on. This wasn't good. Doka shouldn't have cut that cop. "Maxim's not laying off you guys, is he?" Gaston smiled. He wanted this. He liked confrontation. Even better when it was unavoidable because then he couldn't be blamed. The three government employees walked up to the cabin and turned their heads sharply as the front door opened. The two cops moved their hands to their holstered weapons. Nicola could feel the adrenaline starting to surge through her veins. No, she did not want to succumb to the strength just yet. Mom stepped onto the wooden porch and into Nicola's view from the window, blocking the path to the door. She had her cowboy hat on now, and she tipped it a bit to shade her eyes from the sun. "Ms. Rao," she said coolly, hands defiantly on her hips. "I'd appreciate some notice when you bring the police to my door." Nithya climbed the steps and stopped a few feet from the MC president. Her tall frame, embellished by the heels, towered over the older woman. But she was the more vulnerable person here; she was no wolf. "We have a warrant to search your premises." The CDC agent spoke with a detached authority that worried Nicola. Debbie would deny it, but the two had an amiable relationship—not so much as friends but business partners. This matter, however, appeared to divide them. "She had nothing to do with it, Nithya. Y'all can't come in." Maxim skirted the yard and examined the surrounding grass, peeking at the side of the cabin. The Mexican stepped back a bit and eyed the second floor windows. They were concerned about being ambushed. Nicola turned her attention to Diego behind the tree line. He watched intently from cover without announcing his presence. Nithya's words drew her attention again. "She needs to answer for attacking a police officer, Ms. Holton." What? They're gonna try to put that on her? Nicola was the one that had held Doka back that night. The conversation escalated a bit. After some harsh words from Debbie, Nithya stepped even closer to her and shoved a finger in her face. "You know what will happen if you put a finger on me." Nithya wasn't backing down. That was a very bad thing because her words were true. She was essentially untouchable. Even Gaston knew his limits. "If anyone from the MC so much as scratches her," he said, "the CDC will burn this place down." Nicola felt herself start to panic. She was in dire trouble. Maxim glanced at the window they were peeking through, and Nicola hurriedly ducked away. She pressed her back against the wall below the sill and looked up to Gaston. "What can we do?" she rasped. "The only thing that woman wants from all of us is blood." Nicola couldn't accept that. She didn't hurt that cop. She didn't go against the CDC. She didn't need to die. "Mom's gonna give me up," she said, rattled. "I'm telling you, we can't trust her!" The big man shook his head with firm resolve. "Just stay hidden and let Mom work them." There it was. More idealism from the big man. More belief that things would work out. Nicola was wiser, however. She was intimately familiar with the harsh machinations of the world. She knew what drove those who were in positions of power. Debbie wasn't the upstanding club leader that Gaston hoped she was. Maybe once she had been, but now Nicola was convinced that Mom was more concerned with her personal fortune than the sanctity of the MC. Nicola poked her head up so her eyes were just visible over the window sill. Nithya and the police were still outside posturing. So far, Mom was holding her ground. Nicola glanced to see what Diego was doing in the trees, but she couldn't see him anymore. He was gone.
Screw this. Nicola needed a plan. If the CDC woman wanted her, it was only to kill her. They had no other business to conduct. Nicola wondered about the local cops, but she was pretty sure they wouldn't help her either. Not after Doka had hurt one of them. Not if they were here backing up the CDC. Angie's