Part of the crew headed to Elena’s while the others stayed here. I had my guys give them an escort though I was sure they didn’t need one, but it was courtesy. “You, upstairs.” I’d waited until she said her goodbyes to all her little friends and locked up.
“Don’t you start, you’ve been holding out on me and that’s not part of the marriage code.” She rewrites that shit every chance she gets.
“Feeling brave are you?” We rounded up the kids and packed them off to bed after fighting with Catalina about waiting up for the fat fuck. The baby was the last one we checked on before heading for bed.
It was well past midnight and tomorrow was going to be a long one. “So, what was it that you were trying to find out?” She started getting twitchy as we got undressed for bed. I think my tones be tipping her off or some shit, I guess it comes with years of marriage.
I have no issue with her snooping- she’s a female-it’s in the genes or some fuck. But what I do mind is that she went behind my back. I hadn’t taken her to task for doing it with Law, things were too hot then, but this, no excuse.
“Did you ask me what was going on? I asked you a question, I expect an answer.”
“Colton…” One lifted brow was all it took to get her talking.
“Yes I did.”
“And what did I say?”
“You said it was nothing but I know…”
“Hey.” Her voice had gone up one too many octaves there and since she was already teetering on the brink of an ass whipping I was trying to save her seeing that it was the fucking holidays and we had company.
“I told you to leave it alone, so you decided to go elsewhere for answers, what does that sound like to you Kat?” Of course she pretended great interest in folding her clothes and putting them in the hamper before giving me an answer.
“We were just talking, it’s not like we went out trying to hunt these people down ourselves. We’re not children you know, we have just as much right to know what’s going on in our lives, in your lives…” I listened to her rant and rave as I got undressed myself and climbed into bed. I waited until she was close to winding down.
“You done? Get over here.” If she thought I was gonna waste my breath with her hardheaded ass she was wrong. I talk long enough to be clear on the infraction and then I act. I opened the top drawer of the nightstand and took out what I needed. When she saw the lineup her voice started cracking up but it was too late.
It wasn’t that she’d disobeyed so much as she’d shown our hand in front of the others. I don’t know how those boys deal with their women and it’s none of my concern. But for my wife to pump our guests for information after I’d invited them to our home was a big fucking no-no.
I’m sure her mind wouldn’t see it that way, fucking female. But if a man can’t control his home he can’t handle shit else and no one will respect him. She was halfway to the door by the time I finished tying the last rope to the four corners of the bed.
“Get your ass back here.” I didn’t turn to make sure she was obeying me, I knew her ass better do what I said. I hate doing this shit to her, it had been a while since we’ve been here, but this shit we were dealing with was heading south fast and I didn’t want her little ass nowhere near it.
She sat down hard on the bed with a heavy dose of attitude, but she knew better than to open her mouth. The tears had started but I ignored them, too bad for her, she’d brought this shit on herself. “Lay down.” I helped her into the middle of the bed and tied her arms before gagging her.
After I was sure her ties were snug, I retrieved the leg spreader for the real fun. She made noises around the ball gag but I was already in cold mode. I couldn’t hear shit. I spread her legs open and kept them in the air. Next came the belt. She screamed bloody murder when the first lash landed on her inner thigh, and was weeping uncontrollably by the tenth.
She hadn’t stopped fighting against her restraints though, so my work was far from done. Next I went after her clit with the vibrator while fingering her pussy, pulling out each time I felt the little tremors that signaled her orgasm.
I kept that up for a good half an hour until I thought she’d had enough. I removed the leg spreader, tied her legs to the bed and walked out. “Good night.”
She was pissed beyond measure by the time I released her early the next morning. “Wait, I didn’t tell you to move.” She laid back on the bed and I took a few to clear my head before leaning over her. “Leave it.” I didn’t need to say anymore than that for her to get my meaning.
She’ll never know the fear that went through me when the guys and I headed back outside and the SEALs let the rest of us in on what we were dealing with. The lengths some of the people involved would go to. The thought of her getting close to that shit sent fear down my spine.
“You can get up now, we have company. If I see one pout today I’m not gonna be happy.” I headed for the shower while she went to get the baby who was starting to fuss. The damn temp in the room was sub zero, merry fucking Xmas to me.
My place looked like a biker’s convention by the time all our guests showed up. This was supposed to be an all day thing with people in and out. We’d done the charity rounds the day before so all I had to do today was keep the ice bucket full and the beer cold.
My mom showed up early to help my wife who was still not speaking to me and I noticed the other women weren’t looking too happy either, and the men had about the same look as I did. I guess a lot had been said and done behind closed doors last night after everyone went to bed. Hopefully the shit worked because it would only take one rogue female to fuck our shit up.
“Colton, what did you do to my daughter in law?”
“I have no idea of what you speak Elena.” She tried to corner me in the kitchen while she was reloading on eggs. “Well she’s not her usual self and I know the only thing that can do that is you since my grandkids all seem cheerful and gay.”
“Why don’t you get your eggs and quit harassing me ma.” I was dodging Char’s ass again since she had a million and one questions. I was surprised that she hadn’t told Elena or Kat about her hoodoo shit. The next time she tried to corner me I let her to ask her just that.
“Well Colton, thank you for my very lovely Xmas gift.”
“They’re not here for you Char but I do have a question. If you see what you claim to, how come you haven’t shared with your posse?” Her whole attitude changed and she looked around to make sure the coast was clear.
“I try not to worry my friends unnecessarily. If I thought for a second we could do anything about the situation you better believe I would’ve blown the whistle by now. But not on this one.”
“What is it that you see exactly?” It must be the first time I’d taken her seriously, the first time I’d ever asked her to explain. That day when she saw whatever it was she saw about Kat, I had felt it, the surety the fear. It was then I had begun to give credence to her many ramblings. Since then I’ve steered clear.
“I see darkness, great darkness and men with black souls. There’s a lot of murky water, death. But I do see an end to it, but there will be a lot of chaos surrounding the whole mess.” I wonder what the others would think if I shared this little powwow with them? Probably that I’d lost my damn mind
“Thanks Char, now go behave yourself.” I took five minutes to let her words sink in before joining the melee again. I don’t know how the women did it, but there was a never -ending flow of food and drink, and the kids were on their best behavior.
By mid afternoon, Kat was over her snit but I noticed her conversation was all about babies and weddings. She might be playing it safe since I was in the room but I don’t think so. After last night’s little lesson, I was sure she’d keep her ass still, but I didn’t fool myself that the shit would last longer than it took for the pain from her spanking to go away.
The phone rang on my hip and I answered without looking. “Lyon, Mancini here, I hear you’re looking for me?” I snapped my fingers to get Law’s attention and he alerted the others. “Are you there?”
“I’m here, trying to get to a secure location.”
“No worries it’s taken care of.” I took the phone away from my ear and looked at it. Who the fuck? “Okay, well I have some others here who would like to hear what you have to say.”
“The call’s cleared for you, Lawton Daniels, Justice Creed and the SEALs no one else I don’t care how close you are.”
Well since this fuck knows so much…”You missed one.”
“Mallory’s not there he’s got a sick kid.” Fucking spook.
“Okay, we’re all in. I’m going to speaker now.” The noise outside the door was steady, but inside my study you could hear a pin drop.
“I did some digging into your situation. I don’t know how much the SEALs have shared with the rest of you, but you’re swimming in very murky waters.” I felt a cold chill run down my spine. Those were almost exactly the words Char had said to me not too long ago.
“If you go after this, you better be sure you know what you’re going into. They will come after your families, your friends and your businesses. Any and everything they can to stop you. The trafficking is only the tip of the iceberg, I have Intel that Khalil is on his way to the states but not for the reasons you may think.”
“What’s he after?”
“I’m not at liberty to share that at this time.” Fucking diplomat.
“Does that mean you don’t know?”
“I always know.” I like this fucker, never mince words.
“Mancini, Logan here, we already guessed that The Fox wasn’t coming here behind this, so you’re not telling us anything new here. I’m pretty sure you knew that already so what’s the real reason for your call?”
There was a snicker and then throat clearing. “Look behind you gentlemen.” We all turned to look at the door. “Catalina what are you doing in here?”
“I was here first daddy.” She had a doll in her lap as she sat quietly in the corner. I had no idea if she was telling the truth or not, I’d stopped eyeballing her about an hour ago when it seemed like she was gonna behave herself.
“Go find your mother and not a word or the doll gets it.” Not like she wasn’t gonna tear the shit apart anyway. I watched her leave the room in a huff, taking her sweet time, but now I had another problem on my hand and I could see on the faces of the others that they had just come to the same conclusion.
“You mind telling me how you knew she was in here?” The connecting door slid open and he was just there. “How the fuck did you get in my house?” The fucker smirked at me.
“Gentlemen, if you want my help we’ve got work to do.” We all looked at each other but what the fuck could we say? “I still wanna know how you got in here.” I know my security is good, and my men are all over this place like flies on shit, so if this fuck had just walked by them and bypassed my safety then he wasn’t just good, he was fucking Teflon.
“How I got here is of no consequence and yes Lyon I know for a man like you that’s hard to swallow, but it’s just gonna have to do for now. Now, Khalil, the Porters, the fuck up.” He looked at Law when he said that and I’m sure we were all remembering that first conference call.
“Are you a spook?” I hate those fucks like poison and from the look of disgust on his face so did he. “Since we don’t know each other I’d try not to see that as an insult. What I am is not important for now, but you can Google me, I’m a restaurateur.”
“My ass.” Logan wasn’t looking too pleased. I guess he didn’t like anyone being more of a spook than him. Mancini just smiled and pulled up a seat like he owned the place. One thing was clear; this was no biker type. He’s exactly what I would’ve been if Elena had got her hooks in me as a teen.
He was well dressed, well groomed and I guess what the women would call fuck hot. There wasn’t a hair out of place and butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth. But it was in the eyes; they were the eyes of a killer.
“I have to be gone in about an hour so if there’re any questions let’s get them out of the way.”
“Why? You’ll just tell us they’re of no consequence.”
“Justice, how are you?”
“I’m cool, nice to finally meet the man behind the name, now you wanna tell us what the fuck we’re dealing with here?”
He studied each of us like we were under a microscope and as much as I admired his style I was getting tired of his shit. “Bro put up or get to wherever the fuck you need to be early. I don’t have time for games and I sure as fuck don’t have any to waste. I get it, you’re good at whatever the fuck it is you do, but so am I, and every man in this room. Your name came from someone I trust, that’s the only reason I haven’t capped your ass for sneaking into my house.”
He grinned and looked at my watch. “Your little toy there told you the minute I breeched. I wasn’t expecting a civilian to have such technology, that one slipped right by me.” The others looked at me but I didn’t have to explain myself. I go all out to protect what’s mine and if that means buying shit off the black market so be it.
“That ought to teach you to go playing around in other people’s backyards.” I whistled and Jared and Tommy came out of their hiding places. “We’re cool go keep an eye on the women we’ll be out soon.”
Now I had the others eyeing my ass, like I was gonna share all my secrets. It wasn’t that I didn’t trust them, but there are no lengths I wouldn’t go to-to keep my family safe. I’m sure these boys were of the same mind.
“So what do you have for us Mancini? Our women aren’t the most patient bunch.” Connor was cool as a cucumber as he held up the wall.
“What I have is a conspiracy. These players are into more shit than a little bit. We have trafficking, sex slaves, pedophilic rings, murder and espionage. What you boys walked into goes way beyond what’s going on-on the waterfront in that little town of yours.”
“How much did you know about your commander?” He turned his attention to the SEALs who all stepped towards him like they were ready to tear him apart. “He was clean, I don’t give a fuck what you think you know that much we do know. So if you’re here to sell us anything different you can get fucked.”
“Take it easy Tyler, I’m inclined to agree with you. I asked because he had more than you’ve found. He was killed…”
“You know this for a fact?” It was Logan’s turn to move on him. I was lost. I hadn’t heard shit about the fucks that had put my daughter in that book, other than the mention of their name.
“I’m not at liberty...”
“You say that shit one more time…”
“Cool it, everyone to their corners. Look Mancini show us your cards or get out of the game.” That’s what I get for playing along with these organized fucks. I could’ve been to the desert and back ten times by now and put an end to this shit. The fuck I give a fuck about espionage?
“Gentlemen, I understand your frustration, and believe me I’m not interested in protecting these fuckers any more than you are. But there are things involved that if not handled carefully can backfire on us, and yes that us meant I am throwing my hat in the ring. Like I said I have somewhere to be, I just dropped in to take your measure so to speak, see who it was I am getting into bed with. I’ll be in touch.”
The fucker got up and left the way he came. “Uh, am I the only one who’s confused?”
“No Law, I think we’re all in the dark on this one.” Smooth motherfucker, he might’ve pissed me off coming into my place the way he did, but I had to give him his due.
“That’s Mancini, I’m surprised he even showed up here.” Creed looked after the door where he’d disappeared.
“This other guy Thorpe, what the fuck is he like?”
“I don’t think he’s as hard core as that one, Law but he’s no light weight either.”
What the fuck did I get myself into? The guy is good, the way he came in, had I not had my place rigged he would’ve blown past my security. My guys hadn’t seen him, but I was warned just before the phone rang and that’s what tipped me off.
“So what just happened here?” Quinn, one of the least heard from SEALs spoke up. “He just appeared, said some shit that we already knew and left, what was the purpose?”
“Just what he said, taking our measure; I get the feeling he knows more about us than we do him.” I wasn’t sure how to feel about that shit.
“I think he did a little bit more than that, I think he just warned us about what we’re really dealing with here. What was that crack about the commander? He said it almost as if he knows something. He said ‘he knew more than what we’ve found.”
“What I wanna know is how the fuck he knows what we found Cord. Until Lyon mentioned this guy I never heard of him. We’ve looked since he came up and all we found was the billionaire bullshit. That’s no mere billionaire that just left this room.”
“You’re right Dev, this guy whatever, whoever he is, he’s under deep, but I still say he was giving us a hint. And he knows who killed the CO I want that information. Then I want to go after the fuckers one at a time and skin the flesh from their bodies.”
“You and me both brother, looks like we have shit to do, fuck.” Logan paced the room deep in thought. I could only imagine what these boys were feeling. I’d heard some of what had been going on with them, had heard about the old man who’d taken them all under his wing. I couldn’t imagine anyone fucking with Daniel so I felt their pain.
“We need to get this shit together boys, there’re too many things going on at once. We can’t do this now with a house full of people, but we need to get this shit sorted and soon. Everyone seems to agree on one point, this desert fuck isn’t coming here because of the trafficking we need to find out why he’s coming. Seems to me that’s the most important thing at this point. We find that we may be able to get in front of this thing.”
“Lyon’s right, in the meantime, Susie was in that book and I need to know why. She wasn’t mine when that picture was taken so how did Khalil know and why her? I think we know.” He looked at his brothers as he spoke. “We need the targets, let’s go through that book again and take another look at the girls in there, maybe something in there will lead us to something.”
“Wait, what did I miss? You know why she was in there?”
“We think we do but it’s not something we can discuss until we’ve spoken to the parties involved, believe me it’s nothing that will hurt this.”
“The fuck, you spook types take lessons from each other? I find it strange that I’m about the only one who doesn’t have shit to hide. I know why my kid was in there, the Porters. Law, your girl was in there why?”
“The fucker that paid her father off killed my family or had them killed, I don’t know why she was in the book, other than that he wanted a Stepford wife or some fuck.”
“And you Creed?”
“Her fucked up aunt sold her out.”
I studied the room, there was something there but what the fuck that was I couldn’t put my finger on it. I watched each man in turn, the way they stood, almost at attention. The way their eyes were directed one way but I could tell they were very aware of everything that was going on in the room.
“I think I’ve got it. You boys were all in some branch of the military at some point weren’t you? Any chance all of you worked for this commander at some point?” The room came alive then, everyone started talking at once.
“I’m guessing that’s right?” They all nodded but there was nothing else forthcoming, I guess that was top-secret shit too. “Fine, so maybe whatever this fuck is after has something to do with the commander. What did spook boy say, he knew more than you’ve found? Where have you been looking?”
“Well fuck, we’ve got to head back.”
“Not today Lo. We promised these girls a good holiday away from the bullshit and this is baby Zak’s first Xmas and that fuck don’t get to mess with that fuck no.”
“Ty what is it with you and that kid?”
“What do you mean?” He looked at me like I was the crazy one.
“Nothing, nothing at all.” Well he was gone.
“Right, let’s go salvage what we can of the rest of the day before these women revolt.” We’d only been gone an hour or so but it felt much longer. We each got glares and rolled eyes from our women but no one said anything.
“Good afternoon Mr. Lyon I’d like you to meet my parents.” Fucker ambushed me as soon as I came out the room. It was on the tip of my tongue to rip into his dad for not keeping his ass home and away from my kid, but the rational part of my brain, the part that Kat and her kids hadn’t fucked up, knew that was an asshole way to think.
So I outstretched my hand and played nice. Turns out, the dad is some hotshot engineer and the mom’s a medical researcher. They seemed cool enough and the mother Doreen seemed fond of my kid. “So, I hear you’re moving soon.” The kid walked away after making the introductions. Probably off to go sniffing around my daughter.
“Tomorrow to be exact, Todd wanted to spend one last Xmas with our girl before he left and we couldn’t deny him.” What the fuck?
“Oh yes, Caitlin, we’re very fond of her, very bright, sweet, disciplined. Just the kind of girl we would’ve chosen for Todd had he not had the foresight to find her himself.”
Did this fuck even know how close he was to taking a header out the nearest fucking window? “You talking about my fifteen year old daughter?” He didn’t exactly smirk but there was some kind of look on his face that wasn’t gonna last long.
“Don’t misunderstand Colton, I may call you Colton correct? Look we understand your position, if Todd was any other kid we would be having the same issue, but our son is a very well rounded kid with a good head on his shoulder. We’ve already spoken to him about the dangers of going too far at their age, things like that.”
“You talked about my daughter having sex?” this fuck was two steps away from a pine box. What the fuck was it about this holiday and people fucking with me? “Not exactly, but I did have a talk with my son about his responsibility to your daughter. Look, Todd knows you don’t approve of him, all I’m saying is that I get it, but you don’t have anything to worry about.”
I studied him. His words sounded like textbook bullshit to me, but the man had every right to talk to his son. The fact that he was full of shit was another matter. “Look, you can spout all the crap you want, but we both know kids are gonna do whatever the fuck they want in the end. You’re right, I’m not happy with the relationship, but my kid thinks she’s in love. The fact that you’re moving might’ve saved your kid. I don’t dislike Todd, but I don’t want my daughter that deeply involved with anyone until she’s thirty.”
“You have to know that’s not realistic.” He smiled while his wife started to look nervous. “What I know is that it’s good your kid is leaving, no disrespect but you seem to be all gung-ho about this shit, I’m not. And she’s nobody’s girl but mine.” I walked away from them just a little more pissed than I’d already been.
At least that shit had taken my mind off the fuckery in the study for a hot minute. I went in search of my kids it was their day after all. They were knee deep in new shit and making enough noise to raise the roof, but they were happy.
Nothing that was going on had or will ever touch them. “This is what it’s all about, them, keeping them safe.” Law came up beside me in the doorway where I was peeping in on them. “That’s what I’m most worried about, how the fuck do we keep them safe when we’re all spread out all over the place?’
The others came to join us. “We were just discussing that. The way this thing is panning out, we’re gonna have to watch each other’s six, we have to weed out the bad seeds starting now because we all know money trumps most anything when it comes to the lesser known.”
“My guys are safe, I don’t surround myself with fucks. They’ve all been with me for many years and those who weren’t aren’t close enough to get at me and mine.” He had a point though, if what Mancini said was on point and I had no reason to doubt him, then these fuckers were gonna be gunning for us.
I didn’t kid myself that if they were as cold as he intimated that they didn’t already know everyone that was involved here. “Anyone got the sense that they were under the scope? I didn’t think about it before today, the fact that they might know we’re onto them. That Stockton fuck is dead but who knows who was watching him.”
“We’re way ahead of you, the compound is secure and there’s more than enough room for everyone if it comes to that.”
“Thanks Lo but I’m not running from these fucks, I have shit to do, they’re kids out there depending on me to come stand guard at the drop of a hat. I can’t just drop everything and go into hiding like a pussy because of these bureaucratic assholes.”
“Creed, think about Jess.”
“I wish those motherfuckers would. They had their one chance already, any fuck even looks at her too long I’m dropping ‘em.” I could get behind that.
“What the fuck?” Mallory snuck up behind us.
“I understand you met the great Mancini; Lyon I gave Kat the loot for the kids.”
“Brother, where’re yours, where’s Lydia?”
“She’s in there with her nosy ass, the kids are with mom and pop, I didn’t want to expose the other kids to whatever the fuck some fuck sent his kid to school with that made my boy sick. I find out who this asshole is I’ma go rip the fuck apart.”
“Nah the father. Who the fuck sends his kid to school with a hundred other kids knowing he’s contagious?” Crazy fucks, I’m surrounded.
“Anyway what did you boys think of Mancini?” He smirked and shoved his hands in his pockets.
“Where the fuck did you find him? Spook’s R’Us?” Tyler, fucker thinks too much like me, it’s eerie.
“Nah, he’s my cousin and that’s all I’m prepared to say. By the way did anyone think to warn Summers and Masters to watch their backs until we can get with them?”
“I did, I’ve been keeping them up to date, but now with what your cousin told us today I’m not sure that’s enough. I’ll feel like shit if anything happens to those boys, I’m the one who brought them in.”
“No worries Law, I had a look at those boys and they can hold their own. By the way boys my old man said to tell you anything you need. He hates these fucks almost as much as we do.”
“Why, what did they do to him?” This ought to be good.
“Other than fucking with Caitlin? He heard politician and went off on one of his tangents.”
“What’s he got against politicians?”
“Says they’re all shylocks, thieves and liars.” This from a man who’s spent more than half his life on the FBI’s most wanted list.
We walked away from the door and headed back to the women. Kat’s gonna light into my ass later if I keep this shit up on her big day. Her eyes gravitated to me as soon as I entered the room. My sweet girl was still looking a bit sullen around the mouth, and her eyes didn’t have that light that I love so much.
“You did a great job here baby thanks.” I pulled her up from the chair where she’d been sitting having a talk with Creed’s woman. The men were finding their women and from the looks of things there was a lot of making up going around.
“You having a good day baby?” She nodded with a small smile and I smelt her hair as I folded her into me. It felt like forever since I’d touched her, it was always this way after one of our little skirmishes. Now the need to reseal the bond was strong and I had a houseful of damn people. Not that that would stop me, but there was too many variables in my place for me to fuck around.
“You met Todd’s parents I see. What pray tell did you tell them to have them speaking in hushed tones and giving you wary looks?”
“I told them if their son came near my kid I’d chuck his ass out the nearest window.”
“Colton.” She hissed and pulled her head back with her usual glare. I looked down at her still after all this time trying to see what it was about her that totally did it for me. I sometimes wondered if the people around us had that kind of love, if each man in this room felt that all consuming emotion that wraps around your heart and squeeze?
“What are you looking at Colton?”
“The most amazing thing in the world.” Her eyes grew wet and softer as I kissed her brow. “Did you go snooping upstairs babe?” She shook her head but I know she’s a lying ass. Mad or not, I know she’d go searching for the one special gift I get her every year. She’s worse than the kids with that shit, tearing my place apart. This time I’d outfoxed her though, her and her nosy ass kids whom she always enlists for help.
“What did you get me?”
“Maybe I won’t give it to you, bad girls don’t deserve presents.”
“Hmm, I wonder what should be the punishment for bad boys?”
“I’m never bad baby, how’re your legs, need me to put some salve on them?” This is why she always gets away with shit. I spank her ass, she pouts, I feel guilty and cave.
“Maybe later, the day has barely just started and I have all these people to look after and it’s almost time to eat.”
“What the fuck they been doing the last four hours?”
“Picking Colton, hors d’oeuvres and finger foods. We have a nice spread prepared you’ll love it.”
The day turned out way better than it begun, the guys and I were able to put it aside for the rest of the day and enjoy our families. I looked around the table that looked so different from the year before. All these new faces, brought together by tragedy but quickly becoming one of us.
I liked the way they treated their women, saw the same heart that beat in my chest in them in the way they were so fucking gone, the lengths they were willing to go to-to protect. I knew that in the coming days things were gonna be rough, knew that there was no getting out from under this shit we were facing without casualties, but there was no way I was gonna lose any one of them.
They were now my brothers, a bond forged in fire, I’d do for them what I would for Jared or Tommy, or any one of my boys. Now with the holiday coming to a close, it was time to get to work doing what I do best, look out for me and mine.