Authors: J.A. Hornbuckle
Chapter Twenty Two
The pounding was what woke me up. Not the sunshine pouring in from all the windows without curtains. It was the deep pounding on our front door that had me shoving the nest of pillows and blankets away as I quickly stepped to it, twisting the different locks and easing it open.
"Yeah," I mumbled, squinting at the figure on the porch. I was swearing long and loud in my head though. If whoever it was woke Bay, I was gonna kill them without even thinking about it. It had been a very rough night.
"Brand here?" I heard a deep voice rumble.
"Who wants to know?" I shot back, trying to smooth my hair and hold the blanket I had around me up at the same time.
"Trey," came the reply. I blinked and the man came into focus. All it took was the decorated vest to set my hackles rising.
"He's not available at this time," I mumbled, easing myself out the door and pulling it partially closed behind me. "What is this regarding?"
"Who the fuck are you, pretty girl?" the man asked and I blinked in order to get a good view of who I was speaking with.
Tall and well built. Big, soulful brown eyes fringed with lots of dark lashes. A manly face only softened by a pair of full lips framed by a thick brown goatee.
"I'm Reese. Brand's wife," I murmured as I continued to assess the man in front of me. Yeah, like that was something hard to do. If I hadn't had Bay, I would've been drooling over the hunk in front of me.
"Wife?" he questioned, turning his head while holding my eyes.
I held up my left hand, palm towards me and wiggled my fingers to allow him to capture the glints in my smooth silver band.
"As of when?" he barked.
"Uh, this is Monday, right?" I asked trying but failing to remember what day it was. Shit, after last night, I was damn well lucky to remember
I was in the whole scheme of things, much less
"Yeah," Trey replied shooting me a look as if I'd grown an extra head or something before his eyes went back to his bike sitting next to Bay's.
"Then, day before yesterday."
His face moved only a quarter turn back to mine before I heard him growl, "is he all right?"
There was something in his voice that let me know this wasn't an idle question, that there was more going on than what I could fathom at the moment. "It was a rough night but he's doing better," I admitted with a shrug.
I saw the dark haired man look at his boots before he asked, "can I see him?"
"Can you be quiet and not upset him?" I shot right back. If this guy was gonna undo all the work I'd put in, then I was thinking I should ask him to leave.
He glanced at me and I saw one side of his mouth tip up into a half-assed grin. "Yeah, I can do that."
I pressed against the heavy door and stepped back allowing the unknown badass into the home that Brand had asked me to 'make my own'. I only hoped I wasn't making a huge mistake.
"Can I trust you with him enough so I can go upstairs and get dressed?" I stage whispered to Trey.
He was standing by the side of Brand's sofa, and I saw his knees soften, then release until his ass hit the wood of the coffee table with a thud that echoed in the morning light.
"I'll take that as a yes," I continued in my loud breathy voice from halfway up the staircase. Seeing his nod, I raced up the remaining way and zoomed into the closet, shucking on jeans and racing to the drawers to yank a t-shirt over my head. Electric toothbrushes had nothing on me as I whizzed through my morning routine before creeping back down the stairs as if I had all the time in the world.
"Coffee?" I offered, aiming and shaking the filter basket towards him.
"Please," came his soft reply.
I didn't get it. Why was one of the club members here to check up on my Brand? As I kept on eye on the proceedings going on at the couch, my eyes caught on the first fidgets of Bay's legs. Grabbing the ibuprofen and a bottle of water, I squeezed by Trey and knelt next to my husband.
"Hey, baby," I soothed, running a hand over his head, forehead and caressing his cheek. "How you feeling?"
Atin had warned me of a fever during last night's phone conversation, but my patient didn't feel any warmer than usual. Which I took as a good thing.
I saw his tongue come out to lick his lips, and I shifted to hold his shoulders while holding the bottle to his mouth. "Steady now. Not too much," I cautioned before he pulled his lips away from the plastic rim and my arm helped lower him back down.
"You need to take some pills, Brand," I instructed and poured four of the little dark orange tablets out into my hand before I again picked up the water bottle.
"It'd be better if he took them with coffee," I heard the deep voice behind me grouse.
One of Brand's eyes, the less swollen of the two, opened slowly.
"Then get him a cup." While my voice wasn't quite a yell, it still echoed within the confines of the great room. "Black in one of the dark red mugs."
I turned my face back to my husband before continuing. "Those are his favorites." I'd noticed just in the little bit we'd been at the cabin that Brand only used the red dishes and cups.
My husband's hand reached out and captured mine that was squeezing the top of his blanket like it held my entire life's savings. At the look I saw in just that one eye, I dropped my head and pressed it to our entwined hands.
Raising myself upwards, I put my mouth next to his ear. "I need to call Atin again and get some other stuff done. Are you gonna be okay with Trey here?" I leaned back to ensure I caught his reply.
He nodded and I got a deep blink.
"I wish I could kiss you, Brand," I admitted quietly as I tucked the blanket tighter underneath his arms. He leaned his head to the side of the pillow, and I pressed my forehead to his— one of the only parts of his body not ridiculously bruised. "I'll be right back, okay?"
At his second nod, I pressed my lips on that open, unbruised expanse of skin and traded places with Trey as I snagged my own cup of coffee. I went out of the glass-fronted back doors onto the patio that stretched the width of the house while pulling my cell from my back pocket.
"How is he?" Atin answered without preliminaries.
"Okay, I guess. As you predicted, he threw up a couple of times last night and just woke up a couple of minutes ago. He's being fed ibuprofen and coffee as we speak."
"It is not you that is giving him this?" Came Atin's strident voice. "Reese? Get the pills away from him now.
I raced into the house and knocked both the coffee mug and the pills from Trey's hands in a one-two slap.
"What the fuck?" I heard Trey bellow from behind me as my toes caught on the brightly patterned rug. My body was already twisting as I landed on a hip, and I quickly crawled back up to Brand's face. I was sweating and panting while looking him square in the only eye he could open.
"Did you take any of the pills?" I asked him, my voice giving away my fear. "Atin said only I can give you them. So did you take any?"
I caught Brand's eye roll and slight head shake, a move I'd seen so frequently but usually in reaction to something I'd done or said. I could hear a tinny voice calling my name from somewhere around floor level. Oh yeah, the cellphone. I snagged it and brought back up to my ear.
"Atin? No, he didn't take any of the pills or coffee," I explained but I was panting like I'd just run a four minute mile. "I'll get him settled and give you a call back."
Standing, I assessed the damage of the spilled drink and spied a couple of the orange pills on the floor. Geesh, what a mess. Luckily, the coffee cup hadn't broken.
"What was that about?" I heard Trey ask harshly. I ignored him as I went back into the kitchen and filled another mug bringing it back to Brand. Shaking out more pills, I gently fed them to him one at a time and placed the lip of the cup to his mouth after each one. He seemed to be a bit better and had been able to lever himself up onto one elbow when he'd taken the ibuprofen.
"Are you hungry?" I asked when he sank back down to the pillow I'd brought down for him last night. He shook his head and closed his one good eye. "Okay, then I'm just going to clean this mess up."
I saw Trey sink into the other couch as I moved around the room, setting it to rights, with the brown-eyed biker watching me the entire time. I didn't know what to think of this guy. He wore the same vest as Brand had worn last night, the vest I'd wadded up and thrown, still splattered with the blood from his cut lip, into the corner of the laundry room. Which made Trey a badass. But outside of his language, he wasn't acting like what I thought one would act like.
After getting the room as wiped down as I could, I leaned on the back of the couch where Trey sat, his eyes now on Brand.
"Can I ask you something?" I started and saw the other man nod. "Why are you here?"
"Heard Zip say our boy was gonna be corrected. Then overheard who was gonna be doing the correcting." He shrugged before turning his face to mine. "Came to see the outcome."
"You know the people that did this?" I cried, throwing a hand towards the beautiful man that had been beaten to a bloody pulp.
"Yes," was the reply that came back without hesitation.
"Do you know why they did it?" I asked again, feeling my heartbeat kick back up.
"Yes," I heard again.
I stared into Trey's eyes almost afraid to ask my next question. I swallowed deeply and looked at my husband, my Brand, feeling a pang inside. "Does he?"
My eyes prickled, and I felt a huge lump forming in my throat and wondered why I felt the need to cry. Standing, I went to the dining room table and grabbed the back of one of the dining room chairs, my back to the room. To the asshole who'd told me that both he and Brand knew exactly who'd done the damage and why.
One lone tear escaped my rapidly blinking eyes.
"Can you tell me?" I asked without turning around.
"Not my story to tell, pretty girl," I heard from behind me, closer than where he'd been sitting on the couch.
"I have a name. You can call me Reese or Mrs. Jovanovic, if you prefer," I announced roughly.
"I'll remember that," and found Trey was next to me, pulling out the wooden chair and sitting down. "Actually, I wanted to remind him no matter how he feels, he needs to be at the bar-be-que day after tomorrow. Since you're with him now, you're gonna have to attend as well."
"He's not in any shape to go anywhere," I said, slipping in a chair one down from where our guest sat. "Not for a few days, anyway."
"Yeah, I get that," he sighed and glanced down at the tabletop. "But he still has to be there, Reese. It's important that he shows. Important that the club can see him up on his feet after getting…," his voice paused. "After what happened last night."
I glanced over at the couch at my man. What had I done by hitching myself to a biker? Did I go from the fat of the frying pan into the fire in my desperation to get away from Louie? My lower lip started feeling bruised from all the tugging I was doing on it.
"I need to call Brand's brother," I stated, pushing myself to my feet.
"If you've got the keys I'll put the motorcycle in the garage," Trey offered as he stood. "You might want to let his sister know he's okay."