Chapter 8: Clubhouse
I didn’t wake up until the sun hit my eyes the next morning. I instantly regretted not closing the blind last night, thinking I could have slept another hour or so, but then the smell hit me.
For the record, I’ve never been one of those women from the mattress commercials. You know, the annoying bitches who wake up with a smile on their face, perfect hair and makeup? I look more like the survivor of the Zombie Apocalypse. I made my way to the bathroom, washing the crusty sleep out of my eyes and the tear streaks off my face. I pulled my hair back into a ponytail, put on some scent-free antiperspirant, and dug through my bag for my boot cut jeans and a flannel shirt.
This was as fresh as I got in the morning.
I went out into the hall and followed the smell downstairs. Snake called to me from the kitchen, he was already getting the breakfast buffet ready. “Wow, you planning on feeding an army this morning?”
“I saw you eat that burger last night, Doc. I figured you weren’t the bagel and coffee type.”
I laughed as I sat at the bar next to Viper, who had a platter of pancakes and bacon. “Good morning, Viper.”
“Morning. You sleep all right?”
“I’m fine, the room is great. I’ll find a hotel today.”
“NO.” He turned to me. “If people are looking for you, you can’t leave a paper trail to a hotel, or be out there where someone might see you. We said we would keep you safe, and we will. Part of that is that we need you to stay close, out of sight, and that means staying here.”
“I don’t want to bother…”
“You won’t. This club is a family, you’re part of the family. All we ask of you is that help out around here like everyone else.”
“We have a rotation for cleanup, upstairs and downstairs. Doc’s old lady, Kelly, she’ll be in this morning, she does day care here for all the kids.”
“The clubhouse is a day care?”
“Sure, that’s why we do breakfast. It’s easier for the members to bring their kids here to eat breakfast, and we can provide it cheaper than they can get day care elsewhere. There’s always some brothers around, either here or in the garage, if you need help. It’s all licensed, we have rooms upstairs devoted just to the day care you didn’t see.”
“Damn.” The Pack could learn a few things from these guys. I went and grabbed a juice from the buffet, and Snake dropped off my plate before going back to continue making food. By the time I was done eating, a half-dozen moms had come in with their children, and they were eating breakfast at the tables. I was greeted by all, introduced to the ones I hadn’t met last night. I might take a while to get the names straight, there were so many. “I don’t mind pulling my share around here, but I do need to do my job and keep my qualifications up.”
“I think it would be a good idea to NOT do anything until things settle down a little, Doc. This Clark guy, he knows you’re a Doctor, that’s an obvious way to track you down. Is there a way to change the name on your medical license? “
I thought about it, it wasn’t common, most female doctors kept their maiden names because it was their professional name. “I think so, I’d have to talk to the medical board. Maybe they would let me if I can state there is a threat to me if my name is used.”
“Worth a shot.” He got up and put his dishes in the trays on the bus cart Snake had set behind the bar, then he took mine. “I have to get to work, feel free to explore around here or help out wherever. We’ll talk more tonight.” He gave me a hug before pulling on his tie and suit jacket from the hanger by the door.
“You look awful corporate, Mr. President,” I teased.
“Corporate camouflage, Doc. That’s all it is.” He pulled on an overcoat and left.
I helped Kelly get all the kids cleaned up from breakfast and up the stairs. They had a nice setup, a play room with a classroom area on one side. I stayed until the kids were into their morning routine, then went back downstairs to help Snake. I started loading the dishes into the big dishwasher. “You know what you’re doing there, Doc?”
“Not my first rodeo, Snake.” I pushed the tray in and closed the door while I loaded the next tray. He was busy wiping down the grill and the countertops. “How did you get your nickname?”
“I keep them,” he said. “I started with a corn snake when I was a kid. I love picking them up, and so over in Iraq when everyone else was freaking out, I was picking them up and checking them out. I’m kind of weird that way.” He pulled up the back of his shirt, he had an intricate tattoo of snakes going up his back. “Oh, and my dick is long and thin, like a…”
“Got it,” I said. “I can’t believe you guys stuck me with my nickname.”
“DeWalt? Hell, that’s a cool one. Guaranteed to get people to ask you the story, and it’s a great one. Brain surgery at night on a two-lane road with your portable drill? Epic.”
I snickered. “Yeah, if they ask. The rest probably figure it’s something that goes with a sex toy.”
“That works too.”
I laughed even harder. “Shit, until six weeks ago I was a virgin. I finally decided I needed Mr. Right Now more than Mr. Right.”
Snake whistled as I moved the tray out and put the next one in. “Damn, girl. One ride on the back of a Harley and those panties are drrrrrr-OPPING!” We both cracked up, and I had a great time helping him with the cleanup. When we were done, he grabbed a couple Cokes out of the cooler and we went back out front. “So, are you free for the day?”
“Pretty much, why?”
“It’s going to get up to forty-five today, that’s enough to ride.”
“You want me to ride on a motorcycle with you. In THIS weather.”
“No, I want to teach you how to ride. I’m certified, I can give you a Motorcycle Safety Course and then you can go down to the license office this afternoon and get your endorsement. That is, unless you want to ride bitch your whole time here.”
“Oh, I’m riding. I’ve been wanting to go back out since that night.”
“Good. I want to see you at the table someday, and if you can’t ride, you can’t vote. Come on.” He led me down the stairs, there was a storage room down there. “We keep extra gear around, stuff people have outgrown or replaced. Let’s find you a helmet and some leathers, you’re bound to hit the road at least once today.”
“Great,” I said with a groan. “Get me some pads, too.” Ten minutes later, we’d found a full-face helmet that fit me, along with a set of chaps and a thick motorcycle jacket.
We went back upstairs and out to the garage, where he led me over to an old Honda motorcycle. “We use this to teach riders, it’s light and nobody cares if a rice-burner gets scratched or dented,” he said. He spent the next twenty minutes with me going over how the bike worked and what the controls were. When he was done, he opened the door and had me fire it up and drive it out. I squealed a little as it took off, it had more power than I thought. I managed to steer and stop it pretty much where he wanted, which made me happy.
The next four hours were tough. I had to learn how to steer, shift, and use the clutch. I’d never had a manual transmission vehicle in my life, so the clutch was the hardest to figure out, along with remembering which direction the shifter needed to go. Second hardest was slow speed maneuvering, I tipped over three times doing that. I learned quickly, he said, and I passed the test after lunch. I parked the bike, jumped off and hugged him. “THANK YOU so much, Snake! I can get my own motorcycle now!”
“You can, Doc. And we can get you some decent gear that fits, you’re WAY too hot to be wearing that stuff.” I offered to buy him lunch and rode on the back of his Harley downtown for lunch at Mickey’s Diner. On the way home, he took me to the place of my dreams. Saint Paul Harley Davidson!
Two hours later, I had a full set of leathers, T-shirts galore, a bandana, a new helmet and a hell of a decision to make. I couldn’t decide which motorcycle I wanted, an XLH Sportster or a Softtail. Snake had his own opinions, but I thought I’d run it by a few people who might know things. He did say that it was better to learn on a smaller bike before moving to a larger one, and that seemed like good advice. We got back in time for dinner, and I walked in to a full house that erupted in cheers at my outfit and the motorcycle license I had in my hand. I moved among my friends, laughing and drinking as I told them about my day and asked for advice on motorcycles. “You know, DeWalt, I think you’re going to be just fine here,” Doc said.
“Just don’t take any shit from these guys,” Kelly said with a laugh.
“And don’t make any plans for Christmas week,” Viper said. “You’re coming with us.”
I looked at them quizzically. “Where?”
Viper grinned a little. “A motorcycle club in Minnesota, your riding time is limited to about six months a year. So, every Christmas we go visit our friends in Jacksonville for a week of riding.”
“You ride your bikes to Florida in December?”
“No, we load them into a trailer and a couple of the guys drive them down. We get a block of hotel rooms near the beach, most of us fly down there and back. Most of the club goes, we leave the day after Christmas and come back on January 3rd.”
That actually sounded fun. “So I have to buy my bike soon, then.”
Doc shook his head. “Actually, it’s a good way to try out a few. There’s a rental company down there some of us use if we don’t want to haul our bikes down. You could try a few, ride them hard for a day and see what you think. That way you don’t have to make your decision until spring.”
I had fun, and before I went to bed I had one more thing to do. “I need to call a friend back at the compound, let her know I’m all right and see what happened.”
“I’ll take you, Vivian. I’d rather not see you out in your car in case the license plate is being watched for.”
We drove to the suburbs, finding a pay phone outside a Burger King near I-94. I had a pocket full of quarters, and I put a bunch in after dialing the number. After a few rings, Beta Charles answered the phone. “Charles, it’s Vivian. Can you talk?”
“Just a minute.” I heard him close the door. “Don’t tell me where you are, I’m under Alpha command to find you. Just tell me you are safe.”
“I’m fine, Charles. How is the Alpha?”
“He’s in the woods, we’ve got a few warriors watching just in case. He flipped when he got back and found you gone. He took it out on Jessica before we could stop him.” My heart dropped. “She’s going to be fine, he lashed out and knocked her across the room. Her cuts and broken ribs will heal in a few days.”
“Tell her I’m sorry. Is she manning the clinic now?”
“Yes, for what it’s worth. We don’t have any pregnant females, so there isn’t much going on.” I resolved to call her when things settled down. “Keep your head down, the Alpha is calling around to other Packs, letting them know you’re not under his protection and offering a reward for your return. They all either know you or have your picture now. It isn’t safe to be anywhere around here.”
My heart sank, it was going to be longer than I thought. “Thanks Charles. I’ll call again in a week or so.” I hung up the phone, tears dropping down my face. I needed to talk to my parents. Dialing another number, I put more coins in and waited.
The phone rang and rang and no one picked up.