Hooked (Viking Bastards MC)

By: Christina Phillips

For Iris, with all my love.





Chapter One

Grace

Rain lashes against the windshield, making it almost impossible to see, despite the dull glow of the streetlights. Not that I’m sure I want to. The diversion a few blocks back due to floods had directed me into a neighborhood I’ve never been before, and I’ve lived in Los Angeles for most of my life.

If that’s not bad enough, the car has stalled, and nothing I’ve tried for the last ten minutes has made any difference. I pull out my cell to call roadside assistance, and I don’t believe it—the battery’s dead.

“Stupid piece of crap.” I clutch the phone and try to ignore the panic snaking through my chest. This can’t be happening. I’m the sensible sister, the one who always does as she’s told, who works in the family business and never takes chances. There’s no way I could’ve forgotten to charge my cell last night.

Except that I finally ditched my jerk of a fiancé and told my parents it would just be me coming to Thanksgiving next month.

Okay, so I had a lot on my mind last night. And now I’m stuck in the middle of a storm on a street that looks as though it’s survived some kind of zombie apocalypse.

I shove my useless cell back into my purse and take a deep breath. I can’t sit in the car all night, and my sister isn’t home, so I didn’t bother to tell her about my last minute plans to crash at her apartment, which means there’s no chance of anyone sending out the proverbial cavalry.

There’s only one thing to do. I need to find a phone and there must be one in that bar I just passed. I rub at the foggy window and peer outside. The bar is across the street, and in the dark it looks kind of menacing. The trouble is, it’s the only place open.

I grab my umbrella from the passenger seat and double-check that the canister of pepper spray is still in my purse. Not that I’ve ever used the spray before, but better safe than sorry.

With a final glance along the street, I push open the door and pop up my umbrella before stepping out of the car. The wind catches me unaware, and as I slam the door, the umbrella blows inside out.

The rain hits me straight in the face, and it turns out my adorable boots aren’t the best thing to wear when stumbling into a puddle.

For a few seconds I battle with the umbrella, but it’s hopeless. I’m already drenched, so I make a run for the bar. Oh God, what a dive. Even in this bad light, the peeling paintwork and battered timber are clear to see, along with the less than welcoming sign above the door: Odin’s.

I almost turn round and run right back to the car, but that won’t get me anywhere. I huddle by the door and fork my fingers through my hair, but it’s plastered to my face. So much for enjoying my first day as a single woman in four years, or the sense of achievement at having defied my parents for the first time in living memory by breaking up with the man of their dreams.

Karma sucks.

I push open the door and step inside. The light hits me, along with the sudden silence that falls as everyone in the place turns to stare at me. It’s a blur of guys with huge muscles and long hair, and the testosterone in the air is thick enough to overdose on. Have I just walked into a Viking convention?

My face burns, and there isn’t any way to hide it. Unlike my younger sister, I’ve never enjoyed being the center of attention, but I won’t let a room full of guys know that. I make my way toward the bar, gripping the umbrella for courage. I’m armed and dangerous, so watch out.



Zach

I can’t tear my gaze away as the sexiest fucking redhead I’ve ever seen strolls across the bar as though she owns it. She’s dripping water on the floor, her black coat barely covers her ass, and what the hell has she got on her feet? The heels are six inch spikes, and pink ribbons tie around her ankles.

She sure as shit isn’t from round here. Even drenched she gives off a classy vibe, and when I see my cousin Tod giving her the once over from behind the bar, I’m halfway across the floor before I know it.

If anyone’s fucking this chick tonight, it’s me.

Tod backs off as soon as he sees my approach. He might be my cousin, but he’s not my brother, blood or otherwise, and his intent to claim this woman means nothing.

She’s leaning against the bar with her hand raised, obviously trying to regain Tod’s attention. He gives me another sideways glance and then retreats to the other end of the bar. The redhead lets out a disbelieving huh, and puts her umbrella on the counter. “Excuse me?”

I bite back a grin, and Joel, the guy next to her, pulls away to give me more room as I rest my fist on the counter between them. She nearly falls off her damn heels as she rears back and stares up as me, as though she’d had no idea I’d been standing right behind her.