'Bound' - Soldiers of Darkness #3 - Chapter One


*Please be aware that this excerpt contains some strong language*




Theo

“You got hold of a cell phone now?”
“Managed to do a deal with one of the guys.”
“And what’s that cost you, huh?”
“It was worth it, OK? Makes this shit so much easier.”
“Any news?”
Nothing concrete yet. Still waiting on a date. They’re just dragging their feet, that’s all. And it’s not like I can file a complaint or anything. I gotta dance to their tune.”
I sit down on the steps of the clubhouse and look out over the compound. It’s unusually quiet, not many people about, but something’s going on over at Six tonight so that’s where most of the guys’ll be, getting their rocks off drinking whiskey and watching naked girls play with each other. Whether I join them when I’m done here, I don’t know. Not sure if I’m in the mood right now.
I’m gonna fix this, Dom.” I switch my cell to my other ear and drop my gaze. “I promise.”
“Hey. What’ve you gotta fix, Theo? This was my decision, it’s all on me…”
“It was my fault, Dom. It was all my fault.” I take a long, deep breath and drop my head into my hands because the guilt, that’s never gonna go away, it’s never gonna leave me. That’s why I’ve got to do this; why I’ve got to help my brother. “Dom…”
“You don’t have to go through with this, Theo. You know that, don’t you? You’re risking so fucking much…”
“What am I risking, exactly? What do I have anymore? I lost it all. I lost everything…”
“Leave it, kiddo. Don’t go there, OK?”
I sigh quietly and rake a hand back and forth through my hair. “We’re working on it. This end. Mack he – he’s been good to me, he’s making sure this all runs as smoothly as it can. And we’re working with another club for back-up, one the Soldiers have worked with for a good few years now, so Mack tells me. The Black Dogs. You heard of them?”
“I know who they are. Cole Rockwell still in charge of that chapter?”
“Yeah. He is.”
“You don’t sound like you’ve warmed to the guy. But he has connections, Theo. Good ones. He’ll be useful.”
“I just want you to know we’re ready, Dom. We’re just waiting on you to let us know when it’s happening.”
 “Hey, I know you’re ready. I trust you, all right? And I told you Mack would come through. He owes me, remember? I’m just glad he’s turned out to be a man of his word. I was afraid now he’s gone got himself married with kids he’d turn soft, tell me he ain’t doing that kinda shit no more.”
“Just keep me updated, OK? As soon as you hear anything, call me.”
“You take care now, Theo, y’hear me?”
I end the call and throw back my head, looking up at the stars as they twinkle and flash like tiny lights in the sky. Warning lights? Like I’d take any notice anyway. It’s a bit too late for that.
I’m a good guy. Or at least, I used to be. I used to be a lot of things. But now – now all I have to do is listen, and keep my head down, just like Mack told me to do. I haven’t been here, in this Soldiers of Darkness chapter, in any chapter for all that long. And if I wasn’t desperate for the kind of help I need right now I wouldn’t be here at all. But Mack Slayer, he’s giving me that help. He’s offered that help. One quick meeting in a bar, a quiet chat, and all of a sudden things were happening. Because Dom’s right, Mack owes him. My brother took the fall for Mack Slayer a long time ago; did time, for Mack Slayer. And Mack told Dom he’d repay him, one day. That day’s here now. And he’s kept his word.
I’m a good guy. Really, I am. And I don’t belong here, but I am here; part of the Soldiers of Darkness. But I’m here for a reason. And I don’t intend to stick around for too long, either. Once I’m done; once this job is finished I’ll be leaving. I’ll have to. I’ll have no other choice but to get out of here. No other choice…


Gabriel

 “How old is she?” I already know the answers to these questions I'm asking, I just want to make sure everyone else involved is up to speed. And as I wait for the reply I keep my gaze fixed on the blonde haired woman sitting at the table in the room on the other side of the two-way mirror.
“Thirty-two.”
“Looks younger.” I turn my head slightly and glance over at the sallow-faced agent leaning back against the wall, puffing away on an e-cigarette. “Lived within the biker community all her life, huh?”
“Born and brought up.”
“You’d think she’d be a lot smarter than this then, wouldn’t you?” I turn back to face the woman, whose head’s now bowed, her long blonde hair obscuring her face as she absent-mindedly scrapes her fingernails across the tabletop. “Getting caught and all. You’d have thought she’d know how to avoid that happening.”
“She was set up. Framed.”
“So you say.” I drag a hand through my hair. “Still did the crime, though, didn’t she?”
“And we were all ready to charge her pretty ass, until you turned up.”
“Yeah, well, that pretty ass may still be facing a not-so-pretty prison sentence if she isn’t suitable. But if she is…” I narrow my eyes as I watch the woman slowly raise her head and look straight into the mirror, “then she’s coming back to New Mexico, with me.” She drops her gaze again and I turn around so my back’s to the mirror. “I’ll go talk to her. Get this thing moving.”
The agent just nods and takes another draw on his electronic cigarette. “Knock yourself out.”
I’ve waited a long time for a break like this. For someone, like this, to come along and give me that chance I need to bring the Soldiers of Darkness down. To bring Cole Rockwell and the Black Dogs down. I’ve been watching those two clubs, it’s been my job for the past couple of years, to watch those clubs. And I know this front they put up, this community presence they push forward, I know that’s bullshit; nothing but a smokescreen. I know those clubs and the men who run them, they’re bad news, they’re dangerous. Ever since the Soldiers of Darkness arrived in New Mexico I’ve been assigned to keep a very close eye on them. Mack Slayer is the son of Sam Wheeler, a dangerous criminal, a murderer who may have done his time but he’s still considered a man we’re not comfortable having out there on the streets. And Mack Slayer may be back as President of the Soldiers now, but it’s Sam pulling the strings, working with Cole Rockwell to pull off something more than just a weapons drop or a drugs haul. Something’s going on, and I need to know what that is, exactly, because at the minute all we have are rumors and hearsay, we've got nothing concrete. But whatever it is, I need to prove it’s happening. I need to know when it’s happening. And I need to catch these men in the process of carrying out whatever the hell it is they're planning. And as long as this woman listens to me; as long as she’s willing to take a risk, this could be the breakthrough we’ve been looking for. I just need her on side first. And I think that’s actually gonna be an easy call, because she really only has two choices here – take the deal I’m about to offer her, or she’s going to jail. Set up or no set up, it’s her ass on the line.
I need her.
She needs me more.
End of fucking story.


Skye

I look up as the door opens and a tall, stony-faced man walks in, hands in his pockets, his stance sending out a definite ‘I’m taking no shit’ message. He's dressed a bit more casually than the other assorted cops and agents I've seen since I was brought here, and by that I mean his tie's slightly looser around his neck and his jacket's a little creased, and he's wearing jeans, not a full suit.
I keep my eyes on him as he circles the table before he finally sits down opposite me, and I lean forward, resting my chin in my hand as he sits back in his chair and looks straight at me.
“You’re new,” I say, eyeing him slightly warily. He isn’t bad looking, to be fair. Certainly better looking than the string of detectives and FBI agents I’ve had visits from over the past few days. With his slightly square jaw line covered by a short, dark brown beard, deep dark eyes and hair that’s just on the casual side of perfect, he’s not half bad to look at. He’s still an FBI agent, though. And a new one at that, one I haven’t seen around here before so he could be the hottest guy on the planet and I still wouldn’t trust him. I’m trusting no one right now.
“I’m Special Agent Franks.”
“Well, I’d like to say it’s good to meet you, Special Agent Franks, but I’d be spieling you shit if I said that.”
He just looks at me, his expression impassive. OK. This one’s a tougher act than most of the others I’ve had contact with so far.
“When did you move over here, Skye? To the US.?”
“You telling me you don’t already know everything about me?”
Agent Franks laughs quietly and briefly drops his gaze, drumming his fingertips on the tabletop. “OK, Skye, listen to me.” He raises his head and locks eyes with mine. “Let’s just cut the bullshit, all right? You’re in a lot of trouble, you know that, don’t you?”
“I was set up.”
“And you also know that means shit. Because I don’t see anybody rushing to your defense, do you?”
I sit back in my chair, but I keep my eyes on him, I’m not breaking that stare.
“And you don’t seem in any kind of hurry to name any names. So, I’d say we’ve reached a bit of an impasse, wouldn’t you?”
I narrow my eyes slightly, but his expression remains stoic, he’s giving nothing away.
“You here for a reason? ‘Cause all I’ve had for days now is a string of suits like you, talking at me, telling me what’s going to happen and yet, no one’s actually charged me with anything. You here to do that? ‘Cause if you are, let’s just get this shit moving, OK?”
“I’m here to give you a way out, Skye.”
I let the corner of my mouth twist up into a smirk but still his expression doesn’t crack, not a flicker. “A way out, huh?”
“You’re not a stupid girl, sweetheart. You just got caught, but you can get yourself out of this mess. That's why I'm here.”
“Out how, exactly?”
“Immunity. You get your freedom. No charges will be brought against you, you’ll be free. When you’ve finished the job, that is.”
“Job?” I frown. But I’m listening.
“I need you to go undercover for me. As an informant, if you like. I need you to find a way into the Soldiers of Darkness, an MC with chapters all around the country, but the one I need you to concentrate on is a fairly new one that was set up in New Mexico just a couple of years ago.”
My frown deepens as I continue to stare at this man opposite me. But I stay silent. I’m waiting for him to finish. I want to hear everything he has to say first.
“With your help, Skye, there's a good chance we can bring down Mack Slayer, their president, along with his father Sam Wheeler, and a man called Cole Rockwell – president of a club the Soldiers work very closely with. The Black Dogs. You familiar with either of these clubs?”
I shrug, keeping my gaze steady. “I’ve heard their names mentioned.”
“And you, you were part of an MC based in New Jersey, right? Before that your father was president of a chapter of the same club back in England, before he came over here to run the New Jersey branch?”
“Look, you already know all this shit or you wouldn’t be here.”
This time Agent Franks allows himself a slight smile. “Those two clubs, the Soldiers of Darkness and the Black Dogs, we think - we know they’re planning something. We just need to find out exactly what that something is, and when it’s happening. We need details. Confirmation. Because all we've got right now are rumors and hearsay and we can't do shit with that. We need you to get us that confirmation; to give us those details. Do you understand what I'm saying here, Skye? We need those details so we can catch them in the process of carrying out whatever shit they're involved in this time. We get them on this, we get them on a whole mess of other shit, too. Shit we couldn't prove before, everything from racketeering to gun running, and that could just be the tip of the iceberg."
I remain silent. I’m listening to him, I’m taking it all in, but I’m also weighing up what the consequences could be. For me. Because what he’s asking me to do here, it's dangerous.
“We need someone to get close enough to these people to get us the information we need to help us end this case, Skye. And we need that to happen pretty much right away because the rumors are that whatever’s going down, it’s happening sooner rather than later. And right now we are working blind.”
“You want me to wear a wire?” An obvious question, and a rhetorical one, because I already know the answer. Of course they want me to wear a wire. Anything I find out is worth jack shit unless they have concrete proof.
“You won’t actually be wearing a wire as such. These days the devices we use are so tiny they can be hidden almost anywhere. You won’t even know it’s there. And neither will anyone else.” I keep my eyes locked on his. “There’s one club member in particular we’d like you to concentrate on, Skye. A man called Theo Blane. He’s an ex-lawyer who joined the club just a few months back…”
“A lawyer?” Is he fucking kidding me here?
“Yeah. A lawyer. You get many of those in your old club?”
I don’t answer that.
“Something doesn’t feel right about his sudden appearance at the MC, and the fact Mack Slayer took him in without making him go through any of the prospect process first, it’s not sitting right with any of us. We’ve been looking into his background, and we know he has an older brother a prison a few miles outside of Albuquerque, awaiting trial for the murder of a man who attempted to rape Theo’s girlfriend a few months back. None of it seems to add up, and we believe there’s some kind of link between Dominic Blane and Theo’s sudden appearance at the Soldiers’ compound. We think that whatever's about to happen over there, it's connected to the Blane brothers. But we need more than just a theory based on rumors and assumptions.We have an idea, but we need more than that. Without proof of anything; without hard facts and concrete intel we can't do shit.”
“Why me?”
He arches an eyebrow. “Because you are goddamn near perfect for what we need.”
“Well, that’s something I’ve never been called before.”
“You grew up within this culture, Skye. This world, you’re more than familiar with it. You know what to do, how to fit in; you know how it works. And you being British, that’s a bonus. Means you can home straight in on the relatively new Mrs. Slayer. Izzi being British too, and from the same neck of the woods as you, you can use that to gain some kind of foothold, some English solidarity. Make her your friend. That in turn can get you closer to Mack… you need to get them to trust you, Skye. Do you understand? And you need to be able to do that real quick. We want these people off the streets, and you can help us do that.”
“At what cost to me, though, huh? Do you know how dangerous this could be, for me? If anyone found out what I was doing?”
"We know how dangerous this could be..."
"So, what happens afterwards? When it's all over? What happens to me?"
"Witness protection."
I stare at him, saying nothing for a second or two because I need to take this all in. "That means leaving everything behind..."
“You’ll get a new identity, new social security number, a whole new life, Skye. But, yes, everything you knew before, that’ll be gone. You choose not to help us, however, and all you’re gonna get is a criminal record and a couple of years behind bars.”
“Wow. Those options, huh?” I drop my gaze and close my eyes, and I take a long, deep breath before I look back up, but his eyes are still fixed on me. “I’m not just an informant, really, then. Am I?”
“No. The minute you agree to enter the WITSEC program you become a Federal Witness.”
“You really want these guys, don’t you?”
“Yes. We do. And we could just put an agent in undercover, get one of our own to do this job. We could do that. But putting someone like you in there instead…”
“Someone like me?”
His eyes stay fixed on mine. His expression doesn’t waver, he’s practically emotionless. “Someone who knows how their world works, Skye.”
“My father’s club wasn’t like theirs, Agent Franks. We weren’t one percenters.”
“Your father wasn’t a saint, either.”
I laugh, I can’t help it. “Yeah. You really have done your research, huh?”
“We need you, Skye.” He leans forward and steeples his fingers on the tabletop, his eyes still boring deep into mine. “And I’m not sure you’ve got much of a choice here, to be honest. You either help us bring these people down, or you go down.”
I hold his gaze and stop myself from swallowing hard, that could make me appear nervous, and I don’t want this man to see any sign of weakness in me. “I’ll be putting myself in real danger. I mean, I’ll be nothing but a club girl, and a new one at that…”
 “We won’t let anything happen to you, I promise you that. And I think you can handle this. I think you can do this. Because, if you don’t think you can…?”
He’s right.
I’ve got no fucking choice at all.


© Michelle Betham 2016

'Bound ' is available to download now!

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