SERIES READING ORDER
His darkness has consumed him.
Is she the light that he needs?
Joel O’Brien has been drafted into a fight he doesn’t believe in. While the Black Shamrocks MC is doubling down for the final battle in the war they’ve been waging with Thomas Taylor and the Mavericks of Mayhem, Joel dreams of a different life. One where his family is intact and the Club no longer exists.
Sascha Koswalski knows what comes from loving an outlaw biker. Pain. Suffering. A broken heart. She’s not willing to risk it again—no matter how intriguing she finds Joel.
As the end nears, and life-changing secrets are revealed, Joel and Sascha find themselves drawn together by the cold, hard realisation that they are the key to the survival of the Black Shamrocks MC. In this final defence of their way of life, will the Black Shamrocks MC be the victors or the victims?
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“A great battle is a terrible thing,” the old knight said, “but in the midst of blood and carnage, there is sometimes also beauty, beauty that could break your heart.” ~ George R. R. Martin ~
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, or so it’s said. The day he walked—limped—into my clinic, there was no beauty to be found. Instead, a gigantic dark mass of rage hid his soulful blue eyes, perfectly symmetrical features, and full lips under a cloak of misery so dense that it stole the breath from my lungs. I took down his name, and he took a piece of my heart.
My mum always says that I’m too quick to trust, too fast to give away my feelings. I can’t help it. Pain and suffering calls to me. It whispers my name, begging me to act as a salve to the unbearable ache that I can see them crumbling under.
From the first moment I can remember, my touch has brought comfort. Whether it was my puppy when he injured his leg, my little sister when she grazed her knees, or my daughter who still looks to her mummy to kiss away the hurt—I’m the person who makes everything better.
Until him. He confounded me; shook off my desire to care for him with an angry shrug that should have scared me into leaving him alone. It didn’t work, though. Because beneath his veneer of hostility, there’s a glimmer of something deeper. It’s easily identifiable to those who are adept at finding it.
Hope. That’s what I see when he lets his guard drop.
And, it’s what stops me from walking away when he begins snarling at the world.
Life let me taste the sweetness it can offer—one time, long ago. The spark of interest that colours his cheeks when he looks at me. The hint of jealousy that narrows his eyes when I talk to his friends. The way he angles his body closer to mine when I’m near. They tell me two things.
One. I’m responsible for the hope that’s growing in his gaze with each furtive glance in my direction.
Two. This man is my last chance to grab the fleeting goodness that life has to offer.
Because, together, we could do more than fall in love.
A sharp bolt of agony travels from my knees to my hips. Thankfully, I broke nothing when I dropped to the ground next to my bleeding sister. Although my relief is short-lived when she screams as I prod her in an effort to find the source of the dark, red liquid that’s pooling on the ground beneath her. Shifting so I can get out of her way when she reaches for Mad Dog’s hand, the sheer fury in the words that Maddi yells freezes the beating of my heart in my chest. It stops. Dead in its tracks. Unable to cope with the bloodbath that surrounds us.
“This is wrong. It’s my goddamned wedding day. It’s not supposed to end like this.”
The unfairness of the situation is clear. What I can do to help is not. The hand she’s holding belongs to her more-than-likely, close-to-death—or dead—husband of fifteen minutes, not even two metres away, her best friend lies unmoving over his family, while just beyond him our cousin lays dead. What used to be his chest is sprayed over the ground in front of him; the knees of his sobbing father—my uncle—kneeling in the remnants of his only child. Around him, the rest of the Shamrocks women scream, and the few men who are still standing search the yard for clues to whether the attack is over.
Lacey falls to the ground beside me, finally able to come in answer to my wild beckoning. Her eyes are wide, filled with the same emotions that I know she’ll find reflected in mine.
Disbelief. Urgency. Sorrow.
“Are they alive?” Lacey shoots the question at me, then ducks her head to brace herself for the answer. The couple in front of us aren’t moving, except for the minute rise and fall of their chests.
“I think s—”
My reply is cut off when another explosion erupts. The row of Harley’s that line the front fence lift off the ground and then burst into flames, sending everyone scattering. This time we have no leadership to tell us what to do, and that fact becomes apparent as everyone takes off in different directions.
We are sitting ducks.
And the snipers who have us in their sight know this.
“Get down,” I growl at Lacey, pushing her by the shoulders until she’s on the ground next to Maddi. “Play dead.”
Sparing my suddenly cooperative hands a quick glance, I force myself to my feet. I need a weapon and I need to find out who’s left to form some sort of a defence with me. No sooner has that thought taken hold in my mind when it’s sent spiralling to the dark recesses of my brain.
I spot three men, all dressed in black. One is positioned on top of the Clubhouse, the second partially hidden in one of the alcoves built into the eight-foot-tall concrete fence that surrounds the compound. That’s bad enough. But, it’s the third guy, who turns my blood to ice.
He has his rifle pointed at Benji. My brother is distracted; his attention focussed on Viking and our younger brothers. He’s frantically gesturing for Matty and Lachie to help Mad Dog’s ailing father into the workshop. Over the shrill cries, and the gruff voices that are trying to take control, I can hear my brother taking charge of that trio—all the while, oblivious to the threat that’s bearing down on him.
“Get in the shed, and, get the fuck down. Don’t even look out the windows.” My feet have a mind of their own, heading in my brother’s direction before I decide to. The limp that normally slows me is curiously absent as I watch the third sniper lean closer to his scope and line Benji up. My brother’s still yelling orders as I close the distance between us.
My throat has seized up, the warning that I need to provide not coming. One step. Two steps. I open my mouth and yell louder than I ever have in my life. “BENJI! SNIPER!”
He spins toward me, turning his back on our little brothers. His mouth—the one that’s been responsible for some of the greatest one-liners I’ve ever heard—drops open when he sees me gaining on him. My right arm lifts in an attempt to show him where the sniper is, only to fall uselessly to my side when the sound of a shot being fired rings out and a perfectly round, bright red circle appears in the dead centre of his forehead.
Benji drops to his knees. The surprise that was on his face disappearing as his expression turns blank and his life comes to an end. He slumps forward, falling face first on the concrete driveway. I stumble over my own feet and land next to him. My hands raise just in time for me to brace for impact, then I roll onto my side next to my dead brother and look up at the cloudless, blue sky.
For a second I close my eyes and hope to hell that this is all a dream. Opening them, I’m met with the shocked faces of my two little brothers and Kyle leaning over me. Matty begins to speak, only to be drowned out by the staccato sound of an automatic rifle echoing off the surrounding buildings.
Boom. Boom. Boom.
One. Two. Three.
Matty. Lachie. Kyle.
One by one, my blood brothers and our adopted brother fall to the ground beside me.
Everyone I love. My sister. My cousin. My brothers. Gone.
The shooting stops, a deathly silence taking its place. I turn on my side, determined to find another survivor. Instead, I see nothing but rivers of red. The blood of my family runs down the concrete driveway, pooling together as a manmade tribute to the carnage to which I just played witness.
I lower my eyelids again.
Please God, let this be a dream.
I lift them, only to be greeted by the same sight.
Nope, it’s definitely not a dream.