Elite, p.7
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       Elite, p.7

         Part #1 of Eagle Elite series by Rachel Van Dyken
 
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  He smelled so good.

  I smiled and raised my free hand and rested it against his muscled chest. He tensed, sucking air into his mouth as if I had just caused him great pain. And then he relaxed as we walked into another building.

  It was smaller than the three large classroom buildings and was nestled in between the science hall and the gym.

  He tapped his card against the first steel door we came to. The door slid — yes, slid open Star Trek style.

  Nixon walked in but didn’t put me down. I struggled in his arms, but damn, that boy was strong. My eyes caught a glimpse of the room. A pool table stood in the corner. A flat screen TV took up the entire wall, several leather couches, and a bar. Wow, it was like the President’s suite or something.

  I glanced back at his face. It was impossible to read. He bit his lip, causing the lip ring on the side to disappear and then I saw it. I almost blurted it out loud. He could seriously be Channing Tatum’s twin. That is, if Channing Tatum had dark curly hair and a lip ring, but still. It was almost uncanny. I told myself to stop staring, but I couldn’t help it.

  His gaze fell to mine, then lowered to my lips. He spoke in low tones. “You need to clean up.”

  “Because I’m a whore?” I choked back the tears.

  He laughed, the bastard. “No, I think we both know you’re not a whore. You need to clean up because you smell like egg and sugar water.”

  Was that why I felt itchy? Ugh, I hated college kids.

  “Get in.” He plopped me in the middle of the floor and began pulling my clothes off so fast I couldn’t stop him.

  “What the hell, Nixon! You can’t just strip me—”

  “—I can, and I will, now step out of your skirt like a good girl.”

  Too tired to argue, I stepped out. The sound of water running filled my ears. When had he done that? My arms lifted as my tank top from underneath my button up shirt came off, leaving me in my bra, underwear, and knee highs.

  Nixon’s face froze.

  Embarrassed I tried to cover myself up. It was all too much. Being called a whore, having eggs thrown at me. No meat!

  I crumpled into his chest and sobbed. “I miss cows!”

  Nixon burst out laughing. Good Lord, but that boy’s laugh was musical. I wanted to bottle it up and keep it all for myself. “Sweetheart, I’m sure they miss you too. Now do you think you can manage the rest?”

  “The rest?” I repeated, pulling slightly away from his chest, the same muscled chest I had just snotted all over.

  He raised his hands and cupped my face. His touch felt so good. I closed my eyes. “Open your eyes, Trace.”

  I opened them. And they were staring directly at his perfect lips.

  “Do you need me to help you take off the rest of your clothes, or can you make it from here to the tub without killing yourself?”

  My legs did feel shaky, but it was embarrassing enough standing there in nothing but my underwear. “No, um, I can do it.”

  He breathed into my neck, was he smelling me? Didn’t I smell like egg still? “You sure? I wouldn’t want anything to happen to—”

  I slugged him. Laughing, he stepped back. “Towels are in the cupboard under the sink. We have everything you need next to the tub. Just… don’t drown, okay?”

  “Why would I drown?”

  He sighed heavily. “Just…” He slammed his fist against the counter. Holy crap, what did I do? “Just, don’t make me worry, okay? I hate worrying.”

  Didn’t everyone? “Fine.” I nodded. “I’ll try really hard to keep myself from mermaiding it, deal?”

  Without looking at me, he nodded his head and walked out of the bathroom, slamming the door behind him.

  Geez, that boy had more mood swings than grandma when she went through menopause.

  I quickly stripped off the rest of my clothes and leaned over to feel the water. It scalded my hands. Perfect.

  It was tricky lowering myself into that Jacuzzi tub. Finally I was immersed except for my knee. The scrape was still bleeding, and I knew it would hurt like hell the minute it went underwater.

  I just didn’t know how bad.

  “Ow, ow, ow! Crap!” I blew on my knee and waved my hands in the air.

  The door to the bathroom burst open. “What happened?”

  I looked at Nixon. A shirtless Nixon. Was he planning to join me too?

  Then his eyes locked with mine and lower. I didn’t cover up this time. I think I was in shock or something. Warmth spread through my body, and it had nothing to do with the bath water as his eyes darkened.

  He took a step toward me and then another.

  “Nixon! Are you in here? Is she okay?” It was Chase.

  With a curse he backed out of the bathroom and slammed the door. My heart beat wildly in my chest. What just happened?

  Confused and exhausted, I decided to be quick about the bath. I ducked my head under the water. Peace and quiet. It was so nice. My stomach grumbled underwater. Of course it did. I was losing weight on this whole vegan kick, mainly because I was eating Cheerios and granola bars like they were going out of style.

  After fifteen minutes, my hair was washed and I was squeaky clean. But I didn’t have any clothes to change into. I paced the bathroom for a few minutes and tried to even my breathing. I didn’t want to barge out of the bathroom in all my naked glory asking for clothes. What if other people were in there?

  “You can do this, Trace, just ask for some clothes.” I gave myself a pep talk, nodded my head once, and reached for the door. The minute my fingers touched the knob it jerked open and I fell directly into Nixon’s shirtless, muscled, and tattooed arms.

  We both froze. His fingers dug into my shoulders. My face smooshed against his chest. He was breathing heavily, and I was trying to remember not to faint.

  “You need something?” he whispered into my ear. Lord, how did his whisper even sound sexy? Shouldn’t there be laws against guys crazy as sin being sexy?

  “I need…” My voice cracked. Great. “Um, I need something to wear.”

  “Hmm…” He gently pushed me away and looked down at my towel. “Are you sure about that?”

  My knees seriously began knocking together. Why did he have to be so beautiful? And why did his touch make me want to sell my soul?

  I licked my lips and broke eye contact.

  Nixon released me and immediately I felt so cold I shivered. “I’ll find you something. Give me a few minutes.”

  He jogged off. Giving me a beautiful view of a tattoo on his back. It was huge, almost taking up the entire thing. It was the picture of a cross, and then in some weird language, maybe Italian, I couldn’t tell, it said Familia and a few other things.

  My eyes scanned the rest of the room. It basically looked like a bachelor pad. Or a hangout. The room was large and each chair had a game console hooked up to it as well as a name, and then the far side opposite of the TV had little closets with uniforms with names above each uniform.

  Holy hell, I was in the Bat Cave. This was the Elect headquarters. Crap. I just took a bath in the Elect bathroom.

  All I needed was to be seen leaving this place and the entire campus would be even more relentless.

  I slumped against the wall.

  Nixon appeared a few minutes later with some clothes. They all had tags on them. “So…” He scratched his head. “I, um, I guessed on the sizes, and I honestly didn’t want to offend you by guessing too big or guessing too small, which is why it took me five years to pick something out. So don’t get pissed if I was wrong, okay?”

  A laugh escaped my lips. “Okay, I promise I won’t get mad.” I took the clothes from his hands and went back into the bathroom.

  The jeans were designer. The only reason I knew was because the tag was still on them, and it said three hundred and ninety dollars. I swallowed and pulled out the sweater. It was cashmere and soft, exactly the type of thing I’d want to wear after a crappy day.

  There was a small pink box underneath th
at said Victoria Secret. What? Did he have a freaking mall in this place? Well, it was the Bat Cave, and it was Eagle Elite. I shrugged and opened the box.

  My eyebrow lifted. A thong? Really? The matching bra wasn’t so bad, and wonder of all wonders, it was a 34 C, which actually was my size. Then again he had just seen me topless and… oh crap. I leaned against the counter and took a few deep breaths.

  It only took me a few minutes to get dressed. I grabbed my clothes off the floor and tried to comb the tangles out of my hair with my fingers.

  Nixon was waiting in the large room drinking something and watching TV. “Better?” He took another sip from his cup and never took his eyes from the TV.

  “Squeaky clean, and I’m happy to announce that no drowning took place in your bathroom.”

  He smirked and nodded his head.

  Okay, so was this the part where I was supposed to say thank you and bolt like a scared deer?

  I cleared my throat. He still hadn’t moved.

  Right. “Well, thanks for… everything. I’ll just go back to—”

  “—You aren’t going anywhere until classes are dismissed. You still have two hours to burn. So make yourself at home.”

  “But…” I held the damp egg-smelling clothes in my hands. “I need to get these cleaned and…”

  Nixon swore and launched himself from the couch, stalking his way toward me. He grabbed my uniform along with my underwear and tossed it into the trash. “Done.”

  “What, you have a magical trash can that cleans clothes?”

  “Nope. You can’t wear those again. They’re ruined and there are rules here. You can’t just wear a ruined uniform.”

  “I hate the stupid rules!” I stomped over to the trash can and tried to free my clothes. “This uniform is all I have!”

  Nixon pried the death grip I had on my clothes and dragged me over to the couch. “Sit.”

  “But—”

  “Sit.” It wasn’t a question, it was a command. I stuck out my tongue. He licked his lips and smiled. “You thirsty?”

  Deep breaths. “No.”

  “Hungry?”

  My stomach growled. Damn traitor!

  “That’s what I thought.”

  I refused to turn around even when I heard him messing around in what was probably the kitchen. A few curses and slamming of pots and pans and he returned.

  With a cow.

  Okay, not a real cow. A dead one, in the shape of a hamburger and fries. My mouth watered and sadly I felt tears prick in my eyes. “Thank you.”

  I was officially the lame homeless lady who had no money, no food, and cried when people offered her meat. Sigh.

  “You need to eat more.” He cursed.

  Just then the doors opened. Chase strolled in with a garment bag, followed by Monroe, Tex, and Phoenix. Welcome all to the room of humiliation!

  “Are you okay?” Monroe ran to my side and hugged me.

  My mouth was full so I just nodded.

  “I made her half a cow.” Nixon laughed. “I’m sure she’s in meat lover’s heaven right now.”

  “Aww, you killed a cow for her?” Monroe sighed happily.

  “Good God, people, he put frozen meat in the microwave and pressed defrost,” Chase muttered. “Is this all you needed fearless leader?” He held out the garment bag.

  Nixon nodded. “Right sizes?”

  “Yup.”

  “Good,” Nixon clipped.” Just put the bag over there, and we’ll take it over once classes are out.”

  Chase’s face was stern as he did what Nixon said, but his jaw flexed as if he wanted to say more but was held back.

  Phoenix kept looking at me funny as if I was going to launch my person on him and beat the living daylights out of him, which I kind of wanted to do, all things considered, but I felt kind of powerless against him.

  Tex sat between me and Monroe and put his arm around her. “So, what are we doing this weekend?”

  “We…” Monroe ducked under his arm and placed it back on his knee. “Are doing nothing. I’m going to be a good friend and hang out with my roommate who was brutally assaulted by the stupid assholes that go to our school.”

  Tex pouted. “Nixon, can’t you just order a hit on the ones that started it so I can have some alone time with your sister?”

  I laughed. “Order a hit? You guys talk like he’s mafia or something.”

  The room fell silent and then everyone burst out laughing.

  But it was the kind of nervous laughter that happens when nobody knows what else to do.

  Freaky.

  I finished the burger while Monroe and Tex argued over what to do with me where I wouldn’t get into trouble or cause myself physical harm. Finally I couldn’t take it anymore.

  “Guys! Just go hang out. I was going to go to the store anyways.”

  “No!” everyone said in unison.

  “Is the store dangerous or something?”

  Monroe shrugged. “No, it’s just not smart. I mean you shouldn’t leave campus by yourself. Besides, you need a car. You don’t have a car.”

  No, but I had a bit of money stashed away. “I’ll take a cab.”

  Monroe looked horrified. “A cab?”

  Tex burst out laughing. “Do those still exist?”

  Nixon flipped off the TV gaining everyone’s attention.

  “So…” Chase asked, thrusting his hands in his pockets. “What will it be Nixon?”

  He eyed me briefly before answering. “I guess we’re all going shopping.”

  “But—” Monroe started and Nixon gave her a warning glare.

  “We’ll take security.” He shrugged.

  “But last time—”

  “—I said…” Nixon’s nostrils flared. “We’ll take security.”

  Chapter Eleven

  After the last class ended for the afternoon, Monroe walked me back to the dorm. It was safe to say my messenger bag was completely destroyed. Grumpy, I threw it on the floor and grabbed the box that Grandma had given me. I hadn’t looked past the framed picture since that night, but I did stuff that wad of cash underneath a whole bunch of stuff in the box in order to keep it safe.

  I hoped Grandpa wouldn’t be too upset that I was using the emergency fund for food and a new bag.

  At least Nixon had gotten me a new uniform. Correction, he had bought me three. Each outfit had a different sweater underneath, one was red, the next gray, and the final one was blue. Typical.

  That was the errand he had Chase run, and honestly I was super thankful. The last thing I wanted to do was buy a new uniform that cost more than my book bag.

  “Ready?” Monroe asked from her side of the room. She’d been eerily quiet since the whole “We’ll bring security this time” talk. Maybe she didn’t get out much? Or maybe Chicago really was as scary as I thought it was.

  “Yup, just let me get my cash.” I opened the box and dug for the cash. My fingers hit something cold, curious, I dumped the box onto my bed.

  A few things came out. The small picture of Grandma and me and a picture of my parents. Weird. I hadn’t seen one of those since I was really little. We didn’t carry many family photos around the house. Grandpa said it just made him sad.

  My eyes focused on the wad of cash and then something totally unexpected. A necklace. A giant silver cross with diamonds in the middle lay effortlessly across my bed. I picked it up, expecting it to be costume jewelry, therefore really light. It wasn’t. In fact, if I wore this thing around my neck and went swimming I’d probably drown.

  I examined it in my hands and then flipped it over. “Alfero.”

  That word sounded crazy familiar when I repeated it out loud.

  “What did you just say?” Monroe asked suddenly right behind me. I tucked the necklace into my jean pocket and shrugged.

  “Alfredo, I could go for some Alfredo.”

  Monroe’s pale face sagged with relief. “Oh, oh sorry, I just thought…” Her eyes narrowed. “Nevermind. No biggie. You ready?


  I nodded and grabbed the stash of cash, careful to put all the contents of the box away. “Let's shop!”

  We walked arm in arm down the three flights of stairs, deciding we didn’t want to talk to anyone if they were in elevators.

  The minute we reached the first floor, I felt freedom since the first time I’d arrived five days ago.

  Monroe began chatting about Tex, so I wasn’t paying attention to the commotion outside until Monroe stopped talking and let out a heavy sigh. “Looks like everyone is ready.”

  I gawked. Four black Escalades were lined up against the driveway with a black Ranger Rover in front. So five cars. “Are we taking the whole school?” I asked breathlessly.

  Monroe laughed. “No silly, just us and the guys.”

  “Right.” I watched in amazement as the guys, aka the Elect, got out of the Range Rover and motioned for us to get our butts in gear.

  “Are all those cars coming?” I pointed behind me.

  Monroe shrugged and said nothing.

  A guy with aviators and an earpiece ran to the front door and opened it for me. He looked like he belonged on Air Force One, not here at the school.

  I mumbled a thanks and got into the car. “Um, does someone want to tell me why we need so much security?”

  Nixon started the ignition. “We’re important.”

  “Right.”

  Monroe was in the backseat with Tex. I assumed Phoenix and Chase were in one of the other cars. My tension increased as we drove down the long tree-lined pavement and finally reached the gate.

  The armed guard waved then spoke into his walkie-talkie and motioned for us to go on through.

  Had I thought my little grocery excursion would be this ridiculous I would have snuck out. I mean four cars?

  I groaned into my hands.

  Nixon stopped at the first light and nudged me. “What’s wrong? Are you sick or something?

  “No, I just… is it really that unsafe for you guys out there?”

  “You could say that.”

  He leaned forward to turn on the heat. Great. Now I was going to sweat to death. The guy was already killing me with his good looks. Heat? Heat I did not need right now.

  We drove in silence, and for some reason each time I moved, the necklace in my pocket kept poking me in the thigh. Stupid tight jeans. Exasperated I pulled it out and clasped it around my neck.

 
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