Chapter 1: A little bird flies into town
Tig Trager, man of action, Sargent at Arms, Brother and all around slightly psychotic bad ass could not believe that he had found himself reduced to this - sneaking around grocery store. to find out what he could about some random chick that he had seen around town. He knew almost nothing about her, but from the moment he had seen her going into one of the local Coffee houses two weeks ago. She was a little bird of a woman who never seemed to raise her head to look around her. From what he could make out she seemed to have a figure, but it was mostly hidden under a sweater. She had long brown wavy hair that she tucked behind her ears when she wasn’t using it as a shield to hide herself away.
After he had seen her the first time he had found himself noticing her more and more, until he eventually realised that he had started to go out of his way to find her. He had managed to set up a ‘chance’ contact when he realised that the coffee shop was her go to destination every couple of days at 10am he made sure that he would be there at the same time and ‘accidentally’ bumped into her as she was heading out. He had been surprised at how petite she was next to his larger frame, Her eyes had been a deep rich brown and her mouth had been full and had turned up into a small but sweet smile as she had apologised to him for her clumsiness,. Her voice had been quiet and tinged with obvious nervousness but still warm. Her hand on his arm had been gentle but warm although all he had been able to see of it had been her finger nails which were painted a deep red that had surprised him, He had returned her smile with as soft of a smile as he could manage and had reassured her that it wasn’t a problem. He had held the door open and watched her a she walked away, her head back down and her hands sunk into her pockets. That night her face and those deep eyes had shown up in his dreams, staring at him as she sucked on his cock.
He had been worried when she had missed her regular stop at the coffee shop earlier this week, he had waited for over an hour for her to come in and she had failed to show. He had written it off as nothing but his concern wouldn’t ebb, so when he had seen her as he had ridden through town he decided that it was time for him to see what was going on. He had parked up his bike and followed her on foot, trying his best to remain inconspicuous, which in retrospect he probably hadn’t managed based on the fact that he was still wearing his kutte and k-bar but sometimes you just have to seize the moment.
He had been watching her now for 20 minutes as she seemed to check and weigh up every purchase that she went to make - he wasn’t sure why she was being so picky but maybe she was just a fussy shopper. he didn’t really understand women and the way that they shopped, maybe this was how they all did it? Christ he hoped she was done soon as it was boring as hell. Noticing that some of the employees were staring at him suspiciously he picked up some random boxes off the shelf and dropped what ever it was into the basket he was carrying,
Another 15 minutes later and she seemed, at long last to be done and heading to the register, He was surprised at how little that she had in her cart but there are consequences for fussy choices he supposed. Noticing that there was another customer who was about to get behind the mystery woman in the register line he rushed ahead and barged in from of the older lady who huffed at him. Mystery woman didn’t seem to be aware of the small commotion which made him frown, she needed to be more careful. Charming was a peaceful town, but like anywhere there was danger, Some people would say he was the danger, but really he was a pussy cat. He found himself fidgeting and huffing as he tried to get her attention. She seemed to be oblivious to him, or was ignoring him, either option was unacceptable to him but just as he was about to tap her on the shoulder, the crazy old woman he had cut in front of managed to ram her shopping cart into the back of his ankle. “Fucking hell! Seriously!” He whipped around and glared at the crazy old bat who glared right back. “Crazy old broad” he muttered under his breath turning back around to his mystery woman only to see that she had moved forward in the line and her groceries were being rung up. God Damn it! that stupid old bat had distracted him and now he had missed the best chance he had to initiate some contact with the little bird in front. Turning to glare at the old woman again, he started to load his random selections onto the conveyer belt - noticing he had bought crackers, soy sauce, coconut milk, tissues and lube, well at least one of the items he picked would be useful.
“That’ll be Thirty five dollars and sixty nine cents” The board cashier mumbled to the mystery woman and then he heard her soft voice again “Oh um… wow ok…um let me just take a few items back, um..” He noticed that she seemed to be flustered and trying to make decisions about what would she would take, She seemed to be deciding between the meat and vegetables and had already put the toilet tissue to one side.
“Miss I either need you to pay or move to one side” The cashier tried to move her on and was obviously making her uncomfortable “Oh of course um, just give me a second” The Cashier met her response with a huff of annoyance and an eye roll and Tig could see that mystery ladies hands were shaking and she tried to move the items out the way and he realised that this was the chance he had been looking for. With a cough to catch the cashiers attention he realised that mystery woman had also turned around and that she was blushing with embarrassment. Her eyes met his briefly before she looked down and in that moment he noticed tears that were about to overflow. Shoving his had into his pocket he pulled out his wallet and pushed his items forward. “Hey man look just give the lady a break, How about you just ring these through too and i’ll pay for both the groceries” The cashier sighed and rolled his eyes in annoyance but began to pull Tig’s random items up.
Mystery woman looked up in surprise, her cheeks still bright red “Oh no Sir, please I cant let you do that, I’m just going to leave” Tig smiled as gently as he could at her “Nah doll it’s nothing just a few bucks, its like my good deed for the month”
“But you don’t even know me!”
“Sure I do, we met in the coffee shop, remember, that makes us old friends’ She gave him gentle smile but seemed reticent to make eye contact with him. Before she could object any further the cashier interrupted them to ask for $52 and some change. Tig growled under his breath at the interruption before turning back to the bored little shit who dared interrupt him. “Bag the goods dip shit” he growled as he pulled out his wallet to pay for everything. The douche bag cashier had nervously thrown all the groceries into a couple of bags mixing them up but Tig didn’t care, he grabbed his chance and the bags and gestured to the mystery woman to head out of the store while thinking that if he came across the guy outside of the store he may well give the him a bit of a fright.
Pausing just outside the store he turned to face his mystery woman and put the bags on the ground as she in turn looked up at him through her eye lashes, her cheeks still stained pink. She smiled slightly “Thank you, I really am grateful for your help,. you need to let me pay you back, I mean it might take me a few days to come up with the money but I promise that I will get you what I owe”
Tig couldn’t help but tease her a little “Well you know if you lay off the coffees for a couple of days you might find it easier to afford the groceries” He tried to soften his words with a smile but it was clear almost immediately that she didn’t see the humour in his words
“What! Oh no no, really I don’t spend all my money on coffee, honest. I wouldn’t do that and then expect someone to get my groceries, I swear! Please you have to know that !” tears started to flow from her eyes as her breath seemed to catch in her chest and she attempted to not just full out cry. Tig felt like an ass, damn it that is not what he wanted ! He sucked at dealing with emotional women, What the fuck was he supposed to do now? “Hey doll. come on it’s ok I was only teasing” He crouched slightly to try and make eye contact and reassure her that he was serious. She wouldn’t make eye contact but she did nod her head in acknowledgement. “Tell you what doll how about I take you for a coffee and you can tell me whats got you so down?” Maybe if they went somewhere she was comfortable he could get her to talk some more.
”Umm” She was unsure of going with him, he could tell maybe she wasn’t as oblivious at it had seemed in the store but he could also see that she felt that she owed him for helping her out. One of the things that made him a good SAA was being able to capitalise on weaknesses when he saw them so he pushed just a little harder. “Come on doll - I promise I’m harmless, mostly” That got a smile so he continued “We’re already like friends - so now we’re gonna be friends having coffee. I’m Tig” he held out his hand. Her brown eyes finally met his for longer than a second and he saw her take a deep breath before holding out her small hand “Belle, it’s nice to meet you Tig”
Chapter 2: Belle
Belle Cunningham was tired, hungry and sore, but none of that meant that she could rest on her laurels, she knew what was expected of her and the consequences for not meeting those expectations. She knew that the best way to stay out of trouble was to have a routine that kept her out of the house. She had been looking for a job since she had arrived in town a month ago but the pickings had been scarce, She had seem job adds but they were out in Oakland and she had no way to get there and back reliably, so she needed something local. She had tried the grocery store, the seven eleven and a couple of the local Cafe’s but so far she had no luck. One of the librarians had recommended that she check the Coffee shop, there were often small jobs advertised there and they often needed help on and off. It hadn’t helped so far but the Coffee shop manager had not thrown her out yet despite the fact that she only ever had a free cup of water. They seemed to appreciate that while she was there she would clear off the tables and wipe down surfaces making herself at least a little useful.
The hour she spent twice a week at the coffee shop had become her safe haven and she relished the time there, The jobs board had come up with a couple of days of work here and there so it had also helped her bring in some cash, which was sorely needed.
She had always known that college and regular dreams would not belong to her. Of course at one stage she had hoped for a chance to learn and grown, but childhood dreams were easily put aside when reality knocked at the door. For a long time she had not known that her family was different. She had a big brother and her mom at home. Her dad wasn’t around much, her mum had said that he worked away from home, which she supposed he kind of did, in a round about way. By the time she reached middle school it was clear that most of her friends had more than she did, and when she asked her mum about it she had been told that it was just life and if she wanted more she had to get it herself. She had started selling lemonade, mowing lawns and picking up what ever jobs she could to earn some cash and buy some new supplies for school, Nothing had been said about it, she suspected it was because her mum was happy that she didn’t look for any more money, Her father came home less and less and when he did, she could hear her parents fighting. Eventually her Father stopped coming home all together, and her brother found his way out when he joined the army after graduation. He left just as Belle started High School which left her with no protection from the bully’s. She was different, smaller, and quieter and she had less which made her an easy target. Odd jobs didn’t give you enough money to have the new clothes or gadgets and others were fast to point out her differences, She withdrew more from the other students and her worries only become more significant when her mother started to bring home boyfriends, who gradually become less savoury as time went on. Luckily non of them really paid much attention to her, but she was aware that her mothers behaviour was becoming less stable as the boyfriends became worse.
Eventually it become obvious that her mothers behaviour was out of control and when Belle found her passed out on the bathroom floor, unconscious and lying-in a pool of vomit, the TV missing, it was obvious that drugs were at least somewhat to blame. One thing led to another and her mother started to demand that the small amounts of money that she could bring in were given to her. As more money went on drugs, the apartments where they stayed became less and less pleasant. Belle hung on to make it to graduation and while her family didn’t make it she still felt a sense of accomplishment
She had managed to find work in a local bookstore which let her earn enough money to keep the lights on, the bills payed and some food on the table, but she could not help but feel alone. It wasn’t like she could bring friends home. She was pleasant and kind to everyone she met but he never really let anyone get close.
A year or so after graduation her big brother had come home and she had hoped that things would get better, but she had not been prepared for the different person that came through the door. John had been discharged from the Army after being caught in a fire fight and having most of his platoon killed. He was quiet and withdrawn most of the time, but if startled he would explode and rage at who ever was near. She had spent her spare time learning about PTSD and trying to encourage him to find some work. She had thought that she was making headway until one night she had received a call from a bar a few miles from the apartment, They needed her to come and get her brother, He was drunk again and had caused damage at the bar that needed to be paid for. She had taken a bus out and then hiked the rest of the way to find her brother passed out with a bruised and bloody face, She had managed to make some of the payment to the bar owner and set up a payment plan for the rest before dragging her brother home. From then on things went downhill, fast. There was more drink, which eventually lead to drugs for both her mother and brother. Belle was now the major bread winner and the money wasn’t going far enough. As a last ditch attempt she had tried to find her father, maybe he could help, but after a year of chasing leads she found that he had died when she was 16 as an inmate in a state penitentiary.
Belle worked the jobs she could and hid what she could to make sure they had food and light and heating, things were hard but they were making it through. She had considered leaving the family but every time she thought she could something would happen and she found herself more deeply mired in.
Her bother managed to push things too far and eventually had an overdose and ended up in hospital, She wasn’t clear on how the deal had come about her brother had been given the chance to start over and a benefactor had paid from them to move to a little town in California called Charming. He had managed to include her and their mother in the deal and so she found herself in a new town, with no job, a slightly nicer apartment and no idea of how they would make ends meet. Her brother said that he would bring in some cash, but so far nothing had come through.
Other than the coffee shop manager she hadn’t really managed to meet anyone in Charming to talk to and she kept to herself. She would walk back and forwards to the store and try and learn more about her new home, She had heard chat about the Sons and their role in keeping drugs out of Charming which gave her hope that the remaining member of her family could get better. She had also heard rumours about other less - legal - activities but seeing as she hadn’t had anything to do with them she tried to refrain from passing judgement.
Her first contact had come when she had accidentally ran into a member of the Son’s when she was leaving the Coffee Shop after another unsuccessful day. She hadn’t seen him coming in and had clattered straight into him,. She was sure that she would have fallen on her butt had he not caught hold of her. She had been startled and looked up into some of the bluest eyes she had ever seen. They were contrasted by his rich dark hair and tanned skin They mesmerised her and she had struggled to focus on what he was saying and when she realised she was gawping like a fish she had blushed and stuttered out an apology looking down to hid how foolish she felt. Looking down hadn’t been of much help when she noticed his strong, tanned, muscled hands. She could see that they had not had an easy time but there was also something about them that made her heart skip and beat and wonder what they would feel like if they touched her skin. She knew she was making a fool of herself so she had left as quickly as she could with a small smile on her lips and she thought about the handsome man she had run into. It was nice to have something to think about that she could enjoy, and that night those same blue eyes and strong hands featured heavily in her dreams.
Belle hadn’t see the man again and had carried on with her search for work. She had walked dogs, mowed lawns and had even volunteered at the library to keep herself busy, but the bottom line was it didn’t bring in much money. Her brother kept promising that he would bring in cash and she really didn’t know what her mother was doing with her day, but as it stood she didn’t seem to be looking for money for booze or drugs so that provided a reprieve. Eventually though things were starting to spiral out of control. They needed money and she just didn’t know where to get it from. She had gone back to John to press him for some of this non existent money. It had turned into a fight and she knew that she should walk away, but she was tired and frustrated and needed him to understand how serious it was. They had barely any food and it was unlikely that by the end of the week they would have electricity and heat. John had exploded. He had yelled at her, cursing her out and accusing her of all manner of things, from being a thief, to being a sponger. She had tried to back away calm things down but it had gone to far and John and grabbed her arm to stop her. His grip was too tight, it hurt and as she flinched she felt her wrist wrench painfully. She cried out and John pushed her away causing her to crash into the coffee table. Pain radiated from her ribs and her wrist and her brother stormed out the house. She had taken a couple of days to recover and allow her bruises to heal.
Her brother had left some money for her and she had used that to pay off the outstanding bills, Today she had ventured out with the little money she had left to see what food she could bring in. She was tired and hungry by the time she reached the store so she took her time walking round looking at all the produce, trying to work out what would be best to buy to keep them going. She tried to get enough for them all but she wasn’t sure that the numbers added up. When she reached the register line she was aware of the fact that the boy behind the register was giving her a dirty look. She knew she looked worn out and her clothes were not new and she tried to ignore his obvious judgement. Getting the groceries onto the belt was painful as her ribs and wrist hurt and she could hear the frustration of the customers behind her, she even thought she heard one cuss her out. She couldn’t take dealing with that today so she focussed on getting out the store.
When she had seen the total she knew that she would need to put things back, probably the toilet roll and some of the fresh vegetables. The operator was obviously annoyed, and she felt beyond embarrassed. She was so tired of dealing with this, she felt tears welling in her eyes and she knew that she wouldn’t be able to hold them back. She just wanted to get the hell out of here. The customer behind her had moved up, obviously impatient for her to move but she couldn’t believe it when she heard him say he would get her groceries. She was mortified a stranger was buying her family food. Turning round to decline his offer she met the blue eyes of her dreams, He wouldn’t take no for an answer and she was back to being lost for words and just ended up leaving the store with him. He even carried the bags
Belle tried to think of ways that she could thank this enigmatic man and let him know that she would make sure he wasn’t left out of pocket. Unsure of what to do, she figured that it would be best to just be straight up with him. She struggled to meet his gaze as she mumbled out her thanks only to end up feeling mortified as she realised that he seemed to believe he had spent all of her money on something as frivolous as coffee. She didn’t want to air all of her families dirty laundry but she also didn’t want him to think the worst of her. For some reason the opinion of this stranger really mattered to her. Sometimes when you had nothing but other peoples opinion of you, it mattered more than anything. As her tears fell she could see he felt bad and when he invited her for coffee she knew she should say no, but he convinced her easily. If she was being honest it didn’t take much convincing, he was an attractive man who had shown her kindness when he didn’t need to and she felt safe in his presence and when he introduced himself to her she found herself giving him a small smile. She knew that it was likely her brother would give her hell but for just now she wanted to be selfish and do something for just her, so she took a deep breath before holding out her hand “Belle, it’s nice to meet you Tig”
Chapter 3: Coffee House
Tig learns a little more about Belle but ends up with a couple of questions unanswered
Note: This fic will deal with uncomfortable topic, including violence and domestic abuse. Please do not read if you find this upsetting
Tig resisted the urge to wrap his arm around Belle’s small shoulders. He had the feeling that she would fit just right into his side and that his arm would be able to rest comfortably on her shoulders and he could hold her in closely. It wasn’t far to the coffee shop shop, nothing was all that far away in Charming.
“So doll - you must be pretty new to town. I’ve seen you in a couple of places but you’re a new face for sure” Belle glanced over at him as he spoke and her lips turned up into a small half smile
“Yeah my family was looking for a change of scene, a new start I guess and my brother had a job here, so here we are” He noticed when she shrugged that she seemed uncomfortable. His interest was definitely piqued, what about her family made her uncomfortable - maybe it would be worth having Juice check into her, but she seemed to be fairly open so maybe he could find out a bit more.
“Well you know I am sure Charming is glad to have you here. You certainly brighten the place up” He noticed that his compliment made her blush and his mind went straight to wondering just how far that red blush went. His pants were starting to feel tight but it didn’t stop him from trying to look down her top as he licked his lips. Belle glanced up and she obviously knew where he was looking and her blush deepened. She fiddled with her hair a little and gave him a nervous smile, which Tig returned with a grin of his own and a wiggle of his eyebrows. She was so damn cute and he so wanted to have her in his bed. The quiet ones always seemed to be a little wild, and if not, well he could have fun teaching her.
Opening the door to the coffee shop he gestured for her to walk on in ahed of him, That got him a genuine smile and a quiet “Thank you”. They hadn’t talked about much after his compliment but it had felt good to Tig to walk down the road with a pretty girl and not to have to fill the quiet with chatter. He liked noise and chatter, it kept his mind from dwelling on things that he didn’t want to think about in any depth. The crow eaters and other hang abouts were fun for the night. they warmed his bed nicely and they would let him do more or less what ever he wanted, but they were never quiet. The porn star moans, groans and oh baby’s were tiresome and far from genuine, it wasn’t enough to stop hm from getting off but sometimes he just wanted something real. As he walked with Belle he found that the quiet didn’t mean that the voices would come out of the depths of his mind, instead there was a genuine peace that allowed him to enjoy the walk and ponder the mysteries of his companion,
He shifted the groceries to allow his hand to go against the small of her back as they approached the counter, She had stiffened slightly at the contact but had quickly relaxed again without pulling away from him and he was pleased. The kid behind the counter treated them with a smile which Tig returned with a scowl. It wouldn’t do for the people of Charming to think that a member of the Sons was going soft on them. The kid looked nervous and glanced away “ Um yeah, Hi what can I get for you?” Tig glanced at the menu and shrugged “ Gimmie a cup of coffee - black, Doll?” he looked down at Belle “ Oh um, i’ll take the same please, but with space, Thank you “
Her voice was quiet but clear “Sure thing, um do you want tall, midi or venti?”
“What?” Tig had no idea what the hell this kid was talking about he just wanted a cup of coffee. He was about to tell the kid to just give them the damn drinks when a gentle hand touched his arm “He wants to know what size you want, small medium or large. I’ll take a small please. Tig?” “Yeah make it a medium” turning his attention back to Belle he smiled and saw she was smiling back at him though her eyes showed a little concern. He tried to soften his features but he knew that people could find him daunting, his face showed the trials of his life.
“Damn who would think ordering a coffee would become so complicated” he joked and he watched the concern evaporate as he smile broadened. “Oh I know but don’t worry i’ll help you through it” Belle answered and he felt his own smile broaden in response. They waited quietly for the coffee before doctoring it to their own tastes and grabbing a seat towards the back of the shop. Tig wasn’t about to sit in full view, he knew that if any of his brothers went past and saw him, they would interfere and he wanted to be somewhere he could see the comings and goings.
“So tell me Doll, how have you found Charming so far, you and the family all settled in?” he asked Belle nodded “Its a nice place, quiet, I like that, where we stayed before , well it wasn’t the best place and it was always busy. I like the pace of things here, its a nice change, but it’s been hard to meet people. Sometimes it’s like being the new kid in school, yah know ?” she shrugged “but these things just take time”
“So you are close with your family then? You said you moved out here because your brother had a new job” he asked. She had seemed reticent to talk about them earlier and he was keen to understand what was going on.
“Kind of, I mean well yeah I guess so. My brother was in the military so it was just me and my mom for a while and she had health issues and needed my help until he was discharged. Family being together is really important to him and my mom and what with her needing some help it only made sense, and you know it’s good to be able to get a new start” He watched Belle over the top of him mug as he sipped his hot coffee. He liked that she was close to her family but she was obviously skating around something. Maybe she just wanted to play it cool. She seemed a bit old to still be living at home and he couldn’t help but wonder what the story was behind that
He was just about to ask her more about what she did when an older woman bustled over to their table with a smile on her face.“Belle I’m so glad you’re back in! Someone posted this job up on the board today for help at the local day care. Now the lady that posted the wanted ad said she would take calls between 9 and 10 tomorrow. I asked about the role and there is lots of reading and being a teachers aid. It looks like it would be just up your alley - I took it down to make sure you could give them a call and if they need a personal reference then you tell them to call me”
He watched as Belle’s face morphed into the most beautiful smile and her eyes seemed to shine “Jill thank you so much. i really appreciate you letting me know and keeping the information for me. I’ll give them a call for sure tomorrow.”
“You make sure that you do honey. We have the council meeting at the end of the month and if they approve the plans for us to be open later then you still need the work then you will definitely have job here.: The woman patted Belle’s hand affectionately “Now you and your friend should enjoy your coffee and you let me know how that call goes” With a nod to Tig she left them to it.
“You looking for work then?” Tig asked wondering if Belle would be more open to discussing this aspect of her life. He watched her closely as her cheeks coloured with a dark red blush and she looked away
“Yeah, I’ve been looking since we moved here but things haven’t worked out for me yet. This was one of the places that I came in to see if they had anything going when we moved out here, Jill didn’t have any positions but she was nice to talk to and they have the help wanted board. I’ve been able to pick up some casual work, but I really need a full time job. That’s um, well its why I come in here a lot. I look over the jobs and Jill even lets me call the posters from here when it’s quiet. I try and help out where I can, you know tidying up and what have you. Its nice to be out the house for a couple of hours too you know”
He could tell she was embarrassed about the fact that she didn’t have a regular job, in this economy it wasn’t all that much of a surprise, and if she was only looking in Charming then she would have a more limited choice. The town was friendly but strangers would be viewed somewhat hesitantly. He tried to think of something that he could do to help. He realised he had been lost I’m his own head when Belle prompted him again “Tig”
He smiled at her in apology “Sorry Doll what was that ?”
“I asked what it was that you did? Your jacket says Sons of Anarchy on it, is that your job?”
Well shit, what was he supposed to say to that. He didn’t want to lie but he sure as hell wasn’t gonna tell her the truth “Nah Doll, the Sons are just a club, you know a bunch of motorcycle enthusiasts who like to get together and go on charity rides and what have you. Now most of us work over at Teller-Morrow, its the local auto shop. I’m a man who likes to work with my hands, if you know what I mean?” he wiggled his eyebrows and got a little laugh from her along with some more colour on her cheeks “Nah I’m a mechanic”
“It must be nice to be able to take something thats broken and fix it up again” Belle seemed to be genuinely interested in his job and what he did and that was something that he hadn’t planned on., most folks would push for more details on the club, but she accepted it and moved on
“So I take it you have lived here for a while then?” She asked and he nodded “So what would you recommend to pass the time in Charming? Tell me about the highlights?”
“Well its a quiet place doll, but there are nice shops to browse on main and we have a few nice parks to walk in. I mean I usually hang out with the guys in the club and go on rides, Sometimes I hit Lumpy’s gym.” He realized that he was making Charming sound like somewhere no one would want to be “There are a lot of community events though, fairs and the like and they’re a lot of fun” Belle seemed really engaged and nodded as took in the information. Their conversation was interrupted by the sharp ringing on his pre pay. As annoyed as he was Tig knew that needed to take the call. He excused himself from the table and stepped away checking to see it was Clay
“Hey man, whats up?”
“Gee I don’t know Tigger, I mean I figured that we had a meeting set with Laroy and we still need to go to Church but my SAA is no where to be seen” Clay was pissed and when he glanced at the clock he realized that more time had passed than he realized.
“Shit! Sure man I’ll be there for Church in 5, I’m in town” He snapped his phone closed and realized that he’d need to say goodbye to the Belle. Running his hand through his curls he fixed a smile to his face as he walked back to their table. He noticed that the manager of the shop from earlier had been back over talking to Belle and as much as he wanted to know what they were talking about he didn’t have the time to dig into it.
“Sorry about that Doll, it was my boss, they need me back at the shop to deal with an issue, so I’m gonna have to head out” He saw a little of the sparkle leave her eyes as she stood up and picked up their empty coffee cups before taking them over to the counter and waving goodbye to the Jill woman. Her smile was back on her face again when she glanced over and saw he was standing there waiting for her. He winked and chuckled as that blush was back again. He waited until she made it back over and then gestured to her to walk ahead of him, He remembered at the last minute to pick up the grocery bag and on the way out his hand seemed to find it’s way back to her lower back again.
Leaving the shop the turned to face each other. “Thank you for yesterday Tig, I…well I really appreciate you helping me out and putting up with my tears. It’s gonna sound corny but you really made my day” She managed to hold eye contact as she spoke with him and he could tell she was genuinely grateful for his time and help. “Think nothing of it Doll. It was my pleasure. Are you gonna be ok to head home on your own, even with these?” He held up one of the bags. Belle nodded and reached over to take the bags from his hand. As she did the sleeve of her top rode up slightly and he could see deep, dark bruises circled her entire wrist. He felt his temper flare at the idea that someone had put their hands on this small woman and had left behind some pretty brutal marks.
“Belle, what he hell happened to your wrists, who hurt you ?” Immediately her free hand shot down to push the sleeve back down
“Oh that’s nothing. It was just my clumsiness, I feel when I was walking some dogs the other day. I had the leash round my wrist and it ended up leaving me with a bruise” She didn’t manage to meet his eyes and he was pretty sure that she wasn’t telling the truth but he also didn’t have time to work out what was going on, not just now anyway.
“If you’re sure then?” She nodded “I’ve got to get going, you take care and maybe i’ll see you around town soon”
Belle smiled and nodded “Thank you again for today Tig. Truly it meant a lot to me.” They turned to go their separate ways but Tig didn’t want to leave it there “Hey Doll” his call made Belle stop and turned around as he walked backwards towards his bike “Good luck tomorrow with the call” She laughed and raised her hand in a wave and Tig smiled as he tuned back around humming to himself, that had gone better than he could have hoped.
Belle took her time with the walk home, her side still hurt and to be honest she was still going over time that she had spent with Tig. It was on odd name - she couldn’t think what it could be short for. Regardless of the funny name he had been nothing but Charming to her. While she had been attracted to his looks she now knew that he had a brain and wit that would keep anyone interested. She had been so embarrassed at the store but he had played it off as nothing and had made sure not to make her feel embarrassed in their time together, It had been a long time since she had been able to relax and enjoy her time with someone not from her family and she felt refreshed.
The walk home had not been fast but she spent her time reminiscing. She realised that she would also know where to take back the money that she owed Tig now that she knew where he worked. Maybe John would be in a better mood and he might have some cash.
Going into the house it was surprisingly quiet. It was only 3pm but she expected her mother to be home . With a wince she managed to get the groceries onto the table before heading off to check that everyone was ok. A quick walk around their small house showed her mother out cold in the bed. It seemed early for her to be asleep but maybe she was coming down with something, other than that there was nothing untoward, so she headed back to the kitchen. As she emptied the groceries she pulled out something that she hadn’t expected - What the hell was a bottle of lube doing in her groceries? Looking through the remainder of the bag she found the rest of Tig’s groceries and she set them to one side, She would need to take them back to him, perhaps with the money too. She felt a smile cross her face, and her heart speed as the idea of seeing the handsome mechanic again gave her a quiet sense of peace and joy
Chapter 4: Club house
The club has shit to deal with and Tig doesn't want to share about his newest fixation
Clay had called the club in for Church as soon as Tig made it through the club house doors. It didn’t take a genius to see that Clay was pretty pissed at him for not being at T-M but Tig couldn’t find it in himself to care. Everyone else got their time away from the club house and its not as if he made a habit of it.
Looking around the table Clay made sure that each member was paying attention to him. Sitting to his right Tig had a quick glance around wondering what they were waiting for. Focusing back on Clay Tig allowed himself to relax, most of this was just for show - the King looking out over his empire and he knew that until Clay felt that he had everyones attention nothing would happen. He respected his president and friend but there were some days where he found that he was kinda over the BS and posturing.
Eventually, with a final draw on his cigar Clay deigned to fill them all in “There aint no great secret that there has been some trouble going on in town. Turns out that there are drugs circulating . Now I know,” he raised his hand as members expressed their displeasure “that we’ve all been working real hard to ensure that filth doesn’t make it onto our street but it seems like Darby and his crew have set up shop. I’d like to think that it’s a one off but Oswald called today. Turns out that a son of a friend of his was caught carrying by the lovely Deputy Chief Hale and his daddy isn’t happy”
“Are we sure it’s the Nords?” Bobby questioned his president “Darby isn’t long out of Chino and he knows that the Son’s run Charming. For all that he’s a racist asshole, he’s never been a stupid racist asshole”
Tig watched as others nodded around the table at Bobby’s words. A glance back at Clay showed just how annoyed he was that Bobby chose to question him. Fuck this was going to end up turning into another one of ‘those’ meetings and to be honest, he really couldn’t be bothered with the whole thing. If Darby was the problem then they should just take him out the equation.
“Look, I’m pretty sure that if Oswald is pissed enough to call Clay then he’s pretty sure of his information. Did the little rich kid roll over like a little bitch waiting for a belly rub?” he asked Clay trying to bring things back in line
Clay nodded before carrying on “ Oswald said it was Nords. Unser did a bit of digging around and Juice has managed to make some thing useful out of what we got”
Juice jerked up at the mention of his name making Tig snort a little. The kid was a fucking waste of space, unless it was something computer related. Were it up to him he was pretty sure that the little Puerto Rican would not be a this, or any other charter.
“Yeah man look the kid gave up a locations of where he ordered and received his drugs. They are playing it smart. Over at the lumber yard there are a couple of Nords who see tope taking orders and part payment. The second part of the payment is given at a closed up gas station just outside of the city limits. I managed to get into the security footage and get a couple of images,” Juice pushed a couple of grainy back and white print outs onto the table “but there isn’t much I can do to make them more clear. The gas station though is somewhere we could probably ambush them without drawing too much attention”
When the images made their way to Tig he glanced at them but the only thing you could tell was there were 3 guys standing around who could be passing something. “No offend Juicy but you cant tell shit from these. Do we have any idea where they are cooking up with shit. If we take out the bake house then they aint got nothing to sell” He could see that some of the others agreed with him. Happy and Kozik were nodding and he figured that between the three of them they could get things wrapped up pretty quickly and be back in time for a drink and a game of pool
“Easy there Tigger” Clay grinned at his SAA he could always guarantee that he would distract the others and try and get things sorted. He was a useful tool to have around, and a loyal man. “This shit with Darby isn’t all we’ve got to deal with. Laroy is waiting in O’town for his gun shipment and those boys wont be happy if their shit doesn’t come through on time. If we all run off guns blazing were going to be leaving a pile of shit on our own doorstep”
“I get what Oswald is saying but if we’re about to start a warmth the Nord’s id like it to be based on more than some shit-head teen looking to save his own ass and some fucked up pictures where we cant see shit.” Jax put in
Clay rolled his eyes at his stepson before asking “Well what do you suggest son?” Jax shrugged and took a draw on his cigarette before continuing “We split up, you need what 4 guys to make the delivery to Laroy ? So we send Happy, Tig, you and a couple of other folks he knows to make the drop and secure the next order. The rest of us should see what we can find out about these drug selling bastards. Opie has contacts at the lumber yards and a couple of us can keep an eye out by the gas station. If we know where Darby is we could also pay him a call too”
Clay took a moment to think about what Jax had proposed, it was actually a pretty sound plan. “Sure that would work,. but I want you on the gun deal with Laroy. He hates you less than the rest of us and I don’t want you getting all fired up in this drug business until we know whats happening. That shit is just too close to home right now. what with Wendy and all” He could see that Jax wanted to argue but he couldn’t back down. Gemma would have his balls if Jax got hurt doing crazy shit and if it was going to go down with Darby then he wanted to be there, not of making a gun drop on Oakland.” Jax, Happy, Tig and Juice you make the gun drop, make sure you get another order and the cash. Kozik, Ope, Chibs you guys head out to the lumber yards and see what you can turn up, if you get the chance make sure that those guys know selling in our town is a no go. The rest of you head out to the drop zone” Before anyone could object he banged the gavel down, “Well get on with it assholes we’ve got a party tonight!”. The rest of the club cheered and shoved at eat other as they stood to leave. Tig smiled and laughed along with his brothers but is mind had flicked back to the bruises he saw on Belle before she left. Her excuse was BS but he wasn’t sure why she would lie, perhaps she had an old man? The idea didn’t sit well with him.
“Tigger” Clays call pulled him back to he hear and now “Pres:?”
“I was expecting you to be around when I go here today, I wanted to talk business before this meeting” “Yeah man, I needed break from listening to these assholes and their BS so I went for a ride and stopped off downtown to get supplies, you know” Clay grinned inferring just what Tig had wanted him to “Gotta make sure there are no surprise little Tiggers running about the place right!” Tig gave laugh “You know it”. Clay frowned and dropped his voice “I need you to keep an eye on Jax on this drop. The boys head is all over the place we need things to go smooth. We’ve got enough issues with the Mayans and now the Darby shit, we don’t need beef with the one - niners too” Tig nodded it made sense “Sure thing Prez. We will head out soon as I have caught up with Juice. Maybe he can out a camera out at the gas station or some shit. Save the club from just sitting out there”
Clay clapped him on the back hard as they headed out of chapel “Good thinking brother” Tig nodded and headed over to Juice who was at the bar, looking at something on that damned computer of his.
“Yo Juicy, come’ere” Clapping is hand around the young mans shoulder he pulled him off to one side “Now Juicy you know I trusting you right, to keep your mouth shut about anything I would ask you to do for me, things that the club doesn’t need to know about yet” He made and kept eye contact despite the fact that it made the smaller man uncomfortable, “I need you to look into someone for me a woman, just moved into town with her brother and mother. Her names Belle .” Juice nodded quickly while glancing about to make sure no one was paying too much attention. Tig slapped him round the back of the head “Be subtle moron, Jesus! Look I don’t like my business spread about the club but if that happens, well I would know who to look at” Juice sucked in a deep breath “Tig man come on I wouldn’t tell anyone man, I’m happy, you know, to help out you know, get you what you need” Juice stumbled over his words as he tried to reassure Tig “I know Juice that’s why I asked and its why I got it cleared that you could work your computer shit and find some way to get some cameras or something put up at that drop zone, save you all sitting out there waiting to see what happens.”
A smile broke out over Juice’s face “Seriously, you’re the best Tig, I know just the model you see there are these cameras and you access them remotely and…” Tig had no intentions of listening to what ever dull geeky nonsense his younger brother spouted so he gave him a quick pat on the back before heading back out “Sure thing Juice, I gotta head, you should get right on it” . As he walked away “Fuck sake, that boy needs to get a good shag, would do him the world of good”
Chapter 5: A bad day at work
A little more about Belle's day to day reality becomes clear
Note: This fic deals with adult themes including violence both mental and physical. Please do not read if this upsets you
Belle had done all that she could around the house so she sat with a cup of coffee and waited for her brother to come back. She had spent a while day dreaming about Tig and maybe riding on his bike and then wondering how he would react when she returned his groceries and hopefully the money she owed him. She could feel the blush rising on her cheeks when she thought about what she would be returning to him. She would definitely need to make sure that she handed it to him. What would people think if she left his personal items for all to see. Glancing at the wall clock she wondered whether or not she should go check on her mother. Belle had been home for 4 hours and there hadn’t been a sound, Then again if she was ill then the last thing Belle needed was to catch what ever it was. It would be impossible to find a job if she was sick.
By the time she had to turn the lights on in the living room she still hadn’t heard from her brother and as much as she tried to not worry she couldn’t help it. Looking through the kitchen supplies she couldn’t justify making a large diner just for her so she pulled together a PB&J and grabbed a banana and some milk. She had just finished when she heard the front door open and her brother stumbled through. Standing to meet him she let out a gasp as she took in his appearance, He was frankly a mess. His eye was swollen nearly closed and was obviously going to be black, his knuckles were bruised and blood and his lip had been split. “Dear god John!” she moved over to try and help him to the sofa. “What happened? Did you call the police?” She wrapped her arm around him to try and help him move more easily but he shoved her away angrily
“What happened ? What the fuck do you think happened. I had a shit day at work. Jesus can you stop asking such dumb fucking questions and put yourself to some use and patch me up!”
Belle hurried to the kitchen and pulled out the small first aid kit they kept there, along with some dish towels before running the tap for hot water. Hurrying back through she found john resting on the sofa with his eyes shut “This happened at work? What the hell do they have you doing, why wouldn’t they take you to the hospital to get checked out?” As she knelt down next to him she could smell the stale tang of beer and knew that she wasn’t going to get a decent response. Rather than pushing him more she set about using the cloths to clean off his hands and then his face. When the worst of the blood was gone she assessed the various gashes and bruises, She would bring him ice for his eye and lip, the small costs just needed some neosporin but his hands were a mess and she wasn’t sure she had them fully clean. Heading back to the kitchen she grabbed ice and wrapped it in another towel as well as the bottle of rubbing alcohol. When she rested the ie on his face John had let out a groan but had seemed happy toehold it there, The rubbing alcohol on his hands didn’t go so well. The moment she poured some onto his knuckles her brother tensed before swearing loudly and shoving her away. “What the fuck do you think you’re doing!” he bellowed as Belle hit the floor, hard “Stupid bitch that fucking hurt, get the fuck up off the floor and clean up this mess.” He gestured wildly at the split water Belle had knocked over as she fell and the used tea towels. Throwing the make shift ice park at hr he stumbled off to the kitchen, and as Belle started to clean up she heard him rummaging around.,
Belle focused on cleaning up still shocked at his reaction, should she have warned him first? Lost in her thoughts she didn’t realise John had come back through until something small and metallic bounced off her head. Looking up she found her brother towering over her. “You know Belle, I found us a house, I got us moved out here and you cant even manage to do one thing right. Do you know what this is “ he wiggled the bottle of beer in his hand before he carried on “thi say beer and its the last one in the fridge. I figure a man should be able to come home and enjoy a couple beers but no! I see you managed to bring in more food to stuff your face but when I want a beer, this is what I am fucking left with!”
“The food is for us all. I would have gotten you beer but I couldn’t even afford the food we got today. A nice man paid for our groceries because we didn’t have the money too. Im looking for work but there isn’t a lot out there. Im doing what I can but we can’t afford beer and food” Tears rolled down her face as she looked up and John
“You let a stranger pay for our food, like we’re some kind of charity case. What the fuck do you think people will say about us you stupid bitch!” . Belle tried to control her breathing and calm down but as John slammed his beer down she felt her heart start to pound and realised that she was afraid of her big brother. This man who came back from the war left her afraid in their own house. She watched as he showed his hand into his pocket, hissing as he further irritated his knuckles. He glanced down before pulling out two bills and throwing them at her. “$70 that i earned, take it and make sure you pay back that fucker and buy me beer” Scrabbling to pick up the money Belle clenched it lightly in her hand “Yes John” “Now fuck off and give me some peace” Slowly Belle gathered up the tools and other items before leaving the room to her brother, She had been going to ask him to check on her mother but she couldn’t face dealing with him any more. Glancing at the money she gave a small smile, at least now she could pay Tig back
Chapter 6: Meeting the Queen
Visiting Teller Morrow can be considered to be entering the Lions Den, and when the Lioness is in her lair you best be sure what you're about
Tig stumbled out of his dorm room far later than she should have but far earlier than he wanted. Last night there had been a hell of a party. The gun drop had gone well and they had a new bigger order for the one-niners. They had been on their way back to the Clubhouse when Jax’s had gotten a call from Opie. There were definitely dealers out Sawyers Lumber mill. They had been about to put a beating on the 3 guys there when they had overheard that there would be a shift change. Opie figured dealing with 6 rather than 3 would be a good plan, but they needed more bodies. Jax agreed and they headed out to join up with their brothers.
The fight had been glorious and a whole lot of fun. They had surprised the morons and managed to get a few blows in before they knew what was happening and then the fun had really started. By the time Jax called them off there were 6 very sorry looking men looking back at the larger group of sons. Sure the Son’s had a few black eyes and bruises of their own, but that was all in a days business for the MC. They had given the warning that drugs wouldn’t be tolerated in Charming before heading back. Clay had rolled his eyes when he saw his boys coming back in but had to grin when they told him what went down - and then the beer, and crow eaters started to flow and now TIg Trager needed coffee and a couple of pain pills.
The main room of the club was exactly the mess he expected to see, half clothed brothers and crow eaters interspersed with empty booze bottle. Shaking his head while grinning he looked around for the prospect. The smell of fresh coffee lead him top the kitchen and Half Sac. “Prospect! - the Club house is a mess, get to it and make sure the Crow eaters actually leave. Gem will be in soon and I don’t want to have to deal with her when she sees the mess here “
Half sac jumped up before stopping at the doorway “Um Tig, what do I do if they don’t want to leave?” Tig shook his head “You want to earn your top kicker kid you better work it out!” he grumbled as he grabbed himself a drink.
Gemma had, as Tig predicted, turned up and been pissed about the mess. She had put any hang arounds who were still there to work doing laundry and mopping while the men had Church and then set about doing their day job and actually fixing cars.
Tig was on a smoke break when Chibs called over “Hey brotha’ Juicy boy has got some info on those morons from yesterday” Stubbing out his cigarette he headed over to the club house.
“So I got some details on some of these guys, they all seem to be low level dealers working for Darby” Juice laid out 3 mug shots “These 3 guys have been around Charming a lot. they’ve done time for dealing and for being racist assholes, this one “ Juice added a fourth mugshot “Is Jason Tasker, he has a record as log as your arm. He was in Chino with Darby and by all accounts he makes Darby look like a progressive thinker. The cops have looked at him for human trafficking as well as Drug distribution and hate crime but it looks like he’s setting up to stay with the Nords. These last 2 are new on the block. No real serious criminal history. A couple of drunk and disorderliness and your regular traffic violations. This first guy Carter Wheelan, has been around. He went away to college, came back 3 years later with a degree and joined the family business, his family owns Wheelan construction. They do a lot of work in San Jose and the surrounding area but not Charming, Based on the company site he still works for them so I’m not sure what his story is, and lastly we have John Cunningham. He was discharged from the army after his unit was caught in a fire fight in Afghanistan. He was pretty badly injured, they died, he got PTSD. He moved around a bit, lived with his family and recently moved to Charming. His connection with Darby is that he had a cousin in the same Unit and Cunningham. It’s how they made contact so I can only assume he’s brought him through here to help. Other than that Cunningham’s father was Timothy Cunningham, he ran with the Devils Tribe for a while, was in and out of Jail for various offences, he died in a prison riot. ”
Tig froze what were the chances that another ex vet, brother would move to Charming recently. Was this guy related to Belle? was she tied up in the mess? Fuck this could get real ugly real fast. For the rest of the morning and into the afternoon Tig continued to work on the backlog of cars but his mind was mostly elsewhere. The more he thought about it the more he tried to convince himself that Belle wasn’t involved and the more he worried about what would happen when if it turned out she was.
Belle had, after careful consideration, managed to enjoy one of the best mornings that she had in a long time. She had managed to have a really positive conversation with Mrs Sanchez who owned the day care who put the help wanted notice Her mother had been up and about and seemed relatively cheerful and John had already been out of the house . She had realised that she didn’t have a good way to make the call and after a moment of panic she had run to the coffee shop and Jill had let he make the call from the back office. She had thanked per profusely before heading off to buy beer from John and a small bunch of flowers that she had taken into Jill to say thanks. It wasn’t a grand flower arrangement but she hired that it would bring Jill some pleasure. She was now on her last errand for the day, she was returning the money and groceries to Tig.
Working out the location of T-M had been a little tricky when she realised that T-M wasn’t in the phone book, but she had come across Teller-Morrow and a grocery store clark had confirmed they were one and the same. Belle was enjoying the walk, she hadn’t headed out this far in her wonderings and so it as interesting to her to see how different certain areas looked. The local mote, looked like palace she wouldst fancy staying but a lot of the smaller businesses around seemed nice enough.
T-M was, she decided an imposing looking place, with big gates, barbed wire and warning signs posted. she supposed that when you stored large numbers of cars overnight you had to take precautions. As she walked through the gates she noticed that there was an entire cadre of motorcycles parked to one side and a building that more the same logo that Tig had on his jacket the other day.
Unsure of where to go to find Tig she paused and looked around trying to decree quite where to start. She didn’t want to disturb the other mechanics but equally didn’t want to just blunder about. As she trend to her left she saw an impressive looking woman, clad from head to toe in black with some of the highest heals she had ever seen come striding from a small building towards her. Belle smiled a little, perhaps the woman would be able to help her
“Can I help you “ The woman asked curtly. She had her hands on her hips and her face said quite plainly that Belle wasn’t welcome here
‘Um yeah, well I hope so, um I was directed here I’m looking for Tig”
“You’re looking for Tigger: The woman raised an eye brow. “And why would a tiny thing like you be looking for him hmm? If you have a car then you check it in with me, otherwise this isn’t a drop off centre - you come see Tigger out of business hours”
Belle could feel herself withering under this woman gaze and she knew her face had to be scarlet “I’m sorry Ma’am I didn’t know that he wasn’t to see people in work hours, I was just coming to drop off his groceries and pay him back the money I owe him. I’ll come back later though. What time do you close” Belle didn’t relish coming back here but she needed to give Tig back his things. She stood quietly waiting.
Gemma continued to stare at the tiny looking woman in front of her. She seemed harmless but she didn’t want some gash wondering about the lot. Perhaps it was just better to let her see Tigger and have him send him on his way.
“Pay him back?” she questioned “You owe him cash?”
“Yes Ma’am. He was kind enough to help me out yesterday and I wanted to make sure that he wasn’t left out of pocket” Belle’s side and back ached but she didn’t put the bags down. She figured that this lady would not take kindly to her doing so
Gemma huffed in annoyance “It’s Gemma not ma’am” turning on her heal the woman squinted over the lot before shouting out “Chibs - get Tigger, tell him he had a guest” Turning back to Belle she pointed at her with a well manicured figure “You wait here, Chibs will bring Tig out if he’s free, Don’t let me catch you disturbing my boys again ok?
Belle nodded and watched as she strode away. As scary as she was at least Gemma has a real name and not something weird like Tig or Chibs.
Soon enough Tig and the man she guessed was Chibs were striding across the lot, They were both deep in conversation but she couldn’t help but smile at Tig in his work overalls,. They suited him somehow just as much as his jacket had the other day.
When Chibs had called him out from under the car he was working on he had been surprised to hear he had a guest and even more so when the Scot had mentioned a ‘Bonny young lass”. When he had looked over to see Belle being quiet by Gemma he had muttered a curse under his breath, He still didn’t know how to deal with the new information about the man who could be her brother
“Is there a problem brother - I can go and send her away, leave you to get on with this?” Chibs questioned
“Nah man she’s a good girl, well at least I think she is” Chibs raised an eyebrow in surprise “Now Tig what would a good girl be doing coming to see an old rogue like you” The playful shove let him know that Chibs was joking but he couldn’t bring himself to return the smile “I don’t know man, perhaps we should go find out”
As the men walked across the lot Tig found himself giving the Scot a brief run down of what had happened the day before and his concerns about the bruises. Chibs nodded his understanding, but was astounded by the final bomb shell Tig dropped. “ I think one of those assholes Juice had pictures of may be related to her.” , “Jeysus Tig” was all he could fit in before they reached Belle.
While Tig was worried, concerned and a whole host of other things he couldn’t help but smile when he got up close Belle. She was still the prettiest little thing he had seen.
“Doll! well there is a sight for sore eyes. What you are doing all the way over here?”
“Hey” Belle found herself giving a small wave to both men “I’m sorry to disturb you at work Tig, it wont happen again but I ended up with your groceries as well as my own yesterday and I wanted to return them to you - and pay you back of course” Belle held out one of the grocery bags towards Tig, her cheeks a little pink
“Don’t worry about disturbing us lass Mama Gemma just likes to look out for her boys and this one” Chibs clapped Tig on the shoulder “is a trouble maker so she keeps a closer eye on him” The Scot answered.”I’m Chibs by the way” he held out his hand. Belle looked surprised when he spoke but extended her hand. Chibs for his part watched her closely as she carefully rested the other grocery bag on the floor. He took note of the wince as she bent but kept the smile on his face. She didn’t look like the type who would work for Darby but who could say. He was surprised to see just how small her hand was in his
“Pleased to meet you Mr Chibs” Belle found the other mans accent soothing and was shocked and a little embarrassed when both Chibs and Tig both roared with laughter drawing the attention of some of the other guys.
“Oh lass, just Chibs is fine. None of that Mr business here. It’s awfully kind of you to bring old Tiggy here his “ Chibs looked in the grocery bag and laughed “things. Interesting shopping lit there Tiggy” .
“Really it was nothing. If it wasn’t for Tig it would have been a hungry night in our house. He really helped me out and listened to my tale of woe.” Belle answered quickly. She found herself feeling more than a little uncomfortable when some other men started to approach. Looking back at Tig she noticed he had a couple of bruises on his face and one of his hands looked swollen “Tig! Your hurt!” Tig looked surprised, he’d completely forgotten about his bruises “Nah doll, just a little bruising from training,” he gestured back where, if she squinted, Belle could just see the corner of what looked like a boxing ring. “ Nothing to worry about! Say did you make that call today?”
The smile that lit up Belle’s face made his day “ I did, you know it went so well. Mrs Sanchez has asked me in for a face to face interview. I mean the job sounds wonderful. I’ll get to read and help out with the kids and its regular work you know “
Before either Chibs or Tig could comment Jax interrupted “Well well, whose your guest Tig. Pleasure to meet you Darlin’ I’m Jax” Belle couldn’t help but be put off by his swagger, The guy just seemed to try to hard and she didn’t like the way he was in her personal space. The way he moved reminded her of her brother just before he hit her. Minding her manners she gave Jax a tight smile but didn’t offer him a hand shake, “Hi, I was just returning some things to Tig, I didn’t mean to cause a commotion. I’ll just head off now. Oh Tig here “ Belle tried to hand him some money but Tig held his hand up “Nah Doll. It was my good deed for the month - you keep that and maybe next time coffee is on you yeah ?” Belle felt herself blush again. The idea of coffee with Tig made her unreasonably happy. She just nodded.
Jax bent in front of her and picked up the other grocery bag Belle had been carrying “You don’t look much like a beer drinker to me Darlin’, or was this a gift for us” he joked Belle felt the colour drain from her face. She didn’t want to be rude but she couldn’t turn up at home without the beer for John either. Perhaps she could use the money Tig wouldn’t take and leave these other guys with the beer. She was about to say sure when Chibs intervened “Don’t you worry lassie. Jackie boy here is just joking” Taking the bag from his VP Chibs smiled and handed it back to Belle. “Tiggy why don’t you walk Belle out and us other layabouts will get to work before mama Gemma comes out with her ass kicking boots on. It was nice ta meet you Belle. you take care now” Chibs then began to usher the others away.
Tig sent a nod of appreciation to his brother before he rested his hand on Belle’s back “Come on Doll lets get you headed home” He gently guided her towards the gates “The beer is for my brother John” Belle broke the silence “There was some todo at work and he wasn’t happy that there wasn’t beer, luckily he managed to get paid so I was able to get him some and come pay you back. Are you sure you won’t take the money Tig please” Tig looked down into those soft brown eyes and nearly caved, but them remembered the look in them when she couldn’t afford groceries. “Nah Doll like I said next coffee is on you. Where did you park?” He asked suddenly aware he didn’t see a car. “I walked, it was nice you know, I’ve not been to this side of town before”
“You shouldn’t be out walking round here on your own Belle, Charming is pretty safe but nowhere is completely. I’d offer take you home but Ive got to finish my shift. let me call you a cab”
Belle’s soft hand on his arm stopped him, “Please Tig. its fine. I like walking and I feel safe here. You’ve already been too kind” Belle put down her bag and stood on tip toe placing a gentle kiss on Tig’s cheek. “You’re a good man Tig, thank you “
Tig was so stunned he just stood there as Belle picked up her bag of beer and started walking down the road. He raised a hand to wave to her before dashing back into the yard hollering for the prospect. “You follow that lady who was just in here, you keep your distance, you don’t spook her and you make sure she gets home safe and sound you hear me” Half sack nodded quickly and headed off.
As Tig prepared to get back to work Chibs headed over leaning over the car engine to make it less obvious that they were chatting about what had happened. “She seems a good girl Tig. I don’t see her being involved with Darby and his crew but somethings got her hurt and scared brotha” Tig nodded he thought the same. She moved today like she was in more pain than the day before and he was definitely concerned. As he started to walk away Chibs paused and turned back “I gotta ask though - what the hell do you do with coconut milk and lube ?”
Chapter 7: Home sweet home ?
Things at home go from bad to worse for Belle and she realizes that things may actually be worse than she had first assumed
By the time Belle made it home she was wishing that she had accepted Tig’s offer of calling her a cab. Her side and back throbbed with every step she took and it was the thought of a hot shower that kept her moving. Humming as she went about putting beer in the fridge she wondered where she should keep the money that Tig wouldn’t take. It couldn’t hurt to have a small back up stash of money for emergencies, but she needed to be able to keep it somewhere safe so that it didn’t get wasted. She was so lost in her thoughts that she didn’t notice that her mother was sitting at their dining table until she closed the fridge door.
“Mom - you gave me a…. “ Belle’s words trailed off as she took in her mother. Her clothes were the same as when she had left that morning but now her face was coated in a fine sheen of sweat and her skin was grey “Mom are you sick? Mom?’ Belle reached out to touch her mothers forehead to see how high of a fever she had but froze when she saw her mothers hands. One was folded into a fist in her lap while the other was scratching the skin on her arm, and based on the damage Belle could see she’d been scratching for a while.
Her heart dropped, she had seen this before and knew precisely what had been going on. The long sleep yesterday, her mothers strange behaviour all added up to one thing She was taking drugs, again. Belle was torn, she wanted to shout at her mother and shake her, get answers as to why, when they had almost nothing, was she able to find money for drugs but on the other hand she wanted to just hug the broken woman who was there and make everything ok. Fighting with her never really got her anywhere so instead Belle got a bowl, filled it with warm water and gabbed a cloth to clean the scratches.
“Ok Mom, lets have a look at you” Belle tried to get her mother to turn to face her with words but when that failed she physically pulled on her mothers arm. The pulling on her arm seemed bring hr mother out of what ever state she was in and she turned smiling she she saw her daughter “Belle - you’re here”
“Yeah Mom I’m back, come on we need to get you cleaned up”
“Did you get find and beer for Johnny? You know he hates it when the house isn’t ready when he comes in”
Belle sighed “Yeah Mom that’s what I was doing. Mom you’ve hurt your arm and I need to get it cleaned up ok?” Her mother let her take her arm but as soon as she started to clean the scratches she tried to pull away
“What are you doing, Stop!, That hurts, stop touching me” Her mothers voice rose to a sharp screech as she kept trying to pull her arm away.
“Mom stop! You’ve hurt your arm and we need to get this cleaned up and then get you into bed”
With a final wrench her mother managed to pull er arm away before she stumbled to her feat, causing the chair that she had been slumped in topple to the floor with a bang
“Leave me alone, don’t touch me. You don’t tel me what to do I, I, I’m the mother here. You don’t send me to bed”
Belle stood slowly raising her hand in a placating manner “Ok mom just let me clean this up then we can talk” She kept her voice low and in a tone she hoped was soothing but her mother was too far gone to really hear
“You tell me what to do No! you always judge me, look at me, you’re as bad as that ass who was your father You” Her mothers hand whipped up pointing at Belle “yYou judge sit and judge and do….things and No!” before Belle could really react her mother spun away and ran for the front door. Belle ran to try and stop her but by the time she got anywhere close her mother was out the apartment and heading down the street “Shit!” Did she chase down her mother, call the cops ? Belle was at a loss, the only thing she knew for sure was that hr mother was in no fit state to be out wondering the streets. Grabbing her keys she headed out to try and catch her mother up but she had no real idea where she would head and it wasn’t like she could just stop a passing stranger and as excuse me where would a strung out woman go if she wanted more drugs
After an hour of searching there had still been no sign of her mother and Belle knew she needed some help. Coming across a phone box she knew that she needed to call her brother. He had a cell phone that he said his work paid for and that they were only to call in emergencies, this had to count as am emergency right?
“You got John” Her brothers sharp tone made her jump a little “Oh thank god - John , it’s Belle I..I need your help” she could hear other voices in the background which grew fainter as her brother moved away “Why the hell are you calling, I told you that this was for emergencies only” His voice was a low hiss “I know and it is an emergency, Its Mom. John I came home and she was just sat there really out of it and then I noticed shed scratched her arms up and I tried to help her but she got pissed and then ran out the apartment. I’ve spent the past hour looking for her john and I can’t find her. She was obviously on something and now I Cant find her John!” Frustration and fear left Belle with her hands shaking and tears running down her face.
“You stupid fucking bitch! If she was out of it and just sitting there why didn’t you just leave her the fuck alone. You seriously cant do anything right can you! You’re a waste of space, get your miserable ass home and I’ll find her. If she comes home then you call and let me know if not keep your ass inside the damned apartment” Before she could answer the line went dead. Belle used her sleeve to wipe her face and then headed home. Perhaps John was right and her mother would already be there.
The apartment was still empty when she got there and Belle found herself unable to sit still. Todays events just kept going round and round her head. The interview, Tig’s smile, her mothers grey face, it all just merged into one. In an attempt to distract herself Belle cleaned. It made her already sore body ache but it kept her busy. Three hours later and there were still no sign of the other members of her family and Belle was back to pacing. How had she not seen what was happening with her mother, She had been through this before and she knew the signs. Where had she managed to get drugs? She had been fine when Belle left this morning, or had she “Shit she had them here” Heading to her mothers room Belle began to search. She had to have had drugs in here somewhere based on how she was this morning She had to of taken something. After searching the whole room all Belle could find was an empty baggy and a big mess. She took the time to tidy it up, and if anyone asked why things were out of place she would just say that she had been cleaning and couldn’t remember where things went.
She was just heading to the kitchen to make coffee when she heard the front door open rushing through she saw her brother coming in “John! did you find “ Belle stopped her brother was here but so was an older, balding man with tattoos and hard eyes, Between them they supported her mother who had a loopy smile and blood shot eyes “There she is: her mother slurred “Look Earnie, there is my Belle. Belle of the ball Belle. Chimes like a bell Belle. “ The hard eyed man looked her up and down and Belle stood rooted to the spot. She didn’t know who this man was but her gut told her he was dangerous and that she didn’t want anything to do with him.
“Make yourself useful and open her bedroom door will you “ he barked “Jesus come on Mom lets get you to bed” Johnny’s tone was harsh but kinder than she had expected. She moved back to do as he asked and could still hear her mother chattering away“ My Johnny boy’s a good boy Earnie, he looks after his poor Mother”
Stepping out the way of the door Belle watched as they laid her mother down on the bed and then covered her over. Belle grabbed a trash can that she had already emptied and out it by the bed before turning out the lights and closing the bedroom door.
She found her brother and the strange man stood in the kitchen talking, When she walked up they stopped “Belle get Mr Darby a beer, I need to take a piss then I need to get back to work” he stomped passed her.
‘So you’re Johnny’s baby sister” The man - this Mr Derby was not a pleasant looking man He reminded her of a few of her mothers sketchy boyfriends. She gave a hum of agreement and handed him a cold beer from the fridge “Yes Sir” Her eyes were drawn to the bit of his chest she could see at his open collar and she was pretty sure that the tattoo there looked like a swastika . Dear god who was her brother involved with.
“You seem like a nice girl” His gaze traced the lines of her body and she resisted the urge to pull her jumper around herself more tightly “How have you been enjoying living in Charming? and the apartment? They’re nice places right?”
Belle tried to smile as she nodded “Yes Sir it’s been very nice so far. The apartment is great and the people here seem nice”
“Mmmhmm . Yeah folks here in Charming don’t like change so much but you know all things change and people get used to it. Your brother has been doing really well, working really hard for me. We’ve been really happy with what he’s done, and you know your Mom is a little lost but were family here and we’ll make sure she’s taken care of. “ Darby took a long pull from the bottle he held “You know Belle you’re a pretty girl and some folks, well they’ll try to take advantage of you, if you’re not careful. If you need help well you can always feel free to come and see me or my boys and we will look after you/ OK”
Belle resisted the urge to shudder and leave the room. While Darby’s words were kind enough on the surface, the state that her mother was in and the mans tattoos told her a different story. Her heart rate was through the roof and she could feel sweat beading on her back as she started to panic. “Um thank you sir, I’ll be sure to remember that going forward and um, thank you for your help with Mom. She’s had a bad day and things got a bit out of control I hope his wont affect your opinion of John”
The greasy smile Darby through her way made her skin crawl and when he moved forward and ran the backs of the fingers of his free hand down her cheek she tried as hard as she could to not struggle or push his hand away while internally she was screaming. John blundered back into the room cursing has he banged his shoulder on the door frame. “Sorry Mr D, I’m good” John seemed oblivious as to how close Darby stood to her and Belle used the distraction to step away behind the table. Darby kept his gaze on her for another few seconds before turning to look at her brother “Good stuff Johnny. Family is important. A pleasure to meet you Belle - remember what I said to you!” Darby followed her brother to the door. “Enjoy the apartment” and then he was gone. As the door closed Belle hurried forward to lock and chain it, before moving to the window and opening the blinds just a little to watch and make sure they left. She had the sinking feeling thatcher brother had gotten them all into some deep. dangerous shit and she didn’t know how the hell they would get out of it.
Chapter 8: Moving forward
Things pick up for a little bit, but sometimes one step forward can mean two steps back
Belle hummed to herself as she wiped down another table. Things finally felt like they were coming together. She was most of the way through her probation period at the daycare centre and by all accounts things were going well there and Mrs Sanchez had said that she was happy with how she had settled in. Getting to know the children and working with them had been the easy part of the job. She loved the reading and working on projects with some of the older kids. When her duties had expanded to include greeting the parents and working on handover both in the morning and evening she had felt a lot more anxious. Talking to adults was not her strong suit but she had shadowed Mrs Sanchez for a week, she had taken notes and had even practiced in front of the mirror. The first couple of days she had smiled and stumbled her way through the routine and taken note of the tips that Mrs Sanchez had given her. Belle had gone to the local library and researched techniques she could use and one night she had come up with a couple of templates and some suggestions that she had taken to Mrs Sanchez to try and make things better. Mrs Sanchez had been pleased to see Belle taking the initiative and had loved a couple of the suggestions including a simple chart that would explain a little about any given child’s day and the fact that all children would be woken up before handover both into and out of the daycare. She had explained to Mrs Sanchez about what she had seen on the internet about how there was liability if something had happened before the child was checked in. It was now a part of the day to day process’ at the day care. Belle had loved that she had been listened to and that her ideas were making a difference.
A couple of weeks after she had started at the daycare Jill had let her know that the coffee shop would be staying open later at night from Thursday through Saturday and there would be a job there for Belle if she wanted. With her hours at the daycare she had agreed that she could manage from 6.30 through closing. It had taken a few shifts to get the hang of the actual coffee machine and some of the horribly complex orders that some of the customers had but she was getting there. Jill made sure that she was never left alone for a shift, because “Even though Charming is a good place there can be bad people”. Belle had quietly gone and opened a bank account. She kept the card hidden away inside her shoe when she was at home and she had found a running belt in a second hand store that she could wear under her top when she was out. She had asked the bank to not mail any correspondence and they had seemed happy enough to do a she requested. She kept a little of the money she earned on her person and the rest got deposited each cheque.
As badly as she felt about not sharing all of her wages with her family, things on the home front had not been going so well. Her mother continued to disappear most days and Belle knew what was happening. She was off getting high on what ever was her chosen poison, John had come home a couple more times with bruises on his body, and at least a couple of nights he didn’t come home at all. He had been better about leaving money at the end of the week, If Belle was about when he came in he would usually throw the bills at her before heading off to get beer. If she wasn’t then she would usually find it thrown on the dining table. There had been a few times where there’d been no money waiting for her and when she had asked John about it he had called her a liar and his frustrations had become physical. Luckily the bruises had not been anywhere that she coolant cover up.
Luckily Mr Darby had not been round again and she had been eternally grateful for that fact. She had been so uncomfortable when he had been there. The look in his eyes had said that he wanted to do unpleasant things to her and quite frankly she would be happy to never see him again. Other than her home life the only other thing that brought her down a little was the fact that she hadn’t seen Tig around town. It wasn’t like they had planned to but she wanted to buy him that coffee and to tell him about her jobs and show him that she was making efforts to get things sorted out. She had seen the blond son, Jax and the tubby one who’s name she didn’t know a time or too but she didn’t want to speak with them, they made her uncomfortable in the extreme.
The electronic bell above the door chimed, Belle knew that Toni was on break and would be out back texting with her boyfriend and as she turned to greet the customer she found herself faltering somewhat. It was the woman that had stopped her when she had gone to Teller Morrow and based on the the face that she was pulling she recognised her and wasn’t happy to see her again.
Gemma had been surprised when Jill Cooper had decided to open her cafe up for longer hours over the weekends, but she couldn’t deny that additional jobs was good for the city, and tonight she was doubly glad to see the lights still on as she headed home. It was tac season and getting the books ready was a long, tedious process that took a lot of hours and always gave her a headache. It seemed to annoy her more than usual this year as it kept her from spending time with sweet Able. Her grandson was the light of her life, and another opportunity for her to help raise the next generation of SAMCRO. What she hadn’t expected to see when she walked in was grocery girl. That little skank had caused all kinds of uproar the day she had come in to see Tig and frankly Gemma didn’t trust her, She was big Bambi eyes and feigned nervousness. No one could actually be that scared and survive, and if she thought for one moment that the Queen of SAMCRO would let her waltz in and mess up her boys, well she had another thing coming. It was time that this gash learnt to not underestimate the Queen.
Hands on her hips head titled slightly to the side Gemma smirked as she saw a hint of apprehension cross the girls face “Well well grocery girl fancy seeing you here. I would have thought you would have been off getting other poor unsuspecting men to buy you things. What happened, is business not so lucrative?”
Belle felt the blush rise and dropped her eyes for a second before looking back up with a small smile “ Good evening Ma’am, welcome to Devout Coffee, what can I get for you this evening. We have cakes, muffins and cookies still available” Belle moved behind the counter where she felt safer.
“I’m sure I told you before my name is Gemma and not Ma’am. I want a latte, you know how to do that?”
“Of course, Gemma” Belle stubbed over the woman name, She made her nervous and Belle couldn’t hide it. “It will just take 2 minutes. I’ll get right on it” Gemma watched as the girl moved about the coffee bar making her drink. She seemed competent enough and everything was out in the open so she knew the gash wouldn’t spit in her drink. Waiting by the register she wanted the girls every mood As nervous as she was the girl was focused on doing a good job. Before Belle could ring her up she held out a $5 bill and when Belle went to hand her the change she waved her away. “Keep it . You know Jill and the other people in this town, they all work hard for their money and I would hate to see someone try and take advantage of them. People here in Charming, well we look after each other, family means everything and we don’t take kindly to outsiders” Taking a sip of her drink Gemma could acknowledge that if nothing else this was a good cup of coffee.
“Ma’am, Gemma, I just want to work and earn my money and live quietly, I don’t want to cause any issues, I like this job and I need the money, My family and I moved here and we are just trying to make do”
Gemma grabbed a hold of Belle’s hand with still held her change and noticed the wince of pain the girl gave, She wasn’t holding her that tightly. Frowning slightly she leant forward “ Im trusting you, don’t let me down little girl” She glanced down quickly making it look as if she was picking up her keys, and could just see the edge of a bruise showing from under her sleeve. turning on her heel she headed out, pausing at the door to glance back “I don’t give second chances”
The door closed behind Gemma as she left and Belle found herself letting out a stuttering breath. That woman scared her nearly as much as Darby did, Everyone said how nice Charming was, but just like every other place that she had lived it seemed to have its fair share of less friendly folks. “Hey Belle, are you going to start clean down soon ?” Toni coming back in made Belle jump but she turned and nodded before moving to start the clean down routine.
Tig sat in his regular position to one side of Clay as they debated what the next step was in getting Darby and his ass hole thugs out of Charming, So far they hadn’t shown up at the garage drop off, and since the beatdown that they had given the guys of the lumber yard they seemed to have gone to ground. There were still drugs turning up in Charming and eventually people would be pissed enough that they wouldn’t turn a blind eye to some of the club business that happened in town
“Look brotha’ I’m not saying that we don’t need to get theses scumbags out of Charmin’ but we cant just head on out and start kicking on doors man. Don’t you all remember bullets before brains brotha’s I don’t see it doing anyone any good if we’re all inside”
“Chibs has a point” Jax blew smoke through his nose as he picked his next words carefully “We need get these assholes on their home turf. Take out where they’re cooking the shit. Remove the head of the dragon”
Tig watched as a few of his brothers nodded in agreement “Well VP I cant say you’re wrong” Clay agreed “but seeming as we don’t know where their cook house is I think we need some intel before we storm the castle” Jax rubbed his face in frustration. How could they not find where these racist fucks were!
Tig sat up a bit straighter and leaned forward his forearms resting on the table and he twisted one of the large rings he wore “ So what about the info that Juice got at the start of this BS. Isn’t there anything in that we can use?”
“If there was we would have used it” Opie sighed
“Actually’ Juice cut in “ We didn’t use all of it. I did a little more digging you know “ Juice’s eyes briefly met Tig’s “There are a couple of places these guys have liked to hang out in the past, we could look at them”
“So why the fuck are we sitting here if we have intel we could be looking at?” Clay barked. “Get the fuck out of here, I want you following up on this first thing. Juice pass on the info to Chibs and Tig and you guys see what you can find out” Clay lowered the gavel to the table and ended the meeting,
Tig left with the others to head into the clubhouse for a drink. He was tired and fed up and he was still no further forward with deciding what to do about Belle. Juice had done the digging he’d asked for, He knew about John and his discharge and the fact that Belle was his sister, There was nothing that showed Belle had anything to do with the dealing and what ever other BS her brother was involved in. But, and there was always a but, if she was involved and if something went down then he would be in the line of fire and while things were as tense as they were he couldn’t afford to loose sight of what mattered and what he needed to do for his club. A heavy hand on his shoulder pulled his attention back to the room and glancing to his side he found Chibs sitting with his own glass of Whisky, “Yah know brotha’ you from what you’ve said about the wee lass, its not likely that she’s tied up in this shit. If you want to see her then you should “
Turning to face in the same direction a Chibs, Tog took a swallow from his glass, “Nah man, she’s a good girl, too good for this” throwing a wink to the Scotsman he pushed himself off the stool and towards a busty red headed crow eater.
When Belle eventually made it home it was after midnight. Clean up had taken longer as Toni had to keep stopping to text with someone and then she had to leave early, Belle didn’t mind all that much she liked the quiet, but it didn’t mean she wasn’t tired. Tomorrow was the weekend so she would at least be able to have a bit of a lie in. Shutting the front door quietly she kicked offer shoes and figured she would grab a cold drink before heading to bed. Flicking on the kitchen light she let out of short screen when she found her brother sitting their staring at the doorway. “Jesus John you scared me” John just stared back at her. She waited for a moment to see if he would respond and when he didn’t she moved to the fridge. As she went to close the door, a bottle of water in hand she jumped again as the fridge door slammed and she felt her brothers warm, beer smelling breath blow over her neck as he stood slowly behind her “Mr Darby asked for you again today Belle. He wants to know why you’ve not visited. He’s my boss and its rude to not visit us Belle”
“Um well” Belle stood stiffly scared to move incase it upset him further in some way “I’ve been busy you know, working and looking after the house, and well I think with Mom and all it would be best of he didn’t have to deal with anything else from us” Her breath was coming out in pants by the time she was done and her hands shook around the bottle of water. She felt John move and step back. She started to relax and then all of a sudden she felt a searing pain in be scalp as John grabbed a handful of her hair and pulled hard. “If Mr Darby wants you there then you need to be there, do you hear me?”
“Y….yes” She stammered With a hard push John pushed her away and she fell to her knees the bottle or water rolling across the kitchen floor as tears rolled down her face.
Chapter 9: Heating Up
Things heat up in the club and Tig finds himself having to ask questions he doesn't think he will like the answers to as well as having to deal with possible interest in Belle from another direction
Tig had looked over the information that Juice had given him, what little there was of it. Belle Cunningham had graduated high school, worked number of lower paying jobs, didn’t have a criminal record and by all accounts was just a quiet young woman who seemed to look after her family. Her brother had, just as she had told him, been discharged from the military after his platoon had been attacked, they had said he had PTSD as well as his other injuries. Tig remembered when he had come home from the military, it was hard adjustment and if he had not found the Sons then maybe he would have taken the same route as John seemed to be. Her mother Norma had been married to one James Cunningham who had died in the state pen, by all accounts he didn’t have a lot to do with his kids. Norma worked occasionally as a waitress and a cleaner but wasn’t on record as having a regular job for the past few years, and there had been almost no sign of her being her sin Charming from what he could make out. All 3 had drivers licences, only John had a car registered in his name. Rubbing his hand roughly over his face Tig sat back and took a draw from his cigarette. There was no denying that John was connected to Darby. It looked like he may have fronted some of the cash to pay the rental deposit of the apartment that the Cunningham’s lived in, but they paid the rent. Fuck knows what the mother was doing and Belle was it seemed was working at the daycare and the coffee house.
The gentle kiss of thanks that she had given him when she left the lot a few weeks had been on his mind, It had been sweet and innocent and a whole pile of things that he didn’t want to look at too closely and it has been unexpected but equally wonderful. He have a sport at that wonderful? what the fuck was he on. It had featured pretty heavily in his dreams too - but it wasn’t his cheek that she kissed, not it was something much lower. Palming himself he couldn’t help but groan. God even the thought of her managed to get him hard these days. They had been on a gun run and then digging for dirt on Darby and the guys so he hadn’t had the opportunity to even see her about town. It was, he thought, probably for the best what with the Darby connection and all and even if she wasn’t involved a nice young girl like Belle had no business hanging around with someone like him.
Later in the day after Belle had left the lot Jax had been running his mouth about her. He had been about three seconds from laying the VP out when Chibs had intervened “Well Jackie boy she didn’t think much of you did she Prince Charming. Couldn’t wait to get away from you from what I saw. Perhaps she wants a real man, one who has seen a bit of the world eh” He had scowled at Chibs then - was the Scot about to put moves on Belle. “Besides don’t you have that wee boy of yours to look after, there’s no time for you to be chasing young laddies. What do you say Tiggy, you think Miss Belle likes an older man?”
Tig had grinned and agreed before gesturing to the prospect for another shot. When Half Sack handed the the drink over he lent a little closer and whispered “She got home fine, and there was no one hanging around” Tig had grunted but felt a little lighter knowing that Belle was safe. Of course Gemma had cornered him a few days later with questions about the ‘little gash’ and why the hell he was giving strange women money, He had played it off, made sure that Gemma thought that he was just helping out and that the girl had reminded him of one of his daughters. She had laughed and commented that at least this one paid him back. He wasn’t sure that he had completely convinced Gemma but she would do what she would do, and not even Clay would stop her. The rest had all been business as usual, runs, guns, parties, crow eaters and club business.
A hard bag on his dorm room door was accompanied by Happy’s gruff call of “Church” Gathering up the paperwork he hid it one of the desk draws, inside some old playboys so that if anyone came looking they wouldn’t see anything and then he headed to Church.
Sitting around the reaper the club listened as Juice filled them in on what he had managed to find out. Both Wheelan and Tasker had been spotted at the Hairy Dog which now seemed to be he main base for the Nords. From what he had been able gather, they didn’t deal directly out of there, but there was a good chance that they would be able to follow them back to the cook house.
“Fuck - I thought the Nords cleared out of the Dog after that shit with Wendy. Now it looks need to go and make it clear to them again that they aren’t wanted or needed here in Charming”
“Easy there son” Clay waved Jax back to his seat. “Juice made a good point, if we trail these douchebags, then we get where they are making the filth and we can get rid of them. Causing problems at the Dog ain’t gonna help the the end goal” Jax glared but it was obvious even to Tig that what Clay and Juice were saying made sense.
“Thing is,” Opie cut in “as much as it’s a good good idea, none of us can just wonder in there and bend in. They know our face. Hell i’d be surprised if Jax could even make it as far as the door. So how is it that we’re supposed to get close enough to tail them?”
“Me” The table turned to look at Kosik “What? Im new here. I wast there when you got into it at the lumberyard so they don’t know my face. I’m white enough that you know that wont be an issue and maybe I can get us some info, ya know, and I don’t see any better ideas “
“You’d be in there, alone” Happy added “If something went down we wouldn’t be there to back you up brotha. That don’t seem right to me”
“I can’t see another way if we need to follow them Hap. Maybe you guys could be somewhere near by but anyone they recognise will have them shutting up and hiding out double quick”
“Does anyone have a better plan?” Clay asked “No?, Ok all in favour Aye” The cake went round the table - it was unanimous. “OK Kosik you will head to the Dog tonight, Bobby you will drive the van and the rest of you boys ride in back. Follow them, find out where the fuck they are making this shit and then head back here, We need to make sure we get these guys once and for all, they move the house and we are back to the beginning” The gavel dropped and church was dismissed.
Tig had planned to go crash out in his dorm for a couple of hours but the small nagging voice in the back of his head, had him turning and stoping his way back over to the bar. Slamming his shoulder into Kosik he pulled up a stool and glanced over at his one time best friend. “You gonna be ok with this asshole. ‘Cause you know it isn’t gonna help the club if you head in there and give into temptation. Sure as shit won’t get you a permanent seat at that table” Rather than looking at Kosik he gestured to the crow eater behind the bar to bring him a beer
“You know what fuck you Trager. I haven’t touched drugs in years. I’m clean and I will stat clean. You think I’ve not had the opportunity to touch that shit in the past 10 years? you can go fuck yourself man. I know what I need to do and how to do it. Just make sure you keep up your end!”
Tig could see that he had obviously pissed Kosik off but there was a good chance that if he was angry then he wouldn’t be focused on the drugs and other BS that was going on at the dog. He had seen Kosik at his worst and, as much as he was pissed at the asshole he wouldn’t want him to go through that shit again. Taking his beer with him he wandered back to his dorm room.
Chibs had sat and watched Tig piss off Kosik - he could guess what Tig was poking at. Their Tacoma brothers past was known to a few members of the Mother Charter and Chibs knew that Tig would poke at that sore if given the chance. “Ya know brotha’ he has hard time showing it, but Tigger, he’s worried about you” He laid his hand on Kozik’s shoulder to offer what comfort he could “Yeah? Well he had a hell of a way of showing it. He’s fucked up too and I don’t see anyone here bringing it up all the time”
Taking a seat Chibs nodded “Haven’t we all brother. There isn’t one of us here who hasn’t made their own share of mistakes. Tigger, well he doesn’t do well with apologies and the like, but in his own way, he’s looking out for you. I also figure that you do a good job here and not even old Tigger will be able to stop you from getting that seat you want. Hey lass” he gestured to the Crow eater “Whisky and 2 glasses” Kozik seemed to be thinking so Chibs waited patiently watching the amber liquid being poured. He waved the eater away and pushed one glass over to Kozik and waited for him to pick it up “Tae an end to this bull shite” Both men raised their glasses and downed the contents before sitting pondering their own thoughts
Chapter 10: The Dog
Kozik visits the dog
Kozik had said he’d been more than happy to come and hang out, and find out what he could at the Dog, but sitting here, without his kutte actually had him on edge. There had been a few locals that he had seen around town, a couple of what looked like high school kids and plenty of assholes with swastika tattoos and poor taste in haircuts. It seemed like he was flying under the radar, he had been sure to not sit and stare, but with just him there it wasn’t possible to keep an eye on everything that was going on. It looked like the drugs weren’t being exchanged here but there seemed to be some cash changing hands.
He gestured for another beer and put some cash on the bar, the door opening drew his attention and he recognized two of the men Tasker and Wheelan,. He couldn’t hear much of the conversation that was going on over the music but they seemed to be in good spirits. No matter what the Sons had done to impact their drug business it didn’t look like it was having all that much of an affect on the ground troops. Glancing up at the clock behind the bar, he had been sat here for nearly and hour and didn’t have anything for Clay and it probably wasn’t going to do down well, but he also didn’t have a clue as to how to get more information. He was about to call it a night when a man, Tasker a quick glance confirmed, sat next to him.
“Alright Man” Kozik nodded “I’ve not seen you round her before, you new in town?” Koz bought some time by taking a pull from his beer. “Nah, I’m good. Yah know a friend recommended the Dog to me, so I figured I’d stop in now I’m in town”
“Cool. You ah, you interested in something in particular,? I mean from the specials list here. That why your friend recommended us?
“Look man I don’t want any trouble. special or not. I just wanted somewhere that I could get a cold beer and understand what was being said You know what I mean? I just wanted some peace. If it’s an issue then I’m happy to head”
“Easy there friend” Tasker rested his hand on Kozik’s shoulder stopping him from standing “Just wanted to check you know” He gestured to the bartender for another couple of beers and slid over to Kozik ‘We don’t want any unhappy customers you know. Hard working guys like you , who want to be with their own kind, they’re always welcome here”
The door to the bar flew open and Kozik watched an older woman who was obviously intoxicated or high stumbled through the door her movements sloppy as she looked around the bar, squinting in the low light. A broad grin split her face as she headed in his direction and his companion gave a muttered curse.
“That your old lady?”
“Fuck no, she’s some crazy broad that the big boss has been screwing”
“She sure seems happy to see you man” Kozik added as the woman crashed into Tasker.
“Jase, there you are. I called and called an nooo one answered. I need to see my Johnny or Earnie, go get them for me, there’s a good boy”
“Get the fuck off me you crazy bitch. If J or Mr D wanted to speak to you then they would have taken your fucking call” As Trasker pushed her away Kozik found himself with a lap full of an obviously high woman
“Heey” blown pupils, a sloppy smile greeted Kozik and he found his lip curling in disgust. In his own mind he knew that this was how he had looked once upon a time and it was not a nice mirror for him to be looking in. Somewhat more gently than Tasker he pushed her up onto her own feet and away from him. By the time he looked round Tasker was walking across the room.
“So handsome” a hand on his arm pulled Kosik back to his new companion “I’ve not seen you before. Are you one of Earnie’s boys?”
Kozik shrugged her arm off of him, he had no interest in some used up addict “Get the fuck off of me lady”
The smile was replaced with a scowl “No need to be an ass hole. You’re not all that you know!, Bring me a vodka and coke and put it on the tab. Don’t look at me like that! Earnie said I could, and if you’ve got an issue feel free to call your boss and see whether you’ve still got a job in the morning”
“Give her the drink Mark, the boss says its fine” Tasker came back over. Looking at her “A couple of drinks is it tonight Norma, and thats straight from Mr D” The woman, Norma grumbled but seemed content with the fact she was getting a drink.
“Dude are all the women in that come here like this crazy broad” Kozik gestured to the woman while looking at Tasker
“Nah she’s just some whore who hangs out here sometimes. The boss has been banging her on the DL. She’s mostly harmless but doesn’t get that she’s old and used up. Every bar has them. I gotta say that she gives a great blowjob though” Koz matched Taskers grin “I hear you man” he swallowed down the last of his beer before standing to head to the door“ Take it easy”.
When he reached the outside, Kozik couldn’t help but pull in a deep breath as he worked out what he could take back to the club. Pulling out a smoke he used lighting up as an excuse to check the surrounding area. No one appeared to be paying the slightest bit of attention to him so he headed back to where the van would be waiting with Bobby and some of the other sons
“Hey man, so there are deals going down but no drugs on the premises. I didn’t see Darby but they referred to him. There is some whore in there that seems to be banging him. Two of the guys Juice had photos are i there, but it’s not enough to do anything with”
Bobby nodded “The woman is in there?” at Kozik’s nod he continued “Ok so we wait and see whether Darby shows up, If his whore is here then he might. If not we follow those assholes Juice had intel on. I don’t think we’re going to get results tonight but lets take the Pres something that’ll keep him happy. We’re in for a long night boys” A groan came from the back of the van and Kozik settled into the seat.
A couple of hours later Kozik was wondering if he would ever get the feeling back into his ass. Stakeouts it turned out, where a lot less fun than the movies made them look. He was thinking of getting some sleep when an older car pulled in. Slapping Bobby on the arm he gestured to the men getting out of the car “Its Darby man, and the other guy from the photos” Bobby nodded and they watched both men disappear into the dog only to come out a few minutes later, pulling the woman who had propositioned him with them. Darby opened the car door, and stepped back watching as the woman was pushed in before heading back towards to Dog. “Johnny I need you back here when you’ve dropped her off. Oh and Johnny remind your sister she still hasn’t come visiting”
When they were sure that Darby was back in the Dog, Bobby started up the van and they followed the car. Bobby noted the apartment they stopped at before he carried on back to the club house, and calling Clay to get the agreement that they would stakeout the Dog again the next night.
Kozik found himself in much the same position as he had the night before, sitting in the Dog surrounded by assholes drinking shit beer. They had agreed that he needed to make a little more contact with Tasker to see if the could get any more information out of him. Clay had even suggested that ask for drugs. While he had said sure he wasn’t all that comfortable with what his Pres wanted. Bobby had stopped him before he had left the van, hand on his arm and had made it clear that he didn’t need to go anywhere near the drugs.
He had just agreed a game of pool with Tasker when the Norah woman made her way in again and on seeing him she had smiled and made her way over. “Hey there handsome” Kozik rolled his eyes at Tasker as he shrugged off her hand. “Why don’t you buy a lady a drink?”
“You show me a lady and i’ll think about it” Tasker laughed but the woman was obviously pissed, she raised her hand to slap him but he caught it and pushed her away “You don’t know who you’re messing with asshole. My Earnie owns this place and you won’t be welcome here when I tell him”
Kozik noticed that people were now paying more attention to him than he was comfortable with and he knew that he needed to get out of here. “Hey man, I’m not up for this shit. I’ll see you around” He said to Tasker as he out the pool queue down and headed out.
“Fuck!” he stomped over to the van paying a lot less attention than he had the night before, slamming the door as he got in. At Bobby’s look he sighed and ran a hand over his face ”The crazy whore from last night was back and she made a scene. I figured it was best to leave before someone recognised me”
“Fucking hell. This is a shit show. Let’s wait for a bit and see what happens”
Thirty minutes later Kozik was contemplating what he would tell Clay when the car from the night before turned up and the younger guy got out again and disappeared into the Dog before reappearing two minutes later while shouting down the phone with Tasker in toe and then leaving in the car. Maybe tonight wouldn’t be a total bust.
Bobby and Kozik followed at a safe distances. The guys in the car didn’t seem to be paying all the much attention to what was going on around them, based on the way that they were driving. As they headed to less populated areas Bobby turned off the van lights and they let a bit more distance build.
“Fuck it looks like they’re heading out of town” Kozik noted. Bobby just grunted. They were only five or so miles out of Charming when the car pulled off into a small side road. Bobby killed the engine and looked at Kozik “What?” “I’m too old and too fat to be running about the wilderness, Get your ass out and see where they’re going”
Kozik followed the path that the car must have taken and noticed that there was single story family style house sitting at the end of the drive. From his hiding place behind some bushes he watched and noted the guards they had patrolling and the fact that there seemed to only be one entrance to get to the door. Heading back to the van he filled Bobby in on what he’d seen. Bobby didn’t even need to think it over “Ok lets head back to the club house and we can get the prospect to come out here and keep an eye on things. We need to let Clay know what’s going on and see what the Club thinks we should do. We’ve got tope smart about this. We can’t just roll up guns blazing, but one way or another we need to put an end to this”
Chapter 11: Aint no party like a family party
It had to happen eventually. Worlds collide, as do fists and bottles
A/N: Warning - there is mild violence and discussion of injuries from domestic violence
The music was thumping, booze was flowing and the women were plentiful and mostly naked. Tig sat with an icepack against his eye and a smile on his face. He and Happy had just gone a round in the ring and he had come out the winner. He had enjoyed the back slaps and congratulations from his brothers as well as the celebratory blow job from one of the crow eaters. “You alright there Tiggy?” Chibs flopped down beside him on the sofa. “The Killer got some good blows in tonight”
Tig barked out a laugh “He sure did but it turns out there is life in this old dog yet - just ask Miss Big Tits over there”
Chibs raised an eyebrow and glanced over at the Crow eater in question “Oh aye. did she sooth your wounds there brother”
“Yeah she just sucked the stress right out man” Chibs laughed and took a drink
“Best get it while we can brother, If things go tits up with this Darby shite who knows how it will end “
“Nah man, it’s gonna be good. As much as I don’t like waiting about we’re doing the right thing - getting the lay of the land. These assholes need to know that shit don’t belong here in Charming. I know that Darby did the club a solid when Opie was in Chino but he had to know that bringing drugs in here wouldn’t end well. I mean fuck it’s bad enough that they peddle their Aryan race shit let alone that filth”
“Can’t say I disagree brother, I’m just worried, someone has to be …..Now who the fuck is that?” Both men looked to see a sloppily dressed woman stumble across to the clubhouse bar obviously looking for someone
“Fucked if I know man, she sure as shit isn’t looking for me” TIg squinted a little as he tried to work out whether he knew the woman in question. There was something about her that looked a little familiar. Tig was sure he hadn’t been with her, she wasn’t his type., she seemed way too needy and way too off her face for his tastes.
“You sure about that? You look like you might recognize her. I mean come on, you’re into all kinds of weird shit, things that involve coconut milk” Chibs joked
“Gimmie some credit brother. I’ve got ladies queuing up for a round with Tigger, I don’t need to dumpster dive. Oh hell now there is gonna be a show!” Tig gestured to Gemma who had locked onto the strange woman, and based on the look she was giving her she wasn’t a happy lady.
Gemma had been trying to enjoy a couple fo drinks with Clay when some drug addled skank had stumbled into the club. A quick look around showed that non of her boys seemed to recognise or even be interested in her. Gemma didn’t like strange women around the club, they caused problems and strangers sure as hell shouldn’t be walking around her clubhouse. Placing a kiss on Clay’s cheek she stood “Back in a minute baby” Getting a nod in reply she strode towards the new comer. She watched her as she stumbled across the floor, her movements jerky, This woman was clearly on something and that was shit the club didn’t need. Gemma planted herself in the strange woman path, hands on her hips and scowled. When the woman attempted to move around her she just moved to block her again and waited for the woman to make eye contact A pair of watery blue eyes, with blow pupils moved up to meet her gaze and she just raised an eyebrow at the loopy smile that came her way. “Can I help you ?” The woman just stared for a moment before blinking
“Hmm, Oh no, I’m looking looking looking for……” the sentence drifted off and Gemma huffed in annoyance
“Look Lady I don’t know why the fuck you are here but you need to turn your bony ass around and wonder back out to what ever crack den you came from. Come on off you fuck!” She put a hand to the woman shoulder to forcibly turn her around.
“There he is!” the woman flailing arm banged into Gemma as she gestured wildly before waving “Hey!”. Jesus had one of these dumbasses actually invited a crack whore to the club house. Gemma turned her head scowl firmly in place to see Kozik, arm still thrown around a crow eater, coming out of the dorm area. “Kozik!” her sharp tone had the blond biker jerking his attention to her
“You responsible for this skank?” she could hear the laughter of some of the others as she called him out, There were days it was like dealing with a class full of 10 year olds. Kozik pushed the crow eater away and headed over a scowl forming as he recognised the woman who had been in the Dog the past coupe of nights.
“Hey handsome I came to see if you would buy me that drink” Kozik was well aware of the looks he was receiving from Gemma and the rest of the guys. He didn’t even know how the woman had found her way here
“Nah Gem. She’s just some bitch who was hanging out at the Dog. She tried to get me to buy her drinks but other than telling her to fuck off I’ve had nothing to do with her. “ He turned to look at the woman again grabbing her firmly by the arm and shaking her “Who the fuck sent you! How did you find me?”
The woman was clearly confused “Get off me, what are you doing! I wanted a drink and to have one fun! I saw you come in here when my Johnny took me out today so I came - but now you can fuck off” Kozik’s brain was working overtime, had she been sent here to get intel? or was she really just after a good time,
“Everything ok here brother?” Clay asked as he approached, Gemma was more than able to deal with strangers coming in but when Kozik seemed to be involved and didn’t seem happy about it he couldn’t help but get involved
“Bitch says she wanted him to by her drinks, apparently she’s some hanger on from the Dog”
Clay gave a muttered curse. “Darby send you ?” He barked. The woman just burst into tears.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. Get off me” she pulled at her arm which Kozik still held “I want my Johnny! Call him” Unfortunately her balance and drug addled brain didn’t hold up to all the movement and somehow she managed to totter and fall twisting an ankle underneath herself. Her cry of pain was enough to get Kozik to let go of her resulting in a pile of crying woman sitting on the clip house floor.
“For fucks sake, someone get her the fuck out of here - You” Clay pointed at Kozik “Call who ever this Johnny asshole is and get this bitch out my club house. We’ll have a discussion about this later on” Clay turned looking around “Bobby - call the prospect and Juice, make sure that everything ok with them. Jesus I need a drink” He flung an arm around Gemma’s shoulders and pulled her with him
“Wait! how the hell am I supposed to know who to call?” Kozik called after Clay
“Use your brain asshole, work it out”
Crouching down in front of the woman Kozik ran his hand through his hair. This was a shit show. The woman was still crying and any buzz he had going was gone.
“Hey lady, you got a number for this Johnny?” The woman just sobbed harder. Kozik stood to his feet and sighed looking up at the ceiling working out what the fuck he should do before crouching back down and looking around, there on the floor was a handbag, looking through it he found a phone and among the contacts a listing for Johnny, with a relieved sigh he stood calling the number.
Belle stared out of the cab window as it drove through Charming, She hadn’t recognised the address she had been given, but now that she was in the area she knew roughly where they were headed. The call had woken her and a gruff man had demanded to speak to her brother, She had explained he wasn’t in but asked if she could help, which is how she found herself heading to an unknown location after midnight. The cab pulled up and she paid the driver before she stepped out surprised to find herself outside of Teller- Morrow, the garage that Tig worked at. Why on earth would her mother be here of all places? With a sigh she headed in. The place seemed totally different at night. The garage bays were shut and the office was dark. The area outside was lit by floodlights and fire barrels and the place seemed to be full of men wearing leather vests and women who weren’t wearing a hell of a lot., She had no idea what was happening here but she figured she should just get her mother and then get the hell out, if only she could find her.
Pulling her bag onto her shoulder she headed towards where most of the action seemed to be. As she got closer she could clearly see the sign of the reaper and the Son’s insignia. No one was paying any real attention to her but she could feel her face heat with a blush as she saw just what some of those half dressed women were doing with the men. She resisted the urge to look down at the floor and hide behind her hair. This felt like the kind of place where if they thought she was weak then it may not work out all that well for her. She took a moment to look around outside and check that her mother wasn’t there before squaring her shoulders and moving to pull open the club door.
The door was harder to open than she had thought it would be, especially with her still aching body but, she slipped in and stood there stunned for a moment. The smell of smoke, and other things was almost overwhelming. She looked over to where she expected to see the bar and then looked away again after seeing a very naked woman grinding on a still dressed biker. Focusing instead on looking more closely for her mother she moved further into the room, stepping carefully over bottle and what ever else was on the floor.
Deciding that perhaps the woman tending the bar would be able to help she headed over that way “Excuse me” the woman didn’t seem to hear her over the noise so Belle stood on tip toe and tried again speaking a little louder “Excuse me !”
When she still didn’t get a response show unsure what the hell to do next. She thought back to when she had come here to return Tig his groceries and tried to remember what the other men had looked like, perhaps she could spot one of them and ask if they knew where she would fid her mother. There had been the man with the kid eyes - Chibs and the scary one Jax. She wasn’t sure that she would be able to speak with Jax if she saw him, there was something about his manner that just set her on edge, but Tig and Chibs both seemed kind. She was about to head off in search one of them when she heard a muttered curse and came face to face with one person she hadn’t expected to see here Gemma Teller-Morrow
“Jesus christ, what is it with uninvited guests here tonight! Look I don’t know why your here but this isn’t a place for a little girl like you. You should run along home before something large and scary comes to get you”
Gemma could hardly believe her eyes when she had seen the young woman who had brought Tig groceries and then turned up in the coffee shop in the club house. She had no idea why the hell she would be here, The girl looked surprised to see her, perhaps she had thought that she could wheedle her way into the club if Gemma wasn’t there. Well that wasn’t going to happen on her watch! Placing her hand on the girls shoulder she began to push her back towards the door.
“I’m sorry to intrude Ma’am I really am but I got a call”
Gemma rolled her eyes “Really, you got a call from here and you just had to come running down here to help. Take a look around, the boys have enough entertainment, they wouldn’t be calling you for anything. She watched as the girls face turned a remarkable shade of red at her comments. She didn’t know of many conmen that could blush on queue but there was a first time for everything she supposed.
“Yes Ma’am I mean Gemma. I got a call from a man here, he wanted to speak to my brother, but he’s out. He said that my mother had turned up and was causing all sorts of issues and that I needed to come and get her asap”
Gemma froze and turned the girl back to face her “Your mother” The girl nodded
“Yes. I don’t know how or why she got here but she has problems sometimes getting home and …” The girls voice petered out.
Gemma raised a well groomed eyebrow “Ok let me guess, she’s about 5’10” blond hair blue eyes. That sound about right” Again a nod “ You know she turned up here tonight and caused all kinds of issues before shouting about needing to see Johnny. Should I assume that Johnny is your brother” another nod. “OK come with me, you need to take your mother home and make sure she understands that she can’t just turn up places. Maybe get her some help. You do know she needs help right” The girl nodded again eyes downcast. “What was your name again” The girl looked up at her briefly
“You either need to get her some help Belle or you need to keep away from her, drugs have a way of poisoning not only the people that take them, but those who are around them too. Right come with me”
Belle followed behind Gemma as she strode through the clubhouse, She couldn’t help but admire the self confident way that the older woman moved through the throng, people literally parted before her, and, even though she was wearing what Belle considered to be dangerously high heeled boots she didn’t wobble or falter, Belle was sure that she had never seen or met anyone like Gemma Teller-Morrow. Gemma didn’t look back to make sure Belle followed, she just expected her to keep up and Belle found that as long as she stayed close behind she could take advantage of the space people gave Gemma.
Sadly Belle heard her mother before she saw her, and she knew immediately that things were not good as she heard the familiar wail of “Where’s Johnny. I want Johnny” letting out a sigh she knew what she would see even before Gemma gestured to a table at the back of the room, Sure enough there sat her mother, eyes red from crying, makeup running down her face, hands clenched around a beer bottle, This was the worst she had seen her mother in a long time.
Belle moved froward from behind Gemma “Hey Mom, It’s time to come home” she took note of the blond well muscled man who she briefly remembered from her trip here before Kojak or something. She nodded to him taking in his surprised look. Her mother on the other hand seemed to be completely unaware, lost in her demands to see her son. Belle moved up to the table and placed her hand over her mothers. Up close, even in the dim light she could see how blown out her mothers pupils were, and a she touched her mothers hand she was aware of the tremors setting in which meant that her mother was coming down from what ever she had taken and that things could get really messy really quickly
“Mum come on it’s time to go” The gentle shake she gave her mothers hands as she tried to remove the beer bottle seemed to focus her mothers attention and those blue eyes, so like her brothers locked onto her
“Hey Mum come on, Mrs Teller- Morrow called and said you were ready to come home, lets get going” It was a lie but right now she just wanted to get out of this club. Her mother pulled her hands away from Belle, taking the beer with her
“Why are you here I don’t want you I want Johnny, Go get your brother”
“Mum Johnny is at work or he’s busy elsewhere, Im here to take you home come on now.” Belle moved to the side attempting to take her mothers elbow to help her stand and she was totally unprepared for the screech her mother let out or the slap that whipped her head around to the right
“Get off me, Don’t touch me, I don’t want you. I never want you! I want Johnny or Earnie. Get me Earnie !”
Belle felt tears rise as she tasted blood. God damn it why did she have to deal with this! Trying to pull herself together she wiped the blood away with the back of her hand before trying again
“Mum these people have been good enough to look out for you for a bit but they have things to be getting on with. We need to go home and you need to get some rest. Please, Please come on!” She knew that tears were falling now but she just wanted to get out of here, It had suddenly dawned on her that there was good chance Tig would be here and for what ever reason she didn’ want him to see the mess that was her family.
In a surprising show of strength and agility her mother twisted away from Belle’s grip and backed up keeping her balance and not banging into anything “NO! Get away from me, stay away, You want my things. Thats all you do is take. You cant have Johnny, You cant have Earnie!”
Belle couldn’t keep up with what was going on, this was crazy even for her mother
“Mum I don’t want anything other than to get you ..” she didn’t get a chance to finish her sentence before the half full bottle her mother had been holding flew past her face, smashing on the wall next to her showing her with tepid beer and glass. She stood frozen barely aware of the Gemma calling for help or of Kozik grabbing hold of her mother.
Tig had been enjoying a game of pool when he heard the commotion coming from the back of the clubhouse Gemma’s call for help had him dropping the cue and heading her way, with Chibs hot on his heals. He had expected to see the woman from earlier causing issues but what he hadn’t expected to find was Gemma with her arm wrapped around Belle, who looked stunned, Kozik and Opie holding a ranting woman by the arms while she screamed and broken glass everywhere.
He and Chibs shared a glance of surprise
“You ok Gem?”. He couldn’t take his eyes off of Belle but knew that he had to check on the Queen first, She spared him a glance of irritation
“Oh yeah just great Tigger. Get that fucking piece of white trash out of my clubhouse and off the lot, I don’t care if you put her in a cab or dump her on the street but I want her gone” Opie nodded and stated to haul the still screaming woman away, Tig noticed that Belle didn’t see to be able to focus on what ever was happening she just stared at the spot the woman had been .
“Tig you should take Belle through to a dorm room, a clean one, and stay while the Scotsman patches her up. She’s going to stay here tonight, I am not sending her home to deal with more of that shit. I need to speak to Clay so I am trusting you two to not fuck this up!”
Tig nodded and moved closer to Belle. He could see that she had cuts on the side of her face probably from glass, as well as a split lip and a bruised cheekbone. He didn’t have a lot of experience in dealing with battered women but he figured that slow and gentle could be the key.
Crouching slightly he gently rested his hand on Belle’s arm. Her beautiful brown eyes seemed to be staring at nothing so he rubbed at her hand gently “Belle, hey doll fancy seeing you here” Something in his touch seemed to bring her a little more back to herself and he watched as she blinked and then focused on him before blushing and dropping her gaze to the floor. “You know doll it looks like you’ve had a rough night of it, why don’t you come with me and lets get you cleaned up” He stood and started to guide her towards the door area signalling to Chibs to go ahead and get his med kit.
“I, I cant stay I need to go home and help my mum, at least until I can get hold of Johnny”
Her voice seemed even quieter to Tig than it had that day at the store and he could tell she was embarrassed. He filed away the fact that the crazy broad had been her mother “I’m pretty sure that we need to focus on you and let Johnny or someone else deal with your Mom doll. Come on Chibs is going to help get you cleaned up and sorted - You remember Chibs right? Well he’ll sort you right up and Gemma has said you should stay here and you don’t want to mess with her “
Belle let him guide her towards the dorm without any complaint and Tig was growing more concerned by just how quiet she was. ‘Hang on a second doll” he turned and caught the eye of one of the crow eaters “Get some whisky and bring it on back”. Turning back to Belle he realised not only had she not moved but she hadn’t even looked up, resting his hand against her back he moved her forward “Lets go doll” .
Chibs had already gotten a clean dorm room open and his supplies set out when they got there. Tig was away to sit Belle on the bed when Chibs stopped him. “She’s covered in glass brother. We need to get her top off and brush her hair out otherwise she’s gonna be sitting in it” Tig nodded and turned to Belle
“Hey Belle, we need to get the glass off you, you need to take off your sweater and brush out your hair” He watched as she tried to just pull her sweater of taking no care about any glass that could be in it. “Easy there, you can’t just pull it off like that. Let me see” Looking at the sweater he couldn’t actually see a way to get the top off without Belle getting hurt more. “Look doll I need you to hold still. Chibs and I are gonna help you get this off. Chibs we’re going to need to cut this off. Its too tight to get it off any other way”
The Scot nodded and pulled his knife from the sheath, “Looks like the best plan is to split the neck and the top of the arms and then we can slip it down the way”
Tig nodded and between the two men they began to split the sweater. Chibs gave Tig a concerned look when, as they slipped the sweater down more and more bruises became evident. Belle still hadn’t moved and just let them do what ever they wanted. A knock at the door made Belle jump and Chibs blade nicked her skin
“Shite, sorry love” Tig scowled and then opened the door to find the crow eater and a bottle of whisky.
“Well hello boys, I wasn’t expecting the two of you, but the more the merrier” As she went to step into the room Tig lifted his arm to bar the door, reaching forward he took he whisky and glared at the woman
“Thanks, now Fuck off” shutting the door with a quick shove he headed back over to Belle who now had her sweater off and her hair down and shaken out. What was quite apparent was someone had been beating Belle for some time, The bruises that he had seen on her wrist were nothing compared to the bruises he could see on her ams and shoulder and midsection. Chibs pointed to her back and he knew that there were bruises there too.
“Oh doll!” Tig approached Belle slowing and gently moved her face up so she was looking at him “Doll who did this to you?”
Belle blinked at him seemingly coming out of her daze when he touched her. She looked confused her hand moving up to her face “Norma, she’s my mum. She finds it hard to deal with things”
Tig scowled, had her mother done all of this? “Your mum hit you and bruised your body up like that?”
Belle looked a little lost for a moment before noticing that she didn’t have her sweater on. A blush stained her cheeks and she dropped eye contact with him
“Um no, that wasn’t my mum”
“Well lass who ever it was they’ve made a right mess of ye. Let me have a look see and clean up those cuts, Tig give the girl a drink and we can talk about whats been happening after. Now young lady I’m not sure how much you took in earlier but you're to be staying here for the night, and you can head home later on. There is no point in arguing Mama Gemma said so. Now you should sit down here and we will get you cleaned up”
As soon as Belle sat Chibs got to cleaning up the cuts and checking over the bruises that he could see. Tig just watched, his jaw clenched as he wondered just who he would get to beat the shit out of for this. He felt in his gut that there was no way Belle was involved with Darby and the drugs, but there was a family connection there. Her mother, if not involved in selling was definitely using. If the damned woman was still in the club house he would have shown her just how little he thought of her, but as it was he didn’t have anyone he could take it out on. He took a swig directly from the whisky bottle, relishing the slight burn that came with it. When they were out the other side of this shit show, he was going to make sure that who ever put the bruises on Belle had the same returned to them.
“There you are lass, good as new. While I’m sure its all sore as hell, you don’t have any breaks, just a lot of bruises, of course you’ll have a shiner tomorrow. Now if Tigger has managed to leave us some, why don’t we grab a drink of that whisky”
Tig brought a glass from the bathroom for Belle and poured a generous couple of fingers before passing the bottle off, but before any of them could get a drink there was a sharp knock on the door and Gemma walked in. Tig watched as her eyes quickly catalogued the damage on the young woman who sat on the bed before holding out a hoodie. She didn’t even look at the men
“Here I figured you would be more comfortable in this” Belle reached out slowly taking the hoodie before shrugging it on and covering her upper body. “Now I’ve had a word with my husband and you will stay here tonight and rest. I’m not sure that anyone is going to want you at work with the shiner you will have but we can deal with that then. Did these boys get you sorted?”
Belle nodded “Yes Ma’am. I just want to say thank you - to all of you for helping and I’m so sorry that you had to see my mother like that. She has a hard time coping with … well life I guess and she’s found the move hard and ….”
“Stop and listen to me. Last I checked she was a grown ass woman who made her own choices, Don’t go running about apologising for her shit! If you need anything then Tigger has a room across the way and he will be able to help you out” Gemma turned to leave but was stopped in the door way by Clay.
“Everything good baby?” Gemma rested her hand on his chest
“Of course, the boys have her cleaned up and anything else we will deal with in the morning”
Belle watched as this new intimidating man filled the doorway. He seemed a good match for Gemma, who looked like a woman who would need a strong man. She watched as his blue eyes hardened when he looked from Gemma to herself and she felt herself shudder. As much as she wanted to keep eye contact she found she just had to look away. This mans gaze was cold and calculating and not in the least bit friendly. She rotated the glass in her hands unsure of what to do. Her guts said say thank you and just leave, but Gemma expected her top stay. The decision was taken out of her hand though as the next words left his mouth
“Tell you what baby, why don’t you head on home and get sorted. I’ll see you back there. Chibs can walk you out”
With her eyes still downcast she watched as Chibs moved over picking up the last of his medical gear. The boots she was watching paused in front of her and she felt a hand on her shoulder “You take care now lass, you hear” She glanced up making eye contact and gave the man a tight smile and nod which he returned before leaving “Come on lets get you on the road home mother”
When the door clicked shut Belle felt her whole body tense, She was now stuck in this room with Tig and the hard faced man. Her heart was pounding. Tig was a good man, he wouldn’t let the other man hurt her, hopefully.
“So you want to tell me why Darby sent you to my club house?”
The question was so unexpected that her head whipped up “Pardon?”
“You heard me. That was quite a little show that you and your mother put on out there. I’m guessing your mother took it further than you expected. But the question remains why did Darby send you”
“No one sent me! I got a call from someone here Kozik I think, “ she glanced at Tig for confirmation “and he told me about my mom and her creating scene and asking for my brother so I came to get her and, well she didn’t want me here”
“That’s a pretty story but from what I heard your mother was creating quite a stir Are you really going to sit here, in MY clubhouse and tell me you know nothing about Darby!” Clay towered over her and she felt yet more tears fall as she stared up at him
“I’ve met him and I know my brother works for him, but that’s it. I swear, I don’t know who you are or what is happening. I just wanted to get my mother home. I even asked if it could wait for my brother and was told to come. Please I didn’t mean to cause what ever the problem is. I don’t know anything about Mr Darby or why my mother wanted him.” Her tears turned to sobs What the hell was happening, what had her brother gotten them into?
“My wife tells me you’ve been here before, snooping, getting a lay of the land. and then what ? Did Darby tell you to come in after hours and see what else you could tell him?”
“Clay man come on, she obviously has nothing to do with Darby and his assholes. She was here before to see me. I approached her man and she just returned stuff to me. I'm telling you she isn’t involved” Tig rarely spoke out against his president but watching Clay destroy what little peace Belle had gained made his heart hurt. There was no way she was spying on them and he couldn’t let her take the rap for having been at TM before when she only came to hand back groceries.
“You started it? Well lets hope you didn’t bring an enemy into our home brother” Clay turned back to Belle “ So my SAA is vouching for you little girl, If I find out that you are involved in this then you and I will be having a much less pleasant conversation. Tig I need you for a minute”
Following Clay out of the dorm and pulling to the door over Tig had to swallow down the urge to just hit him. That final threat had just been a step too far “Look man I get that her family is tied to Darby but she isn’t. Kozik didn’t see her at the Dog and i guarantee no one has seen her at the cookhouse. She’s been beaten pretty badly and didn’t need that shit on top of what went down!”
“Look Tig I get it, she’s a sweet little thing and all, but Darby is causing us a problem and we need to end it. If she’s involved then it’s a way in and I get you don’t think she is. Hell even Gemma doesn’t think she is then she needs to be dealt with. I will use any and all means to end this BS with Darby. We need folks like Oswald in our pockets and right now he’s pissed that it looks like we’ve done nothing. She spends the night then she’s out of here - you got me ?”
Tig nodded “Sure Pres” before turning back to the room and the sobbing woman inside.
Chapter 12: In which there are fans and excrement
The lies told toDarby have serious consequences for Belle and a simple act of kindness makes things substantially worse
Warning: There is extreme physical violence in this chapter and some quite graphic descriptions, please do not read if such content upsets you
The next morning Belle woke slowly to strange surroundings. She was in a plain looking room, in a bed she didn’t know and her face hurt. A pressure on her hand had her looking to her left where she saw the top of a curly mop of hair and hand covered in large rings holding onto hers. Tig. She had her share of dreams where she woke up with this man beside her but it didn’t involve then being dressed and they both were lying in the bed together. Sighing she thought over the shit show that was yesterday. It was the worst she had seen her mother, and then she had to deal with the ‘President’ of what ever this group was accusing her of being a spy.
Tig has said they were motorcycle enthusiasts but she wasn’t stupid, enthusiasts don’t worry about spying. To be honest she really didn’t want to think about what they were all involved in. She liked to think of Tig as the kind man who helped her out. Looking down at his hand she could see the wear and tear some of it probably due to his work, maybe some from the boxing he said he did but the rest, well there were 101 things they could come from. As much as she knew she should think the worst, ask more questions, she remembered the gentle way he had come back into this room last night. They way he had gone to the restroom and brought back a campy cloth that he used to wipe her face and hands gently before sitting next to her and pulling her into a gentle hug. She had sunk into his warmth, and had gradually managed to get herself under control. She had found his smell smoothing, a mixture of something woodsy, tobacco and whisky. She had started to drift as he stroked her hair and she was half asleep when she felt him move her gently and pull the covers over her. She found it hard to believe that a man who would do that, a man who would buy someone their groceries could be anything other than kind.
She was quite content to lie there and look at his hands with their rings, the reaper face looking back at her. She wondered about each scar and the possible stories behind them. For a while she wondered what his hair felt like, would it be soft or course and wiry? As much as she wanted to touch it and find out she didn’t want to intrude on his space, it would seem like she was taking advantage of him some how.
Belle had just started to wonder whether she could get up without disturbing her companion to use the rest room when a knock on the door caused Tig to jerk up, eyes wide and slightly panicked. She couldn’t help the small laugh that came when she took in his appearance. He scowled briefly before his eyes softened and and he gave a wry smile before he lifted his hand to smooth down his hair “Morning doll”
Before she could respond the knock came again “Tigger, time to wake up fella, Church in 10”. She recognised the voice as the other man she had met. Chibs she recalled. She thought he might of helped last night too. She had a vague memory of his voice and brown eyes, and perhaps gentle hands. Another knock and this time TIg looked annoyed, He took a couple of strides to the door and threw it open
“Jesus Christ! alright man, I’ve got it, Church in 10” Chibs looked around TIg and gave Belle a smile
“Morning lass, how you doing this fine morning?”
Belle returned the smile with a small one of her own, it made her cheek ache and she let out a hiss “Um better I think, just a few aches and pains. Um I, I think I need to say thank you. You helped me last night didn’t you, afterwards” She felt a little embarrassed that she couldn’t remember but if he had helped she didn’t want him to think her ungrateful.
“Aye lass, it was nothing, just a little cleaning and a few band aids. I’m glad to see a bit of a smile on your face there. I’m sure you’re gonna feel sore for a few days but best as I can tell there were no breaks, just a lot of bruises”
“Well thank you, I appreciate your help. You didn’t need to help me”
Chibs threw her a wink and a smile before he turned to head off “5 minutes now brother and Clay doesn’t look in the mood to be kept waiting” The mention of Clay stole the smile from Belle’s face, that man had scared her and she really wasn’t keen to have anything to do with him, As Tig went to close the door Belle began to pull herself out of bed. The usual aches flared up and she winced as her bruised body protested.
She sat on the edge of the bed to gain her bearings before standing and moving over to Tig. She carefully took his hand in hers, making sure that she wasn’t overstepping the bounds of what he would find acceptable.
“Tig, I… I know that you have to go but I need to apologise, I am sorry, so sorry that you had to see my family mess, my mum and all. I remember that you stood up to me with your boss and I truly cant tell you how much I appreciate that, You stood up for me a then stayed with me all night. I don’t know of a time that some one has done that for me and I truly appreciate that” She had focused on his hands at the start but by the end she was looking into those bright blue eyes of his, trying to show him how much she truly appreciated what he had done.
Tig’s hands tightened around hers giving her a squeeze of comfort, while he gave her a gentle smile “Don’t apologise for your mother. She makes her choices, and you don’t have to be responsible for that, I was happy to stay and make sure you feel safe Belle, If you ever need to feel safe, if anyone ever makes you feel not safe, you come here and we will keep you safe. I will keep you safe, Do you understand little girl?”
His eyes were intense and focused on her and at that moment she didn’t know what words would explain just how grateful she was to him in that moment. While there were others here that made her uncomfortable, Tig always made her feel safe.
“Tig!” The shout from the club house had them both blinking and pulling away from each other
“Shit! I gotta go. Will you be ok?”
Belle nodded “Of course you should go” As Tig got to the door she couldn’t help but call out “Tig” He paused and looked back at her “Be careful ok. Whatever is going on, please take care of yourself” Tig’s grin lit up his face
“Always doll” and then he was gone.
As soon as Tig was out of her presence Belle couldn’t help but begin to feel uncomfortable, she didn’t belong here, this wasn’t her place and without Tig presence she felt her differences keenly. She didn’t have work until later that evening so she made he decision to clean up and head home. While the respite from home had been needed last night, she needed to check on her mother and sort out things in the apartment.
Heading out through the clubhouse she pulled the borrowed hoodie closer around her body. She had found her bag without issues but with no other top to wear she knew she would need to leave a note to let them know she would return it. She was surprised at just how clean the bar area was, last night it had looked like a disaster zone but now you wouldn’t know anything had happened. She remembered that the doors had been heavy when she tried to open them the night before so she took her time to open them carefully before heading out into the morning sun and to find someone to leave message with.
The garage bays were open and there seemed to be a couple of mechanics working, but no sign of the men who had been there when she had come by before. Perhaps they were all at this church meeting. They didn’t seem to be the religious kind but who was she to judge.
“Good morning” The call drew her eyes over to the office where she saw Gemma stood drinking coffee. Taking a deep breath she knew that she needed to thank the woman but she couldn’t help but be daunted as she walked over
“Good morning, I erm wanted to say thank you, for last night”
Gemma waved away her thanks gesturing for her to come into the office “Why don’t you have a seat, there is coffee if you want some” Belle smiled in gratitude and poured herself a drink before sitting where Gemma had gestured.
“The boys looked out for you last night. I heard Tigger was in your room this morning - he treat you ok”
“Yes Ma’am. He sat with me. I hope thats ok. It meant a lot. I er well I need to give you back this too” she pulled at the hoodie “but I don’t have anything else to wear just now so um, if I wash it I can return it in a day or two”
Gemma raised an eyebrow “I’m pretty sure I told you it’s Gemma. So he sat with you, well what do you know, Don’t worry about the top, it was just a spare we had lying about the place, Look, i’m not going to beat around the bush. Someone put their hands on you and caused quite a bit of damage. I don’t know if it was that druggie mother of yours or someone else but that shit can’t happen . You need to deal with shit like that and nip it in the bud. You either call the cops or you deal with it yourself, you hear me? These boys, they’re hard men but they know that there are right ways and wrong ways to treat a woman, but they cant be getting into shit. If you want them to deal with something for you then come out and say it”
Belle just stared and she felt the damned tears just well up again. “Gemma, I… Im not looking for someone to deal with things for me. Thing are a mess but with my jobs I’m putting money aside, I cant just leave with no way to support myself. I… I’m trying to deal with this. Its like I told your husband last night - I don’t know what is going on - I just want to work and earn some money and have a quiet life”
Gemma pulled tissues from a draw and passed them over “You’re tougher than you think little girl but you need to be smart. Keep out of trouble and make sure that you look out for you. Take it from someone who knows, there isn’t going to be a good time to leave. You get the money and then you get out. Now I’m going to call you a cab and they can take you home, no arguments. Why don’t you wait out in the sun”
Taking the obvious hint that she was dismissed Belle finished her coffee and headed out to sit at one of the picnic benches.
Gemma watched the small woman leave. She was trouble there was no doubt about it, but the girl had a good head on her, she thought and made plans. Those bruises that she had seen last night told a tale and not even she was a big enough bitch to kick someone when they were that down on their luck Maybe she’ll call in and see her at the coffee shop.
Opening the front door Belle was pleasantly surprised to see that the apartment looked pretty clean and tidy. Often when her mother was really out of it she would come home to a filthy kitchen and living room. She figured that a second cup of coffee was in order before she showered and got changed for the day. Heading into the kitchen her happy mood soon dissipated as she took note of her brother who was sat at the dining table, arms crossed and scowl firmly in place.
“I was going to ask if you want to tell me just where the fuck you think you’ve been all night, but it seems pretty obvious to me ?” he ground out
“I stayed with a friend after Mum went out and made an ass of herself. She was demanding drinks and throwing herself at men. I got a call to go and get her and she went crazy”
She stepped back as John stood abruptly, pushing the chair back with a screech “Well it looks like the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree then. Before you come back to my house proclaiming what a saint you are, maybe you should look in the mirror little sister, You have no shame, Out there whoring yourself out to those assholes! coming back here wearing their mark!” By the end of his speech he towered over her small body, his face scarlet with rage and spit falling from his mouth as he bellowed. Belle tried to channel Gemma, She remembered how the older woman carried herself, the way she bowed down to no one and tired to mimic her stance.
“Do you know the problems you caused? Do you have any idea of the issues you made for me last night? No? Oh well let me shed a little light on it for you. There was a party last night and Mr Darby asked specifically for you to be there. He’s been very patient waiting for you Belle, but no you think you’re too good to come along. So after he made it clear that he expects you there - I came home only to find the house empty. No sign of my sister or mother, Perhaps, I thought, they were on there way over, so I headed back. Now what do I find when I get there but our mother, sobbing her heart out about how she needed help and her daughter was oh so much more interested in a group of bikers than helping her mother. Sobbing to my boss about how the woman who has been too busy to come and see him, was able to find time to hang out with the Sons!”
“That’s not what happened John, listen “ Belle tried to calm the situation while her brain raced. Why on earth would her mother say that she was there to party with the Son’s? Was she really that out of it that she believed that was the case.
“No! I’m talking you are listening! You need to remember that Mr Darby is the reason that we have somewhere to live, that we have money and you will make sure that he understands that you appreciate what he did. You don’t get to see the Sons, go near the Sons or have anything else to do with them.”
“I didn’t do anything with the Sons !” Belle couldn’t help but shout back, She needed to make him understand that she hadn’t done what he thought, but her raised voice just sent him off the deep end and, before she knew it she was lying on the floor, ears ringing and her jaw throbbing in time with her heart beat.
She watched as John shook out his hand and then stalked towards her. She pushed using her feet, trying to keep away from him, scooting backwards across the kitchen floor. John sneered at her before reaching down and grabbing her ankle to pull her closer to him. Belle screamed in fear but her brother didn’t relent. Using his body weight to pin her down he pulled at the hoodie
“John no stop!, what are you doing?” Belle was sobbing, what happened to her brother? why was he treating her like this?
She pushed at his hands but a backhand to her jaw had her letting go and rocking back as she tasted blood. She felt the cool kitchen air on her chest as he pulled down the zipper, sobs coming harder now as she feared just what would happen, and then, before she could react he stood pulling the hoodie off of her as he went.
“This shit doesn’t come back into my house, you hear me. Now get up and get cleaned the fuck up. Mum is in bed, check on her and don’t leave this house!. The slamming of the front door signaled that he was gone and Belle curled into herself and wept.
She lost track of how long she lay and cried on the kitchen floor, but eventually she stood, draping her arms around her front as she tried to ward off the chill she felt. She moved slowly and stiffly, heading first to the bathroom. She knew that it would not be pretty when she looked, but even then she had not been prepared to see just how badly bruised her face was. She had a black eye and bruises from last night but now her other cheek was red and swollen and had a small cut on it, her lip was swollen from where she had bitten it and the side of the jaw where John had first hit her was already turning black. The original injuries could have been covered with makeup, but she didn’t know how she would cover the rest and if she couldn’t cover them then there was no way she could work. She used a washcloth too clean off her face before going for a shower. When she eventually felt clean she dressed and went to check on her mother, She was sound asleep on top of the covers of her bed wearing only skimpy underwear. Ignoring her discomfort at seeing her mother that way, she grabbed a spare blanket and covered her up before heading back to the kitchen to clean up the mess and get that cup of coffee.
She had tried using ice and then applying makeup but it would be clear to anyone just what had happened to her face, which meant she had to call in sick to work. Jill said she understood and hoped she felt better soon but Belle couldn’t shake the guilt. Hopefully she could get the bruising to a state that she could cover it before Monday. She had gone in to check on he mother multiple times, but she slept on through like nothing had happened. Belle had wondered whether she had taken an overdose but based on the way her mother continued to breathe normally she didn’t think that calling for help would be needed. She tried to sleep herself but every time she closed her eyes she could see her brother towering over her bringing his hand down to hit her again and again so instead she went and lay on the sofa and tried to remember just how she had felt this morning when she woke up with Tig holding her hand.
At some stage Belle must have dozed off as the ringing of the phone works her up. Stumbling over she picked up the receiver and gave a muttered “Hello”
“It’s me, You need to be dressed and ready to go out when I get in tonight, Make sure mum is up too. Mr Darby needs to see you both” The dial tone let her know her brother was done and Belle just stood there blinking as she processed the information She didn’t even get to tell him that she couldn’t cover the bruises.
By the time John had gotten back to the house later that night at 6 Belle had managed to get her mother up and dressed, called into work and get herself into clean jeans and a t-shirt. Her face hurt and the last thing she wanted to do was deal with her brothers boss but she knew that if she refused it wouldn’t go well for her. Her mother perked up when John came in and was delighted that they would spend the evening with Darby. Belle just followed along
Belle couldn’t help but wrinkle her face when they pulled up to a somewhat rough looking bar called the Hairy Dog. It didn’t look like somewhere that she wanted to spend the evening but her mother didn’t seen to share her concerns as quite happily got out the car and headed inside. John just waited for her and when she moved slower than he would like he gave her a push forwards. The inside of the bar was nothing special. It was grubby, smokey and full of a lot of people she didn’t know. Her mother seemed to be well known, she headed to the bar and got a drink quickly, John kept a hold of her arm even as he greeted some of the guys. He didn’t bother to introduce her to anyone, he just pulled her along. No one seemed in the least bit concerned about the bruises on her face which she hadn’t really been able to disguise. A man with a shaved head looked her over and then leant in a spoke to her brother too quietly for her to make out what was said. Her brother nodded in response and then pushed her froward
“Mr Darby is waiting to see you. I’ve got work to do Blake will take you back”. The man with shaved head pulled her forward by the wrist to an office door towards the back, He didn’t attempt to speak to her, he just gave a quick knock and pushed the door open,
The office was just that, an office Belle looked around to see a couple of filing cabinets, a desk and a couple of ratty chairs, a door that presumably lead outside and standing with a phone to his ear Earnest Darby. She was pushed non too gently to the chair in front of the desk and then she heard to door shut
“Ok get that bagged up and shipped out. There hasn’t been anyone by the gas station, try using it for drop off, keep some guys on lookout and get the rest through to Oakland.” Finishing his call she watched as Darby made his way to the desk, but rather than sitting behind it he moved to the front and sat on the edge, his knees just touching hers.
“Ah the lovely Belle. Ive been waiting for you to come and visit, and I have to say that I was disappointed that you didn’t. I had to express my disappointment to your brother, which is a shame as he’s a good worker, but sometimes people need a little more motivation.” he gestured to her face “As i can see you have learnt the hard way. Now I had hoped that we could spend a very pleasant evening together but unfortunately we need to have a more difficult discussion first”
Belle couldn’t help but look confused, she had no idea what he was talking about and quite frankly she didn't want to have any kind of conversation with him.
“So it seems that you have been putting your nose into places that it doesn’t belong, probably telling stories your really shouldn’t. Now why don’t you be a good girl and tell me just what told to the Son’s last night hmmm”
“Mr Darby I’m not sure what you heard but what ever it was it was a lie”
“Now now Belle, you aren’t going to make things any better by continuing with this bullshit” He stood moving behind his desk where he picked something up off of the chair “Are you about to tell me that you don’t know the Sons? That you weren’t there last night ? Because that would be a very poor choice. You see your mother, well she was in here telling me all about how the Sons knew you and how you were talking to them. You know addicts, well they will tell you just about anything for their next fix and mummy dearest, she was desperate for a little hit to take the edge off. Then of course your brother brought me this!” Belle was hit in the face by some cloth and she knew in an instant what it was, the hoodie that Gemma had given her. She couldn’t help but tighten her grip on it
“I was at the clubhouse last night but only to collect my mum. She was there looking for someone and was creating a problem, they called the house and I went to get her, I stayed because things got a bit out of hand and I didn’t want to go home”
Darby gave her a smile as he came back around to the front of the desk again “Ah I see - maybe some people would be inclined to believe you, but you see Belle, I know the Sons and I know that they would have wanted something in return for letting you stay, and I need to know what you told them. You see they are interfering in my business and well, that’s just not something thats acceptable”
“Your business? Drugs you mean “
“Now we are getting somewhere - so what did you tell them about my business Belle”
“Nothing I didn’t tell them anything. I don’t know anything about what you do!”
“I’m sorry to hear that Belle, truly I am” She watched as Darby stood and moved to one side but remained seated as his foot flew up and kicked the base of the chair tipping it over and back. She flailed to try and right herself, but ended up on her back with Darby standing over her “Now lets see if we can’t jog a couple of memories”
Belle had lost track of time, right now all she could track was pain and where the next blow would come from. No matter how many times she said that she hadn’t told anyone anything Darby didn’t seem interested, For every denial there was a punch or a kick. Head, body. limbs - they were all fair target and each blow was accompanied by unkind words and threats of so much worse than the beating she was taking.
Darby had said he was taking a break and had left her in the office. She had thought about trying to leave but right now moving her body in any way seemed to be more than she could manage. Hearing the door open she tensed as much as she was able and waited for the next blow to come, when it didn’t she looked around and saw two figures stood there. The first moved forward and crouched down by her head, helping her lift it.
“See now Johnny, this is what has to happen to little birds who like to fly off and tell tales out of school. I’ve got to say I’m disappointed that it came to this. You’ve worked well for me but your sister well that’s a different story. I’m willing to give you a chance Johnny - now tell me what did you let this little girl know?”
“I didn’t tell her anything Mr D. I mean Jesus look at her she’s too clean cut to be of any use. The only reason that I had to ask you for cash was that she was always on my back about needing stuff and now I find out that she’s no better than a whore. She’s not even smart enough to sell it, instead she’s off giving it to people who don’t even hold true with their own race” She felt dampness hit her cheek as her brother spat at her.
“So you didn’t talk about work at home? Ok - I have business that needs to be dealt with. I’m leaving you in charge” Darby walked up to her brother and got right in his face “Find out what she told them and just how much she knows. This is your chance to fix things Johnny boy!”
With that Darby left and Belle was left looking up at her brother. It was hard to speak with her face battered and bruised but she tried “John please! I don’t know whats happening but I swear I didn’t say anything to anyone”
John knelt down by her head and she could see the pity in his face. “Please Johnny” She lifted her hand up to hold onto his arm aware that she would get blood on him but not really caring
“Oh god Belle. All you had to do was tell him. That’s it! just tell us what you said and we can be done, We will get you to a doctor and we can forget all about this”
Belle let her arm fall, she couldn’t tell them anything, she didn’t know anything and she couldn’t even guess what kind of information she would have been able to share.
“Fucks sake Belle. Don't lie there and act all sad. This is all on you. You had two jobs. You were to bring in cash and keep mum clean. You’ve barely managed one of those. These people are who I work with and we needed them. They wanted to help our family when no one else would and then you decide to go and screw with the Sons. Fuck you Belle, Fuck you!”
His foot made contact with her ribs twice. She watched through blurred vision as her brother strode around the room muttering to himself. What ever he was debating he seemed to come to a conclusion as he squatted down next to her. “Little sister, you’ve dropped yourself into something that I can’t get you out of and you’ve left me with only one choice” She winced as his hand hugged her head up by her hair, tears still falling.
Her heart fell as she looked at just how closed off her brothers face was. John hauled her head up higher before throwing it to the floor. She didn’t try and stop him, what could she do? Her head hit with a sold thunk and her vision swam black, she felt another blow to her cheek and something landing hard and painfully in her stomach before footsteps moved away from her and the door slammed closed.
She didn’t know how long she had laid there going in an out of conciseness but eventually she found herself awake and still lying curled up on the floor of Darby’s office. Belle sobbed. How is this what her life had come to? She had hoped that when her brother came back he would help her manage things and now here she was lying beaten and bloody in an office thanks to her brothers boss.
Her mother was an addict and she didn’t even know what her brother was, other than not the man who went to war. She tried to work out what her mother could gain from telling Darby what she had, other than more drugs, but she couldn’t come up with anything. As she thought through last night one image kept coming back - Gemma and the way she took no shit. She remembered their conversation and Gemma telling her she was tougher than she realised. It wasn’t all that tough to lie on the floor what would Gemma think if she saw her now, just some weak crying mess.
Taking a deep breath in and holding it Belle shifted her body into an upright position before gasping for air as her whole body pounded from the exertion. She looked over at the door. There was a lock, maybe the could keep Darby or her brother from coming back in. Getting to her feet proved to be too much, when she had tried to push herself up one of her wrists had given way, so she crawled, using one hand, holding the other against her chest. She was able to use the wall and the door handle with her one good hand to get onto her feet and then twist the lock shut.
Tears of pain kept running down her face but quitting now wasn’t an option. She eyed the desk speculatively Darby had been using a phone when she came in, was there a chance that he had left it, She could call the cops if he had. Shaking she tried to walk but her legs didn’t seem to want to hold her, so once again she went on hand and knees to the desk and pulled herself up. When she coughed it felt like someone had stabbed her. and she knew that was bad news. She sat in the chair and caught her breath, what little energy she had was waning and she couldn’t afford to just sit here, There was no phone that she could see so now she needed a plan B.
As she desperately wracked her brain for what to do a lump on the floor caught her eye, the hoodie. Unthinkingly she pulled her self back up and used the desk to support her as she worked her way back round to the collapsed chair she had started this evening in, and then used her foot to pull the hoodie over. When she was wrapped back up in it she felt a little more confident, like she was channeling Gemma. She looked back around the room noticing again the second door, the one she had thought would lead to the outside earlier in the evening. It seemed a long time ago and the pounding in her skull didn’t make it easy to focus. There was a chance that it wasn’t locked, and if she remembered correctly there had been a phone box not too far from the bar.
If she could get outside she could make a call and then hide until the Police came. It wasn’t all that much of a plan but it was the best she could come up with. Belle moved around the desk again to the chair behind it and smiled when she noticed it had wheels. She sat down and used her foot to push herself over to the door It had the same locking mechanism as the door she came in through with the addition of a latch two thirds of the way up. Twisting the bottom lock was easy, getting the latch less so, The wheels that made it easy to get over here would not let her use the chair as support so instead she rested on the wall. It took three attempts, some more tears and some quiet swearing before she managed to reach and flick the latch. Belle took in a deep breath before she tried the door, the handle twisted and she rested all her weight on it to try and push it open.
At first there was no movement and she was just about to give in when the door moved a fraction under her weight. It was heavy, but if she could get it open she would be out. The idea of being out of this room was all the motivation she needed. Stealing herself for the pain Belle stood up supporting her own body weight before allowing her body to just fall forward. The impact was jarring and every ache and hurt she had flared on impact. Everything seemed to freeze for a moment and the slowly the door began to open. As the cool air kissed her face Belle couldn’t help but feel elated. She could do it!, she could get out of here, she just needed enough of a gap to get out. Pushing and squeezing her body she managed to get through the gap and fell again to her knees as the door swung closed again. There wasn’t a handle that she could make out on the outside, so there was no way back if that was what she needed. She took a moment to listen and look around. From what she could make out this was a service lane for the businesses. It was gross and she didn’t want to think about quite what she was lying in or what made that scurrying sound. She knew she had to move, but while the mind was willing her body just wasn’t able. Trying to control her breathing as panic set in she took a minute, then another to focus and let the pain dull a little, before trying to move again. She didn’t have the energy to get to her feet so she began the slow one handed crawl towards what she hoped was the right exit.
It seemed to take an age to reach the main street. Belle just felt numb. The pain was still there but she couldn’t focus on it, she just had to think one more step. one more step. There was a streetlight that she could see and that was what she was aiming for. Just before she made it out in to the street proper she took a moment to look around the corner, She could see that there were a couple of guys hanging around outside the bar, but no one she recognised and they were facing the other way. She pulled the hood of the jacket up and used the corner of the wall to try and pull herself up-right. Her knees screamed with pain her ribs throbbed and for a moment she thought she would vomit, but she controlled it. Looking in the other direction she could see what she thought was the corner near the phone box. She took a moment to centre herself and then limp shuffled her way to the other side of the lane to use the wall to support her. She was about half way to the corner with its phone and freedom when her legs gave out and she collapsed. She didn’t have the energy to even attempt to stand so she found herself just lying there. As her vision began to fade she felt someone turn her over, their hands gentle. She couldn’t see enough to know who it was, she tried to push who ever it was away, when her bad hand pushed on them she let out a whimper of pain and her hands were pushed down.
“Easy, easy, we’re not going to hurt you. Shit, where did you get this top from?” She couldn’t process what they were saying and she just turned her head. She was shaken back to wakefulness “Open your eyes. I need to know who gave you this top, are you a friend of the club?” Her voice cracked as she answered “Club?” A familiar symbol was pushed in her face “This club, who do you know there?”
Belle struggled to focus on the face that went with the voice but all she could make out was a curly hair. “I…I Gemma” her voice seemed quiet and far away "and ….. um…Tig. Please help me”
“Shit ok, hang on I’ve got to make a call and then I’m going to get you out of here. Just, just hold on yeah” The arms let her go and Belle just closed her eyes. This stranger would either help her, or not but either way she didn’t have the energy left to care.
Chapter 13: Drawing Lines
Darby has drawn his line in the sand. but there are others who have pencils too and they will draw their own lines. Let battle commence
Warning: description of injuries
Phil fumbled with his phone. casting concerned glances over at the small woman who was once again unconscious on the the street. He had seen someone coming out from behind the Dog and had been ready to call Juice who was his backup for the night. The figure was small and didn’t look like they were any danger to him so he had gone over to check and sure enough there was a tiny battered woman. Her face was a mess and he couldn't really make out details of her features what with the poor light and the general damage she had taken. What he could see clearly was the emblem on the chest of the hoodie she wore, The reaper with the anarchy symbol was the same as the one he wore daily. He had panicked a little on seeing it and then when she had mentioned Gemma and Tig his heart rate had jumped up again, they both terrified him and if she was a friend of the Club and he left her here then he could kiss his top rocker goodbye
“Juice, We’ve got an issue, I need you to head over to the van, Yeah now” He hung up and waited for the more experienced member unwilling to risk the wrath of the others if he made the wrong choice.
“Jesus man what the fuck did you do!” Phil jumped when Juice leant over this shoulder to stare at the woman the prospect was currently crouched over
“I didn’t do anything. She came from over there” Phil gestured to the lane. I figured she was just some hang around but i had to check on her when she collapsed Did you see what she was wearing?”
“So Darby and his boys got too rough. They’re all assholes, so it doesn’t surprise me, but we cant be taking folks in we’re on stakeout and you shouldn’t be fuckin’ worried about how she dressed when she’s a mess like that”
Phil wrinkled his face in confusion until he caught onto just what Juice was saying “Jesus no! I would never…. Look she had a Son’s top on. Says she knows Gemma and Tig”
Juice crouched to look more closely and the unconscious lump and Phil heard his muttered curse “Fuck, Get her in the Van, gently. I’m gonna call the Club. Has Darby left?”
Phil shook his head and then looked down at the woman “ How should I…..”
“Figure it out prospect, she will need to lie in the back” Juice snapped before walking off behind the van to keep himself hidden from sight.
Phil had just shut the rear door of the van after placing the poor woman in the back when Juice came back over. “Right I am gonna go back. wait over there but the corner to so I can keep an eye on things here. You need to head back to the Clubhouse with her. Happy is heading this way to cover for you. Don’t run any red lights, and keep below the speed limit, You get pulled over with her in the back looking like that and your gonna be looking at a long stretch. You did the right thing, calling man.”
Phil had nodded and moved to get back in the van “Im not sure whose gonna meet you there but you probably want to make sure Gemma knows what’s going on - get one of the others to call her”
The trip to the lot was uneventful and Phil’s passenger was silent the entire way. As he pulled up outside the clubhouse he could see two figures waiting. One was unmistakably Gemma. Phil swallowed hard and prepared for what ever was coming his way, there was a good chance that he could be heading out for a body drop at the hospital if the Queen was pissed someone had used her name. He wasn’t even out of the truck before it started
“Who the fuck is coming out of Darby’s place and saying that they’re something to do with this club?” hands on hips foot tapping Gemma was clearly pissed.
“Take it easy Ma, the prospect called first and I had Happy pass on the message bring them in. They could have something useful to tell us before we dump them at the hospital”
“Or it could be a trap. What happens if we bring them into the club house and Deputy Hail and his cronies turn up? We’ll be in shit creak then all because the prospect didn’t want to leave some used up slut at the side of the road. Where is your head at? We don’t need this…”
Jax had moved to the back of the van only half listening to his mother. He flung the door open and gestured to Phil to bring out the woman. He scowled when he realised that who ever it was was mostly covered in a Son’s hoodie. Gemma pushed passed her son and pulled the hood off of the unconscious body and let out a curse.
“Oh Christ. Jax get her in the club house and into one of the clean dorm rooms” She had turned on her heal and was heading in before either man had moved. Jax gently took the woman from Phil and gestured with his head “Make sure that the back of the van is cleaned out, bleach it and then head back out, take one of the repo’d cars” Turning to follow his mother, who was now waiting impatiently with the clubhouse door open he took a second to glance down and realized what had upset his mother. It was hard to recognise her with the bruising and blood but he was pretty sure he had seen this face less than 24 hours ago
“Oh hell Ma. Is this that woman that was here last night? The one who stayed with Tig? What the hell is she tied up in ?”
“I don’t know baby but what ever it is she didn’t deserve this” Gemma reached up to stroke at the woman hair. In the slightly brighter lights of the club house it was easy to see that she had been worked over and that this may be beyond what they could help with, without the help of a doctor.
“Chibs!” Jax hollered for the Scott who was mid pool game with Opie. “We’re gonna need you brother, and your med kit”
Putting down the pool cue Chibs started to head back to his dorm not questioning the VP and Opie headed over to Jax “Holy shit man!”
Jax nodded “I know”
Chibs was laying out supplies in one of the dorm rooms having already laid a couple of towels on the bed when Gemma lead the group in. “Get ‘em on the bed Jackie boy” Chibs muttered as checked over his things “and get the table lamp on so I can see what the fuck I’m doing here”
Jax knew the moment that Chibs had seen just who he was treating when he felt the other man still and draw in a breath “Oh, mo chailín what have they done to you?”
Jax watched as the older Scott leant forward and tried to brush her hair away from her face where it was sticking to the blood and cuts there. “Gem, help me get her out of these clothes, Jax go and get me some warm water and clothes. We’re gonna need more than I’ve got here”
Chibs felt his heart break more than just a little at the sight of Belle, lying limp and unresponsive on the cot. Her face was swollen and bloody and gods only knew what damage was underneath her clothes. With Gemma’s help they managed to get her stripped down to her underwear and the damage done became clear. Her arms and upper torso were more bruise that skin, she clearly had something wrong with one hand. Her thighs had their own share of bruising, her knees where cut up pretty badly and one ankle was swollen. Her back was in much the same mess as her front, they could see bruises that looked like boot prints, and there were marks that could have been from a bat or stick of some kind.
“Poor Girl” Gemma broke the tense silence of the room. “Do you think that the beating was all they did?” She glanced down at the bruises on Belle’s thighs.
“Fuck knows Gem. The bruises don’t look like hand prints, and she was dressed but the kind of animal that would do this, they wouldn’t hesitate. The poor lass didn’t deserve this. Why the fuck would she even be at the dog!”
“I don't know baby, but what ever the reason it didn’t end up well for her. Maybe one of the other boys would have seen”. The door opened and Jax came back into the room with Opie a mixing bowl filled with clean warm water and a stack of clean cloths carried between them. Opie’s eyes widened and he looked away after taking in some of the damage. Jax just stared.
“Hey!, I think the wee lass has had enough indignity to last her tonight, how about you put your eyes back in your head Jackie boy!” Jax glanced quickly at Chibs
“Sorry man, its just shocking to see her looking like that, ya know. She gonna be ok ?”
“I don’t fucking know! She’s battered all to fuck and i’m guessing there’s broken ribs, probably a broken wrist and a sprained ankle, not to mention head trauma. There could be internal bleeding”
Jax nodded as Chibs listed out the young woman list of woes. “Ok man i’ll head back out, but you shout if we can help”
“Aye brother” Chibs kept his eyes on Belle and didn’t move until he heard the door close. “OK Gem, lets get her cleaned up. We’ll start at her head. I need to check her skull and see if there is any damage”
They worked slowly. cleaning and bandaging as they went, They found 2 large lumps on her head, one at the temple and one at the back of her skull and a couple of shallow splits in the skin that had stopped bleeding themselves. Her face after cleaning required stitches both butterfly and sutured and ice packs. Chibs managed to straighten her nose and he couldn’t feel any other breaks but there was a chance that her cheek bone could be fractured, Her throat had finger shaped bruises on it and it felt like she had at least 2 broken ribs. He worked slowly, cleaning her body and bandaging as he went. Gemma had changed out the water twice before they got to her feet. The rolled her to the side so that they could remove the soiled towels before settling her in the bed.
“Put an extra cover on her Gem. We need to keep her warm, she’s gonna be in shock. I don’t know how much blood she lost”
“You got any idea when she’s going to wake up?”
Chibs sighed and took off his glasses rubbing at his eyes “I don’t know Gem, If she isn’t showing any signs of coming round were probably gonna need to get her to St Thomas”
Gemma moved back over to the bed and gently brushed Belle’s hair back. “Why don’t you go grab a drink baby and I’ll sit with her for now”
Chibs smiled gently “You sure Ma? It’s been a long evening” Gemma just shooed him out before pulling up a chair next to the bed and holding the young girls cold hand.
Chibs had sat at the bar nursing a whisky. In his head all he could do was catalogue the injuries that he had recorded on Belle’s body. Internally he was raging. She was a tiny thing really, small and bird like, and every time he had seen her she had been gentle and sweet. If there was ever anyone who didn’t deserve this to happen it was her. He had seen the bruises on her body the day before and he figured that it might be time to pay a visit to her asshole brother. Something in his gut told him that if he hadn’t been responsible for this directly that he was involved some how and men like that didn’t listen to words, they only understood one language and he would be more than happy to speak it.
“Chibs” He was pulled from his thoughts by Gemma and as he stood she said the first positive thing that he had heard since Belle had been brought in “She’s waking up”
Belle struggled to open her eyes, She felt tired but something told her that she needed to wake up. In her head she could feel the blows landing. Oh god what if she was still at Darby’s, or what if he had taken her somewhere else. She knew from the pain that radiated from just about every part of her body that the beating had been real. Her heart pounded, if she was still there, then she was dead, there was no way around it. She couldn’t guess at a lie to tell Darby that he would believe and she didn’t think she could take another beating. A large part of her wanted to pretend to be asleep but somewhere inside she could hear Gemma telling her that she needed to be tough. If she was going to die then she didn’t want to do it afraid and curled up in a corner. She deliberately drew in a deep breath and concentrated on trying to get her eyes to open. She could feel her eye lashes flutter and then she felt another hand squeeze her own before the sensation left her again. Her breath was coming in pants and her head pounded in time with her heart beat. There was some kind of commotion that she couldn’t focus on as all of her thoughts focused on just how bad she was feeling, and then the hand was back.
Chibs rushed to dorm room that Belle had been resting in, as soon as he entered he could hear her breaths coming in harsh pants. He knew that had to be hurting her, with the damage to her ribs. Moving to the bed he took a hold of her hand trying to reassure her. “Easy there lass, Easy. Your safe, at the club house.”
It took Belle a few seconds to make sense of the voice she could hear, and another few to put a name to the face it conjured. Chibs! She tried to control her breathing, to let him know she heard him. Her hand squeezed his, it wasn’t much and she couldn’t squeeze hard but she knew he felt it
“You’re in the Club house Belle and you’re safe. Gemma is here too, the prospect found you and brought you here”
Belle tried to speak but couldn’t get any noise to come out, her mouth was dry and still; tasted of copper.
“Hey baby” she heard Gemma’s voice. “I’ve got you some water” Her head was lifted slightly setting off another round of explosions and she felt a bottle pressed to her lips, Her moth hurt but the water was cool and soothing in her throat.
“I….it….h…hurts” It seemed to take everything she had to get the simple statement out
“Aye lass i’d imagine it does. You’ve taken quite a beating, your eyes are pretty swollen so don’t try and force them open. I know you want to rest but at best you have a concussion at the very least and I’m pretty sure you’ve got a broken wrist and ribs in your collection too. Now wee one can you tell me who did this to you?”
Belle listened as best she could, could she trust these people?. She had worn their hoodie and it had gotten her a beating. They were obviously into something illegal, but they had treated her kindly, probably more kindly than she deserved and they had brought her here and treated her injuries.
“D….” her voice broke again as she struggled to speak through swollen lips and a sore dry throat. “Mr D…Darby and my b…b…b…brother” The bottle was pressed to her lips and more calling water followed.
“Shite and arse!” Chibs hand squeezed hers almost painfully “I’m sorry lass”
Belle tried to smile, but it hurt too much and she was sure it came out as more of a grimace. “Listen here now, we will keep you here. If you need to see a doctor then we’ll get that set and we will deal with these assholes, you hear me! The Son’s will look out for you wee one”
Regardless of her worries Belle couldn’t help but feel comforted by what he was saying.
“Do you think you can manage some pain killers Lass?. We can’t have you sleeping too much but we can take the edge off”
“I..I think so” She felt two tablets being pressed to her lips and managed to take them and some water in. Choking them down her body was wracked with even more pain. It took her a minute or two to catch her breath. Her head was back to pounding and she was seeing flashing lights behind her eyelids.
“Take it easy baby” What she thought was Gemma’s hand, felt nice and soft against her head as she stroked her hair back in a soothing manner. Belle felt her body start to relax and she waited for the painkillers to kick in. She let her mind drift and came to the conclusion that the Sons may not be entirely good but they were better than the people that had done this to her.
“Gemma” her voice seemed far away
“It’s ok baby I’m here, just rest”
“Darby, he” her voice cracked and she swallowed heavily “ He was on the phone. He said that he’ll use the garage and the rest goes to Oakland”
She felt Gemma’s hand stop and just rest on her head. “Darby said that baby? Is that why he hit you?”
“Nooo” she felt far away now, floating on a warm raft “He said ….. I told you …..things. Mum .. said” She wasn’t sure that she was making sense anymore but the more she floated the less she wanted to speak
“Darby thought you told us things? That’s why he did this? What did you tell him?”
“Gemma!” Chibs was here she thought, he was a kind man, had he always been here ? she couldn’t remember
“Hmmm I said no…… he was mad…hmmmm I’m …I’m tired” she could hear her voice had a slur and she felt a little nauseous but her grip on what was happening was gone and she let herself float
“Ok baby” Gemma looked at Chibs - “Get Jax to call Clay and let him know. I’ll stay” Chibs nodded and left the room
“Ah Belle, I’m sorry this happened to you, but you made it through. You looked out for us, now we’ll look out for you”
Chapter 14: Family Business
Family is what you make of it. Blood may be thick but trust when earned can be indestructible
Jax put his phone down on the bar top and took a drag from his cigarette. “They’re heading back from Oakland, they should be back in 20 minutes or so”
“Aye how did Tiggy take it?”
“Didn’t tell him man. I gave them the info and told them that we needed them back to plan. We don’t need Tiggy running off half cocked. We can use this to get Darby once and for all and put an end to this shit”
“Jeysus Jackie. Tig is gonna loose it when he finds out. He’s not gonna want to hang about. Yeh know what he’s like”
“I get it … that’s why Im not gonna tell him until after we have a plan” Jax held his hand up stopping Chibs who was already cussing him out “ We need a plan, once we tell Tig, he’s not gonna be a lot of help, so we plan and then we tell him - and then we make him her body guard”
Chibs ribbed at his eyes tiredly. Why was it that they couldn’t just take the simple route for once. He wanted to see to see an end to this drug BS and for Darby to be out of Charming, at least as much as the next man, but he didn’t want to be playing his brothers to do it.
He sat at the bar and went back to staring into his drink. He didn’t want to socialise with the others, he wanted to head back to the dorms and check on Belle and then sleep. The slamming open of the clubhouse doors pulled this attention back to the room and he watched as Clay, Tig and the others jostled their way inside waving for drinks.
“So tell us about this info that you got”
Jax gestured to the chapel doors and they filed in. He looked around the table making sure he had everyones attention
“I know we’re all tired but we got a break tonight on this shit with Darby. We know that they’re working out of the cook house. Turns out they’ve made a deal with someone in Oakland for a lot of their merch. They’ve been leaving the gas station alone but because we stayed away they’re gonna be back using it in the next couple of days”
Clay puffed on his cigar and stared at his step son thinking over this new information “What have we seen out at the cookhouse and the bar?”
“Last check in the routine was the same, things have been pretty quiet at the Dog. Darby went in earlier today and hasn’t been out since. We’re not expecting to hear back from the guys for another few hours, unless we call ‘em back”
Clay nodded and blew out smoke “How sure are we of this information?”
“One hundred percent. Getting this cost a friend of the club a lot, We don’t have specifics, but Juice still has cameras set up at the gas station, we should put a prospect on one of them. We know where the cook house is, we go in and take it out. Blow it sky high. Leroy is either the buyer of their merch, or he’ll want to know so we should reach out to him. We destroy their business, make sure that they don’t have a leg left to stand on”
“Laroy is the big runner out of Oakland, things went well out there the last couple of times. I’ll give him a call tomorrow see what we can figure out. We need to be ready to move if it’s Laroy then we might set them off. Perhaps we leave him to last”
“Its risky to do that. If we leave the Oakland arm available, they still have a way to pull in income” Tig cut in
“And if we let them know too soon and they get back to Darby then we could loose the chance to shut down the cook house and get rid of some of their dealers” Opie pushed back. Tig couldn’t help but incline his head in agreement.
Clay stroked at his beard and took a drink before leaning forward, his forearms resting on the table He looked around at the members that were there, Happy, Juice and the prospects were missing but he didn’t want to hang about on this decision “Ok so this is how we do it. We monitor the gas station, have a couple of us hanging near by and others ready to go. We take them out. We know that there will be increased security around the cook house, thats ok, were gonna blow the house sky high, then we will contact Laroy, Opie is right - we let Laroy know and he could blow everything. All in favour”
The call of Aye was unanimous “Ok lets call it good. Ope you ok to sort out the explosives ?” Opie nodded and Clay brought down the gavel. “Good now get the fuck outa here”
Chibs followed his brothers out of chapel and waited by the door for Jax “Good plan there VP. I’m gonna speak to Tig, it would good if you and Ope were about “ Jax nodded and patted Chibs on the shoulder while gesturing for Opie to come over. Grabbing a table that Tig would have to go past to get out the clubhouse they took a seat.
“Tigger” Chibs rested a hand on his brothers shoulder
“Chibby! How you doing brother? You manage to keep yourself busy while the rest of us were out and about ?” The grin on Tig’s face was contagious and Chibs found himself giving a wry grin in return
“Aye well it was busy enough”
“Yeah you and crow eaters had a good time?”
“Not quite brotha. Look you know that club friend that Jackie was talking about in church? Well they came back here, someone had worked them over real good. It’s a miracle that they got back here at all”
“Shit man, that’s crazy. Hey have you let Clay know?”
“Tigger, the friend of the club - it was Belle”. Chibs watched as Tig’s bottle of beer paused half way up to his mouth and he eyes lost any warmth, the blue becoming hard
“It was Belle. She’s here brotha”
Tig slammed the bottle onto the bar and stood up quickly enough to topple the stool “Where the fuck is she!”
“Easy brotha, she’s in the dorms. Tig - she’s not a pretty sight right now, but she’s alive. I’ve got her on some good pain killers. There is chance we’re gonna need to take her to the hospital”
He could see the fury passing over his friends face. This is what he had been worried about
Tigs hand grabbed hold of Chibs vest and pulled him forward until their noses nearly touched. Chibs could see the fury in his eyes “I asked you Who, The, Fuck, Touched, Her”
“From what she could tell us it seems it was her brother and Darby. Listen brotha” Tig pushed him away and started to head back out of the club house. Chibs was about to follow, nodding to Jax to try and intercept the now pissed off biker, when another voice rang out
“She’s scared Tig”
He watched Tig stop and his head drop “She’s scared and she took a beating just because she came here. She’s was scared and beaten and she still found a way to make it here. To be safe here. To tell us what we needed to know”
Chibs glanced over at Gemma. She was stood in the doorway, hip canted and arms crossed, she was pissed and Chibs was glad that her ire wasn’t directed at him
“She’s all those things Tigger and you’re just going to storm out of here all pissed off and fuck it all up and it will have been for nothing”
Tig slowly turned and strode back across the club house pausing as he reached Gemma.
“Where is she” Gemma pointed down the corridor and Tig stomped off. Chibs was about to go back to his beer when her cough drew his attention. She raised her eyebrow and tilted her head in the direction Tig had gone. Chibs sighed and followed in his friends steps as Gemma headed over to Clay.
Tig stood in the doorway of the dorm room and just stared. The broken looking body in the bed seemed a mile away from the shy smiling woman that he had held in this same room. He moved forwards slowly his eyes taking in the bruised and discoloured face and battered hands one of which was heavily strapped.
“Oh Doll, what did they do to you. Baby you must have been so scared” His voice was rough and caught in his throat as he swallowed the ball of grief he could feel rising.
“They worked her over good Tig. She’s got broken bones, stitches, bruises and probably a pretty bad concussion. Jackie called Tara, she’s gonna stop in at the end of her shift”
“Jesus Chibs! I don’t even know where to touch her without hurting her.” He couldn’t look away from her. No matter how much he wanted this to not be true he couldn’t take his eyes off her.
Chibs pushed the chair Gemma had been using over “ She seemed to find Gemma stroking her head comforting and holding this hand was ok too. We’re gonna need to wake her again in a couple of hours, get her to drink. She’s gonna be scared brotha. Her eyes are so swollen she cant open them, so speak to her, let her know she’s ok”
“I’m going to kill them” There was no debate in Tig’s tone he kept his voice low the sorrow he felt running alongside his anger
“I know brotha, but not now. Don’t make this be for nothing”
“She’s a good girl Chibs. I told you she didn’t need to be involved in this. She got involved and this is what happened!”
“I hear you, but thanks to her brother, she was involved anyway. Least this way she had somewhere to come. Somewhere to be safe. Keep her safe Tig” Chibs rested his hand on Tig’s shoulder and squeezed before leaving for his own bunk.
When the door shut Tig leaned forward and pressed his lips gently to Belle’s head “I got you baby. Tig’s not going to let anyone do any more damage”
Tig paced outside the room. He had managed to wake Belle every couple of hours over the night and she seemed to take some peace from hearing his voice when he spoke. He had woken Chibs up to get some more pain killers the first time he got her awake only to be told that she couldn’t have any until Tara had been through and done her checks. It had pissed him off, which ended up with him pissing off Happy after he work him up with his ranting.
“She’s in fucking pain man! There are hours until the Doc gets here and what? I’m just supposed to be ok with her hurting!”
“Yeah well she’s also alone and scared so why don’t you shut the fuck up, go back in there and keep her company and let the rest of us actually get some sleep asshole” Happy slammed his door shut before Tig had a chance to tell him to go fuck himself
“He’s right. Go sit with the girl. If you need to work something out go use the heavy bag or have a drink and i’ll sit with her”
Tig looked back at Chibs “Nah it’s fine i’ll stay with her, but soon as the Doc gets here she comes on back. No dicking about with Jax or having a coffee right!” He shoved his finger in Chib’s face to emphasis just how serious he was
“Aye Tiggy no bother”
Tig had gone back with icepacks to help ease the swelling and had sat and told Belle stories to distract her. Nothing heavy, just funny things that had happened in the club. She had eventually fallen asleep and Tig had nodded off himself sitting in the chair.
“Christ how does she sleep through that - he snores like a bear” Jax’s voice had woken Tig with a start and he jerked up glaring at the VP
“You got a little something there Tig” Jax gestured to the corner of his mouth and Tig grumbled as he wiped at the drool. “The fuck you want Jax?”
“Hey Tig, I’m here to look at your friend” Tara stepped further into the room “I hear she had a ….oh” The men knew that Doc would be shocked. The bruising had come out more over the course of the night and while the ice helped minimise the swelling Belle’s face was a real mess.
“Yeah she’s been in a lot of pain. She hasn’t had meds overnight We used ice and stuff to help”
“Ok, well ice was a good plan” Tara smiled softly as she took in the concerned way that Tig hovered, standing closely enough to the woman in the bed that no one could get to her without going through him.
“Did ahh, Did Chibs tell you what happened, her injuries and all that?”
“He gave me a rough idea, but it would be good to speak to him first” She looked at Jax “Could you?” Jax smiled and nodded before heading off
“Hey Doc, I’ll wake her up ok. She’s scared. Last night she couldn’t open her eyes, and when the drugs wore off she was restless”
Tara put her kit down on the dresser looking over at Tig “Ok that’s good to know. And she’s ok with you?”
“Yeah me and I guess Chibs and Gemma last night”
“Aye she’s a good lass. Hey Doc” Chibs was still rumpled looking when he came into the room. “Let me give you the run down Doc while Tiggy here wakes Belle”
Tig nodded his thanks to the Scott before he moved over to sit on the edge of the bed, careful to not jostle Belle. “Hey Doll, it’s time to wake up. Come on baby.” He ran his hand carefully over her forehead and squeezed her hand gently. He watched her face closely as he spoke, giving her a chance to come around slowly. He felt her hand tense first and the hiss of her breath as she tried to move and the pain flared
“It’s ok Belle. Take it easy. You’re at the club house remember. The Doc’s here to check you out and see if she can make you feel better” She calmed a little as he spoke and her eye lashes fluttered until eventually one of her eyes managed to open
“Tig” Her voice was rough and speaking made her wince
“Yeah baby. I’m here. The Doc - Tara, she’s come to check you over, when she’s done we can get you some more pain killers and then you can rest some more” He watched as she tried to smile. He couldn’t hide the relief that seeing her able to open an eye gave him. Things seemed so much better when she could respond to him like this
“Morning Lassie, we’re gonna leave you here with the Doc ok. She’s good people, you just answer her questions and we’ll have you right as rain in no time”
Tig tilted his head in Chibs direction at this words and scowled “I’m not going anywhere” . The room seemed to fall silent at is declaration and no one seemed to know how to respond.
“Tiggy go shower” All eyes turned to Gemma who was stood in the doorway looking much fresher than anyone had the right to first thing in the morning. “I’ll help Tara. You need to clean up, Jax - the boys are through with Clay you should rescue him.” When no one moved she let out an exasperated sigh “ Well go on Belle can't get meds til the Doc clears it and she doesn’t want a load of smelly dirty men watching”
Tig turned to Belle and squeezed her hand “I’ll be back ok”. He waited for her to make what eye contact she could and return his squeeze before he made any move to go.
Tara pulled off her gloves and smiled gently at the young woman who lay stiffly on the bed. “OK Belle, Chibs did what he could last night but I need to take you into St Thomas. You have a pretty severe concussion and I need to look over x-rays of your head, arm and ribs. Your ankle is sprained so I’ve wrapped it. Your going to need antibiotics and when I know what were dealing with we can get you some pain killers”
“No. Not the hospital”
“Belle you need these x-rays. You show significant signs of head trauma. There is a chance that you will need surgery on your arm. I can’t do any of this here”
“I…. I can’t go there. It’s not …..not safe”
“Oh baby. Look I’m sure the Doc can find a way to get you in under the radar and we’ll make sure that the boys come and keep you safe”
Tara rolled her eyes as Gemma made promises that she would have to keep.
“Sure we can do that. Belle you can’t stay here, if you get worse then its going to bring heat down on the club and that’s not going to be good for anyone. If the boys are dealing with the fallout from that then they can’t keep anyone safe”
“I brought some sweat pants and a hoodie for you and we’ll get you some other things while you’re getting checked out” Gemma cut in
Tara watched as Belle closed her eyes, it was clear that the woman was overwhelmed, exhausted and in pain.
“Look why don’t we get you dressed and get this over and done with. No one will be looking for me, I’ve just finished a shift so we can probably get everything done as quickly as possible”.
When she opened the door, Tig and Chibs were stood outside and Tara gestured them to move back before she pulled the door over.
Rubbing her eyes she ordered her thoughts before dealing with the concerned bikers in front of her “OK look the short version is we need to take her into St Thomas, she needs x-rays, she might need surgery and we need to get her on the right meds. Gemma got her into some clothes, but I’m going to need one of you to get her into my car, or the van. She’s scared that who ever did this is going to find her at the hospital, so she’ll need some of you to wait. Gemma is going to need someone to go with her too”
It was quickly agreed on that Tig, Happy and Jax would go to St Thomas while Chibs and Half Sack would go with Gemma. Tig carried Belle out to Tara’s car. He had wanted to take the van but the car would be more comfortable. Even though she was battered and bruised he couldn’t deny that having Belle in his arms was wonderful. As he settled her in and latched the seatbelt, he lent forward and kissed her on the forehead “We’ll be right behind you doll ok and i’ll be with you the second Tara pulls over” He shut the door gently and headed to his bike signalling to Tara when they were ready to follow.
Gemma drove her Caddy following the prospect as he drove out to the apartments he had followed Belle back to weeks before. She had to admit that it was a nice enough area, not what she was expecting from a drug dealer. Slamming her door closed, she waited impatiently for the prospect and Chibs to catch up.
“You know which apartment she was in ?”
“No Ma’am but Juice, he looked it up for me” Half Sack handed her a crumpled up piece of paper.
“Well let’s go then” She gestured for the men to go ahead of her and let them knock on the door. When they didn’t get an answer she nodded at Chibs who used his foot to help with opening it. Gemma was impressed with the cleanliness and the order of the apartment and she took a moment to look around. She didn’t think that Belle meant any harm to the Sons but you didn’t get to be Queen by assuming anything.
“Gemma” She followed the sound of Chibs voice to the kitchen were he gestured to a body lying slumped on the floor food lying spoiling next to her.
“Nah just out cold. That’s her mother aye?”
“Bitch doesn’t deserve to be called that. Keep an eye on her while I find Belle’s stuff then she and I are going to have a chat”
Finding Belle’s room wasn’t hard, and working out what to grab clothing wise didn’t take long. The girl had a fairly limited set of clothing, almost all of which was practical. She found a couple of duffle bags in the wardrobe and used them to pack what was there. She also found a small jewellery box and a couple of books sitting on the bedside table and threw them in too.
“Prospect, grab the bags in the room and put them in my car. Chibs come and give me a hand here for a minute” With Chibs by her side she checked out the other bedrooms. Norma’s room was a shit hole. There was the lingering smell of vomit and sweat neither of which were appealing and both of which reminded her of finding Wendy bleeding out in her sons house. She curled her lip in distaste
“Fucking junkie whore. I guess we know who kept house”
The brothers room was clean and bare. Clothes were put away folded and his bed was made There was nothing out of place other than a couple of beer bottles sitting on the bedside table.
“Juicy said he had been in the military” Chibs had given by way of explanation and Gemma just nodded. They headed back to the kitchen where Norma lay there. Gemma reached over and grabbed a pot from the side filling it with water before throwing it over the prone woman. There was a lot of spluttering and cursing but it seemed to wake her up
“Who the fuck are you? Why are you in my house?” As much as she blustered Gemma could see the trace of fear in the woman eyes as she caught sight of Chibs as he rested against the counter, scowl firmly in place.
“You don’t want to be doing this, you don’t know who i am, what will happen to you when my man finds out”
Gemma couldn’t help but smirk, “Oh honey we know exactly who you are, and who your man is and we are not even a little bit bothered. That should tell you all you need to know” Gemma crouched down so she could look the woman right in the eye “ You are a stupid junkie whore who would say anything to get her next hit”
Gemma cut her off “Your Earnie made a really bad decision and from what I understand a lot of it is down to you making shit up. We’ve met before, you came to my home, and tried to mess with my boys remember” At the blank look Gemma stood again “That’s why they say you should say no to drugs. Look at you - you're not even embarrassed about the mess you’re lying in”
“Sometimes i need a little something to take the edge off. You don’t know anything about me, what I’ve gone through!”
“I really don’t care what you think you need, What I want to know is what you told your Earnie about the Sons and your daughter”
“Oh good you do remember her then.”
“I…What have you done with her, Where is she!”
“Like you give a shit. I’ll ask one more time and then Chibs here is going to ask you and he’s going to be a lot less nice about it. Yesterday you told Earnest Darby your daughter was involved with the Sons and I want to know why!”
Gemma stepped back and gestured to Chibs who moved forward and pulled Belle’s mother to her feet using her arm before dragging her over to a dining chair and pushing her into it
“Stop! Get off me… leave me alone”
“Now you listen to me you wee whore. You went off and said shite to that cunt of a man of yours all about Belle. Now you can tell me what you said or I can treat you the same way your precious man treated your daughter”
“Fuck you” She spat at Chibs “What ever I told Earnie was obviously true. I may have been a little bit merry the other night but I saw that you knew Belle. I told him how you knew her, how she had obviously been hanging around with the Sons. I saw the way you looked at her. The stupid little bitch doesn’t realize you're using her. She takes everything from me and now just as I find someone she's going to use you all to take Earnest from me. I won’t have it! I know how to earn my keep and if she fucking knows whats good for her then Belle will learn how to do the same with the right people, not a bunch of filthy bikers and their whores”
“You stupid Bitch!” Gemma strode forward and slapped the other woman hard enough that her head whipped to the side “You don’t know anything. You sold your daughter out for a quick hit and a fuck, you tell me who the whore is, ‘cause from were I’m standing it isn’t your daughter. I'll let you into a little secret, up until yesterday your daughter wasn’t involved with the Sons, as of today we’re her family and you mess with one of ours and you’ll find out just how the Sons look out for each other”
Turning on her heal she strode away pausing at the door to look back at the wide eyed woman who remained sitting in her chair. “When you're all alone and washed up craving that next hit you should remember that you had someone who wanted to look out for you and you pushed them away, When you push that needle into your arm, you should remember that’s why you're all alone, and you should make sure you do the right thing. Poison is the kindest way to take care of a rat”
As she walked towards the front door she heard the bang of a fist on a table and the muttered brogue of a very angry Scot. She couldn’t work out what he was saying but she was sure that what ever it was it wouldn’t be pleasant. She waited by the Caddy until Chibs came out and raised an eyebrow
“Everything ok in there ?”
“Aye Mum, I was just making sure that she understood that while we don’t usually condone violence to women, exceptions can be made. I also suggested that should Darby hear about our visit then we would be coming visiting and not for a chat. We can't have her running off and telling tales before we put things in motion”
Gemma nodded “Ok i’ll see you at back at the clubhouse. I need to stop and pick up some other supplies at the store, the prospect can follow, you have work to do”
Chibs leant in and gave her a kiss on the cheek before heading to his bike “Prospect, you’re with Gemma and if anything happens you’ll wish you lost the other bollock too”
Tig paced the waiting room waiting for Tara to come back. He had wanted to stay with Belle but the idea that she could get out of here quicker if he was out of the way had left him out here and he was beginning to regret his decision. Jax and Happy had given up telling him to sit down and just let him get on with it.
“What the hell is taking so long?” Tig continued pacing looking up at the clock in the waiting area
“Well I wanted to make sure that I knew everything before I came out to see you. Belle is in my office if you want to come and get her” Tara rested her hip against the wall watching the agitated biker.
Tig didn’t even wait for the others he just took off down the corridor. The others would catch up but he didn’t want Belle being alone for too long. He more or less threw open the door to the office not thinking about how Belle would react until it was too late. He saw her flinch and try and curl up on the couch but the movement made her cry out in pain
“Ah hell doll I’m sorry I didn’t mean to scare you” He hurried to her side hand held out in a placating manner.
Tara and the others followed him in at a more sedate pace and she waited for them all to sit down before she brought them up to speed
“Belle and I have had a chat and she’s fine with the club knowing whats happening which is why you are here. OK so we’ve done all the testing and luckily there are no skull fractures, you do have a concussion Belle and it’s going to make you feel pretty lousy for a few days yet. You might feel nauseous and dizzy and not a lot is going to get rid of the headache. You have 3 broken ribs and we’ve taped them up but no heavy lifting or moving until they’re mostly mended. Your wrist has a fracture but we can get away with a brace for now, as long as you look after it. I’ve checked all of the other cuts, Chibs did a good job getting them taken care of. Your nose was broken, but it was a clean break and it’s been well set, there are no orbital fractures, the bruising will get worse but the swelling will get better over the next couple of days. Your voice and the pain in your throat will get better over the next day or so. While it doesn’t seem like it, you’ve been pretty lucky, I was expecting to see a lot worse. I’m going put you on antibiotics for the next 2 weeks, and I’ve written you a prescription for pain killers. I would recommend that you take them 4 times a day for the next few days to keep things under control and then take as needed” Tara smiled at the wide eyed woman who seemed to be struggling to take in everything that she was saying.
“I know that this is a lot to take in but I’ve written down what you need to do. Do you have somewhere safe to stay? Do you have any questions for me?” She smiled in what she hoped as a reassuring manner
“She’s going to stay with the club” Tig crouched down in front of Belle “You’re gonna be safe with us Doll just like I said”
Tara watched as the usually gruff man treated Belle like a bird with a broken wing, His tone was firm but more gentle than she had ever heard and he made sure that while he kept in contact with her but still gave her room to breath. She glanced at Jax who seemed equally entranced by what was playing out.
“I need to get things, all of my things are at the house”
“My Mom and Chibs have that taken care of” Jax let her know
“Ok so you have somewhere safe then” Tara have her a smile “ Ok so any questions?”
Belle glanced at Tig before answering “ Um yeah you said no lifting, um will it cause damage because I need to go to work and I have to be able to walk around - I was thinking that the pain killers would work right?”
“What kind of work is it you do Belle?”
“It’s nothing important, I’m not a doctor or anything. I work at a cafe downtown and at a Childcare centre.”
“I’m sorry Belle but really that isn’t going to work If you worked in an office and you could sit all day, then I might be able to see a way to getting you back to work next week, but those jobs will put too much strain on your body and impede your healing. Best case scenario I can see you being able to get back to work in maybe three weeks to a month. I can write some letters for your employers, explain that you’ve been in an accident” As she spoke Tara watched the other woman seemingly fold into herself and look like she was about to cry. Tara moved forward sit next to her on the sofa and Tig moved out of her way to sit on the arm resting his hand on Belle’s shoulder
“Belle, I understand that your job is important to you, but my first concern has to be for your health. The pain killers will make you feel sleepy at best, you need to let things heel up. Apart from anything else the bruises and marks on your body, they’re going mean that an employer will want you out working with the public. I will speak to them myself if you want. We can tell them that you were in an accident, they don’t need to know the specifics of what happened” She rested her hand on Belle’s knee but she could see that the other woman wasn’t much comforted
“Thank you, I appreciate your help doctor.
“Ok so I am guessing that you’re more than ready for some pain killers. I called your script down to the Pharmacy, We can go pick it up and get you back to the clubhouse for some rest yeah:”
“I’ll go and get the meds” Happy stood from the wall he had leant against. You guys head to the car. Better that you don’t have to walk to far with the ankle and all”
The gruff voice caused Belle to look up and offer a weak smile to the usually quiet Biker “Thank you sir”
“Happy” was all that was offered as he left. Tara smiled at the confused look on Belle’s face
“That’s his name, Happy. He must like you, he doesn’t help anyone”
Belle looked up at Tig as he muttered under his breath “ Happy? Well that was very nice of him”
“Yeah Doll he’s a real charmer”
Tara stood “Ok well lets get you down to the car. I need to tidy up a couple of things here, Tig can you help Belle down, while Jax helps me?”
Tara waited until Tig and Belle had left before turning Jax “So you need me to help you out huh? You got a problem only I can handle” Jax strutted over to Tara pinning her again the edge of her desk “ So tell me Doc, what can the big bad biker help you with”
Tara gave a small laugh, her hand wrapping around Jax’s neck, her fingers tangling at the hairs at the back of his neck. She ran her nose up his jaw to breath in his scent just under his ear “Mmmmm well there are a few things I can think of “
“Yeah: but right now what I really need you to do….”
“Hmmmm” Jax groaned
“I need you to call your mother and see whether she can help us with Belle’s employers “
Jax pulled back surprised “You want me to call my mother for help with Belle. You have me all to yourself and this is what you want?”
“Well yeah, I mean sure there are other things too, but I don’t really want Happy of TIg walking in on us I mean Happy would probably leave but Tig - I don’t think so”
Jax let out a laugh before he bent down and gave her a hard, breath stealing kiss
“Yeah let’s call that plan B, but later ?”
“I’m sure your mom will be more than happy to look after the boys, and then I’m all yours”
Chapter 15: Equilibrium
Families are complex things and Belle is about to get a crash course in just how complex the Sons can be
Belle couldn’t deny that she felt at least a little better after she had washed up and gotten into her own clothes which had been sitting in bags on the bed of the dorm room, that seemed to be allocated to her. Gemma had left a note on the bed explaining they had collected her things from her apartment and that she had personal hygiene items in the attached bathroom. It had taken her five minutes to convince Tig that she would be fine alone. She had been touched that he had cared enough to look out for her.
She was now sitting on the bed in her most comfortable pair of sweat pants and a loose t-shirt. Tara had come back in to rewrap her ribs before she had left. She had pulled back on the hoodie Gemma hd given her for the hospital trip even though she had sweaters of her own, there was just something about it that made her feel safe. It made no sense given that it was part of the reason that Darby had beaten her so badly, but she just didn’t want to be without it.
She stared at the two bottles of medication sitting on the bedside table. She needed to eat really before she took anything, but she wasn’t really hungry. Even if she had wanted to take them she wasn’t sure that she could take the lid off of the bottles.
A knock at the door pulled her from inside her own head “Come in”
“Hey Doll, how you doing ?” TIg pushed the door open a small smile on his face “You look a bit better now you're clean and all
Belle smiled as much as she was able. She couldn’t explain why by Tig just made her feel better. He made her feel safe and secure in a way she couldn’t ever really recall. Now more than ever she knew that she wasn’t just a mechanic, maybe he wasn’t any better than Darby, but in the same way Darby made her skin crawl, Tig felt like home.
“Yeah the shower made me feel better and doctor Tara helped me wrap my ribs” She shrugged a little which made her wince a bit
Tig pulled the chair over to sit in front of her. “I’m glad. You gave me a hell of a scare last night, I’m glad you remembered what we told you though, that you came here”
“I…I don’t really know how i did but I am glad too.”
“You taken your meds yet”
Belle shook her head “No, I probably need to eat first but I don’t know if I’m hungry”
“You should eat Belle, Look I know you need to rest and all but the others, they’ll have questions about what you heard last night” Belle felt her heart rate pick up and the thought of having to go over it again. The images played in her head enough. Her breath stated to come in short pants and her face felt hot. Cool hands touched her face and cool blue eyes looked into hers “. You’re not in trouble Belle. I need you to listen to me, nothing, NOTHING, will happen to you here, I wont let another person touch you”
She kept her eyes on his. She couldn’t really hear what he was saying but his eyes seemed soft and reassuring.
“Fuck come on Doll, come back to me” Belle was aware of hands rubbing up and down her arms and it helped her focus a little. She consciously made her eyes blink, once twice, the third long blink let her pull her attention back to the here and now
“I’m scared Tig, but if you need me to explain I can do that” She could see the relief in his eyes
“Of course you can. You’re a fuckin’ warrior Belle”
Belle looked up as the door pushed open again and Gemma came in directing a man she didn’t know to put a tray on the dresser.
“I hope old Tigger here isn’t giving you too much trouble. I’ve brought you something to eat, Now that the Doc has cleared you we can get some food in you. You might not feel like it but you’ll be glad you did after you take your meds”
“Thank you Gemma”
“That’s what family does. Now I figured you wouldn’t be able to go back to work straight so I spoke to Jill and Sanchez. Jill can keep your job open for a bit, but I’m afraid that the Day care cant”
Belle felt her heart drop. She was grateful that at least one of her jobs would still be there but her heart was sad that she wouldn’t be able to keep her daycare job, “Thank you “ her voice broke “ Thank you for speaking to them”
“You’re a smart girl Belle. You worked hard and you’ll find another job. I take it you were smart about the money you earned. When I went to get your things, I didn’t find any money in the house”
Belle nodded. She was a little uncomfortable with the idea that Gemma had looked through her things, Did she think this was a set up, like Darby had?
“Yes Ma’am. I have a bank account. I didn’t tell my family about it. I wanted to get enough money for a deposit so I didn’t have to stay there”
“Smart girl” Gemma seemed impressed on some level with her response. “Look it’s gonna be a while before you can get back to that job of yours. In the mean time, when the Doc has cleared you, your going to come and work in the office with me. It’ll be mostly phone calls and paper work so the Doc will clear you sooner. Until you get a good deposit set up you’re going to stay here. You helped the club out with the information you brought last night. I spoke to my husband Clay, he’s the president here, and he agrees we owe you, and the club pays its debts,”
Belle felt overwhelmed, she had gone from peace and comfort being with Tig, to being content, to being terrified and now she had been thrown a life raft. She shook her head a little and then stood, shakily “Than you Gemma, I…I didn’t know what would happen, what I would do. You’re all being more generous than I could hope for”
Gemma looked at her with an appraising light in her eyes Belle tried to stand a little straighter. It was important to her that Gemma saw she was genuinely grateful.
“Hmm. Like I said, this is how we look after our family - and people that look out for us, they are family. People who lie or hurt us, well they’re not and they don’t have a happy ending. I’m trusting you little girl, You break that trust and you’ll find out what happens”
Belle dropped her eyes for a moment. Gemma was clearly the boss around here and Belle knew that you needed to show respect to the alpha. Even as she dropped her head she could heat the echo of earlier conversations she had shared with the matriarch and she knew what it was that Gemma would respect. She brought her head back up making and holding eye contact
“I understand Gemma. I didn’t know what was happening last night, but I am not here to lie to you. I… I’m happy to tell you all what I heard last night. It’s not a lot. but I’ll tell you. I’m a hard worker and as soon as I’m cleared i’ll do what ever you need. I’m a hard worker and i’ll pay you all back”
Gemma gave her a warmer smile “That seems to be the conclusion. I’m putting faith in you Belle. You should eat before you speak to the guys, then you should rest. Tigger once she’s resting you’ve got work in the garage” Gemma left the same as she had entered with command and no argument.
Belle let out a breath she didn’t realise she had been holding. She looked at Tig who had staid seated obviously knowing not to argue with the matriarch here.
“She’s the reason I got out you know, last night”
Tig raised an eyebrow “Gemma got you out ?”
Belle laughed a little “Sort of. When, when Darby and my brother hit me, and when they left, I was just going to lie there, I didn’t know what was happening and everything hurt, but in my head I could hear Gemma and I knew what she would do. That’s how I got out. I owe her more than she knows”
“Gemma’s a strong woman Belle, but so are you. You may have tried to be more like her, but it was you, you were the one who got out of the club. You got here and you told us what we needed to know. You did that. Not Gem, You ! I, well I like Gemma, I admire her, but you don’t need to change. You can just be you. I like you the way you are. That strength, you’ve always had it, thats how you’ve survived”
TIg stood and placed both of his hands on her shoulders as he spoke “Just be you Belle, it’ll always be enough”
Belle reached out and placed her not cast hand on Tig’s chest, she smiled at him gently “Thank you Tig. You’re a good man and I, I like you the way you are too”
TIg gave her a sad smile, stepping back from her “I’m not a good man Belle. I’ve done things that would turn your stomach. I’m no better than the people that did this to you”
She frowned at the sudden change the conversation was taken “No Tig. You’re a good man, You’ve helped me time and again. Your family is looking out for me because of you. I think, I think you’re a man who looks out for his own and I think that your family is looking out for the town. Are you… are you going to stop him, Darby I mean ?”
Tig looked at her for a long minute before stepping back and rubbing his hand over his goatee “Drugs aren’t something we want, or allow in Charming. I don’t know what will happen, but we cant let them be sold here”
Belle nodded “ I understand and I guess in getting rid of drugs, the dealers and the like have to go too right?” She watched as Tig nodded. He seemed much more withdrawn from her than he had been in the past. Her brain was still running slowly and her headache was pounding in the background, so it made her slower than normal.
“Ok, I understand what you’re saying Tig. I think. I know you’re telling me that in getting rid of the drugs means that people will have to go to, and that they wont come back” Her voice broke a little as she finally processed just what he was saying “ You’re telling me that at the end of this I probably won’t have a brother. That, that’s what your saying right”
She watched Tig he pursed his lips before inclining his head. His eyes didn’t leave hers. Belle pulled in as deep of a breath as she could before squaring off her shoulders “I understand. It doesn’t make me happy, but I understand what you’re saying. The thing is Tig, my brother, he…he didn’t come home from the war. A different man came home and I don’t know who he his. I know what he feels, he feels angry and disappointed and lonely. I know he doesn’t love me, you don’t beat someone you love. Right now, I … I don’t have anyone in this town that I can call family, not really. Drugs took my family from me and I don’t want anything to do with them”
She kept her eyes on him, watching his face. She watched him process her words before he moved forward. His face still serious
“Belle, Doll. It’s one thing to say that, another to live with the knowledge. You can say you don’t have family but you stuck with them through everything before this. If something happens to them, then you’re not going to look at me the same and I can’t tell you that I won’t be the one to hurt your brother. Not after I saw what they did to you”
Belle tilted her head How could she make it clear to him that as things were, the only people she had faith in at the moment, were those that wore the reaper. They had looked out for her, they got her medical treatment, gave her somewhere to stay and the option of a way to earn money.. With those simple actions they had done more for her than her own family had in a long time.
“You’re right Tig. I am loyal. I stood by them through it all, through the relapses and the lack of electricity. Through the moving and the knowing I wouldn’t go to college, through the phone calls and the debts, through bruises and tears. I stood by them, I helped them and they lied and left me lying on the floor of an office. I don’t have anything left to give them. “ Belle sighed, her energy was flagging quickly “I will tell your president everything heard and I’ll do what you all need me to because you have helped me. I’ve not got my head in the clouds, I understand what is probably going to happen, and I accept that. I have no tears left to cry for them”
She knew Tig was trying to work out how much she believed what she was saying. In her head it was all of it, but her heart hurt at the notion that perhaps the last look she had of her family was her mother and brother hurting her. His eyes didn’t leave her face and she had the feeling that he saw more of her truth than she could herself. He gave her a small small smile, his eyes looked a little softer and a little sad and then he guided her towards the bed. “Let’s get you some food before it’s cold”. She allowed him to move her as he would before sitting with the tray on her lap. She gave Tig a small smile of her own before she started to try and manage some of the food.
They sent Chibs to come and get them when the Sons were ready for Church and she was grateful to see another friendly face, the idea of meeting all of the other bikers together made her panic internally. They had been a daunting sight at the party and she couldn’t imagine what they would look like in ‘Chapel’. Tig had explained about ‘going to church’ and what she would see when she went in there while she had managed to choke down a little of the oatmeal and OJ that had been brought for her. Her headache was getting worse and the aches that had been nagging had now raised their complaints to a shout, she desperately wanted the painkillers but she needed to get through this first.
“Tig explained what will happen aye?” Chibs had asked kindly his voice low and quiet as they walked. She nodded, there was a 50/50 chance that opening her mouth right now would result in vomit “It’ll be fine. You stand near me and Tig and we’ll look out for you ok” Chibs warm hand on her shoulder had managed to pull a small smile from her, but she still felt like this was the walk to the gallows.
The doors of chapel were ornate and imposing and already closed when they got there. She could hear the rumble of conversation from inside, like background noise. Chibs gave her another tight smile before he opened the door and smoke and sound rolled out. She froze for a moment scared at what would happen when she walked in there. Tig had said he would keep her safe and she wanted to believe him but walking into the room felt like she was risking her life. Tig’s hand was warm when it touched her back to encourage her forward and it made her start before she took as much of a deep breath as she was able and followed Chibs into the unknown.
It took her a moment to adjust to the lower light and the smoke. She coughed a little and it made her ribs flare in pain. It took her a couple of minutes to get herself under control. She was aware of Tig hovering at her side the entire time but she was incapable of reassuring him. When her breathing was under control she stood as straight as she could and took a quick look around the large redwood table. There were some faces, like Jax and the big bearded man , that she recognised., but the others were all strangers to her. A man sat at the head of the table, Gemma had said his name was Clay. She met his eyes briefly and looked away again. There was no warmth or affection there for her.
“Tig - sit down, lets get this shit done” Tig looked at her before he took his seat but he made sure it was canted slightly towards her and he gestured for her to step up more closely between himself and Chibs.
“Now young lady, I understand that you’re feeling under the weather and my wife tells me that you need rest, so I’ll keep this short and to the point. I want to know about last night and what the hell Darby is doing”
Belle nodded and tried to pull her thoughts into order “My brother was upset when I got home from staying over here. We argued and things got heated. He said Mr Darby needed to see me. He had asked me to, come around before but I didn’t like him, he scared me. My Mum likes him, I think they’ve been dating “ The men around the table had snickered at that and Belle felt herself blush “My brother took us to a bar - the Hairy Dog and Mr Darby was waiting there, He was on the phone. I don’t know who he was talking to but he said that things needed bagged up and shipped, that the gas station was clear and they needed to have a lookout and the rest needed to go to Oakland. He asked a lot about what happened here the night you called me to pick up my Mum. I said nothing, he had the hoodie Gemma gave me and when I couldn’t tell him anything he was upset and did this. He brought my brother in and he joined in. There was a door into the ally way and I managed to get it open. I had seen a phone booth and was going to call for help and then someone brought me here” She rushed out what she could remember. She felt so uncomfortable with all the eyes of the club on her and her body felt ready to collapse.
“Call for help hmm… and tell me just who were you going to call?” Clay blew out smoke from his cigar as he squinted slightly at her
Belle swallowed, it didn’t take a genius to know that her answer would likely get her into more trouble “The Police”
“The Police, and yet rather than calling them you ended up here, in my club house having told the prospect that you knew people here. Tell me little girl what did Darby pay you to come here, what shit are you about to bring down on us” Clay didn’t raise his voice but the tone dropped and it was less than friendly
“Clay man come on!” Tig protested on her behalf but Clay just raised his hand
“Yes the police. I didn’t have anyone else to call” She felt tears well in her eyes. “I was scared and hurt and I knew that if I stayed there I wasn’t coming out alive. He wanted information I didn’t have. I’d like to tell you that if I did know anything I wouldn’t have told him but I’m pretty sure at some stage I’d of said anything to get them to stop” Her voice wavered and her head pounded even harder. “I….I don’t know who brought me here, I didn’t make it to the phone and someone helped me. They asked me who I knew and I told them Gemma and Tig. Thats…. Thats all I did” Organising her thoughts was becoming harder and Belle struggled to keep looking at the imposing man who scowled at her.
“Did Darby mention where in Oakland he needed to drop the drugs”
Belle shook her head, The feeling of nausea was back one hundred fold and she worried about throwing up in here and upsetting more people
“So lets say I took this at face value the fact that you knew Tig before all this, that your family seems to have come to Charming and has gotten messed up in some bad shit straight off the bat. Well that doesn’t paint a very good picture of just who you are and the danger you pose to my people”
Belle didn’t look away from Clay, she could feel sweat breaking out over her body but she didn’t feel warm, if anything she felt cold and she wrapped her arms around herself.
“Tig tells me that he approached you, not the other way round, and the others tell me that you haven’t been hanging round so that is in your favour. You see Charming is our town and drugs don’t belong here,” Clay sat back in his seat and took another pull from his cigar. Belle struggled to focus
“Clay” A new voice accompanied the sound of a chair pushing back and Belle tried to turn towards it, but she felt like she was moving through molasses “Shit, someone catch her” She went sure what happened but somehow she found herself lying on the floor, her head resting on something soft.
She blinked trying to work out what was happening, there was a hand on her wrist, she turned her head slowly and saw Chibs “Alright lassie, you gave us a scare there. I need you to lay still ok, so I can check your shoulder. Opie caught you before your head hit but your shoulder wasn’t so lucky. You let me know if this hurts”
She felt hands pressing along her left shoulder and she winced a little but there was no overriding pain
“OK good girl” Chibs stood and moved back and Belle struggled to orient herself. Her head throbbed and moving just seemed like a lot of effort right now. Her body seemed a long way away.
“Clay, I think she’s told us everything she can, she needs rest” The deep voice seemed to come from above her. She tilted her had slowly and found herself looking at what seemed to be a beard, whom ever it was looked down and she met a pair of warm hazel eyes. She blinked slowly
“Yeah, Ok get her back to her room, we got shit to discuss”
Belle realised she had closed her eyes again as she became aware of Tig talking to her, “Hey Doll come on we’ll get you back to bed”
“It’s fine man I’ve got her” The beard man answered. She wasn’t sure who he was but he didn’t make her uncomfortable the way some of the others had. “You should sort things out with Clay” She was aware that Tig and the beard shared a look that she was in no fit state to interpret.
“Aye come on Ope, lets get her settled. We’ll get you some of those meds lassie and you’ll be right as rain in no time”
She was lifted far further in the air than she had expected and they left the Chapel, with Chibs in tow. She was just letting her eyes close again when the clicking of heals preceded a voice that she recognised “What the hell happened” She felt a cool hand on her head, “Jesus look at the state of her. Tell me that you guys treated her like a friend and not some god damned snitch” Belle didn’t seem able to open her eyes. She wanted to tell Gemma that it was fine and that she understood, but her body didn’t seem to want to cooperate. “You two make sure she is settled and she’s taken the meds” Then the hand was gone and she was moving again
“You think she’s giving Clay shit?” The rumbling voice jarred her back to more alertness
“It’s a day ending in y, what do you think?” Chibs joked back “But aye, and it won’t be any more than he deserves”
The next thing she was aware of was being placed on a mattress and being shaken gently.
“Hey lass come on lets see those eyes” There was a hand on her cheek - she guessed Chibs. It took her a minute to manage to open her eyes. The light stung but she managed to keep them open.
“There we are lass. Ok so tell me how you’re doin’ what hurts?”
Belle swallowed “Probably easier to say what doesn't. Mostly its my head. I…I feel like I’m alway’s one step away from voting and earlier I felt sick and dizzy. I…I’m sorry about in your meeting” She couldn’t help but feel ashamed
“Aye now non of that. The headache is to be expected, now you’ve done what you needed so its painkillers and antibiotics for you. Ope brotha, help her up”
Large hands helped her sit up and supported her when her head started to spin. When she felt a little more under control she looked up to see the beard man. “Thank you - for helping me I mean”
He smiled and it made his serious face look much younger “Don’t worry about it. We should have looked out for you in there, not leave you standing, the state you’re in and all” He looked uncomfortable
“It’s ok, you guys don’t know me, you’ve been kinder than I could ever of expected”
“Ok lassie, lets get these into you” Chibs came over with a bottle of water and a collection of meds which she dutifully swallowed down. She wasn’t sure they would stay in but hopefully they would be in long enough to help.
“Aye now you lie down and rest. I’ll put the trash can here in case you need it, but if you sleep maybe you’ll keep ‘em in.”
Opie helped her lie back down and stepped away as Chibs pulled the comforter up around her shoulders, Her eyes were already closing as she heard the door click closed.
Tig was pacing outside the chapel. He was furious. He had promised Belle that she would be fine, that the club would look out for her, and the first time that she met them formally they attacked her until she collapsed. He didn’t want to call out his Pres but the way that he had treated Belle was wrong. Christ the way things went he doubted that she would even want to speak to him again.
The heals clicking on the floor let him know just who was coming his way. He didn’t have the patience to deal with Gemma’s bullshit today - he turned on his heal when her voice stopped him
“Don’t you walk away from me Trager. I thought you at least would have stood up for that girl”
“Not now Gem”
“Yes now. You’re the one who said she would be safe here. Now where the fuck is my husband? Clay!”
Tig put his head down and shoved his hands into his pockets. Shit! non of this was going to go well.
“What the fuck is it Gem, We’re not done with Church” Clay walked out cigar still clenched between his teeth
“You want to tell me just what the fuck you think you were doing. That girl was just carried out of here after she helped out the club. You assholes couldn’t even give her a seat. She’s been beaten to shit and no one here treated her any better than Darby!”
“Jesus Gemma - It’s club business which makes it not your business. Now back the fuck off”
“Well guess what asshole, I’m making it my business. I made a promise to that girl that she would be safe here, that she can stay here, and that when she’s better she will work here, so you all better get your head around it and you better start treating her like family!”
“The fuck you say?” Clay barked back as Gemma stomped off “You think you can talk to me like that?”
“I just fucking did and I will again. You want to act like a dumb ass thats your call, but I know that she gave you what you needed to deal with Oswald, so why don’t you all stop measuring your dicks and get on with it”
Clay stomped back into church and Tig just shook his head. “I hate it when mommy and daddy fight” he muttered to himself.
He waited outside of Church for the others to come back. Opie just nodded on his way past but Tig stopped Chibs with a hand on his arm
“Aye, just overwhelmed with everything. The concussion is making her sick and she just pushed herself too far. I mean Jeysus, she took a beating that would normally keep someone in hospital”
Tig nodded as Chibs moved to go back into Church. He ran a hand over his beard. He went to follow Chibs back in when the Scott turned and looked back at him
“She said sorry”
“Belle she said sorry that she wanted to better in there. That’s who she is brotha, she’ll always say sorry, she’ll always try and do what she can to make things better. It’s a rare gift brotha, and if you aren’t up for that, then you walk away from her now. The lassie doesn’t need more hurt ”
Chapter 16: Balance
Action is taken and comfort is given
Tig took a drink from his beer and turned the page on the magazine he had sitting in his lap. He had stopped in just to check on Belle when Church was out, and had found her asleep. He had sat for a moment, taking in her pale, bruised face before he pulled up the chair and sat next to her. He had wanted to apologize, to tell her that he should have stuck up for her, but he couldn’t bring himself to wake her.
When Clay had questioned her in chapel he had gone to speak up, but the look that Clay gave him had him biting his tongue. Thinking as the SAA he could see Clay’s concerns Hell he and Clay had even talked about it, but as Alexander he saw the small delicate bird of a woman who had a spine of iron but that needed shelter and protection. When she collapsed and Opie made a mad dash to catch her, he had been horrified to see her grey sweat soaked face, and he figured that they would be taking her back to St Thomas. Looking at her now he wasn’t convinced that still wasn’t the best plan of action.
They had come up with a plan. Juice was going to keep an eye on things at the gas station, they had already picked out a couple of lookouts, but the needed to see how many more there could be, then tonight they were going to blow up the cook house, and deal with the assholes at the Gas Station and then it was fair game on Darby and Belle’s brother. He had been rostered to be on at the garage but Gemma took pity on him and had told him to stay and keep an eye upon Belle. He had sat and watched her for the longest time. Thinking over their conversations, remembering hugging her when she stayed over a couple of nights before. She seemed to accept him so easily, and that scared him. He knew that there was more than a small chance that she would wake up one morning and see the man that he was, see the things he had done and then he would see the disappointment and sadness in her eyes that was sure to be followed by disgust. He knew that the best thing to do would be to deal with the Darby issue and then walk away from her, but every time he thought about the actually doing it he would remember her eyes, her sweet smile and the blush on her cheeks and he would stay. At heart he supposed he was a selfish man and he didn’t want to loose what time he had with her.
Gemma had come in over the course of the morning and early afternoon, shooing him off to get some food or coffee, giving her time to get Belle up and to the rest room, and to give her the meds she was due. He had been happy to stay to help but Gemma was having non of it. It could have been a punishment because she was pissed at him from earlier, or it could be that she wanted time with Belle. On his last trip out Happy had come past and handed him the magazine that was now in his lap and then walked off. Always a man of few words the Tacoma Killa always found new ways to surprise him. Gemma had popped in with the beer for him, her hand on his shoulder giving a firm squeeze. He had looked up at her and Gemma had just given him a tight smile and a nod towards Belle
“She’s a good girl Tig. If you want her then she’s yours and you know it, she trusts you. She’s tough and would make a good Old Lady, given time, but if thats what you want you need to be honest with her - one hundred percent. It’s all or nothing Tiggy, you tell her it all, or you keep it to yourself. She’s not going to settle for half truths, so you need to decide now. You need a clear head for tonight. Any mistakes and the club will be going away for a long time”
Tig nodded his head, his fingers picking at the label of the bottle. He knew that she was right on all counts. He hadn’t really thought about having an Old Lady in a long time Colleen had been a mistake, and he was always kind of nervous that that was what having an Old Lady would be like, but Belle didn’t seem anything like Colleen. Could he see them together down the road? He looked at the small woman in the bed. How would it feel to wake up next to her every morning? Would it be like today ? He didn’t know what the future would hold but he knew that right now he didn’t want to walk away from her.
“What happens if she cant take it Gem. There’s been plenty of women that cant take the truth”
“If she can’t take it them she will leave. There isn’t any way to know what the future will bring”
Taking a pull from his beer Tig hummed in response. He wasn’t really one for planning things out for the long term. He had always just been a take it as it comes kind of guy, and roll with what ever came his way.
“You should enjoy that beer and get your head straight before tonight”
He nodded in response, “Sure thing Gem”
Staring at the magazine in his lap he went over the steps again for tonight. He was itching to get straight to dealing with Darby and Belle’s asshole brother but they had to work things through, brains before bullets and all that jazz. He put the magazine and beer on the floor and scooted his chair closer to the bed. Leaning forward he gently took Belle’s hand and rested his head on his hands. As soon as he touched her body he felt the stress seep out of his body. He was ready for tonight what ever happened and what came tomorrow could be dealt with then.
Tig crouched down behind a rock, waiting for the signal. Over the course of the day Juice had kept an eye on the garage and just like Belle had said the garage was up and running. The boys had a routine, they called in every 40 minutes, their best guess was they were giving the all clear or ordering more product. They had two sets of guards as well as the dealer and handler. It wasn’t a big operation but they had managed to get themselves organised and covered.
He tightened his hand around the handle of his gun, he was ready and just wanted to get this shit done. He took one steadying breath, then another. There was his target, a white boy in loose jeans and a wife beater. Thanks to the lights that they had strung up he could make out the bulge that let him know that the guy was carrying. A sharp whistle broke the silence and then Tig was up and moving. He heard the muffled cry as some of his brothers took care of the other look outs and dealers. His guy saw him coming but Tig was ready for him and with a steady hand he pulled the trigger once, twice and then a third time, He absorbed the recoil without problem and he saw the bloom of the blood over his marks chest as as least two of the shots hit home. He stopped for just a minute to make sure that the guy was dead before heading further in, alert and aware.
He passed another couple of bodies as he headed around the building. both had been silenced with a knife letting him know that Happy obviously had taken care of these two. Muffled gun shots and shout came from what would have been the back of the store. He spend up and came across a skirmish between Jax, Juice and that dumb ass prospect and the guys that were left. Jax was struggling to pull some tattooed nazi off of the prospect while Juice was dealing with two other asshats who seemed to have the upper hand. He holstered his gun and ran into the melee, grabbing a hold of one of the topmost Nords and hauling him off Juice. With the element of surprise the guy stumbled back and Tig charged in, fists flying he caught the guy in the jaw and then slammed his knee into his stomach. He let his brain switch off and his body take over. The guy got a couple of good blows in and Tig found himself spitting out some blood. The guy was tough but Tig was through with messing about with this. His hand went to his belt and he pulled free his knife. The guy looked like he was going to make a run for it and Tig sighed “Don’t make me chase you ass hole” . The guy just turned and ran and before Tig could give chase there was a muffled cry followed by a thud, then Happy appeared out of the dark. The two Sons turned to see that Juice had finally managed to get on top of his guy and had knocked him out while Jax was pulling his blade out the chest of another Nazi prick. Happy walked over to Juice and put a bullet in the head of the unconscious man.
“These fuckers don’t get to walk away” he growled at Juice. Tig noticed that the younger Son seemed to be unable to watch the death of the man he had knocked out and he shook his head, The damn kid was too soft to be a Son and he was going to get the Charter into all kinds of trouble.
Jax wiped off his blade and looked around “ We all whole?” at the chorus of confirmations, he pulled out his burner “Yeah it’s done” then he hung up. “Ok lets get back to the Clubhouse. We need to make a show of it going through town and all. make sure that the Deputy sees us. Hap - Did you set the bodies up
Happy nodded “Yeah, I’ve made it look like it was the Mayan’s but if we hang about then we’re gonna get caught by the next lot of these fuckers coming in”
“Sure man, lets head”
Tig didn’t wait for the others, before turning on his heel and heading back to where they had left the bikes. Getting rid of a couple of these guys felt good and he was ready for more revenge. He flexed his hand, the knuckles aching as he stretched and flexed the abused joints.
He was the first to mount up and kick his bike to life, before strapping on his helmet. He waited for the others suppressing the urge to just ride off. Jax as VP had the right to lead their party back.
They rode back in formation TIg to the right of Jax. Just as they had planned they made a show of going back through town. They took the time to stop off and grab coffee and make sure that plenty of people saw them. They had just mounted back up when an explosion lit the sky on what they knew to be outskirts of town. Tig couldn’t help but stop and smile. Shit was coming home to roost for Darby, and as far as he was concerned this was just the start.
At the Clubhouse things were quiet. There were a few Croweaters hanging around as there were most nights, but the atmosphere was low key. It would be at least thirty minutes before the others would come back, and even then they would not come back from the direction of the cookhouse. They had planned it so that the group had headed out towards Oakland. Partway there they would park the bikes and head back in cars that would make their way to the local scrap yard. Phil would stay with the bikes, the others would go to the cookhouse. The guards would be taken care of first, then Opie would lay the explosive outside and then they would clear the inside. There would be an unfortunate explosion, expedited by the drug making equipment and by the time that the fire department made it out there there wouldn’t be much left for them to find, just some charred remains as a result of an unfortunate accident. Tig had really wanted to be involved dealing with the cook house. There was a greater chance that Darby would be there, nothing on the cameras had suggested that he would be at the gas station, but Clay had vetoed it with Jax a close second. He had been pissed but was slightly mollified when Chibs had insisted that he would go along and had promised that if Darby or the brother were there, then he would keep them alive for Tig.
He was enjoying the burn of his Whisky when Gemma decided to encroach on his time “Jesus Tig! If Hale or the deputies come in here they’ll take one look at you and you’ll be in lockup. Get cleaned up for Christ sake”
“Fuck off Gem, You know as well as I do that Hale is off creaming his pants over the explosion and won’t be here until he has something to bring him”
“Yeah and if they bring people in here and you’ve left blood what then?”
Tig huffed, he was pissed off and her nagging wasn’t helping. He knew that Gemma was right but he was dammed if he would admit it. As he stomped off he muttered “Fuckin’ bitch”
“That’s Queen bitch to you!”
The shower felt good on his body, the adrenalin from the earlier fight had worn off and his body ached and not in a good way. It was times like this that he had to acknowledge that he wasn’t getting any younger. He closed his eyes, bent his head and just let his thoughts wonder. After tonight they were going to be up to their ears in shit and there was a good chance that they would still need to deal with Darby. Without even meaning too thoughts of Darby lead to thoughts of Belle, and he could just see the warmth of her eyes, and the soft smile that she had given him when they had coffee, he could remember the peaceful smile on her face as she slept. His hands went to his cock, moving rhythmically as he recalled the sense of peace along with just how horny he had been waking up with her body next to his. He could imagine the feel of her ass pushing back into him, the sounds she would make as he pulled and kneaded her body. His strokes became firmer and faster, his other hand dropped to tug on his balls just a little. He imagined her falling to her knees and taking his cock into her mouth, the sight of her eyes watering a little as he thrust in, choking her just a bit, enjoying the constriction of her throat as she gagged. He thought of pulling his cock out and coming on her tits. Before he knew it he was stood panting as his cum went down the drain. For a moment he felt guilty, Belle was lying a mess in the other room and he was here jacking off, but then he shrugged it off. She was hot, when she wasn’t beaten up and he wouldn’t feel sorry about being turned on by her.
He finished getting cleaned up, dressed and then took the bin bag with his bloody clothes out to one of the barrels where he doused them with lighter fluid and set them ablaze. The cleaning of his gloves kept him distracted. His kutte had been stored with the bike so he didn’t need to worry about taking the time to clean it off.
Chibs came to find him as he was cleaning his knife and gun.
“Hey brotha’ everything go to plan on your end?”
“Yeah, fuckers didn’t know what hit them. All good with you guys?”
“Aye - cars been scrapped and the cook house is doing a grand impression of a bonfire. Darby and the brother were a no show though. Clay says we need ta wait a couple of days - he wants to talk to Darby”
“Fuck that! Darby needs to pay for what he did!” Tig jumped to his feet ready to go have it out with his friend
“Easy there brotha’ Darby’s gonna get whats coming to him. Even if the club doesn’t want to as a whole, you can count on me, Ope and Happy to have your back. He doesn’t get to walk away from this shite”
Tig looked closely at Scott. “Not that I don’t appreciate it but how come you’re willing to go against Clay on this if it comes to it?”
Chibs rubbed his face before answering “She’s a good girl Tig, she didn’t ask for this shit to happen, but it has and there isn’t any scenario where it’s ok for Darby to pull the shite he did. I know that Happy and Ope think the same. Both have said they want to get their own licks in, and I’m not gonna stop them”
Tig nodded in appreciation. “I appreciate it man. Is Clay calling church ?”
“Nah he said he was taking Gem home and he would see us tomorrow. A few of us are gonna grab a couple of drinks and have a smoke, maybe hit the ring. You coming?”
“Nah man - I’m gonna go check in with Belle, make sure she’s ok”
“Sure thing brotha”
Tig locked up his dorm and headed back to Belle’s room, it was lit by the bedside lamp that he guessed Gemma had left on. Belle had her hair tied back and she seemed peaceful at the moment, probably because of the pain killers. He was glad that she could get some rest, her body needed it to heal. Sitting back in his chair he glanced at the magazine that still sat there and decided that he couldn’t be bothered, instead he rested his head on the mattress next Belle’s arm and closed his eyes.
Tig didn’t know what it was that had woken him at first, he was just aware of the fact his back hurt. He sat up groaning and figured he could at least go for a piss seeing he was awake. He was washing up when he picked up a whimper coming from the other room. Wiping his hands on his pants he quickly headed back through to see Belle trying to twist in the bed, another whimper following the movement. She was either in pain or having a bad dream but either way she was in distress. He took her hand gently “Belle, hey doll come on it’s ok” She didn’t respond to him but her movements became more jerky and her distress increased. Tig put a hand on both sides of her face holding her head still and raised his voice slightly “Belle, open your eyes for me doll”. He didn’t get a response for another few seconds and he was about to speak again when he saw her eyelashes start to flutter. “That’s it doll, come on”. He watched as her eyes opened slightly closed and then opened slowly again
“Tig?” her voice was rough and cracked as she spoke
“Yeah Doll, it’s me. You ok?” He smiled gently at her
“I…I had a dream about Darby and what else he was going to do. I’m sorry if I disturbed you”
“Nah don’t worry about it. I was already in here I wanted to keep an eye on you”
“What time is it?”
Tig glanced at his watch “ Its 3.30 We can get you some pain meds and then you can get some more sleep” He turned to go get the medicine off the dresser
“No..I mean no thank you. When I have them and I have the dreams I can’t wake up easily and I hate it. I’d rather not take them”
“Jeeze Belle, I don't know” he came back over and sat on the bed next to her “If you let the pain get too much then you’re not going to get any rest and you wont heal” He watched as her eyes dropped from his and he felt his heart tug a little “No one is gonna make you do anything but I want you to get better, you know?”
When she looked back up at him, he could see unshed tears in her eyes. “I do get it TIg, I do. I” she paused looking embarrassed “I need to use the rest room, would you be able to …”
“Oh yeah sure thing come on up we go” Tig stood and pulled the bed covers back. He noticed that she had been dressed in some sweatpants and a tank top. He scooped her out of the bed into his arms. He liked the fact that she automatically put an arm around his neck and the way that her warm weight rested against his chest. In the rest room he set her on her feet by the toilet. “Do you need a hand with..” he gestured to her pants and, as he had hoped he got a smile and that blush was back rising up her cheeks
“Oh no, thank you, i’ll be fine. I will need a hand back though”
Tig grinned, the blush made him happy in a way he hadn’t anticipated and he leant forward putting his mouth next to her ear “Ok but if you think you need me to help then you just call and i’ll be happy to help you…disrobe” As he pulled back he drew in a deep breath just below her ear, She smelt clean and a little of Belle and a little of the generic soap they kept here at the club house. He was close enough to hear her breath catch in her throat and when he looked at her face she was more flushed and her pupils were dilated in a way that made him want to see what happened if he started to undo her pants. Instead he stepped back and gave her a roguish smile. “I’ll be just outside” he walked backwards to the door, his eyes not leaving hers until he pulled the door closed behind him.
When Belle had called him back in to help she had been leaning against the sink looking a little more pale than she had when he had brought her in. He didn’t mention it, not wanting to make her feel uncomfortable. Instead he smiled and picked her up before bringing her back to the bed. When she was settled he offered her the pain killers again.
“I’d really rather not tonight, I promise I’ll take them tomorrow but I hate not being able to wake up.”
“Like I said no one will make you, but you need to rest to heal.”
“I know I was wondering um. Well the thing is. um”
“If there is something I can do Belle just tell me”
“Well would you be able to lie on the bed with me, hold me. It’s just…I …I feel safe when you are touching me. I mean I get why you might not want to but….”
Tig could see her face was scarlet by the time she stumbled her way through her request and he found it beyond sexy. She had no idea what it did to him, to see her needing him and asking but feeling embarrassed at the same time. He toed off his boots and pulled off the hoodie that he was wearing before putting his knee on the bed
“Easy doll, like I said you just need to ask. Move over” He waited for her to shift slowly across the bed closer to the wall. He carefully pulled back the covers “You ok with this?” She nodded her eyes still on him. He lay down pulling the covers over them both. He slid one arm under the pillow and Belle’s head before holding the other up so she could cuddle into him, He had expected her to put her back to him but instead she rested her head on his chest and he draped his arm over her. He could feel the soft puff’s of her breath across his chest and he closed his eyes in contentment, this was something he could get used to was his last thought before he left sleep claim him.