Chapter 25: Open Cages
A few days after, I escort Iris back to her old room to help her get her stuff. She wants to stay more with me. Iris, this beautiful, brave girl wants to stay with me. I watch her, still not believing any of this as she walks up the stairs and I am greeted by my brothers in the garage. Bjorn is in and is working on the SUV along with Wood. Both men turn to me as I approach.
“Morning, bror.” Bjorn lifts his chin “How is our girl?”
"My girl is fine.” I snap.
“Relax, Rage. How is Iris?”
“Healing. She just needs a few stuff.”
“Uhm...” Wood looks at me “She is not coming back to her room?”
I come up to him and Wood presses his lips together. He is a sturdy man and I think he will soon be a brother but for now he is trying to avoid my look. Wise fucking choice!
“Why the fuck do you care?” I ask.
“Just asking, man.” Wood goes back to his work.
“You claiming her?” Bjorn cuts in “I mean you have declared she is off limits but are you in those limits?”
I scowl. I have no fucking clue what I am doing with Iris. The club has a strict but pretty straight forward policy regarding women. If one is fucking with a brother but isn’t claimed, she is free game, a rotter, like Candy is or any of the bitches swarming in for a taste of biker dick. If she is claimed by a brother, that makes her untouchable, a Valkyrie, a man’s property. Iris is neither of these things. She is affiliated with the club, works for us but hasn’t slept with a brother. I have threatened all my brothers away from her and they obliged simply because they don’t want to fucking mess with me. But claiming Iris as my own...
She is nice to me, friendly and compassionate but I doubt she would ever think of me like that. I am the guy that saved her and nothing more. A big brother of sorts. No woman would ever want to be with me. Certainly not a girl like Iris. I know Ava said that Iris is in love with me and for a few seconds I believed her. But I know she just said so to give me an incentive, a reason to hunt wilder and harder. It worked but it is over.
“Fuck off!” is all I can say to Bjorn and I go up the stairs.
Iris is standing outside the door, her arms wrapping her body as if she is trying to comfort herself. The door is broken open and the bed behind it is in a bizarre angle with the rope Iris used thrown on it. She is trembling and I am sure the memories are back to haunt her. I come closer to let her know she is safe.
“NO!” she screams.
She turns her back against a wall and has a scared look on her face. She is mortified, afraid of me. Her grey eyes are wide and her whole face a mask of terror.
“Iris?” I see her slip away into the darkness of fear.
My heart tightens upon seeing her so distraught. There is nothing I can do to dispel the fears deep seated in her soul. I know that feeling, the one gnawing the foundations of your sanity. But I can’t let her drown.
“Iris!” I bark.
Gradually I see her face melt, her eyes soften, her whole body relax. She takes two shaky steps my way and falls against me, her arms around my waist. That scared little girl has the ability to surprise me like no other in my life. I want to push her whole body against me, glue her to me, for eternity, if I can, but I think of her wounds so my arms are hanging limb.
“You are not lying, Rage, are you? He is dead?”
Her shaky voice is enough to stir all the protectiveness I have inside. It is something fierce. I want to provide the security she craves and this instinct is more powerful than any other shitty thing in my brain. My hand moves up and snakes around her waist. The move is so sudden that makes Iris look up to me. She is close, too close and her eyes are pleading me to chase all her fears away. I would chase the Devil himself to see her have a good night’s sleep.
“I will bury any motherfucker trying to hurt you!”
My voice is too hard, my words too crude, my grip on her might be too harsh. And yet she smiles. She looks deep into my eyes and smiles. She doesn’t stir away from my touch instead tightens her embrace, her cheek flat on my chest.
“Thank you.” she leans closer, climbs on her toes and puts a little peck on my cheek.
And just like that I am on fire. I can do nothing but stand there, my whole body frigid, stunned by that simple gesture. And it’s my turn to be haunted. I haven’t been kissed before in my life. No, that’s a fucking lie. I was kissed once, I was loved as a child. I was...Not, not back there! I scream internally and stir away from her.
“Got it all?” Bjorn asks when we go down minutes after.
“Yes, thank you.” Iris says.
“Listen, Iris.” Bjorn comes closer with one eye one me “The room is yours if you want it. We can put some enforced door and Stig can set up more surveillance. I mean, if you want...”
I know what I want. I want to snap his neck. I don’t know what his problem is but he doesn’t like her staying with me. He is trying to take her away from me and I want to kill him for it. He glances at me and I am sure my eyes are signaling death but he doesn’t stop.
“You can even come and live with us. I know Ava would love to have you.”
“Thank you, Bjorn, but I am fine.” she offers.
I tear my eyes from Bjorn and look down at her beside me. She is calm and relaxed and she means it. She likes being with me. She prefers being inside my bare room rather than go and leave in Bjorn’s comfortable home.
“What are you working on?” Iris passes both of us by and heads up to the workstation.
Wood is there and the moment Iris reaches up to him, he gets up and welcomes her with a wide smile on his face. I feel rage boil inside me but if I break his bones now, it will scare Iris. I can wait to find the fucking thrall when he is on his own and teach him a lesson for smiling back at my girl.
My girl. I take one small step back in panic. I have been using that word a lot lately in my mind but I know Iris isn’t mine. I can’t think like that for her. I am not worthy not even for the skin on my bones. I don’t deserve her, she is too good, too beautiful, too pure for the Hellhound.
“Oh, my God!” Iris excited voice makes me turn to her “This is not a 1967 Shelby GT500 “Eleanor” Fastback!”
“It is!” Wood smiles wider.
I swear that guy has a death wish.
“This is a beauty.” Iris walks around the car “Where did you get that?”
“A guy owed us money. He had none so he gave us this.” Bjorn walks up to the car.
I have no idea why they are fussing over a cage. I never liked cars, I hated the way they confined me. But Iris, Iris seems excited, taken but that car. Her eyes are taking it all in and she touches it softly.
“What are you going to do with it?” she sounds worried as if she is talking about a stray puppy.
“Fix her up and sell her.” Bjorn shrugs.
“Sell her?” Iris frowns “None of you want to keep her?”
“Let me work on her!” Iris pleads and I am stirred out of inaction.
“No way...” Bjorn starts.
“Iris...” I say.
She chooses to look at me. I swell with pride. She responds to me, not Bjorn. Iris trusts me and I have to honor that trust. And part of that is not letting her strain herself.
“It’s a Shelby, Rage!” she has the look of a girl given a doll and she looks adorable.
I can’t hold back a smile and I feel the other two seriously stare at me. I couldn’t care less. All my focus is on Iris. A few minutes back she was scared out of her mind, plagued by her demons and now she is happy and all because of that freaking car.
“You need to get better, Iris.”
“Yes, I know. But it is a Shelby. An Eleanor.” she repeats and bats her eyelashes.
She bats her freaking eyelashes at me. I mean, there have been a few bitches that had tried to pull that shit on me, batting lashes, licking lips and shit like that but they all got turned down hard. Iris? Iris bats her lashes and I melt in a puddle. I turn to Bjorn.
“Don’t fucking touch the car till she is better.”
Bjorn scowls and looks at Iris. Her face is lit up and she clasps her hands together. Bjorn chuckles and shakes his head. He is too unable to deny her anything. But I can see that we don’t share the same sentiment. It’s the look of an uncle not wanting to deny his favorite niece a favor.
“You got it, girl. No one touches the Shelby till you are back. Hell, I think that’s for the best. Cars are sure as Hell your kind of thing.”
“Thank you!” she goes round the car.
I go up to Bjorn, my eyes still pinned on Iris that is sitting in the driver’s seat, caressing the steering wheel.
“She seems better.” Bjorn says.
“Doc says her wounds are healing.”
“I wasn’t talking about her back.” I feel Bjorn look at me.
“Don’t sell her.” I point at the car.
“Don’t tell me you are buying a cage, Rage!”
"I am not!” I keep my eyes on Iris.
She gets out of the car and flinches as she unravels her back. She goes over and bends over the engine, gathering her long hair in one side, letting it fall like a dark waterfall. The white skin against it is like silk, her cute nose, her lips her eyes...She is the single most fucking beautiful thing I have ever seen.
“You are not...” Bjorn whispers.
“What the fuck do you care?” I pin him.
“Well, you need to talk to Tor about money.”
“I got money.” I hiss.
I do. The Riders had been dealing guns even before I was born and the years I had been doing runs for them I had gotten my fair share of the money. I am a patched member and I get a piece of every action. But I have nothing to spend the money on. Bjorn bought a house for him and Ava, Tor invested on the escort and the porn and he is getting a bigger share, few of the others have some kind of investment or the other. I got nothing, just a few numbers in the bank. I live in the club, eat, drink, shit in the club. Nowhere to spend money on, no will to do anything. But seeing Iris being so happy around a thing, I feel that those fucking numbers in the bank are worth something.
“Don’t tell her!” I threaten “When she is better, let her work on it and when she is done just give her the fucking keys. I will clear it with Tor.”
“Rage, this is...”
“My choice.” I cut him and go to Iris.
Iris meets me halfway and she is bustling with joy and a real smile on her lips. Wood is following her with his look and I catch him eyeing her. I know that look. The fucking thrall is into my girl. The moment I am in his eyesight, he reads the murder intend and looks down. That’s right, motherfucker.
“Iris, let’s go!” I growl.
Iris comes near and her eyes dart from me to Wood inquisitively. Wood takes a few steps back and I walk away with Iris at my heels. I am a fucking mess. I want her so much, don’t want anyone near her and still I have no right to claim her as my own. Goddamn it, I am a fucking mess.