Authors: Kathryn Thomas
This is a work of fiction. Any names, characters, places, 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.
The Devil in Her Bed copyright @ 2015 by Kathryn Thomas. 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 1 of the
Heartless Devils Motorcycle Club
Before Melissa Carter felt her neck snap and the darkness overcome her, she had a brief moment where everything was totally clear. If someone had been able to pause time at that moment, she could have explained everything that needed to be done to end world suffering and bring peace to mankind.
As the thug’s arm wrapped around her neck and his paw of a hand gripped the side of her head, she realized how big of a mistake it was to raise Jenny the way she had. She had wanted Jenny to be more like her than her father, living a good, honest life—free from worries of persecution and incarceration. A good, happy life with a good, steady husband in a good, monotonous job.
She felt the pressure increasing on her neck, as the gorilla's arms cinched down, and she understood what a grave error she had made. If Jenny had been raised as a true child of John’s—riding, shooting, and getting into all kinds of trouble—Jenny would be better prepared to handle situations like this. She would be strong enough to fight her way out and brave enough to confront her attackers.
Now, as she stood in the rain with her groceries littered around her feet because the damn garage door wouldn’t go up, Melissa realized just how weak she was. She wasn’t fighting. She wasn’t even trying. She wondered how on earth a strong, brave man like John had ever fallen in love with a pathetic woman like her, a prissy princess without a lot to offer.
She felt a tear escape, the droplet mingling with the rain, as she thought of the family she would be leaving behind. Her throat begin to burn, as she wondered if these men would also go after her only child. They certainly seemed to know who she was, calling her name to get her attention, which meant they probably knew about Jenny.
The dark vests they wore had thrown her, tricking her into believing they were members of the club in need of help. Part of her was almost sure she recognized one of them, but that must have been a mistake. There was no way one of those guys would betray John, not after he had worked so hard to gain their loyalty.
As she heard the casual order to “kill the bitch,” she thought of how she and John had met. She had been on her hands and knees on the side of the road, her ass up in the air as she looked under the car, trying to make sense of the instructions printed on the jack. She had never changed a flat before and was trying to figure out what to do when he had stopped to help her. A cliché if there ever was one.
She’d been going through a rebellious phase at the time, and he was just what she was looking for. He had been tall and handsome, dressed all in leather with a rakish grin on his face. Quite different to the aged, concerned, stressed man she was married to now, his youth and vitality sapped by time and worry. She loved him, but she had wished he would give up the club and hand it down to his heir apparent, Asher. He was a nice young man—although scruffy and intimidating. The stress of interclub politics was a severe strain on John’s weakening heart, and every day he left her side she feared he wouldn’t come home. She wondered if hearing the news of her demise would finish him off for good.
No, of course it wouldn’t. He still had Jenny. He would stay around as long as he could to take care of her and to ensure she was taken care of after he was gone. In the blink of an eye, as her attacker twisted her head violently to the side, she almost smiled, a wistful smile of someone leaving a party too early. She would miss John and Jenny. She would just have to wait for them both to catch up.
Jenny looked at her phone in annoyance as she was preparing to leave for class. The display read
, and she wondered what had happened. It was only ten o’clock, and it wasn’t like her father to be up so early. He was typically at the club until late at night, planning all sorts of nefarious activities she didn’t want to know anything about. She loved her father, but the further she stayed away from his business, the better off they would all be.
“What?” she snapped, irritated at his interruption of her morning routine.
Jennifer Carter had always been a hard worker—dedicated to the task at hand and unafraid of the challenges presented to her. She had a clear sense of right and wrong and a burning passion for justice. Because of her intelligence, determination, and sense of justice, it was only natural that she would want to attend law school.
Law school came as a pleasant surprise not only to her family, but to friends of the family as well. She hadn’t been raised in a particularly law abiding household. In fact, her father was the president of the notorious Heartless Devils Motorcycle Club. In much the same way as the Mafia or the Yakuza might, the Heartless Devils ran their section of Miami with a firm hand.
Despite having half of the police force in the Coconut Grove area in their pocket, having a bright, new, young lawyer on their side would still be helpful to the club. She hadn’t mentioned to anyone that she intended to be a prosecutor—so, if anything, she would be on the other side of the courtroom from the club. She had thrown herself into her studies and was currently ranked second among her peers. She was determined to surpass her rival and graduate at the top of her class. However, having her dad call and make her late wasn’t helping her achieve that goal.
“Jenny,” his slightly wheezy voice came from the phone. “You need to come home. Now.”
“Dad! I have class in twenty minutes. Can’t it wait?”
“No. It’s about your mother.”
Her dad seemed off, and she felt the chill rocket down her back. “What’s wrong?”
“I’ll tell you when you get here.”
She paused, torn between conflicting desires. “I’ll be there in fifteen minutes.”
She feared something tragic had happened and broke every speed limit as she drove from her apartment in Coral Gables to her parents’ house in Coconut Grove, dodging and weaving through morning traffic until she skidded to a stop in the drive.
Her dad was waiting for her at the top of the steps by the front door, clinging to the railing for support. It was raining, as it had been for days, but his face made her wonder if the liquid pouring down his face was all rain. As she started walking towards him, he straightened and wiped his face, every inch the macho leader of a motorcycle gang.
“I’m so sorry, Jenny,” he began, the words catching in his throat.
“Why? What’s happened?” Her eyes flick to the windows for signs of her mother, as her face twisted in terror.
“It’s your mom. She’s dead.”
Jenny felt her heart sink into her stomach, the sudden downward lurch pushing bile in her throat. “No…” she gasped.
In shock, she stumbled forward and up the steps without concern for her footing and fell into her father’s arms. They sank to the steps, crying together, as the rain began to pour down harder on them.
Silence reigned over the usually vibrant and noisy clubhouse. Where there were usually jokes and banter, today it was somber faces and solemn sighs. Normally the higher ups would work in their offices, running the empire that was the Heartless Devil’s Motorcycle Club. However, today, they remained in the main room, silent, with their eyes cast low. Most of the club was in attendance to pay their respects to the president’s beloved wife, Melissa.
When Jenny entered the great room, still dressed in the respectable black attire of the funeral itself, the silence in the room thickened and became almost palpable. As members turned their gaze upon her, with a mixture of both sympathy and curiosity, she had to suppress the desire to bolt then and there. She wasn’t accustomed to going to the clubhouse, her father wanting her to remain on the straight and narrow for as long as possible and maintain plausible deniability should the shit ever hit the fan. Now, standing in front of all these people, she had never felt so out of place or awkward in her life.
She had been brought up a respectable lady, primarily under her mother’s supervision. Table manners, education, everything a young woman would need to get by in proper society—how to dress, how to act, how to cross your legs in a manner that was flattering and ladylike. It simply wouldn’t do to get too excited about anything, and to show any anger or distaste openly was frowned upon.
Quite different from the ruffians she saw before her today. Everyone was wearing black, but whether out of respect or not was unclear to her, and the sheer amount of motorcycle leathers made her think perhaps that this was their usual attire. In her formal black dress with a white collar and pussy bow, sheer black tights, and simple black pumps, she felt totally out of place.
She nervously flicked her hair over her shoulder and threw a cautious smile at those around her. A couple of older guys smiled back, but—for the most part—stony silence met her. She was different, but the Boss’s daughter, so she warranted a certain amount of respect even though she had actually done nothing to earn it. Her eyes searched the crowd, looking for a familiar face, and she found a few, but none that she felt comfortable approaching.
Part of her desperately wished she’d invited her friends, so she wouldn’t be quite so obviously alone, but they didn’t know anything about her father or his business. They assumed she, like themselves, had a father who made money in some quiet and boring way. Her father's “business” had never, and could never, be described as boring.
The other part of her was glad her friends weren’t there. They’d probably flee in terror and never talk to her again, wondering how the hell a girl from this had come to be a member of their social circle. She could say goodbye to brunches and mingling with the well-heeled with a snap of their perfectly manicured fingers. She glanced down at her own fingernails, bitten within an inch of her life over the past few days. Her nails were gnarled and ugly, and her hair and skin hadn’t fared much better. All sense of personal grooming and her appearance had gone out of the window when her mother passed. She snorted, as she realized the irony. It was one of the last things her mother would have wanted for her.
Asher Lowe was reading the paper in the Boss’s office when word came that Jenny had arrived. The Boss didn’t even need to say anything before he was on his feet, heading down to fetch her. He had been the Boss’s sergeant-at-arms, right hand man, and most trusted advisor for years now—despite his young age. He often knew what the Boss would be thinking before he did himself. John was a good guy, a better leader, and he was happy to serve him. However, the latest job the Boss had given him had him a bit rattled. He wasn’t sure what to make of it and even less sure what to make of Jenny. He’d seen her before—though they hadn’t met—and she seemed way too prissy and goody-goody to be any daughter of John’s. That was the doing of Melissa, John’s wife. She’d been the one to insist Jenny had nothing to do with the club growing up. He had liked Melissa well enough, but she clearly missed the life she used to lead before the idea of running off with a bad boy had seemed so great.
Asher had joined the club at the extraordinarily young age of sixteen. A runaway from a deadbeat dad and a cranked-out mom, no one had missed him. This also meant that no one was inclined to give him any support. He had decided he didn’t need it and bent over backwards to be involved with the club any way he could. It was John who had taken him under his wing, taught him to ride, and then sponsored him into the club—if only as the flunky. He had performed every menial task assigned to him without complaint, and the club began to warm to him.
As John had risen in the ranks, eventually getting voted in as the club’s president, he’d brought Asher along with him. It was a given throughout the club that Asher was the heir apparent. Soon, he would be elevated to vice president, then when John, for whatever reason, decided to hang up his jacket as leader of the Devils, Asher would be voted in to take over. Not that he was keen for this to happen. He had enough wits about him to know, without a doubt, that he had a lot of life lessons to learn before he could lead well. So, he’d continue working by John’s side until his time came.
As Asher walked into the bar downstairs, he witnessed the effect Jenny had on the room. He watched as she readied herself and crossed to the bar and noticed how the rest of the club kept their distance. Part of him was amused, but another part was annoyed. Yeah, she was the Boss’s daughter, but she still was just a person. Why was everyone treating her like the Queen of England? He had no intention of doing any such thing.
With a smile he could barely hide, he watched as Jenny started pretentiously swirling the cheap, nasty wine around her glass. He didn’t know whether she was being sincere or not, but the slight smile he saw crack her lips told him it was all in jest. She was mocking the club’s perception of her, which was fair. However, the image the club held of her was not without reason—the mysterious Jenny, aloof and untouchable. Most of the club had never even seen her, let alone met her, and despite the colors matching the rest of the club, she stuck out like a sore thumb in here. Silly little wannabe princess, lawyer in training, so superior to the motor heads and hangers-on that made up the Heartless Devils.
He wandered swiftly but casually over to her, taking in her slim physique with an aloof gaze. She was tiny; he could snap her like a twig with his finger and thumb. No substance, no backbone most likely. He tapped her lightly on the shoulder, professionally hiding his amusement as she jumped. He noticed as her gaze swept over him, enjoying her quick appraisal. She liked what she saw, and he could tell.
Asher, even from a young boy, had always appealed to the ladies. Not much for talking, his blonde hair and big blue eyes had done much of the selling. As a child, this usually resulted in free sweets. As a teenager, he had more girlfriends than he could count. As a grown man, it seemed women threw themselves at him every day.
He didn’t often indulge; he much preferred to do the pursuing. But occasionally, he’d give in to his baser instincts. All of the women he allowed into his bed had come back for more, but he never accepted. That would be straying perilously close to relationship territory, and he had his career within the club to think about.
He wanted to settle down and take an old lady eventually, but not any time soon. Besides, none of the distinguished ladies he met around here were remotely capable of holding his interest. If he ever decided to find himself an old lady, he might have to cast his net a bit wider. An outside girl, but not one as far removed as Melissa was for John. Maybe he would pay a visit to one of their sister gangs, like the Chosen Jokers on the West Coast. Although he suspected the chicks over there were just as easy and blank as the ones here. Besides, there’d only been one girl he’d ever loved, and that experience was not one he wanted to repeat any time soon. Being vulnerable always equated to setting yourself up for needless pain.
But for the moment, he had orders from the Boss that he had to see through. He was never one to shirk or back away from an order, and he would give his life for John. This particular job may be outside of his comfort zone, but he’d do it with no fuss or bother.
Jenny held her head high and marched over to the bar. A space was cleared for her and a stool presented, which she acknowledged with a grateful but wry smile. It was like she was in a bubble, no one coming close to her. It was only the bartender who greeted her with a genuine and earnest smile, his long hair pulled back into a neat ponytail. She ordered glass of dry white, the cost of which was waved away with a smile, before the bartender disappeared to the far end of the bar to talk to a youngish woman with a dark mass of hair and darker lips. She watched him go in disappointment, thinking she might have found a friendly face, before resigning herself to her wine.
She could still feel eyes on her—though the low murmuring had picked up again.
Might as well give them something to talk about,
she thought. She pressed her nose into the glass of disappointingly warm wine and sniffed deeply, swirling it around the glass and holding it up to the light before taking a pretentious sip. She made loud, rattling, slurping sounds before ultimately swallowing. She noticed the stunned silence around her then smiled to herself. She had absolutely no idea what she was looking—or smelling—for.