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RENO (Devil’s Disciples MC #5)
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A psychotic kidnapper with a gun. A blindfolded ride to a ruthless drug dealer’s compound. Torture. A slow death. These were the things that were awaiting me while I worked the evening shift of what was sure to be my last day on earth.
Then, he came in for dinner.
He had a loud Harley-Davidson, a dry sense of humor, a contagious laugh, and seven friends.
All he wanted was an enchilada dinner.
But. He was my only hope.
So, I handed him his meal, gestured to the parking lot, and told him my story.
As he sauntered toward the parking lot no differently that he would have walked into a bar, I wondered just who this man could be.
Finding the answer to that question wasn’t as easy as a person might think.
But it was the best ride of my life.
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In the country I grew up in, decapitated bodies were often suspended from the highway overpasses. The blood-stained concrete that lay beneath their headless corpses was a reminder to all of what happened to anyone who opposed the Tijuana Cartel.
As a child, my sleep was interrupted by vivid nightmares. In the dreams, I’d traipse a long line of bodies that swung from the bridge, gazing down at the row of heads that were propped beneath them. The open-eyed stares of dead classmates, teachers, and other familiar faces became etched into my memory.
I prayed that one day the violence would end. The cartel’s pay-offs to the Policia Federal provided them with reassurance that the authorities would forever look the other way. Knowledge of those pay-offs and the leniency they purchased left the men and women of Mexico living in a constant state of fear.
Dreading that the bloodshed would one day haunt much more than my dreams, I prayed for a man who could protect me from the cartel’s grasp. At seventeen, Angel Ramirez answered those prayers.
Amidst the throngs of criminals that lurked the city’s darkened streets, he walked without fear. He was handsome, financially independent, and bold. He showered me with affection and offered me lavish gifts. His presence alone brought with it a comfort I never knew as a child.
In no time, I fell in love.
As our relationship progressed, he made no effort to hide his belief that I was one of his many possessions. In his eyes, he owned me. Although I should have, I didn’t argue. I was young, naïve, and blind to what should have been.
My relationship with Angel was all I knew. I had nothing to compare it to, so I perceived what we had as normal.
The peace of mind he provided kept me from seeing the truth for several years. As I grew older, my eyes opened to the possibility that my view of him was clouded. Then, one day, the fog lifted. The man standing in the clearing had pistol-whipped a drug mule into a pile of unrecognizable flesh.
I learned my lover was none other than the leader of the very cartel that I despised. Upon realizing it, I ran as far and as fast as I could.
It seemed no matter where I went in hope of escaping him, Angel eventually found me. It came as no real surprise. Despite Mexico’s size and population, there was nowhere in the country that was out of the cartel’s grasp.
There was, however, one place that lay beyond Angel’s reach. A $5,000,000 reward in US dollars for information leading to his capture prevented him from ever entering the United States. He feared the US Federal Government as much as I feared him.
So, my family and I fled Mexico.
A Sunday drive along the coast in Southern California will likely produce several members of one of the many motorcycle clubs that call the state their home. With an average temperature of 70 degrees, the weather is inviting for the two-wheeled enthusiasts.
I was intrigued by men who dared to choose a motorcycle as their mode of transportation. Being a waitress, I’d served my share of them. Most had the manners of a hungry shark. Subsequently, as fascinated as I was with bikers, I had yet to be pleased by any of their personalities.
The sound of approaching motorcycles grew louder. Clearing the table of my last guest for the night, I paused. The restaurant’s windows began to vibrate. The hair on the back of my neck stood on end as they pulled into the parking lot.
I mentally rolled my eyes at the thought of serving a bunch of Hells Angels who would leave pocket change for a tip. Grateful that it was nearly closing time, I meandered toward the kitchen.
I pushed open the door and peeked in. “Drunken bikers, get ready.”
“Pinche pendejos,” Luiz complained, looking at his watch. “Me voy a las diez horas.”
It was almost nine, and we closed at ten. Nevertheless, I wasn’t about to be left alone with a large group of unruly bikers.
I shook my head. “You’re not leaving until they leave.”
He glanced at his watch and gave me flippant wave of his hand. “Andele! Andele! Diez horas, puta.”
With Luiz being insistent that he leave at closing time, I was going to be in an awkward position. If the bikers weren’t finished eating by ten o’clock sharp, I would have to force them to leave.
My stomach knotted at the thought.
I turned toward the dining area and tugged my skirt into place. Just as I did, eight men came through the front door. They looked the same as the other bikers who patronized the restaurant, but unlike those who often barged in and demanded service, they acted differently.
They came through the door slapping each other on the back and coughing out laughs. Upon realizing the dining area was empty, the leader of the group paused. He glanced from one empty table to another.