"Maybe her fire is the key to killing Stoke."
"There's no way in hell I'm letting her go up against him again. Look where it got us." Booker sounded bitter and the lines on his face tensed. "We'll find another way to take out that motherfucker. He's not getting close to Zoe."
"You'd deny her the right to take her just revenge?"
"We're not having this conversation. The last time I let you and her soften me on this subject we almost lost her. So drop it."
Rider raised his hands in surrender. "Chill, man, I love her too." The tension between them felt disturbing. He wasn't used to his older brother snapping at him. They'd always been agreeable. Clearly Booker was more worried than he let on concerning Stoke's supposed return.
He lay down and pulled his riding jacket over her naked body. Beautiful in her own right with no false tanning or cosmetic alterations, she looked at peace and every bit the angel lying with them now. He prayed her healing would continue and she'd be able to move forward without the rage. He wondered what could actually happen if she did turn that fire loose.
They had been resting in silence for most of the afternoon when a knock at the door woke Rider from his light slumber. Booker also came to attention but Zoe remained undisturbed.
"I'll get it." Rider pulled on his pants and walked to the door. He couldn't imagine who would be paying them a visit already. Maybe the furniture arrived a day early. He doubted it but entertained the possibility anyway. Yet it seemed rather late for a delivery truck. He noticed shadows skittering across the floor from a setting sun.
"Hey, old friend," a man his age and height said when he opened the door. A pretty blonde woman stood at his side.
Rider braced his hand on the door jamb, temporarily speechless and simply staring with his mouth open.
"Someone at the club said you'd moved out to LA. Didn't take me long to track you down."
"We had an agreement," Rider managed to say amidst his shock.
"They're dead. I took out their leader about a year ago. We tracked down the last surviving pack members and finished them off. I heard you and Booker had been at the club while we were out on the hunt. I lead my own clan now." He paused to remove his jacket. "Word has it that you took the plunge. Why the fuck did you do that?"
Rider reached out and gripped his shoulder in a manly greeting. "For a day like this."
An easy smile traversed Ryker's face. "You've always been too soft."
"So I've been told," he quipped. He gave the blonde companion a slow once over. "Who's your friend?"
"Sorry for my lack of manners, wasn't sure how you'd receive us. This is Chalina, my woman."
"My friends call me Chali." She offered her hand in greeting and smiled.
He gave her hand a gentle squeeze, then looked from one to the other. "Never thought you'd settle down, does she know?"
"Yeah, she's under my protection now. Seems I'm not the only one putting down roots. I heard that you and Booker have an interesting arrangement with an even more fascinating female."
Rider nodded and couldn't withhold a smile. "Come inside, but wait here a minute. I should probably give them a heads up. He's extremely protective over her at the moment and she may not be awake yet. We were winding down after a long road trip."
"Are you in trouble?"
"Let's get everyone acquainted, then we can talk." Rider left them and returned to the main room to find Zoe awake sitting with Booker on the rug, both dressed. "We have company."
Booker arched one brow. "Who the hell is bugging us already? If it's Garret send him away. I'm not in the mood to deal with his whining right now. Apparently Stoke is kicking up dirt again and Garret wants us to take care of the prick."
"I really don't feel up to company either," Zoe added.
Rider gave his brother an unyielding look. "It's not Garret ... Ryker is here."