Burn Down the Night (Everything I Left Unsaid #3)- Molly O'Keefe
I had a speech all worked out. Totally nuts, right? Like I was one of the bad guys in a cheesy movie.
Except I was the good guy. I swear.
And the guy I was going to hold the gun on, the guy I was going to threaten, kill if I had to—he was the bad guy. The villain. The nightmare made flesh and blood.
The thought of him made my skin crawl and the thought of him touching my sister made me gag. Made me want to rip out my heart so it wouldn’t hurt so bad.
I was the good guy. I was. And he was so bad I would kill him if I had to. Both of us. If I had to.
Please don’t let me have to.
Walking into a strip club chock-full of dangerous bikers and one drug-cooking lunatic with a messiah complex is kind of a Hail Mary. My last chance. It’s this or a blaze of glory.
Trust me, I know how crazy that sounds.
But I’ve been the queen of crazy for the last few months. The last year, really.
Who am I kidding? My entire life I’ve been at the epicenter of crazy. I am the hurricane’s eye.
This had to work. There was no Plan B.
The thumping bass line coming out of the strip club’s sound system made the speakers buzz and crackle, but the beat was so loud it drowned out the doubt. The fear. My heartbeat started to pound in time. I could feel it in the palms of my sweaty hands.
I tried to pretend I wasn’t scared, but my mouth was dry. Stress tears burned behind my eyes. I was not nearly as cool as I wanted to be.
Sure, I had more than a passing relationship with wild, over-the-top behavior. But this…
This had death wish written all over it.
I walked through the Velvet Touch with my cap pulled down low. I’d cut my hair, dyed it closer to my regular color—a color he’d never seen, no one here had seen me like this—and I was wearing contacts that made my green eyes brown. I was banking on the fact that in the dark strip club no one was going to look too hard at me.
That’s kind of a rule at strip clubs. No eye contact. Feel free to look your fill at the naked muff all over the place, but eye contact makes everyone uncomfortable.
I was walking through the place seeing who was working and how many customers were in the chairs, the bars, and the tables in the back. The back rooms. Trying to get a handle on how many people I was going to have to get out of here in order to make my plan work. It was Saturday night and this whole thing would have been a lot easier on a Wednesday, but that would have been too lucky.
And if there was one thing I could bank on, it was me being unlucky.
This was the last night all the parties would be meeting here. After this, Lagan, the crazy cult leader, would go home to his legion of “brides” cutting cocaine in some backwoods stronghold and the Skulls Motorcycle Club, who would be distributing Lagan’s product, would go back to their chapter base in Florida. After today, all the drug business would be done through phone calls on burner cells and cryptic messages passed through Zo.
So, Saturday night it was. And there were too many people here to just yell “fire” and think they’d all head out. Pulling the fire alarm would bring cops here—fast. Which wouldn’t give me and my speech much time.
I would start a fire, a small one in the women’s bathroom, right across the narrow hall from the back office/meeting place. The commotion would be a distraction. And I was confident that people would clear out before pulling an alarm or calling 911. This crowd had a pretty reliable save-my-own-skin instinct.
Sweat ran down my body under my hoodie. The hoodie in the North Carolina heat made me a little conspicuous, but I couldn’t risk anyone seeing the gun.
A man coming out of the back hallway where all the secret rooms were bumped into my shoulder, knocking me against the wall.
“Sorry,” he said and that voice…fuck. That voice.
My stomach jumped into my throat.
Max Daniels, you are not supposed to be here.
“You all right?” he asked in the low, rough drawl.
“Fine,” I said, trying to pitch my voice differently so he wouldn’t recognize me. It’s not that we’d talked a