Marcus tapped away on his phone with the whole team sitting in his living room.
Edward was playing with Lily on his new leather couch, Ellen also. Garrett and Ekon were idly discussing fighting routines on a new futon in the opposite corner. T and Daniel were quietly chatting as well and standing beside him. Rodriguez was back on his feet and standing watch by the front door with Damon.
Marcus finished what he was doing and looked at the group. Rodriguez had recovered well enough and insisted to work despite his still painful condition. Marcus allowed him to make his own choice and Damon confirmed he’d watch his back. Damon had also reported that the fifth AB member had managed to evade him on foot. He had returned with nothing more than a few bruises.
Ellen also was recovering. After that night of her admittance, he had kept his distance. He couldn’t have her fogging his thoughts. He was shocked that she cared enough about Lily or even Rod. After everything she’d encountered, for some reason she was behaving more rational than expected. He grinded his teeth together. She had also shot two of his members, one who almost died on spot. The bullet had clipped his brachial artery and his shoulder was now a mess.
He couldn’t reprimand her for that either. She was able to think quickly and save Rod’s life. He extended his gratitude to her for it but her involvement would make this difficult. She had missed her Monday flight because they were holed up at Daniel’s house. Additionally she was the only one available to safeguard Lily and Edward trusted her. He breathed a sigh of worry.
Daniel and T had fixed the door at the house and identified the four dead men as Aryan members. According to T, each were new additions to the membership, he had met when he was called to swear in. Daniel had cleared the bodies and cleaned up the evidence.
“Marcus, you okay?”
He turned to see Ellen bending towards him slightly. She was standing behind his chair with a hand on his shoulder. She rubbed the spot gently in an effort to soothe him.
“Yeah...just thinking,” He murmured awkwardly.
Edward stopped doting at Lily and pointed his attention to them.
“Ellen, what you did two days ago...has changed things. You see, there are different ways for someone to join the ranks by proving their loyalty and dedication. You protected Lily and saved Rod. I’ve been considering to swear you in as a new member but...I think that’s off the table.”
Ellen stared at him dumbfounded.
“I have school...and...what would my parents think...I’ve been gone for a week already...I-I-I don’t—”
“Calm down there” Daniel smiled.
He had gotten to know Ellen after the incident. They’d exchanged a few good greetings and he thought of her as a friend.
“It was just a thought. Marcus has to make that decision” He clarified.
She looked down at Marcus. He was too quiet.
“The consensus is to send you back to Miami with protection,” Edward continued.
“I volunteered” Rodriguez stated. He was gently holding his side.
Ellen’s eyes softened as she looked at him. When had these men become....family to her? It’d only been a week and yet...
“Do you have a friend back home that could look out for you until we finalise this?” Marcus asked.
Ellen nodded. “My friend Dani. She’s probably worried about me.”
Marcus passed Daniel’s phone to her. “Speaker phone”
She dialed Dani’s number from memory. A chirpy voice came over the receiver with loud shouting in the background.
“Hey Dani,” Ellen answered nervously.
Dani’s voice didn’t respond. The line went silent too, the shouting in the background gone.
“Elle is that you?”
Her friend sounded shocked and worried.
“Yeah. How have you been?”
“How have I been? Have you fucking lost it! You were on the news in a missing report and I’ve been trying to ring you all weekend. I’ve been worried.”
Ellen sighed. “I’m sorry. I had no choice in the matter. I need some help”
The line went silent again. This time she heard Ellen go into a room and a door was clicked shut.
“The police were at your apartment two days ago. The detective said his name was Kal Henry. He’s looking in to your case”
Ellen looked between the six men surrounding her.
“What’d he want?”
“He said you’d left the country with an escaped convict. Ekon Grace I think. He suspects your involved in a bigger case. I advised him your innocent. Your too stuck in school to just take a sudden trip”
“Yeah. You know I’d tell you if I was leaving right? You’re a good friend to me despite how long we’ve known each other”
She heard Dani sniff over the line.
“Thanks...So, what now?”
“I don’t know. I was gonna come home but if the police are looking for me, that’d be a bad idea...”
“So it’s true that you know Ekon?”
Ellen shyly looked at Marcus. He nodded.
“Yes. But it’s not what you think. I had no choice”
Dani went quiet over the line again. It was starting to worry her.
“I know you’re my friend but why should I trust you...I don’t want to get involved if it’s not worth it. I have to think about school and my parents”
Ellen frowned. “You’ve been coming to my house for six months to pass your first year classes. I’ve invested into your parents jewelry business once and I even went as far as to support you through every stupid idea you’ve had! I meant it when I said I considered you a friend.”
“Okay, okay,” Dani laughed controllably over the phone, “I was just making sure it’s really you. I trust you. You don’t have to tell me everything but I’m glad you are safe.”
Marcus quickly wrote on a piece of paper and slid it towards her.
“Yeah. If you have any more info for me, I’ll call another time okay.”
Ellen hung up.
“I wanted to ask her about my parents but I doubt they even realise I’m missing”
The six men around her were contemplating the next move.
“Sending you back now isn’t an option,” Edward murmured impatiently.
“But if we let her stay, she can’t be involved in this without her full commitment” Marcus argued. “Rules exist for a reason. The only reason T is here is because he’s vital to all this shit”
Edward frowned. “Well, what is your answer Ellen?”
The decision was now aimed at her. She was now in the middle of all this. Her face was recognized by the police and they had her on the list. She wasn’t safe from this anymore.
“I’ll swear in....temporarily if it’s possible,” she conceded.
Marcus glanced around the room and realised all the others were vouching for her.
“Don’t forget your fucking place,” he pointed to each of them.
T, Damon and Rod walked out of the house and disappeared leaving Edward and Daniel.
“I agree temporarily. She’s done nothing so far to not earn our trust,” Edward reminded him. “Sentencing her to serve the gang isn’t necessary”
Marcus growled. “Who’s risking their life for this decision. Show of hands. If she screws up, your willing to bear her punishment.”
Edward raised his hand. “It’s enough for me...”
Marcus conceded. Ellen would pledge her loyalty to the membership for the remainder of her time there. The three adjourned and Marcus summoned Damon, T and Rod inside.
“For now, Ellen stays here. Until we find the mole, we can’t send her back”
Rod agreed. “I’ll still stand guard”
Ellen watched the six of them in awe. Since when did this become a team effort? Well, they were at each other’s neck and now they were fine. She also wanted to stay with them once Dani told her the news.
Safe was the way to go...
“Ellen, you’ll join Edward and I for training,” Daniel suggested. “The warehouse gym has zero feminine energy. Easy to get swallowed up in there”
Edward cocked his head to the side. “So you and I have feminine energy? Is that what you’re saying?”
Daniel coyly tiptoed around the couch and ran out with T following close behind. Ellen laughed.
This was going to be a tough story to tell Dani, she thought.