Copyright © Mary Martel
“This is your new best friend.” I switched the safety on and handed the Glock over to Carmine.
She balked but takes it anyway, holding it out away from her, between her pointer finger and thumb. Like somehow if she held it in her hand it would go off all on its own.
I wanted to laugh but held it in check for fear of discouraging her. Carmine was a weird one and I never knew how she’d react to things. Like with the gun. I thought she’d grab hold of the fucker, take aim and fire away. That’s probably what I would have done. I loved weapons of all kinds and got excited whenever I got a new one.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little disappointed by her reaction. I wanted her to enjoy this as much as me.
“Um, should we be doing this here?” Her eyes skirted nervously around us.
We’d already gone over this. Twice, as a matter of fact. Still, hoping to put her at ease I semi repeated myself.
“Honestly, Carmine, no one will care.” And they wouldn’t. “We’re far enough out of town where the shots won’t be heard and the police won’t be called.” Either that or they’d know to stay away. No need to share this part with her, though. “If someone says jack I’ll get Captain and he will kick their asses.” This last part was scary true but also kind of good.
“Yeah, but do we have to do it here?” Her arm shot out to her side and she waved the gun around in the air.
Thankfully the safety was on. Also, weirdly, she seemed to momentarily forget she had ahold of the damn thing.
I looked at her, really looked at her. I didn’t like what I saw. And for once it had not one thing to do with the fact that she was ugly. Although, these days, she looked a whole lot less ugly. Which was saying something.
In the last month she’d gone through several different looks and this was the only one that stuck.
No longer did she sport a mop of ultra-frizzy brown hair. She’d cut it. Short. All of it. Gone. It looked marginally better.
Being flat-chested with the new hair cut she looked like a boy.
Her clothes were no longer two sizes too big and frumpy as all get out. Instead she had jeans and plain cotton t-shirts that fit her just right.
She no longer resembled that butt ugly girl who’d showed up on my doorstep looking for a job as a prostitute. Instead she looked like a plain-Jane, too thin, girl with a boy haircut and a whole lot more confidence.
Only now the confidence was gone, replaced by nervousness.
I didn’t get what she had to be nervous about.
My bar, The Dollhouse, and our home was right across the street. We were outside the Mercy Motorcycle Club Compound. The whole place was fenced off to keep outsiders out. No one could see us from the road and that’s how they liked it.
These men wouldn’t care that we were here. Hell, you weren’t even allowed past the front gate unless they wanted you to be here. And the Prospect at the gate hadn’t asked what we wanted or why we were here, he just opened it up and let us pass through.
This was because we were considered Mercy and we were considered Mercy because Captain, my man, was the President of the club.
For this reason no one bat an eyelash when I repositioned one of their picnic tables and lined up beer cans on it.
So what the fuck was her damn problem?
“Carmine-” I started.
Quickly she spoke, cutting me off. “Does King know we’re out here doing this?”
“No,” I answered honestly, not getting why she’d ask in the first place.
I mean I got why they were close. They’d been in foster care together and King was the only real family Carmine had. He’d taken her back numerous times, which is how she ended up with me.
But that didn’t explain why she thought he’d care if she was out here with me learning how to shoot a gun.
If anything I thought the crazy man would be happy she was learning how to take care of herself. My life came with risks and dangers and since she was now very much involved in my life and the risks I took. I thought she needed to be able to take care of herself now more than ever.
And since he was neck deep in my shit I figured he’d appreciate this.
The fact that she was worried, and she wouldn’t have asked if he knew what we were doing if she wasn’t worried, got me thinking.
They were family. Not tight like me and Franky, but still family nonetheless. If I knew Franky were taking risks for someone I’d be all over that, ready to eliminate the source of those risks.
Lucky for me, King and I had a bond and he took on a role filled with more of a risk than Carmine could ever dream of.
Also, lucky for me, he was all up in my shit and paying close attention. Therefore, he already knew the risks she took for me. And, more importantly, he was okay with it.
That being said, I hadn’t informed him of my plans to show Carmine how to take care of herself along the way.
I did this mostly because I gave a shit about her, but also I did it for peace of mind. If something were to happen to her when I wasn’t around to protect her I would no doubt go homicidal and people would end up dead.
She was one of my girls even though she was a different kind of girl than the rest.
She had Franky potential only sans the whole fucked up whore bit. But still a whole lot of fucked up. I started off thinking of Carmine as an unwanted burden. There were burdens you took on then there was Carmine. A burden you’d rather sell an organ than accept.
Then she became an asset.
Solid. Rock steady. Everything I didn’t know I needed her to be.
She had it going on.
After I approached her about taking on more than the role of housekeeper she readily agreed.
Now, not only did she run my bar, but she took down the girls’ appointments and passed on the client’s info to my contact for background checks.
She knew just as much about my business as I did. Which is why I wanted her to learn how to use a gun. She got this because I’d explained it to her.
Now I didn’t get why she was worried about King.
“Carmine-” I again started but got no further.
Eyes aimed over my shoulder at the garage where they actually did work around here, she stated, “I want a car, too. But an SUV like yours.”
I didn’t need to look over my shoulder to know the garage doors were open and they were working on Franky’s car.
I was very much relieved to hear her say she wanted an SUV like mine. An SUV I could go and buy for her. Franky had to have a fast car with “character.” I didn’t get this. My SUV was nice, dependable, and, more importantly, it got me from point A to point B. What was the point in anything more than that? Flash and fast drew attention and attention was unwelcome.
“You want an SUV like mine?” I asked. At her nod I told her, “After this we’ll go pick you out one.”
“I can’t do that,” she gaped at me.
“Why the fuck not?”
She was getting on my nerves. We came out here to shoot things, not to have her question me and then get all weird and insecure on me.
Goddamn females and their ridiculous emotions.
“For starters, I can’t afford it-”
I cut her off, “Nobody said you’d be paying for it.”
“That’s not what I wanted when I said it, Duchess,” she angrily huffed out. “I wasn’t hinting at you buying me a car. I was just stupidly thinking out loud.”
Why was it considered stupid if she wanted it and I had the means to get it for her?
“Okay,” I agreed, verbally letting it go.
This would be the end of the conversation, but it wouldn’t be the end of the subject. I’d go out on my own and buy her the damn thing. And if she bitched and protested acceptance I’d lie and feed her some bullshit about it being a company car.
I snickered. Company car indeed.
She wouldn’t dare argue with me either, so it was perfect.
“Okay?” she sounded confused.
I couldn’t blame her. I wasn’t known to be one who gave in so quickly, or ever for that matter.
“Yeah, okay.” I grinned at her.
She blinked slowly, staring at me stupefied. “Uhh…”
“So,” I decided to take advantage of her being off her game and asked, “You ever fuck him?”
Her eyes grew wide and her mouth opened and closed twice before she sputtered, “Fuck…fuck who?”
Her face grew red, tomato red. It was instant.
Her lips pursed in an angry line and she hissed at me, “Why would you ever think that?”
Hello, crazy. Where have you been hiding?
I held my hands up, palms out, in a nonthreatening gesture.
“Take it back,” she continued to hiss at me.
I’d never seen her angry before. I think the only looks I’d ever seen her wear were complacent or concerned. This was a good look for her.
Eyes lit with fire. Cheeks red in anger. Lips a hard, thin line.
“There’s nothing to take back, Carmine,” I slowly told her, enunciating each word carefully.
“I don’t want him to think-”
“I’d never say anything to anyone. If you don’t trust me than you’re a fucking moron,” I snapped at her.
“I… he…” she sputtered looking anywhere but at me, her anger having dissolved as quickly as it had arrived.
Jesus. Did she have multiple personalities?
Maybe I should take that gun away from her before I really pissed her off and she shoots my ass.
“Whatever, Carmine. It’s your business.” I eyed the gun in her hand, wondering if she’d hand it over if I asked or if I should try and tackle her and wrestle it out of her hands.
Probably not the latter, the boys around here would never let me live that shit down and I already was a bit of a freak show to them, I didn’t need to add to it.
“It’s just that,” her arms came up in helplessness before quickly dropping down to her sides, the gun slapping against her thigh. She didn’t seem to notice or care and prattled on, “I tried once. I kind of um, threw myself at him. I was drunk and he was, well, beautiful, like he always is. I finally got up the courage to make a move, we’d been in the same house for months and he was the first person to ever treat me like I was something, ya know? Like I was worth caring about.”
She cleared her throat, her voice got deeper, rougher with emotion when she continued, “Anyway, he turned me down, pushed me away. He was gentle about it, but still it hurt. I don’t think I ever got over it, or him. But I don’t want him to know that. If he knew I had feelings for him, or if he thought he hurt me… I can’t lose him.”
She looked at me with big eyes filled with pain and pleading.
“I get it,” I spoke quietly and smiled reassuringly at her. “My lips are sealed.”
Her shoulders sagged in relief.
“Now,” I changed the subject, “Give me the gun and I’ll show you how to use it.”
She looked down at the gun in her hand, looking confused, like she didn’t remember how it got there.
I should have been more concerned about this, but instead I was scheming.
Everyone deserved to get a little piece of happiness, deserved to get what they wanted out of life at least once.
And if you were one of mine I went out of my way to see that you got it, even if I had to get my hands a little dirty in the process.
And Carmine was most definitely one of mine.