By: Jayne Blue

My phone buzzed in my back pocket and I pulled it out. No matter what else happened, I needed to bring this to the table. Colt and Kellan needed in on it too. I looked at the caller ID and let out a breath. Better to rip this particular Band-Aid off sooner rather than later.

“Anderson,” I said into the phone.

I heard a breath. Then another. I imagined she was on the other end working up the courage to say whatever she wanted to say.

“Brax?” Nicole’s voice was shaky. She was out of breath.


She cleared her throat. “I’m sorry to bother. I called The Wolf Den. Your friend Tate gave me your number. Don’t be mad at him. I kind of insisted.”

“It’s okay. What’s up?”

“I’ve heard from Doug.”

My heart dropped. I could tell by her tone whatever he’d said to her had scared the shit out of her.

“How much does he want this time?” Sure, it was insensitive of me, but this girl needed to start facing the truth.

“Brax, he sounded really scared. He thinks someone’s going to kill him. I think maybe he’s out of time.”

I choked back the thing I wanted to say next. He’s probably right, honey.

“Nicole. I want you to listen to me very carefully. Don’t give him any money. Do you understand what I’m telling you? Doug’s got bigger problems than I think you realize.”

“Do you know where he is? Were you able to find anything out?”

Shit. This was the wrong way to play this. I should have just told her sorry, but this isn’t my problem. Your brother ain’t worth the inevitable shit storm to my club.

“Honey, you need to tell me you understand what I’m saying to you.”

She let out a choked sound that tore at me a little. I felt like an ass. Doug Ridley was just another dipshit user. But to Nicole he was family. Fucking family. She started to cry.

“Shit. I’m sorry. Can we meet? You got time for coffee? I’ll come to you. Just promise me you won’t give any more money to that dip—your brother until I see you.”

She sniffled into the phone and I took that as a yes.

“Where are you, honey?”

“What?” She gave a proper snort into the phone that actually pierced my ear. “Oh. I thought you knew. I’m at the parlor right now.”

“The parlor?”

“Ridley’s Ice Cream? My dad’s place. I run it now.”

I couldn’t help but smile. An ice cream shop. The Homecoming Queen now ran the family ice cream shop. God. What the hell was I getting myself into?

“Can you come? We’re pretty dead right now. I’m here by myself. I don’t have anyone coming in until after two o’clock. We get a little busy right after school lets out.”

“I’m on my way,” I said, already revving my engine. I tore off toward the center of town.

Dammit. Going to see her again was probably a mistake. Why couldn’t I have just told her I was out over the phone? Because I wanted to see her again. Bad. Maybe the rest of the guys were right. I couldn’t seem to stop thinking with my dick. A pissed-off hostess was one thing. Borrowing trouble from a rival club was something else. I made the turn toward the center of town and parked right in front of City Hall. The ice cream parlor was tucked on a corner between Hubbard’s Barber Shop and Robert’s Dry Cleaners.

Ridley’s Ice Cream Shop. Fuck. I don’t think I’d ever been in the place. Not my kind of crowd. I looked left and right, half expecting someone to laugh as they watched me walk in. The place was empty, just like Nicole predicted. I weaved my way around the red leather booths and black-and-white-checkered tabletops. The place was clean. White bread. It felt a little like stepping into a 1950s time capsule.

She came out from the kitchen looking like a sweet treat herself. A cotton-candy-pink polyester dress with a stiff collar and a little white apron in front. The short skirt barely covered her ass and I couldn’t help fantasizing about what she’d look like bent over in it. My jeans got tight and I blew out a breath as I approached her. Nicole might have been dressed like candy, but she had fire in her eyes as I towered over her.

“What do you know, Brax? Tell me.”

So that was it. No preamble. No tears. Nicole had steeled her back to hear me deliver the bad news.

“Cute dress,” I said, not able to help myself. My smile grew wide when she flashed me her middle finger. Dammit. I liked this girl more and more.

“I’m not going to make my waitresses wear something I wouldn’t. It’s kind of a tradition. Part of the draw.”

I nodded. “Yeah. I can see why. I’m impressed. Can we sit down?”

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