The unfortunate Melanie looked around, then realized she was surrounded by men who took their lead from the Reapers president.
“Fuck . . .”
“Maybe we’ll do that, too,” Painter said. Then he caught her arms and started dragging her toward the door. She screamed again, this time in fear. I saw Darcy push forward, face determined. Boonie caught her. Melanie started slapping at Painter and he laughed. Then he picked her up in a firefighter’s carry and walked out the door.
Silence filled the room. After an eternity, Darcy spun and glared at Boonie until he let her go, then she glared at the rest of us, too.
“The kitchen is fucking closed,” she announced. “I’m going home.”
Then she stalked out the front door without looking back. Boonie shook his head and I heard several of the guys laugh.
Jesus. What had just happened?
“Becca?” Puck stood below me, his expression serious. “You need a hand down?”
“No,” I said quickly. What I needed was to get the hell out of this clubhouse. I had no idea who that woman was or why Painter had been fighting, but I knew a bad thing when I saw it. I dropped to my butt and slid off the bar. “Can we go home?”
“Yeah,” Puck said. “Night didn’t quite go the way I expected.”
He took my hand, stopped off to say good-bye to Boonie, Picnic, and a few others. I didn’t look at anyone—I was way too busy trying not to freak the hell out. Then we were on Puck’s bike and he kicked it to life, roaring off down the road. I held him tight, burying my head in his back, wondering what I should say to him when we got home.
“I think you should go back to your place tonight,” Becca told me. We stood outside her apartment, which she had taken care not to unlock. Message received. “I need to think about what happened.”
“Let’s talk about it,” I replied, knowing I was fucked here. Becca was all kinds of screwed up in her head. That little show Painter put on with Melanie obviously set her emotions spinning.
“I think I saw everything pretty clearly.” Her face had closed off and she wouldn’t look at me.
“No, I think you saw something so far out of fucking context you couldn’t possibly understand it,” I argued. “Just tell me this—before the fight, were you having a good time?”
She glanced away, then nodded.
“You know I was.”
“Don’t judge what you don’t understand. That’s between them, and believe me—it’s complicated and it’s nobody’s business but theirs. Not yours, not mine, not the club’s.”
“Doesn’t it bother you that he just hauled her out of there? It’s kidnapping!”
Becca turned on me, eyes full of fire again. Excellent—I could handle her anger. That creepy, silent indifference was a thousand times worse.
“Picnic Hayes is practically that girl’s stepdad.”
She froze. Fuck. Stepdads weren’t the good guys in her world.
“Make that her foster dad,” I explained. “More like you and Earl. Shit. He’s married to the woman who helped raise her. London. Look, this is all coming out wrong. Just believe me when I say he wouldn’t let her get hurt. He’s just tired of getting caught in the middle because they’re determined to fight with each other. They have shit they need to work out—a lot of shit. Maybe now they’ll do it. That’s what was really happening last night. Painter would die before he hurt her.”
“He sure as hell hurt the guy she was with. What was that all about?”
“Like I said—complicated,” I said, rubbing a hand through my hair. “Let’s go inside.”
“No,” Becca said, but she didn’t sound angry anymore. Just tired. “I need some time to think. This has all happened way too fast.”
Bullshit. So what if we’d gotten together fast—we had five years of history between us, the kind of history that accelerated things.
“Are you blowing me off?”
“No.” She shook her head. “I mean, kind of. Just for tonight. I need a break, Puck. Think how much my life has changed this past week. I want some time alone.”
More bullshit. I wanted to grab her like Painter had grabbed Mel, throw her over my shoulder and teach her who she belonged to. Me. Now and forever. But Becca wasn’t Mel, and she needed space. I could do that for a night. One night. Then I’d set her straight.
“I probably won’t see you again until you get off shift tomorrow night,” I said, thinking of our raid on the Vegas Belles. “Got shit going on all day.”
Her face twisted, and for an instant I thought she might cry. Then she shook her head again, even as she leaned into me, wrapping her arms around my body.
“I’m just really tired,” she said. “I want to sleep by myself. Why don’t we meet for dinner on Friday, talk things through then. Or maybe—if you aren’t busy tomorrow night—you could stop by the Moose?”
I hugged her, kissing the top of her head.
“Go to bed,” I said, hating the words. “If I can’t make the Moose, we’ll talk on Friday.”
There was another problem. At some point we’d need to figure out a better schedule. Between work and school, she hardly had anything left for me. Maybe she’d let me help her out a little? Becca nodded, then turned and dug a key out of her pocket. I’d have to get her a better lock, I decided. This piece of shit was way too easy to pick.