Authors: Evelyn Glass
This is a work of fiction. Any names, characters, places, events, and incidents are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons—living or dead—is entirely coincidental.
Snake Charmer copyright @ 2015 by Evelyn Glass. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embedded in critical articles or reviews.
Book 2 of the
Diamondbacks Motorcycle Club
There was a pile of paperwork waiting on her desk, but Eve just couldn’t bring herself to care. Contracts, tenants’ applications, contractors’ bills, clients’ demands…she could not care less about any of it. It wasn’t that she wasn’t trying. She tried very hard to reconcile her old lifestyle with who she had become after her brief but eventful encounter with the Diamondbacks.
Her experience with the motorcycle club had given her a glimpse into a raw, unforgiving world where real things mattered. Where problems were actual problems. Where emotions mattered in their rawest, most unabashed state. Where formalities were a surplus and manners were a waste of time. Where survival wasn’t a given and instincts were skills to be developed and not nuisances to be suppressed. Ironically, for all of its violence and danger, the world of the Diamondbacks was a lot purer and more honest than the corporate, high-end world Eve came from.
And then there was Lind. Eve also tried very hard not to think about him, but not a day went by that he didn’t enter her mind. Most nights she was in his arms, their bodies entangled. It had been four months, one week, and two days since she had seen him last. (But who was counting?) That was a lot of unbidden thoughts and wet dreams.
From time to time Eve would entertain the thought of going back to her secret nighttime life. She would toy with the idea of driving over to the Cobra to ask Gary for her old dancing job back. She knew it was not possible; too much had happened. She could probably find another nightclub if she really wanted to, but the thought of starting her transgressions from scratch somewhere else was simply too exhausting a prospect.
So, Eve stayed put and tried to fit back into a life that did not fit her anymore—if it ever had—and she tried not to think about Lind.
She jumped when there was a sudden knock at the door. Eve sat up straight and tried to appear like she was doing something other than daydreaming about a world that, while it could be found just on the outskirts of town, may as well have been thousands of miles away.
“Come in,” she called, grabbing a pen and the first sheet of paper from the pile and doing her best to look like she had been pouring over it.
She tensed as soon as the door opened and the man walked in, her stomach tightening in an all-too-familiar knot of apprehension. It wasn’t that Mr. Wilson was a bad boss—in fact, he was an excellent one. It was that he had begun to notice Eve’s struggle, and he had let her know in no uncertain terms that he didn’t like it. Eve also tried very hard not to let the man down, but it was proving more and more difficult to do. Her head just wasn’t in it, and her heart…well, her heart was on the outskirts of town, with Lind.
“Mr. Wilson,” she said, pasting a smile onto her face that did not even begin to reach the eyes. “What can I do for you?”
As Eve knew him, Bob Wilson was a polite gentleman whose gallant ways seemed to come from another era. However, he could be stern and was known for not beating around the bush. There was a serious expression on his face, as he took a seat on the chair across from Eve’s desk. His gray eyes bore into her.
“You could try showing up for open houses.”
Eve looked at him uncomprehendingly.
“The Millers’ duplex?”
“That was today?” Eve blurted out before she had the chance to think of any damage control options.
Mr. Wilson’s eyes flashed. “Yes, Miss Robinson,” he said in a too-calm, too-controlled voice, “that was today.”
Eve felt mortified. Her brain had been utterly scattered lately, and nothing she did seemed to help with that. She took a deep breath. She couldn’t panic now.
“I’m so sorry, Mr. Wilson,” she said, calmly but sincerely. “I really have no excuse.”
“No,” he said coolly. “You really don’t.” He paused. “You know, Miss Robinson, you really are starting to make me regret having kept your job for you.”
Eve cringed. It had been relatively easy to get her position back after she had gone M.I.A. for almost a month while she helped Lind and the Diamondbacks discover who had attempted to gun down their leader one night at the nightclub. The MC had phoned her work for her and made up some personal emergency story that she wasn’t quite clear on. She had come back to find that her job at the luxury real estate agency was still waiting for her. She strongly suspected her father had a hand in that, just like he’d had a hand in getting her the job in the first place. Bob Wilson was a real estate agent who started out small, creating a modest agency that later went on to become a real estate empire in upper Los Angeles. Harold Robinson had been his financial advisor since he had expanded. Eve knew the only reason why she had not yet been fired was out of Mr. Wilson’s courtesy for her father, but she had the feeling that it was about to end.
“I’m sorry,” she said again. “I know I have been very off my game lately.”
For all of his gentlemanly nature, Mr. Wilson snorted. “I’ll say.”
“Give me one more chance,” she heard herself say. “I’ll make up for everything; you have my word.”
Mr. Wilson’s eyes searched her carefully. At sixty-five years old, Bob Wilson had seen and heard it all, and he was
savvy at detecting lies. But something in Eve’s expression must have convinced him of her good intentions, because he heaved a sigh and sat back.
“Fine,” he said. “One chance. But if you mess up one more time, I’ll have no choice.”
Eve nodded. “Understood,” she said. “Thank you.”
Mr. Wilson nodded curtly and stood, smoothing out his ice-gray suit. “You’d best go home now. It’s getting late, and I want you well-rested and sharp tomorrow.”
Eve nodded again. “I’ll just reply to a few e-mails, and then I’ll be out of here.”
“Good. Have a good night, Miss Robinson.”
“You, too, Mr. Wilson.”
Eve watched him leave her office. As soon as the door clicked close behind him, she slumped back against her chair, blowing out a sharp puff of air in frustration. She couldn’t for the life of her figure out why she had just begged to keep a job she hated.
My life does not make sense to me anymore.
This was all that Eve could think about, as she navigated the Los Angeles traffic on her way back to her house. Not for the first time in the past few months she wondered how it had ever made sense to her to begin with. How could she be content with this? She helped nauseatingly rich people find nauseatingly opulent homes in order to nauseatingly flaunt their richness. There was a time when she had thought she was merely helping people find the home of their dreams, and perhaps that’s what she really did. After all, even rich people had the picture of a dream house tucked away in their minds. Lately, however, she couldn’t help but approach every aspect of her life with a bitter attitude that she didn’t recognize as her own. Then again, after touching raw and rough and tough reality, how could she be okay with this sheltered world she lived in?
Her head was still buzzing with all these unsatisfactory thoughts—just as it had for the past few months—by the time she reached her apartment complex. Her condo was on the nineteenth floor of a twenty-story building. Sitting in the armchair by the enormous glass windows in the living room while sipping a glass of wine, as she overlooked L.A., was the only thing that still brought her comfort and something resembling peace. She was very much looking forward to that tonight. Today, for some reason, everything was just a little bit harder. Maybe she was just reaching the end of her endurance.
Or maybe, Eve reflected as she parked her car and went inside, it was the idiocy of asking Mr. Wilson to give her a chance that she didn’t want. It would have been so easy to just let him fire her. In the eyes of everyone else, she would have been forced to leave. She wouldn’t have to quit and give awkward explanations. She wouldn’t have to endure any lectures from her father. Instead, she had asked for one more chance and had gotten herself deeper into a situation that she was already in deep enough.
Eve nodded distractedly at Javier, the doorman behind the security desk at the entrance of the building, and walked to the elevators. She heaved a sigh of relief when the doors closed, shielding her from view. She slumped against the wall and leaned her head back against the cool surface of the elevator mirror. Another day was over and done with. For a few precious hours, she could finally stop pretending.
That is, until tomorrow came. The fact that tomorrow was a Saturday didn’t come as any consolation. In fact, the weekends were the worst. It was one thing to pretend with her boss and her co-workers; there was a barrier of professionalism that allowed her to keep her personal life to herself without having to dodge any questions. Weekends were different. Weekends involved her family and personal friends. Most of all, weekends involved Alan.
Eve let a groan escape her throat at the thought. She had yet to find the strength to break up with him. She couldn’t do it when she had just gotten back from her adventure. Going M.I.A. for almost a whole month and then breaking off her engagement would have raised too many suspicions. Plus, fending off the understandable confusion of her family and fiancé had been hard enough as it was. Luckily, Alan had popped the question only a couple of weeks before all hell broke loose at the nightclub, so Eve had been able to make up a story about panicking, getting cold feet, and needing to get away and disappear for a while. She had apologized and told them all it had been a stupid, impulsive act, and everyone had left it at that.
But they had been watching her like hawks for the last couple of months; all of them afraid that she would pull another stunt; all of them afraid of that eventuality for different reasons. Her mother was terrified something might happen to her. Her father was afraid she would disappear and embarrass the family. Alan was scared she would leave him high and dry, irreparably damaging his pride. None of them had said any of this aloud or to Eve’s face, but they didn’t need to. She knew. She knew them well enough to read all of them like bestsellers.
Once the elevator reached her floor and released her, Eve walked up to the door to her apartment and paused. She took a deep breath and told herself everything would be okay for a few hours. For a few hours, it would only be her and a bottle of wine.
She unlocked the armored door and stepped inside. Immediately, she was hit with the inviting, tantalizing smell of something delicious cooking. She barely suppressed a groan.
Alan peeked out from the kitchen’s doorway, a satisfied smile on his handsome face. Eve glimpsed the straps of an apron over his shirt and forced out a smile. She was delivering so many forced smiles lately that she thought it was a wonder her jaw hadn’t locked yet.
“Hi,” she said, closing the door behind her and going to hang her purse and blazer on the rack near the entrance. Then, she gathered up her courage, summoned all of her acting skills, and walked to the kitchen, kicking her high heels off as she went.
Alan was indeed busy at the stove. Now that she was inside, the smells became clearer. Garlic bread from the oven and something winey from the large pot on the largest stove. Alan turned around, his hands busy stirring whatever was in the pot, and flashed her a dimpled grin. Of all the flaws that one might find in Alan, lack of good looks sure wasn’t one of them. He looked like he had just stepped out of a romance novel. He was always sharp, what with his crisp shirts and designer clothes, but it was his body that really made all the difference. He wasn’t particularly bulky, but he was built like a model. Every muscle in his body was defined. He had a full head of luscious blond hair, green eyes, and a smile that could melt the ice in Antarctica. His killer confidence did the rest.
And he was a great cook. All in all, Eve had to admit that she could have done way worse than Alan Sutherland.
“I’ve noticed you’ve been really stressed lately,” he said from over his shoulder, “so I thought I’d surprise you with a nice home-cooked dinner. I hope this is all right.”
Eve’s oh-so-fake smile broadened. “Of course.”
I don’t regret giving you a copy of the keys at all.
“It smells wonderful in here.” She walked up to the stove and planted a swift kiss to Alan’s lips. “What’s cooking?”
“Garlic bread for an appetizer and
for the main course.”
Despite all of her annoyance at finding him in her apartment when she had been looking forward to a night to herself, Eve’s stomach grumbled. “Sounds delicious,” she admitted.
“I should hope so. This is my grandma’s recipe,” Alan said. “Why don’t you open us a bottle of wine while I finish here?”
Eve hesitated. “How long before it’s ready?”
“About thirty minutes.”
“Could I take a quick shower first?”
Alan’s green eyes twinkled maliciously. “Of course.”
Eve laughed. “Don’t even think about it,” she said. “Someone’s has to watch over the food.”
Alan heaved a dramatic sigh. “Such is the burden of a chef.”
Eve chuckled and kissed him again, longer and more passionately this time. “Hang in there, handsome. I’ll be back before you know it.” She gave him a teasing wink and disappeared down the corridor.
She took her time getting undressed and stepping under the hot spray. She let the water hit her back and run down her skin in rivulets, hoping against hope that it would wash away some of her feelings of emptiness and confusion. She felt lost, adrift, completely at a loss of what to do in order to regain some control over her existence and put her life back together.
It wasn’t long before she heard the door of the bathroom opening. Eve suppressed a curse. Why did Alan
Two minutes later, he was entering the stall, as naked as Eve was. He wrapped his arms around her from behind, and she could not help but tense up. His lips landed on her skin and began to kiss a pattern from her shoulder blade up to her neck and nape. Eve tried to stay still, but her instincts kicked in and she moved her neck away. She felt him tense behind her.
“What’s wrong, sweetheart?” he asked, his voice still sultry but with a note of suspicion in it.
Eve suppressed a sigh and stepped out of his embrace. She turned around to look at him, water still streaming over both of them.
“I’m sorry,” she said, as sincerely as she could. Because the truth was, she couldn’t even bring herself to feel sorry for not desiring her fiancé. “I’m just tired. It’s been a bad day at work.”
“I understand,” Alan said. He hesitated for a moment. “It’s just lately it seems you’ve been having a lot of bad days at work.”
sigh this time. She supposed she should have expected him to start complaining about the lack of a proper sex life sooner or later, but she was really hoping she had some time before that happened.
“I’m sorry,” she said again. “Why don’t we go back to the kitchen and eat the delicious dinner you’ve cooked for us?” She forced out yet another smile. “Who knows, maybe good food will lift my spirits.”
Alan nodded. “Yeah,” he said, looking very unconvinced, “let’s do that.”
“I’ll be right there,” Eve said, “I just need to wash my hair. I’ll be quick; I promise.”
Eve cringed. She knew this wasn’t over. She knew Alan would have something to say at dinner.