Vipers Rule - Stephanie Tyler

Acknowledgments

Excerpt from FRAGMENTED

For my MC-loving readers . . .

Prologue

Heavy metal music blasted through the speakers of the sweet, cherry red Ford Mustang as Tals took the ramp to the parkway in a swift motion and then really let her loose on the open road.

It was nearly one in the morning. Maddie wouldn’t notice the car was missing. She might see that the odometer was higher and her gas tank was almost empty, but he had a feeling she didn’t notice things like that. She was surrounded by people who did things for her.

He was mostly pissed she wouldn’t let him in to be one of those people. But at sixteen, he knew he was too young to feel that strongly about any girl—though that didn’t stop him from knowing something about him and Maddie was just “right.”

Obviously he was thinking about Maddie too much to notice the police car silently trailing him. He did notice when the lights flashed and the sirens wailed, and instinctively, he sped the hell up . . . but there was a cop waiting at the next mile marker, blocking the road.

Fuck me.

His heart was still racing hours later when Maddie came into the police station, alone. She made eye contact with him while he was handcuffed to the bench with a few drunk and disorderlies.

He smirked. Because hey, she’d definitely noticed him, and she’d been working damned hard to pretend she hadn’t.

Long dark hair. Hazel eyes. A perfect body for the flowing hippie shirts she always wore with ripped-up jeans. It was summertime, and her flip-flops showed her toenails, which were painted with blue polish.

She was so fucking perfect, it made him ache. It was worse when she looked at him, and she did look at him, all the time, when he was supposed to not notice. But it was the oldest story in the book—bad boy from the wrong side of the tracks falls for rich girl who can’t be with him.

But she wanted to. And who said the story had to end badly?

“Are you pressing charges?” one of the policemen asked Maddie, and she had the damned nerve to consider it. That was the flaw in his plan—he’d never figured she’d make that move.

Shit.

She shook her head no, a tight expression on her face. She had to sign some papers, and she kept her back to him while she was at the desk. When she walked out, she didn’t make eye contact.

She hadn’t sent in her grandmother—or her father. It could’ve been worse. Way worse. Not that getting arrested was ever good.

Dad would be proud, though.

“Christ,” he muttered out loud as he waited for his ride home.

His one phone call had, of course, been to Tenn, who’d been at work and unable to get any messages—or leave the job—until he was finished filming. So Tals had hung out outside the police station, sitting on another bench, watching the faces of the men and women who entered. Prisoners were brought around the back, so these people were here to see loved ones—they had that frazzled look, because they were justifiably worried and had no clue what they’d find beyond those doors. He was familiar with being on both sides, thanks to his father, who regularly put him, his mother and his brother through nights like this.

Tals had managed to stay clean until now. That wasn’t to say he hadn’t done things to warrant being inside, but he’d been really good about not getting caught.

“Seriously, Tals?”

Tals looked up at his brother. They were fraternal twins, although there was no denying they were brothers. Tenn was a little taller, and his eyes were brown instead of blue like Tals’s were. But they had the same facial features that garnered plenty of attention. “Yeah, seriously.”

Tenn sighed and together they walked across the parking lot to their mom’s car, an ancient station wagon that she was convinced was too unsafe to drive. She took cabs back and forth to work, and Tals was convinced she had no clue that he and Tenn drove the thing on a regular basis.

She had no clue about a lot of things, but hell, talking about her was one of the few things that could get him and Tenn fighting. “Anyway, thanks for coming to get me.”

“No problem.” Tenn put the key in the ignition, and both said a silent prayer that the thing would start. After a tense few moments, it did, and they were headed through town, passing the exclusive community