The Steel Infidels’ clubhouse smelled musty, like sweat and stale beer. The hangout was an old renovated warehouse in a rundown industrial park on the outskirts of Bardsville. Only a few years before, the industrial park had been a bustling place with boot factories and textile plants. One by one, the manufacturing businesses had outsourced their work overseas until all of the factories had eventually given pink slips to their workers and closed up shop.
With the economy being so bad, there weren’t any new businesses coming in to take over the empty spaces. The man who owned the property had been thrilled to rent out one of the buildings and a back section of the property to the Steel Infidels. It gave the MC privacy, plenty of room to hang out, and a secure place to park their motorcycles and extra vehicles.
A couple of men in the crew were trained carpenters, and it hadn’t taken them long to turn the warehouse into a biker’s version of an ideal motorcycle club hangout, complete with billiard tables, posters of naked girls on the wall, and mismatched couches and chairs.
The crew had even taken the time to remodel a couple of the old bookkeeping offices into small, drab-looking bedrooms. The term “bedroom” was used loosely since the rooms mainly consisted of a donated bed and a couple of rolling office chairs. Over the years, all of the crew, including Flint, had spent the night there at one time or the other, either to sleep off a drunk or to have a place to hook up with a girlfriend away from their old lady’s prying eyes.
When Flint walked in, he immediately noticed the clubhouse needed a good floor-to-ceiling cleaning. After the meeting, he would have to give a strict lecture to the handful of new prospects whose responsibilities were to keep the place looking halfway decent and clean. He’d been away only a couple of days and they were already slacking off. Since they were competing with each other for a place at the voting table, he knew a few stern words would be enough to whip them back into shape.
He glanced around the room, making sure there wasn’t anyone there that he didn’t know. Strangers weren’t allowed in the club, but occasionally a nomad or a member of another friendly motorcycle club would drop by to visit and catch up with the crew.
Flint wasn’t surprised to see a few young women milling about the pool tables and a couple more hanging out with the guys throwing darts. The Sweet Butts were as much a part of the motorcycle club culture as the crew’s black leather cuts and motorcycles.
Flint didn’t find any of the current girls appealing, though he was probably the only guy in the MC to think that way. The girls hanging around the clubhouse were easy on the eyes and eager to please, the main requirements of being one of the MC’s Sweet Butts or party girls. With a snap of a crew’s fingers, any of the girls would be willing to get down on their knees to give a blowjob or anything else a member wanted.
All for the privilege of being one of the Steel Infidels’ girls.
Some of the other motorcycle clubs in the state, mostly renegade one-percenters, recruited young girls right off the street. They were mostly runaways hooked on meth or new hookers. Occasionally, they even bought the girls outright from their pimps to keep and do with as they pleased. It made Flint sick to think about the young girls being sold into a version of modern day slavery. Most people didn’t realize such evil things existed in the good old United States of America.
He’d heard rumors that the Liberators were one of the groups who were holding young women, either by force or by keeping them so strung out on drugs they didn’t want to leave. As far as he was concerned, that was one more nail in their coffin and another reason to permanently wipe them out.
The Steel Infidels didn’t have to stoop so low to get their girls. The pretty young women lined up for the opportunity to swing their legs over the seat of a crew member’s bike. If one of the girls fell out of line or caused too much trouble among the other girls, the MC would simply kick them out and bring in another. With women being the way they were, there was always a mess of some kind being stirred up, usually caused by jealousy over preferential treatment by the crew or one girl fucking another girl’s man. As a result, the clubhouse always had a steady stream of fresh new faces.
The less than stellar treatment of women in the MC had been around much longer than Flint. And while he didn’t agree with it, it wasn’t his place to question it or try to change things. Not if he wanted to remain in the MC.
As long as the girls were of legal age and were there voluntarily, he would keep his mouth shut. The girls were a huge perk to most of the crew and one of the main ways to keep them vested in the club. A steady supply of willing pussy was enough to keep most of the men willing to do almost anything to keep their place at the table.
“Hey handsome.” One of the short blonde Sweet Butts sidled up to Flint and leaned into his arm. He deliberately averted his gaze from her D-cup sized breasts that were threatening to spill up and over her low cut blouse.
She pressed closer against him. “I heard you were hurt,” she said. “Need someone to make you feel better?” She placed a hand on his arm and rubbed it suggestively. He looked down at the long fingernails painted with garish red nail polish and wished he was somewhere else. Anywhere else. With Kendra. “Nobody is using the back room,” the blonde added, tilting her head toward the door of the tiny bedroom.
Flint gave her a polite smile. “Nah, I’m good,” he replied. “Thanks for the offer, Brittany. I’m sure one of the other guys could use some cheering up though. It’s been a hell of a hard day.” He extracted himself from her grasp as quickly as he could and hurried across the room to join Rocco and Tom at one of the pool tables.
“Is everyone here?” Flint asked. He glanced around the room and quickly took a count of the voting members. Everyone was there except Jesse. He frowned. It wasn’t like his brother to be running late. Even as a kid, Jesse was always ten minutes early for everything.
“If you ain’t early, you’re late,” was always one of their Dad’s favorite sayings. The brothers all still followed their Dad’s advice out of habit more than anything else. Old family habits died hard.
“Anybody heard from Jesse?” Flint asked around. “He should’ve been here by now.”
Tom shook his head and pulled at his beard. “Last I heard from him was about an hour ago. He said he was on his way.”
Flint nervously checked his watch and his cell phone again. When another fifteen minutes went by without word from Jesse, the rest of the crew started getting restless too. Not only was Jesse late for the meeting, he was also late for an important vote. As President of the Steel Infidels, it was his responsibility to bring the meeting to order and call for the vote. There wouldn’t be a meeting without Jesse.
Forty-five minutes later, Jesse rushed in, looked haggard and upset. Flint hurried across the room and met him at the door. “What happened?” he asked. “Tell me.”
“They found a body,” Jesse said. “My source at the police station contacted me a little bit ago about a call that came in. She was found dumped on the side of the road. A tall woman with long red hair.”
Flint immediately knew why Jesse was upset. “You think it’s Leah?”
“My gut says it is,” Jesse answered. “The Liberators wouldn’t think twice about killing her if they found out she tipped me off about the planned raid on the safe house. And now that four of their guys are missing, they have to know it was us. It’s my fault if something happened to Leah. She was trying to protect us.”
“No, it’s not your fault,” Flint argued. “Going with the Liberators was her choice, not yours. She could’ve stayed here as a Sweet Butt for as long as she wanted. Hell, she might have been the MC’s queen by now. Everyone loved Leah. Don’t blame yourself. You’re not responsible if it turns out to be her.”
“Dammit, I still feel responsible!” Jesse replied. “I couldn’t give Leah what she needed. I tried, but I could never feel the same way for her as she did toward me. I’m the reason she couldn’t stay with the MC.”
“That may be true, but hooking up with the Liberators was a crazy move on her part. Knowing Leah, she probably did it in the beginning to make you jealous and then couldn’t get out. When is your source supposed to call you back?”
“Anytime. He works as a dispatcher, so he’ll know something the minute the call comes in. The police are already headed to the scene now. It’s not too far out of town on Highway 98.”
“I’ll round up the guys and tell them what’s going on,” Flint said. “Why don’t you go have a drink to calm your nerves while you wait for the call? There’s no hurry on the meeting. We’ve got all fucking night if we need it.”
Jesse’s cell phone rang as Flint turned to walk away. He stopped and waited.
“Are you sure?” Jesse said into the phone. “How did she die?” He listened for a moment. “Let me know if you find anything else,” he said before hanging up.
Flint stepped toward him.
“It’s Leah,” Jesse said. “They have a positive ID. The Liberators left her purse with her driver’s license on the dirt beside her. They dumped her on the side of the road like a piece of trash.”
“How did they do it?” Flint hated having to ask the question. He hoped it was quick and painless. Knowing how revengeful and ruthless the Liberators could be, he doubted it.
“Sounds like they beat the shit out of her first then shot her in the head.”
“Aww shit! Motherfuckers! I’m sorry. If this is anyone’s fault, it’s mine. She died because she was trying to save me.”
“I swear to God I’m going to kill all those motherfuckers,” Jesse said. “Gather up the guys and get them to the table. I’m calling for a vote now.”
Flint quickly made his way around the room, alerting the crew to the updated situation. Jesse grabbed a bottle of bourbon from behind the bar and carried it into the voting room. He took a big swig and passed it to Rocco on his left, who took a swig and passed it on as was the custom.
When the almost empty bottle made its way back around to Jesse, he placed it in the middle of the table with a loud thump and called the meeting to order. The crew didn’t ask questions, only listened as he explained what they were voting on and why. Jesse also reminded the crew the vote had to be unanimous in order for it to pass.
When Jesse finished, he stood. “All in favor of declaring war on the Liberators, say aye.”
Flint rose to his feet. “Aye.”
Rocco stood and voted, followed by Tom, then Rocco’s brother. One by one they went around the voting table. The final vote came down to Sam, the youngest member of the Steel Infidels.
He took a deep breath before standing then grinned widely. “Aye!”
The loud cheers went up in the room.
“About fucking time we did something about the Liberator bastards!” Tom yelled, clapping Jesse on the back. “We’ve let them shit on us for far too long.”
“Before everybody gets too excited, we need to talk about the plan,” Jesse said. “Sit back down and listen to what Flint has to say.”