As I fall deeper and deeper under her spell, I find I can’t deny her anything.
Styx (Salvation’s Bane MC 10)
Jolene: My life’s a shit show. When I gave my virginity to a Hatfield, my family disowned me. And that Hatfield I trusted? He set me up to be raped. Then another Hatfield picked me up out of a ditch and saved me. He turned out to be the kindest man I’ve ever met. Now I need to shake him long enough to get my revenge. I just hope when I’m done, he’ll take me back.
Styx: I left this little hick town years ago. I only came back to pick up a rare Mercedes Maybach for my club. I know the area – and the man who has the car. Marshall McCoy. So when I find his daughter on the side of the road, beaten and bloody, my first instinct is set up. But I can’t leave her. Even though I know there will be hell to pay.
Ripper (Salvation’s Bane MC 11)
Emmanuell: Once upon a time, I was a princess -- OK, an heiress -- who stood to inherit nothing. All that ended the night I left with a man I hardly knew for a quick getaway that turned into a nightmare. Little did I know I was about to find my salvation in the most unlikely of places.
Ripper: When this little pixie shows up on the clubhouse doorstep looking for her baby daddy, turns out she’s the subject of a statewide missing person search. There’s no way Salvation’s Bane doesn’t end up in a world of hurt if she’s found here. There’s just one tiny problem. The second I see her, I know she’s mine. And I will reign down hell on the man who left her homeless and on her own.
Warning: Styx/Ripper Duet includes scenes of sexual abuse and vigilante justice that may be triggers for some readers. Guaranteed HEA.
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Styx/Ripper Duet (Print)
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Copyright ©2023 Marteeka Karland
Excerpt from Styx
How could one place be so God-awful redneck? Always had been. Every fucking neighborhood in town had at least one car up on concrete blocks and numerous pink flamingos in the front fucking yard. Nothing had fucking changed since I was a teenager.
Red had a tip on a Mercedes Maybach that was supposedly being held in storage until the right buyer came along. In this fucking hick town. I had my doubts, but Red said it had been confirmed by our intel guy, Ripper. If Ripper said that’s the way it was? Well. I’d gotten on a plane to fucking West Virginia, hadn’t I?
My job was to scout. Using the little gizmos Red’s woman, Rosanna, had developed, I had no doubt I could steal the car. The problem was getting it out of storage and into the enclosed trailer. Again, Ripper was on the issue.
Poison and Lock pulled up to the designated area about half a mile from where the car was being stored. They’d driven a nondescript Ford with a beat-up-looking trailer, and another, smaller car to act as lookout for the payload on the way home. Smokey and the Bandit style. The car was rough looking, but souped up under the hood. Hopefully, the extra horsepower wouldn’t be needed, but better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. Neither looked new, nor did they appear in disrepair. The vehicles were designed to blend in. To not stand out anywhere they went.
The plan was to load the car and get out of this place as quickly as possible. Use the app to give the thing a new VIN number and program our own FOB. Lose ourselves on the interstate, then the lesser traveled highways off the interstates on a roundabout route back to Salvation’s Bane and Red’s underground garage. Once that was done, we’d ditch the truck and trailer and begin the rest of the cleaning process on the car. Which was the easy part.
I studied the area around the storage building from the remote screen provided by a drone. It wasn’t more than a barn on the outside, but the reality was, inside the barn was a climate controlled warehouse with state-of-the-art security. I knew the place well because it was owned by Marshal McCoy. I’d been poking my nose in the business of the McCoys since I was a kid.
McCoy was well off, having a legitimate business of some sort in the community. But his real money came from smuggling. This barn and a couple others like it were the reason for that success. From the outside, it looked like a big tobacco barn. Inside, the place was locked down tighter than a snare drum. Which was the beauty of it, I supposed.
Security outside the building was just as tedious. There were cameras all over the place. And traps. Thankfully, McCoy believed in electronics. Heavily. Always had. All the scouting we’d done had turned up a few rudimentary things, but nearly every single safeguard relied on electricity and electronics. Ripper had scoffed and told us it was too good to be true, that we needed to really recon the hell outta the place. We’d found a few pits and spikes and other simple shit that looked like it hadn’t been well maintained. We’d left that part until the evening we’d planned to do the job. Just in case someone did a manual security sweep.
Our planning was meticulous. Starting two months before we were ready to make our move, Ripper had messed with security at the same time he kept anyone interested in the car off the scent. If McCoy was going to upgrade things or do an extensive check, we’d know it well in advance. Ripper had the guy’s entire place bugged. House, office and every car they owned. McCoy thought he was the smartest man in the room, but the fact was, he was on the verge of losing everything to a rival. Montgomery Hatfield.
Made me snicker to think about it. Generations of Hatfields and McCoys. They’d officially ended the feud in the eighteen nineties, symbolically in the early two thousands. But here in Appalachia, it was alive and going strong. Just… more civilized. At least on the surface.
Which was why we were here. Montgomery Hatfield was a half brother to my father, the bastard. While I didn’t associate with that side of the family -- other than my half brother in Black Reign, Shotgun -- I did enjoy taking them down a peg or two. If I could take down Marshall McCoy while I was doing it? So much the better. Call it a character flaw.
“How’s it going, Ripper?” I’d been touching base with the tech guy regularly. If there was a problem, we needed to identify it before we backed the trailer in.
“All’s quiet. Same as always. They raised a fuss the first few times I blacked them out, but once they got used to their network coming back up, they quit worrying about it. Made a couple calls to the company, who charged them a bunch of money to go to each site and check on things. After that, they sent one of old man McCoy’s boys out, and he’s not the most thorough tool in the box. Last three times it’s gone out, no one bothered to check.”
“Good. Where is everyone now.”
“Far enough away you’ll have at least an hour before anyone could possibly show up.” The man snorted. “Bit of a ruckus goin’ on with one of his girls. Not sure what, but it’s keeping everybody busy.”
“So, we ready?” I was anxious to get moving. While I had confidence in the operation, something else was bothering me.
“Get into position. Once you’re ten minutes out, I’ll throw the switch.” Ripper had everything bugged at Salvation’s Bane, including all our vehicles. He said it let him know when one of us was in trouble. I figured he was just a control freak.
“Guess we’re good to go then.” I signaled to Poison and Lock. “Move it out.” My two MC brothers were in the truck pulling the trailer while I was in a separate truck we’d had waiting when we started scouting two months ago. Last thing we wanted was for the two vehicles to be seen together before the heist.
It was just past four in the morning. The darkest part of the night. The moon was covered by clouds. The night was still. Even the nocturnal creatures were settling down for the day to come.
There were two routes into the place where we were going. Poison and Lock had taken a different route than me. Mine took me past the McCoy family home. Remembering that place from my early childhood made me want to fire my gun at the windows as I passed. I hated that fucking place. Old man McCoy was a fucking bastard. Always was. Being a Hatfield, I’d never actually been in the house, but I knew some of his kids. The boys were all bullies. Some of the girls, too. His wife had died a few years back, I’d heard. And now he was starting a whole new brood of kids to mold in his image. That massive house represented everything in Williamson I hated.
I’d gotten about six miles away from the house when something caught my attention. A small form huddled on the side of the road. I almost missed it. Looked like a boy or a small woman wearing a backpack. The figure was in an orange jumpsuit, which was the only reason I’d seen it.
I started to just go on. We didn’t have a lot of time here. But, Goddammit, I couldn’t just pass this person by.
“Guys, I’ve got a problem. Keep to schedule. If you don’t hear from me in five minutes, abort.”
“What’s going on?” That was Ripper’s voice. Of course he was monitoring.
“Not sure. Switching on my body cam so you can see what I’m seeing. Get an ID on the guy.”
“Guy? What guy?”
“There’s someone on the side of the road. Could be someone in trouble,” I said.
“Could be a fuckin’ trap. What the fuck, Styx?” Ripper didn’t get upset too often, but when he did, he tended to go nuclear.
“Just keep an eye out. Give me five minutes. I’ll either leave him or load him in the truck.”
“Don’t give yourself a nosebleed, Ripper. If it’s a trap, I’ll fucking kill the bastard.”
“Take an earwig. I want to stay in communication every fuckin’ second, Styx.”
“Roger that,” I said, putting the truck in park and stepping out. Though the truck’s headlights shone brightly, I snagged a flashlight along with the gun at my hip. If this was an ambush, I wasn’t getting caught with my fucking pants down.
The figure held up a trembling hand, blocking the light of the vehicle from her face. And I could tell by the small, delicate hand it was a female. I shined my light around the area but didn’t see anything. Just to be safe, I turned my body, letting Ripper get a good look around in case I missed something. With his computer enhancement shit, he’d see danger long before I did.
“Don’t see nothin’,” Ripper murmured. I could hear him typing and flipping switches. “Can’t say a hundred percent, but I think you’re alone.”
I eased toward the figure huddling in the ditch. “Hey, there,” I called. “You good?” No response. “Girl?” Still nothing. The hand blocking her face from the light still fluttered violently. That’s when I noticed the blood on her fingers and streaking her hand. “You OK?” The hand dropped, and there was a slight whimper as she lay still once more.
“Ripper?” I had a sinking feeling this girl was in a world of trouble. There was no way I could leave her. At this point, I was praying for an ambush, because I absolutely could not afford to be held up by someone in real distress. And I was certain that, if this woman was as hurt as I thought she was, she’d need medical attention.
“You’ve got four minutes. Get her in the truck.”