Deep in the badlands, Hunter patrols the area as the war chief for his Lakota community. His latest mission is to hunt down a marauder who robbed his neighbors of their precious goods. He’ll act as this man’s judge, jury, and executioner.
Having lost everything at his former Ojibway encampment, Chassis is far from home. He wanders the badlands, a grim reaper bringing death to those who possess what he needs to survive. But there is one man courageous enough to challenge him.
When the duo faces off, neither expects the sizzling chemistry to erupt between them, nor for their duel to touch what both have denied themselves. Now they must choose to either remain together and sacrifice their personal beliefs, or part ways, losing what they’ve spent their lives searching for—love.
Warning: Dubious consent and violence.
Hunter sat on the windowsill of the passenger side of the car, heart beating faster than the speed of the Camaro. He held the shotgun and aimed. It was a dangerous situation, one he’d performed many times with Mechanix, who piloted the vehicle.
The bandana wrapping Hunter’s temples kept his long hair from distracting him, and he’d also bound it in a ponytail. Although the temperature was at least eighty degrees this late afternoon, gooseflesh pimpled his bare arms because he’d tossed his fringed buckskin jacket in the backseat twenty minutes ago, after the chase had begun. Only his vest offered protection from the roaring wind coming straight at him, generated by the speed of the car.
He’d hooked his boot in the handle grip below the glove box since any slight jolt could send him to the pavement. Thirteen years of experience told him it was better to drop his gun—which he had on two occasions—than risk a fatal injury.
Within the sight of the shotgun was the ’69 Ford Mustang Mach 1. The vehicle crested the slight peak in the road. For a moment, the marauder’s car was airborne. Then the chrome-styled mag tires slammed down on the pavement.
Hunter braced himself for the same impact. He held the shotgun with one hand while clutching the other handle grip. They were no longer skimming pavement. The tires hit the road with a thud that spread across his buttocks. He steadied himself and aimed again.
It was hard to get a lock from the amount of motion the ’Stang generated. The driver was having a helluva joyride leading them on this chase. Whenever Hunter assumed he had a clean shot, the marauder weaved from side to side. He had to get a lock or he’d never blow off the right back tire to immobilize the bastard.
There it was. The split second Hunter required. He squeezed the trigger, ensuring the butt was pressed deep against his armpit. The shotgun was his weapon of choice for pursuits because of the spread the pellets produced, which meant he was bound to hit something. But there was also a disadvantage to this gun, and that was limited range and penetration.
The familiar pop never happened. Much to his chagrin, the ’Stang continued to roar down the highway. He’d most likely caught the chrome bumper.
The highway was as familiar as the back of his hand. They were leaving the rare straightaway and would enter the hoodoos, a place where the road became a winding nightmare to navigate.
He eased into the car and settled the shotgun between his thighs.
“I’m sorry, man,” Mechanix snarled in his excitable, fast-talking voice. He whacked the steering wheel. “Whoever he is, damn guy knows what he’s doing.”
“Of course he does,” Hunter muttered while checking the chamber to his .38 Special. They were also wasting precious gasoline. It was time to put an end to the game. “Give it another try. See if you can get up beside him.”
“I dunno. Even if I can manage it, the fucker has done some heavy mods.” Mechanix pointed. “He’ll probably switch on the blower. It’s not like he went and bought it in the city and has a factory-standard engine under the hood.”
The one place where cars were still built.
Hunter sank in the seat, dismissing the marauder who’d robbed his neighbors.
Fight to survive—it was all he’d known.
Although everyone who obeyed the rules of The Society lived in the cities, everything outside of the sentried walls had collapsed long before his birth. Mama had told him about a time when a person had the freedom to walk the streets and live their lives in such great places like Minneapolis. Now? She’d said those urban societies had become a dictatorship of slavery, taken over by the corrupt wealthy who demanded that everyone obey or die.
People who’d refused to become followers fought to reclaim places outside of the great walls to call home. But they paid a big price to live by their own rules, that being the gangs who’d taken over the free land, outnumbering the civilized folk who refused to become barbaric scavengers and murderers.
The safest place to live was the badlands, Hunter’s home of arid terrain, filled with soft rocks and clay-rich soil. A place where canyons, ravines, gullies, and hoodoos were the norm. A place difficult to build on and survive in. A place where spectacular color could be found alternating from black-and-blue coal stria to bright clays and red scoria.
Within the community of Voodoo Canyon, they stood a chance at protecting themselves against the parasites who preyed on the innocent.
There was no law in the badlands. His Lakota community had become the law. If they hadn’t, the scavengers, marauders, and road dogs would’ve overtaken the place he called home.
So Hunter would be this marauder’s judge, juror, and executioner. It was what he and Mechanix did. They protected their village.
Take their life before they take yours. It was Hunter’s mantra.
In front of him, the marauder was rounding the first sharp turn. Gut instinct ordered Hunter to…
Mechanix’s dark eyes widened. “What?”
“He wants us to follow him. He’s…” playing with us.
What stopped the marauder from engaging the blower and leaving them in the dust? That was a real racer the prick drove. Eventually, the bastard would let them approach from the side. Now that they were in the hoodoos, he’d force them off the road. After the crash, the fucker would waltz out of his vehicle and put a bullet in their brains. The marauder wanted to scavenge—rip the boots clean from their feet and take their possessions. Ten bucks the fucker had done this before, seeing how the bastard excelled on the highway.