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.
Elias copyright @ 2015 by Amy Love. 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.
Chelsea Shore brushed her long blond hair back from her face, locked her car door, and then closed it solidly. She checked the door and took hold of her red roller luggage handle. Then she said goodbye to her Shelby Mustang. She doubted she would ever see it again, though the ache of fully admitting this was too great to accept. She could have sold it, she supposed, but there was the matter of time and the dire awareness that it wasn't her friend.
It was nine o'clock at night in Houston, Texas. Tomas would be in the middle of his shift, and if any god was looking out for her, he would be on a call as well. She had four hours, hopefully, before he would realize that she was gone. Perhaps another two hours before he acted on that knowledge, deciding that she wasn't out at a bar or with a girlfriend. Six hours max, then, and that was if everything was going her way. So far, in her short life of twenty-four years, nothing had fully gone her way, so she estimated half of that: three hours.
Airports and trains were out; too many cameras and security checks. The bus might be a good choice, but she didn't really know where to go. Besides, all of these options Tomas would cover. How many buses could be leaving at this time of night? Maybe two? It wouldn't be difficult to track her. No, she couldn't take options like that for at least two or three days. The red Mustang with vanity plates
was too easy to track as well. So, she had to walk away from the single possession she was able to salvage from her other life, and the sooner, the better.
She walked two blocks and waited for the 108 bus heading north. The bus arrived in ten minutes. She boarded, buying a day pass, and sat down. This was the extent of her planning. Once she was in North Houston, around the Pinemont area, she would take the first bus that went into the heart of the area from the freeway. From there? She didn't know. She didn't have a false ID to get a room with. She didn't have friends in that area, which is why she chose North Houston. She didn't have answers. Chelsea reasoned that this could be to her advantage however—if she didn't know where she was going, then how could Tomas second guess her?
The bus ran up the highway, and she got off in the North Houston area, and found the 79 waiting. She jumped aboard, asked the driver if his route went into the Pinemont area, and he nodded his head. She rode the bus for ten stops and got off.
Pinemont was not a night life haven, and most of it was residential areas, with main drags of business areas cutting through. Suburbia.
Choosing a street at random she walked down the sidewalk, keeping an eye out for some place she could crash for the night, or at the very least, hide. An all-night cafe or diner would be ideal. She had money enough that she would be able to purchase the needed amount of food and drinks to be left alone all night. She could break out her laptop, surf the web, look busy, and become invisible. The thought of hiding in a shadowy area didn't really appeal to her. She was very conscious of the fact that she was young, blond, and good-looking. Her breasts were too large to hide from interested eyes, and her ass too appealing. On a Wednesday night, she didn't expect to have to deal with too many cowboys, but there were homeless people and drug addicts to consider; people who didn't care what day it was—they were out on the street,
Several blocks later she was into a residential area, and was deciding whether or not to turn around and find a main drag again, when she spotted a bar called the Log Cabin set back from the road. There were several cars and many bikes parked around the lot and on the side of the building. Chelsea could hear music and the murmur of voices. The bar would be open until at least two in the morning, and she could probably find out from someone inside where a diner was. Tired, and feeling the fatigue of the hunted, she walked to the bar and went inside.
Once inside she figured out what the place was almost instantly: it was a club house for a biker group. From the patches on the backs of several of the riders, she discovered the name of the club was the White Wolves, but she didn’t know anything about them. Again, she reasoned this was a good thing. The less familiar her surroundings, the better.
Tomas was a Narcotics Detective for the downtown police department. He often talked about how foolish drug dealers and addicts were when they were trying to hide. They always went to ground in an area they knew. They stayed in touch with friends and relatives. They used credit cards, hid in hotels, or rented some dive of a place, thinking that no one would look for them there.
"It's so easy to find these shit heads," he told her with a grin.
So, the less she knew about where she was, the better. The White Wolves were, therefore, perfect.
The Log Cabin wasn't large, and it was fairly full of people. Most of the crowd was male, but there were enough women there to let her know that it wasn't a gay club and that she wasn't out of place. In her blue jeans, black knee-high boots, and light leather jacket, she fit in well enough. Making her way to the end of the bar, she took an available stool and ordered a long neck Bud when the bartender came over to her. He nodded, gave her tits a smile, and fetched her drink. The only thing out of place was her roller luggage bag, but it was small enough to slip beside her on the floor; not much more than a carry-on, really.
The beer tasted good and she took a greedy drink, then causally looked around to see if she caused any stirring or interest. Most of the patrons didn't seem to care about her much, though a few of the men were giving her ass and figure a prospective look. This was good. Let them look. She was a single woman in a biker bar, so it would be normal for her to be scoped out, and also normal that she would be looking for company. That idea was not appealing at the moment, but it would be bad to act any other way.
She was just finishing her beer when she noticed a tall, dark-haired man walking toward her from the pool table area. He was dressed in blue jeans, black boots, a black Harley eagle shirt, and a leather vest. His hair was a mane of locks and curls coming down to his shoulders. His body was nearly a perfect V, emptying down into long legs. He would probably offer to buy her next round, and she would accept. After a bit of flirting she would try to find out if there was a diner or cafe some place close.
Just play it cool and act normal.
Elias Neal, Sergeant at Arms for the White Wolves Motorcycle Club, saw the good-looking blond come in the door and knew instantly that there was something off about her. Whatever her story was, it was anything but normal. She had the look of a woman on the run. He knew that look well. His mother was a battered wife, and when she finally got the nerve to take her two children and run to Houston when he was twelve, she had that same look for the next ten years.
The roller luggage, the fact that she walked here—no head lights glared the windows before she walked in—and the fact that she was in this area at all, told him she was dodging something. And she didn't have the slightest idea about where she was, or where she was going. She probably thought this was a good thing, but he knew better.
None of the other Wolves seemed to be moving in on her yet, so when he saw that her beer was low, he walked over to her. He would buy her a beer, flirt a little, act normal, and see if he could find out her story.
She probably needed to get off the street and into a safe place. He could make that happen for her, if her story was reasonable. Otherwise, he could point her in a good direction and leave her with his phone number.
When he came up next to her, she was already watching him, and prepared a smile of greeting for him—so she wasn't stupid at least. She understood enough to know that she would be expected to be looking for company. This was good. It made the next few steps easier to take with her.
"Hey, you want another beer?" he asked casually.
"Sure, but I don't talk to strangers," she said with a sly smile.
"Elias. Elias Neal," he offered.
"Chelsea," she smiled, "Now that you aren't a stranger, I suppose I'll accept the beer."
Elias motioned to the bartender, "Frank? Two more of the same please, and a shot of whiskey."
"Not trying to get me drunk area you, Elias?" she asked.
"No, I thought I would try to get
drunk, but if you want one, it is easily done," he offered.
"Rum, on the rocks," she told him.
Elias nodded and let Frank know the change of order, then he sat down on the stool next to her. "Did you just get into town?" he asked, nodding to her luggage.
"Oh, um, yes, sort of," she told him.
"Looking for a hotel?"
"No, not right now. A diner would be good. Something open all night? Something close?" she asked.
Elias nodded to himself. Not wanting a hotel was evidence enough that his first appraisal had some merit.
Frank interrupted them by setting down the drinks. Elias laid a twenty on the bar and told Frank to keep the change. Once Frank was gone, Elias mulled over several conversational options, and decided on the
"I'm guessing that you are looking for a place to lay low. Can you tell me how serious your worries are?" he asked.
Her eyes went slightly wide, but she recovered quickly enough. "That obvious, huh?"
"Obvious to anyone who knows what they are looking at, yes, but probably not to most of the people here."
"Are you with the White Wolves?" she asked.
"Yes, I'm an officer. Sergeant at Arms."
"Are you an outlaw group?" she asked.
"Not particularly, no, but some of our members aren't exactly angels," he told her with a grin.
"What about you?"
"Me? I have a few irons in a few fires, but mostly I work for a living."
"Can I ask what you do?"
"Sure, if I can get an answer to my first question—how serious are your worries?"
She searched his eyes, and then took a sip of her rum. "Very."
"Then we should probably get you into a safe place before closing," he offered. "And to answer your question, I trade stocks, have a few rental houses, and paint custom tanks and bike frames. The last is more or less a hobby but I make some coin doing it."
"I have been known to partake, but I don't deal if that is what you are asking," he replied. "You hiding from the law?"
"No—well, not really. I just left my boyfriend. But he's a cop. Detective. Narcotics. I lived in Houston, near downtown. He's good at finding people, so I chose this area since I don't have any ties to it at all until I could figure out where to go from here."
"No car?" he asked, and when he saw the question in her eyes, he added, "No headlights through the windows before you came in. So, I'm guessing you are on foot."
She nodded to this and sighed. "You don't miss much do you?"
"Not on a good day, no. So, no car? Or did you decide that would be too easy to track?"
"I left it behind," she told him. Then offered, "Vanity plates."
"Ah." He nodded, and took a long drink from his bottle. "Well, as it happens, I drove my truck here tonight, so I can give you a lift if you would like."
"Well, the best place would be my house. You can sleep in the spare room, get a shower, a meal, and we can talk about the rest in the morning," he offered.
"You don't even know me. Why would you offer that?" she asked warily.
"My mother was on the run with two kids from my father, who was a drunk, an addict, and liked to talk with his fists. If someone would have offered the same to her, she might not have had to look over her shoulder for ten years until she got word that my dad had died in a car wreck." Elias told her. "He might have been looking for her, but I doubt it. I was only twelve at the time, but I knew enough to know that his drugs and drinking took precedence."
"Tomas will be looking for me. That is a fact. A hard fact. If he finds me at your house, it could be bad for you," she warned him.
"Yeah, could be bad for him as well," Elias told her. "I'm not a badass, and I'm not minimizing the threat, just letting you know that I understand. He's a cop, and that can be a problem, but like I explained: I'm legal, with no warrants or criminal history. If he comes in hard, well, I can play hard as well. But, if we get you out of here shortly and off the street, it isn't likely we are going to have to worry about that happening. What do you say?"
She looked around the bar, and then downed her rum. "It's a tempting offer. You're not just trying to get into my pants, are you?"
"Thought crossed my mind, but romance is probably not high on your list of desires at the moment." He grinned, hoping it was a friendly grin.
She gave him a serious nod. "No, it isn't. Probably won't be for several years either. I think I've had enough for a while. I don't seem to be very good at making decisions in that area."
Elias smiled and downed his whiskey. "That makes two of us. I can read a market sheet, and read a renter, but can't seem to read a lover worth the shit."
"I'm surprised that you don't have one. You're a good-looking man," she complimented.
"Last one was a year ago. Actually, a little more than a year. Shelly was her name. I thought I was going to marry her, but as luck would have it, she stole five thousand from me and left before I could buy the ring. I consider it money well spent."
She nodded as if this answered some question in her mind, then she said, "Look, Elias, I really have no clue what to do from here, so I'm going to take you up on your offer, but I'll probably be gone by tomorrow afternoon. So, really, there is no future or benefit in helping me. I can pay you for the night's stay. I have money. I can keep the tab clear, but that's all I'm offering. No sex, no relationship, nothing but the possibility of trouble coming to your door if he tracks me this far."
Elias shrugged. "I've been dully warned, and I accept the terms. Want another drink? I want to cover your back trail a little before we take off. Let some key people know that you were never here."
"Like Frank?" she asked.
"Yes. Frank, and John, our president, and two others who are here tonight. They'll take care of the rest," he agreed, and took a long pull off his beer.
"Alright. I'll have another beer, and wait for you to do the voodoo that you do." She smiled.