Sounds like my dad, but Dad hasn’t given a shit about me in weeks. Gotta be one more jacked-up dream in the line of dozens.

Something grazes my lips and cold liquid sinks down my throat. When my head rests against the pillow again, the pain slips away and I finally can sleep...

There’s a caress across my forehead and my hair moves with it. I should open my eyes. It’s what the soft voice is insisting I do, but instead I attempt to shift again. I want to sleep on my side. Maybe then, I can sleep deep without the dreams.

“Has he responded to you at all?” the soft voice says, and I angle my head to the sound. It’s Oz’s mom—Rebecca. She’s nursed me back to health several times in my life. Damn—when the hell did I get sick?

“What he’s doing now?” Dad says. “He turns his head toward whoever’s speaking.”

“What did you give him?” Rebecca asks.

There’s an answer I can’t discern and Rebecca curses. “I told you Tylenol. You fucking men drive me crazy. Give him any more of that and I’ll castrate all three of you. He’s always been sensitive to drugs, or do none of you remember his appendix surgery? I should shoot you. Lord knows there’s enough guns in this place that I can find a spare.”

“We gave him something different,” Cyrus says. “We gave him—”

Rebecca cuts him off with a “Fuck each of you,” then descends into another rant.

I almost died after the appendix surgery. I was six and Dad said Mom rocked me in an ICU room for hours begging me to wake up. I’m allergic to some shit. Something I should remember but can’t as the need to sleep threatens to drag me under a black veil.

There’s another brush of fingertips across my face and Breanna appears in my mind. The bed dips with her weight and she touches my hand. “Thomas, I need you to open your eyes.”


Thomas. I told her to call me Razor, but I like the idea of her saying my real name. My hand twitches as I capture hers. She’s here and I want her to stay. Everyone else can leave and I need her to lie beside me. Maybe then I can sleep. Deeply.

“That’s right,” Breanna says again, but she sounds off—more like Rebecca, but it’s her hazel eyes that bore into mine. “Come back to us. You did great with taking my hand, but I need you to open your eyes.”

Damn, I’m trying, but they’re glued shut.

“We need to take him in.” There’s an edge in Breanna’s tone and also a hint of fear. I don’t like her scared. Not with me. I rub my thumb over her skin. Don’t be scared with me.

“There’s no way to hide the gunshot wound,” Eli says. “The hospital will call the police. Razor understood what he was taking on when he agreed to let us patch him here.”

“You’re putting him through this to save an account with your company?” she spits.

“I’m doing this because we don’t want the police to know he’s been hit. It’ll be public information then. Fuck the company. This could be the Riot, and I will not have them thinking he’s weak. If they think that, I might as well sign his death certificate now.”

“He’s our family, Eli! Basically my son! I can’t let him die because of an allergic reaction!”

“He’s my son, too, my fucking brother, and I’m trying to keep him alive!” Eli snaps, and I grasp firmly on to Breanna’s hand. Damn, I need to open my eyes. Going toe-to-toe with Eli is like playing with a loaded semiautomatic weapon with the safety off.

“You don’t think it’s killing me to see him like this?” Eli yells. “You said the shit we put in the IV would help!”

“I said it might help!” she shouts back. “But he’s not


I swallow and it’s like the middle of Arizona in my mouth. “Don’t, Breanna.”


“What the hell did he say?” asks Eli.

Another squeeze of my hand. “Open your eyes, Thomas.”

Too many muscles involved in hoisting my lids. I crack them open and blink to force the blobs of color to merge into something recognizable.

Breanna’s missing, and in her place is Rebecca. Her dark hair is pulled back in a bun, and she wears her blue nursing scrubs. Dad stands behind her, and he rolls his neck like he’s relieved.

“Welcome back,” says Rebecca. “How do you feel?”

I swallow again, and my throat’s as bad as my mouth. “Like I’ve been shot, then I used my skin to scrape off some blacktop.”

Chuckles in the room and Eli mumbles something about telling everyone I’m coming around. Rebecca’s asking me questions. My full name. How old I am. Her name. Everyone in the room’s name, then road name. She’s checking an IV bag that’s attached to a pole. Inspecting my wounds. Looking at my eyes.

“How bad?” I ask.

“Flesh wound with the bullet,” she answers. “Good thing you were wearing jeans and your leather jacket when you took the spill. It could have been worse.”

I nod as a fuzzy memory of already having this conversation squeezes out. Blood loss from the flesh wound and sinking blood pressure made me dizzy and I wiped out on my bike. Club got me back here banged up, bleeding and bruised.

We were hired by the company because they wanted their loads delivered safely and they preferred no bad press if there were problems, which means we keep everything quiet. Eli’s right, I agreed to be treated by friends of the club away from the hospital, but Rebecca is also right—dying from an allergic reaction wasn’t on my bucket list.

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