The weekend continued to drag by, and I felt like pulling my hair out. Saturday and Sunday were supposed to be a break from school work, but here I sit for the second day in a row doing paperwork. Groaning I stretch and crack my back, then start massaging the cramp out of my writing hand. My father had insisted I learn this part of the business, so I wasn’t allowed to participate in the deals, runs, parties or anything else fun. Instead I was looking over transactions, accounts and schedules, hunch over a desk again.
Looking up from a stack of paper, my father breaks the silence, “So I hear Liam found a new bartender?”
I tense slightly and have to remind myself to breathe. Had she agreed to take the job after all? “I thought she turned the offer down, did she change her mind?” I try to keep my voice even, refusing to let my excitement show.
“Not yet, but Liam seems determined that she’ll be back,” Dad smiles slightly, still looking over each paper carefully. “You know how determined he gets once he sets his mind on something.”
Swallowing a growl, “She did make quite a scene… But I don’t see her changing her mind.”
I can almost see his wheels turning. “You were there?” I nod my head once. “Well, out with it, what has Liam so enchanted?”
Launching into the story of what happened that night at the bar, leaving out the events of the day, I control my breathing. The last thing I need is another person giving me shit about Athena. When I eventually reach the end of the story, I look up from my work and see my father’s jaw on the ground. “I know right,” I chuckle, “Liam freaked, but I stopped him and held him back. I was curious.”
“And she turned him down?”
“We’ve got to track her down and offer her more!”
“Liam offered her double immediately.”
“And she still turned him down? Why!”
“Said he couldn’t afford to pay her double what she made, then hopped in her car and drove off before he could respond.”
“Where the hell does she make so much, that she doesn’t even hear the number before turning it down?”
“I’ve been racking my brain, but I can’t figure it out. She just showed up on Thursday, and flipped everyone’s world upside down.”
Eyebrow lifting and a smirk stretching across his face, I quickly realised what I had said, “Everyone huh?” Stalling, I clear my throat trying to think of a cover, but my father continues. “Could she be from another family, here trying to get info? She could also be a black widow for a different organization…”
Not wanting to tell my father about her fighting, her heightened senses, expensive taste in cars or the knife strapped to her thigh, I pause while taking a deep breath. “I’ll keep my eye out for any suspicious activity.” I know what happens to those considered a threat, to those trespassing on territory, to those with secrets… I don’t want to picture her receiving the punishment for any of those crimes.
After my house was cleaned, clothes washed, and grocery shopping done, I had spent the rest of the weekend lying in bed icing my ribs on and off. The bruises on my face were almost gone, just a slight shadow and pale scar on my healing lip remained. As the week continued I would start wearing the wrap on my ribs less, and by Thursday I planned on VERY slowly getting back to training. By next week I would be in decent enough shape to get back to the underground, I couldn’t be gone for too long.
I had spent most of the weekend resting, so when Sunday night rolled around I couldn’t sleep. Instead, I pulled out all my notebooks and boards. Since I couldn’t gather new information for at least another week, I would go over some old, organize it and see if anything new dawned on me. Hours passed by and I had papers strewn all over my bed with things underlined or highlighted, my boards were complete with diagrams, pictures & red string connecting each point. All that, but when it came down to it I had nothing.
At some point I must have passed out, because I woke up to my obnoxious alarm with papers stuck to my face. “Nicely done Athena,” I grumble out to no one. Quickly and carefully organizing my work, I move to open the secret panel in my closet’s false back. Once locked, I step back watching the clothes swing on their hangers. Although I’ve learned a lot since I started, yet I feel as though I haven’t moved or accomplished anything to get me to my end goal.
After showering I brush out the bird’s nest that is my hair, and look at the outfit I had laid out on my bed. I sure know how to put an outfit together, that is when I actually do laundry. A dark gray, lace corset bra and matching underwear is my base, next I pull sheer black tights over my bare legs and shimmy into the leather mini skirt I had worn to the bar. Over my corset I slipped on my favorite band tee that I had sliced the sleeves off of, tucking it loosely in my skirt. Finishing off my look I grab a choker and some looser chains for my neck, thin rings to stack on a few fingers, and some thicker socks that would stick out over the tops of my combat boots. Slowly turning in front of the mirror, I nod to myself in approval. My hair was drying naturally into a mix of curls and waves, and there was no need to apply a thick foundation to bruises, instead I was able to get away with just mascara, eyeliner and chapstick.
My phone buzzes, a message from Charlie, popping up. ‘Looking to put you back in the ring, text me ~C’. The wheels of my brain begin to turn and I let out a sigh, can’t tell him how hurt I got or he won’t let me start fighting so soon, but if I don’t say anything it will look like I am hiding and hurt my reputation.
‘Laying low… Put out a warning that I’ll be back hard within a week ~P’
’Wouldn’t expect anything less ~C”
“Fuck!” The clock on my phone reminds me that I have class in 10 minute, and I’m still standing in my bedroom staring into nothing. I grab my bag and leather jacket running out the door and throw my shit onto the passenger side seat. I must have broken every speed limit, but I fly into the parking lot just as the bell rings. “Damn, I need caffeine!” I’ll have to find something in between classes.
Another Monday morning , Jake and I lean against the cool brick wall and take the final drags of our cigarettes before class. Tossing our butts we turn towards our first class, but instead a roaring engine turns my head. Williams comes flying down the road in her mustang, all but drifting into the parking lot and sliding into an open space. “So she can drive too,” I mumble, adding it to the mental list I seem to be keeping of the badass’s skills. Williams steps out of her mustang before quickly leaning back in to grab her bag, the leather skirt showing off her perfect ass. Faintly, I hear the bell in the background, but I’m too entranced to care. Heading towards class, she swings her bag over her shoulder while straightening her clothes and running a hand through her fiery locks. Snapping out of my trance I realize Jake is long gone, and I am late.
As is Monday’s way, time seems to drag. A few glimpses of her fiery locks in the halls has left me wanting more. I want to talk to her, I want to be close to her, but to her it seems I don’t exist. As I head to lunch I am stuck in my own head, annoyed and confused by my feelings, when I round the last corner to the cafeteria. The sight before me makes me step back, and now I’m in the shadows like a creep. Leaning back against the lockers, Athena’s hair is pulled over one shoulder and her hand is holding a bicep that belongs to none other than Noah Ryder, who in turn is standing in front of her using a hand by her head to prop himself up. I am unsure if I’m blocking out their conversation or truly unable to hear, but there she stands under him, looking up towards his smiling face and flirting right back. Ryder moves his hand from his hip to hers, while her hand runs up his arm towards his shoulder, and when she reaches it her black painted nails rake down his bicep sensually. Before I draw blood, I remove my nails from my palm, and double back towards the school entrance for a smoke.
I roll my eyes so hard I almost lose my balance, always with the unoriginal nickname. I was too hungry to deal with more bullshit right now, and if it was possible, I was even harder to deal with when I was hungry.
“Hey! Common, please wait up!”
Huffing, I stop and slowly turn around with my arms crossed over my chest and an unamused glare on my face. “What?!” The guy chasing after me stops and takes a step back at my tone. I take the opportunity to observe the boy while he tries to catch his breath. Standing at six foot, a muscular body built like a tank could make any girl drool. He has on a pair of black converse, slim fit black jeans with strategic tares and an oxblood red t-shirt that hugs his thick arms that are covered in black tribal tattoos. He had a strong jaw covered in stubble, full lips, ocean blue eyes & chocolate brown hair.
“So do you have something to say or are you still catching your breath from your short jog?” My patience was virtually non-existent at the moment, and if he didn’t explain himself soon he would be an unlucky recipient of misplaced rage.
“Chill speedwalker, I just wanted to introduce myself.” Standing up straight, he smiles and sticks his hand out in greeting, “Noah Ryder”.
“Okay, Ryder… So we’re done here?”
“Jeez, You can remove your thorns okay. I just wanted to meet the new girl with a temper that matches her hair”
“How original. Now, I hear food calling my name so I’d move if I were you.” I turn back towards the cafeteria mumbling, “Temper to match hair, pft!”
“Look, I don’t know how I pissed you off, but I’ve seen your handywork and would prefer not to be on your bad side. Can I buy you lunch?”
“Now that, you can do. Though I’ll warn you it could get expensive Ryder…” I turn around and cock my hip, lifting an eyebrow in challenge.
Ryder then closes the remaining distance between us, my head having to lean back in order to keep the eye contact. “Oh I think I’ll be just fine.”
I step back and lean against the lockers, Ryder steps forward and props himself up by placing his hand besides my head. “Suit yourself, but there will be no backing out. Understood?” Before he tries to press me further into the lockers, I grab hold of his bicep in case I need to pin his arm. Damn he’s built!
“Yes Mam,” his husky voice replies as he places a large hand on my leather clad hip.
We were barely an inch apart now, our eyes locked. He was hot and I hadn’t gotten laid in almost a month. I wonder if he was someone that would ask questions? Running my hand up his arm, I reached his shoulder and proceeded to rake my nails back down across the tattoos. I hear a growl come from the back of Ryder’s throat, making me smile in success just before I see a shaking mop of familiar black hair rush towards the entrance.