Chapter 1 - Some individual conflicts
Back at the clubhouse............
The reception for the Valentine’s Day wedding continued on until well after midnight since it was also Valentine’s Day. All of the couples stayed up dancing and partying for quite a while after the two sets of newlywed couples had left, except for Wolf and Hope. They were leaving for Virginia first thing in the morning and wanted to be well rested.
Helen and Carter had taken Diana with them after dinner was over so that the adults could enjoy themselves and the children would not be exposed to anything they shouldn’t see. Ace, for one, was a very happy biker about that!
Doc and Melinda had started helping Robbie with physical therapy but so far it was slow going. Robbie was just glad that at least he could move his fingers a little bit which gave him hope that he would get full use of it again someday.
Over the past few weeks, Robbie had taken the chance to get to know some of the prospects a little better by helping out in the bar as much as he could with his hand still in a sling. He tried getting them to tell him about being a prospect. While they had freely told him about the housekeeping side of things, driving people when the ladies needed to go out somewhere and stuff like that but they only hinted at other stuff they had to do.
They were very dodgy about details and kept saying “You need to ask Prez or Spokes or one of the others on the executive staff. For us to tell you could cost us more than a chance at our patch, which I’m not willing to take.” Edmond had told him. “But if I were you, I’d wait until tomorrow. Let them enjoy themselves for now.”
Robbie was dying of curiosity but took his advice and continued to help out until the pain pill he had taken earlier wore off and his hand began to hurt. He excused himself and headed off to bed thinking that Aunt Dot was right about needing to find out what all was really involved in being involved with the MC before he committed to joining.
But with that thought, he wondered what Aunt Dot would do if he decided against being involved with them. Would she still get together with Ace? If she did, what was going to happen with Diana? Dot had already admitted that the clubhouse was no place for little girls to grow up. Those and about a hundred other questions ran through his mind as he got ready for bed.
He laid in bed thinking about the things he had picked up on since he had been around the clubhouse. Robbie wasn’t stupid and he was pretty sure he knew what had happened to Jasper. From the sounds he had heard coming out of the shed one night and then meeting Rick, Robbie was pretty sure that he was filling in the blanks of what the prospects had hinted at but not really stated outright pretty accurately. If he was right, did he really want to be involved with it?
The throbbing in his hand made him wish he could have had something to do with whatever they had done to Jasper as payback. As the pain pill he had taken began to kick in, he settled himself more comfortably and slowly drifted to sleep thinking he would talk to Prez in the morning.
Most of the single men hung out, drinking, shooting pool and throwing darts while the remaining couples sat and visited, danced and drank before all of them went to bed.
For the next few days, things were quiet but on the following Wednesday night, Greggory and Beau were on overnight guard duty and after everything was cleaned up and everyone else had gone to bed, they sat and watched TV and talked.
“So do you think you are going to go for a patch?” Greggory asked Beau.
“Yeah, probably. If not, I’ll be homeless and already came too close to that.” Beau said, thinking about his parents and where they might be now.
“How did you end up here? If you don’t mind me asking?” Greggory asked.
“I woke up one morning to find my parents gone, the house was empty and a note on the kitchen counter saying “You are a man now and you need to learn to fend for yourself.” I don’t know where they went and to be honest, I don’t really care.
Neither one of them ever gave a damn about me. I was just excess baggage in their eyes. These guys have been more like family to me than they ever were. What about you?” Beau explained.
“Man, that sucks. Didn’t they leave you any money or anything?” Greggory asked, trying to avoid telling his story, which he had not shared with anyone here yet.
“Nope. They even emptied the food out of the kitchen so I had to use what little savings I had from cutting grass and doing odd jobs over the summer to keep from starving but that hadn’t lasted long.
It was near the end of the month and I was going to have to come up with rent money on top of food money, which I didn’t have, and after going a full day with nothing to eat, I was getting desperate so I didn’t have many choices.
I was afraid to call the cops because I knew it meant foster care and I wouldn’t wish that on an enemy so I called here and they came and got me.” Beau said. He wouldn’t push if Greggory didn’t want to tell him but he couldn’t help but be curious.
After a few minutes of silence, Gregory said, “Well, I don’t know what happened to my parents either because I have no memories of either one of them. I was raised mostly by my grandmother until she died a few years ago.
After that, I kind of went from one aunt or uncle to another. They all seemed to think I was a hired hand they didn’t have to pay because I was “family” and expected to work for my keep. They made sure I knew what a burden my staying with them was and one night, when one of my so called uncles had a bit too much to drink, he said somethings that I don’t know if it was just the booze talking or if there was any truth to it or not.
He claimed that my mom was raped when she was 15 and had not found out she was pregnant until it was too late to do anything about it. He said that she died in childbirth and that my grandmother had refused to let them put me up for adoption.
She was the only person I ever knew that showed me even an ounce of affection and even she wasn’t all that loving. She just felt she had a responsibility to me. She died when I was 12 and ever since then, like I said, I went from one house to the other, back and forth.
My uncle’s were like slave drivers. If it hadn’t been for one of my aunts being a teacher, I wouldn’t know how to read and write and I can’t do either one of them very well.
When my aunt died last year, I was told that school was over for me and that I was not welcome to sleep in the house anymore so I slept in the hay in the barn. In one place I rigged up a hammock in the loft which was fairly comfortable, except when it started getting cold. Hell, once my grandmother died, I never had a bedroom. I normally slept on the sofa, if I was lucky.
Anyway, a couple of months ago, I figured out that I would probably be better off on my own and started to take off one night but my uncle Billy caught me and beat the shit out of me. Telling me how ungrateful I was and called me a coward for running away.
After that it seemed like I was becoming a punching bag for all of his frustrations and he was beginning to beat on me for every little thing and sometimes for shit that had nothing to do with me.
One night I think it was because his wife was pissed at him for not remembering their anniversary or her birthday or something and he lit into me because she refused him sex. I thought he was going to beat me to death that night. He was drunk off his ass and I finally decided I’d had enough. He swung at me but missed. I picked up a board that was leaning against the wall and beaned him with it. It didn’t knock him out but made him dizzy enough for me to get away.
I just barely made it to the road with my uncle hot on my tail, yelling that he was going to feed me to the hogs if I didn’t stop and go back there. I hitched rides from one place to the next, not really caring where the person was going so long as it was nowhere near Paducah.
One night, the man I had caught a ride with said it was the end of the line for him in Lexington. It was snowing and I was freezing my ass off because I didn’t have a coat. I started walking, trying to find somewhere to hide from the cold when this guy spotted me.
He said he had some business in Huntington and then would be headed south and he would appreciate the company and asked if I wanted to make some money helping him when we got there. He had told me he would pay me and take me to a thrift store and buy me a coat so I agreed. When we stopped in Winchester for gas, he bought me a soda, a hot dog and some chips from the convenience store and then he started making noise about finding a hotel for the night.
Then he started making comments about me having to pay him for the ride by letting him ride me. I was like oh hell no and when he stopped at a light in town, I jumped out and ran for all I was worth.
My face was all busted up and I could barely see out of my left eye but I just kept running. I wasn’t looking where I was going but watching over my shoulder. If he wasn’t so big, I swear I would have knocked Chains off his feet when he was coming out of the store at a gas station.
When he grabbed me to keep from falling over, I panicked and started struggling and yelling. He yelled at me to calm down, that he wasn’t going to hurt me but wanted to know who had.
He took me to get something to eat at the diner, I told him what had happened and then brought me here. I only got here a day or two before you.” Greggory shared with him.
They continued to talk while they kept an eye on the big screen TV that showed all of the outdoor camera images but so far it was quiet out tonight. That was until just before 4:30 am when the phone rang.
“Oh no. This can’t be good.” Greggory said, as he hurried to answer the phone. “Rescuers MC.” He said as he answered the phone in the kitchen.
“I need help. I can’t stay here or they are going to find me.” A female voice whispered into the phone.
“Where are you?” Greggory asked, then covered the mouthpiece and told Beau, who had followed him into the kitchen, to go wake up Prez.
“Charlie’s Hotel in Winchester. I’m in the laundry room.” She whispered in a terrified voice.
“Are you hurt?” Greggory asked.
“Yes. Can someone please help me?” She begged.
“Someone will be coming soon. Is there somewhere you can hide in there?” Greggory asked.
“Someone is coming. Please hurry!” She whispered and Greggory could hear what sounded like her putting the phone down and shuffling and then what sounded like footsteps. Greggory covered the mouthpiece but continued to listen. He heard more than one person moving around and the sound of two male voices talking to each other.
Just then Prez came hurrying into the kitchen and Greggory put his finger to his lips and told Prez “I don’t know where she went but there are at least two of them after her. She’s hurt and hiding either in or around Charlie’s Hotel in town. I can hear them talking but so far it sounds like they haven’t found her.”
“Beau, go wake up team 2 and tell them to hurry. Wake up Wheels and Guardian too. Tell them they will be driving a rescue SUV and a disposal van. Greggory, give me the phone and go get the vehicles warmed up.” Prez said, taking the phone from Greggory.
He covered the mouthpiece of the receiver with his hand and listened to what was going on.
“I told you one of us should have stayed here. We could have just shared her some more.” One of the voices said.
“You take too damn long. I was getting bored.” Another voice said.
Prez felt bile rise up in his throat as he continued to listen but mostly all he could hear was someone walking around and faint voices that sounded like they were getting farther away. While he couldn’t hear clearly what was being said, he was not liking what he thought he was hearing because it sounded like they might already have a second victim.
Within less than 5 minutes, the men in team 2 started pouring down the stairs, half asleep but dressed and walking towards him. “Charlie’s Hotel. The laundry room. There are at least two men. The girl is hurt but I don’t know how. There is possibly a second victim so make sure you search everywhere. Go!” Prez directed. “A rescue vehicle and a disposal van will be right behind you but call if you need Doc.”
“We’re on it.” Snoop said as he pulled on his coat and pulled open the front door just as Greggory pulled up in one of the large SUVs.
Prez continued to listen to what little he could hear on the phone. It sounded like the two male voices were standing near the laundry room door but their voices were faint like they had stepped outside and must be walking away because after a minute, Prez couldn’t hear them anymore.
Prez had to wonder where Charlie was. Had he closed the hotel to spend time with a lover for Valentine’s Day? Had he gone out of town? Had the two men hurt him? When that thought hit him, he got a queasy feeling in his stomach.
He may not agree with Charlie’s lifestyle but he was an up and up person and had helped the club out many times in the past. Prez said a small prayer that he was alright and just asleep and unaware of what was going on.
Prez stayed on the phone until he heard Snoop and the others enter the laundry room. It was Digger who picked up the phone and asked “Prez?”
“Yeah, I’m still here. What’s going on?” Prez asked.
“Well, there’s a sign on the lobby door saying the hotel is closed temporarily for repairs but there is a pick up truck in the parking lot. Doesn’t say what kind of repairs. Any idea of where we should be looking?” Digger asked.
Prez heard Snoop say “I smell blood.”
“Damn! Greggory said she’s hurt but she didn’t have a chance to tell him how. Find her. If she’s bleeding, she may have passed out somewhere or maybe they found her.” Prez said then hung up.
“Turn on the coffee, please.” Prez told Beau. It was almost 5 am now and Andy came in to start breakfast followed closely by Jess and Carlyle who were the next ones on duty.
Prez told Greggory to go wake up Doc and decided that if Snoop or Digger didn’t call him back soon to say they had found her, he was going to take Jess down to go look for her. Jess had a nose like a bloodhound and was a damn good tracker. He had already earned his place as a second, if not forming a whole new team as soon as he became a patched member. Prez noticed that he had really bulked up since he had been here.
Snoop was okay but just doesn’t really have what it takes to be a real leader. He had been given the position at the time because there was no one else with good tracking skills when they had been choosing teams. Prez was going to have to give this some serious thought because he knew that putting a newly patched member above one who had been here for a long time was going to cause hard feelings.
At the hotel, the men all noticed the pick up truck in the parking lot and there was only one room with the lights on inside. Who was staying here if the hotel was closed like the sign said? Were they the repair men? Why had Charlie called for outside repairmen when he normally called on the MC’s repair crews? The truck didn’t appear to be one that was outfitted by a repair team and didn’t have any tools in the back of it.
Crank pulled out his cell phone and called Charlie’s phone, which just rang and rang but went to voicemail, which Crank thought was strange. Crank reported it to Snoop. “Hey, Charlie is not answering his phone. What the hell is going on here?” Crank asked as he stepped into the laundry room, out of the freezing wind that was picking up outside.
Knife had driven and was waiting in the SUV, watching the room with lights on and saw someone peek out from behind the curtain. It looked like a male. He couldn’t tell how old he was but whoever it was wasn’t short.
“I’m not sure but I smell blood. Go see if she’s hiding outside.” Snoop said as he walked towards the back of the laundry room, Crank left to go follow orders. Snoop found a couple of small drops of blood just outside of the door where things like brooms, mops and cleaning supplies were kept. There were also a couple of large cement sinks and some large rubbermaid trash cans and a couple of laundry carts that were pushed up against the wall.
Snoop opened the storage room door but the room wasn’t very big and there was literally no place in there for even the smallest person to hide. He pushed the door closed and out of the corner of his eye, he saw one of the laundry in one of the carts that Charlie uses to collect linens from the rooms move slightly. Snoop realized that there were some sheets and a comforter in one of them but the lump in it seemed to be bigger than it should be. He reached in and pulled back the comforter and heard a female voice whimper.
“Hey. Don’t worry. We’re from the Rescuer’s MC. You called us for help?” Snoop asked quietly. Slowly the young woman sat up, clutching a sheet to cover the fact that she was naked and Snoop gasped not only because her face was beginning to swell so it was kind of hard to tell what she really looked like but Snoop suddenly felt very confused. He felt a strange pull in his chest, like he had swallowed a magnet and it was pulling him to be close to her. He had a strong urge to wrap his arms around her but yet was afraid to touch her. Afraid that he would hurt her more. It was an issue he had to deal with on every rescue. The victims always made him nervous because he worried about hurting them more.
“Besides your face, how are you hurt?” Snoop asked gently. “Will I hurt you if I lift you out of there?”
“Can I keep the sheet around me? They...........” she started but began to cry and without being told anymore, Snoop knew she had been raped.
“Sure. You know what, will you be okay for a minute? I need to make sure we have a vehicle to transport you. Where is the guy that did this?” Snoop asked.
“They are staying in the room with the lights on. That’s their truck in the parking lot. I don’t know where they are right now.” The young woman said, trying to look around Snoop.
Snoop hurried to the door and signaled Crank to come back. Then he hurried back to her and asked, “How many of them are there?”
“Two. They went out to try and find someone and left me tied up but I managed to get free and I just ran. They destroyed my clothes and I was hoping to find something besides this sheet to cover myself in here.
I saw the sign on the wall by the phone and the instructions on how to make an outside call so I punched in their room number and called the number on the sign.
When I heard their truck coming back, I knew they would see me if I tried to leave and it’s too cold to be running around like this but I couldn’t find anything to wear. I knew I needed to hide so I climbed in here and started praying they wouldn’t find me before you guys could get here.” She told them. Snoop nodded and turned to talk to Crank and Digger.
“Find out if we should take her to the hospital or the compound. She said there are two of them. Bang on that door where the lights are on. I think we’ve got some guests for the shed in there.” Snoop directed.
Digger called Prez while Crank and Knife headed for the stairs.
“Prez, we found her. They beat the shit out of her and she’s been raped at least once but probably more since she said there are two of them. Crank and Knife are securing them now. Should we take her to the hospital or bring her to the compound?” Digger asked, telling Prez without saying it that Snoop needed direction instead of making a decision on his own and that wasn’t Digger’s position, especially now.
“I’m going to send Doc to bring her here. Bring them to. The disposal van will be there soon.” Prez said, in frustration. “Do we know if there is a second victim yet?”
“Not sure. She said they went out to find someone but I don’t know if that was a second victim or another rapist yet but either way, we’ll be back soon.” Digger said then hung up. He turned to Snoop and said, “Prez said Doc is on his way. He wants them too. A disposal van will be here soon. I’m going to see if Knife and Crank need help unless you need me here?”
“No. Go on. We’ll stay in here out of the wind until Doc gets here.” Snoop said.
As soon as Digger left the room, Snoop turned to the young woman and said “What’s your name?”
“Jasmine Clark. What’s yours? Are you the one I talked to on the phone?” Jasmine asked.
“They call me Snoop. I’m the tracker for team 2. No. I’m not sure who answered the phone when you called. I was asleep.” Snoop said. He wanted to say it was nice to meet her but the circumstances kind of sucked.
He wanted to say that he was the team leader but didn’t feel it was right to claim that title and had been thinking about talking to Prez for a while. He knew he wasn’t well suited for the job as a leader but was trying his best to fill the shoes. It was a lot more responsibility than he had realized at first and if he could figure out a way out of it without losing face, he would step down in a heartbeat.
“How about I lift you out of there and then give you a minute to wrap the sheet around yourself better while I check on what’s going on with my friends?” Snoop asked and Jasmine nodded. She kept a good grip on the sheet she had hastily wrapped around herself for not only coverage but warmth when she had gone into hiding.
Snoop slid his hands under her knees and behind her back and pulled her close and the minute she was in his arms, he had an overpowering need to keep her there. Her head came up under his chin and her hair smelled like her name and he desperately wanted to bury his face in it. He took a deep breath, drawing in the scent of what he thought was jasmine as much as he could. No matter what it was, it was now a scent that he knew he would never forget.
She wasn’t heavy and he didn’t want to let her go but was curious to know how tall she was. He slowly bent and released her legs but held her close as she straightened up as much as she could. The top of her head didn’t even reach his chin. Snoop didn’t want to but he finally let her go, just keeping one hand on her arm until he was sure she wouldn’t fall over.
“Thanks. Will I be able to take a shower soon? I feel so nasty.” Jasmine asked shyly.
“Yeah. Doc should be here soon and he will check you out and then I’m sure they will allow you a shower. We will give you something to wear, something to eat and then a place to sleep. Are you from around here?” Snoop asked.
“No. Just passing through.” Jasmine answered vaguely.
Just then they heard a commotion coming from outside that sounded like a fight. “Stay here. I’ll be right back.” Snoop said and hurried to the door of the laundry room. Crank and Knife were pushing two men down the walkway of the breezeway. The two men had their hands secured behind their backs but were resisting as much as possible.
“Who the fuck are you to get involved in our business? You’re not cops!” The shorter of the two questioned.
“Before this night is over, you are going to wish we were.” Knife said.
Just then the disposal van pulled in followed closely by Doc in his ambulance. Snoop waved at Doc, who hurried over to where Snoop was standing in the doorway to the laundry room. “What do we have, Snoop?” Doc asked when he got close.
“So far just one young woman who’s been raped and beaten up pretty good. Her name is Jasmine and she’s over there.” Snoop said, pointing to the back of the laundry room.
Doc hurried towards the back of the room, then yelled, “Damn! Snoop! Bring the gurney. She’s passed out.” He hurried over to the young woman who was laying up against the wall wrapped in a sheet that had blood on it in the area that would mean she was bleeding between her legs. When Doc touched her arm, she was very cold and her skin felt clammy.
“When we get back to the house, I’m going to talk to Prez about you guys having to take classes on triage for victims. You never should have left her alone and definitely not standing by herself. If she had not been close to the wall, she probably would have fallen and could have hit her head on something.
Thankfully, it seems like she just leaned against the wall and slid down to the floor when she passed out, probably from being struck in the head but she’s got quite a bit of blood on this sheet too. Help me get her on the gurney.” Doc snapped at Snoop as he slipped his hands under her arms and together they lifted her up and laid her on the gurney.
Doc was not at all happy with Snoop right now. This was not the first time that he had been careless with a victim’s care and well being and if Doc had anything to say about it, Snoop was going to receive a harsh reprimand about it as well as having to take a course on how to treat victims. It involved more than just getting them away from the bad guys and it was a point that Snoops had always been lacking in.
Doc didn’t normally get involved in how things were run within the club but he felt he needed to talk to Prez about reorganizing team 2 and putting someone more qualified in charge of them. If asked, he would choose Digger or Crank over Snoop. He liked Knife but he was too short tempered to be put in position as a leader. He had a tendency to charge into situations that could often require more careful planning and consideration.
They took Jasmine back to the clubhouse clinic and Doc finally had a chance to really check her out. She had been beaten up and raped repeatedly but other than being bruised up, she was better off than a lot of women he’d had to deal with in the past. However, Doc could tell she had been sexually abused in the past and wondered what kind of hell this girl had endured so far in her young life.
Thankfully, her rapist had not managed to find anyone else, so Jasmine had been their only victim that they knew of. Both men were carried to the shed until Prez had a chance to interrogate them.
Doc was fuming about Snoop as he dealt with Jasmine then Melinda, who had woken up when they had called for Doc, helped her get a shower and some clothes to wear, something to eat and then showed her to a room.
“Where are you from, dear?” Melinda asked her as she opened the door to one of the rescue rooms.
“Nashville, originally. This room is very nice. Thank you for helping me.” Jasmine said, quickly changing the subject nervously as she sat down on the bed.
“Well, you are safe and no one will hurt you here, so you just get some rest. If you want to leave the room for any reason, just open the door and call out “prospect” and someone will come take you where you want to go on the ground floor within the house. Prez will want to talk to you after you’ve had a chance to rest.” Melinda told her. Melinda was picking up on how Jasmine didn’t seem to want to answer questions about herself. She had a feeling that she was running from someone.
Jasmine didn’t say anything but just nodded as she nervously sat down on the edge of the bed. She had never felt so tired in all of her life that she could remember.
Melinda stood and watched her for a minute, wanting to know more about her but could tell that she was exhausted so she just told her
“Get some rest. I’ll leave your key here on the table and lock the door as I go out. Sleep until you feel better. No one can get in without you opening the door except for Prez and he won’t bother you. He’s got enough on his plate right now.” Melinda told her.
Jasmine just nodded then crawled up on the bed, pulled the covers over herself. She wondered what had happened to the man who had helped her. She had felt so safe in his arms when he had lifted her out of that laundry cart. She curled up on the big soft bed and as soon as she heard the door close, she fell into a deep sleep.