I hadn’t planned on any of this. This was all her; there’s no way I can ever say ‘no’ to this beautiful woman lying open for me on this bed. Just as I’m about to climb on top of her to hold her mostly naked body against mine, she asks, “What about you?”
Before I have a chance to answer, there’s a noise at the front door. Like a gazelle jumping from the jaws of death, I silently close Elena’s door, reach for the floor and throw her the black shirt I had under my dress-shirt.
Her eyes go wide. “Elena!” That wasn’t Rachel... it’s her father.
“Fuck,” I mumble under my breath.
“My dad?” Elena whispers in the dark. I don’t need a light on to know she is pale.
I scurry around the room to gather as many of my belongings as possible and hop on one foot as I put on my dress-shoe. Elena slips on the shirt I gave her, opens the window, pulls out the screen, and hides the bottom part of herself under the covers. I shove my dress-shirt out the window then pause in front of Elena. If I get caught, I may never have this opportunity again. I lean over to kiss her slightly sweaty forehead.
“Another time.” I give her a wink then start climbing through the window as I hear heavy footsteps chug down the hall.
The door swings open just as I hit the grassy ground beneath her window. I sit back against the siding and hold my breath as I overhear their conversation, and Elena trying to fix the screen in her window.
“Dad!” Elena screams. “What are you doing home early?”
“Where is he?” Her dad sounds pissed.
“Dad,” Elena says. “Where is who?” She tries to act innocent. I close my eyes and shake my head. My girl is a terrible liar.
“Well, this sure as hell ain’t your tie...” Damn tie! There’s movement. “...And this, sure as hell ain’t your shoe,” her dad bellows. Shit, my other shoe. Under my breath, a string of curses flows out like a waterfall.
“Michael!” Cobra roars into the room.
“Dad! Dad, what are you doing?” Elena cries out. There’s a sound of heavy boots moving into the distance. That’s probably my cue; I hunch down low and run towards my house – something I should have done minutes ago, but I wanted to know that Elena would be alright. Not that I think her dad would do anything to her - it’s just the protective nature in me that she brings out so effortlessly.
With my one shoed foot and one bare foot, I gain traction on the slick grass. Just as I turn the corner for my door, I hear another door slam shut, something kind of heavy hits my back then I hear the words, “Stop right there.”
Normally, I would keep going but given the situation and it being her father’s livid voice – I take the advice. I stop and let my shirt drop at my feet, where my other shoe happened to land from hitting my back, then put my hands in the air and slowly turn around.
It’s no shocker that his face is red and contorted with hate. It’s also not a shocker that a barrel of a shotgun is pointed right at my chest from just a few feet away.
I’m calm. I take a deep breath; he wouldn’t shoot me. “Dad! What are you doing?!” Elena cries out from her front door, wearing my shirt that nearly covers the night shorts that she must have just put on.
“Stay out of this, Elena!” her dad shouts at her. In a collected, sinister way, he tells me, “We had a deal. You broke it.”
Damn right, I broke it. I’d do it all again in a heartbeat, too; she’s worth it. I step closer to the barrel. “Sorry, Cobra. It just happened. Calm down. We can talk about this.” He doesn’t move an inch.
Elena runs out to us; she looks up at her father with tears falling from her face. “Dad! Put the gun down. Please don’t shoot him. Please!”
“Elena, go inside,” Cobra tells her flatly.
“No!” Her hands grab her hair at the top of her head. “Dad! Please. Just stop. You’re scaring me!” She looks between her father and me.
With the softest expression I can muster, I switch my eyes to her beautiful face. “Elena, sweetheart.” She looks at me with tear-filled eyes. She honestly believes that he will kill me. “It’s all going to be okay. Just please go inside.”
Her mouth opens, but nothing comes out because her father interjects. “You do not tell her what to do,” he chides.
My attention turns back to Cobra. “You’re not really going to shoot me.” I relax my hands to my sides, calling his bluff. That’s when he cocks it.
Holy fucking shit! He just might shoot me. My hands fly back up in the air.
“Dad!” Elena cries out.
The man, who has killed many people in his life, stares coldly into my eyes and drops his voice. “You don’t think I will? You broke the deal. You knew the rules, and you broke them.”
“So, you’re really going to shoot me in front of your daughter?” In front of my girl? Leave it to me to challenge a killer who’s targeting me point-blank.
“I would,” he barks. His eyes zero in on his target.
Elena’s pleading is ringing in my ears, begging for her father to put the gun down. This isn’t how I wanted her to find out. This isn’t how I wanted to tell her.
I walk up to the barrel of the gun with a driving force, so it hits my bare chest. The barrel lands over the scar from when I once was shot just next to my tattoo - the Devil’s Henchmen ink barely covers it. With my hands in the air and Elena’s cries piercing the night sky. I say, “You can shoot me, but it won’t change the fact that I am in love with your daughter.”
I don’t look at her, but I can see at the corner of my eye that she’s speechless. Tears are still streaming down her face, but she’s quiet. Her dad’s giving me the stinky eye, but he’s quiet too. I can’t break eye contact with crazy Cobra. He needs to know that my feelings are real – that I meant every word.
The longest few seconds of my life ticks on by until Cobra grunts, then yanks his gun from my chest and mutters choice words under his breath. He stomps to his car, throws the shotgun in the backseat, then climbs in just as Paul and Rachel pull up to the driveway.
“Michael?” Elena’s soft angelic voice brings me back in as her father starts the engine and hauls his ass out of here.
Without saying a word, I reach down for my dress shirt and my other shoe, and then I grab her by the neck. I gently pull her in to kiss her forehead and look into those wide eyes then use the pad of my thumb to wipe away her tears.
I turn my back on Elena for my truck. Rachel and Paul come walking up with confused faces. Rachel runs towards her best friend leaving Paul behind.
In passing, I tell Paul to stay with the girls until either her father or I come back.
I knew he’d be here. It’s the only bar open past two in the morning in this town. With heavy feet, I slide out of the truck and put my other shoe and dress-shirt back on, then walk up to the all too familiar wooden doors of Charlie's.
It’s not a surprise that the place still has a good handful of people inside. The bar isn’t overly crowded, which is nice; although, it will feel exceptionally crowded tonight due to a particular dark-haired man sitting at the bar sipping away his regrets with a glass of something strong.
The clicking of my dress-shoes hitting the stained dirty floor is an uncomfortable sound as I make my way to the bar. I take a seat right next to the man who quite possibly would have killed me tonight if it wasn’t for a moment of truth on my end.
Dave immediately gives me my drink of choice, and I thank him. I take a sip and enjoy the burn as I relish in the fact that I’m still breathing.
“You really love her?”
I turn my head to the man next to me and meet his eyes. “I do. I really do,” I declare.
A scoff later, he tells me, “If you really love my daughter, you would have kept your distance with her.”
I take another swig of liquid courage. “If I stayed away from her, then I wouldn’t have been able to fall for her in the first place. With all due respect, I’m new at this. I’ve never experienced anything like it before. I can’t stay away from her. You’re gonna have to be okay with that.”
He didn’t like my response. The glare from his charcoal eyes tells me so. “Love is about sacrifice. You know nothing about love until you’ve sacrificed something for the one you love. You crossed a line.”
My blood is beginning to overheat, but I keep my thoughts to myself on the matter. Instead, I ask him the question I’ve meant to ask him for months now.
“Why me? Out of all the other criminals, bikers, and other men -why did you pick me? It seems as though you’ve made a mistake since you told me from the beginning not to fall in love with Elena. Now, here I am...in love with her.”
The father of the woman I love huffs. “Your mother and father sought me out.” My blood freezes as he cocks his head to the side to stare at me.
“Yeah. They reached out to me when they knew I was coming down here to try and put the man behind bars who wouldn’t stop sending letters about threatening my daughter.” He takes a long sip, and with a tap on the bar from his glass, he continues. “Your parents wanted me to help you see that life in the fast lane isn’t the life you should lead. Your mother didn’t want you to end up like your dad.” He turns his head to face the bar and closes his eyes. “Your mother knew that you have a soft spot for a pretty face. It was her idea to use you as a bodyguard for Elena.” His eyes open then swivel to take in my emotionless face.
Well, fuck me.
This was all staged—all of it. Elena and I have both gotten played. I was played by my mother and my absentee father, who is actually alive, and she... is being played by me.
My father? Why the hell would he care? He’s alive?
A soft spot for a pretty face? It makes me feel shallow.
He lets out a breath and says, “Your mother figured that if you were busy being around Elena, then you wouldn’t be around the club as much...”
I should be really pissed with this situation, but it doesn’t surprise me in all honesty. She has been right. I haven’t spent as much time around the club as a president should because I can’t stay away from this man’s daughter. I’ve always known my mother didn’t like the life I’ve been leading. It’s the same path as my old man. Why would I not follow in the same direction?
Cobra and I take a long drink at the same time. After our glasses clink on the bar top, he turns to me and says, “You know what this means, right?”
I arch my brow. He’s either going to force me to fall off the face of the earth, or he has something else up that short sleeve tee of his. “No, I don’t...”
“You can’t break her heart.” He tells me square in the eyes.
“I would never dream of breaking it.” It’s the truth. I will do what I have to in order to protect her heart.
“Good,” he says.
Dave chimes in and gives us both refills. A long awkward silence lingers between Cobra and me as we think about what else to say.
He stiffens himself and faces me from his bar stool. In taking a deep breath, he says, “I need you to promise me something.”
I nod once.
“Promise me that no matter what happens to me...you will take care of my daughter. She doesn’t have anyone else to watch over her. If you don’t want to do it – you find someone who will.” He sounds stressed. Almost like he’s hiding something, but I let it go. Maybe he’s just being a protective father.
With tight lips, I give him a stern, honest nod.
Cobra turns back to his drink, takes a sip, and exhales. His mood lightens. “She’s my baby, Mike. I don’t want to know about anything you two do. When she’s home, you are not in her room -understand?”
My lips crack a smile; he clears his throat. I straighten my back and wipe the smirk off my face. “Understood.”
“Are you sure? ’Cause the last time I gave you a rule, you broke it,” he grins, jokingly.
A rusty laugh bubbles out through my lips. “Yeah, I did. I can assure you that I’ll make sure to take her to my place from now on.”
“Just make sure the files I gave you are tucked away.”
“They are,” I assure him.
“Good.” He points a finger at me. “And ‘no’ means ‘no.’ You understand?”
I put my hands up. “Yes, sir.” I let a beat pass before I ask, “What happens when all of this is said and done?”
“You do what you have been doing. You take care of my little girl,” he tells me. “If you pull the same shit your father pulled on Lilly, I’ll kill you.”
I forgot that we’ve talked about that...what my father did. “I thought you said that I’m not supposed to have any ties with her after all of this?” I ask in confusion and relief that perhaps I can keep her in my life for as long as she lets me.
“That was before love got in the way,” he says.
“Aw, who knew you could be such a softie,” I joke.
“I’m not that much of a softie. I almost shot you, didn’t I?” he winks.
“It’s not like it was actually loaded,” I chuckle.
The look he gives me is a mix of warning and disdain. It erases the upward curve of my lips as he slides an envelope to me. “Oh, it was loaded,” he tells me.
Well, there it is. Whoever thought these two would get along so well?
What do you think is in the envelope?