Authors: Amy Love
The house that Elias took her to was only a few blocks away. He pulled his truck into the garage, closed the door, and then took her bag out of the back. Then he led her inside. The place was cleaner than she expected. She eyed the paintings on the walls of the living room area as he led her to the spare bedroom, deciding they were good and she liked them. As she passed the last one, nearest what was going to be her room, she noticed the signature at the bottom. Elias.
"I'm down the hall, past the bathroom. This room I keep for the occasional guest or drunk pal who needs to crash. The sheets are clean, and you can use the dresser and closet as you see fit," he told her.
"Better than a couch," she said with a smile.
"The couch is actually rather comfortable. I've slept on it several times."
"Shelly?" she asked, alluding to lovers’ spats.
"And others." He nodded, admitting to her implication.
"I didn't see a bike in the garage."
"I keep it in back. I have a covered patio. Do you ride?"
"I can ride, and drive just about anything. My dad wanted a boy, but got stuck with a tomboy instead. He made the best of it though."
"You're an only child?"
"Yes, my mother died when I was three. Cancer. He never remarried. Though he did have a string of girlfriends when I was in high school. Still does from what I can get out of him," she offered, looking over the room. "Do you have anything to eat? I'm suddenly very hungry."
"Nerves will do that to you," Elias told her. "Worry uses a lot of energy. How about a steak with some au gratin potatoes?"
"Yes, but the potatoes are out of a box and they’re leftovers from last night." He grinned. "The grill out back makes a good steak though. Won't take but a few minutes."
"Sounds perfect," she replied. "I'm not going to unpack. Not yet, so I'll help you."
Despite what she said about not looking for any type of romance, Chelsea found herself attracted to this man who saw through her smokescreen and whisked her off the street in the nick of time. He was tall, well-built, with dark hair and blue eyes, and had a grace about him that was completely male and reassuring. She could easily picture him as a leopard, or panther, the way he walked through his house.
She guessed that he wasn't overestimating his ability to deal with hard cases. The office he held with his club,
Sergeant at Arms
, from her experience with bikers, was normally held by someone who could handle themselves in a fight. She didn't see any signs of a life of violence about him. His nose didn't appear broken, and there were no obvious scars, but she didn't doubt that he could take care of himself if pushed. He also seemed to be the kind of man who would
to be pushed before he resorted to violence.
In many ways he was the opposite image of Tomas, who was violent, and
violent. But something told her that Tomas would not want to push Elias too hard—though, Tomas would push if he showed up at the door. Too much was at stake. He would come in fast, hard, and without mercy to get her back.
Chelsea wasn't much good in the kitchen, but she could follow directions. When he asked her to rub some spices into the meat, she did as she was asked while he took out the potatoes and put them in the oven to warm. She couldn't remember the last time she was in a kitchen with a man, making a meal. It felt very domestic, comfortable, and comforting. She found her shoulders relaxing and the knot in her gut unfolding.
"Can you tell me about it?" Elias asked her as he put the steaks on the grill outside.
She gave that question some thought. How much was safe to tell him? How much should she let her guard down? He felt safe. The house felt safe. But…
"He's violent," she began. "When he's angry, which is often, he's mean, physically and verbally. I've never really felt like anything more than property to him. I know you will probably ask why I was with him at all then, and the reason is just that simple: I was property to him.
"I got into some trouble a few years back," she continued. "Did some time in the county lockup, and came out on probation. I had been in was drugs, and I became a resource for him. My probation officer was pretty direct in letting me know that I either helped Tomas, or I went back inside to finish out my sentence. It wasn't legal, or ethical, the way they handled me, but that didn't seem to matter to them and I had no way of fighting back. At least, I didn't think I did. Maybe I did. Who knows? The fact is, I bought into it, and Tomas moved me into his place a few months later."
"You couldn't have gone back to your ol' man? Your dad?"
"He's in Boston, and I thought about it, but Tomas let me know that until he was done with me, I wasn't safe anywhere but with him."
"Meaning," Elias reasoned, "that he was the threat, and you didn't want to bring that to your dad's doorstep."
"Yes," she agreed.
at the bar."
"He had sex with me. Not often, but often enough to let me know that he would when he wanted to. I don't like any of the other words that describe that kind of relationship," she told him.
"Sounds like you need to not be found," Elias mused.
The steak was amazing. The potatoes were good and the company was better than she could have hoped for. After the initial question about her situation, Elias didn't probe any further. He seemed a little thoughtful when at rest, but mostly he was laid back, easygoing, and very funny.
He talked about his club and some of the members. There was a warmth in his voice when he discussed them, though he was rather harsh with some of his descriptions about their antics. A man named Duffy got the brunt of Elias' sharp wit, and from what she heard about Duffy, he probably deserved it as well.
"Don't get me wrong: Duffy is a good guy, and loyal as they come, but he just seems to have this magnetic attraction to fucked up situations." Elias told her. "He's fun, a class clown, but… well… unlucky doesn't cover it. You have to use some skill to get into the messes he gets into."
"And he's the secretary?"
"Does a great job at that as well. The books are always dead on, the minutes well ordered, and notes are always informative. Everything else he does is chaos. Even his bike is a wild thing."
"What's he ride?"
"A trike. A trike with a Porsche engine. Racing Porsche, no less. He bought the engine out at the track, and dumbed it down so it was street legal, but it's still way too powerful to be in a trike. Half the time his front wheel is off the ground and the rest of the time it is barely touching the road."
"Sounds like a beast to drive," she offered.
"Oh, it is. And he's been in plenty of trouble with it as well. He once forgot that he couldn't come off the line in first, and ran through two intersections on his wheelie bars. When he finally got the front end down, he came down on the back of a cop car."
"Oh, that's not the best story. The best is when he drove it off the pier down at Corpus Christi."
"Yep, right off the pier. It was foggy, and he was making a beer run. He pushed his headlight down so he could see the road. We were out on the shore, so the road was dirt. Then, he came to a smoother area, and gave the beast some gas, and shot right off the end of the pier."
"You're right, that kind of trouble takes skill to get into," she laughed. "What's he do for a living?"
"He's a mechanic. A good one, too. Unfortunately, he also dabbles in gambling, and drug running. So he's been in some trouble, but nothing that really stuck. Seems his karma is rather strong, and the chaos around him hampers the cops as much as it does him. So, he's been caught, but every time, something has gone amiss with his case and they've had to drop the charges. Evidence goes missing. Reports from the officers are contradictory, things like that."
"Weird," she mused.
"Yep, but he's our weird, so we love him anyway." Elias smiled.
After dinner they had a beer in the living room, and then Elias said that he had to be up at seven in the morning to get online with his stock trading. He gave her a friendly pat on the thigh, showed her how to work the remote for the TV, and then went off to his room, leaving her to do as she pleased.
It was almost midnight, and she was tired. Much of her stress was gone, but in its place was weariness. So she turned out the lights, and went to her room. The bed was perfect, and she was asleep within minutes of undressing and getting between the sheets. Her last thoughts were about Elias, and the strong wish that she had met him before she was given to Tomas. Her gut told her that things would have been so much better, and so much more enjoyable. She might even have a ring on her finger, instead of a brand on her back.
Elias woke at six in the morning and lay still, searching the house with his ears and instincts for what woke him. His alarm was set for seven, and he normally slept straight through the night. When the sound of bath water being drawn in the guest bathroom registered, he relaxed and put his 9mm back under his pillow.
He wasn't exactly paranoid, but he was careful by nature. The gun was for intruders. The White Wolves didn't have much of a territory, but what they did have was prime real estate in North Houston. They also weren't at odds with any of the other clubs, but that didn't mean that things couldn't change.
And, he had Chelsea in his house.
He lingered in bed for another thirty minutes, playing in his head what he knew about her, and following logic trails to color in some of the blank spots. He was certain that there was more to the tale than she gave him. For example, it was probably true that Tomas was using her as a resource, but
was a large gray area. His instincts told him that he wasn't using her only for his job. Something was missing.
Unable to mentally ferret out what that something was, after half an hour of pondering he got up, put on some pants and a t-shirt, and then made his way to the kitchen to make coffee. The market would open at eight, so he had plenty of time to relax, make breakfast, and have a few cups of black caffeine before he needed to jump online and begin his day.
Elias discovered the market at seventeen. Shortly after that he realized that the market didn't move based on anything like actual facts; it was completely based on perception.
he discovered that he had a knack for picking out what events would move the market, and where the movement would occur. For example, when the real estate and banking took a dive in 2008, he knew that the Internet industries would also take a hit—a big hit. Sure enough, Yahoo's stock plummeted to less than five dollars a share. He bought as much as he could afford, because he knew that the rest of the world would soon figure out that real estate and banking had nothing to do with Internet services, and Yahoo's stock would come back up. When the stock hit forty a couple of years back, he sold, and bought his fourth and fifth rental homes.
If he was pressed he would say that his instincts for the market were the same instincts he had for threatening situations. He was very good at divining whether a situation was a matter of perception, a bluff, or truly a threat.
His instincts about Chelsea's situation told him that it was truly a threat, but there were too many holes for him to know how, or why. That was fine for now. He would act as required for a real threat, and hone his actions as new information presented itself.
After coffee was made, he went into his office and turned on his computer. By the time the pot was perked he verified that there was a detective in the Narcotics division of Houston proper named Tomas Brick. Tomas was thirty-five, had blond hair and green eyes, and had been on the force for twelve years as a detective, three as a patrolman. The picture was probably not recent, but close enough that Elias felt he would recognize Tomas if he caught sight of him.
Chelsea came out of the bathroom wrapped in a towel as he was coming out of his office, and the sight of her shifted his groin and caused a sharp ache of need. She really was a very beautiful woman, with curves in all of the right places. Her long legs were mesmerizing extending down from the bottom of her towel which barely covered her ass.
"Good morning," she smiled, and her smile lit and warmed many key areas of his body and mind.
"Morning," he replied. "Coffee?"
"Oh, that would be good. Let me get some clothes on. I didn't expect you to be up already. You said seven, didn't you?"
"Yeah, I woke early. Flummoxed me as well. Cream? Sugar?"
"Both please. I'll be right out."
"Sure," he said, and hoped that his ogling wasn't too obvious. He started to turn away, back to the kitchen, and then causally asked, "Are you still on probation?"
"No," she said, and then something flickered in her eyes, which told him that she didn't want to tell him about that—at least not right now. "Why do you ask?" she added cautiously.
"Just trying to see where the legal lines are drawn. If you aren't on probation then we can ship you to California if we choose, and you won't have to worry about a backlash, right?"
"True," she nodded, and seemed to relax a little. Then she went into her room and closed the door.
So, if she's not on probation, then what hold does Tomas have on her?
The answer appeared to be none, from the story she gave him.
He set that thought aside and went into the kitchen. After pouring two cups of coffee and doctoring Chelsea's for her, he found his cell phone and waited for Chelsea to come out of her room. It didn't take long. As she approached the table he speed-dialed Larry Turner, the club's attorney, and one of his partners at the Log Cabin.
"Hey Larry, I didn't wake you did I?"
"No, no, I've been up for two hours already, what's up?"
"Good," Elias said. "This is business so start your clock."