Love's Hope (The Unknowns Motorcycle Club Book 2)

This is a work of fiction. Any names, characters, places, events, and incidents are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons—living or dead—is entirely coincidental.

 

Love’s Hope copyright @ 2015 by Ruby Reid. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embedded in critical articles or reviews.

 

Book 2 of the
Unknowns Motorcycle Club
trilogy

CHAPTER ONE

 

It was the part of town where hearing a motorcycle engine roaring through the night caused little alarm. The streets were empty after seven o’ clock in the afternoon due to the fear of crime. The streetlights shone down on darkened empty streets, flickering only when the man on the motorcycle passed under their light. It was after ten thirty on a Thursday night and not even the cops dared to show their heads in this part of the city at such an hour.

 

The man on the motorcycle either did not know this fact or did not let it bother him. He blazed down the road, passing by empty warehouses and vacated housing developments. If he passed any people, they were hidden in the shadows and went unseen. As far as the man on the motorcycle was concerned, he was the only man along this stretch of road, and that suited him just fine.

 

The ride had been a long one, and although he was tired, there was work to be done. He’d done a lot of thinking on the ride, spending nearly ten and a half hours by himself and wondering how he could rectify a situation that had recently been taken out of his control. He was irritated and frustrated, but more than anything, he felt hurt.

 

Jameson Cane did not like that feeling. When his old man had beat him half to death at the age of thirteen, Jameson had sworn that he would never be a victim again; he’d never be hurt again, and those that
did
manage to hurt him would pay a very dear price.

 

He’d spent the last twenty years or so of his life living by that rule, and it paid well. He had an entire club behind him and made more money than half of the respectable businesses in his club’s territory. There were times when he wondered if the ass-whippings his drunken daddy had administered to him were really responsible for it all.

 

Jameson had no qualms with violence, and if the situation deemed it necessary, he had no strong arguments against killing. It all came down to the situation. He was a reasonable man, all things considered. He was willing to show mercy when it was warranted and absolute vengeance if it was necessary.

 

This time was different; he had been betrayed by one his own. He sincerely hoped that there was some vital and logical reason that Alex had bailed on him, not finishing the job with Marco. Marco should have been close to dead right now because of Alex. Instead, Marco was being treated for his wounds in a Chicago hospital. To top it all off, Jameson had received a call from Slim, letting him know that Alex had essentially abandoned ship.

 

As Jameson brought his bike to a crawl and turned down a decrepit alley, he saw Slim perched on his own bike at the end of the alley. When Jameson entered the alleyway, Slim’s dark figure visibly tensed up.

 

Jameson parked his bike by Slim’s and wasted no time with formalities. He hopped down off of his bike and stretched his legs and back. The muscles in both were wound tight from a life spent on a motorcycle, but it did him a world of good to stretch.

 

“How are you?” Slim asked, his voice like that of a ghoul in the darkened alley.

 

“I’m pissed off,” Jameson said. “I appreciate the hell out of you calling me and filling me in on all of this, but on the other hand, I could beat the hell out of you for it.”

 

“Sorry, boss.”

 

Jameson waved the comment off. “It is what it is. No use in complaining about it.”

 

“Yes, sir.”

 

“So you’re sure he’s gone?”

 

“Yeah,” Slim said. “I had a drink with him before he left. He didn’t come out and say that he was done with the club, but that’s the impression that I got.”

 

“Any idea how bad he beat up Marco?”

 

“No, but to tell you the truth, Alex looked sort of disgusted when he told me what he had been doing.”

 

“I’ve seen something similar before,” Slim said, lighting a cigarette that burned like a red evil eye in the dark. “Sometimes you’ll get involved in too much violence, and it sort of breaks you. You go soft. It happens a lot with married men… especially when they have kids. But damn… I never thought it would happen to Alex.”

 

“I’m not too sure that’s what happened with him,” Slim said.

 

“Then what the hell was it?” Jameson asked.

 

“I don’t know, sir. I wish I did. Alex was a good friend.”

 


Was
being the key word there. Unless he has a
damn
good reason for this, he’s as good as dead to me.”

 

Slim looked like he wanted to say something, but he remained quiet. He knew better than to say anything unless spoken to when Jameson was in one of these moods.

 

“Come on,” Jameson said. “I’m here an entire day early, so we might as well get started. Let’s go take a look at the Unknown’s new HQ.”

 

Slim nodded and mounted his bike. He looked incredibly relieved that the awkward conversation about Alex was over. The two men peeled back out onto the street, headed for the first building they would use to establish a presence in Chicago.

 

There was going to be trouble and quite a bit of fighting to get it started.

 

Jameson could barely wait.

 

 

CHAPTER TWO

 

Amanda fell down onto the mattress, gasping for breath and letting out a delighted laugh. She was drenched in sweat and every nerve in her body seemed to be on fire. She felt tired, relaxed, and jubilant all at the same time.

 

Alex lay beside her, gasping for breath just as hard. He propped himself up on one elbow and looked at her with a sly grin on his face.

 

“You okay?” he asked her.

 

“Okay?” she said, smiling and still laughing. She leaned in and kissed him lazily on the mouth and drew back, looking him in the eyes. “Okay? Um, yeah. That was beyond amazing.”

 

“It was,” Alex agreed.

 

He was also drenched in sweat. They were naked, lying on top of the covers with their legs intertwined. He put his free arm around her hips and pulled her close. They caught their breath together as Amanda’s laughs of surprise and absolute euphoria died down to something more serious. It was one of those moments she wished she could freeze in time. The sweat glistened from his brow and chest, making him shine in the candlelight that flickered from her bureau on the other side of the room. While it may seem conceited, she knew that it was doing the same to her, sweat glistening on the curves of her breasts. It made her feel sexy as hell.

 

Amanda looked to the digital clock on the bedside table and saw that it read 11:01 PM.
And hour and a half,
she thought.
Did we really just now go at it for an hour and a half?

 

That was brand new to her. Even with Stephen, the longest she’d ever gone had been about forty minutes, and that had been with extensive foreplay. She was exhausted yet, at the same time, wondered when she might be able to have him again.

 

She then looked back to Alex. He was looking up to the ceiling with a complex look on his face. She was pleased to see that he looked satisfied, but she didn’t like the look of conflict that she saw resting behind it. She reached over and slowly stroked his chest in a way that she recently learned that he liked. As she had learned about his likes, she had also come to know that far-away look in his eyes. She was certain that there were volumes of information about him that she didn’t know. She wondered if she’d ever get to unspool all of it.

 

“Something wrong?” she asked.

 

“Not wrong…not after
that.
I’m just sort of worried.”

 

“What about?”

 

“How Jameson is going to take my sudden departure.”

 

Amanda nodded. He had already shared his concerns about Jameson with her. His worries about his club leader also worried her, but she tried not to let it show. Hearing him go over it made her realize just what Alex had given up and what sort of risks he was taking to have come back to be with her, but it was also another precursor to her worries about what sort of demons might be lurking in his past.

 

“Is it too late to go back?” she asked.

 

“I don’t know,” Alex answered. “But that doesn’t matter anyway because I don’t
want
to go back.”

 

She smiled and kissed him again. When she pulled away, she rested her head on his shoulder and wrapped her arms around him. She loved the way he felt against her, the way her breasts pressed against his side, and the way her hand seemed to fit perfectly around his hip. It was more than simply missing the physical act of touch since Stephen had died; it came down to the fact that she loved touching Alex in particular. Everything about him seemed to fit with everything about her… with the exception of their morals, of course.

 

He hinted at some huge thing he had not finished in Chicago, but he never went into details about it, though. Whenever he tried, he would get antsy and nervous, so she never pried. In the recesses of her mind, she wondered if he had killed someone, but she was not ready to ask that. In fact, there were lots of things that she was not quite ready to talk about.

 

She had seen the scars and misshapen lumps on his hands – things no one but a lover would notice. She was sure most of them had come from fights. She wondered just how violent Alex had become in his past and if –

 

Shut up,
she told herself.
Let this thing work itself out. If he wants to stay with you, it will have to come out soon. Give him a chance before you scare yourself away.

 

It was great advice, but it was hard to listen to. And besides, she was keeping quiet on certain things about her life, too.

 

In the day and a half he had been here with her, she had only mentioned Stephen in passing and that had been only after Alex had seen a picture of him and asked her who he was. Similarly, Alex hadn’t talked much about the club or his own life. Truth be told, there hadn’t been much talking at all. They’d made love six times in that space of time – probably why this last round had taken so long. There had been snippets of conversation in between, just enough to clue Amanda into the sort of danger Alex could potentially be in. Although it scared her, she was well aware that the dangerous part of him was all part of his appeal.

 

“Would you go to the cops?” she asked, the question coming out of nowhere. “About all of what’s gone down?”

 

“No,” he said. “That’s utter betrayal. Jameson has had people killed for less than that.”

 

“Even if he came for you and threatened you?”

 

“Not even then,” he said.

 

“What would happen then?”

 

He thought long and hard about it but only shrugged from his place in the bed. “I guess I’d have to fight him. But if I fought him…I’d have to
really
beat him for him to leave me alone.”

 

You mean
kill
him,
she thought.  She didn’t dare say it at the risk of making it seem too real. Besides, she was pretty sure she knew the answer.

 

She listened to his heartbeat as he answered her and noticed that it had accelerated a bit.

 

“Will you tell me about it?” she asked.

 

“Tell you about what?” he answered, beginning to play with her hair, running his fingers softly through it.

 

“The club. How did you end up in it? What drew you to it?”

 

He didn’t answer right away. “It’s depressing. And I think it might paint me as sort of a bastard. So let’s save that for a while.”

 

“Okay.”

 

“How about you? The first night we met, you told me about Stephen. And even when I asked about him when I showed you that picture, you didn’t have much to say.”

 

“Well, what do you want to know?”

 

“How long were you guys married?”

 

“Seven and a half years,” she said.

 

“A happy marriage?”

 

“It really was,” she said. “He was a big goofball. We were one of those couples that other couples hate to be around because we’re so silly together.”

 

“Do you mind my asking how he died?”

 

She tensed up a bit against him the moment she heard the question come out of his mouth. Not only had it been unexpected, it also surprised her to know that she
did
want to talk about it. She hadn’t felt that way in quite some time, and it frightened her, but, in an odd way, she couldn’t wait to share this part of her life with Alex. She felt a bit of shame in revealing Stephen’s death to him after sex, but something about it seemed almost perfect.

 

“The whole thing was really weird,” she said. “It all boils down to the fact that he was murdered, and the guy who did it was never caught.”

 

“Oh my God,” Alex said. “What happened?”

 

She paused, and the silence in the room was thick and awkward. She nearly changed her mind and kept quiet. Maybe she’d just skirt over it all and keep the pain of it buried. That would be the easy solution. Why ignore this chance when she had, in fact, been badly wanting to talk to someone about it for far too long?

 

“He worked as a systems analyst for a major bank. He travelled a lot, but nothing extensive, you know? A few days here, a day or two there. Mostly, he was able to work from home or out of the home office here in town, but on the last trip he ever took — a three day trip to Tulsa, Oklahoma — he was killed. Someone just strolled into the building he was working in and shot him.”

 

“There were no witnesses?” Alex asked.

 

“No. It was late at night. On his trips, he tended to work late so he could make it home sooner. The cops say it was estimated that he was killed between ten o’ clock and eleven o’ clock.”

 

“That late at night, and the security cameras didn’t pick up anything?”

 

She let out a sad-sounding chuckle. She moved away from his chest and placed her head on the pillow so she could look him in the eyes. “That’s where it gets weird and why the police sort of stretched the whole case out. Whoever shot Stephen also shot two security guards and managed to kill the surveillance. The only footage that was found that has what could potentially be Stephen’s killers are the brief figures of two men in dark suits, but they knew what they were doing; they stayed out of the camera’s range.”

 

“Huh,” Alex said, like a man that obviously wasn’t sure how to respond.

 

Amanda tried to gauge his reaction. She thought that he might be getting a little uncomfortable hearing her talk so candidly about Stephen – much less how he died. She saw that he looked a little sad for her. It was a terrible story, and she never wanted anyone to give her pity for what happened, but that’s how the look on Alex’s face made her feel.

 

“How long before you found out?” he asked her. He was playing with her hair again, lightly stroking it. Apparently, he could tell that she had been waiting to exorcise this particular demon, and he wanted to be the one to help.

 

“I got the call at four in the morning,” she said.

 

“And did he… I mean… was it quick?”

 

“The cops seemed to think so. Everything they gathered and everything from forensics seemed to say it was a quick and simple blast to the head.”

 

For the first time since she had started telling the story, Amanda started to feel tears coming on. She still didn’t understand why something so drastic and sudden had happened to Stephen. It was that suddenness that had made it so hard for her to accept. It was why she felt like she was cheating on him right now in bed with Alex; part of her felt that it had been far too sudden of a thing, that there had surely been some kind of mistake, and that Stephen was still alive.

 

“Sorry,” Alex said. “You don’t have to—,”

 

“No, it’s okay,” she said. “I’ve needed to talk about it for a while. Sorry it’s you that I’m dumping it out on, though.”

 

“It’s okay,” he said. “I did ask, after all.”

 

“You
did,
” she said.

 

“So… was there any motive behind it, or was there just some crazy asshole bent on killing people?”

 

“The theory is that they were trying to get into the bank’s systems to get to the money. But that falls flat because they took the only person that could have gotten them into the system – Stephen – and killed him.”

 

“And they never caught the killer?”

 

“No,” she said. “Nothing. The police stopped calling to update me after about four months. One of the detectives came by about five months ago just to see how I was holding up, but he was very awkward about it all.”

 

Alex drew her close and kissed her softly on the lips. She sighed and leaned into him. Maybe it was the two years without a man, but she found herself wanting him again, but dredging up memories of Stephen had killed any real desire in her.
Maybe I can be creative about the way I wake him up in the morning,
she thought to herself.

 

“You okay?” he asked.

 

“Yeah. Just tired. You’re taking it out of me, you know.”

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