I was the leader of the Soldiers of Fortune MC. I was powerful, fierce, and vicious when needed. And I melted like a puddle when I realized the injured man I'd rescued off the street was my mate. At my age, I never really thought I'd get one, and yet here he was. Treat was everything I ever could have dreamed of. It was just too bad his life was such a nightmare.
Between threats from someone close to the MC and people being kidnapped right off the streets, learning that Treat might be a special kind of shifter seemed like the least of my worries. Having to call in a favor from an old enemy doesn't sit well with me, but I'd do anything to keep my new family safe, even face my father.
Trick or Treat, that was my motto. I wasn't thrilled that I had to sell my body to make ends meet, but caring for the small bear shifter I'd found on the streets meant doing whatever I needed to do to keep a roof over our heads. It wasn't a glamorous job by any stretch of the imagination, and it wasn't always safe. When the neighborhood starts to become even more dangerous, I know it's time to reevaluate my employment choices.
I never dreamed I'd find safety in a motorcycle club run by bear shifters, or that their leader would be my mate. I wasn't opposed to the idea. Butch was sexy as hell. I just wasn't sure he was powerful enough to keep me and Doby safe, especially when someone starts kidnapping people right off the streets and I may have led them right to the Soldiers of Fortune.
I tilted my chair back and leaned against the side of the building before propping my feet up on the wooden porch railing. It was warm enough outside that I was comfortable in just my jeans, short sleeved T-shirt, boots, and cut. No jacket needed.
Summer was coming quick. Considering I lived in Fortune, Montana, that could mean sunshine and rainbows or thunderstorms and blizzards. It was best to be prepared, and I always was.
Tonight, though, the moon hung heavy in the night sky and a warm breeze blew through the streets of the small town. If I hadn't already had a couple of glasses of whiskey, I would have taken my bike out on a moonlit ride.
I was nursing drink number three, so that wouldn't be a good idea. I knew others didn't care, but I'd put too much work in my motorcycle to take it out when I wasn't fully functioning. Usually, three drinks wouldn't even give me a buzz, but I was plenty relaxed.
I set my glass down on the table next to me and pulled out my cigar and cigar clipper. I snipped off the end before slipping the clipper back into my pocket and digging out my Zippo lighter. I preferred lighting my cigars with a match, but the custom Zippo had been a present from the guys in my motorcycle club. I couldn't very well accept the gift and then never use it.
I flicked the flame on the lighter and raised it to the end of my cigar, but before I could light it, something darted out of the shadows down the street. I quickly snapped the lid closed on the Zippo and squinted into the darkness.
The form hurrying down the sidewalk took shape. It was a man, a young one. I instantly went on alert when I saw him casting a hasty glance over his shoulder. He was obviously running from something, or someone.
When he crossed the street and continued hurrying up the sidewalk toward the clubhouse, I reached back and knocked three times on the wall behind me. Within seconds, the front door opened and Bear walked out.
I nodded down the street. "Might be trouble."
Bear turned and looked to where I had indicated. "You want me to alert the guys?"
"Not yet." We'd all been enjoying a relaxing evening with no work and no trouble. I didn't want to get them all riled up if nothing was wrong.
The man stumbled and then fell to the hard concrete. I tossed my cigar and shot up from my chair. I jumped off the porch and raced down the sidewalk until I reached the young man. I dropped down to one knee beside him and rolled him onto his back.
The man's face had been pulverized. The skin around his eyes and mouth was swollen and most everything else was covered in blood and bruises. One arm hung at an unnatural angle.
"Fuck! What happened to you, boy?" The stench of dirt and grime mixed with the overwhelming scent of blood. My bear rumbled inside of me, uneasy.
"He looks vaguely familiar," Bear said as he squatted down on the other side of the injured man. "I can't quite place him, but I feel if I've seen him somewhere before."
"How can you tell?"
He was barely recognizable as a human.
"What do you want to do with him?" Bear asked.
"Let's get him to the clinic and have Doc take a look at him."
Maybe he could be saved.
I reached down and grabbed the young man and then gently lifted him up into my arms. Geez, this guy could use a sandwich or two. He hardly weighed anything at all. It did make carrying him a whole lot easier.
"You want to run ahead and let Doc know we have an injury?" Something deep inside of me was screaming to get this man some help before it was too late.
"Sure thing, boss."
Bear took off at a run while I walked a bit slower, trying not to jostle the injured man in my arms. Once he'd been seen to by the doctor, I wanted to know who'd done this to him. Someone needed an ass beating, and it wasn't the man in my arms.
I carried him into the clubhouse and through to door connecting the club to the clinic in the building next door. There was a small exam room in the back of the clinic. I carried my cargo in there and then carefully laid him down on the exam table.
My son, Dr. Henry Nash, came into the room moments later, followed quickly by his mate, and the Vice President of the Soldiers of Fortune motorcycle club, Gunner.
"What have we got here, Butch?" Henry asked as he started examining the young man I'd laid down on the exam bed.
"I spotted him coming down the street," I explained. "He collapsed about halfway down the block so I picked up him and brought him in here."
"Good thinking," Henry said before pointing to a cupboard behind me. "Get some warm water from the sink and some cloth from that drawer over there. We need to try and get some of this blood cleaned up so I can see what I'm working with here."
I turned and walked across the room as Henry had directed. I turned on the water and left it running to warm it up as I grabbed the washcloths out of the drawer. I set a stack of them on the counter and then grabbed a bowl. After assuring myself that the water wasn't too hot or too cold, I filled the bowl. I carried everything over to a rolling tray next to the exam bed.
"What can I do?" I asked.
"As carefully as you can, clean the blood off of him, but stay away from his face and his arm. His face is pretty damaged and I'm not sure if anything is broken there, but his arm definitely is. I'll have to set it if he has any chance of ever using it again."
"Can you do that here?"
Henry nodded. "I've got braces here. I wouldn't put it in a cast anyway. There's too much swelling."
"What do you think happened to him?"
Henry glanced up at me. "You know exactly what happened to him."
Yeah, I suppose I did.
"Someone beat this boy until he could barely stand," I said. "Hell, I don't know where he was coming from, but I'm surprised he made it as far as the clubhouse before he collapsed."
I wanted to know where he came from so I could find who'd done this to him and repay them with a beating of my own.
As gently as I could—which surprised me—I began wiping away the blood and grime from the man's neck. He was wearing a button down shirt, so it was easy to rip it open down the middle.
I growled when I saw the bruises marring his chest and side. "Doc?"
Henry sighed. "You can clean his chest, but stay away from his side. Whoever did this went for the area that would hurt the worst. He's going to be pissing blood for days."
"Could there be any internal bleeding?"
The guy really did look as if someone had beat him with a sledgehammer.
"I'm not sure yet." Henry reached up and lifted the man's eye lid, flashing a pen light across his face. "I want to make sure there's no bleeding that needs my immediate attention and then I'd like to do an ultrasound."
I sucked in a heavy breath, trying to get more air in my lungs. "So, you think there might be internal bleeding?"
"No, but I'm worried about internal bruising."
Man, humans had tricky upkeep.
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