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“Isaac was here because someone in our club let him in. One of our brothers, one of the people I’m supposed to be the most loyal to, made sure that Isaac was in place to take us all out. Not just King or Preppy, but me too. Whoever let him in was one of our own brothers and he didn’t give a fuck that the end result was supposed to be a bullet in my motherfucking head.” Chop opened his mouth to speak but Bear wasn’t finished. “And don’t you dare fucking speak to me about loyalty. Just ask Mom. Oh wait, you can’t. She’s fucking dead because of you.”

“You ungrateful motherfucke—Chop wrinkled his nose like he was about to breath fire from his nostrils.

“Are you questioning my fucking loyalty to this club!? I have taken bullets for you. I have killed without question. I’ve been nothing but in, a hundred and fifty percent, since the day I put on this cut. It’s you who needs a reality check, Pops.” Bear took a step back. “Prep, King, they were more family to me growing up than you ever were. And if you really want to talk loyalty, then let’s talk loyalty. Because if Prep were still here, I would take that bullet for him. I would gladly give my life for his. And now King’s girl is in trouble, might already be dead, and I would step into her place in a heartbeat so that he wouldn’t have to live without his girl.”

Chop took another step forward, his forehead almost touching Bear’s. “I’m not talking about them. I’m talking about your fucking brothers.”

“So the fuck am I, old man,” Bear said, sidestepping his father and heading toward the gate. “So the fuck am I.” Bear nodded to me. “Let’s fucking go.”

“It’s your decision boy,” his dad called out. “But if you leave right now, then you leave your cut here. I fucking mean it.”

Without hesitation, Bear shrugged out of his cut and held it up, exposing his bare chest and the double gun holster that his vest had easily hidden. “Fine by me, Pops. ’Cause this thing we have here?” Bear looked around to the balconies which were now full of spectators. “This whole thing is supposed to be about family, but as much as I want that to be true…it isn’t. Hasn’t been for a real long fucking time.”

“The only real family you got is me, boy,” Chop hissed, his face reddening as he focused on the cut in Bear’s hand.

“That’s where you’re wrong, old man. ’Cause whether he wears a fucking cut or not, King is my brother. And if you can’t respect my family…” Bear looked up to the biker filled balcony. Then he walked over to a broken plastic chair leaning haphazardly against the chipped stucco. With one last reverent glance down at the scrap of leather that meant everything in his world, he set his cut on the chair. “Then I can’t respect yours.”

“Let’s go, man,” I said to Bear. I’d been around the Beach Bastards since I was fifteen. Long enough to know I needed to get Bear the fuck out of there as fast as fucking possible. Not just because time was ticking for Pup, but because I knew that once your prospect time was up and you were patched in as a full member of the Beach Bastards, there was no walking away from your brothers.

There was no abandoning your cut.

You were either buried in it…or buried without it.

And if you were buried without it, your death wasn’t from natural causes.

I had to get Bear the fuck out of there before they remembered that.

Chapter Twenty-Eight

King

At ten fifty-five pm Bear, Jake and I were on our stomachs underneath the tall roots of the mangroves on the back property line. The houseboat in our sights.

That’s where the senator was torturing my girl.

That’s where he was going to die.

“Again, the plan is that you wait ten minutes,” I said. “No matter what you hear, no matter what you see, you wait ten minutes. I can’t risk Pup being killed because I didn’t play by the psycho senator’s rules.” Jake and Bear both nodded in agreement. “I also need to make sure you two both know how this ends. When you come in, and the choice is between me or her, you chose her. You always chose her.”

I will always choose her.

I cracked my knuckles. “I can’t do this unless I know in the end, no matter how this fucking shit plays out, that she’ll at least make it out whole,” I said.

Looking back toward the houseboat, Jake nodded. “Agreed.”

“No problem.” Bear said. “In the event you don’t make it out though, I’ll take real good care of your girl for you.”

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