Marek (Knights Corruption MC #1), page 24
“Are you getting anything?” I asked Stone, pointing to the tracking monitor.
“Not really. Just a weak signal that keeps fading in and out, depending on where we are inside this shithole.” The place smelled rank, a mustiness mixed with the scent of dead animals filling our nostrils.
We’d quickly discovered there were two levels to the place, the one we were currently searching and a lower one. Hawke found a door with steps which descended below. Was that were they were all waiting for us? Were we walking into a trap?
With the meager light of his phone, he opened the door and started his way down the steps, careful not to shout anything back to us. But he didn’t have to because we were right behind him.
It was the last place we had to look and I prayed we found her or, at the very least, a clue as to where she could have gone. If she was even there at all.
Once we’d reached the bottom of the crumbling staircase, concrete falling away with every step we took, my eyes tried their hardest to adjust to the lack of light. It was even darker down there. Ryder flicked his lighter and as soon as the flame caught, we walked close to each other, huddled around that damn sparse source of light. My phone was well on its way to dying, as charging the device was the last thing on my mind before I rushed out to search for Sully. Hawke still had his cell out, but even with all three sources of illumination, the dank cellar was intimidating.
Fifteen minutes later, we concluded no one else was hiding away in the old abandoned building. As we headed toward the steps, I kicked something, sending the object rolling across the hardened floor. The metal clang instantly raised my hackles, and for some reason a feeling of dread settled down deep inside me.
Following the sound, I snatched Ryder’s lighter from him and bent down to retrieve the item. Between my fingers was a ring. A thin yellow band.
She was here.
But where is she now?
Not having the concentration needed to drive, Stone took the wheel once we’d approached the van. We were on the road and headed back when Hawke’s phone started buzzing.
“Yeah?” he sharply answered. “Hold on.” Tapping me on the shoulder, he passed me his cell. “For you. It’s Cutter.”
“Yeah?” I answered, giving the same curt greeting.
“Prez, we think we have a lead on Sully,” he rushed. “One of those fucks dared to show up at Flings, spouting off at the mouth to anyone who would listen about how the Reapers were going to own this town soon enough, so everyone better watch out. He was definitely high on something, which worked to our advantage because we grabbed him quickly and threw him in the back room. I have no idea where he ranks in his shithole of a club, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to try and extract some information from him.” Cutter was a man of few words, so his continued rambling was certainly telling.
“Fuck, Cutter, get to the point!” I shouted, losing any and all patience. “What do you know?”
“Sorry. After a little convincing, the punk sung like a canary.” I rolled my eyes at his obvious enjoyment. Cutter wasn’t shy when it came to making people talk. I wouldn’t say he enjoyed what he needed to do from time to time, but I know that shit didn’t bother him too much either. “He told us Vex might be holed up in some shitty motel somewhere on I5, maybe near Tulare. He’s not sure where he’s going, but he told us Vex was overheard telling a few people he was going to ‘end the embarrassment once and for all.’” He took a short breath before continuing. “Are you guys anywhere near there?”
Catching a passing road sign, I concluded we were close to an hour from where Vex might be. “You don’t happen to know what he’s driving, do you?” I held my breath and prayed for the information to keep on flowin’ my way.
“A red ’75 Impala. Beat to shit but still good enough to keep runnin’.”
“Thanks, man,” I said, ending the call before shouting directions to Stone. I felt the van pick up speed, the engine whirling with the force of my VP’s determination.
It seemed like an eternity before we came upon the first shitty motel we could find, but after a quick scouring of the small parking lot, we deemed it wasn’t the right place. For all we knew, the information given to Cutter had been utter bullshit.
So it went, crappy motel after crappy motel, until my hopes were dashed. At the rate we were going, there was no way I would ever find Sully. The only link I had was her wedding ring, and it either had been taken from her to be left behind at the abandoned building to taunt me, or she’d somehow dropped it.
My money was on Vex having figured out there was a tracker in it, leaving it behind on purpose. And who the hell knew how long they’d been there. I knew it couldn’t have been too long, though, because as soon as Adelaide told us she was missing, we took off. But one minute was an eternity, knowing she was being subjected to God knew what.
The long stretch of highway had my mind all twisted up. Thoughts of Sully consumed me. She’d brought out parts of me I hadn’t even known existed. The need to protect a woman so fiercely was beyond any scope of reality I’d ever lived in. She drew my attention, as well as those around her. If anyone’s eyes lingered too long, I would become instantly engulfed in fury, threatening their very life until they looked away. And that just wasn’t like me. I was a pretty laid-back guy. Normally. Before she’d come into my life, anyone who knew me would have attested to such a thing.
But I was possessive over Sully. I wanted all her time and focus. I hated when she was out of my sight, mainly because I didn’t trust anyone to protect her the way I could, but also because I couldn’t stand when other people made her laugh, or felt joy in a world where she belonged to me. I should’ve been the one putting those smiles on her face, enticing those intoxicating laughs from her lips.
And I did.
But others shared in that glory as well.
My bombardment of irrational thoughts was yet another one of her effects on me. They were unexplainable, and I wore myself out mentally trying to dissect my feelings.
Slowing the van, Stone jutted his arm out in front of me, startling me from my brief escape from reality. “Is that the car?” he asked, trying to lean over me to get a better look, all while doing his best not to veer off the road.
A small sign for a Motel Nine flashed in front of us and, sure enough, in the small dirt parking lot was an old, beat-up red Impala. “That has to be it,” I affirmed, more to myself than anyone else. “Keep driving,” I instructed, hitting the dash in anxiousness.
Stone read my mood quickly. “We’ll get her, man,” he said, tapping the wheel before proceeding further down the road, easing his foot off the accelerator so we didn’t miss a good spot to hide.
We parked and slinked around the building. Hawke and Ryder walked toward the office to find out some more information. We had to make sure we had the right place; barging in on innocent people with guns blazing and murderous intent probably wouldn’t be the best thing right now.
Grinning like a fool, and with bloody knuckles, Hawke came strolling out of the front of the building, Ryder quickly in tow. “He’s in number three,” he said, brushing past me toward the room.
All four of us rushed across the lot, guns drawn and prepared to kill if and when we deemed it necessary.
There was a good chance Vex had acted alone, stealing Sully like the true coward he was. Swooping in and kidnapping her only when he knew she was alone and defenseless. The only time he would ever be able to overpower her was when she was without protection. At least when I’d done it, we’d attacked their club like men, killing as many of those worthless bastards as we could.
“Vex is mine,” I growled, gun cocked and aimed at the flimsy door ahead, prepared for anything. I prayed Sully was all right, but only time would tell what he’d actually been able to do to her. It only took a split second to end someone’s life, and if that was the road he’d chosen to travel down, then he would be following her into the afterlife sooner than later. Alth
As soon as Ryder’s big black boot made contact with the door, all four of us filtered into the room, no light inside except for a small table lamp in the far right corner. I’d never surveyed an area quicker than I did right then. Floral wallpaper from the seventies covered the walls, an old box-style TV sitting on a metal stand, half of it bent from the weight buckling it. Two separate areas on the walls were faded, indicating a picture had once hung there. A queen-sized bed sat in the middle of the room with covers, which conveniently matched the wallpaper, crumpled into a ball. In the middle lay the woman I’d come to save.
There was a split second, the time between one breath and the next, when Vex looked stunned. Sitting hunched over the only chair in the room, he snorted a line of coke off the corner of the long dresser. His eyes were bloodshot and his nose was bleeding, but it didn’t stop him from shoving that shit up his nostrils. A coked-out fucker was dangerous, and we all knew it.
They were unpredictable.
Hawke and Stone rushed forward, attempting to reach for Vex while I ran toward Sully. Her limp body was sprawled across the bed, her head lolled to the side so I couldn’t see her entire face. At first glance, she looked dead. Her hair covered the only visible side of her face, so I was unable to assess any immediate damage. But the further down her body I scanned, I knew right away he’d injured her. But how badly was the question.
The cream dress she’d been wearing had turned one color.
Rushing forward, I said a silent prayer she was alive, that the illusion she cast was just that. “Fuck,” I cursed loudly, jumping on the bed and cradling her head in my hands. Pushing back her hair, I gasped at what I saw. Both of her eyes were swollen, her right one on the way to being sealed shut because of all the damage. Her bottom lip was split and there was dark bruising around her entire throat. She’d been strangled.
My hands ran all over her body, searching for the cause of the crimson river. Before I could lift her dress to check, I heard a shuffle behind me, then a gunshot. Whipping my head around, I saw my VP on the ground, holding his side with one hand, his other propping up his upper body. Blood trickled over his fingers, hitting the faded, light green carpet.
“Goddamn it!” Stone roared. “Like I don’t have enough fuckin’ scars as it is.” Yeah, that’s what he was concerned about. I knew damn well he wasn’t feeling any pain, instead worried about the vanity of it all. I would have laughed at him if our situation weren’t so dire.
While I was on the bed with Sully, and Stone was holding his weeping wound, Hawke had tackled Vex and had him restrained on the ground, his knee pushing into the bastard’s back to help keep him still. It worked in our favor that he was drugged out of his mind and although he got off a lucky shot, his reflexes were otherwise impaired.
Once I knew he was no longer a threat, I focused on Sully, the rampant beat inside my chest pushing fear into my heart.
“Ryder, come help me!” I shouted. He was next to me before I took my next breath. “Sully,” I called out, reaching for her face and trying to wake her. Placing my hand on the side of her neck, I’d been able to find a pulse, but it was extremely faint. I knew it was only a matter of time before she drifted away from me for good, so I had to think fast.
With Ryder taking over and cradling her neck, I’d finally been able to push her dress up. Sections of the material stuck to her skin, which was not a good sign. After carefully separating the dress from her body, I discovered she’d been stabbed. A deep gash between her upper ribs. The warm stickiness of her life coated my hands, while I tried to find something to push down on her wound.
“We have to get her to a hospital. Now!” I felt myself starting to panic, something I never did.
“What about me?” Stone yelled. “I need a hospital too, man. Just because I don’t feel it doesn’t mean that damn bullet isn’t ripping apart my insides.” He slowly rose to his feet, wobbling a little before catching the edge of the dresser for support.
I scrambled off the bed, carrying Sully in my arms while I debated what to do. I knew she needed immediate medical attention, and lots of it, but so did my VP. Explaining a knife wound and a gunshot wound would surely bring in heat we didn’t need.
We were close to a two-hour ride away from the club, and I wasn’t sure if she would make it. But what choice did I have? I couldn’t just drop her off at the hospital, all alone, but I couldn’t very well carry her in there myself either. No, if I left her all by herself, the authorities could take her from me, or worse, her father could somehow find out and steal her right out from under their noses. Then I’d never get her back alive.
“What about the safe house, Prez? It’s only an hour from here. Surely they’ll both make an hour’s ride,” Ryder said hopefully.
I knew I brought him along for a reason.
Quickly glancing around the dreadful scene in front of me, I made the decision that the safe house was our only bet. It was a place we kept on the side in case of emergencies, and today it was going to serve a dual purpose.
To treat Sully and Stone . . . and to finally end Vex once and for all.
“Stone, are you okay to get to the van with Ryder?” He looked paler than he had a second ago, and I wasn’t exactly sure how bad his damage was.
He stumbled again, but righted himself while he walked toward the busted door, fending off any help from Ryder. “Yeah, I’m good. We’ll be right back.”
“Hurry up,” I yelled to their retreating backs. Stone was hurtin’. Maybe not physically, but his body was taking the brunt of his trauma.
I heard the screeching tires in no time, rushing out to place Sully in the back of the van. I’d swiped the comforter from the motel room to help make her as comfortable as possible, even though it was covered in blood. Her blood. But I didn’t want to lay her down on the cold, bare floor of the vehicle. Rushing back inside, I grabbed my VP’s gun, which had fallen out of his hand when Vex had shot him.
“Hawke, go out and get in the van,” I demanded.
“What do you wanna do with him?” he asked, pushing his knee further into Vex’s back. I’d insanely thought Vex was choosing to remain silent all this time. What I hadn’t realized was that when Hawke had tackled him, he’d inadvertently knocked him out.
“He’s gonna meet his maker tonight,” I sneered. Hawke moved away from his body, allowing me to kick Vex then roll him over. I expected the unconscious bastard to wake up, throw some attitude my way, as if he were invincible, and then eventually plead for his life.
I wasn’t particularly fond of torture, or at least being the one to do it, but I would thoroughly enjoy what I had planned for the man who’d made Sully’s life a living nightmare. Day in and day out. I knew she chose to still protect me, or herself, by not divulging a lot of the things that went down when she was living with him, and because of that my imagination was my worst enemy.
Time quickly escaped me, and if I was gonna do something, now was the time. I had to make sure to get both Sully and Stone to the safe house as soon as possible.
A bullet to the head while he was unconscious seemed unfair. No, I needed for the bastard lying before me to suffer in ways I hadn’t even thought of yet. Making the quick decision to bring him with us, although the thought of him breathing the same air as the rest of us tugged at the unraveling string of my sanity, I picked him up off the floor and threw him over my shoulder. Taking one last look around the disheveled room to make sure I wasn’t missing anything, I closed the door and walked the few feet to the vehicle waiting for me.
Once we were on the road, I instructed Hawke to place a call to Trigger, asking him to bring Adelaide to the safe house right away.
Hopes were high that both of the people who meant the most to me would live to see another day.
Hunching over Sully in t
“She’ll be okay,” Stone assured, turning around in the passenger seat to look at me. Clutching his side, he tore his hand away to assess the damage, blood coating his entire side. It looked pretty bad, and I was extremely grateful my friend didn’t feel an ounce of pain. His body’s reaction to the intrusive bullet, however, was less than desired. All signs of life seemed to drain from his face, a pale shadow of disbelief coloring his features. His sitting form wavered, unable to fully control himself while Ryder drove like a maniac. I think it was the only time either one of them used their seatbelts.
“Are you okay, Stone?” I asked, not doing my best to hide the worry in my voice.
“All good, bro-brother,” he stammered slightly. A deep breath later and his head lolled to the side. Ryder took a corner faster than he should have and Stone’s body tipped over, his head hitting the passenger window with a thud.
“Goddamn it, Ryder!” I shouted. I wanted so much to berate him for driving so carelessly, but at the same time I wanted to urge him to go faster. He never said a word, all the apology I was looking for pouring forth from his reflection in the rearview mirror.
The rest of the trip was executed in silence. Stone had come to only to pass out once more before we arrived at our destination. Sully’s body still lay across my lap, unmoving except for the shallow breaths of air she took into her lungs. And Vex form still laid in a crumpled mess across the back of the van, stuffed into the corner so Hawke could keep a closer eye on him. Primed to make a move in case he woke up and tried something.
So lost in my own head, I hadn’t even realized we’d pulled into the garage at the safe house. The place was located in a normal residential area, hiding right out in the open.
Other author's books:
- The Assignment (Massey Security Duet Book 1)The Score (Massey Security Duet Book 2)Stone (Knights Corruption MC Series Book 2)Stolen FateAddicted (Addicted Trilogy Book 1)
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