Wicked Embers: Rebel Souls MC #1

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3.0 Rachel

“So?” Jamie said before I could even fully take my seat. Annie backhanded her gently on her arm in warning.

“It was fine,” I said, noncommittally, desperately trying to keep my voice from betraying me.

When I’d woken up for the second time, alone, Nathan was long gone. My body was sore in the most delicious places. It’d taken me nearly twenty minutes to appropriately cover the hickies he left all over my neck. Even my hips had his finger prints on them.

His touch lingered everywhere, making me want to feel the real thing all over again.

“Fine?”

“He took me to that tapas place over on State.”

“Oh, I’ve heard the food is good there,” Chrissy chimes in.

“Delicious,” I say without thinking.

“Fine, my ass! You’re blushing,” Jamie taunts.

“Jamie. Let her be. She’ll give us the details if she wants to. But she definitely wants to,” my sanest, although that wasn’t saying much, friend winked.

They wanted details? They’d get them.

“He picked me up on a Harley,” I told them. Their collective gasps had me smirking. Before I could continue our waiter popped up.

Jamie never took her eyes off me as she spouted our order, “four botomless mimosas, one black coffee, three cappuccinos, four waters with lemon, one French toast platter with scrambled eggs, one eggs benedict, one chocolate chip pancakes with a side of sausage, and for the boring one,” she shoots a look at Chrissy. “A veggie egg white omelet with a side of fruit.” I swear she hadn’t even taken a breath. “If you bring everything wordlessly and don’t come to unnecessarily ask questions there’s a forty percent tip in it for you.”

Waiter boy nodded once before turning and fleeing. I wasn't sure if he was fleeing in fear from Jamie or desire for his tip.

“I’m not boring! Come back to me when you’re over thirty!” I laughed softly. Chrissy was constantly telling us about how things go to shit once you hit thirty. We never believed her.

Jamie rolled her eyes dramatically before turning back to me. “Details!”

“Did you get on the bike?” Annie asked.

I proceeded to tell them every detail from the time he picked up, how sweet and caring he was, the sensual way he fed me.

Chrissy was practically drooling asking if he had any friends while both Jamie and Annie were thoroughly impressed.

“And the sex?”

“Who says we had sex?”

They all laughed loudly, drawing attention to us.

“Even better than in the club,” I admitted, giving them what they want.

“By the look in your eyes I’d say you’re holding back.” Chrissy and her damn lawyer brain could always spot a lie or half truth.

“I am,” I quipped back at her without divulging any more details.

There was something else, something that'd been bothering me. I didn’t want to tell them because I didn’t want them to jump to conclusions and I really wanted to see Nathan again. If they knew they’d want me to cut it off before it could even start. I knew he had an iPhone because our message thread was blue, but this morning the phone he'd pulled out of his pants was an old school flip phone. I’d worked enough cases with Chrissy to recognize it as a burner. I was going to have to ask him about it first.

There wasn't a legitimate reason to have a burner phone.

was there?

“Are you seeing him again?” Annie asks.

“He wants to see me again tonight.”

“So soon.”

I could only nod.

I’d ask him about the burner phone tonight and where he had to rush off to so early on a Saturday morning.

I didn’t want to come off as crazy, but I had ignored red flags in both my previous relationships. I wouldn’t make that mistake again.

By the time their interrogation was through the waiter had brought our breakfast and we’d surpassed the acceptable number of mimosas for a Saturday morning.

By the time we paid for our brunch and headed out I had butterflies in my stomach, restless with anticipation to see Nathan again. I ordered an Uber and before it was even confirmed, I switched apps, texting Nathan that I was on my way home and he could come over whenever.

This was crazy. Two dates in less than twenty-four hours. With a man I’d known less than two weeks. I didn’t know what it was but I was drawn to him. It was bound to blow up in my face, but I planned on enjoying the ride for as long as it lasted.

When my phone buzzed in my hand I was disappointed to see the Uber notification and not a text from him. Checking the license plate and confirming it on my phone, along with the driver's picture I climbed in. We exchanged polite hellos and I was thankful he wasn't a chatty one.

When I still didn’t have a text from him by the time we were pulling up to my building my butterflies had turned to a pit. With a murmured thanks I stepped out of the car.

My eyes were cast towards the ground as I walked, a bad habit I’ve had all my life. “Hey, beautiful,” a voice that I immediately recognize called. Looking up I was greeted with a sight that immediately had the butterflies back in my stomach.

Nathan was leaning against his Harley again. He was dressed much more informally than the first two times I’d seen him. His jeans were older, faded from too many washes, but they clung to his muscular thighs perfectly. He was wearing a white v-neck that showed off his perfectly sculpted chest and biceps.

I was staring so hard I had to check for drool.

“Sorry I didn’t answer you. I was already here when I got it. Thought I’d surprise you.”

That smile on his face with those dimples was half the reason I was falling as hard and fast as I was. Because honestly, I still knew next to nothing about him. Just that he owned a tattoo parlor.

“Nice surprise,” I smiled back before he kissed me briefly. He followed behind me as I walked to my apartment. “Do you want a drink?” I asked once he’d closed the door behind him.

“Just a water.” Grabbing two bottles out of the fridge I lead him to the small balcony off the living room. It was literally big enough for the two of us and a small table in the middle, but it looked out towards the mountains in the distance. He let out a low whistle as we sit down.

“How was breakfast?”

I gasped, “brunch is not breakfast!”

“My bad,” he said both hands up. He was so damn adorable and I couldn’t understand how a man who looked as dangerous as him could possibly be described as adorable. But it suited him.

It was those damn dimples.

“It was nice,” I said, ending my teasing.

“Any interesting topics come up?”

“Nope.”

He wiggled his brows but didn’t press me for any further information. Spinning the bottle in his hands, he couldn’t seem to sit still. Was he nervous?

“I need to ask you something,” I said, the mimosas giving me extra courage.

“Shoot,” he said as if he wasn't at all worried about what I might want to ask.

That was either a good thing because he didn’t actually have anything to hide. Or it was a bad thing because he thought that he was so good at hiding it that he doesn’t need to worry.

“Why do you have a burner phone?”

He stopped fidgeting with the water bottle immediately and sat up straighter. He bit the inside of his cheek, like he was contemplating the answer.

“When you were on the phone this morning I noticed it wasn’t an iPhone. But I know you also have one of those because when I text you it’s a blue message. And I’ve worked enough cases with Chrissy to know the signs. You flipped it shut. Nobody has flip phones anymore. You also had to leave at six in the morning on a Saturday. I don’t think most tattoo shops open that early.”

He had a strange look on his face and it seemed almost like pride. Or shock.

“You’re observant,” he murmured. I didn’t respond. “I wasn’t ready to have this conversation yet.”

“Whatever the truth is can’t possibly be as bad as what my head is imagining.”

“I wish that were true, baby.”

His words weren’t comforting.

“Please tell me you’re not married.” I said the words but as they do I realize they didn’t make sense. If I was the other woman I’d be the one calling the burner.

“Definitely not married. The only person I’m interested in a relationship with is you, Rach.”

One date and he’d already dropped the relationship word.

What was the catch?

“Then what is it?”

“It might be easier if I tell you a story.”

“Okay?”

I took a sip of water and leaned back in my chair, intent on listening to him.

“So about forty years ago there were two men, in the midst of some sort of midlife crisis. They were over the hill and all that nonsense. They’d been best friends all their lives. Their sons were best friends. Their wives were best friends.

“They both love to ride motorcycles. Somehow they get the idea to start a motorcycle club. They recruit some friends and rent a clubhouse. Little by little things change. Priorities change.

“Suddenly it’s not just about riding anymore or the feel of a bike beneath you and the freedom you get from flying down the highway. You get tattoos and have a club logo and cuts designed. Then people start treating you differently. The bikes, leather and tattoos make them assume you’re dangerous. So what do you do? You decide to become what everyone already thinks you are.

“You get in to deals with the wrong people. But it’s fine because there’s money and power and women. Then you get too old to ride and pass the club down to your son and your best friend’s son. They’ll be President and Vice President just like they were.

“The club grows and grows beyond anything the founding members ever could have dreamed. Money is flowing, booze is flowing. But then you start to see the downside of the life. Run ins with the law. Even though nobody actually knows what you’re doing. They just assume it’s all illegal. Guys start getting killed by rival clubs and gangs. Your brothers. And you don’t know why but you love it. The rush, the unknown, the money, the women. It’s literally all you’ve ever known. All you want to know.

“It’s a family. It might be a fucked up one, but it’s still a family. And honestly, what family isn’t a little fucked up?”

I was holding my breath. Was he in a gang? Him? No.

“And then the third generation takes over. Their the grandsons of the founders. Sons to the President and Vice President again. Everything is great. There’s less violence, more money. But then, the President’s sister decides to become a cop.”

I gasped and he let out a soft laugh.

“Every one thinks they’re crazy, but they make their sibling relationship work. And then, his baby sister gets an undercover assignment in the city. And that assignment gets her killed.”

My gasp was louder this time.

“So the club tries to figure out what happened. They’re all craving revenge. After some intel comes in, the President decides to go undercover to a club. He goes three nights a week for three weeks but there’s no break. He doesn’t find what he’s looking for. And just when he’s sure his mission has been a total waste of time, he spots a brunette dancing in a green dress surrounded by her friends.”

“Oh my God.”

“And he doesn’t know what it is, but he’s got to have her. Inexplicably drawn to the beauty and innocence that surrounds her. She’s not cut out for his world. He knows that. But he’s a selfish bastard and he wants her anyway.”

My moth was hanging open and I was literally tongue tied. I had no idea what to say. That was so much information to receive in the span of a few minutes.

“You’re the President of a motorcycle gang?”

“It’s a club,” he said and I knew it was a reflex answer. One that'd been trained into him since he was little.

“You’re an outlaw.” He didn’t confirm or deny it, but his silence was the only answer I needed. “Get out!” I shouted, standing so abruptly my chair flips over. He didn’t move. “Out!”

“Rachel, wait,” he pleaded. “I know you feel this too. Whatever is between us it’s real.”

“It doesn’t matter anymore,” I told him. Because it didn’t. I couldn’t be with someone like him, no matter what he made me feel.

“I’m more than just what you’re thinking.”

“Have you ever killed anyone?” I asked because honestly my only frame of reference for this is sons of anarchy. And as hot as Jax Teller was, I wouldn’t end up like Tara.

“No,” he said immediately and I wanted so badly to believe him.

I searched his eyes for the truth but I wasn't sure it was there.

“Is Nathan even your real name? Or was that for undercover?”

“Yes. Rachel, half the guys in my club don’t even know my real name. And you’re the only woman I’ve ever been with who’s used my name during sex. And it’s the only thing I want to hear for the rest of my life.”

I laughed. I couldn’t help it. He’d known me for two weeks and he was talking about forever.

“Bikers are different than the guys you're used to. When we know we know.”

“Tell me more about what I don’t know,” I said menacingly. I was so angry.

He moved into my personal space, his large body pinning me against the side of the building. “I knew the moment I saw you that I wanted to claim you.”

“C-cl-claim me?” I stuttered out.

“In my world claiming you means fucking you raw, filling your sweet pussy with my cum.”

I hated the way my body reacted to his words. I couldn’t hide the shiver they sent over my body.

“Some guys like to do it in public but I wouldn’t. I don’t share what’s mine. If I claim you, you belong to me.”

My pussy was throbbing in time with my pounding heart.

“That means you’d be my old lady. Which in biker terms makes you my wife, even without the piece of paper. I’ve never, ever taken a woman without a condom in my life. My dad drilled into me and Hawk that there’s only one woman worth doing that with. Stupid? Maybe. But I don’t know anything different.

“You almost did yesterday,” I reminded him.

“And now you know what that meant. It wasn’t careless almost forgetting. I didn’t want to use one.”

Fuck.

“Nathan, you need to go,” I said, pushing an open palm against his chest.

“Tell me I’m wrong. Tell me you don’t feel it too.”

“It’s been two weeks!” I yelled.

“I already told you I’m different. I’ve known since I saw you in the club. And that’s not a denial.”

“You’re right. I’m not cut out for your world.”

I couldn’t tell him he’s wrong. Because he wasn't. But that didn’t change anything.

“But you’re cut out for me,” he said softly.

My brain had clearly left the building because I grabbed his t-shirt and pulled him down to me, capturing his lips in a hungry kiss. He kissed me back just as fervently while he picked me up by the back of my legs and started carrying me to my bedroom. Just like last night.

We were halfway down the hallway when my brain decided to reappear. “Nathan. Stop. Put me down.”

With a reluctant sigh he released me, setting me down before running his hands through his hair.

“Go. Please.”

“This isn’t over,” he said and I knew he believed it.

“Yes it is,” I replied, sadly. It had to be.

Without another word Nathan turned and walked to the door; I followed him. When he opened the door Joe was standing there with a beast of a man I didn’t recognize. “Joe? What?” I didn’t get a chance to finish my sentence because Nathan was lunging at him.

“You!” He said while he dove. But he was outnumbered and didn’t stand a chance. It was barely even a struggle. I had no doubt that in a fair fight Joe wouldn’t stand a chance, but Beast man grabbed him and threw him back before they pushed their way into my apartment.

And then there were guns. They were both pointed at Nathan. I could see his mind working, trying to figure out how to get out of this.

“Told ya,” beast man said to Joe in a thick accent. “Your girl here already moved on. She’s letting the Rebel Souls President hit that fine pussy.”

I went to speak but no words came out.

“You kill my sister?” Nathan asked, words directed at Joe.

“Joe?” I questioned.

“José,” Nathan spat his name like a curse. Only it wasn't his name. I was missing something.

But Joe wasn’t violent.

“Don’t worry about that,” the other guy said. He cocked his gun and shot. Nathan howled in pain as the bullet connected with his calf.

“Grab her.” Joe, apparently the dutiful soldier, grabbed me. I went to fight him but he grabbed my hair harshly and pulled my head back.

“Fight me and I’ll have my friend here put another bullet in your boyfriend.”

“Don’t worry, Prez,” Beast sneered at Nathan in his harsh accent. “We’re going to take real good care of your girl. And you’ll get the videos to prove it. And after you’ve seen it, then we’ll come back to kill you.” He laughed darkly and the implications of his words had bile rising in my throat. “Too bad we didn’t think that far ahead with your sister.”

One of Joe’s hands released me while the other tightened around my waist. I felt an impact on the back of my head and Nathan’s strained voice screaming “Rachel,” before my world goes dark.

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