Authors: Laura Day
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
Call My Name copyright @ 2014 by Laura Day. 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.
Book 3 of the
Fallen Angels MC
Caroline took a long, long look at the clock on her computer and then glanced over at Jack, her co-worker, who looked like he’d been pou
nded into his chair by a sadist. A really mean one, with a nasty temper and no use for safe words. Even from here, she could see how crappy he felt. His nose was red and swollen from incessant blowing, his eyes were dazed and bleary, and he flinched at every noise, winced at every movement. “Jack,” she said, and he turned toward her, though she didn’t get any sense at all that he was seeing her. “You really should go home and lie down.”
“No.” He shook his head stubbornly. “I’m fine.” The motion had clearly set off his head, though, and he gripped his desk as the world shook around him. She fought the urge to roll her eyes.
“This is not fine. Fine is very different than this. You’re dripping your germs everywhere, and I don’t want to get sick. Go home and get some rest. Come back tomorrow.”
“No,” he said again, sounding like nothing more than a 3-year-old in a snit. “I told you I’d come in and cover the desk for the last two hours so you’d have time to get ready for your date with Mason.”
“My date isn’t that big a deal. I told Mase to pick me up at 6. If I tell him 7 instead, it’ll be fine. Besides, Missy will kick my ass if she knows I kept you here, feeling like you do.”
Jack made a sound that, if his sinuses were less full of cement, would have been a snort. Instead, it sounded kind of like a truck backfiring, especially since it was completed by him whimpering and grabbing at his forehead.
A few months back, Jack and Missy had offered Caroline sanctuary at their house after the former leader of the Fallen Angels, Mason’s motorcycle club, had assaulted her in her own home. They’d developed something of an informal relationship since then, sometimes just her and Missy, sometimes all three of them.
One extraordinary night, Mason had joined in on the fun. But more than all of that, she and Missy had become friends. Caro’d never had a lot of female friends; she’d never quite managed to know the right secret handshakes to fit in at baby showers and weddings, and at some point, she’d stopped bothering to try. But she and Missy could talk for hours about physics, math, science fiction—it was fantastic.
“That’s probably true,” Jack said. “Are you sure Mason won’t be annoyed? I don’t need the king of the Fallen Angels mad at me.”
“President,” Caroline said automatically. “He’s called the president.” And she had yet to decide who was more uncomfortable with that title, her or Mase.
On the bad days—which there weren’t too many of, but enough—she thought they both might hate it, though their reasons were probably complete opposites. It wasn’t something they’d really talked about, not in any depth.
She knew what the club meant to him. It had been his family when he came back from the war, and that hadn’t changed just because they had a lot of good sex and deep conversations. She’d never ask him to leave the Fallen Angels. She just didn’t know if she could be the long-term girlfriend of the president of a group of outlaws.
She could feel Jack watching her, and she worked to keep her expression neutral. He had not expressed any disapproval of her relationship with Mason, just some surprise that the relationship was continuing after the initial heady rush of the amazing sex. Missy had been less circumspect.
She made her opinions on the whole thing well-known, from pointing out that her association with Mason had led to her being violently assaulted in her own home, to suggesting that good sex could be had in other ways. That last one usually was mentioned when her top was off. And she watched Caroline’s reactions very closely whenever Mason was at the house, which was often.
Mason, for his part, tended to shrug off their disapproval. “Do you like me?” he’d ask. When Caroline nodded, he’d say, “Then the rest of it doesn’t matter.”
“And no,” she said now, realizing she hadn’t finished her sentence. “He’ll understand.”
Jack held out for another moment, and then sighed, which triggered a coughing fit. He rested his head on his desk for a minute, and she could see his shoulders rising and falling as he focused on breathing deeply enough to catch his breath without kicking off another fit. “All right. Fine. I’m going.”
She watched him sway just a little as he stood up. “Are you really okay? I could call you a cab and then drive your car home later.”
He considered it for a minute, and then shook his head. “No, I’m good. I’m okay to drive home.”
She nodded, and he seemed to gain some momentum. It would have been good to help him, but if she got in his way, she worried that he’d stop and never get going again.
It was a Friday afternoon on a sunny day in September, probably one of the last really nice days they’d have before fall came in with a vengeance and moved quickly to winter. Such was the curse of New England; once the leaves turned, the cold freeze was close on its heels.
Sometimes there was snow, sometimes there wasn’t, but the bitter cold always came. No one wanted to think about their 401ks, their payroll dramas, or their mutual funds. They were probably out hiking with families, or out on the lake, or shopping.
If Caroline was the sort to put her feet up on the desk and take a nap, she probably could have. Instead, she thought she would indulge herself with a little Gloria visit. Emily—the vet who had taken care of Gloria after Declan threw her into a wall and Caroline had fled the town—had a kennel and run for dogs she was boarding, and she kept a webcam feed where owners could check on their pets. It wasn’t the same as scratching her ears, but it was still better than nothing.
Gloria had, thank the powers that be, fully recovered from the assault. She seemed to get along well with Emily, and enjoyed having other dogs to play with. She indulged her Border Collie instincts and played herdmaster as much as her doggie pals would let her. But Caroline hadn’t ever felt right bringing her back to the house—hell, she could scarcely walk in the front door without crying—and Emily had offered to take care of her until Caroline could figure out her next step.
It was a wonderful offer, but at the same time, she couldn’t stay with Jack and Missy indefinitely. It felt wrong to sell the house because of what had happened, but at the same time… what else could she possibly do?
The bell over the door tinkled, utterly surprising her. She glanced up, and the man in the doorway smiled as he entered. She smiled back, but it was mostly to hide the way her skin crawled as the stranger’s gaze traveled over her. He was dressed well for Vermont, and for her usual clients: slacks and a jacket, shirt, tie. But his eyes, as he took off his sunglasses, were cold and flat. His features were handsome, and he appeared fit based on how his suit caressed his frame, but those lizard eyes made her flinch and look away.
“Hi,” he said, walking across to her desk and extending his hand. “Mike Randall. You’re Caroline Lewis?”
She stood to take his hand and forced herself to look directly into his eyes, no matter how they made her shiver. “Just like the nametag says,” she said, and managed a small smile. “I haven’t seen you here before, Mr. Randall. Are you here for personal finance, or business?”
“Oh, a little of everything,” he said, sitting down in the chair across from her desk. He reached into his pocket, and her whole body tightened; when he pulled out his badge, her heart almost stopped. “And, I should have said.
Mike Randall. I have a few questions I’d like to ask you about a missing person.”
She tried to keep breathing. She was sure she could do it if she tried.
“Do you know who I’m here to ask about, Ms. Lewis?”
Her heart was absolutely throbbing. She shuffled papers around on her desk, realized she was fidgeting, and made herself stop. “I don’t—my social circle isn’t very wide, Detective, and everyone I know is where they should be.”
“Go ahead and think hard,” he said, and his intense eyes were gleaming with anticipation.
She wasn’t sure what snapped in her, but it went with a rubber-band
. “I’m sorry, but I’m really bad at guessing games. If you have questions—about finances, or about whatever you came here about, please ask them. Otherwise, I have work to do.” Her voice didn’t quaver, and she didn’t flinch away from his eyes.
A small expression bent his lips, but she wouldn’t have called it a smile. He reached into a pocket and pulled out a sheet of paper. He opened it up, and she saw a color copy of one of the pages from the logbooks that Mason had brought her back when this mess began. A name was circled, again and again, on the page.
She hadn’t circled it. She’d known that Mason was going to need to have these books back, untouched, like they’d never left the garage, so she’d kept separate notes. But looking at the books brought back all the memories.
The feel of her hands, tightly bound against the chair behind her. The whisper of Mason’s voice in her ear, the feeling of his fingers brushing against her hand as he tried to pass her a message, a message that she hadn’t understood at all. The top of her head was too light—she was going to float away, fly away, vanish, disappear. She couldn’t breathe.
And the detective was still watching her with that cold expression, that soft, fake, predatory smile. Breathing was not a thing that she could do. Stars danced in her vision, and she wondered what would happen to her if she fainted, if she passed out right now.
“Tell me,” he said, and his voice came from far away, echoing through the tunnel as she fell. “Who is Anna Bressette?”
“She was my sister.” Mason’s voice was so cold and clear that it felt like a dream, but she grabbed hold of it, used it as a line to pull her back to reality from the nightmare where she was drowning. “Baby, is everything okay here?”
Caroline looked to the office door, where Mason had entered quietly without being noticed until he spoke. “Detective Randall had some questions. About—a missing person, I guess?” Fuck, she’d nearly said Declan’s name. That would have been convenient, wouldn’t it? Fuck.
Mason stood at his full height, broadening his shoulders, crossing his arms, and planting his feet. Moments like this, she knew damn well that he’d been in the military for a long time, and that he wouldn’t ever really be out. “If you have questions, Detective, I suspect that they’re really for me.”
Randall stood, matching Mason’s stance with one just as balanced, just as casually aware of the violence that could break free at any moment. “Mr. Butler, I would love for us to talk. But somehow, for an outlaw, you’re shockingly well-connected within the legal system.”
Mason stayed silent, watching Randall, but Caroline could see his pale knuckles whitening further, and she was sure Randall could as well. She breathed in a prayer that Mason wasn’t stubborn or stupid enough to punch a cop.
Randall watched the other man for a moment, then shrugged, his lizard eyes flashing as he put his sunglasses back on. Caro had a sense that he wasn’t yielding so much as walking away, and she had a definite sense that it wasn’t the end of this. “Thanks for talking with me, Caroline. I’ll be back later, so we can finish our conversation.” He gestured towards the piece of paper on her desk. “Keep that. Think about what it might mean.”
He walked out, and she at last gave in to the shaking in her knees, putting her head in her hands and trying to breathe. Somewhere far away, she heard Mason turn the lock on the door and flip the sign over to closed. He came close, but he didn’t touch her, not right away.
“Please,” she said. He’d wait there for permission forever if she needed him to, because once he’d moved too fast and she’d screamed like she was being murdered. But now—she needed the grounding, the purifying motion of his hand spinning tiny circles over the muscles in the small of her back.
“Breathe, baby,” he said. “We’re gonna be okay. That dirtbag cop doesn’t know anything. He’s just sniffing around hoping someone left a lead where he can dig it up.”
She looked up at him, tried to find a way to ask how sure he really was, and decided to let it go. Asking would only make things worse. And that was something that she couldn’t afford to do. “Okay,” she said, reminding herself to focus on the now, on her breathing, and on the man she knew loved her.