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|Uncover Me(Men of Inked #6) by Chelle Bliss|
There were so many people who would want to bring us harm. It boggled my mind.
My family was putting their lives on the line for Angel, someone they barely knew, because I’d asked. Without their saying it, I knew they were watching me, worried I’d go Rambo and try to rescue her myself. Although it did pop in my mind from time to time, I knew it wasn’t wise.
There were several things we knew for certain:
Sarah Roxanne Parker had created a post late Sunday afternoon, about seven hours before her disappearance. The post was about being happy and how quickly life had changed. Her location had been turned on, and anyone in the world could have tracked her because the post was set to public. It was a mistake many people made, not knowing they were giving their location to every stranger who bothered to look.
Besides Facebook, online connections were minimal. We were unable to check her messages without risking tipping off the people responsible for her disappearance.
She had very few enemies or people who could be classified as a threat, but I had too many to count. The suspect on the top of the list was her mother. There were no other people Bobby could identify as possible assailants.
After hours of trying to track her cell phone, he had been able to determine that they were located in the northern part of Orlando. They would have a better idea after I received another message.
Although she’d had a sketchy career, she was a decent person. The people she’d worked with were sleazeballs and scumbags, and any of them could have played a role in her disappearance.
We didn’t have much to go on, but I assembled the guys. They were ready to roll at any moment. The waiting was driving me fucking crazy.
A few hours ago, I’d received a text with instructions for the drop. I’d receive a text tomorrow at noon with details.
Sitting at the kitchen table, I sipped on whiskey and dragged on a cigarette as I plotted my revenge. Bobby was working on an exact location and a possible cast of characters as Flash kept tabs on her social media and any other possible information that could be leaked from her account. My job: just hang tight.
Who the fuck could hang tight in this situation? I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t relax. The only thing I could do was smoke and stare at the second hand of the clock while it moved as if it were in slow motion. Tick. Drag. Tick. Drag. Tick. Sip. Tick.
Getting drunk wasn’t the answer. If something happened, I couldn’t take the chance of being shitfaced and wallowing in self-pity. It would put her life at risk as well as my family.
As I stubbed out my cigarette, my phone moved against the table like a Mexican jumping bean. I checked my text messages.
Anthony: You up?
Me: What the hell else would I be doing?
Anthony: I’m coming over
Me: You don’t have to. I don’t need a babysitter.
Anthony: STFU. I’ll be there in 10.
I poured another half glass of whiskey, needing an extra dose to deal with Anthony’s grumpy ass at a time like this. After a few sips and about six hundred ticks later, there was a knock at the door.
“Yo!” I yelled out, too exhausted to even get up and answer the damn door.
Anthony walked in, stopped in the doorway to the kitchen, and stared at me. “Dude, what the fuck is wrong with you?”
“I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.” I swirled the whiskey in my glass, watching the liquid hug the edges.
“You leave your door wide open, you’re drinking in the dark, and you don’t even get your lazy ass up to answer the door. It’s not like you to be so careless, Thomas.”
I tore my eyes from the glass and glared at him. “You don’t even fucking know me anymore, Anthony. I’m not the same person that I was when we were growing up.”
He glanced at me for a moment before heading for the cabinet to get a glass. He sat down, pulled the bottle across the table, and poured.
“Here’s what I know,” he began, and took a swig. “At your core, you are the same man. I can’t imagine what you went through while working for the DEA. I know it was some hardcore shit. But you need to listen to me, little brother.”
I sighed, rubbing my eyebrows to relieve some of the tension that had settled there. “You’ll never understand,” I muttered, digging my fingers into the inside corners of my eyeballs as I pinched the bridge of my nose.
“I don’t say much. I watch everyone. I take it all in. Store that shit away for a later date. I’m not the chatty one like Mike or the aggressive one like Joe, but I know everything that happens in this family. It doesn’t matter what went down while you were with the Sun Devils. It doesn’t matter what heavy shit happened. It does not define you.”
“Some sins are unforgivable, Anthony.” I shook my head, feeling the weight of my actions on my soul.
“There’s nothing that’s unforgivable in the eyes of your family. You’re still the same man you were when you left for training.” He sloshed the whiskey in his cup before taking a swig, his eyes not moving from mine.
“I’m not. I have blood on my hands, Anthony. I’m not better than the criminals in the MC.” I closed my eyes, breathing in slowly.
“We’ve all done shit we regret. You’re a victim of your circumstances. Stop beating yourself up for what happened while you were doing your job. They put you in that position. You needed to stay alive and did what you needed to make that happen.”
I opened my eyes, looking up at him. I knew his words were true. What had happened wasn’t my fault. Protecting my family, surviving, and getting out alive were the reasons behind everything I had done during the time I’d been a member of the Sun Devils MC. Even though my mind knew it, the guilt ate at my heart.