Claimed: Death Dealers MC Book 3 (2 page)

BOOK: Claimed: Death Dealers MC Book 3
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***Raven***

 

He’s here. I don’t need to open my eyes to know it’s him. He’s finally here, and I can’t look at him. How can I face him after what happened? He’ll never look at me the same way again. I no longer have what he wanted, what he’s waited so long for. I’m damaged goods.

His scent grows stronger and I feel him standing over me. Tears gather behind my lids. I shut my eyes tighter to keep them there, but that just makes it worse. He gently wipes a tear from my cheek with his thumb.

“Raven, look at me.”

It’s like opening the floodgates. He’s blurry through my teary-eyed vision, but I couldn’t bear to see his expression anyway. I couldn’t bear to see disgust in his eyes. He hands me his bandana, slowly sliding his fingers through my hair.

“It’s okay, doll. I’m here.”

He doesn’t sound disgusted. A little sad but…compassionate. I brave his stare and his blue eyes glint at me. No judgment, no repulsion. I breathe a sigh of relief. As he leans in, I grab his shirt and pull him down to me, burying my face in his chest and taking a deep breath. His scent fills my body, mind, and senses. I hold my breath for as long as I can then let it out slowly. This is what I needed. Peace.

“My little puppy. That’s why I made sure I showered before I came back here.”

I crack a small smile as he drops a tender kiss on my forehead. He pulls up a chair, but I shake my head and pat the bed. I need him next to me. He carefully moves me over and I struggle onto my side – the one with the good shoulder. I lay my head on his chest as he settles in next to me and just breathe him in. His strong, steady heartbeat calms and reassures me. He’s here.

“I’m sorry, Raven.”

The pain in his voice grabs my heart. What does he have to be sorry for?

“This is my fault. I’m the reason this happened to you.”

Before I can object, Ellen and Aunt Nita walk in, followed by Millie, Chrissy, and Toni. They gather around us, each one appearing to be fighting back tears. Millie cups my cheek and smiles weakly.

“How are you, sweetheart?”

I look around the room again. Chrissy and Toni have lost the battle, sniffling as tears roll down their cheeks. Ellen looks to the ceiling, still putting up a fight. I break down again, fisting my hand in Gage’s shirt.

“Oh, shit,” he mutters under his breath.

It can’t be easy for him, being surrounded by five crying females. They move closer, each touching me in support.

“You’re not alone, Raven. We’re all here for you…anything you need.”

I nod to Aunt Nita as she hands me a tissue. Gage strokes my hair, trying to soothe me. In the midst of my sobbing, it hits me that I don’t really know why I’m crying again. It was triggered by the others, their tears and the looks in their eyes. I know what happened to me and I feel the effects of it, but I guess it doesn’t seem real. Maybe it’s because I don’t remember what happened, but I don’t
feel
it. I’m sad, upset, and a little scared, but that true feeling of violation is just beyond my reach.

Chrissy holds up a bag then sets it on a chair. “I brought you some stuff…my kindle and iPod. They won’t let us into your place.”

“I brought you some soup…the way my Mom makes it,” Toni says as she places the container on the table next to the bed. I’m not really hungry but if I could eat anything, it would be Mama Doreen’s soup.

“Thanks, guys.”

They visit with me for about an hour before the nurse from earlier comes in and announces she has to check my bandages. The ladies leave and Gage carefully climbs out of the bed.

The nurse looks pointedly at the door. “Sir.”

I grab his hand before he even acknowledges her. She presses her lips together and narrows her eyes at him.

“What’s your name?” he asks her.

“Cindy.”

“Look, Cindy…we got off on the wrong foot, but you better get used to seeing me. As long as she’s in here, I’ll be here, too.”

Sighing, she shakes her head in resignation. “Fine.”

She starts with my shoulder, and I flinch at her touch. I don’t know why, but I don’t feel comfortable with her touching me. She moves to the foot of the bed and lifts the sheet to inspect my legs. The moment her fingers graze my skin, I freak the fuck out.

“Don’t touch me!”

Startled, she releases me and steps back. “It’s okay. I just need –”

“Don’t touch me. Get away from me!” I turn to Gage in a panic. “Please, don’t let her touch me. Get her away from me!”

“I got you, babe.”

He wraps his arms around me gently as I sob into his chest. I vaguely hear him tell the nurse to get Dr. E, and then he whispers in my ear that I’m okay. This is not the behavior of someone who’s okay.

What the fuck just happened?

CHAPTER 2

***Gage***

 

She’s shaking in my arms and I don’t know what the fuck to do. I do what I can – hold her and try to comfort her. By the time E gets here, she’s calmed down enough to lie back on the bed.

I stroke her hair and kiss her forehead. “I’m going to talk to E, okay?”

“Please, don’t leave me.”

The desperation in her voice almost breaks me. I squeeze her fingers lightly and give her a reassuring look. “I’ll be right outside the door, doll.”

She nods, but the frightened expression lingers on her face. I close the door behind me and take a deep breath.

“What happened?” E asks.

“Nurse came in to check her bandages and Raven freaked out the moment she touched her.”

“Well, it’s common for rape victims to not want to be touched.”

“By anyone, right? But I’ve touched her…Ellen, Nita…her friends have touched her and no problem.”

“So have I, but…she trusts us. We’re familiar.”

“I don’t know. It just doesn’t seem right.”

He nods and grips my shoulder. He’s been my best friend for most of my life and knows me better than anyone. I know he’s worried about me; I see it in his eyes. I know all my brothers care, but E is the only one who would even think about my feelings right now. The others will know and understand my anger and need for revenge. They’ll expect it. What they don’t know is how much this is killing me inside. But I can’t show weakness, not even to E. Who am I to feel sorry for myself? Raven’s the one who was attacked.

I glance over E’s shoulder and notice some of the guys are here. Fuck. I take one last look at Raven’s door and head over to them. They all stand as I approach.

“How is she?” Rico asks.

“Physically, she’ll be okay. She’s just a little messed up right now.”

“That’s understandable.” Razor nods in agreement.

I turn to him. “You talked to Glenn?”

“He wasn’t there. Neighbor said he took off to visit his sister in New Orleans about two days after his
accident
.”

Fuck. He was the only one on my list so far. “Shit. Call everybody, call in every favor. I need information. I want this fucker found.”

“In what condition?”

“Nobody touches him. He’s
mine
.”

“Got it, Prez.”

“Uh…boss?” Ron approaches carefully.

“What is it?”

“There’s a guy here to see Raven. Says he’s her lawyer.”

He motions to a guy sitting in the corner and the man steps forward, hand outstretched.

“Mr. Hunter, Drake Santini. I’m handling Mr. Alvarez’s estate on Raven’s behalf.” I shake his hand and acknowledge him with a nod. “I need to speak with you and Raven in private.”

“Sure. Come on.”

The panic drains from her face when I walk through the door. Her gaze flicks to Santini momentarily but comes back to rest on me.

“You’re back.”

“Of course, babe. Mr. Santini here wants to talk to you.”

“Hi, Raven. It’s good to see you again. I’m sorry about the circumstances.”

I watch her shake his hand without flinching. She raises her good shoulder in a shrug then slides her hand back into mine.

“How are you feeling?” Santini asks.

“Not too good. But thanks for asking.”

“I stopped by your house and a neighbor told me what happened. Do the police have any leads?”

“Not yet,” I answer.

“I see. Well…I have the papers, Raven, along with the ones you asked for. Given the situation and the fact that no one can find your sister, I think we should get on them right away.”

She nods and he removes the documents from his briefcase, placing them on her overbed table.

“These are for your inheritance, to transfer everything over to you. Lonnie already got the lump sum amount your father left her.”

She takes his pen, signs in all the designated places, and then he presents her with more papers.

“These are for changing your beneficiary.” He glances at me quickly then focuses on Raven once more. “And also putting Mr. Hunter in charge of any decisions regarding your health and safety.”

“Wait a minute,” I interrupt. “What’s going on, Raven?”

She casts a pleading look at Santini.

“Raven and her sister don’t get along,” he explains. “She has no other family. She’s named you as her beneficiary and is also basically giving you next of kin rights.”

“Babe, you know I’d take care of you no matter what,” I say, stroking her hair.

“I know. I just don’t want Lonnie making any decisions for me.”

“I got you, doll. Always.”

She smiles and signs the papers then more appear out of the briefcase.
What exactly does this estate entail?
Her dad was a cop. Whatever it is, it sure involves a lot of paperwork.

“These are for the apartment. I don’t know –”

“She’s coming home with me. Forget the apartment,” I say sternly.

We haven’t talked about it, but there’s no way I’m letting her out of my sight. He waits for her consent then places them back in his briefcase when she nods. However, another set of papers come out.

“These I’ll have to explain. Once you sign them, you’ll gain control of a trust fund that was set up when you were a baby,” he tells her.

“Trust fund?” she asks in a confused tone.

“Yes…cash, property, stocks, and bonds. It was stipulated that it be released to you on your eighteenth birthday.”

“Stipulated by whom?”

Santini pauses then squares his shoulders and meets her stare. “Your mother.”

CHAPTER 3

***Raven***

 

My mother? Bullshit. That bitch doesn’t give a fuck about me.
“Are you kidding me?”

“No, Raven. This is something that both your parents have been working on since before you were born. I know you think she gave you up without a second thought, but that’s not true. Your father kept her updated, sent pictures. She wants to meet you.”

My heart flutters. After all these years…she’s been checking up on me? “Why now?”

“You’re an adult now. The agreement she signed doesn’t bind her anymore. In fact, she’s here, in a hotel in Atlanta, waiting for me to call her. She’s giving you the choice. If you say yes, she’ll come. If not, she’ll leave.”

I don’t believe my ears. This woman, who I’ve hated my entire life, is waiting on my say-so to come and meet me. The woman I thought gave me up without a care could be here in a few hours if I wanted her to. Tears threaten as I stand at a crossroads. Do I tell her to fuck off and run back to Mommy and Daddy, or do I give her a chance? A chance to explain her side…to try and mend what was shattered by her parents before I was even born?

Gage swipes a tear from my cheek and I look to him for advice. He smiles down at me and nods.

“I think you should meet her.”

“Why?”

“Don’t you want to hear her side?”

“She left us. That’s all I need to know.”

“Don’t you want to know why?” he prods. “I know you have questions.”

He’s right, as usual. I just don’t know if I can face her. How can
she
face me after what she did?
She’s got some balls; I’ll give her that. Maybe I should hear her out.

“You think it’s the right thing?” I ask.

“Give her a chance. You don’t like what she has to say, you can always tell her to leave.”

Okay…okay. I nod to Mr. Santini. “Make the call.” He leaves the room and I turn to Gage nervously. “Do you think she’ll like me?”

“Of course she will. She’s going to love you.”

“I don’t know…all these years…what if I can’t forgive her? She didn’t have to give me up. Daddy would have taken care of us.”

“Stop thinking about it. Just keep an open mind. Listen to what she has to say and then make a decision.”

Again, he’s right. I know he is, but…eighteen years’ worth of pain and abandonment issues can’t be erased in a few minutes. I can’t even begin to imagine what will be going through my mind when she shows up.

“Will you stay with me? When she’s here?”

“If you want me to, of course.”

“I want you.”

“Okay then. That’s settled.”

I give him a small smile, but something beyond his shoulder catches my attention. “Where did those come from?”

He picks up the vase of beautiful lavender roses and brings it closer.
How did I miss it until now?

“I brought them.”

“You?” I ask in disbelief.

“Yeah. Is that so hard to believe?”

“You picked them out?”

“Yeah. Closest to blue I could find.”

I can’t believe he bought me flowers. Roses. Mr. I-Don’t-Do-Romance bought me roses. Granted, this isn’t really a romantic situation, but the fact that he would even think of getting them might mean a crack in that hard exterior. “They’re beautiful. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.”

The door opens and Mr. Santini walks back in, followed by Sheriff Renley and one of his deputies. I squeeze Gage’s fingers.
Have they come to arrest him again? Could they have found my attacker? Is it too soon?
Renley glances down at our joined hands and raises a questioning brow. Gage moves closer to my bed and gives him a ‘yeah, so what?’ look. Renley clears his throat and removes a pen and notepad from his pocket.

“Miss Alvarez, we won’t take up much of your time. We just need to ask you some questions.”

“Okay.”

“Let’s start with what you did yesterday. From the beginning.”

“Not much. Gage and I had a late breakfast at Jenny’s, then he dropped me off at the salon on Main Street. Ellen picked me up around three. We had lunch at Millie’s and then she took me home.”

He scribbles on his notepad then asks, “What time was that?”

“Around five-thirty, I think.”

“And then what?”

“She left and I got into the shower to get ready for my party.”

“Did you notice anyone watching or following you? Yesterday or before?”

“No.” I shake my head. “No one.”

He taps the point of the pen on the pad, deep in thought. “Take us through everything you did after Ellen dropped you off.”

I close my eyes and take a deep breath, going through everything in my mind.

“We talked for a while. I was going on and on about how much I loved the dress she got me. After she left, I went to my room…then the bathroom. No…I went to the kitchen and got a bottle of water. I drank maybe half, left the bottle in my room and
then
got in the shower.”

Slowly, I re-trace my steps, hoping to remember anything that would help. But for the life of me, nothing’s coming back. “That’s it.”

“The water…did it taste funny to you?”

“No, not really. Wait…do you think that’s how I was drugged?”

“Could be.” He nods to his partner, who acknowledges him with a nod of his own, then leaves the room.

“Oh, God. That means –”

“He was already there,” Gage says, squeezing my fingers.

“Exactly,” Renley agrees. “Do you remember anything…anything that could help us find him?”

“No. I didn’t see him. The last thing I remember is getting into the shower.”

“Didn’t you find any prints? DNA?” Gage asks.

“We’re working on the prints we lifted from the house, but so far, nothing. Whoever did this was very careful.”

I can’t remember shit, and they can’t find shit. They’re never going to catch this guy. He’s going to be out there…watching, waiting. What if he thinks I remember him? He’ll come back and finish the job.
Oh, God. I can’t breathe.

“I got you, doll. I won’t let him near you. I’ll find him if it’s the last thing I do.”

BOOK: Claimed: Death Dealers MC Book 3
4.15Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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