“The fuck were you thinking?” Hawk yelled, cuffing me upside the head.
“Shit,” I said rubbing the spot where he'd slapped me, completely ignoring his question.
“You could have blown the entire mission!” He shouted. Only Hawk could get away with speaking to me like that, but if he didn’t reel it in soon I was going to have to put him in his place.
“The mission was already blown. I’d been going there three nights a week for three weeks and I didn’t see shit. I was getting ready to leave when I saw her.”
That was a blatant lie. I’d been there less than ten minutes before that brunette bombshell, whose name I still didn’t know, caught my eye and completely distracted me from my mission.
“You gave her your real name, Blade,” he said, calling me by my road name. “And the card to the only legit business we own.”
“It’s been over a week,” I said. I had to try hard to keep the disappointment out of my voice. “If she hasn’t called by now she won’t.”
“Yet you still haven’t touched Rain.”
“I haven’t touched her since Jenny died.”
“You looking for an old lady?” He asked, eyes pulling up in surprise.
“Fuck no,” I replied instantly. “Besides, she’s not cut out for club life.” I said the words, but only half of it was true. She definitely wasn’t cut out for club life but she was still old lady material. Wife material.
Fuck. I’d always thought my dad was full of shit. That bikers were built different. We’d fuck anyone we wanted but as soon as we found “the one” we straightened out and never looked at another woman again. I’d always called bull shit.
Fuck if the old man hadn’t been right.
I could talk to him about this. But then he’d tell mom. And then everyone would know.
“She fucked you in the bathroom of a club without knowing your name. Seems like she’d fit in just fine.”
I nearly spat out my beer at his words. “Nah,” I said again. “She’s different. I can’t explain it.”
Hawk just shrugged. Hell would freeze over before he took an old lady so he didn’t understand what I was thinking.
I didn’t know what it was about her. But she was it. She was the one that made me never want to be with another woman again. As I’d watched her on the dance floor it was like she was dancing her troubles away. Her eyes had been closed and she’d been too wrapped up in the music to notice me staring. Or any of the other men in the club that had also been staring. Her friend had caught me though, given me away. I could tell she liked what she saw so I went for it.
I should have gotten her number too.
“We need to bring this to church.” He wasn't talking about the fucking in the club but about how we wasted nearly a month chasing a dead end. We were no closer to finding out what really happened to Jenny.
“I know that,” I snapped at him, glaring at him. He raised his hands, admitting defeat. “Thirty minutes,” I said, downing the rest of my beer. “Get the guys here.”
Standing I walked to my office. Frustratedly I ran my hands through my hair. My sister’s death should have already been avenged. The longer she went without it the worse of a brother I felt like. She didn’t deserve to die like that. I couldn’t bring her back, but I could make whoever did it pay.
Obsessively I checked my phone, waiting, hoping for an unknown number to pop up and be her.
Thirty minutes ticked by. My guys would be ashamed if they knew how often I was glancing at my phone screen.
I was a goner. Hawk already knew it. Hopefully he’d keep his trap shut.
When the guys rowdily started pouring in for church I waited silently for them to quiet down. They knew how I operated, stilling almost immediately.
“It’s been nearly a month since Jenny died.” The silence seemed to grow stronger. Bear’s eyes filled with tears as he fought to keep them back. His dad had been killed by a rival club when he and Jenny were thirteen. He lived at the clubhouse until he patched in at eighteen. He’d been in love with her since he was fifteen. She broke the poor fucker’s heart. He wanted her to be his old lady, but she decided to become a cop. He’d nearly drank himself to death. It’d been nearly three years and the light was finally starting to come back in his eyes. Then she died.
Whatever mission we set forth to avenge her, he’d use it as a suicide mission. I needed to make sure that didn’t happen. I wasn’t as close to him as Hawk and Bender who were like literal brothers to me, even without the club patch, but there had been a time when I thought he’d become my brother-in-law.
“And were no closer to finding out who killed her.” A series of low growls followed my words. “My undercover operation was unsuccessful.” I shot Hawk a looking, urging him to keep his mouth shut. He did. Sometimes he was smart.
“I’ve got a call in to my guy,” Bubbles offered the info before I could ask.
I nodded. “Echo?”
“So I’ve been trying to figure out who the other undercover cop was with Jenny. Problem is I don’t know if it’s a man or woman or if they went in before or after her.” He hit a few keys on his keyboard before turning the laptop towards me. I leaned forward, elbows resting on the table as I assessed the two photos on his screen. “These two I can’t figure out. José Rodríguez and Stacy Summers. Both of them only exist on paper as of a few years ago. I searched every database I could hack for their pictures and couldn’t find a single one. Someone created their identities.”
“Doesn’t mean they're cops,” Bender offered.
“True,” I said as more murmurs of agreement passed through the room. “Keep looking."
“What if we scooped a dealer up off the street?” Hawk suggested “Use him to get to his boss. His boss to get to his boss’s boss until we get to the top.”
“Messy,” I said. “If they know we’re coming they’ll come for us first.” Hawk’s nostrils flared and I could tell he wanted to disagree.
Hawk’s dad had been president while mine was his VP. Everyone expected Hawk to get voted in next but when it came down to it I was the better man for the job. Hawk was a powerful enforcer. He could torture information out of anyone. But he reacted without thinking. Me? I was cool and collected, constantly assessing potential outcomes and how to make those outcomes work in the club’s favor.
Sometimes it was hard for him. He'd thought he’d get the gavel up until we were twenty-three. Hell, we both had. But when his dad sat us down and said he was retiring he’d made it clear who he thought was better for the position.
Hawk took it in stride saying he never wanted the gavel anyways.
Most people thought once you were in the club there was no way out. That was mostly true. But for guys who wanted to retire we allowed it. They’d proven their loyalty and there was no reason to believe that would change if they retired. They were officially still part of the club, paid their dues and rode when necessary but they didn’t vote and only got a fraction of the profits from our businesses.
Hawk’s dad and mine were the sons of two of the founding members. There’d been no other life we could have chosen. And even if I could have, I wouldn’t have.
Nobody said anything. This was the first time I’d truly felt helpless since becoming president six years ago. And it was about my own sister, which made me feel even more helpless.
“Echo, keep digging,” I said. “Bubbles, I want to know the minute your contact comes back with something useful.” They both nodded. “Any other business?”
“Dismissed.” The guys stood quickly, filling out of the room, pushing and shoving like school kids as they did. Hawk stayed seated. “Bear,” I call before he can leave the room. I kicked the stool Bender had been sitting on and pointed at it.
“Prez?” He asks sitting down.
“I can’t have you going rogue,” I started.
“No idea what you’re talking about, Prez.” His nonchalant attitude was pissing me off.
Keeping my voice low, I leaned forward, forcing him to look me in the eyes. “If I don’t think you can follow orders I’ll lock you in a cell when we go on this mission.” His face paled. He knew I wasn’t kidding. “I love you like a brother, man,” I say in a less harsh tone. “I miss her too. But when we do this we do it right. We go in whole and come out whole.” He only nodded, but I saw the demons he was fighting within. Now that it was just the three of us he let a few stray tears fall.
“Fuck!” He cursed, his head falling back as he lets out a cry of agony. “It took me three years to get over her leaving me to be a cop. If she had fallen in love and gotten married I would have been devastated. But I would have been okay, knowing she was happy and safe, ya know. But this?” He took a deep breath. “How can I live in a world where she’s just gone?”
“Same way I do,” I tell him. “One day at a time. Fuck. If that’s too much, one hour, minute, second.” I had started minute by minute but now I was at the point where I could take it day by day. “Keep your head down and your nose clean man. If you need to talk,” he cut me off before I can continue.
“I can come to you. I know.”
“Fuck no,” I said causing him to laugh. “That’s what Doc’s for.” The three of us laughed and it felt good. Laughing had been hard since she’d been gone. “Get out of here.”
Once he was gone Hawk lit a cigarette. “You really think he’ll go off half-cocked?”
“You remember what he was like when she left him?” Hawk’s face grimaced as the memories invade him.
It hadn’t been pretty.
“And you?” He shot, his voice accusatory. “And this chick?”
“Let it go,” I told him. “She isn’t going to call.” I tried to appear unbothered; even though through all of church, I could feel my phone burning a hole in my pocket.
He looked at me, not believing a word coming out of my mouth, but didn't comment further. “I need a drink,” I said.
We headed towards the bar. Brenda gave us each a shot and a cold beer. As I looked around I saw the soul suckers attaching themselves to any man without an old lady, which was a lot. Only two of my guys were settled, the rest pledged eternally to the bachelor life. I saw Rain in the corner; she’d clearing been waiting for me because as soon as she saw me she sauntered over.
“Hey, babe,” she smiled seductively. The nickname made me cringe.
“Rain,” I nodded at her before turning to talk to Hawk. But the fucker had already disappeared, sliding into a booth next to one of the prospects who was hopelessly hitting on one of the younger soul suckers who’s name I can never remember. He didn’t stand a chance, but as soon as he was patched in he’d be drowning in it.
“Wanna go upstairs?” Rain asked, wrapping her arms around my neck.
“Don’t be like that,” she said, her ridiculously long, fake, neon painted nails scratch against my skin.
“Rain.” I gritted. “Get off me.” Her touch made me cringe. I didn’t care that she’d slept with half my brothers and blown the other half. She could do whatever she wanted; she was single.
The thought of the brunette at the club being with a ton of other guys didn’t even bother me. As long as once I caught her it was just me, her history is just that. History.
Instead of listening to my words Rain pushed herself further against me. “I can make you feel good,” she whispered, her mouth pressing against my ear.
“Blade.” My name left her mouth in a needy whimper. She didn’t even know my real name.
But club girl does.
If she didn’t contact me I would just have to go back and try and find her again. It’d been over a week and I still hadn’t heard from her. Anyone else would have long been forgotten. But not her.
“Rain. Leave me alone.” I was trying to keep my voice low, not wanting to cause a scene but there were already a few eyes on us.
“What’s wrong, babe?”
“Rain. Get yours hands off me right fucking now,” I said so loud the entire club, all of Rebel Souls and every soul sucker in the room stopped to stare.
Hurt flashed across her face and tears formed in her eyes, but she released me. I let out a long breath, not realizing I’d been holding it.
She looked pissed.
Stomping her foot. Yes, like a child. She turned and walked out of the clubhouse, her ass hanging out of her leather skirt and the red top she was wearing covered less than a bra.
Brenda, ever intuitive, set another shot and a new beer on the counter. “Thanks,” I say shooting her a smile and a wink before heading to where Hawk is sitting.
“Fine,” I answer.
“You shut her down because of club girl?” I shot him a look, but the prospect is so caught up in whatever the blonde on his lap was saying bullets could start flying and he’d have no clue.
“No.” I gave no further explanation.
As the night went on the sexual activities in the clubhouse only increase. By the time I head upstairs to my room there’s a three-way going on on the pool table. God bless the prospects who will clean that shit up in the morning.
The next morning when I woke up I headed downstairs for coffee. Megan was already making breakfast while the prospects were cleaning up from last night's mess. I gratefully accepted a cup of coffee and headed to a booth. Sipping it I checked my phone for the hundredth time since I’d woken up. “Morning,” Hawk grumbled as he sipped his own coffee. I was playing with my phone, spinning it in my hand. Hawk noticed, but remained silent.
“Wanna ride?” I asked.
“Fuck yes,” he said, downing the remains of his coffee.
We headed to the parking lot and start our bikes. Mine was an all black Fatboy with the Rebel Souls logo painted on it. Hawk’s was a black and red Road King.
It didn’t take us long to make it to the highway. The wind against my skin was the most freeing feeling I’d ever felt. I followed Hawk as we drove along the dessert roads, traffic getting thinner and thinner the further away we get.
Even out here, in the middle of nowhere on my bike I still couldn’t get that woman off my mind. All I could imagine is those shapely, creamy thighs wrapped around me while her arms were wrapped around my waist, holding tight while we rode.
Would she love it and tell me to go faster or would she be scared and bury her head in my back and hold on with a death grip?
I would hope for the first, but having her squeeze me tighter didn’t seem like a bad option either.
Once we get back to the clubhouse Hawk lit a cigarette before he even climbed off his bike. He had to go an entire four hours without a smoke. “You’re fucked.”
“Usually after we come back from a ride you’ve got this goofy happy grin on your face. The same look a kid gets when his dad hands him a five and lets him loose in a candy store. But even that ride didn’t do it. You’ve got it bad for this girl.”
“I know,” I admitted.
“You going back to the club?”
“Yeah,” I said, lighting my own cigarette.
“Me too,” he smirked. I just stare. “You said her friends were cute too,” he shrugged. I laughed at him as we entered the clubhouse.
Not in the mood to party I went to my room, only coming down for dinner and another beer, retreating before anybody could pull me into a conversation.
It was still early but I was exhausted. Letting the beat from the bass downstairs lull me to sleep, my dreams were filled with brown eyes and brunette hair.
The next morning I woke up it’s already after ten. I hadn’t slept that late in years. The first thing I did was check my phone.
I went straight to the shower. Once I was done I wrapped a towel around my waist and headed for my closet.
My phone chimed and I grabbed it. An unknown number popped up on my screen and I opened it eagerly.
Hey, Nathan. This is Rachel... the girl from the club. Remember me? Do you maybe want to go out tomorrow night?
Remember her? I couldn't stopped thinking about her.
And did I want to go out? That wasn't even a question. I typed away eagerly, setting up a time and a place.
I finally knew her name.