19. Something Strange Was Happening
I didn’t imagine the day to turn out like this.
Something strange was happening. Something I couldn’t explain. I noticed this on my journey back to Miami. It was different compared to last time. For one thing, Melanie was held up at work so I had to get an Uber home. Other than Mel, no one knew I was coming home.
Not even Don.
I wanted to surprise him like he did for me. I was too eager to do so that I didn’t take into consideration the consequences for my actions. After all, I was dating a biker, one that had a club caught up in some mess I didn’t fully understand. So, when I caught sight of my Uber rolling up to the curb, I questioned my decision. I prayed I hadn’t put myself in danger based on pure stupidity. My anxieties were high, and I was particularly alert of my surroundings until the Uber dropped me off at my front door.
I tried to call other members of the MC. Tennessee wasn’t answering, and with Goliath—although I didn’t have high hopes but it was worth a shot—the messaged was rejected. With a sense of foreboding, repeatedly I read over the angry red ‘failed to send’.
I was home for the next couple of hours when I heard the front door unlock. Melanie walked into the living room, nodding in greeting.
“You’re still here?” she asked, sounding surprised.
“Yeah,” I replied lazily. Stretched out on the couch, I shifted and reached into my back pocket for my phone. It was silent. I got no reply from Tennessee and no message from Don. Sighing, I continued to watch TV.
“Maybe you should go to him,” Melanie suggested.
Shifting on the couch once again, I turned to face her. “Can I do that?”
I haven’t travelled Miami alone since... well, before I started college. Ever since coming back, I either had Don, Goliath or Tennessee with me.
“Should I even do that?” I asked aloud. Although I was talking to myself, Melanie responded.
“Nobody knows your back except for me. I didn’t tell the girls at the salon your back,” Melanie said, making her way to the kitchen. “What about the clubhouse? Why don’t you start there?”
“Yeah, isn’t that ground base for most of them? You might have a higher chance finding Don or at least someone who knows where he is,”
“Yeah,” I whispered, slowly facing the TV. There was silence for a while before she spoke.
“I don’t know what’s going on but the past couple of days have been shifty. Crystal wasn’t feeling well today and went home early. That’s why I couldn’t come and get you,”
“Yeah,” I said but this time, I wasn’t paying attention to her words. I was lost in my thoughts, my questions bombarding my thoughts enough for me to lose track. I needed to find answers. Or at least know that Don was okay. Straightening my posture, I asked. “Can I borrow your car?”
“The keys are in my purse,” she called from the kitchen. I glanced around and found her purse by the front door. I rushed to it as if it would bolt from my grasp. Digging past her things, I found her keys, grabbed my phone, and headed out the door without another word.
Entering the car, I slammed the door shut and let out a frustrated sigh. No one was at the clubhouse. No a single soul. There was always someone there in case someone needed to touch base or for the members to chill and do nothing when they had the time to do so.
Where the hell could they be?
I had no calls on my phone; no texts either. Slumped against the driver’s seat, I scanned the area as if I’d get some answers. I wasn’t sure whether or not Don was at home. I checked my phone again and I straightened as I recognised the day. It was a week day— a Wednesday to be exact— so he should be at work. Yes, that’s got to be it.
I left the compound and drove to Reyes Mechanics. Thankfully, the traffic was a nightmare and I made it there less than what I would’ve expected. The closer I was to the garage, the less promising it appeared to be. From the outside, it was quiet, meaning that there wasn’t the usual bustle of men talking to each other or doing whatever they needed to do. Nevertheless, that didn’t mean that nobody was inside. Putting the car into park, I grabbed my bag and stepped into the stifling heat that belonged to Miami.
I stepped close to the building. It was open and from my position, I couldn’t see anyone. Don would never leave the shop open unsupervised.
“Don!” I called, my voice reverberating off the walls. I got no response. I was about to turn away when I heard movement. Stopping in my tracks, I turned and searched the garage, trying to find the source of the noise.
Suddenly, a tall man emerged from the shadows. My breath caught in my throat and fear gripped me into place. I didn’t recognise him; he didn’t work for Don. He was a white man with a full grown beard. His hair was long and dark that brought out the startling silver of his eyes. Despite the muscles on his frame, his face looks gaunt to the point where his bone structure was very prominent. Any other day, I would’ve even appreciated his looks. I was about to scream until a familiar voice rang through the silence.
“Vanessa!” McKenna breathed, also appearing out of nowhere while running her fingers through her hair. She glanced at the man beside her as if telling him they’d been caught. I narrowed my eyes at the both of them. “You are the last person I thought would arrive today.”
“Yeah, um, just came back from Austin,” I said and folded my arms. My eyes were trained on the intimidating man. “Um… I’m sorry, I don’t know you.”
“Him?” McKenna said before the man could get a word in. “He’s, uh, he’s my boyfriend.”
Eyes widening in realisation, they darted between them. “But I though he was—”
“Yeah, I thought so too.”
I watched him again. I wasn’t discreet with my observation. “But how?”
“It’s a long story,” the man said in a rough voice. Stepping close, he offered a hand. “Bruce Atlas.”
Taking his hand, I shook it lightly. “Vanessa.”
“I didn’t mean to scare you,”
“You didn’t scare me,” I said. He lifted a wary brow and I sighed. “Okay, you did a little.”
He smirked and I looked away. I didn’t speak until the silence got a little too awkward.
“Where’s everybody? Where’s Don?”
McKenna shook her head and shrugged. “He hasn’t been in all day. Actually, not a lot of the men have. Don left me in charge to open this place. It’s just been Bruce and me.”
I slumped my shoulders in defeat. “So you have no idea when he’ll be in?”
“To be honest, I don’t know if he’s gonna come in,” she said, turning her eyes to the intimidating man one last time. “From the way he texted, it seemed urgent. I think something happened.”
“Yeah, you’re not the only one,” I muttered. The worry I fought off hours before came back in full force.
“I’m sure he’s fine,” McKenna said with reassurance. “I’ll let him that you’re here.”
“I’ll be at his office,” I replied, nodding at Bruce before leaving the two of them alone.
Don’s office door was unlocked. I pushed it open and wasn’t surprised with how disorganised it was. It’d been like that since day one— since the first day I met him. Once I stepped inside, I closed the door behind me and released a tired breath. Paper was scattered everywhere and there were a couple of pizza boxes laid out on the floor. I started to clean to kill some time.
I came across an adorable picture of Leilani and couldn’t stop the grin spreading across my face. Taking a bite out of the cookie, she was staring up at the camera, almost looking completely off guard. There was another picture. This time, it was of me. I was smiling. At what? I didn’t remember. I never knew Don took a picture. I didn’t realise he took any at all. Judging by the design of the room, he took this when he visited Austin.
After clearing and organising the place, I sat in Don’s chair. I was so relaxed, and so tired from my earlier flight, that I didn’t realise I’d fallen asleep.
Something woke me.
All of a sudden, the atmosphere in the room shifted. Before, I was able to relax in complete tranquillity, in silence and in solitude. My sense of calm was disturbed by the presence of another. As fatigue controlled my limbs, I was unable to act quickly; it suppressed my sense of fear but not caution. Slowly, my eyes fluttered open and shifted to my intruder.
But only it wasn’t a stranger.
Let me just say there was nothing romantic about being watched, especially when you witness something cold frosting in the depths of your lovers eyes. So much so that instead of the usual hazel eyes, they were as dark as coal black.
It was an unnerving sight, and I wasn’t sure how I should act. I straightened my back, glancing at the clock above the door. It was 7PM. I refocused my gaze on his. He was still watching me and as always, I could read him.
“You should’ve let me know you were coming back so soon,” he said but instead of sounding happy, his tone was flat.
“Was the surprise not obvious?” I tried to hit him back with the same words he did a month earlier but got no response, not even with a hint of humour on his dark face.
“My phone was dead,” he finally said and ran his fingers through his hair. “Fuck, Vanessa, you’ve gotta let me know exactly when you’re coming back. What if they got you?”
“Melanie was there,” I shot back defensively.
“They could’ve got the both of you,” he snarled.
Shivers wracked through my body. As I rubbed my arms, goosebumps dotted my skin. I didn’t realise how scared I’d been this entire day. The ominous feeling settled in my gut wasn’t just me overreacting. It was trying to tell me something.
I licked my bottom lip. “Don, what’s wrong?”
“It’s Crey… he’s gone missing,”
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