Elite, p.9
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       Elite, p.9

         Part #1 of Eagle Elite series by Rachel Van Dyken
 
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  “Okay, what do I do?” I held the cup in my hand and stared at him.

  “Uh…” Nixon scratched his head. “You eat it?”

  “The cup?”

  “No, not the cup.” Nixon barked out a laugh. “You’re kidding right? You’ve never had self-serve?”

  I swallowed and looked down feeling all kinds of stupid. “Look, just forget it.” I tried to shove the cup back in his hand, but instead he grabbed my wrist and flipped me around to face a giant contraption on the wall.

  I could swear this guy’s body heat could start a fire if he so desired. “Read the flavors…” he ordered.

  “Out loud?” I snapped.

  “Hmm, I think I may like that.”

  Okay, he was standing way too close to me. I could practically taste the minty gum he was chewing. Focus, Trace. Focus. I was just a plaything. Oh great, I was what rich boys resorted to when they were bored. Well, at least he hadn’t called me Farm Girl for a while. “New York Cheesecake, Blueberry, Chocolate Chip, Vanilla, Chocolate, Cake Batter…”

  “Why do they sound better coming from your lips, do you think?” Nixon whispered in my ear.

  Holy hell, I couldn’t feel my legs. The guy had me absolutely paralyzed.

  “Want a sample?” He moved from behind me and grabbed a small pink spoon. Pink looked good on him, less scary, but not less hot. Unfortunately…

  I briefly closed my eyes and imagined him in a Barbie minivan hoping to expel the way his masculinity made me want to strip down to nothing and throw caution to the wind.

  “Open.” I opened my eyes and my mouth, since I really didn’t have a say in the matter. But then again, it was Nixon. I wasn’t given a vote. Ever. The frozen yogurt was cold and creamy against my tongue. “You like?”

  Oh such an open-ended question. His eyes hooded as he dipped his head closer to mine, I couldn’t tear my gaze away from his plump lips as they descended. His warm mouth was suddenly on mine and then like the little tease he was, it was gone.

  “Sorry, I thought I saw some frozen yogurt, my mistake.” He laughed and backed away.

  Ass. “Liar,” I said, breathlessly pushing past him. “So what, do I just pull on one of these thingies?”

  “Well, I prefer the word stroke but—”

  My face erupted into flames. I jerked my head away and managed to shakily add some frozen yogurt in the cup. I didn’t even look to see what flavor it was. I just knew I had to get the hell out of there before I allowed Nixon to get any closer.

  The guy had already threatened to destroy me.

  He proved he could do it.

  So he was suffering from temporary insanity and being nice, all because of my necklace? Or was it because of what happened at school?

  Lost in thought, I started putting toppings on my frozen yogurt.

  “Wow, didn’t take you for the gummy worm type of girl.”

  “Huh?”

  Nixon pointed to the cup in my hand where I had somehow stacked five gummy worms on my yogurt. “Uh, yeah, I love… worms.” Classic. Someone should record the gold that flows from my mouth.

  Nixon licked his lips. I could see the ghost of a smile dancing across them. This was the most I’d seen him smile… in forever. I both liked it and hated it. On one hand it nearly killed me every time he directed a smile in my direction, because I knew it wasn’t just fleeting but fake. Nixon wasn’t the type that offered something without taking something in return, and I knew my payback was coming up.

  “Ready?” the bored teenager at the till asked.

  “Yup.” I handed him my cup, he placed it on a scale and then placed Nixon’s on the scale. “Twelve dollars and nineteen cents.”

  For yogurt?

  I kept my mouth shut while Nixon handed over his card.

  The kid glanced at the card and then did a double-take. His mouth dropped open and then he snapped it closed. At least he wasn’t shaking like the last cashier. With a quick swipe he handed back the card and the receipt.

  We started to walk out, but he spoke up. “Um, I know this sounds really dumb, but can I have your autograph?”

  Nixon froze. His nostrils flared as he looked at me and then handed me his frozen yogurt. I watched his right hand clench and unclench as he walked up to the kid. Holy crap he was going to punch him in the face.

  “Sure thing…” He bent over the counter and signed a napkin the kid had handed to him. “What’s your name?”

  “John.” The guy looked like he just met Brad Pitt.

  Nixon scribbled something and then handed the napkin back to John. “We have an understanding, John? Nobody knows we were here?”

  John’s eyes widened and then Nixon leaned over the counter. “I need to hear you say it, John.”

  “You weren’t here.” John stumbled over his words. “I swear.”

  “And where did you see us?”

  “On the street. You, uh, you were going for a run.”

  “I do like running.” Nixon lightly smacked the kids shoulder and winked. “Thanks again, John.”

  “N-no problem, Mr. Abandonato.”

  I frowned the rest of the way to the car.

  Chapter Thirteen

  I wasn’t really sure why I was so exhausted other than the fact that I had just had both the most emotionally draining and weirdest week of my life.

  “One more stop.” Nixon had been driving back toward the school but took a left before we came to the right road.

  Boo. Was I never going to get a vote in the matter? Was it wrong to use my new Prada backpack as a pillow?

  “The bank?” I said once we stopped.

  “Yup.”

  “Why?”

  Nixon laughed. “Asks the girl who’s carrying around thousand dollar bills. I take it you don’t have an account?”

  Embarrassed, I shook my head.

  “Well, let’s go then.” He jumped out of the car. I had no choice but to follow him into the large glass building. It was only four stories, but every angle and plane of the building was pointed as if it was some sort of angry porcupine.

  Intimidated, I tried to stay close to him.

  I noticed that we only had one security guard with us.

  “Nixon, where’d the rest of the suits go?”

  He turned and grabbed my hand but didn’t answer my question.

  Okay, the silent game. I could play.

  We walked right past all the desks where people were answering phones and working and went into the elevator.

  Expecting it to go up, I gasped when it shot down into the basement.

  The basement. Really?

  He grabbed my hand again as we walked across a long marble hallway. In front of us was a giant wood desk. A girl with long dark hair sat there filing her nails.

  “Hey, Priscilla, where’s Anthony?” Nixon asked.

  “Oh, you know, sharpening kn—” Her mouth shut as she stood and held out her hand. “I’m sorry, and you are?”

  “Trace.” I shook her hand. “Trace Rooks.”

  She nodded and then glanced down at my necklace. “Rooks you say?”

  “Yup.”

  “Doesn’t sound like—”

  “Pris, we need to open an account.”

  Her smile didn’t reach her eyes. “Of course you do. I’ll just let Anthony know you are here.”

  Nixon shook his head. “No need, I’ll let myself in.”

  “Enter at your own risk, Nixon.”

  “Come on.” Nixon tugged my hand. We took a left and walked down a shorter hallway lined with creepy old person photos of men in suits holding guns. Great. And we’re in a basement.

  Nixon pressed his thumb against the magnetic thingy and the glass door opened. “Anthony?”

  “In here.”

  The office was beautiful. I thought we were in a basement, but technically there were still really wide windows toward the desk that looked out onto a pond. Was that a plane?

  “We need to open an account,” Nixon repeated.

/>   “We?” Anthony turned around.

  Holy hell he looked like an older version of Nixon. Was this his dad? No, he was still too young. I waited for the introductions.

  “Technically, she needs to open an account. I would have gone to one of the other branches, but lucky girl has thousand dollar bills.”

  Anthony’s eyes widened briefly before he turned to me. “What did you do, rob a bank?” He cracked a smile.

  I grinned back. “I didn’t know they were big bills. My grandpa gave me some money before I was dropped off at school and there was a fiasco with my uniform and bags and…”

  “Fiasco?” Anthony’s brows lifted. “This I have to hear.”

  “Anthony—” Nixon was cut off by the guy waving his hand in the air.

  “Make yourself useful, Nixon, and grab yourself a drink.”

  Nixon muttered a curse and walked over to a bar in the corner.

  “So, you were saying?” Anthony nodded his head.

  My palms began to sweat. “I, uh… the people at school kind of drenched me in sugar water and raw eggs. My messenger bag suffered a very slow, sticky death.”

  “The worst kind I’m sure.” Anthony smirked.

  “Absolutely,” I agreed. “I guess technically it’s my fault, since I rejected that one’s rules on the first day.” I pointed at Nixon who narrowed his eyes. “But he did save me from social suicide. Not that I was already high on the popularity totem pole anyways… but yeah. Long story short, we went shopping, I busted out my money. Nixon almost had a stroke. Men in suits entered the grocery store with guns. Pretty sure I’m going to see that on the evening news, and… now we’re here.”

  Anthony’s face remained impassive. “Alright. Sounds like a normal day in the life of Nixon. Welcome to the family…” He held out his hand.

  “Oh, no, no, no, no.” I laughed nervously. “No, it’s not like… that.”

  I waved both hands in the air like a crazy person.

  Anthony’s head tilted to the side. “I’ve known Nixon for a long time, and I can tell you one thing for sure. It is very much… like that.”

  I heard a groan from Nixon and something that sounded like a curse.

  “Now, an account. Do you have your social security number?”

  Embarrassed, I shook my head. “Grandpa said it was lost in the move.”

  “The move?” Anthony repeated walking around his desk and hitting a few keys on his computer. “Where did you move from?”

  “Chicago.”

  Nixon spewed the contents of his drink onto the floor and began coughing. “Sorry, Uncle Tony.”

  Ah, uncle, that made more sense.

  Tony shook his head in annoyance but said nothing. “So, you’re from Chicago. Why did you move? Your parents come with you?”

  I shifted uncomfortably on my feet. What did this have to do with me opening an account? Soon I felt Nixon’s hand grab mine. “My grandparents thought the city was too violent I guess? I don’t know. My parents were killed in an accident when I was six so…”

  “An accident?” Anthony repeated. “My sincere apologies for your loss.”

  I shrugged. “I don’t remember much.”

  “Probably for the best,” Anthony said pointedly.

  “Um, what does this have to do with opening a bank account? I’m sorry, I’m not trying to be rude, I’m just really exhausted.”

  “Shopping does that to you,” Nixon said.

  Anthony laughed. “I’d say Nixon does that as well…”

  “Very funny.” Nixon shook his head.

  “Alright, Miss Rooks, was it?”

  I nodded.

  “I’ll work some magic and open your account without your social security number. I’ll add the address to the school you attend. Do you have a phone number where I can reach you?”

  I gave him my number while he typed.

  “And the cash?” He held out his hand.

  Nixon reached into his back pocket and handed him the wad that I’d pulled out of the box this morning.

  If Anthony was surprised he didn’t say anything. Instead he counted the cash, around ten grand which is what Nixon had guessed.

  He put it through a little machine. I signed something and he gave me a temporary card. It was black just like Nixon’s.

  “We good?” Nixon asked folding some of the paperwork and stuffing it into his pocket.

  Anthony nodded. “For now.”

  Huh? What was I missing?

  “Alright.” Nixon grabbed my hand. “See you Sunday, Uncle Tony.”

  “You too, Boss. Don’t forget the time, or your pops is gonna throw a fit.”

  “Yeah, yeah.” Nixon waved him off and we left.

  The ride back to school only took a few minutes. I was quiet, mainly because I was confused and tired.

  Once we pulled up to my dorm I unbuckled my seatbelt, but something was still bothering me about the whole situation.

  “Why are people afraid of you?”

  Nixon smiled. “Aren’t you afraid of me?”

  I gulped. “Sometimes.”

  His eyes got sad as he reached across the console and grabbed my hand. “You know I would never let anyone hurt you, right?”

  “See!” I didn’t mean to yell. “That’s what I’m talking about! A few days ago you were telling me I was basically the cockroach beneath your shoe! And now you’re taking me shopping? I’m sorry, it doesn’t add up.”

  “Yeah well, life rarely does.” Nixon swore and then groaned. His face was tight as if he was in severe pain. “Look, I was just warning you, that’s all. And just because I’m being nice to you doesn’t change the fact that you have to follow the rules if you want to survive here.”

  “Thanks. Got that memo loud and clear once I was drenched with sugar water and drugged.”

  “Damn it, then why not just do what I say?”

  I shrugged. “I don’t like being bossed around.”

  “No shit.” He smirked. “But sometimes it’s for your own safety. Can’t you see that? Maybe the world isn’t as shiny and fun as you once thought. People are mean. Humanity is a cruel joke, Trace. I’m just trying to prevent them from getting the last laugh.”

  I sighed. “So, why do they listen? Why do you get to make the rules?”

  He froze. A mask slipped from his face and then it was just a boy and a girl in a car, talking. The air felt electric as he reached out and touched my cheek. “I wish that wasn’t the case. I wish I didn’t have to make rules… or enforce them.”

  “Then don’t.” I reached out and placed my hand against his chest.

  His eyes closed. “Sometimes we aren’t given choices. We just are.”

  “What does that even mean?”

  Nixon opened his eyes and slowly removed my hand from his chest. “It means that you should have listened to me on the first day of school.” His head tilted to the side. “Don’t touch the Elect. Don’t breathe the same air as the Elect, and don’t…” He cursed. “Just don’t.”

  “Why?” My lower lip trembled.

  “Because you are up to your eyeballs in shit, and you don’t even know it. And once you know… what everything’s about… the choice will be taken from you too. Hell, what am I saying? The choice was gone the minute your gramps dropped you off.”

  “Choice?” I rolled my eyes. “You’re pretty serious and cryptic to boot, you know that right? What are you? Some kind of famous celebrity? A politician’s son? The President’s dirty little secret?”

  At that he cracked a smile.

  “…Hmm, that dirty little secret thing sure rings a bell. Don’t worry your pretty little head over anything, alright? Go do your homework and relax.”

  Apparently I wasn’t going to get any answers. I grabbed my new bag and my purse and hopped out of the car. “Thanks for… everything.”

  Nixon’s full lips curved into a smile. “My pleasure. Now go get some work done. I’ll send Chase over in a few.”

  “Chase? Why?” I
put my hand on my hip. Was I still under babysitting protection?

  Nixon shrugged. “So no one bothers you, why else?”

  “Why don’t you check on me yourself? Why send a minion?”

  He barked with laughter. “A minion, huh?” He bit his lip, making the ring tilt to the side. Damn, I hated how sexy he was without even trying. “If I came and checked on you, I’d definitely be bothering you.”

  “Annoying the hell out of me is more like it,” I shot back.

  “Bye, Farm Girl.”

  And there it was, the perfect ending to the weirdest day of my life.

  “Thanks for that.” I flipped him off.

  His response was to moo. Classic.

  Chapter Fourteen

  Monroe was already in the room waiting for me.

  “How was shopping?” She sat cross-legged on her bed filing her nails.

  “Oh swell. You know, other than seeing crazy guys in suits with guns and then having the devil buy me a Prada messenger bag to replace my old one.”

  Monroe grinned. “Come on, everyone knows the devil wears Prada.”

  “Thank you, Monroe.” I glared. “That was really helpful of you. Why’d you bail anyways? Do you always do whatever Nixon says?”

  She snorted. “Yes, and even though he’s the devil incarnate — and an ass — at least he keeps me safe.”

  “From what? Hormonal college students? Ice cream cones falling on your shoes? I don’t get it, who are you guys?”

  “Wanna watch a movie?” She blew her hair out of her face and began searching through DVDs like a madwoman.

  “Okay, I get it. Touchy subject. I’ll just do an internet search on your last name.”

  Her hand froze over the DVD collection, but she didn’t say anything. Maybe it wasn’t that big of a deal? I quickly got onto the room computer and typed in their last name Abandonato.

  Holy crap. So not what I expected.

  Their names were on everything. And when I say everything, I mean everything Abandonato Enterprises, LLC. They owned the school, like literally owned it. They owned the bank I just went to, the grocery store, the actual mall, the gas stations. And my favorite, not car dealerships — no, because that would be too normal. They owned car brands. A few foreign brands. Crap.

  “And I thought the Mormons owned everything…” I said under my breath.

 
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