Tear Me Away (Desert Wraiths MC Romance)

By: Amy Kiss

Nico ran through the business part of the deal. He had a thoroughness to him that made me feel at ease, reminded me of mission briefs. He was making a few tactical errors, but it didn't matter much in this case.

The guy we were making contact with worked out of a rundown motel just inside the town line. Took a few kilos from the Sand Scorpions. Now they were out and we were holding. The motel was wide open, with some foot traffic and narrow roads around to make a drive by unwise. And the Scorpions had no reason to go after us.

Let Nico talk. I'd set him straight later when no one was around. Nico listened to good advice. I guess he counted himself lucky that I was suggesting and not ordering. We both knew I could, if I wanted to. But I didn't.

"Ghost, you know your spot?" he asked.

"Relax, man. We'll be back with the money inside of an hour."

Nico stared me down. I guess he had to. I shrugged and told him which building I'd position on, and he finally looked away. Some people feared disorder more than any mortal threat.

Naturally, my mind drifted to Katie.

The room stirred up and I returned. We were on the move. Outside, we had a nice football huddle before moving out. Less poetry, more profanity, plenty of that same shoulder thumping. Even I cracked a smile under my shades. Do this and we bring wealth to our brotherhood. We grow stronger. We prove our worth.

After the mess of loyalties I'd traped through at the end of my service, it all felt refreshingly simple.

Five of us rolled out. Canyon, Crispy, me, a young blood who called himself Uncut, with no irony. And Twist. He growled at me under his shades as we passed. He had my back probably, but it would take more than three days to stand down such a gross offense to his manhood.

It was the one vice I'd never understood. What fun was there in a woman who fought you as you took her? We did plenty of shit that was beyond gray, but that one line I could not abide crossing. Easy enough to find a drunk or stoned out chick to lay around here.

We rumbled out in a short line across the desert. The ground glowed even under my thick shades. If I took em off, a spike might send me blind. It was an operational weakness that would have me worried if this job had any risk profile.

We turned a hill and the town loomed before us. Going to town always felt like entering a cage. Surrender your weapons, keep your baggage. Thanks for your service, Soldier, but we don't have space for your personal shit. I had grown up right on the edge of the city, and I was in no mood to go deeper in than I needed.

Then again, seeing Katie was starting to verge on need. To see what those eyes would do if they saw me again.

We ran the perimeter of the town, around smokeless factories, rusting warehouses, and cargo yards with lines of parked trucks. Things weren't great, which meant business was good for men like us.

Before the war that would have bothered me. Until the government had sent me to baby-sit the poppy fields of Afghan warlords. Nothing noble in that. But it had taught me that people would get what they wanted one way or another. If making a cut off it gets you through another day, then so be it. I wasn’t getting rich off this. Maybe I’d feel worse if I was.

We only had to turn in a bit to get to the motel. The parking lot stood cracked and baking under the noon sun. Mostly empty. The road it sat on had a car here and there but no pedestrians at the moment, neither druggies or civvies. The four riders rolled right into it, but I lowered my engine and crept out to an empty office a block away. A fire escape ran up an alley behind, just out of reach. I sighed, then spiked, and sprinted up the brick wall until I could reach the lower rung. I clambered up top as easy as climbing stairs.

The office was no more than 3 stories, but I could see out on all sides of Gilsner from the roof. Yellow and dusty on one sides, but grey concrete - broken up with blurs of green on the other side. Katie lived in one of those green oases.

I set the thought aside and crouched in the gravel at the corner overlooking the motel. I slung my rifle off my back and sighted it on my guys as two of them filed into the manager's booth. The grip was worn and the barrel rusty. Our gear was seriously out of shape, but at a couple hundred feet, it should work fine. If it needed to.

The booth had tinted glass. I could remove my shades and resolve the shadows I saw through my scope, but didn't want the hassle. I knew the deal. He'd check the stuff, complain a bit. Canyon would call him a prick and name a price. The guy would flinch, and demand something: security, reliability, a discount. He'd get one or two of the above. The show of force was meant to remind him we were still a legit operation. The Scorpions had probably fed him lies about our club’s impending demise.

Sure enough, about the five minute mark, Canyon and Crispy bust back out with a plastic bag, looking not-pissed. The four men nodded, and sauntered back to their hogs.

Another day, another deal.

Behind me, I heard the faintest scritch of one pebble crunching along another. A bird, I told myself, as I turned, but spiked anyway. Call it instinct, but it sounded like one fat fucking bird.

I swung the rifle around to see a meaty hand reaching up from the fire escape, joining the other already there. The first held a little black gun with a silencer.

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