Chapter 11: Safe Places
I am up really early in the morning, early enough to see the sun redden the sky over the bay. First thing I do is get up and go to the window. For the last days, I go straight to the window just to get a glimpse of Rage watching over me. I feel a rush in my stomach longing to look upon him even if it is from afar. I managed to get a glimpse of him as he sat on his bike without him knowing and it was the only time I had seen him be calmer than the agitated, tortured man I had seen in the club, always pacing, always fidgeting, uncomfortable in his own skin.
But today he isn’t there. I let out a sigh and my face melts into what I know is the mask of disappointment. I want to see him. My mind knows the last person I need in my life is a troubled – to say the least – inked god-like man. My heart though longs to at least be able to look at him.
“Pull yourself together.” I reprimand myself and go on with my day.
After a few minutes, I am ready and head out the garage and across the street to the bar. I have a few hours before the garage opens and it is more than enough to clean the place. No one is here that early in the morning and all I can see around is the evidence of last night’s party. Bottles everywhere, glasses, full ashtrays, spilled drinks are making the place look like a dorm. And mostly that is what these guys are running. Sure, they are a bunch of outlaws but mostly they are loud, drinking all the time, sleeping with anything that moves and smoking all that they can roll. Not to mention that most are single, living in the rooms behind the bar. I smile as I go into the kitchen to get the box I use to gather the glasses.
After a couple of hours, I am almost done. The bar is clean, the dishwasher loaded and I have cleaned the mess. I am still in the kitchen and I am looking into the huge fridge taking notes on what the boys might need. Wood will take care of it as he did last time I made the grocery list. I am exhausted but I feel like taking care of my own home and since I never really had a home of my own, it is a good kind of fatigue.
“Morning, Iris.” I hear Daniel in the kitchen.
“Good morning. Coffee?”
Daniel is in his usual shaggy clothes, his gray curly hair a mess he is trying to tame with his thick fingers. If he wasn’t wearing the leather cut he could have been a cute, teddy bear uncle visiting. I feel warm being around him. Behind him Wood comes in and he flashes a smile my way. He looks good even with his morning gruffness evident in the slow way he moves.
“Nah. Wood is going to take care of the rest. I keep telling you. Make the rotters fall in line. There are a few of them in the rooms.”
“No, I am fine. I am all done anyway.”
“I am making breakfast. Want some?” Wood asks me.
“I am waiting for the dishwasher to finish and then I can make something before going to the garage. Thank you.” I say.
Wood fusses with his hair and turns his back on me while Daniel smiles at me with a bittersweet smile and then walks out to the bar. For a while, it is just me and Wood in the kitchen, he making breakfast and me unloading the dishwasher putting everything in its place. It is eerily familiar all this cozy feeling of being around people that don’t want to hurt me. I never thought that would happen to me. I can’t help but let a soft smile linger on my lips.
After a while I hear the revving of Harleys out and then the door of the bar open. There is some commotion and enthusiastic loud voices in the bar but I am never curious on what the Riders do. I am still making my breakfast, when I feel someone in the kitchen.
“Well, what do we have here?”
I turn not sure the man is talking to me. I have never seen him before and it isn’t that he can go unnoticed. It seems to be a recurrent theme for most Riders to be that good-looking. He is a tall man with short curly hair that are in the richest black color I have ever seen and amber eyes that shine under the kitchen lights.
“Good morning.” I dare.
“It is now.” the man pulls near and his fleshy lips crack in a wicked smile “I’m Vik, baby.”
His eyes travel all over my body and his look deepens as he licks his lips. Sheer panic surges through my body and I take one step back. I know that look, I could recognize it anywhere.
“Aren’t you going to tell me your name, baby?”
That endearment fills me with dread and when my back hits the cold door of the fridge my eyes shoot around trying to find a way out. I can’t talk, my tongue gets stuck on the roof of my mouth and I bite down my lower lip. Vik comes even closer and I can tell by the way he bears his body that he has his way with women. I know that there would be tons of women to fall in his arms willingly but only the thought that he will touch me makes me want to scream on the top of my lungs. It would happen sooner or later. I am fair game and these men are so used to have women at their disposal that one or more of them would finally notice me and treat me as the new toy to play with.
“Come on, baby. I have been riding for a while and I need some comfort. And you seem so...” Vik is standing right before me and eyes me in a way that does nothing to hide his intentions “So sweet. Are you new here?”
His arms fall on either side of the fridge and he leans closer. My breath is caught and I blink one too many times trying to dispel that crippling feeling that overwhelms me. I thought I got away but now I know that I am a weak thing that men will always use me anyway they want. That is all I am worth and my fate is sealed. I feel tears in my eyes and my lungs stop working.
Vik’s breath feels hot against my face and he press against me. I close my eyes and swallow hard trying to go to the same place I drift away when bad things happen to me. That’s what she taught me and that was the only thing that had kept me from slicing my veins. I am a weak, pathetic thing that get what she deserves, powerless, incapable of stopping it. Never was, never will.
“GET YOUR HANDS OFF HER!!!” a raspy voice fills the air.
Vik turns and I find the courage to look over at the door of the kitchen. There stands Rage. He is topless in his tight jeans and is eyeing Vik with a brutal look. I don’t stop to think. Rage is here to protect me! I am safe. I am always safe around him, always. Rage is here when I need him and I need to feel him closer, make him take away that bitter taste of fear. I push by Vik and run to Rage covering the distance between us in a few strides.