sky and strike this suit wearing creep right off the driveway. Ben set the folder on the porch and flashed me that smug smile again and a salute of all things before heading back down the driveway. “Mr. Coleman?” I asked sweetly. He turned back around. “Yes, Miss Andrews?” he asked, shouting above the sound of the pouring rain.

“Did you just say that the law is on your side?” I asked, tilting my head to the side.

“Yes. That’s right.”

“Well then,” I dialed in the code on the lock on the heavy porch box and the hinges sprung open. I removed what I needed off the hooks connected to the underside of the lid. Unlike the older one I’d risked my life with when my mother and I played Russian Roulette, this one worked on the first pull every single time. “Did you know that here in Jessep, anyone can shoot someone on their property for no reason at all?”

“You wouldn’t,” he said, not with fear in his voice. With challenge. He held his hand over his jacket, but he knew he didn’t have time to go for his gun.

One step is all it took.

He took one step forward, calling my bluff.

I pulled the trigger.

“Welcome to Jessep, Mr. Carson.”

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

Bear

An echoing CRACK pierced through the night, so loud I heard it above the roar of my bike, rippling the air around me like I was stuck in a wave. Something small but fast zipped by my ear like a scream, so close I felt the heat trail on the side of my neck.

A bullet.

Crack. Echo. Crack. Echo.

There were two bikes on my tail. Two bikes I recognized. Two bikes I helped build.

Bastards.

I knew there was a possibility that the second I left Logan’s Beach on my bike these fuckers could be trailing me. The problem was that I was too wrapped up in finding Thia before they did that I hopped on and sped off without even telling King where I was heading.

Fuck, maybe they already did.

My chest stung like I’d already been hit with a bullet.

The Beach Bastards might have been lawless, but they weren’t soulless, one of the codes we lived by was ‘Always look a man in the eye when you are about to take his life.’

The club must have gone even more to shit then I’d originally imagined because the two pussies behind me, firing at my back, had chosen to ignore that particular code.

CRACK.

I felt the heat against the skin of my neck as the bullet whizzed by.

I passed the Welcome To Jessep sign and tried to shake the fuckers following me by taking a sharp right.

No such luck.

Bullets might have been flying, Thia might have been in danger or already dead, but when I picked up speed and leaned forward pushing the machine between my legs to its limits I was reminded of another time, another cloudless night when going fast wasn’t fast enough.

I’m five years old and I’m in the passenger seat of a car I’ve never been in before. My mom is driving.

She’s mumbling to herself and biting her nails.

When she picked me up from school I’d gotten into her red convertible, but she passed the street we always turn on, the one that takes us to the clubhouse. The only stop we’d made was when we’d traded her car for this one behind the Stop-n-Go.

The little Toyota we are riding in smells like the time I got sick after drinking Tank’s special soda he’d left on the pool table. The only special thing about his soda was the amount of puke it made me spray all over the floor of my dad’s office.

Dr. Pepper is way better.

Mom lights a cigarette and rolls open her window, but just a crack. The car fills with the smoke she breathes out, but it doesn’t bother me because I’m used to it. Everyone in the club smokes. I saw a commercial on TV once that said that smoking makes you stop growing, and I want to be real tall like my old man, so I’ve decided I’m gonna wait until I grow a lot taller before I start smoking.

It’s dark outside, but since we are on the highway, every time we pass a street light the inside of the car goes bright and then dark, like someone is flipping a light switch on and off. I don’t count how many times the switch gets turned on, but it’s a lot. I stop when I get to a hundred because that’s the highest number I know.

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