| 8 | Two Demons at a Crossroads ||

The man was a lawyer, and if the devil could forgive him that sin, Devlin was open to hearing the man out. He wasn’t so high-minded to think peace was a real thing, but keeping the skin on his brothers’ backs, air in their lungs, and life in their limbs was reason enough to take the risk.

He whipped his leg over his bike and placed the helmet on the back. He took a strong stance, crossing his arms and looking at the view. The scummy water even looked beautiful like an ugly woman after too many shots of tequila, the way the sun was bouncing off the surface. For a second, he could pretend that maybe he was in California or somewhere better, like between Lacey’s legs.

Several bikes roared up next to him, and the engines fell silent. He didn’t have to look around to know it was Stitch on his left, Bruce the Brute on his right, and Flesh and Joker taking up their flanks.

Joker, whose real name Devlin could never remember because it was some shit like John or something, was a strange sort. He was young, just barely out of high school, and the only reason he finished was because Stitch forced him to. It wasn’t because the boy was dumb, far from it, actually. Too smart for his own goddamn good was the problem.

“Gotta love that fishy stench bright and early on the weekend.”

Stitch waved Joker off. “Every day’s a weekend for your bum ass.”

The other man presented his terrifying smile, which got him his nickname, to begin with, and stretched his slender limbs far above his head. “Night’s more my speed.”

“Prez?”

Devlin grunted to let Stitch know he was listening.

“You wanted more on Duprey.”

He frowned over at the man. “Yeah?”

“I know someone to do the fact finding, but you’re not going to like who it is.”

Devlin’s frown deepened and he crossed his arms. What else was fucking new? “Who?”

“Lucas.”

Devlin massaged his temple. “Goddamn.”

“Hey, look on the bright side.” He hated the man’s good humor. “He’s been trying to ride for what? Over a decade.”

“He’s the bastard son of a whore.”

His friend laughed. “Let’s face it, we all could have been him, just happen to come out the right pussy, brother.” The man clapped Devlin hard on the back. “You share blood, that means something, right?”

Devlin grumbled. “That’s about the only thing we have in common.” What happened on the road stayed on the road. He knew that, so did his father, but for some reason the bastard couldn’t follow that one simple rule. Road babies aren’t a new thing, but never had a member claimed the kid, gave them his last name. No one accept the rebel, Luscious Sinn.

Stitch cleared his throat. “Ordered the patches for the Kid’s Cure for Cancer ride. You rollin’?”

Devlin glared at his brother. “Fuck yeah. I’m in that shit every year.”

“I know, you just been, uh, busy lately is all. The way you snuck out your own party last night an’ all.” The man cleared his throat. “Fran told me you came in with a chick.”

Devlin took a deep breath.

“Said she was a looker too.” Stitch continued casually, but in his unassuming small talk kind of way. Devlin knew the bastard too well though, and he wasn’t giving the man any more ammunition than necessary.

After the shit he pulled a few hours ago with Lacey, he didn’t want to talk about it. It was hard enough not thinking about her and focusing on the task at hand.

“Let’s stop lollygagging like pussies at brunch and get this shit over with.”

Stitch was too fucking perceptive, and Devlin was not willing to even broach the Lacey topic.

He led his small group to the entrance of the Hyann Brothers’ warehouse, which was more like a less polished but still well put together office building.

Over the past several years, he’d been doing many deals with the Hyann family in an attempt at some sort of cooperative existence, but this was the first time he would meet the big guy. Taddin Hyann was known by anyone who had ears for one of two things: ruthlessness, or charm. Devlin was sure he never heard a blend or any other account of the man’s presence.

He was looking around, clocking the immaculately kept space. He’d been to many warehouse docks before, and unlike what he was expecting, everything was whistle clean.

He frowned. If a man couldn’t keep a little dirt under his nails, there was something wrong with him.

The office door opened and a woman stepped out with paper pressed to her chest. “I’ll contact the supplier and get an ETA on the next shipment.” She paused when she turned around and saw the waiting room full of leather. “Uh,” she checked her watch before pushing her glasses up on her face. “I don’t think I planned enough chairs.”

“It’s fine, Mary. I wasn’t expecting the entire herd either.” Devlin knew the sound of power, and the man’s pristine, crisp voice was the definition of command. He felt like a pussy for thinking something like that, but he had to respect the man’s hustle.

“We can stand.” Flesh said, rubbing his goatee. Devlin wouldn’t hesitate to have that man in a fight. The cuts on his face told his story. He lived for the fight. The bloodier, the better. There was little story needed as to how he got his name.

“Devlin will be the only one to come in my office. The rest can wait out here. Mary will get you coffee, water―”

“Shot of Jack hold the ice cubes?”

The corner of the tall slender man’s lips pulled up. “That too.”

Taddin nodded to his secretary then stepped aside, letting Devlin pass into the dark wood-clad office, traditionally decorated. Oversize oak desk, large floor-to-ceiling bookcases made with dark knotted wood panels, an alcove where the man no doubt kept his good liquor, two large, dark leather chairs in front of the desk, and a dark leather office chair that was really a throne in disguise, set behind it.

The man took his rightful place and gestured for Devlin to sit. Being the rebel that he was, he took a sturdy stance instead, and said, “I’d rather stand.” He was planning to go to the meeting alone, but for some reason, Duprey’s words kept echoing in his head. He wasn’t sure why he even gave him the time of day. Maybe it was the nightmares. Maybe the nightmares were an omen, a warning from his mother and father. Either way, he didn’t feel right until he listened to it.

Devlin grimaced when he saw the man’s lacquered fingernails clasped together in front of him on the desk.

Manicures? He bit his tongue, not allowing what he wanted to say to slip. This dick was a fucking chick and yet, he had everyone’s respect and fear, except Devlin’s, of course. That is, respect was given, but fear? Nah. Why would a whale fear a shark?

“My brother tells me that you’ve been most cooperative these past few years.” He sat back in the chair. “Something Luscious Sinn, or any of his predecessors, could never boast.”

Devlin couldn’t help his mouth from twitching at the mention of his father’s name. “There’s a time for blood, and a time for peace.” Devlin said.

The man presented a shocked expression before he laughed out loud. “A time to fight and admit defeat.”

It was a long-created phrase among the outlaw sort, dated back generations as a way for enemies to see common ground. Devlin adjusted his stance. Admitting defeat was a bit of a stretch, or maybe it was his father in him that wanted him to believe that. His mother in him assured him the path he was on would result in less death and more prosperity. They took a lot of losses before Luscious Sinn was claimed, and many after in the aftermath of the man’s recklessness.

If nothing else, it was time for a change.

“When a Lily fades from season’s grace, she blooms in the light of another sun.”

Devlin froze. Everything, save for his heart that was pounding in his chest. He knew that phrase. It was something his mother wrote. His mother wanted that on her tombstone and Luscious Sinn obliged her. What the hell was this bastard doing at her grave? He contained his rage with a deep breath.

The man got out of his chair and wandered over to the window. “Vastly misunderstood that rather eloquently worded piece of poetic art. Some think it’s about Karma, but really, it’s about your aunt, Lily Sinn.”

He couldn’t contain his shock at the man’s insight. His Aunt Lily died well before he was born. His mom talked about her metaphorically a lot. His mother was a strange combination of poetic and dreamy, practical and assertive.

“But we’re not here to converse about metaphors, are we?” That’s fucking right. Devlin thought. Back to the topic at hand.

“Right,” The man smirked, before looking back out the window. “I have a shipment coming in a few months from now. Rare artifacts and art that may have found their way on my ship by less than honorable means.” He faced Devlin. “I will need you and your people to transport the goods to a warehouse a couple hours away.”

The corner of Devlin’s mouth pulled up.

“In exchange for safe transport of my goods, meaning, this goes off without a hitch, there will be plenty more, and the money isn’t so bad.”

Devlin nodded and crossed his arms. “Okay.”

The other man strolled behind his desk and scribbled something on a piece of paper. “Excellent. Mary will forward the details.” He extended his hand to Devlin, and he shook it, noting the man’s firm grip. “Dare I say this just might be the beginning to a fruitful relationship.”

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