By: Sarah Mayberry

“I won’t. Scout’s honor.”

“Like you were ever a Scout.”

“I like to camp. That counts.”

She aimed a finger at him, stabbing him in the chest with it. “Don’t try to be charming. I’m not one of your women.”

Which was the whole point, really.

He did his best to look suitably chastened. “So, you want to grab a cab now or hang out here a bit more before we kick on?”

Was he serious? Had he not heard a word she’d said?

“I told you, I have other plans.” And she refused to drop everything just because he’d crooked his little finger, apology or no apology.

“To do what?”

“To have my brains fucked out.”

His hand slid away from her neck. “Tell me you’re not hooking up with that asshole.”

“Could you be more specific?”

“Reid.” He said the single word with a pronounced, very Brazilian curl of his lip.

“None of your business.”

He frowned. They knew each other too well for him to read her evasion as anything other than assent.

“The guy is trouble, Blue.”

“I’m not marrying him. There’s no need for you to get your panties in a wad.”

She knew why Eddie was worried — they were both privy to the talk that floated around Brothers Ink, the tattoo studio Rafel and Eddie owned together. Rumor had it that Reid was connected to the local biker gang, but what did that matter to her? The only part of him she was interested in was his body, and then only for the next few hours.

“Can you not be a smart-ass for five seconds? The guy is bad news.” Eddie’s accent was more pronounced, a sure sign he was getting worked up.

“I can run my own private life, thanks.”

She shouldered past him but knew without looking that he followed her outside. It was cold, a typical mid-winter Melbourne night, the wind sharp as a knife. Eddie caught the collar of her denim jacket as she tried to shrug into it, jerking it away from her.

“Will you listen to me?”

She spun toward him, all the hurt of the past few months welling up inside her. “No, I won’t. You’ve been AWOL from my life for three months, Eddie. You don’t get to throw your weight around when you haven’t been around.”

“Fine. Be shitty with me, do whatever you need to do. But stay away from Reid, okay? Promise me.”

There was so much fierce protection in his eyes. If his sister hadn’t died young, Blue imagined he would have been like this with her, too. Determined to save her from herself.

For some reason, it made Blue even madder. He was such an infuriating, self-indulgent, lazy, arrogant prick sometimes.

“You worry about your own sex life. God knows it’s enough of a disaster zone.”

“This isn’t about me.”

She pulled her jacket from his grasp and slipped into it. “I can look after myself.”

Eddie knew that better than most, which made his big-brother routine even more laughable.

“Go find that blonde. Odds are good she’ll do anything you tell her to,” she told him before turning away.

The traffic cleared for a brief moment and she stepped onto the street. She could feel Eddie watching her, could feel the gravitational pull of his disapproval, anger, and concern, but she didn’t so much as glance back. She was too pissed with him, for too many reasons to count.

A car had stopped on the other side of the road, signal blinking as the driver waited for a parking spot to become available. Blue darted over the white center line, aiming to cut in front of the stationary car. She was in the middle of the lane when she heard the loud roar of a motorcycle engine. Instinct snapped her head around.

A single headlight bore down on her so fast she barely had time to register it.

Then the world went black.

Chapter Two

They were taking too long. Way too long.

Eddie shot out of his seat, running a hand through his hair as he glanced at the doorway. Silently willing someone — anyone — to enter the hospital waiting room and tell him that Blue was going to be okay.

That she was alive.

She’d been in surgery for more than two hours. Lying on a table while doctors tried to put her back together.

“She’ll be okay, Eddie,” Maggie said.

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