Nodding, Curly continued. “I’d hoped the incident a few weeks ago would have been the catalyst he needed to get himself straight, so I backed off the pressure from my side. For fuck’s sake, Caleb could have lost another parent. Or fuck…” He ran a hand down his face. “What the hell would have happened if Harper hadn’t interrupted? Would the baby have been taken? Makes me fucking sick. But nothing’s changed. He’s not living up to his club responsibilities, he’s barely working, he drinks from sunup to sundown, and Brooke takes care of the baby more than he does.”
“What do you want to do?” Jinx asked, fully invested now.
“I’ll give him a choice. One last chance. He can dry his ass out in rehab, or he’s out of the club.”
“We really gonna boot his ass out when he’s at his lowest?” Spec asked. Not long ago, he’d been close to the edge himself. If it weren’t for Liv, who knew where he’d be? Possibly dead in a ditch after starting shit with the wrong person.
Pain crossed Curly’s face. “Fuck, I hope not. I hope to hell he makes the right decision.”
“And if he doesn’t?” Spec asked.
“We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.” Ty gave Spec a sharp look. “Sometimes tough love is necessary.”
Jinx got it. He really did, and it just sucked. “What’s the plan for Caleb if Lock goes to rehab?”
“Brooke and I’ll take him.”
The sound of Ray barking drew their attention. The German Shepherd wasn’t much of a barker unless it was to alert his master, Brooke.
“He out there playing with Betty White?” Jinx asked Tracker.
“No, she’s at the groomer. I’m picking her up as soon as we’re done here.”
Ray barked again. And again. The sound grew from alert to furious.
An icy trickle worked its way down Jinx’s spine.
He met Curly’s gaze. “Something’s wrong.” As he spoke the words, Ray’s bark turned into a ferocious snarl, and the bottom dropped out of Jinx’s stomach.
The men all reacted at once, leaping from their chairs and charging out of the room.
Jinx reached the outside door first. He couldn’t say why, but something in his gut drove him to respond faster than he ever had before. Dread deep in his bones pushed him toward the door. Whatever was happening would affect him greatly.
He felt it.
He yanked open the door, then dashed outside and jumped over the porch steps without assessing the threat. If someone was waiting there to beat his ass, so be it. His brothers would be out in a hot second, and they’d always have his back. No one survived Spec’s wrath.
“Christ, hold up, Jinx,” Tracker shouted from behind him.
He didn’t stop. Couldn’t stop. Ray’s distressed barks gave him a direction to turn, and as soon as he did, he nearly crumbled to his knees. The sight of a man on top of a woman about seventy yards away had him stopping dead in his tracks as though he’d hit a brick wall.
He wasn’t still for long, only a fraction of a second before he burst forward as though he’d been hit with a cattle prod.
“Jinx,” Spec yelled.
He wasn’t armed, had stitches, and hadn’t slept a wink the night before, far from top form. It didn’t matter. Even though he could only see the hair of the woman being attacked, he knew it was Harper. Neither injury, exhaustion, nor lack of a weapon would keep him from rescuing his woman. He’d tear her assailant apart with his bare hands. He could be cuffed, blindfolded, and bleeding, and the man wouldn’t stand a chance.
With a primal roar that rivaled Ray’s howl, he chased the dog across the farm toward his woman. Pain lanced through his side in a fiery, agonizing burn as stitches popped and the freshly healing wound tore open. Fuck the pain. Nothing short of his guts spilling out would keep him from getting to Harper. Even then, he’d shove them back in and keep running.
Hold the fuck on, baby. I’m coming.
And if he ended up with a murder charge at the end of the day?
So be it.
THE WEIGHT ON top of her lifted, and for one glorious second, Harper had hope of escape. Finally, air rushed in, and she tried to push up on all fours, but rough, careless hands grabbed her shoulders and flipped her over.
“No,” she cried.
Hair and dirt stuck to the perspiration on her face. He straddled her, sitting hard on her hip bones. It felt as though her pelvis would crack in half. A rock drilled into her spine, and the toe of her attacker’s work boot dug into the thin skin of her shin with so much force she’d have a monster bruise for weeks. Those intense discomforts combined had nothing on the fear of what she was sure he planned to do with her.