Authors: Kathryn Thomas
This is a work of fiction. Any names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons--living or dead--is entirely coincidental.
Ignition copyright @ 2015 by Kathryn Thomas. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embedded in critical articles or reviews.
Book 2 of the
Black Legion MC
Leaving home nearly as soon as she arrived, Lena’s mind whirled as Deerfield started to slip from her view again. No stopping for gas or to purchase a fresh pack of smokes from Mac Arnold, and she quietly hoped that Jax had taken the time to stock up on both fronts. Because they had to keep riding hard.
And in short order, she would need a drag.
Jax avoided the exit ramp and cut across the railroad tracks, just avoiding the gate as it started its slow descent and a train’s horn blared in the near distance. She closed her eyes and almost feared a fatal crash, but Jax hit the gas harder and winked at her from over his shoulder.
“Got to move fast,” he said. “Can’t let even one thing hold us up.”
Even as that made all kinds of sense in her mind, Lena’s heart still pounded in her chest as the train moved at a quick clip behind her back. Her hair whipped in the wind behind her neck, and she clung to his was waist as she lifted her lips to his ear.
“Don’t take too many chances,” she cried over the roar of his engine. “We want to get where we’re going in one piece, right?”
“That’s the plan, Lena. And come hell or high water, I’m sticking to it.”
Turning off the main road, Jax slightly slowed his chopper as his tires dug into a thin strip of dirt resting under a canopy of trees. The cover of the branches caused her to feel somewhat more secure, but as they moved deeper into the woods, as Jax kept veering left then right then back again, she lost all sense of direction. If something were to happen to his bike right now, if one of his tires were to catch on a stray stone or a fallen twig, Lena had to wonder how she would even take two steps in the right direction much less make her way home – not that going back was really a viable option, but she struggled to steady her trembling hands against his broad chest as they kept drifting farther and farther into the unknown.
“Lena?” For a split second, Jax’s palms abandoned the handlebars, and he pressed her fingers close to his heart.
Again he started to look at her, and Lena wanted more of his eyes; it was the only familiar sight at hand. But as the bike hit a rut in the road and Lena’s worst fears seemed on the verge of coming true, she abandoned his hand and forced his face back to the narrow road. “I’m fine,” she insisted. “Just… just keep riding.”
He kissed her fingers quickly before his entire focus was back on the way ahead. Sliding up a slope, Jax gunned the bike again as they drifted downhill, and a light scream left Lena’s lips. “It’s okay,” he promised. “I’ve done this a hundred times.”
“You’ve had to get the hell out of a dodge on, like, a moment’s notice?” Lena asked.
“Tested the waters a few times. Just wanted to be sure of every way out.”
Jax offered nothing else, and Lena sighed as the road flattened again. But her mind still rolled around the idea of him always thinking of escape. Was that something new or something he failed to share with her in days gone by? Keeping her questions to herself, Lena settled into the glide and started to mind the gravel and dirt smacking against her ankles less and less when Jax finally slowed to a proper stop and dismounted.
“Rest for a minute?” he asked.
“Do we have the time to spare?”
“Couple seconds won’t kill us.”
That remained to be seen, but she hoped he was right. Curling her arms around his neck, Lena let him lift her from the bike and held him tight as she slid down his chest, her toes barely touching the ground as she gazed up into his eyes.
“You doing okay?” he asked.
Lena answered him with a slow kiss, and she sighed into feel of his lips surrounding hers. Jax’s hands moved up her back and, when his touch settled in her hair, she drew him even closer. All was silent, save for a few birds chirping and the breeze blowing through the trees. She shuddered against the wind, but warmth of his hold poked under her skin and swirled around her soul. Wanting more of him again, all of him, she started to fall to earth when a sharp crack pierced her ears.
“What was that?” she asked in a quivering voice as Jax pushed her behind his back and drew his gun.
“Stay here,” he ordered as he started to pull away from her.
“Like hell I am.”
“Lena, don’t argue with me.”
“I’m didn’t come all this way with you just to get left behind in the woods, Jax.” She gripped his arm and fixed him with a sure stare.
He started to speak, but suddenly his shoulders sagged in resignation as he patted her back. “Just be sure to stay close,” he whispered. “Where I can keep an eye on you.” Stealthily slipping through the trees, Jax kept the barrel of his gun aimed at the open air, his eyes shifting every which way as they stepped together.
Lena saw nothing, heard nothing else, and she imagined Eric Stiles lying in wait, ready to injure his stepson or worse. What would happen to her if she fell into his hands? Her uncle barely had a leg to stand on, and without Jax’s protection, she feared that she--- “What was that?”
Lena’s sharp cry lifted towards the branches, and she clung to Jax’s back as his finger tightened around the trigger. She could almost hear the bullet leaving the chamber when Jax pulled the gun back to his side and laughed lightly.
“What’s the matter with you?” she asked.
“Take a look, Lena.”
Peering through the crook of his arm, Lena spied a frightened doe trying to make its way through the glade, its shiny hooves snapping twigs into smaller bits of bark. When the animal saw them staring at her, she seemed unsure of her next move, and Lena lifted her body against Jax’s back and smiled softly. “Here we thought someone was after us,” she said.
“Bet this one thinks it’s the other way around.”
Jax started to step forward when the doe suddenly bolted. Leaping over a fallen tree, the animal scampered off into the distance, and she joined in Jax’s laughter as he turned her around to face him.
“Still out of danger,” he promised.
“I hope you can keep it that way.”
As soon as she saw his smile start to fall into a frown, she reached under his chin and cradled his jaw, pulling him closer for another kiss as she fondled his hair.
“Just watch me, Lena.”
She sighed in delight at the feel of him lifting her off the ground, and as he carried her back to the bike, her body nearly back on the seat, Lena slipped to the ground and kissed his neck.
“Can I ask you for something first?”
“Anything, Lena. Although we really shouldn’t take any more time.”
His fingers trailed up her skirt, and Lena moaned at the feel of hand on her thigh when she reluctantly shook her head over her shoulders. “Not that. Not that I don’t want to.”
“Then what, Lena?” He waited as she licked her lips.
“A drag, Jax?” she asked.
Jax cocked his head to the side as he shifted back from the place where he stood. “Thought you only really liked the smell?” he teased.
“Right now my nerves say otherwise.”
He drew a stick from the pack and lit it fast, inhaling around the embers as he handed her the smoke. “Can’t have that,” he continued. “Let’s hope this calms you down.”
Pulling on the cigarette, she choked at the smoke pouring down her throat and barely stifled a cough when his eyes flashed over a fresh smile.
“Same old Lena,” he said.
“In some ways. But not all.”
Puffing again, she started to hang her head when he lifted her face to his eyes and stroked her cheeks. “You were with me,” he started. “You were only ever with me. The rest of it just doesn’t matter. Not to me.” His soft lips touched her brow, and she let the smoldering cigarette fall to the soil as he breathed into her neck. “Not to us.”
The sound of that felt right, and she kissed his nose as she patted his cheek. “We keep moving?” she asked.
“Glad we’re on the same page.”
The woods continued to race by when more and more of the sky came into view. Despite the asphalt suddenly racing underneath them, Lena saw nothing but open fields and the stars just starting to poke through the sky. Nothing that even suggested the cover they needed most, and just when she was on the verge of fearing Jax had miscalculated and taken them somewhere far more dangerous than Deerfield, her eyes fixed on a small structure well off the road.
Jax turned towards the sight, and Lena narrowed her eyes as a small house came into view. Passing the domicile, Jax brought his bike to a stop near the edge of a rickety shed and stepped away slowly. His arms were tender as he helped her off the chopper, and after he hid the bike from view, he returned to her side and took her hand. “We’re here,” he whispered. “Now we can rest.”
Exhaustion wafted over her in waves, and Lena snuggled close to his side. Sleep seemed the sweetest thing, and she could almost feel the sheets drifting over her body when a shadowy figure hit the porch.
“No, Jax!” she screamed. “We have to go back. Someone’s here!”
“Relax, Lena. It’s okay.”
She still muttered and moaned as he pressed his chest to her back and forced her eyes forward.
“Just Artie,” he whispered. “See?”
The bald man lumbered off the porch and awkwardly brushed his hands against his jeans as he struggled to smile. “All secure,” Artie said. “Main roads were way quicker.”
“But you weren’t followed, right?” Jax asked.
“So what if I was? Just a joyride. I’m not the one with a mark on my back.”
Lena tugged on his sleeve, but Jax kissed the top of her head and clenched his jaw. “That’s why I took the back way,” Jax said. “And the place is all good?”
“All good,” Artie echoed with a nod. His eyes softened at the sight of Lena, and she managed to keep her eyes steady as he touched her cheek. “You’re safe here,” he assured her. “At least for tonight.”
But would that be long enough? What about tomorrow and the next day? She started to ask Jax for the next step when he pushed away from her and seized Artie’s arm.
“You gonna buy me more time, right,” Jax pressed.
“I wasted a whole fucking day securing the perimeter!” Artie insisted. “What more do you need?”
“A chance,” Jax said. “I need Lena protected so I can make my way to the other side.”
Sensing the trace of a sneer in Artie’s stare, Lena started to cower when the bald man’s face softened slightly and he patted Jax’s back.
“She is pretty,” Artie said. Lena folded her arms across her chest and flinched as he stepped to her side. Thinking his designs mean-minded, she wondered why Jax wasn’t leaping to her defense when Artie just pinched her cheek with a grin. “Kind of get why you would go to all this trouble.”
Lena relaxed as Artie turned away, and she hurried towards the house when her ears perked at the sound of Artie’s whisper.
“You sure, Kid? Sure this is the right call?”
Her eyes locked on Jax’s, and he nodded with a smile. “For her, I’d do just about anything.”