Not my job to tell consenting adults what to do with their bodies.
Even so, I made sure that none of the younger girls ever came out with me. Just because I didn’t call the cops doesn’t mean I wanted my people getting sucked into anything.
Anyway, I figured Bolt was the first place to start if I wanted to extract Jess from whatever trouble she’d gotten herself into this time. I liked Bolt and felt relatively comfortable around him—and he was my only choice, really. My other contact was Reese Hayes, the club’s president. That man scared the heck out of me and I’m not ashamed to admit it. Something about him … The way his eyes followed me. Like he wanted to eat me, and not in a nice flowers and candlelit dinner kind of way. A hint of gray at his temples said he was probably just a little older than me, but his body was built like a man in his twenties. I don’t know what bothered me more, his inherent scariness or the fact that his scariness sort of secretly turned me on. (Pathetic, I know.)
There was no way on earth I’d talk to him if I didn’t have to.
“Yeah?” Bolt answered. I heard music in the background, loud music.
“Hi, Mr. Harrison.”
“Is there any point in telling you to call me Bolt?”
I would’ve smiled if I hadn’t been so stressed—we’d been dancing this same dance since I’d started. None of the club members understood why I insisted on being so formal, but I had my reasons. Just because the MC paid well wasn’t any reason to cozy up to them. I liked my boundaries.
“Not really,” I said, my voice betraying my worry.
“What’s going on?” he asked, picking up on my tone. That was Bolt—he saw and heard everything, whether you wanted him to or not.
“I have a personal problem I’m hoping you can help me with.”
I’d probably startled him. I’d never come asking for help before. In fact, I rarely saw him these days. The first few months he’d watched us like hawks, but lately we’d started to blend into the background. Nobody pays attention to the cleaners, something I’ve always found fascinating. You wouldn’t believe the things I’ve seen or the secrets I hold.
Of course, that might be why I found Reese so unsettling—six months into the job and I still hadn’t disappeared yet.
“You probably don’t know this, but I’m my cousin’s guardian,” I said, pushing forward. “One of her friends just told me that she went to a party out at your clubhouse tonight. I’m worried about her—she’s a great kid, but not the best at making good decisions. Is there any chance you can help me track her down?”
More silence, and I cringed. I’d insulted him, I realized. Implied things about the parties at his clubhouse that we all knew were true but nobody liked to talk about or admit. That they weren’t safe for young women. That the club couldn’t be trusted.
“Is she an adult?”
“She’s eighteen, but she just graduated two weeks ago and she’s young for her age.”
“Hate to tell you this, sweetheart, but she’s old enough to make her own decisions about where to party.”
Now it was my turn to fall silent. I could say plenty—that she might be old enough to party, but she wasn’t old enough to drink legally. That they could find themselves in a heap of trouble for providing her with booze. Of course, for all I knew the cops were out there partying with them … But I kept my mouth shut, because I’d learned a long time ago that if you give someone enough silence, eventually they’ll fill it.
“Okay,” he said finally. “I get where you’re coming from. I’m not out there tonight, but Pic is.”
Darn. “Pic” was short for “Picnic,” and that was Reese’s nickname. I had no idea why they called him that and I sure as heck hadn’t asked. He was the least picnicky person I’d ever met in my life.
“Go out to the Armory and ask for him. Tell him I sent you, tell him it’s a personal favor. Maybe he’ll track her down for you, maybe not. Like I said, the girl’s an adult. You know how to get there?”
He laughed. Everyone in Coeur d’Alene knew where the Armory was.
“Thank you, Mr. Harrison,” I said quickly, hanging up before he could change his mind. Then I turned the keys in the ignition and my van roared to life, along with the check engine light that had been haunting me for the last week. I chose to ignore it, because even if I had someone look at it for me, I couldn’t afford to fix the stupid thing.
If it could still drive places, it wasn’t really broken. At least, that was the theory.
I shifted into reverse and backed out of the driveway. Oh, Jessie was going to hate this. Auntie London riding to the rescue in a minivan with the cleaning service logo on the side.
Ha. Not like it was the first time.
The Reapers clubhouse was about ten miles northeast of Coeur d’Alene, back on a private road twisting through the heavily forested hills. I’d never been there, although they’d invited me to a couple of parties when I first started cleaning Pawns.
I’d politely refused, preferring to maintain my wall of privacy. I’d cut back on socializing after my ex-husband, Joe, left. Not that I blamed him for ending it—he’d been clear from the start that he didn’t want kids in the house. When Amber OD’d and nearly died six years ago it came down to him or Jessie, because I couldn’t stand the situation any longer. The choice had been clear and the divorce had been amicable enough.
Still, I’d needed to lick my wounds for a while. Between building my business and raising my cousin, I hadn’t even tried dating until I met Nate a few months back. On nights like this, I wondered if those years alone had been worth it. It wasn’t that Jess was bad. It’s just that she never quite figured out the whole cause-and-effect thing, and probably never would.
By the time I pulled up to the Armory it was nearly three in the morning. I don’t know what I’d expected from the Reapers clubhouse. I knew it was an old National Guard building, but somehow that hadn’t translated into “fort” in my head. But that’s essentially what this was. Big, solid building, at least three stories tall. Narrow windows, parapets on the roof. There was a gate through a side wall leading to what looked like a courtyard behind the building.
Directly in front of the building was a line of bikes, watched over by a couple of younger men wearing the signature leather vests I’d seen around town over the years. Off to the right was a gravel parking lot with a good number of cars in it. I pulled into the end of the line and turned off the ignition.