Elite, p.10
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       Elite, p.10

         Part #1 of Eagle Elite series by Rachel Van Dyken
 
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  Monroe choked on a laugh. “Heard that, Boots.”

  “What don’t you own?”

  “Disneyworld?” she offered.

  Very funny.

  “Is that why you guys take so much security everywhere?”

  Monroe peered over my shoulder at the screen. “We’re worth a lot of money. Our dad’s kind of paranoid, you know? He’s worth billions. Imagine if one of us was kidnapped for ransom?”

  That made sense. Logically, I could tell myself that people would be afraid of power, but it still didn’t explain why the kid had asked for Nixon’s autograph.

  “Are you guys celebrities or something like that?”

  Monroe laughed. “Around these parts? Let’s just go with the something like that.”

  A knock sounded at the door.

  I clicked out of the screen and went to open it.

  Chase stood there, hands in the pockets of his jeans. A tight sweater hugging his perfect body. I looked away.

  “Hey, Chase,” Monroe called.

  “Hey, Mo…” His eyes turned to mine. “Hey, Trace.”

  “Nixon send you?”

  “Yup.”

  “You staying?”

  “Yup.”

  “You gonna say anything but yup?”

  He placed his hands on the door frame and leaned forward, his lips about an inch from mine. “I’m not much of a talker. I’m more of an action sort of guy.”

  “Bet you are.” I nodded. “Please come in, make yourself at home in our lovely prison.”

  “It’s not prison.” Monroe rolled her eyes. “Nixon just wants to make sure you're safe, and although I could probably kick a couple asses on our floor, we’d be screwed if the football team decided to pull a prank on us.”

  “And why would they pull a prank on us?” I asked.

  “You’re the shiny new thing, who wouldn’t want to play with you?” Chase shrugged. “I know if I had the chance to—”

  “—I think it’s safe to say I know where that sentence was going to end.”

  “Oh yeah?” Chase plopped down onto my bed in the same manner Nixon had a few days past. “And how’s that?”

  “With my shiny new boots up your ass.” I smiled.

  “Damn.”

  “What?” I pulled out my notebook and opened to English Comp.

  “Nixon’s a lucky bastard.”

  “Huh? Why?”

  Chase grinned. “I was never good at keeping my hands to myself though.”

  Monroe groaned. “Chase, don’t. It’s like a death wish, just… don’t.”

  “You won’t always be around Mo.”

  “No, but if you touch what belongs to the devil he’ll probably damn your soul, just saying. And if you want a part of the businesses when you graduate, you need to be on your best behavior.”

  He cursed.

  “Right, so that was a weird conversation. I’m just going to work on my paper.”

  Nobody said anything.

  Three hours later and I was exhausted, but finished. And it was only eight at night. How pathetic. I was a freshman in college and I got my homework done early on a Friday night while being babysat by some boy who was part of the godfather’s clique.

  Gossip Girl had nothing on this school.

  I purposefully plopped my book onto the bed, jolting Chase out of his sleep. “Shit! What did you do that for?”

  “Fun. It was fun. And I’m finished, you can go. I have done all my homework in peace, because of you.”

  I went to open the door.

  Chase laughed but didn’t move from his spot.

  “Chase! I mean it, you don’t have to stay—”

  “—He’s just doing what I told him to,” Nixon said from the door. “You done with your paper?”

  I glared at him and then began frantically running around my room throwing clothes into the air and checking my closet.

  “Mo, your friend has officially lost it.”

  I heard her laugh, but I was on a mission. They had to have cameras or something. How did he know the second I finished my paper? Ridiculous! Maybe I was just being paranoid because of the day I’d had, but come on!

  “Trace.” Nixon came up behind me grabbing my arms as I threw a sweater into the air.

  “Trace.” This time his lips grazed my ear, and I stopped. Not because I wanted to, because I honestly couldn’t move my arms and speak at the same time when he was that close to me. “What are you doing?”

  I hung my head. “Looking for hidden cameras.”

  “What kind of guy do you take me for?” He flipped me around in his arms so we were face to face. I looked down. “The kind that carries guns and sends his friends to babysit me at my own dorm. The kind that knows the minute I’m done with my paper and magically appears at my door. That kind.”

  Nixon burst out laughing. “Wow, sometimes you are just too much.” He reached into his back pocket. I slowly backed away. I mean, what if he pulled out a gun? Or a Taser or… crap. A cell phone.

  “Ever seen one of these?” He flashed it in front of my face. “Chase texted me ten minutes ago and said you were close to being done.”

  “He was sleeping. He—”

  “—Is a light sleeper and was under strict instructions to tell me when you finished.”

  “Why?” I crossed my arms. “So you could send in the next shift? Who’s it gonna be this time? Tex? Phoenix?”

  When I said Phoenix he scowled.

  “You done?”

  “Yes, but—”

  “Thanks, Chase, see ya later.” Nixon pulled me down the hall like a bat out of hell.

  “Where are we going? And why are we in a hurry?”

  Nixon didn’t answer. He swiped his card and the elevators opened. The minute they closed he hit the button for it to stop.

  Holy crap. This was how I was going to die.

  “Nixon, what the—”

  He had me pushed back against the wall before I could finish my sentence. His mouth pressed against mine and his hands lifted me into the air, pressing our bodies tighter together. The metal of his lip ring sent electrical shocks through my system as it rubbed against my bottom lip. Good lord, I’d never kissed a guy like this before. Ever.

  With a groan, he released me. I didn’t mean to touch him, I just did it. I grabbed his hand but he jerked free. “Please, no touching.”

  Not okay. “Nixon, you can’t just—”

  “—Yes, I can.” He folded his arms across his chest and leaned against the opposite end of the wall. “And I did.” He pushed the button again causing the elevator to continue its descent.

  Son of a whore. I wanted to punch him in the face. I think he could tell too, because he kept smiling. Who the hell did he think he was? So, what? People were afraid of him because he was rich? Because his big bad daddy owned everything? That didn’t mean you could make out with a girl just because you felt like it. It didn’t mean you never had to make excuses for your behavior. And it sure as hell didn’t mean you could kiss a girl senseless then order her not to touch you.

  “So is that how this works then, Nixon? You take, but you can’t receive?”

  He bit his lip and stalked toward me just as the doors opened. “Funny. I didn’t think I was taking.”

  “Oh yeah?” My eyebrows shot up.

  “Yeah.” He grabbed my hand before I could pull it free. “I was giving.”

  I stuck out my tongue.

  “Do it again, see what happens,” he threatened.

  I kept my mouth shut. Something had shifted between us this afternoon. Something big — I just didn’t know what it was. A day ago I was worried he’d look the other way if a car was barreling toward me. Now… well, now it felt like he would do anything to keep me close — almost as if he’d lost me before and knew what it felt like to be without me. But that was crazy. Clearly I’d never been kissed like that before, because my mind was conjuring up all sorts of crazy stories. I needed to stop reading so much.

 
We went outside and started walking across campus.

  “I didn’t know.” He cursed. “About what Phoenix did.”

  “I thought you told him to do that, because of our little challenge earlier about you not offering me protection and stuff.”

  He stopped and pulled me next to him. “Do you really think I’m that much of an ass that I would really drug you, set you up to look like the school slut, and then take away your key card so you were up a creek with no paddle?”

  I shrugged. “You said you wouldn’t protect me anymore, that—”

  “Shit. Girls are so dense sometimes.” He ran his hands through his hair. “I was upset, Trace! You’re so damn argumentative and you never listen! I was trying to scare you for a few days. I wasn’t going to throw you to the freaking wolves!”

  “Oh.”

  He grabbed my hand and kept walking. My hand felt so small in his.

  “Where are we going?”

  “You’ll see.”

  And he was officially done talking. We picked up pace when we got behind the gymnasium toward the back side of the fence where a few trees were planted in order to make the place look more like a park than a school, which I guess was somewhat typical for a rich university.

  Nixon stopped in the middle of the grass and whistled.

  Holy football team.

  A few lights turned on almost like a spotlight, and then Tim, the quarterback I supposedly slept with walked out into the spotlight. He looked scared shitless.

  I looked behind me. Phoenix and Tex were standing there silently watching. Nixon took off his leather jacket and held it out. Tex slowly walked up and took it from his hands then gave me a wink.

  “Tim,” Nixon said in a stern voice. “Do you know why you’re here?”

  Tim nodded, his eyes flickering to mine and then back to Nixon’s.

  “Words, Tim. I need to hear you say it.”

  “Yes.”

  “Yes, what?”

  “Yes, sir.” Tim’s voice sounded strained.

  “Tim, did you or didn’t you have sex with this girl?” He pointed to me. I wanted to disappear on the spot. Crap, for some reason I felt like it was my fault… if I hadn’t taken that drink from Phoenix.

  “No.”

  “No… what? I’m losing patience, Tim.”

  “No, sir. I did not have sex with Tracey Rooks.”

  “Interesting.” Nixon moved closer to Tim and cracked his knuckles. “And who told you to spread the lie about Tracey?”

  Tim said nothing.

  “You hear that, everyone?” Nixon turned around and lifted his hands into the air. The guy who kissed me in the elevator and the guy in front of me now were two very different people. His muscles flexed in the moonlight. He pushed back a few pieces of fallen hair. “His answer is silence. Well, at least he’s not a rat. Right, Tim?”

  Tim didn’t say anything, he just stood there. Head held high.

  Nixon laughed and then punched him across the jaw. Hard enough to cause Tim to stumble. Blood oozed from his lip, but he still didn’t say anything.

  “How long will this take, Tim?”

  Tim smiled.

  Nixon punched him again. This time Tim fell forward, giving Nixon the perfect opportunity to use his knee. Blood spewed from Tim’s nose as he cursed and fell to the ground. “Still silent, Tim?”

  Crap, why wasn’t anyone doing anything? Horrified, I looked back to Tex. He shook his head as if giving me a silent message not to do anything, but I was too scared to run. My feet were locked in place.

  “More?” Nixon asked and then landed another blow to Tim’s jaw, and another, and another until I thought he really was going to kill him.

  Finally Tim cried out. “Phoenix! One of your own told me to! He said you would be pleased.”

  “He said I would be pleased?” Nixon laughed. “Tim, do I look pleased?”

  “No.”

  “No, what?” Nixon said in a deadly voice.

  “No, sir. Sorry, sir. It won’t happen again. It won’t—”

  “Damn right, it won’t happen again. Now get off your sorry ass and apologize to Trace.”

  Tim slowly got to his feet and stumbled toward me. His left eye was beginning to swell and blood was caked on his face. “I’m sorry for any trouble I may have caused you, Trace.”

  Nixon came up behind him and grabbed his arms thrusting him into the crowd of football players in front of us. “Clean him up.”

  An abnormal amount of yes sirs came from the guys who helped Tim walk away. People began to scatter. Including Tex and Phoenix.

  “One more thing,” Nixon said loudly. Everyone froze in place. “Phoenix… come here. Now.”

  Phoenix’s normally smug face paled as he slowly walked toward Nixon, avoiding eye contact. “Yes, sir.”

  “Why?”

  “Because you never—”

  The sound of knuckles hitting flesh almost made me puke as I saw Phoenix hit the ground and Nixon shake his hand.

  People gasped. My mouth dropped open. Whispering commenced. I wasn’t sure if it was normal for Nixon to hit his own friend. I mean, he didn’t seem the type. I just… I didn’t know.

  “What should your punishment be?” Nixon circled him. “I leave for the night to take care of family business — a business you have interest in — and when I’m gone you betray me by ordering your own hit on the new girl?”

  “She was disrespecting you!” Phoenix all but yelled.

  Nixon leaned down. “So you thought to disrespect me, is that it? You thought disrespect equaled more disrespect?”

  Phoenix said nothing.

  “Since when has it ever been okay to drug an innocent girl? Hmm, Phoenix?”

  He was silent and then. “Chase took her.”

  “He also told me everything tonight and will be carrying out his punishment over the next year.”

  I had a sick feeling his punishment had to do with babysitting duty. Kind of like protecting me from what he caused. Oh joy.

  “What? Nothing to say?” Nixon asked.

  Phoenix shook his head. “No, sir. I’m sorry, sir.”

  “You will be,” Nixon mumbled. “You’re out, Phoenix. Broken. You’re a cafone.”

  “What?” Phoenix surged to his feet. “You can’t do that to me! My father will—”

  “—Son,” came a deep voice. “It’s already been discussed. Just let it go.”

  “What?” Phoenix roared. “I gave everything to you! To your family! You promised!” He tried to land a blow on Nixon, but Nixon stepped out of the way. Phoenix was already too hurt to do much damage anyway. “You son of a bitch! I’ll kill you!”

  A large burly man came up behind Phoenix and whispered something in his ear. Phoenix’s eyes grew. I’ve never seen such hatred behind someone’s glare in my life. I was suddenly afraid for Nixon, afraid for anyone near Phoenix.

  “This isn’t over, Nixon. You can’t just break away from this — from us! You’re making a huge mistake. I hope you realize what you’re doing.”

  “I do,” Nixon said confidently. “And I hope you enjoy working in fast food. Because it’s the only place that will hire you if you as much as breathe in her direction again.”

  Phoenix spat at the ground and jerked away from his dad, disappearing into the shadows of the night.

  His dad, the dean to be exact, stood there helpless. “Are you going to… tell—?”

  “No.” Nixon cut him off. “This is between us, was between us. Just keep him away, and it won’t go any further.”

  “Thank you, sir.”

  Nixon nodded. And the dean left.

  “What the hell kind of school is this?” I muttered under my breath.

  It was Tex who answered. “I thought you’d have known by now. It’s his.” He pointed at Nixon.

  “Says who?”

  “The American dollar.” Tex put his arm around me as I shivered. “A couple billion of them to be exact… well, that and the Abandonato family.”
>
  “So the last name Abandonato covers a multitude of sins, is that it?”

  Tex sighed. “The last name Abandonato either covers the sin or gets you killed. Either way the outcome is the same, I guess.”

  “And what’s that?”

  “You’re never free.”

  “Of what?”

  His answer was silence. Which scared me more than anything. When I entered the lottery to go to this school, all I could think about was how I would be practically set for life.

  And now, it seemed like I’d stepped into an action movie where the star has more power than the President of the United States. Just who were the Elect and why was it such a big deal getting kicked out of a clique?

  I needed answers, but I wasn’t so sure Nixon would give them to me.

  “You okay?” he asked.

  “Do I have to say yes sir too?” I said in a shaky voice.

  Tex burst out laughing. “She’s all yours, man.” He walked off into the dark still cracking up, and I was left with the Ultimate Fighter.

  Chapter Fifteen

  “You okay?” I asked in a small voice.

  Nixon nodded. “I’m good.” Blood was crusted across his knuckles. I wondered if it hurt. With a curse he handed me his jacket and took off his tight fitting Henley, revealing a tight black sleeveless shirt underneath.

  Using the shirt he discarded he wiped off his hands and put on his jacket.

  “So…” I shoved my hands in my pockets. “I’m not sure if I’m supposed to say thank you or what the hell were you thinking.”

  He shrugged. “They had it coming. Tim should never have listened to Phoenix, and Phoenix should have stayed the hell away from you. He had rules and he didn’t follow them.”

  “There we go with the whole rules thing again,” I mumbled.

  “Rules make the world go round.” Nixon laughed and then put his arm around me. “The rumors should die down now, okay?”

  “Yeah, but aren’t people going to talk about this? And why was the dean so chill? I mean, he’s like twice your age.”

  Nixon shrugged. “We have an understanding.”

  “Right.” I nodded. “What type of understanding? He follows your rules or you shoot him in the face?”

  Nixon laughed again. “Wow, thanks I needed that.” His eyes glistened in the moonlight. “Is that what people do on TV, shoot people in the face?”

 
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