Hidden behind the fence, Chris’s eyes went wide and he anxiously said, “Dad’s headed for the house, Rain!”
Rain nodded. He gestured at Chris to take Bandit and run across the open area between the fence and the Weston’s backyard. Snatching up Bandit’s leash, Chris darted toward the yard. Rain was quick to follow, hoping none of the Outlaws spotted him as he did so.
It was as they covered the last twenty feet around to the front door of their own house that the thunder of several bikes caused Chris to skid to a halt. Bandit, in full run-mode, nearly broke his leash as he catapulted back into Rain’s legs and sent them both sprawling to the ground. “Bikes coming up the road!” Chris cried.
Pulling himself to his feet, Rain peered in alarm at Daws Roberts and a dozen Guardians coming up the road toward the Nelson.
“What are we going to do about Cal?” Chris asked.
Rain muttered, “I don’t know!”
Bandit barked a fierce warning to the bikers pulling up in the street. A moment later, Chase came from around the side of the house as Daws and his men killed their bikes.
Into the sudden silence, Daws said, “We found my brother’s hog in front of the store down the street. Any idea where he is, Chase?”
Chase began to respond when Denny and several Outlaws came running from around the side of the house, none of them pleased to see members of their rival gang parked there in the street.
Denny snarled, “You’re not welcome here, Daws! You’re trespassing, and what’s more, you interrupted our session of church! Now start up those bikes and get the hell out of here!”
Chase reached out, placing a massive hand on Denny’s skinny shoulder. “Turn it down a notch, son,” he commanded.
And Rain and Chris standing close by heard him mutter beneath his breath, “Didn’t you hear a goddamned thing I said at the fire?”
“I don’t care!” Denny snapped, glaring down at his dad’s hand still clamped onto his shoulder. “I ain’t shaking in terror at his goddamned threat! Daws can just go to hell!”
Chase removed his hand, a dark glower coming to his face.
“Denny!” snapped Mike Shade as he joined them in front of the house. “Show your dad the respect he deserves!”
Daws and his Guardians sat there smirking and unafraid as thirty
more members of the Outlaws came around the house led by Doug.
“Oh, shit!” Chris whispered. “There’s gonna be one helluva fight!”
Rain whispered back, “Daws has no right trespassing into Sprague. The night that he and Mike fought, Mike’s settled the dispute as to the border the Guardians could no longer cross. Daws and his bikers are clearly out of line riding so boldly into our town.”
In light of all he had heard his dad say at the fire, Rain was wondering just how Mike was going to deal with this infraction, without bringing a full-scale war to the Outlaws.
“I am looking for my brother,” Daws told Mike. “I told him not to come here, but imagine he came to talk to Chase and his two boys about that damned unfortunate bus wreck that took place out near Miller’s Pond this afternoon.”
Mike took his place beside Chase. “Just what does your brother have to do with Chase, his boys, and that bus wreck, Daws?”
Knowing he’d said too much, Daws shrugged. “Don’t know, other than the fact that Cal doesn’t agree with that Indian’s story he’s been feeding the Sheriff down at the jail. Before things spiral out of control, I imagine Cal just wanted to wanted to make sure these boys had it straight in their heads as to what actually happened.”
Mike folded his arms before his chest and firmly said, “We don’t owe that Indian anything. We don’t much care what happens to him, but . . .” he paused, long enough to scan the faces of the thirteen Guardians before him, then said, “But if Cal came here uninvited, unannounced, he’s clearly out of line. If he was anyone other than your brother who pulled such a stunt, how would you deal with him?”
Daws shrugged his shoulders again. “You talking consequences?” he asked, a furrow creasing his brow.
Mike nodded. “I am,” he said.
Daws had just opened his mouth to respond when suddenly from inside the house came, “Daws? Is that you, Daws?”
Mike and the rest of the Outlaws wheeled around to see Cal hobbling toward the front screen door as he struggled to free himself from the clothesline. He gave one clumsy lurch forward, hurtled himself into the door, and he and the screen came exploding out onto the front porch. He crashed to the wooden boards with a loud crunch.
Taking one look at the bright red blood trickling down Cal’s face, Daws leaped off his bike and passed through the crowd of Outlaws to reach his brother sprawled on the porch.
“What the hell happened to you, Cal?” Daws snarled, his enraged glare settling directly on Chase.
“I don’t have a clue,” Chase said, “as to what this is about.”
“He broke into the house, Dad!” cried Chris, stepping forward to approach the porch. “He had a knife to Bandit’s neck! He was going to kill him if we didn’t listen to what he had to say! Rain beaned him with the frying pan! We were going to tell you about it after church!”
Chase stood there, looking at Chris and Rain, a dark scowl coming to his bearded features. “Not that my boys would lie,” he growled, softly, “but is this true, Cal? Whatever you had to say to them was that important that you threatened to kill their dog?”
Untangling his hands with the help of Daws, Cal staggered to his feet, saying, “It wasn’t like that–wasn’t how they said it–wasn’t how it happened–I swear–”
“Bullshit!” Rain blurted, passing between Doug and Denny as he joined Chris and Bandit on the porch. “You’re a liar! You’re lying now and you lied about Ben Long Soldier being drunk! It was you who caused that damned crash! You were the one who was drunk!”
Daws and Cal Roberts stood frozen as the Outlaws closed a tight circle before them. In desperation, Daws called out, “Chase? You best call off the dogs! If this goes one step further, the end of the Outlaws will be soon to follow! I swear!”
Denny made a lunge, his fist cutting air an inch from Cal’s nose as Doug latched onto his wiry brother and swung him around to keep him from connecting with Cal. “Denny!” Doug grunted, straining with the effort to hold him back. “Stop! Stop, now!”
“But,” Denny cried, his one arm held by Doug and his other pinned to his side by Mike, “we can’t just let something like this go! This crosses a line in so many ways! How can we let this go?”
Rain could see that Denny had tears in his eyes as he expressed his rage at the injustice of it all. He struggled in the grasp of Doug and Mike, trying with all of his strength to break free. “Mike? Dad? How can you just let him go after knowing what he put Rain and Chris through? This ain’t right!”
At the sudden crunching of gravel behind the mob of Outlaws, Chase turned around to see that the twelve Guardians who had ridden in with Daws had placed their kick stands down, preparing to back their president if the need arose. Things were about to turn ugly real fast. Yes, the Guardians were badly outnumbered. Yes, they would suffer greatly if they persisted. And later the Outlaws would pay the ultimate consequence, for Daws would certainly make his phone call.
Chase surmised as he watched the face-off taking place with the Guardians in the street and the Outlaws gathered in his yard, that the bad coming their way was inevitable. If it didn’t happen after this violent altercation, it would somewhere down the line.
He decided to take the matter out of the hands of Mike and his sons, hoping to place the burden on himself, hoping to shift the blame for what was going to happen in the near future on him, only on him.
“Stand down!” Chase thundered, causing the Outlaws between him and Guardians in the street to glance back at him in puzzlement. “Let them go!” he commanded, brooking no nonsense from any of the biker mob taking up his front yard. “Mike? Doug? Keep a muzzle on Denny, and make room for Daws and Cal to walk off that porch.”
Daws sighed in relief, “Smart move, Chase! You’re smarter than you look! Saved your club a world of hurt, for sure!”
The big golden-haired biker president led his brother off the porch and wove his way in between the enraged Outlaws reluctant to let them go freely on their way. Alarmed by their angry glares, Cal placed one hand on his brother’s shoulder as Daws muscled his way through the crowd. It was just as the two Roberts’ brothers passed in front of him that Chase reached out and latched onto the front of Cal’s blood-stained T-shirt. Daws turned quite suddenly and tried to pry Chase’s hand off of his brother. “Think again,” he said, “before you do something stupid here, Chase!”
Chase struck so fast that Daws found himself landing hard on his ass that created a furrow in the deep gravel of the street where he had skidded to a stop, blood running from his busted nose.
“You’ve got a choice to make,” Chase said, his hand locking once more on Cal’s T-shirt. He took a moment to glance back at Rain and Chris. “You can go directly to Sheriff Baxster’s office and confess your sins, getting those false charges on the Indian dismissed. Or suffer my wrath for dealing so foully with my boys. You’ve got five seconds to decide. Starting now.”
Cal pulled back, squirming to free himself from Chase’s iron-like grip. “I ain’t saying shit to the Sheriff!” he snapped.
“That was fast,” Chase said, matter of factly.
He then let loose with a flurry of punches that sent Cal catapulting off his feet. He landed heavily beside his brother, falling on his tail-bone and then sprawling flat on his back, out cold and down for the count due to Chase’s brutal assault.
Daws groaned as his brother jarred him with his dramatic landing, causing his hand over his profusely bleeding nose to come away from his face.
He grunted, “You’re gonna pay for this, you cold-hearted bastard!”
To which Chase said, “Yes, I suppose I am.”