Edge of Trust, Arrow’s Edge MC, Book 6
Gunpowder and loyalty meets cocktails and ink.
I am a laid-back wise guy.
A veteran, a friend, a marksman, and a loner.
My name is Honon.
I may be hesitant to pull the trigger, but am not afraid to fire with the right target in my sights.
I am a focused free spirit.
A black sheep, a go-getter, a scrapper, and an artist.
My name is Emme.
I’m single-minded enough to reach my goals, but still moderately flexible when life throws a curveball.
We make a reluctant couple—our hesitation evident—but when innocent lives are endangered, and hard-fought trust is challenged, we discover who we can count on.
“I’ll need a couple of boxes of whatever drywall screws are right for that cement board.”
Rick looks up from the computer screen.
“Are you sure you don’t want any help?” he asks, wearing a dubious expression.
It’s not the first time he’s offered, and the answer hasn’t changed.
“I’m good. Appreciate it, though. You’ll be the first to know if I change my mind.”
I’ve been a regular at Durango Building Supply since I bought my dream house.
Well, not exactly a dream house yet, but it will be once I’m done with it.
I worked my ass off to buy the single-level, three-bedroom house backing onto Animas Mountain. It’s the perfect location at the outskirts of town, not too isolated and within easy reach of all amenities, but far enough from the hustle and bustle to feel like a quiet sanctuary. Built in 1972, the place has never been updated. It needs a lot of work, but I’m not afraid to get my hands dirty. In fact, it was part of the attraction since it means I can make changes to fit my needs perfectly.
What sold the place to me was the large separate garage with a high overhead door. The previous owner had been a truck driver, who built the oversized building to fit his rig. The space was perfect for my studio and big enough to house some of my larger pieces. It had been the first project I tackled when I moved here a couple of years ago. With the skylights I installed and the new concrete floor and whitewashed walls, it provides a bright open space for me to work on my metal sculpting.
Next, I’d turned my attention to the house itself, knocking down walls and gutting the small kitchen to create a large open living space from the three smaller main rooms. That took a hell of a lot longer to complete but has been well worth the amount of work. I love the roomy feel with the light from the big window at the front, and the large sliding glass doors at the back providing a view of Animas Mountain.
My current focus is on the main bedroom and en suite bathroom. I ripped out the old tub, sink, and toilet, and changed the bathroom layout slightly, putting in a large walk-in shower instead. I’m not a fan of baths myself, and in the unlikely event I have guests who do like them, I’ll keep the tub in the main bathroom on the other side of the hallway. That one, and the two other bedrooms, will be last on my list of projects.
Renovating is costly, which is why I’m doing it myself and in stages. I plan to grow old here, so I’m not in a real rush. Besides, I have my day job and my metalworks as well, so I can only do so much at a time anyway.
“Okay, so I have twelve sheets of cement board, two buckets of compound, a couple of boxes of screws, and your rolls of tape. What about tile?” Rick wants to know.
“I haven’t decided what I want yet.”
I don’t tell him I’ll have to wait until the client who commissioned custom-made stair rails pays up. My savings account will run dangerously low after I pay for this delivery.
“When can you deliver?” I ask.
“Let me see.” He starts flipping through a desk calendar. “Next Wednesday?”
I’ll be working, but I may be able to slip home during the afternoon lull to receive it.
“Can we pin it down to between two and five?”
Rick grins. “Anything for you. Why don’t I give you a heads-up when we’re on our way?”
By the time I climb into my ratty old truck, my wallet is painfully light. I need to go after the twelve grand John Stoltenberg owes me for the six, sculpted metal rail panels I made him. Funny how it always seems to be the ones with the most money who are slowest to pay. I worked on those panels for close to three months, and they’ve already been installed in the investment banker’s new custom home.
I make a quick call to his office on my way back to work to remind him. His assistant promises me she’ll personally make sure the money is transferred to my account.
I sure hope so.
Friday nights are busy at the Backyard Edge. Even more so with Sophia gone for two weeks.
Sophia is the restaurant’s manager and has taken her first vacation since the birth of the twins. She’s married to Tse, one of the Arrow’s Edge MC members, and has three kids; seventeen-year-old Ravi, and three-year-old twins, Ella and Wyatt. Tse’s club owns the Backyard Edge.
The family is in Arizona, visiting Sophia’s parents, and I’m covering for her while they’re away, but it means added responsibilities I don’t exactly consider fun. I’d much rather stick to tending bar. I can handle the occasional pain in the ass customer, but don’t have Sophia’s gentle touch and endless patience when it comes to dealing with staff.
Right now, that means figuring out what the fuck Fred is up to, marching around the restaurant with a plate of fried chicken and yelling at the customers. The guy was Sophia’s last hire, and I’m still not sure what the hell to make of him. He’s supposed to have many years of experience waiting tables and, according to Sophia, comes with high recommendations. I’m starting to wonder if those previous employers weren’t simply eager to get rid of him when they gave him the high praise.
Fred is probably in his fifties, abrasive with both customers and the rest of us, and is plain weird. I’m the last person to judge by appearances—hell, with tattoos all over my body, I probably look like a freak to some—but this guy takes strange to a whole new level. Judging by his unnatural orange tan he takes beta-carotene supplements by the fistfuls, and I’m positive those ink-black sideburns and disturbingly bushy eyebrows were drawn on his face by a five-year-old gone rogue with a black Sharpie.
The man draws attention on a good day, but right now he appears to be having a meltdown over a plate of chicken no one seems to remember ordering.
“Fred!” I call out to get his attention when he heads back to the loud bachelor party taking up three tables at the front of the restaurant.
These guys have been a rowdy bunch since they walked in two hours ago. They only placed their dinner orders twenty minutes ago, after repeated prompting on our part, but they’ve been drinking the whole time.
Most nights—especially on the weekends—one of the Arrow’s Edge brothers will be sitting at the bar. The sight of a rough-looking biker is usually enough to deter any trouble. Of course, tonight would be the one night the stool at the bar stays empty, so I’ve been watching the group like a hawk, waiting for a sign things are getting out of hand.
Fucking Fred. The last thing I need is the trouble I can see coming a mile away.
I grab the leather slapjack and hustle out from behind the bar when I see Fred slam the plate down on the middle of the three tables. A piece of chicken bounces up, hitting one of the guys in the chest. He jumps to his feet and swings around on Fred, towering over the five-foot-six waiter.
I reach the table just as the offended party grabs Fred by the front of his turtleneck and hauls back his other fist.
“Enough!” I bark, forcefully shoving my waiter out of the line of fire.
Of course, that places me squarely in it and I try to duck out of the way, swinging the slapjack to ward off the approaching fist. His knuckles graze my cheekbone the instant before my weapon hits his arm.
Shit. That’s going to leave a mark.
Judging from the guy’s curses though, I’m not the only one who got hurt.
All over a goddamn plate of chicken.
I scrape the remains of dinner off the last of the plates and hand it to Shilah, who is loading the industrial-sized dishwasher.
“That it?” he asks.
I take a glance around the kitchen, normally Lisa’s domain. She’s married to Brick, one of my brothers, and looks after the clubhouse. She was feeling under the weather this afternoon, and Brick whisked her off to the cottage at the back of the compound where they live with their three grandkids. I assured her Shilah and I would take care of dinner and cleanup.
Our simple fare of meatloaf, potatoes, and coleslaw was nowhere near the quality of food Lisa usually dishes up, but it served its purpose. It filled the bellies of the four boys we currently have in our care, as well as the two prospects, and the four of us living at the clubhouse. A relatively quiet night compared to most.
“Yup.” I turn to Shilah, one of our younger members. “You gonna head to the gym as well?”
One of the other brothers, Mika, left for The Edge boxing gym half an hour ago to get in a workout.
“Nah. Gonna watch some TV in my room.”
I narrow my eyes at him. He’s been moping around for almost a week now.
“Fine,” is his curt response.
“You’ve been miserable all fucking week,” I point out before venturing a guess. “You still seeing that hairdresser?”
He snaps a glance my way.
“No. That’s done.”
Can’t believe I just asked that. There’s a reason I choose not to get involved with anyone. It’s messy and feelings are bound to get hurt. Much easier just to avoid the hassle altogether. Makes for a more predictable existence. So I’m the last one anyone should come to for relationship advice, and I have no interest hearing about them.
Still, I just opened that door.
“She dumped me and I don’t wanna talk about it,” he grumbles, brushing past me and out the door.
I blow out a breath of relief. Dodged that bullet.
With one last look around the kitchen, I flick off the light and walk into the clubhouse where I see Nosh sitting by himself at the bar.
Nosh, the former club president before Ouray was voted in, is old as dirt. The man used to command authority, despite being deaf and communicating mostly through sign language, but these days he’s barely a shell of his former self.
He ran this club with an iron fist back when Arrow’s Edge was still running arms and drugs. Ouray was responsible for turning the club around since he took up the gavel. Changing the direction of the club to legitimate businesses and a focus on sheltering and mentoring young boys. Mostly street kids, runaways, or boys who threatened to fall through the cracks. We offer them what the world out there failed to provide them with; a roof over their heads and a future to strive for.
That’s how a lot of us ended up here. Lost boys ourselves until Nosh and his late wife, Momma, took us in. He gave us structure and purpose, a brotherhood and a family.
Jesus, look at him now. Unable to do much by himself anymore, let alone look after anyone else. His body was already deteriorating, but in the last few years his mind has been going as well. It’s our turn to look after him.
Yuma—his son, who lives with his wife and kids just down the road—has been trying to get him to agree to go into a home. Not because we can’t take care of him, but because it may be less stressful for Nosh to be in a quieter and more predictable environment. The clubhouse is definitely not that.
But with the faint hold on reality the stubborn old goat still has, he adamantly refuses to be anywhere other than here; the clubhouse he created.
He is stooped over, the beer I left him with earlier—his one daily indulgence, despite doctor’s orders—still half full. I put a gentle hand on his shoulder and lightly shake him awake.
“Come on, old man, let’s get you ready for bed.”
I wrap my arm around his waist and lead him through the sitting area, where a couple of the older kids are watching TV, to the back hallway. It’s not even nine but Nosh doesn’t complain. He’s been going to bed earlier and earlier in the past couple of months.
In his room I flick on the TV which is already set to his favorite channel, Investigation Discovery. There’s an episode of Very Scary People on, which he’s probably seen five times before already. He loves these true crime shows, and doesn’t seem to notice most of them are reruns.
I guide him into the small bathroom, leaving him to take care of business. Then I wait until I hear the toilet flush before opening the door to help him out of his boots and jeans. His eyes snap up, glaring at me.
“Who are you?” he signs.
“Honon,” I explain, spelling it out with my fingers. “Remember? I live next door.”
I point to the wall separating our rooms.
His eyes narrow as he studies me, but I’m still not sure he knows who I am.
“You need a fucking haircut.”
My hand automatically goes to the beard I haven’t trimmed in God knows how long. The same for my hair, I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen a barber. His words have me dart a quick and very rare glance in the bathroom mirror, and I’m almost surprised at the face looking back. I look like fucking Grizzly Adams. The only recognizable part of my face are the blue eyes staring back. The rest of it is covered in hair.
Christ, the old man is right; I badly need a haircut. Maybe it’ll help him remember me.
Five minutes later, I have him undressed and under the covers. He’s already dozing off again. His TV is set to automatically turn off after a couple of hours so I leave it going as I back out of the room.
I stand there for a moment, unsure what I’m going to do with the rest of my night, if anything. My days of partying are mostly behind me. It simply doesn’t hold the same appeal it once did. There was a time we had parties in the clubhouse on an almost nightly basis, but with a lot of my brothers getting into serious relationships, those are far more rare now and mostly family affairs. Nothing like the wild nights we’ve had here in the past.
Before I have a chance to make up my mind, the phone in my pocket rings. It’s the restaurant’s number.
Mack, one of the bartenders at the Backyard Edge, is on the other end.
“We’ve got some trouble here, you may wanna send someone over. Emme is getting into it with a bunch of yahoos.”
Emme, the blond bartender with a tough attitude too big for a woman her size, and a big reason why I avoid the restaurant if I can.
“Into it, how?” I snap, already heading for the front of the clubhouse.
“Into it, as in the guy is holding his arm like she broke it, and she’ll wake up with a shiner tomorrow.”
I jog the rest of the way to my bike.