How can something so wrong feel so good?
Callie tries to look at the positive side of life—despite her dire circumstances. She’s the underdog, stepped on by her boss, her landlord, and her own family. When a new customer shows interest in her at work, it’s impossible to resist his charm. Their budding romance becomes her only joy in life, but when she finds out he’s keeping dark secrets, Callie wonders if she really knows him at all.
Brick knows he screwed up by hiding the truth from Callie. It just felt so damn good to be looked at with affection rather than fear, and he soon became addicted to the rush. Once he starts falling hard for her, he can’t bring himself to tell her he’s the VP of the Straight to Hell MC. Brick can’t risk losing her. But how long can he go on living a lie?
With a rival club rebuilding and a rat in their midst, Brick wonders if it’s even safe bringing Callie into his world at all.
They’d been in church for the past hour, and Brick was itching to call Callie. Every night, they’d talk for hours, sometimes about nothing at all. She soothed him, made him feel alive for the first time in forever.
“We burned their club to the ground,” Lord said. “They’re persistent fuckers.”
“They have no senior members left,” said Brick. “We took them all out. Who the fuck do they think they are?”
“Boss, they’re a joke. Nothing to worry about,” said Reaper.
“I’m not worried, but I also don’t plan to sit back pretending they can’t become a real pain in the ass at some point.” Lord scrubbed a hand down his face. “Keep eyes and ears open. I want to know when they wipe their fucking asses. Understand?”
Everyone agreed before they started to head out. He checked his watch as he stood up.
“Brick, stay behind,” Lord said.
He had a feeling Lord was on to him. His intuition was legendary. Callie was Brick’s dirty little secret, a separate life away from the club. He didn’t want to tarnish her innocence with the truth of what he really was. It was safer that way, too.
“You find out anything about our rat?” asked Lord. He stayed seated, but there was something in his eyes.
Brick paced, not wanting to share his secret but also not wanting his prez to think he was betraying the club. The brothers strayed all the time, fucking anything that walked in and out of the club. There weren’t any rules that said he could only enjoy club pussy, so why was he so damn nervous?
“Still working on it,” he said.
Lord was silent. Brick wanted him to say something, accuse him, anything.
“And the Skull Nation, they’re a bunch of pussies. Say the word, and we can finish them off together, like the good old days.”
His prez only nodded. Slowly. “Keep an eye out for the rat.”
Once Brick was out of the room, he closed his eyes and took a breath. He felt like a traitor and didn’t want Lord thinking he was. Brick was one hundred percent loyal to the Straight to Hell MC and always would be. The club was his life.
Anything Lord ordered, he made it happen. He was loyal to a fault, and it helped that Brick was a brutal motherfucker with a complete lack of empathy when it came to rivals.
Once in his room, he crashed on his bed, staring at the ceiling. Was he blind? Pussy whipped? He’d berated so many brothers when it came to women, even judging Lord when he took Ally as his old lady. Women were a weakness, and Brick had always been against the whole idea of love and family.
It was time to take a step back. He rolled to his side and grabbed his cell phone. Callie Johnson had a history, and he’d be a fool to rush in blindly without knowing everything about her. The safety of the club had to come first.
He did some research on his own, then texted Copper to dig up more dirt on the down low. Copper was their in-house hacker, even known for putting the local police department in the dark for forty-eight hours a couple of years back. Within the hour, the techno whizz sent him an email with all the dirt.
Brick was scared to open it, not wanting any of this to end. He actually looked forward to waking up in the morning. Before this affair, there’d been some days he considered putting a bullet in his head.
He scrolled through the email.
Callie wasn’t so simple after all. She had a dark past and fucked-up family. The things she had talked about were all the truth—her grandmother’s death, her job, the place she lived. He couldn’t blame her for leaving out all the messy details.
If she was anything like her family, she sure hid it well. From what he’d come to know of her, she was the exact opposite, and it only made him want to shelter her even more.
He’d keep the information to himself for now. Brick knew some of the characters she was involved with and most were bad news. Sean Rigby, for one, was a notorious loan shark. Why would Callie get hooked up with that piece of shit? She needed Brick in her life to protect her. It would be so easy for a sweet girl like Callie to get soiled by the wrong people—people like him.
The next day, he rode out to the building center. They had lunch together several days a week. He was itching to get more serious with her but kept holding back. Some days he questioned everything about their unorthodox relationship.
He walked over to the picnic bench where Callie sat. Her big smile lit him up from head to toe.
“Hey, stranger.” Brick straddled the bench seat next to her.
“You didn’t call yesterday.”
He shrugged. “Had a busy night.”
She fiddled with her lunch bag, looking over her shoulder on occasion. He didn’t like the vibe he was getting from her.
“You okay?” he asked.
“It’s nothing. Just some difficult customers. My boss doesn’t like me to get involved, but at least I’ll get a longer lunch out of it.”
Difficult customers? His hackles immediately went up and visions of him gutting the pricks who took out their frustrations on his woman filled his head. He took a cleansing breath.
“You know you don’t have to take shit from customers, don’t you? It’s a job. That doesn’t give anyone the right to treat you like garbage.”
“I know it’s just a job, but it’s a job I really need. It’s okay, though. They only come around a couple of times a week.”
He gritted his teeth to keep from saying anything further.
Brick refocused, tucking some hair behind Callie’s ear. The sun picked up the color of her eyes. She was a beauty. When she leaned into his touch, his entire body reacted. He was doing exactly what he claimed he’d never do—falling for a woman. And he hadn’t even fucked her yet. He was completely out of character.
“Yo! We’re waiting to cash out.” Two men walked toward the picnic table. Callie immediately tensed up.
“Is Jeff not in the office?”
“No, nobody’s in the fucking office. Are you going to sit out here on your fat ass or do your damn job?”
Brick stood up, but Callie wrapped a hand around his wrist in an attempt to pull him back down.
“And what the fuck do you want, big boy?” asked one of the men.
Before he could speak, Callie spoke up. “Please, he’s just a chicken farmer. We don’t want any trouble.”