“I have a gun on my bike. That’s illegal—I’m a felon, not allowed to own a firearm.”
“Where is it?” she asked.
“Got a hidden compartment for it,” I told her. “Ruger rigged it up. You want to see?”
I don’t know why I offered, but for some reason it seemed like the right thing to do—maybe if she saw it for herself, she’d believe me when I promised that I wasn’t smuggling anything worse.
“Yes,” she said, looking a little surprised that I was so comfortable with it—good. Maybe she’d believe I was serious, because I was. I’d never put her in that kind of danger. “I think I would.”
We went back outside. There wasn’t much light, but I carried a little flashlight in one of my saddlebags, along with a first aid kit, a sewing kit, some tools, and a few other essentials—never know what might happen on the road.
“You’re like a Boy Scout,” she said, and I heard a smile in her voice.
“Yeah, that’s me,” I replied, laughing. “Here it is.”
I popped open the compartment using the hidden latch, showing her the small semiautomatic pistol inside. It was loaded and ready to go, and there was a spare ammo cartridge, too.
“Note the complete and utter lack of drugs,” I pointed out dryly. “For the record—it’s not illegal for you to be holding this gun, just me. There’s no danger to you if we happened to get caught with this.”
“Will you show me how to open it?”
“The gun?” I asked, surprised. She gave a little laugh.
“No, your supersecret compartment.”
I closed it back up, looking at her.
“What is this, some kind of test?”
“I don’t know. Do you need testing?” she challenged. I sighed, because she probably did want to test me.
“Give me your hand.”
Guiding her, I let her feel the little latch for herself, then watched as she opened and closed the compartment several times. Then we walked back to the house, but at the door Mel stopped me, putting a hand on my chest.
“You should leave now,” she said. “I can’t handle any more tonight. I need to take a shower and then get some sleep, and I’ll do that a hell of a lot better if you aren’t around. Safer for you, too. Now that I know where to get a gun, I might be tempted to kill you in your sleep.”
“All right,” I said, and while I wanted to argue, I could see she was telling the truth—Mel was done. Spent. “I have shit to do tomorrow. Important shit. Club business. But when I finish, we’re going to talk. I’ll come for you tomorrow night.”
She shook her head.
“I’ll call you when I’m ready to talk,” she protested.
“No fucking way. I’ll give you tonight, but tomorrow we’re settling this. For real.”
I leaned forward, kissing her on the lips. She softened for an instant, then she was pushing at my chest.
“I already did,” I reminded her. Mel frowned.
“I already fucked you. It was amazing. But then, us fucking always is, right?”
Her face hardened, and she slammed the door in my face.
I couldn’t help myself—I laughed.
“He just quit,” I heard Brit telling another nurse. “No notice, nothing.”
“Who?” I asked, leaning against the counter. It was nearly eight in the morning, almost time for shift change and report. Damned good thing, too, because I was exhausted. I’d gotten shit sleep last night, and then I’d spent the day with Izzy. Because London was an angel, she’d agreed to take her for a second night in a row, but when I’d tried to nap that afternoon after dropping her off out at the Armory, there’d been no joy.
I kept thinking about Painter’s promise to come back last night.
I should’ve called him. Should’ve let him know I was working and that we’d have to talk a different time. But there’d been some defiant, angry part of me that wanted him to sit around waiting, wondering where the hell I was, because fuck him and his orders.
Twelve hours later I was exhausted and grumpy and wishing like hell that I hadn’t set myself up like that—he’d find me sooner or later, and when he did, I’d be too tired to fight him.
“That cute security guard,” she said. “Aaron Waits. Damned shame, because he made nights like tonight a whole hell of a lot more fun.”
Good, I thought fiercely. I never wanted to see that fucker again.
“You’re married,” I pointed out. “Not like you could do anything with him.”
“Married doesn’t equal dead,” she replied, giving me a wink. “I can appreciate the scenery without touching it. Only ten more minutes until shift change—I can’t wait. I hate nights like tonight. So boring.”
She was right. Some shifts were hellish—terrible car accidents, people dying. Those were the kind of nights that stuck with you, haunting your dreams. But tonight had been the complete opposite. Only four patients, and two of them had colds. I’d never seen the place so empty.
“Day shift is screwed,” I said. “Because you just know the law of averages has to catch up to them sometime. Some kid is out there right now, playing with matches.”