Each night I sleep with Wood, it’s the best night of my life. The one better than the other, drawing me deeper in love with him. I never knew such bliss could be achieved. He is all in all perfect. Last night he let go and showed me that other side of him that he kept suppressed so he wouldn’t hurt me. That was reason enough for me to love him more. At the same time, he is so sweet and tentative, tender and caring. He has it all.
I roll on my other side so that I face him. A ray of light is hitting him just right, his thick, dark lashes almost caressing his cheek, his cheekbones, the pillar neck of his, his chest broad and strong. I cozy closer and he engulfs me in his arms, still asleep. I love him so much!
“WOOD!” A loud bang on the door disrupts the cocoon I have encased us in.
Wood jumps up instantly and looks at me. He leans in and leaves a kiss on my forehead.
“Stay here,” he says and grabs his briefs before opening the door.
Vince stands there and his look is dead serious. I see Wood’s back tense and I pull the covers even more to me.
“Morning, Tamie,” Vince winks at me and I nod. “Thing in 10 minutes,” Vince says to Wood.
“Someone hurt Tanya. She is in the hospital and says it’s some revenge on us shit.”
“Be there in 10, brother,” Wood says and closes the door.
“Kyle? Is everything OK?”
“Club business, kitten. I will tell you what I can when I can. Though if Tanya is involved, Ava will be all over this. Dress up and let’s have breakfast in the kitchen. No time for breakfast in bed, babe, sorry,” he apologizes sweetly and leans to leave a kiss on my lips.
We get dressed and go in the kitchen. Everyone is in and up. Even the Valkyries except for Chiara. The one fuming more than anyone is Ava. She, Tanya and Galina are close. She is cursing in Russian speaking into her phone. When we come in, Iris gets up and takes me in her arms. She too is tense.
Wood gives me a nod and I go to the table were the girls are sitting while he goes to whip something quick for everyone to eat. Tor is pacing and looks at Ava and Stig is on a table with his laptop.
“Who would dare touch one of our girls?” Tor demands.
“Are we sure they knew who she worked for?” Daniel is calmer.
“Tanya says that she said the exact same thing to them. They laughed and said we took one of theirs and they are hurting one of ours.”
I freeze. Could it be...? I have never told Wood about that night in Logan’s house, never mentioned the subtle threats but could it be that they mean me?
“Bullshit!” Ava is off the phone. “I make sure all of our girls are free and clean. Runner? Jab?”
“Some thing for the studios,” Runner shrugs. “Most of the girls were simply amateurs before they came to us and the majority of them our own rotters.”
“I think this is bullshit, too,” Tor hits his hand on the table. “Tanya is our biggest earner. That’s not a coincidence.”
Biggest earner? I was Freddie’s biggest earner. But it can’t be. Freddie is dead. Everyone is dead. It can’t be!
The atmosphere during breakfast is heavy and we all finish it quickly. The men go to Thing and Ava proposes we visit Tanya. Wood comes to me and gives me a sweet kiss.
“Stay close to Magda,” he proposes. “We are sending two thralls with you but you will be safe with her.”
Magda winks at him and smiles at me. I know they are close those two and I also know that Magda is probably more lethal than the thralls.
“I will,” I promise.
“Good, kitten,” he whispers in my ear and goes to the Thing.
I ride with Iris that seems a bit worried. Ava, Lysa and Magda are in Magda’s car and the two thralls follow us on their bikes.
“Are you OK, Tamie?” Iris puts on some music.
“I am,” I lie.
“You and Wood?”
I smile and just his thought is enough to disperse my dark suspicions. Images from last night come forth and I feel the blood go up my cheeks.
“OK, Tamie, I got it!” Iris laughs. “You two are having fun. I am happy for you as long as he is treating you right.”
The feel of his palm spanking my behind comes to mind. Does that qualify as treating me right? Cause I very much enjoyed it.
“He is. He is the best.”
We reach the hospital in San Francisco and we are escorted to the VIP area where Tanya is in.
“Her client had her moved here,” Ava explains as we enter the vast room.
The room looks nothing like a hospital room but more like a hotel suite. It has a view on the Bay, it’s luxuriously furnished with white flowers in expensive vases. The bed is big and Tanya is on several monitors. By her side, on the edge of an armchair is a man that looks at her face and closed eyes with worry. When he notices us, he turns to us.
“She is sleeping,” he is whispering.
We all pull closer and I glance at her. There is nothing visible on her face and I sigh in relief. But then Logan’s words come to mind. “They said not to damage you, especially not the face” those were his words.
The man gets up and comes up to Ava. He is a man in his late 30’s and he has a mild face that is attractive in a way none of the rough Riders would ever be. He is clean cut, perfectly shaved and wears a dress shirt over expensive trousers. He is tall but lean, not buff at all with brown hair and grey eyes.
“Who did this?” he demands softly.
“We are looking into it,” Ava shakes her head. “How is she?”
“Three broken ribs and some internal damage from the kicks,” the man looks back at her with pain. “But she is strong, you know her.”
“It was generous of you to do this for her,” Ava waves at the room.
“I would do anything for her.”
This man was supposed to be Tanya’s client but the way he looks at her, he conveys that he feels more than a client should.
“Ava?” A weak voice is heard and Ava runs to Tanya’s side.
For a few minutes they speak in Russian. Then Tanya manages to muster a smile for all of us.
“Do you need me to call the doctor? A nurse?” The man asks and goes by her side in an instant.
“No,” Tanya whispers.
“Anything you need, Tanya, I will give you,” the man says with conviction.
Tanya’s face is swept by panic all of a sudden.
“Look, Derek,” she is almost shy. “You didn’t have to do this. It was not part of the contract. Speaking of which, as you can see I cannot abide by its main parameters for a while but I would suggest you choose Nayla to substitute me. You will find that she-”
“Stop!” Derek orders.
Tanya’s surprised look deepens. I am guessing he hasn’t talked to her like that before. He seems annoyed and determined and worried at the same time.
“I will not substitute you, Tanya,” he says firmly. “You decided to put that contract between us and I went along even if I knew you were screwing around. If that was the only way you’d be with me, I would take it.”
The air gets awkward and we all look at each other not knowing what to do. Derek and Tanya are locked in a staring match and to my surprise, the sassy Russian yields first.
“Now, if you will excuse me,” Derek says sternly, “I will find those that did this and make them regret ever touching you.”
“The Riders are taking care of that,” Ava protests.
“Let me inform you, Ava, that being a billionaire has its perks. I will find them faster than you.”
“How are you going to do that?” Ava demands. “Riders have connections.”
“I do have connections, too,” his eyes turn a bit darker. “Plus, you will use the stick, I will use the carrot. A handsome reward for their asses will do just fine.”
That’s all Derek says and he gets out of the room, taking his phone out. Tanya is still watching him as he exits and then her eyes stay on that door.
“Damn,” Lysa is the first to react.
“Hot damn,” Magda adds.
“I thought the man was mild as a sheep,” Ava says and stares at the door as well.
“I guess he is not,” Tanya says in a dreamy way.
“Is it me or am I getting a strong Pretty Woman vibe?” Iris chuckles.
Tanya shakes her head and hardens her face. But I see her eyes drift to the door every now and then.
“What happened? And why the hell did you go out on your own?” Ava chastises.
“I am a big girl! Anyway, they jumped me, two of them. I told them who I worked for and they laughed at my face. They said that if the Riders took one of their girls, they would take one as well.”
“Then they grabbed me and landed a few punches but all those self-defense classes you forced on us paid off and I took the one down with me. The other panicked, kicked me while I was down and run.”
“Can you identify them?”
“I can do you one better. Before I fled the scene, I took a photo of the guy I hit as he was coming to.”
“Clever, clever, devushka,” Ava says.
“Of course, the guy run after me, took it from me and smashed into thousand pieces but I did that thing with the hair you taught us and I run away.”
“Shit!” Lysa says in frustration. “We will never find that phone and that photo.”
“I think we will,” Ava smiles. “It’s in the cloud, right?”
Tanya nods and Ava takes out her phone. She calls Stig and after a few minutes Ava gets a photo of the guy on her phone. We all gather around to look but it is me who cries out in surprise.