The rain pelted Dax’s face, each icy drop like a slap against his frozen cheeks. The wind whipped through his wet hair, and his jeans and t-shirt clung to his body like a second skin. He was aware of it all, but vaguely. His attention was on the dark water that ran underneath the bridge he was standing on, and the two heavy trash bags that he’d just thrown over the railing and watched as they sank slowly into the Charles River.
He stood there until they’d completely disappeared, not even noticing the crimson-colored drops of rain that slid down his arms and rolled off his hands, finally splashing against the concrete at his feet. The icy rain stung the scratches on his arms, and he was faintly aware of the burning sensation that lay underneath the splotches of pink on his t-shirt where his skin had been torn open by the knife. Dizziness assaulted him all at once, and he reached out to grip the railing, closing his eyes to regain his bearings. As soon as he did, the entire scene began to replay itself in his head, beginning with getting off the plane at Boston’s Logan International Airport, early that afternoon.
He’d been physically and emotionally overwrought, and the only thing on his mind was getting home to his family. He slung his canvas bag over his shoulder and headed for the exit, but just before he got there, he was overcome by a blast from the past. It took a hell of a lot to shake Dax up, but at that moment he was shaken to his very core. The sights and sounds of the busy airport disappeared and he became acutely aware of his rapidly beating heart and the burn of the acid in his stomach and throat.
It had been at least twenty years since he’d seen the man’s face. There were light scars where the tattoos had been removed from his face, and the collar of his shirt hid the ones on his neck, if they were still there…but Dax knew without a doubt who he was looking at. The man’s eyes were focused on the woman he was talking to, but even from a distance, they were still like looking into bottomless pits of darkness.
Dax had been so overcome with emotion at that moment that he’d almost confronted the man right there in the airport. He was well versed in the art of self-control; he’d been trained by the best. But just then as his own blue eyes lay glued to the man’s face, he felt his restraint waning. He had to physically shake himself and take a deep breath and remind himself who he was. He was Dax Marshall, son of Doc Marshall and the leader of the largest MC on the East Coast. He wasn’t a little boy any longer and the man with the wicked black eyes no longer had any hold on him.
Instead of the confrontation that Dax physically ached for, he stood back, out of sight of the man and the woman the man was with. After a few minutes, the two kissed goodbye and the woman went toward the TSA checkpoint with her bag in tow. The dark-eyed man watched her until she disappeared around the corner, and then turned and headed for the door. Dax let him get a good distance ahead, and then he followed him out. At the time, he had no real plan for what he’d do when he got the man alone, but he knew he couldn’t let him get away…again. Dax had fantasized about this moment for years, and his fantasies were about to come true.
He followed the man to short term parking and watched him get into a late-model Lexus SUV. He hated taking a chance on losing him, but the parking garage was busy, and he knew security cameras were watching from every corner. He watched the man pull out of his parking spot, memorized the license plate number, and then on his way up the stairs to the level where his bike was parked, he called Hunter.
“Hunter, I need a name and address on a registration on a cream-colored Lexus LX with vanity plates. They’re Massachusetts plates, Lexi229.”
“You got it. You need this in a rush?”
“Yes, and Hunter, I also need you to forget I ever asked about this.”
“Give me five minutes, boss, and then it’ll be like I never heard from you.”
Dax thanked him and hung up. When he got to his bike he made another call, this one to Angel.
“Hi, baby! Are you on the ground?”
“Yeah, but unfortunately, on the ground in Dallas.”
“Yeah, my flight out of LAX was delayed and this one is grounded until morning. I’m sorry, but I won’t be home until tomorrow.”
“Everything okay there? You and Susie doing okay?”
“Yeah, baby, we’re fine. The guys are always looking out for us. I just miss you and I have something I wanted to talk to you about.”
“I miss you too, and we’ll talk as soon as I get home.”
“Okay. I love you.”
“I love you more, baby.”
Dax felt a flutter of guilt for lying to his old lady. He rarely did that, but there were some things that she didn’t need to know…some things no one needed to know…and this was one of them. He unlocked his saddlebag and took out his kutte and put it on. He didn’t travel with it unless he was on his bike, representing his club. He slapped on his half-shell helmet then and threw a leg over his bike. He’d just settled into the leather seat when Hunter called him back. The car didn’t belong to the man; it was registered to a woman. Dax was relieved to hear the woman had the same last name as the man he was chasing, however, because that meant they probably shared an address as well. He thought about how lucky it was that the woman was boarding a plane; hopefully that meant he’d have the dark-eyed man all to himself.
Dax put the address Hunter gave him into his GPS and took off. The address was at a house in Newton that was only about a thirty-five-minute drive from the airport. Newton was a suburb near downtown Boston where the median income was six figures. If the black-eyed man owned property there, Dax didn’t doubt that property had been built on the backs and blood of other men, women…and probably children as well.
“Boss?” Now Dax looked up from the dark water into the eyes of his SA. Cody stood there holding a paper bag, as soaked to the skin as Dax was and looking at his president with worried eyes. Dax took the heavy bag out of Cody’s hand and opened it up far enough to look down into it. Satisfied with what he saw, he pulled his arm back like a professional baseball player and tossed it over the rail. He listened for the splash and then looked at Cody and said:
“It’s done. We better get out of here before the sun comes up. I’ll meet you back at the house.” Dax spent three hours at that house in Newton before he called Cody. Once Cody arrived, the two men spent another two or three hours there. It would still take them several more hours to do what they needed to do there and by that time, the sun would be up and Dax would need to decide what to tell Angel about his wounds before heading home. He hadn’t slept in almost forty-eight hours at that point, but there was no time for that. No rest for the wicked. With one last glance over the railing he pulled the Lexus keys out of his pocket, looked at Cody again, and said, “I’m sorry for dragging you into this.”
Cody wasn’t much of a talker, but he touched Dax on the shoulder and gave him a look that said everything he was feeling. The young man was loyal to a fault, and Dax knew that he’d be more upset with Dax for not calling him than he ever would be at him for reaching out for help. Cody was a good man, but he was a good man with a dark past, and Dax knew firsthand that darkness can be suppressed, but never completely extinguished. Sometimes he felt guilty knowing that darkness was what made Cody most invaluable to him on nights like this, and he couldn’t know that and not wonder, at what cost did it come to his young brother?
Dax climbed back behind the wheel of the Lexus and watched in the rearview mirror as Cody walked up the road to where he’d left his bike. Once he heard the Harley fire up, and Cody’s headlight came on, Dax started the car. As he pulled it out onto the road, he glanced into the rearview mirror again. This time, instead of seeing what was right behind him, he saw a pair of accusing blue eyes looking back at him. He remembered that feeling of hate that had hissed like hot lead through his veins as soon as the man with the dark eyes had opened the front door, and he remembered the five minutes of satisfaction that he’d had before the reality of what he’d just done had set in. And now…all he felt was numb.