Elite, p.19
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       Elite, p.19

         Part #1 of Eagle Elite series by Rachel Van Dyken
 
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  I tried to pull Chase in after me. I’d had enough skank remarks to last me a lifetime, but he refused to budge.

  “Sloppy seconds?” Chase repeated. Uh-oh. I knew that tone of voice. It was the same voice that taunted me on the first day of school. That girl just opened up a box that really should have stayed closed.

  Chase released my hand and began to circle her.

  Scratch that. The box should be nailed shut and buried so deep it reached the Seventh Circle of Hell.

  “Cara…” Chase threw his head back and laughed. “I forgot how entertaining that little mouth of yours was, which is crazy because I could have sworn it was wrapped around Phoenix’s junk last week.”

  I was way past blushing.

  Cara’s mouth dropped open.

  “Aw baby, was that an invitation?” Chase chuckled. “I wonder how your boyfriend would feel about you screwing Phoenix behind his back? Hmm? I wonder what Deacon would do. No, actually…” He snapped his fingers. “I know exactly what he’d do. He’d drop your fat ass and move on to the next skank ready to spread her legs for him. Then again, maybe he likes that you’re easy. Hey, why don’t I call him right now and see if he wants to join us for a threesome? Hell, make that a foursome, since you clearly like what you see. I’ll play.”

  Cara’s lower lip began to tremble. I wanted to tell Chase to stop, but I was too horrified by the stuff spewing out of his mouth to say anything.

  “Don’t tell him. Please, just…” Cara looked to me for help. I immediately looked to Chase.

  “You know what girls like you are worth?” Chase sneered. “Nothing. Absolutely nothing. You’re a dime a dozen. I won’t call Deacon, because I truly believe he’s your free ride to hell. Your future is clear as day to me. You’ll be his perfect Stepford wife, stand back and smile politely while he screws every prostitute available to a man of his tastes, and you’ll do Phoenix and whoever will give you the time of day on the side.”

  Tears streamed down her face.

  “Wake up.” Chase was directly in front of her now. “You will never be as good as Tracey. You will never be good enough to freaking lick the pavement where her shoes have been. Now listen and listen very closely.”

  She nodded.

  “You will never look at her in the eyes again. If I hear that you do. I’ll ruin your perfectly caked up face. If you breathe the same air as Tracey without my permission, I’ll show you what it feels like to suffocate to death, and if you spread anymore rumors about her or the Elect…” He chuckled. “You won’t make it to Christmas break, without at least one of your pretty manicured fingers missing from your hand. Do we understand each other?”

  Cara was full on bawling now. She nodded lamely and ran off.

  “Have a good day!” Chase called.

  Stunned. I just stood there staring as Chase happily sent off a text and began whistling.

  “What the—”

  “What?” He shrugged. “Hey, let’s go inside. I’m cold.”

  “Right.” I numbly followed him into the building and to the elevators where he swiped his card and kept whistling.

  I always thought Nixon was the scary one. The one everyone was afraid of.

  It’s possible I had underestimated Chase… big time.

  We stood in silence. I really didn’t know how to start that particular conversation. You know, the one that starts with… “What the crap just happened?”

  Instead I just went with, “So, you can be scary.”

  Chase shrugged. “It’s a family thing.”

  No crap.

  “Great.” I kept eying him. He was as cool as a cucumber. Sure, I wasn’t even involved in that little exchange and I still felt like I was going to throw up. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if I saw Cara on the evening news because she attempted to murder Chase in his sleep.

  The elevator doors opened. Chase waited for me to walk by him, then he followed me to my room and glared at any girl who dared to give me the stink eye. No doubt rumors of his run in with Cara would be around campus by dinner.

  “Thanks for walking me home.” I opened my door.

  Chase followed me inside.

  “Um, what are you doing?”

  “My job.” He grinned and lay down on my bed. “Now get your homework done so we can watch a movie.”

  “We?”

  “Yeah. As in you and I? What you have a cow hidden in here somewhere?”

  I blinked.

  “Holy crap, do you have a cow? That would be awesome.”

  “Yeah, Chase. I have a cow under my bed. It’s invisible though so you can’t see it. But sometimes at night it comes out to play. What the hell is wrong with your brain?”

  He winked and pulled my vampire novel off my bed stand and began reading. “Homework,” he ordered, sounding bored. “Now.”

  “Okay, Dad.”

  “Oooh, say it again. Only this time call me daddy while you’re—”

  “CHASE!”

  Cackling, he licked his lips, blew me a kiss and opened the book again. If he was my permanent bodyguard, I hoped to God that Nixon or Grandpa would figure out what to do with me while I was at school. No way could I handle Chase’s presence day and night.

  Chapter Thirty-one

  Oddly enough, my life fell into a sort of routine. I’d go to class. Chase would threaten anyone that looked cross-eyed at me. And after three weeks of his insufferable presence we had become friends. If one could call Chase Winter a friend. I was still trying to figure him out. All things considered, I had no doubt in my mind that if I told him I needed someone killed, he wouldn’t even ask questions. He’d simply ask who and jog away.

  Wow. Never was there ever a truer friend.

  To be honest I felt suffocated. If I as much as coughed, Chase freaked out, called Nixon and Grandpa, and informed them that I was coming down with a sickness and needed to be taken to the hospital.

  Sometimes I coughed just to get him to move away. I think Chase had a thing with germs.

  Once I tripped and Chase swore up and down that if I didn’t learn how to walk like a normal human being he was going to lose his mind with worry. What? Because a scrape was going to be the end of me?

  When I asked him if we could go out for ice cream, he said it wasn’t safe. No, instead he brought ice cream to me. Not in typical boy fashion. No. Because that would be too easy, and Chase did things the hard way. I had forgotten about asking him until later that night. He showed up with a makeshift stone and a guy who worked at the local ice cream shop. The worst part was he set up shop in the dorm room lobby and ordered the dude to make me whatever I wanted. We had enough ice cream to feed an army.

  And I probably gained five pounds in two days.

  I clicked my pen and waited for class to start. I just wanted things to be back to normal. My heart still hurt. I mean, there was no way that crap was going to heal, especially considering Nixon avoided me like the plague.

  Chase said I dreamt about him, that sometimes I called out to him.

  It used to embarrass me, now it was bordering on pathetic, especially when Mo had to constantly wake me out of my sleep and hold me while I sobbed my eyes out.

  I seriously needed to look into taking sedatives at night.

  I pulled out my US History book and nearly swallowed my gum when Nixon walked into the room.

  It was the first time I’d been this close to him since the incident when he trampled over my heart and ruined any chance I had of falling in love. I know it sounded severe, but it was all or nothing with him. I still loved him, and I hated that I had feelings for him when he clearly felt nothing for me.

  Even after thinking through what happened that day, it occurred to me that even though he could have been doing it to protect me, he could have at least texted me in private or made it so we could hang out. I mean, come on. He was a mafia boss. He could make anything happen.

  Maybe that was the worst part. He didn’t love me enough to even make me his dirty little secr
et? He didn’t love me enough to even try to make something work. He didn’t use his many connections. He didn’t have any weak moments. The bitterness just kept getting worse until I felt like I was going to explode from it all.

  “Dr. Stevens is out sick today, so I’ll be filling in.” Nixon’s eyes scanned the room and fell on me. Without breaking eye contact he instructed everyone to take notes on the movie assignment. Papers were passed out and then the lights went out.

  I closed my eyes. Not because I was tired, but because I figured if I couldn’t see him it wouldn’t hurt so badly. I thought I was done crying. I thought wrong, as a single tear slid down my cheek. It still cut deep, it still hurt so much.

  “Trace,” Nixon whispered behind me. I stiffened. Refusing to turn around, I pretended I didn’t hear him.

  “Trace, don’t be like that…”

  Was he for real?

  “I miss you.” His lips grazed my ear. “So damn much, and I wish… I wish I could tell you… Damn it, I wish I didn’t promise, but I did. I have to protect you. Being with you. It isn’t safe. You have to understand that now.”

  I swallowed the lump in my throat and still refused to acknowledge him.

  “Please, sweetheart. Just please remember what I said.” The metal from his lip ring sent a tingle down my spine as it connected with my ear. “I always keep my promises. If I don’t — people die. Do you understand? I can’t have innocent blood on my hands especially when it could be yours.”

  He sighed heavily, sending tremors through my body. “I had no choice, Trace.”

  That was it. I was done.

  I flipped around so fast he jerked back and cursed.

  “No, you listen.” I pointed my finger at him and whispered so nobody else could hear us. “There is always a choice. I refuse to allow you to justify your actions by saying your hands were tied. You’re Nixon Abandonato. You had a choice, and you made it. Screw your excuses, I’m so tired of it, Nixon. All of it. I’m done. I’m…” I swallowed. “I’m not coming back next semester. You’re right. I can’t do this. It’s not my world. I don’t belong here.”

  He reached for my hand but I jerked it away.

  “You do, though, Trace. You belong here just as much as anybody else and—”

  “No.” I shook my head. “I don’t. I can’t tell them who I am, and even if I did, what would happen? I’d earn respect because of my family, but it would all be fake. Meanwhile you’d come up with another excuse to break my heart into a million pieces saying you had no choice. Go to hell, Nixon. Actually…” I laughed. “Don’t. Because I’ve been living there for the past three weeks. Just stay away from me.”

  I grabbed my books and left class. The last image I had of him was his forehead pressed against his hands as his face contorted into a mixture of pain and regret. Good. Let him hurt as much as he hurt me.

  Once in the hallway I reached for my necklace. Maybe I was being ridiculous, but since Nixon had warned me not to wear it, I found great pleasure in doing the opposite of one of his orders.

  I pulled the cross from beneath the collar of my pressed white shirt and sighed. “Grandma, I wish you were here.”

  “Grandma?” A dark voice was from beside me.

  Oh no.

  I looked up and directly into Phoenix eyes.

  His smile was pure evil. “Grandma?” he repeated. “Would that be Grandma Alfero?”

  I laughed him off and briskly started walking past him. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

  I quickly pulled out my phone and sent Chase a text that said 911.

  “Where do you think you’re going?” Phoenix moved to stand in front of me. I turned around and started walking in the other direction, but he jogged in front of me. His arms came out to brace my shoulders. His fingers dug into my flesh as he slammed me against the wall. Why did I have to leave class!

  “Talk.” His lips almost brushed mine. I tried to jerk away from him, but it was impossible. He was too strong.

  “Or not.” He grinned. “We could always do some other things… word around the school is you’re used goods. Once I’m done with you, you’ll forget all about Nixon and be screaming my name instead.”

  I kicked him, but he just laughed and grabbed my arm, dragging me down the hall with him.

  I began screaming for help but the kids in the hallway just laughed as Phoenix added, “She likes it rough.”

  “No, No! Please! Please help me!” I was frantic, clawing at his arms as he used all his strength to pull me out of the building and toward the Elect headquarters.

  “Stop! Phoenix! STOP!” I dug my heels into the ground, but he just laughed and pulled me harder. I tripped over my own feet and went sailing into his arms.

  “That’s more like it,” he said gruffly. “You think you’re so perfect just because of who your family is? Do you even know who I am?” He jerked my head close to his mouth and yelled it into my ear. “And all because of you I’ve lost the chance to be with Nixon’s family! My connections? Gone. My money. GONE! Wanna know why?”

  I tried to shake my head.

  “Because the De Langes aren’t a for sure thing. Our money isn’t good enough. But Nixon’s? His name? It’s freaking gold and you went and ruined everything by batting your damn eyelashes. You’re a freaking whore just like your mom…”

  He slapped me across the face and pulled me through the door into the Elect headquarters.

  I hoped in vain Tex would be in there with Mo. They’d been inseparable since they started dating. But it was empty. I started pressing buttons on my cell in hopes that it would call someone, anyone.

  “What are you doing?” Phoenix grabbed my phone just as it rang. “Answer it. Tell him you’re fine.”

  I shook my head no.

  Phoenix pulled out a knife. “Answer it or I’m going to make a permanent mark on your face.”

  With shaking hands I took the phone and answered. “Hello?”

  “Trace?” It was Chase. “Are you okay? Nixon said you left class and… Trace are you crying?”

  “No.” I tried to keep my voice chipper.

  “But you texted 911, usually that means you’re either upset or someone called you a whore again…”

  I gulped, my eyes on Phoenix’s knife. “Um, Chase, I gotta run. I’m going to go back to my room to take a nap.”

  Chase was silent. “Trace.”

  “Yeah?”

  “How hot is it in Arizona?”

  “Scorching,” I answered tears blurring my vision.

  “Shit.” Chase hung up.

  I handed the phone back to Phoenix who threw it against the wall, shattering it into pieces.

  “Think you know all our little secrets just because you’re an Alfero?” Phoenix pushed me against the wall and laughed. “Where’s Nixon now? Is he going to save you? Where was he when your parents died? Oh right, he was too young, unable to do anything. Just like he won’t be able to do anything now.”

  “Why?” I choked out trying to buy time. I had no idea what he was going to do I just knew that for some reason he hated me and wanted to hurt me.

  “Why?” His eyebrows rose as he licked his lips and then spat on me. “Because you’re a dirty whore. Because you’ve ruined everything I’ve worked for years to build. Because the minute Nixon broke me away from the Elect, nobody in town will do business with us. I’ve been ordered by my father to take care of things in any way possible. This is my way of doing that. Can’t have family secrets rearing their ugly heads just because Nixon decided he had a heart, now can we?”

  “Nixon will kill you,” I said in a shaky voice.

  Phoenix punched the wall above my head. “Not if I kill him first.” His laugh was dark, crazy actually. Was he high on drugs? His hands moved from the wall to my shoulders and in an instant he was ripping my sweater from my body. With sickening dread I knew exactly what he was doing to do.

  He wasn’t going to kill me. No. That would be too kind.

 
He was going to make me into the whore everyone already thought I was, and he was going to destroy me. Take the one thing that was only mine to give.

  “A thousand bucks says you’re a virgin…” His hands moved to my blouse and very slowly he began undoing the buttons until my shirt fluttered to the floor along with my sweater. I’d never been so scared or embarrassed in my life.

  He leered at me.

  Frantic, I clenched my fist and let it fly, hitting him in the jaw. Staggering back, he cursed and then grabbed my leg as I tried to run away.

  “I like a girl who’s rough.”

  I tried kicking him in the stomach, but he pushed my leg against the ground and then jumped on top of me lifting my skirt in the process. I couldn’t help the tears streaming down my face, or the fact that my scream wouldn’t come out of my mouth. It was like I wasn’t actually living through this, like my soul had left my body and I was watching it happen to another person.

  His hands touched my thighs and I prayed to God that he would knock me out before any more of him touched me.

  With one final surge I tried to buck him off me scratching his face and whatever else I could do. He hit me repeatedly across the face until it no longer hurt.

  My head fell to the floor. The strength was gone. I couldn’t fight. My brain told me to, but my muscles wouldn’t work.

  He pulled my skirt up past my waist.

  I prayed again.

  Phoenix blew me a kiss and then moved his hands to my underwear.

  Something pounded the door and then I heard cursing. My eyes were blurry from tears, my face swollen from being Phoenix’s punching bag.

  Two blurs entered the room shouting and threw Phoenix off me.

  Chase was immediately by my side. He threw a jacket over my exposed body and tucked my head into his shoulder while Nixon threw Phoenix against the wall.

  “I’ll kill you for touching her.” Nixon seethed. “You low life.” His fist sailed into Phoenix’s stomach. “Piece of shit!” His other fist connected with Phoenix’s jaw and then Nixon pulled a knife from his back pocket and kicked Phoenix in the stomach. As he bent over in pain, Nixon used his knife and jammed it into Phoenix’s right hand.

 
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