David glared at me as his thumb pressed harder into my throat. “They’re really falling down on their job at the academy.”
“E-excuse m-me?” I stammered.
With a smirk, he replied, “Don’t they train you ATF bitches to hide your fear a little better? I mean, you’re practically pissing your pants right now, not to mention your heart is beating ninety to nothing.”
I shook my head slowly back and forth as I tried processing his words. “ATF? I don’t understand.”
He rolled his eyes. “A white-bread piece of ass comes waltzing into my clubhouse, wanting to talk to me alone. It doesn’t take a fucking genius to realize you’re a Fed.”
A Fed? It took me a moment to process what he meant. Holy shit. He thought I worked for the government as an agent of some sort. Quickly, I replied, “No, I’m not.”
A voice came from behind him. “Deacon, man, you’re gonna get your ass jacked up even further for this.”
Glancing over his shoulder, Deacon said to the young, blond-haired man, “Stay out of this, Bishop.”
Bishop held up his hands. “Fine. It’s your fucking funeral.”
David’s hand slid down my throat to the buttons on my dress. Glancing over his shoulder at the others, he questioned, “What do you bet she’s wired up under her tits?”
When his hands started to rip open my dress, I couldn’t hold back my scream. “No, stop! I’m not who you think I am. I swear!” I protested.
“Then just who the hell are you?” he demanded.
Before I could answer, a tiny voice came from behind us. “Miss Alex?”
The sound of Willow’s voice caused David to release his hold on my dress, but his body still kept me pinned to the wall. At that same moment, Rev entered the clubhouse. When he saw me, his eyes bulged, and he broke into a run to reach us. Grabbing David’s shoulders, he slung him away from me. “For fuck’s sake, Deacon, what the hell are you doing?”
“I’m giving this undercover ATF bitch what she deserves,” Deacon spat, taking a step back toward me.
“Christ, she’s not ATF,” Rev countered.
“Oh, then who the hell is she?”
“She’s my teacher … and my friend,” Willow answered in a small voice.
David, or Deacon, stared open-mouthed from me to Willow. “I think that’s the most I’ve heard you say since you got here.”
Willow didn’t respond to him. Instead, she came bounding over to me and threw her arms around my waist. “I’ve missed you, Miss Alex.”
Leaning over, I kissed the top of her head. “I’ve missed you, too, sweetheart. I’ve been worried about you since you haven’t been in school.”
She gazed up at me, her lips pulling into a frown. “Deacon says I need to stay close to home because someone wants to hurt me.” Clinging to me tighter, she whispered, “I think it’s Mean Man.”
I squeezed her tight. No child her age should have to go through all she had, not to mention what she seemed to be still experiencing with her new life. I knew through her grandmother that she was in outside therapy twice a week, along with the daily check-ins she did with our school psychologist. It was almost miraculous the strides she was making.
As I swayed her back and forth in my arms, I couldn’t help wondering exactly how she fit into the biker world. Her father sure hadn’t been what I was expecting. I’d expected someone negligent, not the surly, aggressive man who had greeted me so forcefully. How was it possible he cared for Willow? He didn’t seem to have a tenderhearted bone in his body, and Willow so desperately needed tenderness in her life.
Wanting to cheer her up, I plastered a smile on my face. “I have some things for you.”
“You do?” she asked, her dark eyes dancing with excitement.
Nodding, I bent down to pick up my bag where it had fallen during my scuffle with Deacon. I pulled out the card I’d had the other children make, along with some of the small art projects she had missed. “Everyone in your class is missing you. I didn’t want you to get behind, so I brought some of the work you’ve missed. Why don’t you go start on some of it while I talk to your daddy?”
She grinned. “Okay.”
The busty woman held out her hand, and Willow happily took it. When they took a seat at the bar across the room from us, I exhaled a long breath. Willow’s world seemed too overwhelming. “Mr. Malloy, we need to talk.”
Deacon ran his hand through his thick, dark hair. “I don’t know what to say.”
“How about starting with ‘sorry,’ you asshole?” Rev suggested, glowering at him.
Deacon stared at me intently as if he were seeing me for the first time. “I’m sorry. I really thought you were someone else.”
After smoothing down my dress where it had been manhandled by Deacon, I tried gathering my wits. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t seem to form any coherent thoughts. With Willow, I was in my element and could easily find the right words to say. Her father was a different story. “Do you often welcome strangers by manhandling them?” I asked.
His brows rose at my words and tone. “I’m sorry that I mistook you for an ATF agent.” He gestured to me. “It’s not like we see your kind around here a lot unless they’re a Fed and looking for an angle.”
“I don’t think I even want to ask why a simple bar and pawnshop would raise the attention of federal agents.”
“No, babe, you don’t.”
I had to bite my tongue to keep from telling him to stop calling me something so sexist. At the same time as I was enraged by his behavior, goose bumps of attraction rose along my arms. I couldn’t believe I was slightly turned on by this asshole.
He motioned me to follow him with a flick of his hand. “Come on.”
After exchanging a glance with Rev, I reluctantly followed Deacon into a room to the left of the bar. When he shut the door behind us, I couldn’t help jumping at the sound. A slow smirk curved across his lips. “Do I make you nervous?”
Licking my dry lips, I replied, “Just a little.”
“What about Rev? Does he make you nervous?”
I shook my head. “No, he doesn’t.”
Deacon crossed his arms over his chest. “And why is that?”
“Regardless of his size, there is a kindness about him. Plus, he came to my rescue back there.” Jerking my chin up, I said, “I couldn’t imagine him ever hurting anyone.”
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