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“I know your group. I know battles aren’t anything new to you guys, but in the process of all this, try not to hurt my sister? And don’t let her know I was the one who told you about her history. We all lost Val, Quincey, too. On the surface it won’t look like we’re grieving, but we are. Each person in our family pushes that shit deep, though we still feel it.”

I nodded. He wasn’t saying anything I didn’t understand. “Not planning on doing either.”

I waited until the drive back home to call Mason.

He picked up after the first ring. “You hanging in there?”

“Did I wake you up? Can you talk?”

“I’m good. What’d Graham say?”

“I think he’s going to go after Quincey, and I think he’s going to set me up during that process.”

Mason had been kept abreast of everything. He, Logan, and I called each other daily.

There were also texts. Emails. Sometimes a FaceTime was necessary.

Distance aside, it was like we were all still living together, so he knew exactly what and who I was talking about.

A low curse was his response.

“Yeah.” I clenched my jaw because what else could I do? “I really, really want to just annihilate this guy.”

“I know. I’m getting there myself for you. Want me to call up some back channels? I can see if my dad knows any dirty dealings he’s got?”

“What was the mob connection we found in the beginning?”

I asked Mason because he was going to have his own guy do a deep dive into that connection specifically.

“That looked like a line of credit from a family in Canada. It’s been resolved, and it doesn’t look like there’s anything current going on there.”

“But he could reach out to them. That’s an open resource for him.”


“Your dad still works with the Red Demons?”

“I’m not sure, but they’re not that far up north. They branched to the Midwest and South, or that’s what Channing told me. And Nate, brother, I’m telling you that Channing does not want to bring that MC back into his life. They are not people you want to be in bed with.”

Channing was another friend from Fallen Crest, except he was from our neighboring town.

There was a lot of history with us all, but suffice it to say that he had connections to the Red Demons through family and his business. No one was saying he wanted to have those connections, but he did. And I’d be a fool not to look at that avenue.

“I’m asking because I’m wondering if they could keep an ear out? See who he might approach to try to set me up, because if he does, it’ll have to be something nasty. Like heavy enough to put me in prison sort of thing.”

I heard his indrawn breath. “I think you’re giving him too much credit.”

“No.” I knew he’d say that, and I knew it sounded like a leap, but my gut was telling me to prepare for the worst. “I don’t think we’ve even turned page one in the book against this guy. I think he’s a whole other sort of monster. Think about it, even the whole radio silent thing he’s playing is another form of warfare. The guy’s a nasty sonofabitch.”

“You want me to call Channing for you?”

Did I? “No. If I want Channing brought in, I’ll call him. You should stay clear.”

“That’s not how this friendship works, my man.”

“It does this time.”

“Dammit, Nate!” he snapped at me. “Don’t do this. You fucking finally reached out and needed me. I was there for you. All the shit you’ve gone through in your life—”

I knew where he was going. I stopped him, my voice low. “Don’t go there, Mase. That’s high school shit. Keep that back there.”

“You were hurting, and I wasn’t pushing you enough to let me in. And I pushed you out when you first came back.”

That was the shit I didn’t want to go over. “You had your own crisis to deal with back then.”

“I know, but… let me help you this time. Please?”

Mason was saying please. That wasn’t the norm, ever.

There’d been a time back in the day when I felt like I lost two families, but things changed.

I’d been an asshole at times, pushing people out, but I changed in college. I righted myself and never looked back. I wasn’t going to let Mason make me look back either.

“Mase.” I gentled my tone. “It’s not about you from back then for me. You know about my brother.”

He was quiet for a moment, then said a ragged, “I get that. I’ll back off.”

“Thanks.” I let out some air, loosening my grip on the wheel. I was driving as if I were in a blizzard with whiteout conditions. “Maybe see what Logan thinks? He might know someone we don’t know up here who could keep an ear out.”

“I will. Who knows what he might come up with? But anything illegal, let’s keep him out of it.”

I started grinning. “Brother, you’re staying out of that, too.”

A dark laugh came from his end. “Who’d think we were in these positions right now? Looking back, Logan and I should’ve been in prison for how many things we pulled? Now you’re the one trying to keep us clean and on the straight and narrow.”

I laughed, but a thought came to me. “Fuck. You don’t think my line is tagged, do you?”

He got quiet. “You gotta make a call to get that figured out.”

“Will do. Signing off now.”

“Keep me updated.”

“I will.”


I hadn’t thought of that, of him bugging my line or hell, even the car I was driving.

I should’ve.

Or was I being too paranoid?

Maybe he wasn’t that bad?

No. My gut flared up. I was dead right.




Ricci was just as dumbfounded as me, but I nodded and shrugged to her question. She called, asking if I wanted to meet up for coffee, so I gave Emily the day off. We went to a local coffee place that had a corner area for kids to play. There were usually only one or two children using it, and today, it was just us with Nova. Nova was having a ball throwing the balls into a little ball pit they had. Total love for balls here.

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