Authors: Kathryn Thomas
“We don’t know,” Granny said. “Keith probably shouldn’t have told us even as much as he did. But so far as I know, there were no arrests. Nothing. The case just...disappeared.”
“Are you involved with the Hellhounds?” Grandpa asked.
“No. Not anymore. I didn’t know. Cain, the father, is a Hellhound.”
“Damnit! Can this get any more messed up? How is what happened today related?”
“I don’t know! I don’t know anything! I broke it off with Cain a couple of weeks ago. When the Hounds started having trouble with the Bulls, I broke it off. I don’t know what is going on. I don’t want to know. I don’t know why they were coming after me. Cain said he hadn’t told anyone about me.”
“He’s a Hellhound. He only thinks of himself and his club,” Grandpa snarled.
“I see that now,” I mumbled.
“Well, you’re safe now.” Granny said. “You can stay here with us.”
“But my job? If they find out they killed the wrong person?”
“Don’t go back,” Grandpa said. “We have a little money put back. We’ll help you.”
“But I can’t live here forever!”
“Just until things settle down,” Granny said. “It will be okay. You can move back into your old room.”
“But —” I began.
“Hush now,” Granny said. “Everything happens for a reason. It will work out.”
I sat in Granny’s chair and thought about everything that had happened to me in the last couple of months and how I had made one bad choice after another. “I’m so sorry to drag you into all of this.”
“Don’t worry. Tomorrow, we will call the police and tell them everything you know. Then we can put this sordid mess behind us.”
I was sleeping in. Peter had called me just before bedtime and told me not to report to work until Monday because the bar would be closed for at least a couple of days. I had just returned to bed, luxuriating in my still rare, but increasingly more frequent sickness-free mornings, when my phone rang. I picked it up but didn’t recognize the number.
“Alex? It’s Cain. I —”
I killed the call the moment I recognized his voice. There was nothing that man had to say that I wanted to hear. The phone rang again almost immediately and I pressed the button to ignore the call. A moment later, it rang again, and once again, I ignored it. For the next five minutes my phone rang almost continuously. I first set it to vibrate, then silent, so I didn’t have to listen to it buzz. It was always the same number and I finally turned the phone off just so I didn’t have to see the screen light up anymore.
When I finally crawled out of bed an hour later, I turned my phone on. It said I had thirty-five missed calls. That was just from when the phone was on. There was no guessing how many I missed after I turned it off. The phone signaled that I had a voicemail. I actually had seventy-one and my mailbox was full.
The moment I heard Cain’s voice on each message, I deleted it. At about message thirty, I stopped listening and was deleting messages as fast as my phone would allow me. I wasn’t even finished with my deleting when the phone signaled another call from Cain’s new number. I debated ignoring it, but decided he would just keep calling until I told him to leave me alone. I dropped out of voice mail and accepted the call.
“Thank god! Don’t hang up!” Cain cried.
“You can just go fuck yourself!”
“Alex, please! I just want to know if you are okay. Things have gotten out of control and… I just need to know if you’re okay.”
“Great! Peachy! Just another great day when someone tries to kill me! A woman died yesterday because of you. Or me.”
“What? What do you mean?”
“The new bartender, the one that replaced me? You remember her? They shot her, Cain. Four guys came in and gunned her down in cold blood. They probably thought it was me. Because of you, a woman is dead.”
He was quiet a moment. “I’m so sorry, Alex. I never meant for any of this to happen. Things have gotten out of hand. You need to come to Dallas where —”
“I’m not going any place with you. Not now. Not ever.”
“Alex! I can’t protect you there. The Bulls, they’ve lost it. They hit us yesterday and killed three of our guys. We’ve been on lockdown all night. We pulled all the family members together into the clubhouse for protection. I was on guard last night and that is why I couldn’t call.”
“Whatever,” I said. I couldn’t care less about his excuses.
“I don’t know how they found you. It should’ve been impossible. I haven’t told
about you or the baby. Only Thad knows that I have something working in New Orleans, but even he doesn’t know what. I got a new phone, a prepaid, in case they somehow had hacked into my phone records or were eavesdropping on my calls.”
“Well, you don’t have to worry over me anymore. We’re done. Finished. I never want to see you again.”
“I know you’re upset, and you have every right to be. I’ve dragged you into a mess that I never intended to. But can we put that behind us at least until we get this shit sorted out? For the sake of the baby? After that, if you never want to see me again, I guess I can accept that. But please, Alex, let me protect you and the baby.”
“Protect me? You have to be shitting me! It’s because of you that I’m in this mess!”
“Don’t you think I know that?” he cried in despair. “I never intended for this to happen! Nothing like this has ever happened before! I don’t understand what is going on! None of us do. The Bulls are being too bold. We can’t predict what they will do next. That’s why I need to bring you to Dallas. I can’t protect you where you are.”
“No. You just stay the fuck away from me. You and your club, you bring nothing but death and destruction. I should never have gotten involved with you.”
“Alex, please. We’ll get this sorted out. We can stick to our plan. I’ll leave the Hounds, but you have to give me the time to get this shit sorted out. We
the club now to help protect you and the baby.”
“Fuck you and the Hounds! You killed my parents and I don’t want to have a fucking thing to do with you!”
“What? What are you talking about? How did I kill your parents?”
“Not you, but the Hounds.”
“Who told you that? I told you, we don’t kill people, and especially not cops!”
“Oh yeah? You also told me what you did was safe! Now look! You lied about that, so you could just as easily be lying about everything.”
“I didn’t lie! None of this should be happening! None of this has ever happened before. We had our deal, and the Bulls had theirs. They have never made a move like this against us before. I wasn’t lying to you, Alex, and I’m not lying to you now!”
“I don’t believe you. My dad was investigating the Hounds for weapons smuggling. And just as he gets his big break, he ends up dead.”
“You told me, but how do you know it was the Hounds?”
“He told my grandparents just before he died.”
Cain was quiet for a long time. “I don’t know what to say. That was before my time, but that doesn’t sound something we would do. We have some old-timers that go back that far, but they don’t strike me as the cop-killer types. I’m sorry, Alex. I didn’t know.”
“Yeah, well, now you do.”
“Let me talk to the president about this, okay? He was around then, so he should know something. I’ll ask the other guys, too. Let me do some asking around and see if I can find out if what you say is true. I won’t deny it, because I don’t know, but I will tell you that it doesn’t sound like us – at least not now. You want to know the truth, don’t you?”
I paused and thought about what he said. All the evidence pointed at the Hounds, but it was all circumstantial. I would like to
if it was true or not, but I wasn’t sure I could trust him.
“How do I know you won’t lie to me?”
“I’ve never lied to you, Alex. I never will. If I find out we did it, I will tell you. I won’t admit it to anyone but you, but you deserve to know the truth.”
“Will they, the club, tell you if someone did it?”
“Yes. We don’t keep secrets from each other. It’s bad for the club. If I ask, they will tell me.”
I pondered a moment. “Okay. Thank you. I would like to know, for closure. But no matter what, we’re done, Cain. Do you hear me? We are finished forever.”
“I understand. I’m sorry, Alex. I really am. I never intended for any of this to happen,” he said and I could hear the sorrow in his voice.
“Maybe not, but it did, and I can’t live like this. It’s too much.”
“I know,” he said softly and then paused. “Goodbye, Alex. I’m glad I got to you know you. You’re going to make a great mom. I just wish… Don’t go back to work, okay? Not until we take care of the Bulls. And don’t go home. Stay somewhere else. Somewhere safe. As soon as I find out about your parents, and things have been taken care of and you’re safe, I’ll call you.” He paused for a long moment. “Take care of yourself,” he said then he was gone.
I tossed my phone aside and fell back onto the bed. I had trusted him. I had opened myself up to him and I took him at his word that he didn’t live the life I thought he did. And now this happened. It wasn’t fair! Just when I thought we were going to have something, it was snatched away from me.
Someone knocked on my door. “Alexandria?” Granny’s said. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah. I was just talking to Cain,” I rose from the bed and opened the door. “He called to see if I was okay. I told him to get lost.”
She came in and sat down on the bed beside of me. “Good. Nothing but trouble there.”
“I know. I wish none of this had ever happened. I should have never gone to bed with him. I should have never told him about the baby. I have made one mistake after another, and look where it has brought me. A woman is dead because of me.”
“Shhh…don’t say stuff like that. You couldn’t have known this would happen. Don’t blame yourself.”
“Who else is there to blame?”
“Blame those who shot her. Blame Cain and the Hellhounds. But don’t blame yourself.”
“Easier said than done,” I replied miserably.
Granny pulled me into a hug. “I know, honey. I know. But things have a way of working out if we just let them.”
“I hope you’re right,” I mumbled into her shoulder.
“Alex! Phone! Line two!” Julie, one of the waitresses, called waving a phone handset at me. I punch the button and picked up the phone. It was early, only six o’clock. I was working the bar again until Peter could find a replacement and I had just come on shift.
“Alex! It’s Cain! Don’t hang up! I want you to run! Right now! I’ve been trying to call you but you haven’t been answering your phone! The Bulls are coming for you! Right now! Run!”
I felt like I just stepped into a freezer, the room suddenly going cold. I heard the shriek of tires and a blare of car horns through the phone. “Hurry! You’ve got to go faster!” Cain yelled at someone.
“What’s going on?”
“I’m coming for you! But you have to get out of there! Now! They may be there already! Please, Alex, run!”
I was frozen in place with fear. “Stay away from me!” I warned as I gripped the handset tight.
“Alex! I just want to protect you, but you have to get out of there! Now! Please!”
I remembered what happened the last time he had called to warn me, and I made my decision. “Okay! I’m leaving!”
“Where are you going? Stop! Stop!” he called to someone else. “I’m going to have a new address!”
“I’m not telling you.”
“Goddamnit, Alex! I’m trying to help you! You can’t do it alone! Do you want to die?”
I was silent a moment. “344 Jacob Street, Slidell.”
Cain repeated the address. “I don’t care! Another hundred if you can get there before she does! We got it! The driver said thirty minutes. Hurry!”
I slammed the phone down. “Peter!” I screamed at the top of my voice as I dashed from behind the bar. Every eye in the place turned toward me, but I didn’t care.
“Everyone! Get out! Now! It’s for your own safety!” Nobody moved, looking at me like I was crazy. “Out!” I shrieked.
“What’s going on?” Peter shouted from behind me.
“The men from before! They’re coming back! They could be here any moment! They are coming for me! I have to go!”
“I’ll explain later,” I said as I started running toward the back.
“You heard her! Everyone out!” Peter roared as he began to hustle people out.
I stopped only long enough to grab my purse before I burst out of the back door and heard the rolling thunder of Harleys, the sound causing my hear to almost seize in panic. I stopped, holding the door open, unsure of what to do. I saw four Harleys round the corner, and I stepped back inside, holding the door open so I could peek out between the door and jamb as I watched the bikes pull into the parking lot. Once they were out of sight in the front of the building, I pushed the door open, slipped through the gap, and closed it quietly before scurrying to my car. I threw my stuff in and, resisting the urge to race out of the parking lot, pulled out as if I didn’t have a care in the world so to not attract attention. I turned away from the front of the building, and as I drove away, I prayed that I wouldn’t hear the sound of gunshots.
It was a forty minute drive from work to Granny and Grandpa’s house, but I made it in thirty. I jumped from my car and ran into the house, leaving the front door open.
“Alexandria! What in heaven’s name?” Granny cried as I burst into the room.
“They’re coming for me! The men that tried to kill me before! I saw them at the club!” I didn’t wait for a response as I hurried down the hall, bouncing off the wall with my shoulder but not even feeling it, and began to throw my few things into my bag. I was in a panic and I had to get away.
Granny was standing in the door, pale as a ghost as I whirled and started for the door. I paused long enough to give her a quick kiss. “I’ll call you!” I said as I squeezed by her.
I was just entering the front room when I heard the wail of car tires outside and my heart leapt into my throat. Grandpa was standing in the room with a shotgun pointed at the closed door.
“Get behind me,” he growled as he crouched slightly, his eyes never leaving the front door.
There was a hard hammering on the door. “Alex! It’s —”
The rest of the words were lost in the blast of the shotgun. Grandpa jacked another shell into the chamber. “You get away from here! You’re not hurting her!”
“It’s me! Cain!” he called from outside the door.
“You git! You’re not taking her!”
“I’m trying to protect her! Don’t shoot!”
Grandpa let loose with another blast, riddling the wall and door with shot before racking the gun again.
“Fuck! You crazy old man! Let me help her!”
“You step one foot in that door —” Grandpa shouted, the gun never wavering.
There was a heavy thud and the door jamb splintered and the door flew open. Cain dived behind the wall just as Grandpa fired again.
“Shit! You’re making a mistake! I don’t want to hurt her! I’m trying to save her!” Cain swore from outside.
“Just get away from here, you hear me!”
Suddenly the front window broke and Grandpa let go with another blast, taking out the rest of the window. The sound of the shotgun in the house was deafening and my ears were ringing. I couldn’t help but cover my ears, but the shotgun in Grandpa’s hands never wavered. I saw movement at the door and Grandpa fired again. The metal front door was riddled with holes.
Cain darted across the open door and Grandpa moved, tracking Cain’s path, and fired again. The sheetrock on the other side of the open door exploded in dust. He racked the gun again just as Cain charged through the door. Cain grabbed the gun and with a vicious twist, jerked it from Grandpa’s hand. Grandpa took a swing at him, but Cain ducked it and shoved him hard into a chair.
“Don’t hurt him!” I screamed.
“I’m not going to hurt anyone!” Cain roared. “I came to save you, goddamnit! It’s your crazy ass grandfather that is trying to kill someone! You stupid old shit!” Cain paused panting. “Get your stuff. We have to go,” he said more calmly.
“I’m not going anywhere with you!”
“Alex, they are coming to kill you!”
“They don’t know where I am!”
“Are you sure? Does anyone at the club know where your grandparents live? If they do, the Bulls will find out!”
I thought about it a moment and I didn’t like the answer. “Maybe.”
“Get your stuff. We have to go.”
“The cops are going to be here any minute!” Grandpa growled.
“I know. But they can’t help. The moment she is alone and unprotected, she’s dead. I have to take her to Dallas. It’s the only way I can protect her.”
“You’re not taking me anywhere!”
I saw Cain grind his teeth. “Fine. Then we will all die here. Where are the shells for the shotgun?” Nobody answered. “I guess this is it then. I couldn’t bring my gun on the plane.”
“What are you going to do?” I asked.
“I don’t know. Throw dishes at them, I guess. It’s all I can do. Maybe you three can slip out the back or something. Unless you want to tell me where the shells are.”
I stood frozen with indecision. “Damnit!” I turned and hurried to the hall closet where I knew Grandpa kept his gun. I dug around a moment until I found the box of shells. There was a picture of a quail on the box and a big number eight.
I held the box out to Cain. “Birdshot?” he sneered, not taking the box from me. “Fuck. Hand them to me,” he ordered. I opened the box and began to pass the shells to him one at a time as he slid them into the gun with his thumb. After I passed him five, he jerked the chamber closed, then reached out. I handed him another one which he slid into the gun.
“What are you going to do when the cops get here?” I asked.
“Probably go to jail. It will be up to your grandpa to protect you then.” He glared at Grandpa glowering at him from the chair. “You need buckshot! You can’t stop shit with birdshot!”
I fumed. I didn’t know what to do. Grandpa hadn’t been able to stop Cain, so how was he going to stop the Bulls? “Shit! Let’s go!”
He looked at me a moment before he looked at Grandpa. “You two! Go out the back. Go to a neighbor’s house, anywhere, and stay there. Just get away. Leave the doors open. Go! Alex, get your bag. Hurry!”
I picked up my bag, but Cain paused. “I know what you think, but I will do everything I can to protect her,” he said, looking first at Grandpa then Granny. “Keep yourselves safe. When this is all over, I will bring her back to you. If the Bulls come looking for her, tell them everything. Don’t lie to them and don’t try to protect us or they will kill you. When the cops get here, tell them someone tried to break in but you scared them away. Don’t tell them about me or Alex. If I am arrested, she will be unprotected and the Bulls won’t stop until they kill her. Understand? Now go.”
“I love you,” I whispered as I hugged Grandpa. “I love you, too,” I murmured as I hugged Granny. “I will be okay.”
“If you hurt her, I will kill you,” Grandpa threatened.
“If she gets hurt, I will be dead already,” Cain replied as he took me by the hand and dragged me out of the house.
As I ran out of the house and bounded down the steps I could just hear the far off wail of a siren. I started to drag my heels, slowing Cain down, deciding to take my chances with the cops. But then I heard it — closer than the sirens — the heavy rumbles of hard charging Harleys. I jerked my hand free of his and put on a burst of speed for the car. I no longer had a choice. I was putting all my faith in Cain and his ability to protect me.