By noon that day, Lucas was amazed that Johnny managed to track him down. He was even more amazed that the long-haired truancy tracker got the jump on him. He was hiding out in his tree house after ditching Raynes. When Johnny knocked on his door, Lucas sprang out through the window, scrambling to the ground ten feet below.
The moment, Lucas dove through the tree house window, Johnny dropped to the ground and took him down with a flying tackle. So stunned by the move, Lucas failed to even put up a fight. On the way to Johnny’s van, he said, “Ain’t that child abuse or something?”
Johnny simply smirked. “Did I hurt you?” he asked.
“No,” Lucas sullenly said. “But you could have.”
“I was obligated to catch you,” Johnny said. “After Agent Raynes put an ABP out on you, demanding detention, I asked Judge Sully if I could provide emergency foster care for you as I don’t think Raynes has your best interest in mind. Sully agreed, and so here I am.”
He escorted him into Havelock school and said, “So, do you object to your temporary living arrangements?”
Lucas smiled. “No, that’s cool. At least, I’ll have four dogs to sleep with tonight. After Mickey D’s for supper, right?”
When school ended that day, Johnny picked Lucas up and drove him over to the Holland house to pick up extra clothes for his temporary stay. He could tell right away that something was seriously wrong, as Johnny appeared to be deeply troubled.
“What’s wrong?” Lucas said. “Is it my dad?”
“No,” Johnny said. “Beef took the recording to the county attorney and the consensus was they want to question Crow Harper before they release your dad. They still suspect he may have been involved.”
“That’s bullshit! My dad detests drugs of any kind!”
“Beef tried to convince the county attorney of that, but he is keeping your dad in custody. Beef knows it is a farce to accuse your dad of dealing, especially since the powder contained in that packet was laced with Deep 9. Beef drove out and met up with the old members of his club. To safeguard these dogs, the Ghosts contacted the Ameri-can Vets, asking them to ride out to the compound and guard them. Raynes is having a fit because of the News folk doing stories on why they are now guarding this compound. She is furious with me.”
Lucas offered him a confused look. “You? Why you?”
Johnny said, “Despite the fact she tried to stop me with a court gag order, I uploaded the story of this potential attack online. Due to my story, more biker clubs are now volunteering to stand guard duty at this compound to prevent these Vipers from taking revenge on the Ghosts. Just in case any more extremist operatives receive directions to attack these service dogs, they are locked and loaded.”
Lucas stared at him. “So, this is all good, right? No way these Muzzies can get past all those bikers, right? So, what’s wrong?”
Letting out a long sigh, Johnny said, “Goblin’s missing again. Someone broke into my house and stole him.”
“What?” Lucas gasped. “How could they steal him without getting attacked by your other dogs?”
Johnny said, “They took them, too.”
As Lucas hastily shoved clothes into a backpack, he felt really bad for Johnny having all of his dogs stolen. Of course, he knew right away who had taken the dogs, he just wasn’t able to share with Johnny that Goblin had already been stolen once before by Nate. Biker code would not allow him to snitch on his uncle.
Tears came unbidden to his eyes and he stood there trying, yet failing to harness his emotions. Although he shared no bond with any of the four dogs, he still felt really bad for them, knowing they were to be heartlessly thrown into the fighting ring as bait dogs at the Barn. His shoulders shook and he sniffled, then he broke down and outright cried for the loss of Johnny’s dogs.
A sudden rumble came from the front of the Holland house. Lucas sucked in a ragged breath and listened keenly to the Harley approach-ing from the west. Slinging the backpack over one shoulder, he ran down the hallway using his free hand to wipe the tear streaks from his face. As he neared the front door he heard Johnny say, “Sweet Jesus!”
Peering out through the screen door, Lucas watched the rider park his Harley in front of the Holland house and shut it down. He was tall and rangy, his long, gray hair reminding Lucas of a wolf. He thought, Sam Elliot from Roadhouse, or Aragorn from the Lord of the Rings.
The wolfish man approached Johnny, the ghost of a smile on his weathered face. “Why are you standing on Stone Holland’s porch, Johnny Boy? I thought you didn’t like big, bad bikers, son.”
After a heavy sigh, Johnny responded, “Hi, Dad.”
Lucas stepped out onto the porch, stunned. “Chance Mason is your dad, Johnny? Mace, President of the Outlaws? Why didn’t you tell me this? I mean, didn’t you think I had a right to know?”
The grizzly biker gave Lucas a curious look.
Johnny said, “Dad, this is Stone’s son, Lucas. He’s been placed in my custody while Stone is in jail.”
Lucas said, “Dad told me that long ago the Angels came to Lincoln to settle a fight between the Screaming Eagles and the Association. During that meeting, the Angels disbanded the Association, creating Nomads, who later became the Den. The Angels tried to shut the Den down. Hell’s Angels reign over Nebraska. Big Dogs who don’t want to compete with young pups. Dad said you went and had a face-face with the president of the Angels in Omaha, asking him to sanction the Elder’s Den here in Havelock.”
Mace looked over at Johnny with a rueful grin. “You ever tell him why you don’t ride with your old man? This is touching. This history that the Den and the Outlaws share, but where’s their clubhouse? I need to get to church and be gone. No time for this chit-chat.”
Mace ran a hand through his gray hair, feathering his shaggy bangs. He said, “I’m here to speak to the Den. Got a call from your dad. You are on the radar of the Apaches. Crow Harper is gunning for you. Crow is a psychopath who will carry out his threat: To bury you alive. He’s in business with the Juarez cartel, and they are pissed at him over the cancellation of some dogfight you interfered in.”
Johnny said, “I get how serious this is. Stone involving the Outlaws is not to be taken lightly. But is it really necessary to scare the kid? Does it always have to be such drama with you?”
Mace softly growled, “Tone it down a notch, son.”
Lucas dropped the backpack on the porch. He said, “He’s just looking out for me. It’s his job, so he feels obligated to protect me.”
Plus, he thought, nearly saying it out loud, he just lost his dogs and he’s in a piss-poor mood. So manners aren’t required.
Mace said, “Drama is a fact of life, Johnny Boy. You got any idea how bikers operate?”
“Yes,” Johnny said. “But the cops are looking for this president of the Apaches for planting a packet of chemicals in Stone’s truck. They won’t release Stone until they hear Harper’s side of the story. Maybe the Den and Outlaws could put out a biker ABP on the bastard.”
Lucas said, “That would be like snitching.”
“Yeah,” Johnny said, impatiently. “I know all about the codes of the clubs, but if Crow is serious about harming you, then snitching should be overlooked for once. Just get the guy off the streets!”
Lucas wished he could zip Johnny’s lips shut. Mace should have been angry with him for making ignorant suggestions on how to eliminate this Apache problem, yet he grinned, amused that his son was schooling him on how to handle this issue.