Authors: Evelyn Glass
Gabby turned to look at the speaker. Hunky, handsome Nick Parker sat on the stool. His keen, green eyes were fixed on her. She’d seen him often enough in the clubhouse. He was their treasurer and carried much authority. Easy on the eyes, and of a pleasant demeanor, he caught her attention but she didn’t act on her impulses. Her other work kept her busy enough, and she didn’t have any intention of hankering after a guy only to see him reject her.
She didn’t see the need to reply, but being rude to the treasurer wouldn’t be a wise thing. “Sure,” she said.
He raised an eyebrow. “You don’t believe me? Willow turned my life around. I was a hotshot, cocky boy looking to pick a fight. She was the one who encouraged me to join the club.”
“You’re still the best fighter,” murmured Willow, but she said it in an affectionate, easy way that indicated that she was joking.
“But now I pick and choose my battles.” He laughed. “Heard you didn’t get a job?”
Gabby wasn’t surprised. There were few secrets in the clubhouse. “Yeah. Didn’t have the right background, the correct education, or experience.”
“You could always stay here. We pay you well and if you stay long enough, I will make sure we increase the money you get.”
Did she have another choice?
He cocked his head. His eyes bored into hers with an intensity that indicated that he understood her thoughts more than she wanted him to. Nick wasn’t much of a talker. She was surprised that he was taking the trouble to single her out for some attention.
What did he want in exchange?
Immediately, Gabby felt bad for her ungrateful thought. The members of Hell Brigade were more than fair to her. Not one of them ever made her feel as if she was a bonded servant or a hooker. Instead, she was given respect and encouragement. And right now, they were the only friends she had.
“If you want, you could study. Do home schooling. I am sure some of the men would be happy to assist you. If you complete your high school diploma, your chances of a job would increase.”
Surprised by his suggestion, she stared at him. “Home schooling? But I wouldn’t know how to go about it.”
“I could guide you.” He lifted a powerful shoulder. His blond hair gleamed in the bright light. “It’s not a big deal. Another girl did it two years ago, didn’t she, Willow? Now, she is working in the canteen of one of those big hospitals.”
“Yeah!” Willow nodded. “And you earn enough to pay for books and other such things that you would need. Nick could enroll you in one of those support programs. There is an organization that helps with paperwork and exams and stuff, and they don’t charge anything.”
Hope bloomed in her heart. Dare she take the offer? How long would it take for her to complete her degree? And would it serve any purpose?
She wasn’t sure.
Gabby bit her bottom lip. “I don’t know. It seems like a lot of hard work.”
His laughter echoed in the room. “Nothing worth gaining is ever simple, girl. If you are looking for the easy way out, you are going to be disappointed. But if you are ready to buckle down and do your part, you may make something good out of your life. Anyway, it was just a thought. Let me know if you are interested. I will set you up.”
He sauntered off. Gabby stared at his retreating back.
What the hell was that about?
Was he serious?
Could she rely on him to see her through?
It was a decision that she would have to make – and the sooner the better.
Nick listened to the men bicker. It wasn’t just another day at the club. Something was terribly wrong. Although the bikers weren’t involved in any hardcore illegal activities, their primary means of income was transportation of stolen materials from the town into other part of the state. It was a lucrative business and a risky one. But with careful coordination and planning, they managed to stay a step ahead of the police.
But someone in their club was a snitch.
Two of their men were arrested with a truck full of stolen goods. Given their track records, bail was not an option. The men would have to serve time in jail. It was a punch in their collective faces.
“It must have been bad luck,” said Ronald, the president of the club. “I told Miles to check the coast before easing out of the garage. They ran into a police cruiser.”
“The police were waiting for them,” contradicted Nick. He didn’t buy that lame theory. For years, they scammed the police and now suddenly two of their best operators were out of business. This couldn’t just be a coincidence.
He intended to investigate this matter further, with or without the help of the rest of the committee.
“It could have leaked through,” offered Ronald. “I told Willow to keep a tight lid on the new girls, but maybe one of them went over to the police. We do have a fresh recruit. She might be a plant.”
Nick thought about Gabby and her innocent, hazel eyes. No! She couldn’t have done it. He wouldn’t believe it. “She has been through shit, and the police never helped her. She has no reason to dump on us,” he growled.
Unease fluttered in his heart. Not because he thought that she was the culprit, but because it was easy for the men to mistrust the newest recruits into the club. And Gabby wasn’t officially their member, none of the women were. Those that stayed and became Old Ladies were trusted, but the rest of them were kept on the fringes of club activities. They were never involved in the dealings because they weren’t expected to shoulder the responsibility if a job went south.
“What about the other two girls? Suzy and Mala? They are both relatively new also.”
Those two girls joined the clubhouse three to four months ago, and they weren’t expected to stay long. Suzy had already found a job and would soon move out. Mala didn’t appear to have the temperament to get along with so many people. If she didn’t leave soon, someone or the other would tell her to do so. Although it was a norm to point at the girls if there was ever a leak, Nick didn’t think it was one of them.
It had to be one of the men.
The thought was appalling. The men in the clubhouse were soul brothers. Each one of them was ready to die for another. The possibility that they would snitch on each other was unthinkable. Hence the reason to push the blame on the girls. But Nick knew better. Only a handful of people were privy to the date and time on which the goods were supposed to be transported out of the city.
How did the police arrive at that exact time?
There was definitely something fishy going on in this club, and he intended to get to the bottom of that mystery.
“I think we should keep an eye on the girls,” Ronald insisted.
“I will do it,” Nick offered.
His plan was different. Of course, he would make sure that he checked out the girls, but also he wanted to give the culprit the indication that he was off the hook. Next time the man made a wrong move, Nick would be breathing fast down his back. But he needed a master strategy that would lure out the snitch.
As they moved on to other topics, Nick allowed his thoughts to simmer at the back of his mind. Once the committee meeting was finished, he strode down to join the others as they milled around the bar. Loud music blared from the speakers and the men were eyeing the two girls who were dancing in one corner: Mala and Gabby. The harsh scent of weed hit his nostrils. It was the most common drug used by the bikers. None of them were hardcore into illegal substances, but the boys liked to blow off steam with one thing or another. And today, someone must have passed on a little something extra because the girls were all in high spirits.
Nick took a stool on the bar. “A beer, please,” he asked Willow.
Once she passed it to him and wrote it in his account page, Nick turned his attention to the women who were slow dancing with the men. Gabby was dancing with Price, a dark-haired, bearded man who gripped her ass with both hands as he swung her to the music. She was definitely stoned. The glazed look in her eyes and the loose manner in which her limbs moved proved that she was high as a kite.
He smiled. She needed the break.
The girl was all but raw bundles of nerves. Ever since she got rejected at the workplace, he saw that her confidence went down quite a few notches. He didn’t like the downtrodden look on her face. She needed a pick-me-up.
It appeared that Price had the same idea because he turned her around and drew her back into his arms as she let out a sudden laugh. Someone jacked up the volume on the speakers. Once more, Price pinched her ass. She giggled and stepped away. Nick watched as she sashayed her way over to the bar.
“Hey, Willow. A glass of water please.”
Nick watched her guzzle down the water as if it was nectar. The muscles on her throat clenched and unclenched as she drank. When she put the glass down, her eyes met his. “Hi,” he said.
She smiled and leaned on the counter. The t-shirt she wore stretched over her breasts, giving him an excellent idea about her sexy curves. Her jeans rode low on her hips, and he could see her belly button as it played peek-a-boo as her t-shirt shifted. His fingers itched to glide over her taut stomach and feel her smooth creamy skin, but he resisted the urge. Nick didn’t flit from woman to woman, and whenever he chose one, it was with care and thought.
But he did have his eyes on Gabby.
And she was such a pretty little thing. Her blond hair was silky and soft, and her eyes glowed when she was in a carefree mood. It was so rare to see her look so happy. He enjoyed watching the play of emotions on her face as she watched the others dance around. One day, he would enjoy running his hands all over her compact and lean body. It would be sheer pleasure to claim her lips, to taste the sweet crevices of her mouth, and to thrust his cock deep inside her while she writhed under him. The image made him hard, and his penis lengthened and thickened in his jeans.
As if sensing the thoughts that flashed through his mind, she glanced his way. Her tongue darted out to moisten her bottom lip. Something shifted and twisted in her eyes. It was lust, plain and simple. She wanted him as badly as he wanted her. But Nick was determined to draw out their sexual tension.
The game was on.
He looked away. If he so wanted, he could draw her away for a quick fuck. But she was meant for better things. Despite the harsh and terrible life that she lived, there was an innocence in her. And she had a sharp mind. He wanted to explore it before he tumbled into the sack with her. A quickie would be over all too soon, but she was meant for better things.
“Did you give another thought to my idea?”
“About finishing high school?” She laughed. “I don’t know…sounds crazy. I am in my twenties…”
“You want to be in your thirties or forties or fifties and still be without a high school degree?” He cut down to the chase. “Think about it. It would require hard work and effort, but it would pay rich dividends in the long run.”
Willow walked over to give her comments. “You listen to him, girl. Nick was seventeen when he finished high school, plunged straight into college, and finished it in three years. He has got a razor-sharp mind, this boy. Did some hocus pocus with the stocks and ended up with his own digs. This boy is rich,” said Willow as she clapped a hand on his shoulder.
“Don’t give away all my secrets, Willow.”
“If you are doing so well, what are you doing with the club?”
Her suspicious eyes bored into his. Nick grinned. Most people asked him the same question, and he often told them that it was because he craved excitement. But as Willow moved away to serve someone, he found himself telling her something that he hardly shared with anyone. “My parents died when I was two in a car accident. I was raised in a series of foster homes. Education was the only escape from the mental and physical drudgery that I was often subjected to. Some of the people who took me in actually cared, but others just did to get some money out of the state. The only thing that belonged to me was my education, and I decided early on that I wouldn’t become a victim.”
“So you studied?”
He took a swig. Why was he telling her this? It’s because she had the ability to draw him out; a rare quality in most women he came across. She was genuinely interested. “I studied hard and won a scholarship. And while I was in college, I began dealing with stocks. The amount was little at first but then I gained enough confidence to invest in bigger stuff. I was lucky to buy shares of a software company before it hit pay dirt. And then…I bought my own house, put away some in long-term investments to get steady income, and kept playing at the stock market.”
“So why did you leave it?”
He shrugged. “I got bored. It wasn’t exciting enough anymore. And I started riding with these guys. It was fun at first, and then I realized that they were the family I never had. These men would die for me, and I would do the same. We belong together, we help each other, and we support one another. It’s the only family that I have ever had.”
She nodded. He could see that she really understood what he meant. Most people assumed that since he had the brains to become rich, he should continue in the same vein. But he was done with that life. This was his chosen path. And sure, there was danger as they flitted with the police and the law, but they never crossed the line into something serious.
And he fucking loved it.
“I would’ve done the same,” she stated. “Family is most important, isn’t it?”
The realization that she could understand his sentiments so easily baffled him. “Yeah, it is. Do you have any?”
A snort escaped her lips. “I escaped from my father when I was ten and fell into the clutches of a damned pimp, Joseph. My life has always been controlled by the men in my life.”
“Maybe it’s time to change that,” he said.
Her gaze shifted to him, moved away to rest on the dancing couples. “I don’t know if I have it in me. It’s been so long since I studied. Lying down on my back and letting a man hump me is so much easier, even if it’s the lowest of low jobs.”
“There is no shame in what you do.” He covered her hand with his. “You’re not killing someone or defrauding people. Don’t ever let anyone make you feel bad about what you do. Hold your head high and be proud of who you are. What you have faced and survived is more than what most of these men can claim.”
Much to his surprise, tears filled her eyes. “No one has ever said something so sweet to me. Thank you.”
Nick pulled his hand away. He meant what he said. He’d seen many girls who got trapped into prostitution and most of them didn’t have the desire or the will to make their escape from that life. But she wanted something different. Despite the abuse she suffered, Gabby still had fire in her heart. He saw it. And he wanted to nourish that flame so that she could do better. If he could help her fight her way out of this muck, it would be a privilege.
She was a flower who could bloom if given the right nourishment. And he wanted to be the man to do so. This had nothing to do with his desire to have her squirm under him (although of course, he did want that), but he genuinely wanted to support her.
Price came over. “Another dance, princess?”
She swung her silky hair. “Sure.”
As they moved on to the dance floor, Nick got back to his beer. Willow sauntered over. “You got your eyes on the girl, haven’t you?”
She knew him too well. “I do.”
“Then make a move before someone else does.”