All the rage, p.22
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       All the Rage, p.22

           T. M. Frazier
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  “And?” I asked.

  “And we might wanna go retrieve our fucking guns from their yard before that happens.”

  Back at the house, we scooped up our guns. As Nolan was walking me to my scooter I saw something move in the window at Cody’s house. I turned my head, but it was just the blinds swaying from side to side.

  Cody was away at school, but I made a mental note to come back and visit him when he was home. Maybe even bring Nolan and introduce him. Cody would be proud to know that although I never reached the “normal” we’d set out to achieve by making the list, I did successfully let someone else into my life, and that was a new normal for me.

  A Just Rage kind of normal.

  CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE

  Nolan

  Rage had to go get her stuff from the place she’d been staying at for the last six months, although she wouldn’t tell me where that was.

  Baby steps.

  The plan was that she’d get her shit done and I’d get my shit done, and then we’d meet back at the cottage after.

  The first thing on my list that day was a big one. When Joker didn’t answer his phone, I rode over to the clubhouse. Figured I’d drop the bomb about Rage and me and ask if he’d give her a pass, seeing as she was my old lady. Even though I had no plans to tell Rage that was how I saw her and what she would be to me even if I didn’t call her that to her face.

  Joker wasn’t there. When I called his phone again, he still didn’t answer, and none of my brothers knew where he was or what he was doing. Knowing Joker, though, he was probably holed up at some club whore’s house.

  After that, I rode over to the doc’s office for my x-ray and follow up appointment and told myself that Joker would call me as soon as he resurfaced with a new tale of another woman who now hated him.

  “Rage?” I called out, tossing my keys onto the counter. The sliding glass door, which I’d only recently replaced from smashing it when Rage left, was cracked open. “Or should I call you Hope now? It’s weird, but I kind of feel like it also kind of fits you, for some reason. Although, I’m not gonna lie, the name Rage makes my dick hard.” I smiled to myself, remembering the night before, which was all I could think about since we’d parted ways earlier that morning.

  It had been awkward as fuck sitting on the table in Dr. Hendry’s office sporting a hard-on. “The good news is my leg is healed and the doc thinks I should try the ice. He doesn’t promise anything, but it’s worth a shot. The bad news is that Dr. Hendry now thinks I want to fuck him.” I sorted through the mail on the counter, tossing it into the trash bin after concluding that it was all junk. “Rage? Get your sexy ass out here, and when you do, it would be awesome if you could be very very naked.”

  Silence.

  “Murray?” I called out.

  Nothing. Not even the usual scratching of his claws on the wood. I took a step into the hallway when pain ripped through the back of my head, sending me crashing sideways onto the floor, my cheek cracking against the hard wood.

  The last thing I saw before it all went black was what was at my eye level. Dark jeans and a pair of black boots.

  My last thought was of Rage. The image in my mind was of her looking down at me through the murky pool water on the day we met.

  However, this time around, her scowl had been replaced with a smile.

  A smile I was never going to see again.

  Rage

  Blood.

  So. Much. Blood.

  Everywhere.

  In the kitchen. Splattered across the couch. Dripping from counter’s edge, coating the cabinets below, and the wood floor in dark, thick, RED.

  Worst of all were the drag marks.

  From the living room where Nolan’s bloody hockey jacket was lying on the floor, to the front door, then all the way out to the driveway where it disappeared beneath the gravel and shell.

  Nolan.

  Murray scratched at the back door, which was partially opened, but not enough for him to pass through. I slid it open further and sad-looking Murray waddled in to greet me. I frantically picked him up, feeling around his pudgy little body for wounds, relieved when I didn’t find any. “Where’s Nolan?” I asked, hoping against nature that he’d suddenly learned to speak real human words in the time I’d been gone.

  Sadly, all he did was drool and continue to whine.

  “I’ll find him,” I reassured him, patting his gross little head and meaning every word of my promise.

  I pulled out my phone and dialed the one and only person I knew who could possibly be responsible. I closed my eyes as the phone rang, hoping and praying to whatever God might exist that this was all some sort of big misunderstanding.

  Smoke’s phone went right to voicemail, where his recording informed me that his inbox was full. I picked up Nolan’s bloody hockey jacket from the floor and stuffed it in my bag.

  Over and over again, I called Smoke’s phone with the same outcome.

  Out of desperation, I hopped on my scooter and headed out to Coral Pines. If Smoke was sending me straight to voicemail then the only thing left to do was head straight to Smoke.

  Hopefully, I wasn’t already too late.

  CHAPTER THIRTY

  Rage

  I pounded on the door of Smoke’s house, which was more like a one-room fishing shack than a house. One square room that was both the bedroom and the living room. A hotplate on the floor was the extent of his kitchen. I heard movement inside, so I pounded harder. “Smoke, open the fucking door!” I shouted.

  “Go away!” Smoke yelled out, sounding out of breath.

  I didn’t have time for his shit. Neither did Nolan. “He was my job!” I snapped, hoping to appeal to his sense of business.

  There was a loud commotion inside, followed by some mumbling. Whatever he was doing, it wasn’t opening the door. “Fuck this.” I reached into my bag and pulled out my Swiss army knife, flipping to the small pick. In less than ten seconds, I’d picked the lock and was standing inside Smoke’s house¸ watching him as he nailed some chick from behind. I growled in frustration, but it only made Smoke turn his head and smile, but not stop.

  If I shoot him, that will make him stop and listen, I thought.

  “Smoke, stop. We have to talk. NOW.”

  “No, you’re the one who broke in here. You’re the one who has to wait until I’m fucking done,” he grunted. The muscles in his thighs and ass clenched as he thrust into her hard and fast. Over and over again, he pounded into the girl beneath him who appeared microscopic under to Smoke’s massive frame of muscle. All I could see of her was dark hair and limbs. Although I could hear her.

  She was screaming.

  Loud.

  It seemed like I stood there for an eternity, watching Smoke fuck that chick like he was killing her with his cock. It was the last thing I needed. I needed answers, not the sound Smoke makes when he comes burned into my brain.

  When he was done he stood up, uncaring that he was naked and that his dick was still hard and bobbing up and down as he made his way across the room. “Now, what are you going on about? What job?” Smoke asked, rubbing is eyes and yawning.

  I sat down on the edge of his bed. The girl Smoke had been banging must not have realized I was there with all the orgasms going on, because now she appeared horrified as she held up the sheets around her chest. “I’m sure your rack is great, chica, but I couldn’t care less about your tits right now,” I assured her, turning back to Smoke.

  “You know who. Nolan!” I yelled, standing up and walking over to Smoke. He opened the small refrigerator on the floor and popped open a beer. He lit a cigarette and leaned up against the wall, blowing out the smoke and scratching his beard. “So where is he? What did you do with him?”

  “It’s fucking early, and I’ve got no fucking clue what the fuck you’re talking about.”

  “First of all, it’s like 7 p.m.!” I stomped on the floor with one foot like a toddler about to throw a tantrum. “And second of all, I’m talking ab
out Nolan! You know, Nolan, the guy you hired me to…” I stopped myself before I said anything too incriminating. I jerked my chin toward the girl in the bed and Smoke’s gaze followed before waving me on to continue.

  “You can say your piece in front of Morgan. She ain’t gonna tell shit to no one.”

  I huffed out a frustrated breath and continued. “I just came from Nolan’s house. There was blood everywhere. He’s fucking gone. I want to know what you did with him and I wanted to tell you that he’s my problem. My job. Not yours. So where the fuck is he?” My chest was heaving as I struggled to get the words out while maintaining any sort of normal breathing. I struggled to get a hold of my anger as my vision blurred. I couldn’t lose my shit now. I needed to focus on finding Nolan.

  There would be plenty of time once I found him to lose my shit later.

  Smoke shrugged and took another swig of beer. I reached for Nolan’s bloodied jacket in my bag and tossed it at Smoke. “This ring any bells? Hockey player?”

  Smoke eyed the jacket and then looked up at me. “Rage, I didn’t do this,” he said simply. “I never meant for you to kill him, and I never had no plans of killing him myself. Kid could live till he’s three hundred for all I fucking cared.”

  “But the job. You wanted me to—”

  Smoke held up his hand with the cigarette, silencing me. He sighed and turned over the jacket, inspecting the bloodstains. “Rage, the kid was never a target. The kid was never anything. Neither were his parents.”

  “I don’t understand,” I said, backing up as Smoke took a step toward me. I sat back down on the edge of the bed when the back of my knees hit the mattress. The girl shuffled over so I wouldn’t hit her feet. “Then what was he?” I asked. Smoke tossed the jacket at me. I reached out to catch it before it could hit the floor. “Smoke, what the fuck is going on?” I asked, but it came out as a whisper. I could still smell Nolan’s soap on the jacket, and as the blood hardened on his jacket, I was becoming more and more impatient.

  Smoke blew out a frustrated breath. “Rage, you been living in this world for a while now. And I don’t regret bringing you in. But you got no roots in the real world anymore.” I opened my mouth but Smoke shut me up when he continued. “And no, a call to your parents here and there don’t fucking count. Your life was quickly becoming as fucked up as mine. I didn’t want that shit for you. Still don’t.” He paused like he was thinking of how to keep going. “After seeing you that first night in the woods and you looking all fucked up about the demons in you, I wanted to teach you everything I knew ’cause I recognized someone who was like me.” He took a deep drag of his cigarette and set down his beer, opting for an open bottle of whiskey on the floor instead. He grabbed the bottle and took a long swig, his throat bobbing as he swallowed down the amber liquid. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. “As much as I wanted to teach you about all the shit that I know, so that you wouldn’t go through the same shit I did and have to figure it all out the hard way, I recently learned that being who we are, doing the shit we do, it ain’t all there is to life. I wanted more for you. I wanted you to have a piece of normal. Nolan, he was—”

  “What? Nolan WAS what?” I demanded, again jumping up off the bed and coming to stand before Smoke, my eyes level to his chest.

  “Nolan was my gift to you, kid.”

  “What?” Was all I could manage to say as the truth came spilling out from Smoke’s mouth as quickly as the whiskey kept going in. That’s why Smoke didn’t want me lying to Nolan. That’s why he wasn’t in a hurry for me to leave the cottage.

  That’s why he kept telling me to go back.

  “Nolan’s uncle, the guy whose house you unfortunately blew up, is someone I’ve known for a long time.” Smoke leaned back against the wall. “You owe me three hundred grand by the way. That’s what it cost to rebuild his house and keep him from coming after you after he called me to find your ass and bring you to him.” He took a drag. “I met the kid—Nolan, but everyone called him Goon—a couple times over the years. I’d even been to a few of his hockey games. Kept tabs on him over the years. When I heard about his injury and that he’d been going through a rough patch, I thought of you,” Smoke admitted, taking another long pull of whiskey. “Liked that he was in an MC. He wasn’t a pussy but he wasn’t a sack of shit either.”

  The girl in Smoke’s bed slipped out from the sheets on the other side, pulling a black T-shirt over on her head that must have been Smoke’s due to the sheer size of it. She quietly headed into the bathroom, closing the door behind her.

  “You thought of me for what?” I demanded, still unsure of what the hell he meant by all this. “What the fuck did you do, Smoke?”

  Smoke dropped the bottle on the floor and closed the space between us. He threw his hands in the air then ran his fingers through his long, slicked-back hair. “Dammit, Rage! Don’t you get it? He was for you! I thought he could be your way to keep one foot in the land of the living and keep you from becoming the fucking female grim reaper!”

  I pushed against his chest. “That makes no sense. If any of what you’re saying is true, then why did you tell me I could kill him if I wanted?” I crouched down on the floor and rested my forehead in my hands. The room spun. I’d never been so confused, or worried, along with something else that was making everything inside me hurt like poison making its way through my system.

  Smoke laughed softly. He leaned down to me, just like he had that first night in the woods. “I heard the way you talked about him. I knew you had it bad for him ’cause I ain’t ever heard you talk about no one like that. Figured it would take you having to be faced with losing him for you to get your head out of your ass.”

  “I could have killed him,” I whispered, the reality hitting me in the face like a bucket of cold water.

  Smoke shrugged. “Yeah, maybe.” He raised an eyebrow. “Or maybe not. Was willing to see where it went and how far gone you were.”

  I pinched the bridge of my nose. “What about his parents? What about the information you sent me to get from Nolan about them?”

  “That was just a bunch of bullshit. Nolan’s parents are dead. Knew that already. Knew Nolan killed them, too,” Smoke admitted.

  I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Lies. Everything had been a total lie.

  “All these lies…so you could set me up with him?” I looked up at Smoke, the reality of what he was telling me finally sinking in, but with the it came a million more questions, one more important than all the others.

  “All these lies for you! So you could have one foot in a world where killing ain’t the only thing you’re thinking about. My life is shit ’cause I went down a path I can’t crawl back out of. But you’re young. You’re fucking beautiful and smart. You’ve got time. You can still have someone around who cares about you…someone besides me.” Smoke looked over to the bathroom door that had just opened and then back to me.

  “Did you ever think of Nolan in all your scheming? Did you ever think that being with me wasn’t the best thing for him? I mean, I dragged him into all this. He’s part of this and probably hurt because of me and what I do and—”

  “Rage, stop!”

  “No, don’t tell me to stop. He’s probably bleeding out somewhere because of me!”

  “Ain’t no one got beef with that kid. He’s probably fine.”

  “No! He’s not. You didn’t see the fucking blood!” I cried, dropping to the ground.

  Smoke lifted me up off the floor by my elbow like he did that first night in the clearing, setting me back on my feet like I was fragile.

  I held up the bloody jacket. “And if you aren’t the one who did this?” I felt a stinging in the back of my eyes. “Then who the fuck did?” My voice cracked as I tried to hold back the tears that threatened to fall.

  Smoke grabbed the jacket from my hands and turned it over, inspecting it on all sides. A crumpled piece of paper fell from the inside when he started undoing the buttons.

  We both m
ade a move to pick it up just as the fan on the floor rotated toward us, blowing the paper toward the bathroom where the dark-haired girl stood in the open doorway. She picked it up and unfolded it as she walked toward us. “The Rules for Being Rage,” she said, reading it aloud. She handed the note to Smoke. “What does that mean?”

  I felt all the blood drain from my face.

  That shouldn’t be here.

  It couldn’t be here.

 
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