If there's one thing the Ashton Grove M.C. can't stand, it's a man taking his fists to a woman. When Viper sits down to a game of poker with the Red Devils M.C., and their Sergeant at Arms tosses a woman in as his bet, Viper knows he has to win at all costs. Battered and bruised, he can only imagine the horrors she's faced, but once he wins her, Viper has no clue what to do with her.
Scarlet feels so dirty she may never come clean, but now that she's away from the Red Devils, she can let down her guard. There's something about Viper's touch that sets her on fire and makes her want more, even if he hasn't looked at her in that way. As much as Scarlet would love to go back to her old life, she knows that isn't possible.
With Viper's wolf prodding him along, and the lecherous glances of his brothers sending him into a rage, he knows it's only a matter of time before he claims Scarlet. But after everything she's been through, does she have what it takes to be an old lady?
The gun was cool against his palm, his heartbeat steady and sure, as he trained the weapon on the Prospect in front of him. He watched the man sweat, the pulse pounding in his throat, as he held his hands up in surrender, pants still around his ankles. Viper wasn’t satisfied. He didn’t just want him to be afraid; he wanted him to taste death. The Loup Garous M.C. members, Ashton Grove chapter, weren’t saints, but they also believed in a swift justice when it came to rapists.
The girl cowered in the corner, her clothes torn from her body, bruises forming on her arms and thighs. The fingermarks on her pale skin were enough to set off Viper all over again. He’d walked into the boardroom, intending to find a little quiet time, but instead had walked in on a nightmare. The girl was the responsibility of the Loup Garous—his responsibility—until they could figure out what to do with her. She’d been won in a hand of poker, but she knew too much to release her, and yet they weren’t sure she fit in with the club.
Viper held out his free hand, motioning for her to come closer. “I won’t hurt you, Scarlet.”
She moved swiftly, keeping an eye on the Prospect, as she zipped around him and hurried to Viper’s side. Scarlet stood beside him, her gaze fastened on her would-be rapist. Her slight frame trembled, but Viper doubted it was from the cold. He knew a little of her story and knew she’d been abused at the hands of the Red Devils MC, the bastards he’d won her from in a lucky hand of poker. He was glad he’d gotten her away from the outlaw scum, but he hadn’t a clue what to do with her. He wasn’t ready to settle down with an old lady, and after the trauma she’d suffered, she’d never make it as a party girl for the club.
“What do you want me to do with him?” Viper asked.
Scarlet licked her lips, and with a shaky hand, she reached for the gun. Curious, Viper let her have it. The worst she could do was kill the Prospect, which was what he’d intended to do anyway. He watched as she leveled the gun at the asshole, but as her finger squeezed the trigger, she dropped her aim, sending three rounds into the jackass’ dick. Viper winced at the justice, but he wasn’t about to stop her. If she wanted to beat the asshole while he was down, Viper would let her. It was the least she deserved.
Wordlessly, Scarlet handed the gun back to him, staring dispassionately at the Prospect writhing on the ground. The gunfire had brought several of Viper’s brothers into the room, each halting in their tracks when they reached Viper’s side.
“What the fuck, man?” Scorch said. “You should have just killed the bastard if you were going to shoot his dick off.”
Viper shrugged. “Wasn’t me.”
Scorch eyed Scarlet and took a step away from her. Viper fought a smile. She might not realize it, but she’d just earned the respect of every man in the club, and possibly the hatred of every party girl. She now had something they all wanted, something those sluts would never be able to earn.
“What happened?” Digger asked.
“I wanted to get away from the party for a while and came in here for a quiet glass of whiskey,” Viper said. “Except I found the Prospect with his pants around his ankles, tearing the clothes off Scarlet.”
“The broken nose and black eye your doing?” Scorch asked.
Viper nodded. “I was going to put a bullet in his brain, but Scarlet had other ideas. I have to admit, I like her brand of justice. I don’t think he’s learned his lesson though. Why don’t you boys take him out back and make sure he suffers a little more before he dies? I have little doubt he’ll bleed out.”
“Consider it done,” Digger said, hauling the Prospect to his feet and shoving him out the door.
Once they were alone, Viper turned to Scarlet. She trembled and had folded her arms around her stomach, as if she were trying to hold herself together. He slowly reached for her, not wanting to scare her more than she already was. Tipping her chin up, he stared down into liquid blue eyes, watching as a tear fell from her lashes and splashed onto her cheek. Ah hell. There was a lot of shit he could handle, but a weeping female wasn’t one of them. He should probably get one of the old ladies and let her take care of Scarlet, but…Viper couldn’t explain this sudden urge he felt to wrap his arms around her and tell her everything would be all right.
“Thank you,” she said softly. “I didn’t know what he’d planned to do to me or I never would have walked off with him. He’d seemed nice.”
“I’m guessing nice men were in short supply with the Red Devils.”
She nodded. “No one’s been nice to me for a while. I let myself get carried away by the moment and dropped my guard. It won’t happen again.”
Viper jerked his knife free and handed it to her. “Keep this on you at all times. Anyone does something you don’t like, you threaten to cut off their nuts with it. Then you come tell me what happened and I’ll see they learn from their mistakes.”
“Why would you do that?”
“Despite the fact I don’t know what the fuck to do with you, you’re mine, Scarlet. I won you fair and square. Some of the guys say I should fuck you and then send you on your way, but knowing all that I do about you, I could never do that. You’re too dangerous to our way of life to set you free, and yet, after everything you’ve been through, you don’t really fit into a specific role within the MC. I could force you into the position of a party girl, but we both know that would be a mistake. You’re strong, but even I know that would break you.”
“Why do you care if I’m broken?” she asked softly.
“I don’t know.”
And the fuck of it was, he really didn’t know why he cared. She was nothing to him, and yet he wanted to take care of her. If his brothers even had a clue, they would give him some serious shit. Feeling strongly about a woman just wasn’t done, unless she was your old lady. Viper supposed there were worse things in life than having a willing woman in your bed every night, but he worried he’d get tired of the same pussy day after day. There were always a few party girls ready to service him, sometimes two and three at a time.
Scarlet shivered again. Viper took off his cut, pulled his shirt over his head, and handed it to her before putting his vest back on. She accepted it, but stared at it a moment. When she didn’t move, he reached out and removed the torn remnants of her clothes, then helped her into the shirt. It fell to her knees and covered everything important.
Fuck! What the hell did he care if she showed her ass? Because it’s our ass, his wolf growled. He supposed the beast had a point. He had won Scarlet, which made her his in every way that mattered. But he had a feeling the wolf meant to keep her for other reasons, and Viper wasn’t ready for that. He’d seen the way the old ladies looked when their men went off with the party girls, and he knew he never wanted to be the one to put that look of disappointment and sorrow on a woman’s face. They always knew the score up front, that it was a one-time deal.