Authors: Kathryn Thomas
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.
Devil’s Ride copyright @ 2015 by Kathryn Thomas. 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 2 of the
Hellhounds Motorcycle Club
“I understand, Mr. Castellino,” Cain Rodgers said into his phone as he oscillated a pen between his finger and thumb, “but I have checked with our source and he knows of no new players entering the trade. Like me, he doesn’t believe that the Bulls can obtain the weapons they claim to have access to and sell them at such low prices.”
“Cain, it’s nothing personal,” Gianni Castellino said, “it’s just business. They said they could deliver and—”
“Mr. Castellino, have you
“We saw a sample. My Weapons guy checked it out and said it was legit.”
“But have you seen the
shipment? Have you selected a few at random and inspected those? I could provide you with one or two M27s and tell you I picked them up at the local gun dealer for a hundred bucks each. But providing two hundred at that price… that’s a different matter.”
“You really think they’re trying to screw us?”
“Mr. Castellino, let me put it to you this way. If you
buy them at that price, do so. It is the deal of the century. But just make
you know what you are buying. The Blacktop Bulls have been a pain in our ass for years and I think they’re just trying screw up our deals. But they don’t have the resources to do it on the up-and-up, and this whole deal smells of a scam. We have dealt squarely with you for fifteen years, passing along every discount we could negotiate. I’m asking you now, as a favor, before you kick us to the curb, to just make sure you know what you are buying. I don’t want to see you make a mistake.”
Cain sat quietly and let Castellino think over what he had said. “You’re right, Cain. Since you took over our supply chain, you have delivered every single time. You, and the rest of the Hellhounds, have never given me reason to doubt what you are supplying me. If you think we are getting fucked, then we need to dig a little deeper.” Castellino paused and, when he spoke again, Cain could hear the amusement in his voice. “I sometimes forget that not all of you cowboys can be trusted.”
“Playing games with the customer is a great way to ruin a working relationship,” Cain said, putting as much conviction into his voice as possible. “That’s why we don’t do it. We only promise what we can actually deliver.”
“Yes. Yes you do. Thank you for bringing this to my attention. We have our own reputation to think about and I don’t need some swinging-dick cowboy screwing that up.”
“No sir. That’s why I contacted you when I couldn’t verify the Bulls’ supply.”
“Thank you, Cain. You have done me a great favor.”
Cain smiled, flipped the pen into the air, and caught it. Crisis averted, just like he told Thad it would be. “Taking care of the customer is what I do. You know that,” he teased.
Castellino’s laugh echoed from the phone. “Yes you do. Especially the last time I was in Dallas. We’ll be prepared to take our next scheduled shipment like normal until we can verify what the Blacktop Bulls are selling.”
“It will be here. Thank you Mr. Castellino.”
“Thank you, Cain.”
As soon as Cain disconnected, he dialed Thad’s number.
Cain grinned. Thad always answered his phone like he was mission control for NASA. “President Thaddeus Wilton, the noble and wise, your humble servant has news of great import!” he cried in his most dramatic voice. He was feeling good about himself having once again made chicken salad from chicken shit.
“Cut the shit, Rodgers. What do you want?” Thad growled playfully from the phone.
“I just hung up with New Jersey,” Cain continued in his normal voice.
“And…I think it is all straightened out. I told him if he
buy those weapons at the price the Bulls are selling them, he should do so. But I also told him to make damn
sure he knew what he was buying.”
“You’re that confident the Bulls’ deal is a scam?”
“I’m that confident.
Nicolaus doesn’t know of anyone entering the game, and he
know. In fact, he told me if the deal was on the up and up, we should buy from the Bulls and sell them to him. He could buy them from us and sell them on, and still make a profit. It’s too good of a deal to be real, Thad.”
“Okay. Good to know. One of these days we’re going to have to deal with the Bulls. They never stop pushing.”
“Yeah. It may be time to slap them down again,” Cain suggested.
“Yeah. Or worse. Every time we kick their ass, they come back at us sooner. It’s only been a couple of years since the last time we fucked them up. I’ll send word that if they don’t cut this shit out, the next time we come at them, it will be for keeps.”
“It’s about time,” Cain mumbled into the phone.
“Listen to me, Cain, killing a person, even a Bull, is bad shit. It’s not how we operate.”
“Yeah, I know. But I get so sick of their shit all the time.”
“Yeah. Me, too. But we have you, and they don’t, so let ‘em try.”
Cain grinned at the compliment. “Does that mean I get something extra in my envelope this time?”
“Fuck no! I like you, but I don’t like you that much,” Thad teased. “Seriously, good job, Cain. You pulled our nuts out of the fire again.”
“Thanks, Thad,” Cain said, warming with his praise. “I do it for the club.”
“I know what you mean, brother. We all do. That’s why the Hounds kick ass.”
My eyes flickered open and I lay still, waiting for it to arrive. I knew it would; it always did. I stared at my ceiling a moment and I felt my stomach roll over.
Here it comes,
I thought as I rolled over, hung my head over the edge of the bed, and puked into the large plastic trashcan I had bought just for this purpose.
God, please, why? What did I ever do to deserve this?
I heaved again, my sides cramping as I strained to empty my already empty stomach.
I rolled back over onto my back as I panted and swallowed convulsively, fighting to not heave again. The mornings were the worst. As I lay still, I once again mentally composed my obituary.
Alexandria Nicole Bernhardt: born July 22nd, 1988, died September 16th, 2014. Cause of death: terminal morning sickness.
I had just completed the cause of death when I rolled over and heaved again into the trash can, spitting and gagging.
“Fuck that hurts,” I moaned softly as I flopped back into the bed, but at least I was feeling better. I knew from experience that I had about thirty minutes to get up and eat something or the barfs would start all over again.
I threw the covers back and staggered into the bathroom, taking the trashcan with me. I poured the contents of the can into the toilet, flushed and then filled the plastic container with water from the tub along with a healthy splash of bleach. I then used the toilet myself and rinsed out my mouth before I made my way into the kitchen to make myself a peanut butter sandwich.
My stomach rebelled and I had to force the sandwich down, but after about half the sandwich had been consumed, my stomach began to settle and I started feeling better.
Just one more month to go… I hope,
I thought as I took a drink of water to help the gummy sandwich down. That was the only thing keeping me going at this point, the hope that the morning sickness would pass after the first trimester. To be like this for
months was just too depressing to think about.
Feeling better, I returned to the bathroom where I dumped the trashcan into the toilet then set it aside. I started the water for the shower, holding my hand under the stream until it ran warm, before I stepped in and began to scrub. I ran my hands over my stomach. I was just beginning to show. While still easily hidden by my clothes, standing naked in the shower I could tell there was something happening down there and I smiled. I wasn’t going to be able to keep this a secret much longer.
My family and friends knew, but I hadn’t told a soul at work that I was pregnant. I had been frantically looking for a new job, wanting to find one before I told my boss that I had gotten knocked up. I didn’t think he could legally fire me, but he could stuff me in the back room while he built a case against me – not that he needed many more reasons to fire me. I had missed so much work the last three weeks it was embarrassing. I had passed my sickness off as the flu, but that excuse was wearing thin. I would show up at work and everything would be going great until about eleven o’clock. That’s when the upset stomach would hit. Some nights I could get through it, but other nights were terrible. I had tried everything – eating and not eating. I had tried fruit, pasta, peanut butter, all the things that I normally could eat that would help me. Some night it helped, a little, but others, I would puke it up as fast as I could get it down. God it was awful, and it had left me in tears of frustration and misery more than once.
I shoved the thoughts away. I knew thinking about being sick only served to upset my stomach and bring the on the heaves. Today was my second doctor’s visit and I would talk to the doctor about it and find what she recommended that I do.
Finished in the shower, I dried myself and returned to my bedroom, setting my barf can beside the bed. I had forgotten to place it there one night, a mistake I won’t make again.
I dressed in jeans and a comfortable shirt. As I tucked in the shirt, I looked myself over in the mirror. I still had my figure, but there was a thickness about my middle that hadn’t been there before. I smiled as I caressed my baby through the shirt.
I finished getting ready in the bathroom, putting on a light application of makeup, before I returned to my bedroom. As I slipped on my rings and watch, I saw the four checks from Cain lying on my dresser.
The latest one had arrived just yesterday. Each neatly typed check in a typed envelope arrived like clockwork on Thursdays. They looked like a business checks, though only Cain’s personal information was on them. I had been shocked at the amount of the checks when they arrived — a thousand dollar each. I hadn’t cashed them, feeling like if I did so, I would be admitting him into my life. I hadn’t spoken to Cain since he left, after I told him he was a father, until Wednesday when he had called me to confirm that he would be here for my doctor’s visit.
When the first check had arrived, I thought about tearing it up, but then decided that I would just give them back to him the next time I saw him. That way he would
that I didn’t accept them. But since the first check, I had begun to worry that maybe I would
to accept them after all. I had started pricing baby furniture and clothes, along with all the other stuff that comes along with having a child. Suddenly that nice fat savings account I had didn’t seem so fat anymore. Not to mention I worried more and more that my little Mazda MX5 just wasn’t going to be up to the task of being a mom-mobile. I could get the kid in there, but where was I going to put all the…
No wonder moms all drove SUVs and minivans.
Babies took up a lot of room... and were expensive!
I looked at the four checks for a moment then took them and stuffed them into my purse. I would give them back to Cain when I saw him at the doctor’s office. I didn’t have to buy all new stuff. Goodwill and the Salvation Army were probably full of perfectly useable cribs, strollers, and the like, items that I could get for much less than the same stuff would cost new. My mind made up, I grabbed my keys and started for the door.
I smiled as I turned into the doctor’s office parking lot and there wasn’t a motorcycle in sight. Those promises of being here for me had lasted only until he actually had to be here. After I parked my car I checked in at the nurses station then turned to the waiting room where I saw him sitting in the corner, his head propped against the wall as if asleep. As I stepped into the room he must have sensed the motion because his eyes opened. He saw me, sat up, and offered me that megawatt smile of his as he moved his helmet from the chair beside him.
I started to sit somewhere else but most of the chairs were taken and I decided that I didn’t want to make a scene. “You made it,” I said as I took the seat beside him.
He leaned over and kissed me softly on the lips. I didn’t want him to do that because it stirred up all kinds of feelings that I didn’t want to have, but to reject him in public would be embarrassing for him
“I said I would,” he murmured when he pulled back.
“I didn’t see your bike when I pulled into the parking lot.”
“I parked at the back. I left at one this morning to allow myself plenty of time. I arrived a little early and I didn’t want to take a space from you expecting moms.”
“How long have you been here?”
“About two hours. I would have come to your house, but…well…I thought it would just be easier to meet you here,” he said with a sideways shrug.
I pursed my lips. It was always the same with him. He always made me feel like a selfish shit, even though he didn’t actually
anything at all. I opened my purse and pulled out the four checks. “Here. These are yours.”
He made no move to take him. “No. Those are yours. You are supposed to cash them and put the money into an account in case you need it.”
“I don’t want your money!” I hissed as quietly as I could. I looked up and the woman across from us smiled at me. I smiled back and tucked the checks away. This wasn’t the time or the place to get into it.
“Then put it into a savings account for junior. It’s what you agreed to do.”
“I did not!” I whispered.
“We’ll talk about it later,” he said as he placed his hand on my arm.
“There is no later,” I murmured. I would have pulled my arm away, but the woman was watching us and I didn’t want to come across as a complete bitch.
“There’s always later,” he replied.
“Alex Bernhardt?” a nurse called before I could answer him.
We stood and followed the nurse into a room. “Make yourself comfortable. The doctor will be right with you,” she said as she closed the door.
“Cain,” I said firmly. “I’m not cashing these checks.” I pulled them out and ripped them into four pieces.
I saw his face harden. He stood up and pulled a wad of cash from his back pocket, took my hand and removed the remains of the checks before he slapped the money into it and squeezed it closed. “I figured you did something like that. So I brought cash.”
“I’ll leave it in the office,” I threatened as I looked at the roll of one hundred dollar bills. I had never seen so much money in cash before. Not my money anyway.
“Fine. It’s your money,” he said, his voice cold as ice, daring me to carry out my threat.
“What is it with you?” I demanded.
“It’s not me that’s the problem, Alex. It’s you. I’m just trying to help you. But you are so damned hard-headed that you can’t see it.”
I fumed. It was the same argument as last time. It was always how
was the one being unreasonable. “Fine. I’ll take the money, this time. But stop sending the checks. And this changes nothing. You realize that?”
“Thank you. I know how you feel, and I have agreed to leave you alone. And I have, haven’t I? But the checks keep coming. That’s the price of my staying away. I want you to cash them. It’s a pain in my ass to have to stop by the bank and get cash every time. Not to mention that those are cashier’s checks. Now I have to inform the bank that the checks have been destroyed so they can refund the money into my account. But if that is how you’re going to play it, then I will just start bringing cash.”
The door opened and my doctor stepped in. “How are you feeling today, Alex?” she asked.
I tucked the wad of cash out of sight into my purse. “Fine. The morning sickness is killing me, though.”
The doctor smiled in sympathy. “Tell me about it, when it happens, and what triggers it.”