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“Yes, we can pick which tattoo we want and put the date on it,” Evie explained. “Some, like me, just have the date tatted.”
“I see.”
Shade noticed Beth shoot Razer a concerned look from the other table as she took another sip of her beer. Even she was beginning to realize her friend was up to something.
“Does everyone have the same date?”
There it is, Shade thought, figuring out exactly what had the high school principal so upset.
“No,” Evie spoke cautiously, beginning to suspect the trap.
Viper stiffened in surprise at the turn of the conversation, turning toward Winter. He was no fool; he knew where the question was leading.
“What determines the date that goes on the tattoo?” Winter asked, her breathing unconsciously deepening.
“It’s the date we became a member of The Last Riders,” Evie explained slowly.
“I see. How do the women become members?” Winter asked.
Evie looked around the table, willing someone to jump in and take over the discussion, which Shade wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole.
Being president of the club and Winter’s old man, Viper managed to step in with a grim look.
“Ask what you want to know, Winter.”
“I just did. What’s the big secret?”
“No secret, it’s just club business. Only the members or potential members need to know, but I will tell you. The women become members by fucking or causing six of the eight members to have an orgasm.”
As her hands tightened on the beer bottle, Shade expected her to throw it at Viper. She let him have her sharp tongue, instead.
“Well, doesn’t that make it nice for the male members? How do they become members? By fucking a certain number of women? What is it, a hundred?” she said snidely.
“No, the recruit who wants to become a member and join us must pick four of the original members.”
“Male members to fuck?”
Shade almost laughed out loud at the angry glares Winter was receiving from the brothers.
“No, they pick four of the eight members to beat the hell out of them. Then, if they fight well and aren’t hurt too bad, they become members.”
It was a harsh initiation none of the brothers would apologize for. When they were fighting, they needed to know each of the brothers could carry their own weight. A weak link during a life and death battle could get several men killed. If anyone who wanted to join The Last Riders wanted to be babied, they needed to stay home with Mama.
“You guys have a thing for numbers, don’t you?” Winter asked.
“We have to know that a man we are making our brother can handle himself and have our back. Going on beer runs and dumb shit like that won’t be of any help to us when another club wants our cut.”

“Well, your club has worked out all the details. So, the women get the tattoo after they fuck their sixth original member?”
“Basically, yes.” Viper’s firm voice held no apology.
“I can see by the women’s tattoos that they are very proud of their accomplishment.”
The women at the table stiffened, as did Shade and the other brothers.
Evie was the first to break the stunned silence. “We don’t deserve that attitude. You might think that is a large number of men to sleep with, but we happen to think we are very selective. I have girlfriends who aren’t in The Last Riders who go out to party every weekend and fuck a couple of different guys a month, knowing shit about them. I know everything about these men, who, I might add, have lugged your ass around for the last few months and been nothing except polite to you.”
“I agree. I apologize for any affront I may have caused. All of you have been more than kind to me, and I shouldn’t repay your kindness by being a bitch.”
After a few moments of silence everyone started to relax, but Winter ruined it by asking, “I don’t see your tattoo, Bliss? May I see it?”
Bliss stiffened in her seat, looking toward Viper and silently asking what she should do.
“Show her,” Viper ordered.
Bliss reached out and pulled her top back, leaving the curve of her breast bare and giving a clear view of the tattoo. The date she had earned her vote was tatted, which also happened to be the day Winter had been attacked.
“Who gave you the last vote you needed?” Winter asked, not moving her eyes away from the glaring proof of what Viper had been doing while she was being attacked.
“I did,” Viper admitted.
“Now I understand why you said what you did to Bliss today, Rider.”
Everyone looked at the two members who sat in confusion, not understanding what she was referring to, but Winter was about to remind them.
“I heard you tell Bliss that you guys could get back to normal after I leave, like Viper told you. If that is any example”—she pointed to Bliss’s tattoo—“I bet you can hardly wait until I am gone. Viper told you two weeks; I am not going to cramp your style. I am leaving tonight. My bags are packed, and my ride should be here any minute. I would like to thank each of you for your help this last month.”
She turned to Viper, who stared back at her impassively except for the burning fury in his eyes. “You put yourself out for nothing. They said you were still playing me, hoping Vincent would tell me something about the baby. You were way off-base. Sorry I couldn’t have been more help, but at least this time you didn’t have to waste two years of your life.”
“I see that Rider and Bliss were a fountain of information for you.”
Both of them sat as still as statues, while Bliss had fear on her face.
“They didn’t know I was even there. I was in the hallway, and they were in the hot tub.”
“But they were discussing my business?”
Winter wisely didn’t answer his question. “Bliss and Rider didn’t do anything wrong; I was the one eavesdropping.”
Viper ignored her defense of the members. “So, who did you call to come get you this time?”
“The sheriff.”
Viper motioned to Shade, who immediately stood, pulling his phone out of his pocket before going inside the kitchen to call his dad.
He answered on the second ring. “What do you want?”
Shade gritted his teeth, knowing his father was still angry he hadn’t showed for Christmas. “Where are you?”
“Headed toward the clubhouse. Isn’t that why you called?” he mocked.
Shade knew his dad was getting tired of only getting called when it involved The Last Rider’s business. “As a matter of fact, yes. Don’t bother. Winter was angry at Viper. She’s over it now.”
“You think I’ll take your word for it without checking for myself? I’ll be there in five.”
Shade had ten minutes. It would take his dad another five to make it up the long flight of steps at the front of the clubhouse.
He put his cell phone back in his pocket as he went outside again, easily finding Viper stalking Winter toward the gazebo.
He stealthily moved to the other side of it so Viper could see him, motioning for Viper to take her upstairs. Viper shook his head, though.
Shade leaned against the tree as the yard darkened, letting the shadows hide him as he listened to Viper and Winter’s argument.