Home > Still Waters(5)

Still Waters(5)
Author: Anne Malcom

On that note, I turned on my well-heeled foot and stormed away.

Before I could do anything stupid like roll my well-toned ass into bed with him.

That would not do. I carefully chose bedmates for chemistry without any form of feelings. Purely physical. No emotions. No danger.

With him I had a strange premonition of destruction.

And if I’d learned one thing, it was to trust my intuition. If I had years ago, maybe the ice around my heart wouldn’t exist.

Maybe I could have responded to Keltan and the promise of the strange intensity between us in a different way.

Maybe we could have been something.

Happy.

But life wasn’t for maybes and what-ifs. They were for fairy tales and princesses.

I may have had a lot of shoes, but a princess I was not.

And my prince sure as shit was too late to save me.

I’d already done that myself.

As well as I could.

 

 

“Coffee,” I groaned in Shelly’s general vicinity.

I’d barely had a wink of sleep after spending the entire night tossing and turning and thinking of that stupidly attractive New Zealander with the intense stare, from whom I’d hid the entire night, then had to completely run from.

Run. Me. I didn’t run from anything. Not anything real, anyway, just the skeletons in my closet. And figurative running didn’t count.

She took one look at me. “You want two, first one in an IV?”

I glared at her in response.

She laughed and went to make the stuff I needed to survive. Well, before five, anyway; then that changed to wine.

I had an entire morning at The Amber Star, the local newspaper that served as my day job, and then I had to scout a story on the high school finally accommodating vegans in the cafeteria. But at what cost to the parents? The riveting life of being a reporter in a small town.

And because things like small-town newspapers were going the way of the dinosaur and clogs, I would then spend the remainder of my evening working on an opinion piece for a women’s magazine, and finally content for my own blog.

It was a lot. It required about twelve hundred cups of coffee and some serious eyeliner, but I loved it. Loved writing. Talking to people. Getting stories out there. Yeah, writing about new vegan menus at a high school wasn’t exactly going to win me a Pulitzer, but it paid the bills. And most importantly, it kept me in shoes. Well, actually my freelancing and lifestyle blog kept me in shoes of the five-hundred-dollar variety. Ones I almost never bought full price.

I had to keep the lights on, after all.

I would always dream about doing stories that mattered. I loved clothes, makeup and shoes as much as the next self-respecting designer worshipper, but sometimes I wondered if writing about something other than the highlighter that changed my life would be more fulfilling.

I’d had offers from my editor’s cronies in neighboring districts to do a story on the Sons of Templar. An investigative piece on the notorious outlaw motorcycle gang.

A couple of big publications had approached me too, with big checks.

It wasn’t exactly a secret, my connection with them; therefore, I was in the perfect position to write a story.

It would be a good story. Most likely be popular. Might even make national news. Ever since television shows with Charlie Hunnam made bikers sex symbols, and even before then, the general public was fascinated by the sect of men who decided to live outside the law. Outside the lines that had been carefully drawn to keep people in their cages.

I could write it. I had the material. Two decades of it.

But I never would.

And the club knew that. Which was the only reason why I had my job and was still allowed around the club.

As soon as I got it, at twenty-two, straight out of college, Steg had pulled me aside at a graduation party the club had thrown for me and Rosie. That was when Steg, Rosie’s stepfather for all intents and purposes, was the president of the club, not Cade, who was now.

“Heard you got yourself a job at The Amber Star,” he said, voice rough and eyes hard. The statement itself was rather nonthreatening, on the surface at least. But you learned to see beyond the surface. At least I did, considering I did my best to hide everything that I was running from beneath my own façade.

So, I saw it. The meaning beyond that simple sentence. But I stayed impassive. I’d been expecting a conversation like this.

I nodded. “Nothing fancy. I’ll probably be sorting mail or fetching coffees,” I responded. A lot of people were scared of Steg. For good reason. He was the president of a motorcycle club, feared and respected across all the national chapters. But I didn’t have a reason, or hadn’t. I’d grown up with Rosie, and since her dad died, she’d been brought up by Steg. He was rough around the edges and would chop the hands off his enemies without hesitation, but he’d melt with Rosie.

And me, to an extent.

But now I saw nothing of the man who threatened my prom date with a Glock before kissing me on the head and telling me I looked beautiful.

That night I saw the president of a motorcycle club who killed snitches.

One could classify a journalist as that.

“You’re smart, darlin’. You ain’t gonna be doin’ that shit for long, we both know that,” he said.

I didn’t respond. I knew I didn’t need to, nor would anything I said make much of a difference. Steg had already decided what he needed to say, so I was going to let him say it.

“You’re also like me. Want to be the best. At the top. Willin’ to do a lot to get there. I was. I did.” He eyed me with a hard stare. “But I ain’t ever goin’ against my club to get to the top. If I did that, I wouldn’t be at the top. I’d be six feet under. You get what I’m sayin’, sweetheart?”

I swallowed. “If you’re saying that you think I’d betray the family I’ve had for fifteen years to sell a story to a public that will only read it to be entertained before going back to their carefully structured and boring little jobs, then you don’t know me half as well as I thought you did, Steg,” I replied confidently. I was a little freaked, for sure, but I didn’t do “sniveling mess.” I spoke up for myself.

Now, at least.

Nor did I do things like wear my fear, and I most certainly did not wear my heart on my sleeve. Been there, done that, got a lot of blood spattered all over that particular T-shirt.

Emotions stayed locked in a closet in the back of my mind, my face impassive.

Steg stared at me a beat, then like ripping a mask off, the man I’d known came back. His eyes turned liquid, and he grinned, clinking the top of his beer bottle against mine.

“Glad to have you in the family, sweetheart.”

I’d been there for four years, and Steg was right—I was already the senior editor of the publication. But working your way up to a good position on a sinking ship wasn’t ideal. Layoffs were becoming disturbingly regular, the pay was crap and I wouldn’t be surprised if we joined the Titanic in a few years. Plus, even a senior editor still had to do crappy stories, because when I flat-out refused to write about any of the kidnappings or shootings or murders to do with the Sons of Templar, crappy stories were all there was.

Hence the diversification. And blogging about how to style expensive designer secondhand items with tops from Target was fun.

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