Hard Rider (Bad Boy Bikers Book 1)(10)

By: Lydia Pax

But less money for the club, for his brothers, meant a harder life for them. There was no worse crime for a Crew member than to fuck up the spot of his brother.

Anger kicked in, pushing away the guilt.

“What the fuck?” said Ram. “You saw where I was going in the bar. Why didn't you stop anything?”

Mikhail raised an eyebrow. “Sure,” he said. “And then, for my next trick, I'll stop this oncoming train with my pinky finger. And while I'm doing the rest of your chores for you, I'll pick up your laundry, how's that?”

Ram was quieted by that, fuming to himself. A part of him knew Mikhail had a point—that every man's actions were his own. But goddamn if he would admit out in the open of these others, or even to himself.

There was a way to pin all this on Beretta, and he would find it. He would nail that fucker's ass to the wall and make him pay. The war would be a good thing, they'd see. They'd double their territory and halve their enemies.

“You’re fucked, Ram,” growled Howitzer. “And you’ve been fucked for a while. The Flags'll shoot you dead next chance they get. Rumors are going around that the cops want to pin this on some Crew member, and you're the most high-profile member we got. No one wants to see you on the roads anymore. I hate to say it, kid, but you need to take a break for a long while.”

Ram's tongue made a slow circle inside his bottom lip. “What the hell are you talking about?”

“You’re flying off the handle every chance you get. You’re fucking your way through half the town’s broads. You’ve got into more fights in the last six months than I can even count, and that’s the ones these lazy fucks will actually tell me about when they’re not protecting you.” He waved a hand at Rowdy and Cattleprod. “I know you protect him. I’m not blind.” He leaned forward, shaking his fist. “You think you lost the election to Ace because everyone just wanted to 'give him a chance?' We're scared of you, Ram. You've gone off the reservation.”

Six weeks ago, Ace had run for Sergeant-at-Arms—Ram's position—at the annual election. He had won handily, but not unanimously. Ram had accepted the change in position graciously, getting Ace drunk as hell and dunking him in a nearby pond.

This was just tradition. Any change in office had to be accompanied by a little bit of good-natured rowdiness.

But to think that it had been arranged, that his father and Ace had conspired...that was a blow. That was a deep blow. And it would explain a lot of things. Ace had been distant as of late, and had insisted on going out with Ram more often than not.

Keeping an eye on him? Trying to make sure Ram didn't get out of hand?

But if that was true, then why the fuck didn't Ace put a handle on the situation last night? What kind of Sergeant-at-Arms was he being then? Why was Ram the only one responsible for shit going wrong?

Even his own brothers moved against him.

But he would show them.

“It's not that bad,” said Ram. “We can take the Flags. You know we can. If you'll—”

“You. Started. A war. Do you have any idea what that means? Actions have consequences, Ram. We're down on men and you want a war. How many more do you think we can spare to lose?”

Now that, Ram had to admit—though he would never do so out loud—was a solid point. The police had taken several of their number off the road over the past six months. Most of the time on drug charges, which meant those brothers were fucked for a long time unless they could get a re-trial. The Sheriff's Department definitely had it out for the Wrecking Crew lately.

Howitzer shook his head. “You’re off the road. Probation. This is an executive action I’m taking as Prez, got it?”

“You can’t do that.” Ram, somehow, was even-keeled in his voice. There was a heavy, hard temper throbbing at his forehead, begging to be unleashed, but he kept it at bay. “You can’t.”

“Why, because you’re my son? Fuck that. I didn’t raise you to be such a fuck-up.”

Ram bit down hard on the litany of insults that wanted to spring up, deriding Howitzer's ability to “raise” anyone at all. Raising children didn't involve leaving all the work to your oldest daughter and then shoving your son into the life of an outlaw motorcycle club at the age of thirteen, last he checked.

Not that he minded that much.

“No,” said Ram. “Because you can’t make decisions like that on your own. Not unless we signed up with a dictatorship. Did we, boys?”

Rowdy, Cattleprod, and Mikhail exchanged glances. It was clear that they—Rowdy and Cattleprod at least—were already on board with the idea of probation. But they knew Ram was right.

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