Riding the edge, p.11
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       Riding the Edge, p.11
 

         Part #4 of Wild Riders series by Jaci Burton
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Page 10

  Author: Jaci Burton

  But considering the hellholes they’d both been raised in, Rick hoped Bo knew better than to involve himself in the same kind of corruption, knowing where he might end up.

  The last thing he’d want to do was arrest his cousin. But if he had to, he would. The Hellraisers would let their own kin rot in jail if they got caught by the cops. And Rick would take his own cousin down if he were dirty.

  That’s just the way it was. In some areas, you didn’t protect family. You had to stand on your own and face the consequences.

  They grabbed some dinner and then hit a bar to kick back and have some beers for a couple hours. Ava went off to chat at a table with Lacey. Bo was off somewhere, so Rick had some time to catch up with guys he hadn’t seen in a while. It was good to hit some downtime, to see what he could find out about what the Hellrasiers were up to. Unfortunately, no one was going to tell him anything, despite his connection as Bo’s cousin. Until Bo gave them the okay to bring Rick into the inner sanctum of the Hellraisers, all the talk was going to be surface at best.

  After dinner, Ava and Lacey wanted to wander the exhibits so he and Bo fell in behind them while the girls shopped. Bo spent most of his time on the phone, so Rick contented himself with watching Ava as she walked ahead with her friend, stopping at a booth to admire jewelry or a painting. While Lacey oohed and aahed over trinkets, Ava seemed more reserved. She didn’t spend money extravagantly. Lacey ran to Bo every time she saw a bauble that caught her eye. Bo would just roll his eyes and fork over the money. And from what Rick could see, Bo had one hell of a wad of cash in his wallet.

  Rick wanted to know where Bo got that kind of money, but knew better than to ask. Asking too many questions too soon would only cause suspicion. It was still time to lay low and wait for Bo to come to him. Rick knew how the game was played. Sooner or later Bo would come around, and then Rick would know what the Hellraisers were up to. Playing it cool was always the best bet. Getting too eager was the easiest way to blow a cover.

  After a couple hours of shopping Bo had had enough and dragged Lacey away from the booths, saying it was time for some guy fun. They were burning rubber at an exhibition at the end of the Strip—where bikers could trash their tires by revving up their engines in one spot and see who could bring up the most smoke. That’s what Bo had wanted to see. Some of the Hellraisers had gone off to do other things, while a group hung with Bo to watch the burnouts.

  Rick glanced over at Ava, who seemed fascinated by all the smoke and noise of the screeching tires. She lifted up on her toes to see the wheels, so he pushed his way into the crowd, pulling her along with him to give her a closer view.

  “This is awesome,” she whispered when he drew her in front of him.

  “Yeah, it can be. ”

  “They’re ruining their tires. ”

  “Yes. ”

  She tilted her head back, her hair brushing his chin. “Why?”

  He laughed. “Because they want to win. ”

  She shook her head and waved at the smoke wafting their way. “Men. Testosterone. Competition. ”

  “Yeah, that’s pretty much it. ”

  The next bike pulled up to try his burnout, and Bo came up behind Rick. “Got a second?”

  “Yeah. ” He leaned down to Ava. “Stay here. I’ll be right back. ”

  Ava nodded, her gaze fixated on the biker who revved the throttle and started spinning his wheels. Rick moved through the crowd with Bo and they rounded the corner, away from the smoke and noise.

  “What’s up?” Rick asked.

  “I need you to make a delivery for me tonight. ”

  “What kind of delivery?”

  Bo’s lips lifted. “I think you know. ” He pulled a small padded envelope out of his pocket.

  Yeah, Rick knew exactly what that was. “Okay, what’s in it?”

  “You don’t need to know that. ”

  Rick frowned. “I don’t make deliveries unless I know what I’m delivering. You tell me what’s in there or I walk. ”

  Bo studied him for a second and Rick read the anger in his eyes. Tough shit. Rick wasn’t going to be played by anyone, including his cousin.

  “Coke. ”

  “Fine. Where’s it going?”

  Bo gave him the name and address of the delivery—some liquor store in the city, but not on the Strip.

  “Ask for T-bone. Buy a bottle of Jack Daniel’s. He’ll meet you around back and hand you the money. ”

  Bo was specific about the amount of money Rick was supposed to get.

  “I want you in my hotel room with the cash right after that. ”

  “What, you don’t want me spending some of the profits at the Venetian?”

  “Funny. Just bring it to me and you’ll get paid. ”

  Rick took the package and slid it inside his jacket. “Sounds easy enough. When do you want the drop made?”

  “Before midnight when the store closes. Meet me back at my room at the hotel. ”

  “You got it. ”

  Rick pivoted around the corner and went back to find Ava. Along the way, he pulled out his cell phone and sent a quick text message to General Lee, letting him know he’d just been recruited by Bo to make a drug drop. He had to maintain cover, so it wasn’t like he could tell Bo what he really did for a living, which meant he was going to have to break the law. But everything he did gathered evidence against the Hellraisers.

  Not ideal, considering Bo was his cousin, but Bo had made his own bed. There wasn’t much Rick could do about that. Just like the Hellraisers had cut ties with Rick after Rick disappeared, a bond only went so far.

  And it wasn’t like he could have turned down the job. To get back into the Hellraisers he had to be a Hellraiser, 100 percent. He felt a momentary shadow of guilt over what he was doing, but brushed it aside. Bo was dirty.

  He dug into the crowd by the burnout demo to find Ava. She hadn’t moved, but a couple bikers had muscled in and flanked her. She was talking to them—laughing as they pointed out what was happening.

  Rick pushed back his irritation at seeing the guys trying to muscle in on his woman.

  He stopped himself. Ava wasn’t his woman. She didn’t belong to him. He was on a case. She wasn’t his girlfriend.

  Jesus. He really needed to get a grip and remember his priorities.

  Still, seeing one of the guys rub her back made him want to break the dude’s arm. Which meant he was getting closer to Ava than he should.

  But wasn’t that the assignment? He just didn’t want another guy stealing her away. Then he couldn’t do his job. That was it, and that’s all it was. Nothing more.

  He nudged a few people aside and elbowed the back-rubber out of the way, moving to Ava’s side. Her face brightened with a smile.

  “Oh, hey, I thought I’d lost you. ”

  He leaned in and pressed a long, soft kiss to her lips. “Not a chance. Sorry I was gone so long. ”

  She licked her lips, her pink tongue darting out to sweep along her bottom lip. His dick noticed, quivering to attention.

  “It’s okay. Axe and Roger kept me company. ”

  She seemed comfortable enough with the two guys. Did she know them? Had he been wrong about how naïve she was about the gang? Maybe she knew more than he thought. And maybe she didn’t. That’s what he was here to find out.

  Either way, he didn’t like the guys being so close to her. Rick slung his arm around Ava’s shoulder and sent a very clear signal to the two men, who backed away instantly. “I’ll just bet they did. ”

  “No, really, they were very nice. ”

  “Uh huh. Let’s go. ”

  He’d been planning to leave her here to hang out while he ran the errand for Bo. But now that he saw two guys moving in on her? No fucking way was he leaving her alone.

  He moved them out of the crowd and headed down the street where his bike was parked.


  “Where are we going? And why are you so angry?”

  “For a ride. And I’m not angry. ”

  “Yes you are. You’re all tensed up and your teeth are clenched. ”

  He relaxed his muscles, turned to her, and gritted out a smile. “There. Better?”

  She laughed. “Not really. But nice try. ”

  She didn’t seem upset, instead looped her arm through his while they walked, which helped to dissolve his anger. They climbed on the bike and took off.

  The ride to the liquor store took almost thirty minutes. Traffic was getting heavier because of the influx of bikers, so the streets were crowded. But at this time of night and the fact that most of the events wouldn’t start until tomorrow, it wasn’t bad. Besides, he’d grown up here, so he knew all the side roads to take.

  He pulled up in front of the liquor store and climbed off. Then turned to Ava, hating that he’d brought her along. This wasn’t the place for her. Shitty neighborhood. But he couldn’t very well drag her inside with him.

  Fuck. He had to do this quick.

  “I’ll be right back. Just hang out here. ”

  Ava looked around, probably not thrilled with the prospect of being left alone in this part of the city. He couldn’t blame her but there wasn’t much he could do about it. If for some reason this sale went bad and he got busted he didn’t want her in there with him.

  “I promise, I’ll be right back. ”

  She nodded and he strolled inside, the envelope tucked into the inside of his jacket.

  The only person working was a guy sporting a red Mohawk and more tattoos than he could count.

  “I need to see T-bone. ”

  The dude lifted his head. “Yeah? Why?”

  Rick shrugged. “I don’t know. I guess Bo thought I could get a good deal on whiskey here. ”

  T-bone eyed him up and down. “I’m T-bone. What kind of whiskey you like?”

  “Jack Daniel’s. ”

  T-bone nodded. “That’ll work. ”

  T-bone rang up the small bottle of Jack. Rick put it in his jacket, then circled out the front door, raised his hand to Ava to tell her to stay put. He strolled around the corner and toward the back of the store. T-bone was waiting for him. Rick handed him the package. T-bone opened it, nodded, and handed Rick an envelope. Rick pulled it open and flipped through the bills. Satisfied it was the right amount of money, Rick slid the envelope into his inside coat pocket. Without a word he went back to the bike.

  “Where did you go?” Ava asked as Rick put on his helmet and got back on the bike.

  “I had to take a leak. ”

  She laughed, which meant she’d bought his excuse. “Oh. How convenient to be a guy where the world is your urinal. ”

  He shot her a grin over his shoulder. “Isn’t it?” He started up the bike and headed out of there, hating that he’d just broken the law, even if he was undercover and therefore immune from prosecution. It still didn’t sit right with him. But he had to do what was necessary to stay with the Hellraisers, and saying no to Bo wasn’t an option.

  “Where are we going now?” Ava asked over his shoulder.

  “Back to the hotel. ”

  “Oh. Okay. ”

  They parked the bike and headed to the elevators. Ava frowned when Rick pushed the button.

  “That’s not our floor. ”

  “No, it’s not. I need to stop at Bo’s room for a minute. ”

  “Why?”

  “I need to talk to him. ”

  “Couldn’t you just call him?”

  “No. ”

  “Why not?”

  He rolled his eyes as they walked down the hallway. Intelligent women were really difficult sometimes. “Because I need to talk to him in person. ”

  “Why?”

  Fortunately, they got to the door just in time. He was running out of lame responses. He knocked. No answer. Knocked again, harder this time, hoping he’d be heard over the loud music and laughter coming from Bo’s room. The door finally opened. Bo stood there, shirtless, a bottle of beer in his hands, his jeans unbuttoned.
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