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Ugh, I have it bad.

“Hey,” she said, trying not to sound as excited to hear from him as she was. For crying out loud, it’d barely been an hour since she left him. “Thought you had to work.”

“Hey, beautiful. Someone sounds happy to hear from me.”

So much for playing it cool.

“And yes, I’m at work, but I need a ridiculously big favor that will be repaid with dinner and orgasms.”

Well, shit. Jinx had her attention now.

“Anything,” she replied, then rolled her eyes. She’d been going for helpful, but it came out desperate for the rewards he’d promised.

Jinx laughed but thankfully didn’t press the issue. “Any chance you can head over to Lock’s for an hour or so? Curly was there earlier, but he couldn’t stick around. Plus, I think he had some harsh words for Lock, which meant Lock probably didn’t want him to help out today. Anyway, Lock ended up with a last-minute appointment, and the sitter can’t make it.”

Watch the baby? What the hell did she know about babies? “Um… I really want to help out, but you remember I’ve spent the last seven years in prison?”

The sound through the phone could have passed for a snort or a laugh. “What does that have to do with anything?”

“I know I told him I’d help whenever he needed it, but I’ve never even held a baby. I don’t know what to do with them. And you think Lock wants to leave his child with an ex-convict?”

Now he was full-on belly laughing.

“I’m hanging up now.”

“No, don’t,” he said, doing a terrible job of controlling his laughter.

Harper rolled her eyes. She’d never really hang up on him, but making him sweat a bit was fun. Being playful with him was fun. Liv might have been dead-on in her assessment of Jinx bringing much-needed lightness into her life.

“Okay, babe, first off, I’m fucking jazzed that you’re talking about your past so freely. Secondly, you do realize everyone in the club has been arrested at least once? Well, maybe not Pulse, but he’s a goodie-goodie. The rest of us? We’re all fucking ex-cons to some degree. And, believe me when I tell you, not one of us, Lock included, has any fucking idea what the hell we’re doing with a baby. They’re a lot harder to kill than you’d think.”

“Oh my God. You did not just say that,” she said, chuckling.

“So, you in?”

She didn’t give herself time to think or talk herself out of it. “Yeah. I’ll head there now.”

“Thanks, babe. You’re the best, and you have one helluva night coming your way.”

Her grin grew so big she was glad to be alone. The ladies would rib her to no end if they saw the dopey-as-hell smile. “That’s a pretty good deal,” she said. “Drink lots of water. Maybe eat a protein bar. I have high expectations.”

“Oh, fuck yes. Love it when you show me some sass, baby. Wait there until I get a prospect to ride over with you.”

“Jinx. It’s broad daylight, and I’m going straight to one of your brother’s houses. No stops. I don’t need anyone with me.”

He hesitated, then sighed. “Fuck. Customer just came in. Okay, text me to let me know you got there. Okay?”


“Bye, Prickles.”

The line went dead as she rolled her eyes. That silly nickname seemed to be around to stay, unfortunately. She gathered everything she needed and headed to her car, trying to ignore the flurry of nerves in her stomach.

You got this.

You are strong.

You are capable.

You are good.

Affirmations were something she’d be recommending to the women she counseled in the shelter. Time to start practicing what she preached.

Fifteen minutes later, she parked beside Lock’s bike in his driveway.

As she jogged up to the door, a crash from inside had her moving faster. Another followed shortly after.

Shit. Is he okay?

“Lock?” she called as she pounded on the door.

After ten seconds of no response, she knocked again, shouting his name louder. Hopefully, he didn’t have any nosy neighbors who’d be popping out to investigate the noise.

A third crash sounded, this time accompanied by shattering glass.

She gasped. Something was very wrong. “Lock?” She tried the door knob and, finding it open, let herself inside. “Lock,” she called again.

Noise came from the living room, so she rushed there. All she could see were visions of Lock, wasted and crashing into his television.

What she found was ten times worse.

Lock lay on the floor, face down, with a puddle of blood oozing from his head. Her vision tunneled to him and how to help. She rushed forward on instinct without even glancing at her surroundings. Four steps in, movement in her periphery had her freezing dead in her tracks.

Blood rushed in her ears as a feeling of dread washed over her. A man in a black hoodie and black jeans charged straight at her.