Viper (Scoundrels MC #1)

By: Moira Callahan

Prologue



One never knew what they were walking into when entering the Scoundrels MC clubhouse. He never knew if there would be a need to duck, come to a screeching halt, and leave, or if everything would be copacetic. It was a little like entering an alternate dimension, and not in a good way.

It was with some trepidation that James pushed open the door and stuck his head in to scope out the situation. The only sounds were the TV playing some cartoon or other and the occasional short laugh. Apparently, all was calm on the home front—for the time being, anyway.

Relieved he wasn’t about to step on a metaphorical landmine, James let the door close behind him. Heading in deeper, he nodded to the woman, a hanger-on and what the club referred to as a sweetbutt or club pussy, at the bar when she held up a coffee pot. He’d only had a couple sips from his own brew that morning when he’d received the call sent him looking for the MC prez in a hurry. Duke was about to be a seriously unhappy biker.

While James didn’t worry about being the messenger, he was concerned what the club’s response might be. They weren’t exactly the sort who took shit like James had to share with them all that calmly. Given the history involved, he didn’t exactly blame them.

Viper, the MC’s sergeant at arms, was oddly the calmest among them, but that wasn’t always a good thing. The man was scary smart. He used his outer calm like a shield to fool the unaware into thinking he was slow. There was not a fucking thing slow about Viper. Whereas with the other members, what you saw was exactly what you got.

He accepted the mug from the girl, Cameo, and headed toward the sofa where a couple prospects were sitting watching a cartoon. They looked up, and nodded his way. One offered up a blunt that he refused, resisting the urge to roll his eyes. “Duke around?”

“Not in yet. He and his old lady have Nico’s graduation ceremony today. He’ll be stopping by later before he heads out for the event. You want us to have him call you?” Burke asked him.

“Yeah, maybe. Is Viper here?” It might be better to lay it all out for the calmest member first to figure out how Duke would take the news.

“Out back in the shed. He was digging around looking for some parts for the older bike at the shop he thought might have been brought here by mistake,” the other prospect told him. He was relatively sure the kid’s name was Monroe. Everyone called him Barter, but James couldn’t be sure he’d ever heard the kid’s given name used more than once.

“All right, thanks.” Tipping his coffee mug their way, he headed back to the bar for a top off before heading outside.

A loud, vicious curse from the shed had James moving closer a lot faster. “You okay in there?”

Viper came out rubbing at his head near the crown, and shot him an evil look. “Yeah,” he muttered. “Fucking box leapt off the shelf to attack me. What you doing here, Copper?”

“I got a call this morning that I figured I should bring to the club’s attention. The prospects told me Duke was out, but I knew this wasn’t something that could wait. If you’re good with that.”

Viper nodded and waved him toward a picnic table. Once they were seated, the big biker leveled his bright-green gaze at James. “What was the call about?”

James took a sip from his coffee to gather his thoughts. Being the sheriff of Crystal Creek had its ups and downs. Starting in the Marshals Service had taught him how to be a good investigator, but being the sheriff had shown him the world wasn’t always black and white. There were often shades of grey.

While he didn’t work for the motorcycle club, James had learned to work with them to a degree. Enough to ensure the peace in Crystal Creek remained. They all had an understanding: Legitimate businesses only in the city limits, which was his turf, and anything beyond the borders James would turn a blind eye to, provided there was no bloodshed.

“Got a courtesy call from my contact down at SNMCF. Gerry Porter is getting out this afternoon. Don’t have all the details on what went down to gain him this pardon, but my contact is looking into it. He understands how important knowing the answer is. Especially when it comes to Crystal Creek’s residents and their safety. All he could tell me was that Porter has had several meetings with his lawyer in the last month.” His buddy Murray at the Southern New Mexico Correctional Facility was flummoxed by the sudden release. He’d never seen anything like it.

“Shit, and this is the first we’re hearing about him getting cut loose?”

“It’s the first anyone’s hearing about it. My guess is they’re keeping in on the DL to ensure he stays alive when he steps out those front gates.” James knew the MC had bad blood with Porter. If the rumors were true, then Porter had killed the MC’s president, Spike—Duke’s predecessor—and Spike’s old lady. There had been other collateral damage to add to his term, and the guy had had no defense. Porter should never have seen the light of day again. To hear he was getting cut loose only four years after he’d gone in, James knew this shit was going to be bad. He had no idea what the fallout would be.