Home > Ride Hard (Raven Riders #1)(5)

Ride Hard (Raven Riders #1)(5)
Laura Kaye

“Yes,” she said, the turning of her head pulling thick strands of long blond waves over her shoulder. Her hair hung to her hips over clothes so baggy Dare wondered how they stayed on. “What does it mean?”

Only everything—to him and all the Ravens. He’d built his life around those three words these past twenty years. “I don’t know what you know about motorcycle clubs, but we’re not your typical MC.” And that had been by design. Dare had grown up inside an outlaw MC, inside a group of self-proclaimed One Percenters—the nickname coming from the American Motorcycle Association having once declared that ninety-nine percent of all MCs were law abiding. Which of course meant that one percent weren’t. The son of Butch Kenyon, the Arizona Diablos’ vice-president, who was also known as The Sandman for the number of men he was responsible for sending to their final sleep, Dare had been groomed to help lead that club one day. Which meant he knew exactly what things he hadn’t wanted replicated here, thank you very much.

“I don’t know a lot,” Haven said in a quiet voice.

He walked to the side of the room, where a collection of framed photographs hung in a tight cluster on the wall. The club’s patched members. Almost forty in total, not including a few older members who’d retired from active status, the two prospective members they currently had, and the extended family of all their wives and girlfriends and kids. “We live by our own rules and values, just like most clubs do. And we protect our own, whatever it takes. This MC is a brotherhood. It’s a family,” he said, crossing his arms. “But a long time ago we also made it our mission to be something more. To serve the community we live in. And we do that by fighting for those who can’t fight for themselves, and by defending those who can’t defend themselves.” Dare looked Haven in the eye, wanting her to believe what he was saying. “Sometimes that means that we give people who need it a safe haven here, and sometimes that means that we provide protection for people in their lives. But either way, we intend to make it clear that in our backyard, there is no tolerance for bullying the weak, and absolutely no intention to fear those who think they’re powerful.”

“Okay,” Haven said. She lowered her chin and nodded. “Thank you.”

He appreciated the sentiment, but he didn’t need it. None of this had started to stroke his own ego, anyway. Just the opposite, in fact. No matter how many people he and the Ravens helped, it never made up for the first two people he’d failed and let die—while he’d run for his life. Hell if twenty-plus years had done a damn thing to take the sharp edges off that reality. “Hey,” he said, his voice suddenly full of gravel. He reached out a hand to nudge her chin up, but pink flooded her cheeks at the near touch, so he stepped back and folded his arms. “You don’t owe me any thanks.”

Eyes on the photographs, she hugged herself. “I . . . I do.” Something about the way she said the words made Dare think she didn’t often put herself out there by contradicting people, which made him even more curious about why she was doing it now. “Kindness isn’t common, in my experience. Which means it’s something to acknowledge.” She brought her gaze back to his.

What the hell had happened to her to lead her to that conclusion? Not that he disagreed. Her words resonated inside Dare for a reason. He’d seen so damn much ugliness in his life. But why had she? And who the hell did he have to beat the shit out of for teaching her that particular lesson? “Well, you’re welcome,” he managed, and then he heaved a breath. “Listen, we can be a rowdy bunch, especially when we’re blowing off steam like tonight. And we aren’t angels by any stretch of the imagination. But there isn’t a single man here who wouldn’t help you. So if you need something, all you have to do is ask.”

“ASK,” HAVEN REPEATED. “Right.” Only, while her ears heard the words, the racing of her heart and the prickling on her scalp told her she wouldn’t be putting that advice into action any time soon. Assuming she even believed it.

She peered up at Dare. The man was intimidation personified. Tall. Shoulder-length dark brown hair. Muscular, but lean, like a back-alley brawler. Piercing eyes so dark they were almost black, so penetrating she felt like he could look inside her and read all her deepest fears. A scar cut a wide swath through his left eyebrow, and the crookedness of his nose said it had been broken at least once. There was a ruggedness about his face that bordered on harsh and an arrogance to the way his body moved that said he feared absolutely no one. Unlike her. Tattoos on his arms and peeking out of the neck of his black T-shirt added to the roughness of his appearance, as did the well-worn denim cutoff jacket he wore that was all decked out in black leather patches, symbols, and words.

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