Home > Give Me a Reason (Redemption Hills #1)

Give Me a Reason (Redemption Hills #1)
Author: A.L. Jackson

 

One

 

 

Trent

 

 

It was just before ten when I eased my bike into the packed parking lot at the front of the club.

Darkness had long descended on the small city of Redemption Hills, California. The sky above was nothing but a blanket of black. Against it, the neon lights gleamed and glowed from the two-story building like beacons of debauchery, flashing over the slew of cars and bikes lined in a row near the entrance.

I stopped at the front and planted my boots on the ground so I could roll my bike back. Killing the rumbling engine, I kicked the stand and swung off. The glow of club lights and the sound of heavy music seeped through the thick block walls.

I lit a smoke and strode for the entrance, my boots crunching on the loose gravel as I went.

“Mr. Lawson.” Kult dipped his head as I approached.

Awareness rustled through the bodies standing at the door to get inside as I advanced on the crowd.

“Kult,” I returned as I came up beside him.

“How are you tonight, Sir?”

“Still breathing.”

He chuckled. “All we can ask for, isn’t it?”

Kult was a bouncer who’d been working for me for the last four years. Intimidating as fuck. Loyal to the bone. Exactly what was required.

Stamping out my cigarette with the toe of my boot, I scanned the scene. “All quiet tonight?”

“So far, Sir,” Kult responded, his burly frame forever on guard.

“Way I like it,” I said, gaze sweeping the faces of those who’d turned to stare at me. Like every person there had taken note of my presence. Every eye compelled to look my direction.

My father had always said respect wasn’t earned, it was taken.

You had to own it.

Possess it.

As much as I’d despised the pig, he’d at least had that one thing right.

Proof of it was in the way every person had shifted. Now on edge. A shot of self-preservation injected into their bloodstreams.

Like they’d felt the rumble of the earth vibrating beneath the approach of my bike.

Felt the shift in the sordid, stagnant air.

I always found it ironic that they all seemed desperate for the promise made by the blue neon sign hanging from the front of the building.

Absolution.

Absolution from whatever sins they were running from.

Absolution from any choices they might make that night.

Absolution from feeling anything at all except for pleasure.

Still, they gaped at me like even in the midst of their thirst for indulgence, they felt wickedness in their presence.

They wouldn’t be wrong.

“At capacity?” I asked. There were at least twenty people in line, but I made it a habit to know everything going down in my club.

“Yes, Sir, since about nine.”

“Good.”

“Always is.” He cracked a bearded grin.

I lifted my chin in parting before I wound behind him so I could slip through the double doors and into the dingy glow of the bar. Music blared through the speakers and reverberated along the floors. It set up the vibe in anticipation of the band that would be taking the stage in about an hour.

Absolution was this cross between luxe and dive.

Fuckin’ kick-ass bands and the best drinks in the small, trendy mountain city that was tucked in the most northeastern corner of California.

A biker bar that had the rest of Redemption Hills flocking in droves for a chance to dip their toes into the danger they could feel seeping from the walls and still be able to walk away from it in the morning without feeling an ounce of guilt.

I edged deeper into the belly of my bar.

Place I’d built from the ground up with a little help from my brothers.

My attention swept the enormous room. The lights hanging from the cavernous ceiling were dimmed. Mood rowdy.

The bottom floor was surrounded by booths that lined the walls, tables and couches in the open space, and the stage and dance floor were to the far right.

The upper floor was home to pool tables and a second bar, and it wrapped around like a horseshoe, creating a balcony that was open in the middle to give a view of the stage.

I headed for the long matte black bar that ran the far wall on the main floor.

The floating shelves on the back wall were welded steel and glass, the rows of bottles running top to bottom cast in a glow of blue neon lights.

I wound through the couples snuggled on the couches and a few groups of college boys who were clearly out looking for a taste of the wild side.

Sage was behind the bar. He lifted his chin in welcome when he saw me coming. His dark tattoos looked like seething demons writhing across his even darker skin. Dude looked about as menacing as they came except for the grin that cracked his face.

“Yo, Trent. About time you decided to show your lazy ass.”

He was all cocky smiles as he poured me my regular. I slipped onto the stool in front of him, and he slid the glass my direction.

I took it with a scoff, taking a sip of the scotch and letting it soothe the disorder I couldn’t keep from raging inside. Way it always did. Begging to break loose.

“You gonna write me up for being late?” I razzed, quirking a brow.

Asshole loved acting the boss.

Considering he kept this place running when I wasn’t around, he might as well be.

Sage laughed a sound that was pure pity. “That would be a hard pass. Hard enough cleaning up your messes around here. You really gonna ask me to take on more?”

I tipped my glass his direction. “Only one I trust to do it.”

“Guess I need to start slacking then, yeah?” he taunted with a grin.

“Hell, no. Place would be in shambles without you. How is it looking tonight, anyway?”

He dried his hands on a towel. Sage was my general manager, but the dude loved playing bartender. It put him front and center. Where he could always keep an eye and an ear open. Be in the middle of the mix. Blending in so the rest of the staff thought of him as one of their own and let down their guard.

He always knew when something shady was going down before anyone else.

Plus, he actually fuckin’ liked people, so that was a thing.

“All’s good. Deliveries are complete and accounted for. Safes are full. Numbers are on your desk. Band is in the back ready to roll. All staff showed except for Laila. Shocker. Speaking of, there is someone waiting on you for an interview. She refused to leave until she saw you, if you want to know what you’re up against.”

His brown eyes played as he cracked a smirk and gestured toward one of the booths running the left wall.

I let my attention wander there, to the blonde who was sitting tucked in the booth sipping a Coke, looking so out of place I could actually feel her discomfort all the way from where I was sitting.

Frown taking hold, I swiveled my attention back to Sage. “Are you kidding me? Who let her in?”

Fighting laughter, he shrugged. “I did.”

Annoyance left me on a sigh. “Should only take a glance from you to know she doesn’t belong.”

Hell, she looked like raw meat set out for wolves to devour. Weak and ripe for the kill. Girl would get torn to shreds in a place like this.

Fact my dick jumped at the sight of her was evidence enough.

“Besides, interviews are by appointment only,” I added like he didn’t know the routine.

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