“You don’t want us to take you to the hospital?” one EMT asked.
“No, I told you I’m fine. I wasn’t hurt.” Casey managed to make her voice sound firmer.
“At least let us check you out.”
She suffered through being checked out, and they placed a small bandage on her cheek where the leader had struck her. There was an ugly bruise on the side of her neck, but they confirmed that she was fine.
After she signed a release, Max helped her out of the ambulance. Casey opened the bottled water the EMT had given her, drinking it thirstily. It soothed the raw ache in her throat.
“Don’t drink that so fast, or you’ll make yourself sick,” Max cautioned.
“That’s better than Jackal trying to strangle me to death.” Casey saw the object of her anger strolling casually out of the bank.
“He said you tried to open the door and let the Bandits in. How in the hell did you think you could save me when you would have had to get past four armed gunmen?”
Max’s acerbic question didn’t deserve an answer; instead, she asked him to explain how they had gained their freedom.
“Ice, Stump, and Buzzard came in through your window, and we managed to take out the robbers. Then Jack opened the vault so we could get you, Jackal, and Fade out.”
“How did Jack… he doesn’t have the—”
“He used Lonnie’s handprint. Of course, Lonnie wasn’t breathing, so he couldn’t object.”
“As a doornail,” Max quipped in a good humor, despite being nearly killed.
She wanted to hit him upside his head for nearly getting them killed by coming inside the bank and belligerently setting the leader off.
“What happened to the rest of them?”
“They’re just as dead. Come on, let’s get out of here.” Max led her to his bike.
“I don’t need to give a statement?”
“They have the tapes. They’re going to review them and call the witnesses in for questioning one at a time.”
Casey climbed onto the back of Max’s bike, circling his waist. She laid her aching head on his back, grateful he was safe.
He didn’t ride toward her apartment or his house; instead, she saw they were headed for the clubhouse.
“Why did we come here?” she asked when he parked outside the door of the clubhouse and climbed off.
“I need Gert to patch me up.” Max pointed to a bloodstain on his blue jean vest.
“Oh, my God, why didn’t you let the EMTs do that? We need to go to the hospital.” She tried to tug him back toward his bike.
“Forget it. Gert will take care of it, and it won’t cost me the deductible.”
Left with no choice, Casey went into the clubhouse after him. She didn’t expect to find the members inside, having a party.
“They’re partying after they were in a shootout?” Casey asked in dismay.
“Fuck yeah. We don’t have to put up with the Bandits anymore, and we don’t have to worry about getting in trouble with the cops for killing them all.”
Casey ground her teeth together. “We nearly all got killed.”
“We didn’t, and that’s all that counts.”
“I need a drink,” Casey muttered. “No, make that a valium, because I’m seriously thinking of killing you myself.”
“The beer’s in the refrigerator behind the bar. The weed and other shit are in the wooden box under the counter. Knock yourself out. I’ll be back in a few,” Max said, striding off toward the older woman sitting on one of the chairs.
Casey’s hands clenched into fists. Max would make anyone want to commit murder.
Going behind the bar, she opened the refrigerator to get herself a beer. She opened it, taking a long drink as she weaved through the crowded club, following after Max and Gert who were going into his bathroom.
She stood in the doorway, watching as Gert pulled out a first-aid kit from under his sink. Max pulled his vest and T-shirt off. Sitting down on the side of the tub, Gert cleaned the nasty looking wound as if she had done it many times. When she pulled out a vicious-looking needle, Casey swallowed in fear for Max.
“Gimme that beer.” Max held out his hand for the beer in her hand, and Casey handed it to him. He needed it more than she did.
The woman matter-of-factly strung a thread through the needle.
“Is that sterile?” Casey asked before the woman could poke him.
“Ain’t killed no one yet, have I, Max?”
“Remember BoMar?” Max looked up at Gert.
Casey’s face paled at Max’s reminder, making him laugh.
“I’m just shittin’ you! Gert does a good job. She’s done more stitching up in her lifetime than any of the ER doctors.”
“You want to do it?” Gert asked, poking the needle through Max’s skin.
“God, no.” Casey shuddered.
“Then quit worrying. This scratch isn’t even going to leave him a scar big enough to brag about.”
Casey licked her dry lips, unable to keep herself from asking the burning question in her mind. “Are you the one who stitched up Jackal’s face?”