The Price of Forgiveness   The Dutchmen MC book 2

Gretchen inhaled through her nose and blew out slowly through her generous lips. Patience, patience, patience, she chanted in her head. Her blue-gray eyes took in the time on the old-fashioned cuckoo clock on the wall. Both hands were nearly pointed straight up at the elaborate twelve on the carved face. Midnight.

Gretchen sighed and rubbed her eyes that were tired from staring at the computer screen for so long. The deadline for this edit loomed close, and the author wasn’t making the job any easier. There were so many grammar mistakes that Gretchen wondered if the writer bothered to try. Classic mix-ups between your/you’re and their/they’re/there were bad enough, but add in the content editing, and the piece became one big, massive mess. The name of one character changed from Kane to Cain with regularity. The point of view jumped from first person to third omniscient, which made Gretchen’s head spin hard enough that she needed another Tylenol hit. The sex scenes were long and complicated. She wondered how anyone could get off in the described twisted positions.

“Cain grabbed her hair in his hand and grabbed both her breasts to pinch and play with the nipples.”

Gretchen bit her lip. “Cain has three grabby hands, eh?” She made another note on the already long column of notations in the margin.

“Bart entered the room and joined in the fun. His boner stood tall and straight as an arrow pointing to the sky.”

“Who’s Bart, and does he always walk into a room naked with an erection?” Gretchen leaned back in her desk chair. “Nope. I’m done with this.”

She typed out a quick email to the author stating that the book needed so much work, it would be best to do a few rounds of self-editing before sending it to a pro. Another glance at the clock showed her that it was five past midnight. Her back protested as she stretched it while pushing away from her desk, and it tightened up as she suddenly lost control. She grabbed at the chair to keep it from moving, but something else overpowered her effort. A gasp left her lips as the big rolling chair jerked around, and she nearly spilled to the floor. Terror flashed through her body as several thoughts hit her at once.

Four large men towered over her. All of them wore black leather vests that pegged them for what they were rather than who. She knew about motorcycle gangs since her brother, Ezra, was a part of one. Well, half brother[KS3] , whom she hadn’t seen in years.

Her eyes darted to the logo. The Dutchmen. She’d heard the name mentioned by her friends up in Red Wing. They radiated cold menace, and she cowered in her chair. One of them was shouting at her, his face red and his mouth wide open as he pointed at her face. Two of them grinned and stared openly at her breasts that were covered only by a thin tank top she used as nightwear and was wearing with a pair of her favorite hipster briefs. She crossed her arms over her chest and clutched at herself in fear.

The fourth one stood back with his arms folded and seemed to be observing. His eyes were a dark bluish, almost charcoal, gray and only slightly lighter than his long black curls. Gretchen caught herself in the gaze of his cold, emotionless snake eyes that held her in thrall. Her body started shaking. She couldn’t break away from it. It felt like she was being pulled into his power, into him, and nothing she did would stop her from being absorbed. If she had the ability to scream, she would start and never stop.

A rough jerk from the yelling one rescued her from the locked stare. The red-faced one grabbed the arms of her chair and shook the piece of furniture violently as he leaned into her face. Her hands came up, and she gestured wildly at him, over and over again. Tears poured from her eyes to flow over her cheeks as she did the best she could to make them understand. To tell them….

The black-haired man unfolded his arms and grasped the red-faced one’s shoulder. Gretchen’s attention flew back to him, and she trembled with fear as he crouched down in front of her, putting them at eye level. She noticed he had two parallel scars running down his cheek that cut through a close-trimmed beard. The depths of his eyes glowed with dark fire, and the muscles of his jawline moved as he gritted his teeth. Gretchen covered her breasts again, desperate for some sort of protection.

He glanced down at her useless attempt and back to her face. Gretchen knew if he wanted to do anything to her, anything at all, she was powerless to stop him or the others. In this northern residential area in the small town of Wabasha, the houses were spread out with some distance between them along the banks of the Mississippi River. Her neighbors tended to keep to themselves and rarely paid her any attention. These men could beat her, rape her, and kill her, and no one would hear a thing. Her vision grayed as her head tried to shut down in the only escape route she had left.

The man before her snapped his fingers in front of her eyes, bringing her back. He was the most unlikely person in the world to offer her a lifeline. But he did. With very slow movements, he signed a question to her. “Are you deaf?”

A frisson of relief flowed through her. Fear still permeated her body, but at least someone understood the dilemma. She clutched her fingers together and nodded.

 

 

“Fuck!” Rebel exploded, pounding double fists on the delicate desk. A white cup holding several pens fell over, and they rattled as they fell to the floor. The woman didn’t move at the enormous sound. Her dilated eyes darted to the raging man and back to Railroad, who stayed in his crouch in front of her. He watched the rapid pulse beat in her neck and the fast breaths between her parted lips. Pretty, he thought as she licked them nervously. Pretty, but going into shock.

He slowly signed. “Breathe slower. All the way in. All the way out. We’re not going to hurt you.”

Her eyes went back to Rebel.

“He won’t hurt you either. Promise.”

Railroad noticed her skeptical expression, but she did take a few deep breaths and relaxed the rigidity of her shoulders. Fuck, it had been a long time since he’d done this, and he was rusty as hell.

“Who are you, and why are you in my house?”

Railroad followed the movements of her graceful hands and noticed they were bare. No rings. That was good. The blue was coming back to her irises, but as soon as she finished signing, she covered her chest again. The golden blonde hair didn’t help cover anything, as she had it bound to the back of her head in a big clip. He kept his eyes on hers as she followed his gestures. “We’re from the Dutchmen Motorcycle Club in Red Wing. We’re looking for Piglet.”

She followed his spelling, and her face grew more confused. “Piglet? That’s someone’s name?”

Railroad ignored the impatient noises behind him. “Road name. Your brother. Where is he?”

Shutters came down over the cerulean color, and the pretty woman’s mouth pressed into a thin line. “Ezra and I haven’t seen each other in years. I have no idea where he is now.”

“He’s your brother.”

“Really? Only half, and he’s the bad half.”

The woman made such a disgusted expression, Railroad nearly laughed. He didn’t need her to speak to hear the sarcasm in the words.

“Deaf and mute, or just deaf?”

A pissed-off expression now showed on her face. “I can speak. I choose not to. Are you going to leave?”

“What the fuck did she say?” Rebel’s agitated voice sounded behind him, but Railroad kept his position.

“Says she doesn’t know anything.”

“Fuck!” Rebel’s hands hit the desk again, and this time the woman frowned.

“Please ask your friend not to tear up my desk or break my computer. This is my workplace, and I have deadlines to meet.”

“You’re a writer?”

“Editor.”

“Never met an editor before.”

“I wish you weren’t meeting one now.”

Rail chuckled at the woman’s wit. Her hands were strong, with long tapered fingers and short nails. When she signed, her movements were fluid and precise. Dance-like. Her breasts swayed gently with each gesture, and Rail could see the darker outline of nipples under the thin white cloth before she covered them again. Pink? Peach? Or a color in between? Her robe was close by, and he could have snagged it for her but chose not to.

He stood up to leave. “She doesn’t know anything.”

Rebel sniffed hard and pulled at his red nose. “Ask her again. She’s lying.”

Rail frowned at the man. Rebel’s drug use had gotten worse the closer his woman came to giving birth. Peebles had been a club sweetbutt for years and was happy to be one, until she fell in love with wild man Rebel and found herself pregnant. Since then she’d cleaned up her act and had made a home for them. Rebel started out strong in becoming a family man, but he’d fallen off the wagon lately. More than once.

The Dutchmen MC was only a remnant of what it once was. The latter part of the previous year had seen the club go through a big stinking pile of shit. Club rivalries between the Tiger Clan MC and the Dutchmen, with the added bonus of a Greek crime family, had led to massive upheaval in their little Minnesotan world. Many people were killed, and the Dutchmen lost their president, Iceman. He’d been the glue to hold the club together for many years, and without him, the MC was a thread away from chaos.

The remaining members voted Railroad in as president because it made sense. That mantle lay [KS5] heavy on Rail’s shoulders, and he hoped he could be at least half the leader Iceman was.

Rail borrowed a page from Ice’s book and turned to stare coldly at Rebel. “Did you just give me an order?”

The lanky man dropped his shifting eyes and sniffed again, but he remained silent.

Rail put his attention back on the seated woman. She had re-clamped her arms tightly over her breasts and banded her generous thighs together. Her drawn-up legs made her soft lower belly pouch out a bit. Rail saw the pale skin beneath her belly button flush red under his perusal, and she moved one hand to try to cover that part too.

He chuckled again and raised his eyes to meet hers. “I’m sorry we disturbed you,” he signed, hoping he remembered the correct ones. “It would be best if you didn’t tell anyone about our visit. If Piglet makes contact, you’ve never heard of the Dutchmen, yeah?”

She blinked at him as if coming out of a trance. He watched her press her full lips together, and she raised her chin. Her gaze didn’t waver, but she nodded sharply in affirmation.

“Good.” He didn’t feel the need to say goodbye and really didn’t want to. He wished he had more questions. She would have to uncover those rounded breasts again to answer him.

Wishful thinking. He turned to his frustrated brothers and pointed to the door. “Let’s go.”

Nutter and Duke kept their silence, but Rebel cursed and yelled as he left. Rail sighed. Rebel skirted the edge of control, and it was only a matter of time before that ticking time bomb went off.

He glanced back at the woman and noticed the blush had faded. He leaned over her, bringing his face close to hers. Her eyes got big, and her lips parted. Rail nearly laughed again at how fast the color came back. Nice to know he had some effect on her like she did on him. Maybe it was his scars that alarmed her, but if he got a chance to see her nipples again, he bet he would find them puckered into little points.

Deliberately taking his time, he reached behind her, bringing his mouth inches from hers, and picked up one of her business cards. If he could have gotten away with it, he would have released her hair clip to see how long those golden waves would fall. When he stood back up, she let out the breath she’d been holding in a short rush. One half of his mouth rose in male triumph. He looked at the card.

“Nice to meet you, Gretchen Davonsky. I’m Railroad.”

ML Nystrom

Author  of MC and Contemporary Romance.