Authors: Evelyn Glass
Gabby felt the tears escape her eyes. For the first time in her life, she cried because she was happy.
Gabby had truly come home.
And from now on her life would be so much better, happier.
That was all she wanted – to be happy, to be with a man who loved her.
And Nick offered all that and more.
It was an ordinary, normal day, and yet for Gabby it was special. As she slid the papers out of the envelope, Gabby closed her eyes for a few minutes. She wanted something good so desperately that her own need surprised her.
After taking a deep breath, she took a quick look at the sheet. “Damn this to hell!”
“I passed…and look at this, I got all As.” She handed over the grade sheet and jumped up and down like a school girl. “It’s done, it’s done, and I am on top of the world.”
“What’s wrong with you, girl?” Willow came out of the kitchen and watched with amusement as Gabby took Nick’s hands in hers and did a quick jig. “What happened?”
She snatched the sheet out of Nick’s hands and ran over to show it. Her heart damn near burst with happiness. “I passed all my tests. Moving on now to the next level. Isn’t that amazing?”
Willow studied the results. “Pretty good for a girl who was crying buckets that she would fail at least one subject.”
Nick came over to hug her. “See, I told you.”
“Yeah, yeah, you were right.” Happiness bubbled inside her. It wasn’t easy. For the last six months, she was breaking her back trying to fit in her studies along the chores she was required to do at the clubhouse. Sometimes she ended up staying up late – but it was all worth it.
This sheet of paper made her day.
“You’re amazing, babe!” He kissed her. Even after all these months, the desire that overcame her every time she locked lips with him was as demanding as ever. It didn’t even dim. She could feel her heart pound as his arms closed around her. Passion, need, and want careened through her nerves in a cocktail of heady feelings and her mouth salivated at the thought of getting her hands on his beautiful, naked body.
What a way to celebrate that would be.
Willow banged her head on the counter. “Hey, you two. Get a room.”
She laughed and pushed Nick away. This handsome hunk of a man was all hers. Sometimes she couldn’t believe her luck. At ten years of age, she ran from home to get away from her abusive father. Rather than make it to safety, she was caught in the net of a pimp, Joseph, who forced her into slavery at his club. For two years, she cleaned the club, unable to get out. At twelve years of age, he turned her into a prostitute and for more than a decade, she earned money on her back. When a client gave her the chance to slip away, she took it, and ended up at the Hell Brigade’s clubhouse.
And then when she thought that she would end up doing the same thing here, Nick gave her something she never dreamt was possible: love and acceptance. He asked her to be his Old Lady, a term for women who were the exclusive property of a man. Perhaps to some it sounded weird, but for Gabby, it was the best thing that happened in her life. He loved her, cared, and took responsibility – and even more than that, he encouraged her to pursue her dream of finishing her education.
“We should celebrate!” She danced some more. It was pretty exciting to finish her first year of schooling in six months. Now she could start another year’s syllabus, and this time she was determined to finish it even quicker. “What should we do?”
Nick ran his hand over her cheek. “How about we go to the theater and dinner?”
“That sounds like a plan. Willow, you want to come?”
“I don’t want to be third wheel in between you two lovebirds. Go on now, have fun.”
Gabby checked her watch. It was already six o’clock. “Will we get theater tickets?”
“I know a man who knows a man…” Nick waved a hand. “Get your coat, we will go see.”
Gabby jogged her way up the stairs. Although she was Nick’s Old Lady, she hadn’t moved into his place. He asked her once, but Gabby was so unsure, so afraid of getting hurt, that she didn’t give an immediate response. Perhaps sensing her need, he backed off. Nick was definitely one of the world’s most sensitive and caring men, and she was lucky to have him in her life.
As she reached her room, the door next to hers opened and Matt emerged. Seeing her, his expression froze. “You?” he said with enough distaste to make her blood run cold.
Matt believed she snitched on their club to the police. Despite Gabby’s protest and Nick’s defense, he wasn’t budging from his stand. It created a lot of tension between the two men. Gabby hated to be the source of a fight between two club members, but she couldn’t do much. “We’re going out.”
Shut up! What’s the point of talking to him?
“Hmmm…” He snorted. His good-looking face contorted into a sneer. “Enjoy while it lasts, doll. Your days are short-numbered.”
Rather than answer him, she went inside her room. It wouldn’t pay to get worked up over Matt’s unwarranted comments. He was hell bent on blaming her for something that wasn’t her fault. After picking up her coat, she took some time to check her reflection in the mirror. Ever since Nick came into her life, her blue eyes sparkled with vibrancy. Her long, blond hair swished down her back but she took a moment to run a comb through them. After putting on lipstick, she smiled.
There, all set to go out with her man.
Once again, she was hit by the ecstasy that engulfed her whenever she thought of Nick. He was the best thing to have happened to her. Being with him was pure pleasure. He made her feel as if she deserved love, that she was worthy of it, and she could do nothing wrong. It was a heady feeling, a marvelous one. As she wore her coat, her cell phone rang.
What now? She glanced at the number but it was new. “Hello.”
“Hi, baby! Missed me?” The cold voice sent a chill of fear straight through her spine. Gabby was rooted to the spot. She couldn’t move, couldn’t put down the phone. For twelve years of her life, she heard this voice daily. It haunted her night and day with demands and accusations. For as long as she lived, she would never forget who it belonged to and what he would do to her if he ever got his hands on her. “Cat got your tongue, baby?” He laughed. “I’ve got you now. Told you that you couldn’t run away.”
Gabby cut the call, turned off her phone, and threw it on the bed. How the hell did he get her number? She had moved away to another town and started another life, but it appeared that nowhere was far enough to rid herself of her pimp. Joseph was a dangerous man. He kept an iron fist around his girls, and she must be the only one who ever got away.
He wouldn’t forget the insult.
She’d known that he would try to find her, and for the first few weeks, she was petrified of going out. But soon, she began to live her life. And once Nick started dating her, she became more relaxed. Maybe she’d gotten clean away. Perhaps she was one of those lucky one who could manage to leave their murky past behind. But Joseph’s call made her realize that she would never be out of danger. He wanted her back, if only so that he could teach her a lesson and make an example out of her. If he ever got his hands on her, he would break her legs, smash her face, and throw her in the river.
Terror and dread snaked over her skin. She broke into a cold sweat.
“Hey, what’s going on?” When Nick walked into the room, she jumped as if scalded.
“Are you alright?”
“Yeah, I am…” Thoughts ran through her mind. She didn’t want to tell him. Not yet. Maybe Joseph didn’t know where she was. If she changed her cell number, he might not be able to track her exact location. She didn’t want Nick to worry. “Just…”
“Too excited about the result, huh?” He drew her into his arms. “But don’t forget that you’ve got a long way to go. There are years of study ahead of you.”
“Yeah!” She nodded. Words got stuck in her throat. Resting her head on his shoulder, she took deep, shuddering breaths. The scent of him, the sight of him, soothed her. “I know. Let’s go.”
Together, they walked out. Matt was nowhere to be seen. Good thing too, or else the men would have given each other dirty looks. They were barely talking to each other. Although the two bikers who got sent to jail due to the snitch were now out, the atmosphere at the club was tense. After briefly suspending their business of transporting illegal goods out of the town, Nick and Ronald, the president of the club, resumed work. But it was done with a great deal of secrecy, locations were changed at the last minute, and the entire situation was distrustful.
“Where do you want to eat after the theater?”
She mounted his bike and wore the helmet. Gabby gripped him around the waist and leaned forward. “Wherever you want.”
With Nick, she felt safe.
With Nick, she was whole, complete.
With Nick, she felt free.
But now the fear that Joseph awakened gripped her. The joy she experienced in her achievement with home schooling was gone even before she had to chance to relish it fully. Lost in thought, she remained a little distant as Nick talked to the guy at the ticket counter.
“See! That was easy.” He flashed the tickets at the guard on the gate and swept her inside. “What do you think?”
“Where are you?” He snapped his fingers in front of her face. “I, like, got us two seats even though this whole place is jam-packed, and I get no reaction.”
“Sorry. I am just…” She wasn’t going to let Joseph spoil this night for her. “Thanks. You’re amazing.”
He led her to the seats. “I don’t know why you have got this urge to see plays. I mean, live performances are well and good, but I prefer movies any day.”
She smiled and ran her hand over his arm. He actually hated sitting in the theatre but for the past few weeks, he accompanied her every time she mentioned a desire to see a play. There was a production company that was doing rendition of every Shakespeare’s play. She wasn’t cultured or educated, but Gabby wanted to learn some new things, and she was required to read this stuff for her high school graduation. She may as well experience it fully. And plus, she just loved the ambiance and excitement of watching a live play.
“It’s starting.” Gabby watched intently as the actors came on stage and began the play. But try as she might, she couldn’t muster up the enthusiasm or the concentration to enjoy the drama. Her thoughts were centered on Joseph who had sounded sinister when he talked to her.
Did he know where she was?
Was he monitoring her even now?
Joseph was a mean and sadistic bastard. Even when she was in his service, he often made a point of teasing her until she became mad with rage. But of course, she never could do anything. Sometimes he allowed his prostitutes some freedom only to yank it back when he felt like it. He liked to toy with people.
Was he doing that with her?
Gabby felt as if someone was staring at her from the back of the theater. She dared not glance back to see if she was right. If he was sitting in the audience, she didn’t want a confrontation between Nick and him. For the first time since she started watching the dramas, Gabby didn’t enjoy herself. In fact, she could hardly pay any attention. When the play came to an end, she walked out Nick, her hand in his.
She felt as if she might run into Joseph anytime. If she saw his scarred face, she might faint. But much to her relief, he was nowhere in sight.
“So what is your opinion on the play?”
“It was good.”
Nick stared at her as if she spouted nonsense. “No elaborate commentary, no opinions on the depth and technique used by the actors or the differences from the books…what’s gotten into you, Gabby? I am getting off scot-free.”
She managed a laugh although her heart was in her stomach. “You’re a lucky man, I guess. Let’s go eat. How about we try that new Mexican place?”
“Sure. Your wish is my command.”
She sat behind him and they drove off. Maybe she was reading too much in this situation. One call didn’t mean that he knew where she was. It was quite likely that he tracked down her cell. Even though Gabby was careful not to talk to any of the girls who worked under him ever since she disappeared, but yeah, she did call her bank once to transfer some of her money. And then she called that girl at the parlor once to chat. Maybe he got through due to any one of them. She just needed to be more careful from now on.