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Thank fucking God.

“Who shot him?” Ti asked pointing to Mono as I picked her up and held her tightly to my chest. Stepping over Mono’s body I carried her back to the table and set her down to examine her for further injuries. “Who?” Thia asked again, scanning the brush for more Bastards.

I didn’t need to look around, because I knew exactly who shot Mono.

“That would be me.” A familiar voice said with a slight Spanish accent. I turned around to find myself face to face with Gus. “And you’re fucking welcome.”

*     *     *


It was the first time I’d seen Gus since he’d saved me from Chop that night. “Such a waste,” he said, staring down at the two lifeless bodies of who Bear had called Mono and Harris. Gus had dragged one of them next to the other so that they were now lying side by side on their backs.

Bear continued to search my body for wounds that weren’t there and I tried to catch my breath.

“Hi. I’m Gus,” Gus said, never taking his eyes off the bodies. His tone was flat and even and he spoke in a volume a few notches down the volume dial than most people did.

“I remember you,” I said and Gus simply nodded.

“I was hoping they used you to track and not Rage,” Bear said after finally being satisfied that I wasn’t bleeding from anywhere besides the small wound on my neck. He turned to me and pushed the hair off my face, resting his forehead on mine.

“That was a stupid move,” he said.

“Bear,” I started to argue.

“Let me finish,” he interrupted. “It was a stupid move that I’m glad you fucking made or we’d both be dead right now.” He pulled back and pulled a joint out of his pocket. He didn’t light it instead he passed both the joint and lighter to Gus who reached behind him to take it from Bear, his eyes still glued on the bodies while he lit it and took a deep drag.

Gus knelt down next to the bikers and surprised me when he ran his index finger across Mono’s bloody face, leaving a white trail down his cheek through the sticky red. He stood back up and held the bloody finger under his nose. Closing his eyes he inhaled the blood like he was sniffing a fine wine. “Shame,” he repeated, opening his eyes. He used a rag from his back pocket to wipe the blood from his finger.

On the night Gus saved me from the MC he was just a shadow, no face, no body. A distant memory of an explosion and a ride in a van.

Gus was now a living breathing person with olive skin and dark hair just long enough on the top to brush forward. Tiny pointed bangs hung high on his forehead. His height fell somewhere in the middle of the height difference between my 5’4” and Bear’s six foot something. He wasn’t wearing a cut, just an untucked navy blue and white flannel shirt and light jeans with yellow work boots. He wasn’t attractive, especially not in the same way Bear was. Gus’s pudgy cheeks, which were coated with dark hair that was a few hours over a five o’clock shadow, would suggest he was heavier than his medium build. An ornate tattoo decorated his right temple. The whites of his eyes seemed brighter than most against the blackness of his large pupils, which bulged out of his head when he spoke.

I was acutely aware that he didn’t blink often and found myself staring at his eyes trying to catch him in the act.

“They should’ve been on plastic with a dental bar in their mouths. I would have taken my time and started from the back. The back is a good place to start when pulling teeth. Molars are the most painful and the hardest to extract. They are also the bloodiest and when the blood drips down their throats they choke on it and choking increases the fear. You can smell it in the air.” He shook his head and looked up at Bear. “It would have been beautiful.”

“I’m sure it would have been, man,” Bear said, leaning back against the table, obviously used to Gus’s oddities.

“You owe me,” Gus said, coming to stand in front of us “Two.” He added, holding up two fingers, his voice never rising or falling with his words.

“Two,” Bear agreed. “With the shit storm I have coming my way I don’t think that will be a problem.”

Gus turned to me and I held out my hand. “We were never properly introduced. I’m Thia,” I said, clearing my throat to remove any remnant of nervousness from my voice. Gus looked down at my hand and jumped back like I was holding out a spider.

Bear put his hand on my forearm and gently pushed it down. “Gus doesn’t shake hands,” Bear said, as Gus shook his head frantically from side to side, his fists curled up into balls under his chin as he cowered away from me.

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