Wraith stuffed his cell in his pocket and just sat straddling his bike on a dirt road as far out as he could go without losing reception. He stared off into the great wide nothing being thankful that Elvis had taken on Rylynn. He wasn’t happy about hiding the missing treasure within the walls of the club, but understood the level of danger she must have been in to need to run so far. Wraith knew she would be safe from the shit storm he was chasing, but he couldn’t be sure she would be safe from the brothers hunting for new and fresh pussy. He hoped that Ry staying at his place would let his brother’s know to back the fuck off. He wondered if that would have stopped him from trying bag a new flavor. The answer made him growl and pull his phone back out.
“Hey man, I need your help.”
Wraith could hear Brando take a deep draw on his cigarette and release it in a hiss, “What’s up?”
“Listen, I sent a woman to the club to take the HM slot. She’s with me, man. She is not a honey. She is mine.”
“She wearing your patch?”
“Hmmm,” murmured Brando, “How’s she your woman and not sporting your colors, brother? Without your claim on her what do you expect me to do?”
“Veep, man, I plan on staking my claim when I get back. This run wasn’t fucking planned, ya know. I need to know that Jew…Julie will be safe.” Wraith climbed off his Harley and paced around it in tight circles hoping his VP would assert some of his club given power and protect Rylynn from the groping hands of his brothers.
Brando hissed out another puff of smoke, “I’ll get the word out, but you are on a limited clock to claim this bitch or release her. Tick tock, brother.”
“As soon as I get back from this shit trip I will put my mark on her.”
“Didn’t know you had a woman. I thought you were pining for Hammer’s girl. Ain’t that why you went on the hunt for her?”
“Rylynn has been a part of my life since I was a kid, man. She is the one I judge all women by. I have to know what went down here.”
“Are you getting any closer to answers?”
Wraith wanted nothing more than to trust is brothers, but brothers are the ones that slaughtered Hammer in front of his own grand-daughter. “There are some shady fucking pieces of shit in house up here. I don’t trust most of them and question the loyalties of the rest. I don’t know what or who to believe, Veep, so I am listening to everything and trying to connect the bullet holes.”
“I don’t know any of the brothers in the Mother chapter, so I can’t tell you one way or another. Just watch your back if you are feelin’ shit is going sideways. We got your six.”
“Thanks, brother. Keep an eye on my girl and I’ll get back in the fold sooner rather than later.”
Wraith sighed in relief. Between Brando and Elvis, Ry should be on the safer side of the club she didn’t know. At least she wasn’t walking in unprepared. He just had to figure out the shit he was wrapped in with the lies surrounding Hammer’s murder and Ry’s disappearance. He was running out of time. Capt. Jack had arranged a meet with the Lynch Men’s Prez and Veep to let them know what was what with Rylynn and the accusations made against their club. Wraith kicked his leg over his ride and headed towards Rylynn’s place to wait and hang with Nox. Nox seemed like the only one he could trust, but he couldn’t trust he wouldn’t chew the fuck out of his boots.
He was a few ball tosses in on a game of catch with Nox when his cell vibrated in his pocket.
“What’s the word?”
Cap grunted, “Tonight, 10 o’clock, I’ll meet you at Hammer’s and we will go from there.”
“I’ll be ready.”
“Have you heard from her?”
“She’s checked in. I’ve got eyes on her, Veep. I will know if anything goes down.” Wraith wanted to trust Cap with her location, but he had learned to trust no one within those ranks. He wasn’t very trusting of his own charter when it came to his Jewel. He would take her local to the grave if he had to.
Wraith chucked the crusty tennis ball for Nox to bound after, “On it,” he declared and ended the call. Nox came back holding the ball in his massive mouth. “Good boy. Maybe we can play catch with Cameo’s fucking head when this shit is done.” Nox dropped the ball and sat in front of Wraith with his head tipped to the side and his tongue hanging out as if he were intrigued by Wraith’s idea. “You don’t like the fucker either, do ya, boy?” Wraith grumbled as he grabbed the dog’s head and rubbed around his jowls, “Me neither, boy, me neither.”
“Hey, honey. I can drive you…wherever and whenever,” sneered the Prospect Elvis had assigned to Rylynn.
“I’m good,” Ry smiled. “I’m just going into town to pick up some cleaning supplies so I can start working tomorrow.”
“Names Snake, and like I said, I can drive you,” he smiled then licked his chapped lips as he leaned on a rat rod parked next to Rylynn’s truck. He tapped the hood, “Get in and I will take you where you need to go.”
Snake, how perfect a name for such a slimy character. Rylynn smiled again as she slid behind the wheel of her own ride. Getting in a ride with Snake sounded like an assault waiting to happen. “Thanks for the offer, but I don’t think you have enough room in there for the supplies I will need.” She slammed her door and started the truck before he could move. “See you later,” she hollered as she began backing out. She wanted out of there before he got the idea to ride with her. She waved and gunned it out of the parking lot leaving Snake in dust.
“I’m gonna regret that,” she reminded herself. Bikers were bad-asses for a reason. They didn’t take shit from anyone, male or female. She may have just challenged a Titan without intending to.
Rylynn hit the local Wally World to pick up supplies and a few groceries for herself. She wandered the isle thinking about what had happened. She caught herself clutching the fake cross around her neck. She had the evidence Capt. Jack and Wraith would need in her hand.
“Shit,” she mumbled as she dug her cell out of her pocket, “Hey, Wraith.”
“How’s my Jewel?”
“Okay, so far. Um…I just realized that I have something that Cameo is really gonna want. I don’t think he knows I have it.”
“What do you have?”
Rylynn explained how she had scanned all the accounting documents onto a jump drive that she was currently wearing around her neck. “I shredded the paper trail I found, but only Grandpa knew. I had only done it that day…the day….”
“I’m sorry, Jewel. Hammer was a great leader and good to you.”
“He was. So, um, I’m not sure if Cameo is gonna come looking for the ledgers. I would normally have them at home with me and Grandpa, so…”
“Watch the house. Got it. Anywhere else?”
“The Tool Crib, I would have had them in my office in the back of the shop. That might be why he showed that night. You know, looking for the paper trail. I know he wanted the new passwords that I had set that morning.” Rylynn stood in the cleaning isle leaning on a mop as she relived that night, “If only I had waited to change the passwords. This wouldn’t be happening right now.”
Wraith sighed into the phone, “Jewel, it would have happened at some point. It may not have gone down the way it did, but all hell would have broken loose at some point. You couldn’t have stopped it.”
Rylynn wiped her tears and straightened up, tossing the mop into her cart, “Maybe, but now what, Wraith?”
“I’m gonna need you to email me the shit you scanned. We need to figure out where this money if coming from and where it’s going.”
“I need a computer. Do you have one at your place?”
“Yeah, a laptop.”
“I’ll email you when I get back to the club house.”
“Why aren’t you there now?”
“Kinda hard to be the HM without any cleaning supplies,” Rylynn chuckled at the knowledge that Wraith’s club was full of a bunch of pigs who couldn’t even by some Lysol. “When was the last time anyone cleaned that place anyway?”
“The last HM went from HM to club honey in about 8 seconds and that was, fuck, months ago.”
“That’s nasty, Wraith.”
“You ain’t seen nasty yet, Jewel. Nasty is Friday and Saturday nights after the light weights vacate the bar. Make yourself scarce on those nights. Stay away from the parties, Jewel. Got it?”
Rylynn stopped her supply hunting, “So, who is it you don’t trust, Wraith? Me or your brothers?” she wondered.
“Them, Jewel. I got the word out that you are with me, but without my official claim on you, it won’t mean shit to some of those guys. Don’t make me fucking worry about you while I am trying to figure out what to do up here. I can’t do both.”
He was right and she knew it. He couldn’t split his focus and be successful at both, “You’re right. I will be in your apartment at night, every night. No play time for me.”
“Good girl,” he sighed in relief, “I will get back as soon as possible.” Ry hoped it would be very soon and in one piece. “Hey, just so you know, I haven’t told anyone where you are, even Captain Jack, and I won’t until Cameo is a fucking memory and Pez is a stain.”
“Thank you,” she whispered, “for everything. I’m sorry I dragged you into this.”
“Be safe, Jewel.”
“You too,” Rylynn prayed she hadn’t signed his death certificate dragging him into the fight ahead, but she had nowhere else to turn. She tucked her phone away and continued on her mission to clean up Titan’s Creed, even if that meant with a dust rag and a blow torch.
Snake wasn’t in sight when Ry returned with bags upon bags of cleaners, mops, brooms, and trash bags. She began lugging them into the club and down the hall to the supply closet when Elvis stepped from a door she had not been introduced to, meaning ‘stay the fuck out of here.’
“Hey, let me get you some help,” he snarled behind a sour smelling cigarette. He waved his arm at two Prospects that were seated at the bar, “Yo! Get moving and unload the truck out front. Bring the shit over here.” The two brothers stepped away from their beers with nothing more than a nod and marched out the door to carry in the rest of the bags.
“Elvis, here,” Rylynn said as she reached into her pocket pulling out a wad of paper. “Here is the change and the receipt for what I purchased. I bought a few groceries too, but I used my own money for that if you want to see…”
Elvis looked at the cash Rylynn held out to him, “Keep it. You may need to pick up more shit.”
Rylynn’s hand continued to hang in front of Elvis, “Oh, don’t you need to keep track of…”
“You don’t need to worry about what I need or don’t fucking need. You clean. You fuck, if you chose. Club business is none of your business.”
Rylynn pushed the money back into her pocket, “Right, sorry.” She looked around at the bags the Prospects had dropped on the floor around her. “I’ll just get all this put away. I’ll start cleaning in the morning, okay?” Elvis jerked his head in acknowledgement then sauntered over to the bar where the Prospects had returned to their beers.
Rylynn loaded the shelves with Lysol, Mr. Clean, Pledge, Windex, and a plethora of other fresh smelling items. She hung broom, mops, and buckets from hooks along the wall. She carried her groceries and personal items across the bar making her way toward the staircase.
“Need a hand with those, honey?”
A shiver worked its way along Rylynn’s neck. Snake had slithered up behind her. Without stopping she whipped her head in his direction, “No, thanks, I got it,” she said with a touch of cheer as to not piss him off and a large amount of finality to make it clear she didn’t need his help.
“Snake!” barked Elvis from across the bar, “She’s Wraith’s. Back the fuck off.”
Snake eyes narrowed on Rylynn as his nostrils flared. Rylynn turned and hurried up the stairs to hide behind the imagined safety of a door. Rylynn sighed and sagged against the wooden barrier and listened for heavy boots on the steps. None came. She breathed easier, engaged the locks, and then began settling into Wraith’s space. First things first, Rylynn went in search of Wraith’s laptop. She found it under his bed surrounded by dirty clothes and books. Books without pictures.
“Color me impressed,” she smiled to herself as she opened the laptop to be greeted by a picture of her and Wraith taken during his last visit. It was a selfie of them lying beneath a tree enjoying the shade. They had spent the day riding side-by-side down back roads surrounded my scenic views and each other. The picture caught her by surprise as did the password protected screen prompt, “Shit.”
She stared at the screen. She looked at Wraith’s face and how he was looking at her in the image. Her fingers hovered over the keys when she made a leap of faith and began to type.
J E W E L
She gasped when the screen changed to his home page which was a picture of her lying back on her bike with her leg kicked up over the handle bar. Her eyes were closed with her ball cap visor pulled down over her face. She never knew he took that picture. She never knew he even thought about her outside of friendship. She was starting to hope. She refocused and tugged the cross from around her neck. With the jump drive connected and her email pulled up Rylynn copied the documents into the message and sent them to Wraith. She sent him a quick text to check his email and wondered if he would respond with an explanation about his computer. She hoped not.
Three hours later Rylynn had found the couch under a mountain of dirty clothes and take-out food containers. The coffee table turned out to be a plank of wood on top of stacks of cinder blocks and the chair needed help holding in its stuffing, but at least it was clean…er. The kitchen looked more like a kitchen and less like a mechanic’s bench. The bedroom resembled a bedroom and the bathroom, well; she was killing two birds with one shower. She was scrubbing the tub while taking a much needed shower herself. Her life as a House Mouse had begun in Wraith’s apartment. She would start his laundry in the morning while she attacked the grossness that awaited her.