Read Sawyer (Great Wolves Motorcycle Club, #5) Online

Authors: Jayne Blue

Tags: #romantic suspence, #mc romance, #crime, #action adventure, #biker romance, #sexy series

Sawyer (Great Wolves Motorcycle Club, #5) (9 page)

BOOK: Sawyer (Great Wolves Motorcycle Club, #5)
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I pointed to one.

“Oh,” he put down a reverse card.

“Nice,” said Dylan.

“Now this,” I pointed to a draw four.

“Dang,” Dylan picked up the four and put down a green.

“Now do you know what next?” I eyed a card and that was all Henry needed.

“Reverse again and draw two and draw four!!”

All of a sudden, the tables had turned and Dylan had over a dozen cards in his hands. He smiled and gave Henry a little prompt.

“Oh, oh yeah! UNO!” I slapped him on the back and Dylan gave a conspiratorial nod.

“I got nothing. You just kicked my butt, Henry! Your very second game.” Dylan was happy to encourage Henry. It was damned adorable.

“Yeah, I just have to have Sawyer sit here for every hand until I get it.”

“Okay brother, let’s do it. Who’s deal?” I was gathering the cards when the party was busted up.

“It’s time to go to school.” Bess had emerged with Cassidy.

“Darn it, one more game,” Henry asked and I was all for it.

“Get going.” Bess could be scary, single mom scary. Henry moved fast.

“Good job helping him Sawyer,” Dylan said to me.

“Thanks, it’s fun teaching a new game right? Tell your brother not to be a stranger at Great Wolves.”

“Will do.” Cassidy grabbed Henry’s stuff and handed it to Bess.

Bess and Henry headed out to her car and Cassidy tugged my arm to catch me before I followed.

“You’re going to have to be persistent you know?”

“She’s still not sure if she likes me,” I told Cassidy.

“Oh, she likes you. More than likes you. I’ve known her since I was a teenager and I’ve never seen her date much less let anyone meet Henry.”

“Any advice?”

“Oh, look how the tables have turned!” She smiled that mega-what smile. It was so easy to see why Craddock Flynn, who could have his pick of any woman in the world, chose this one who showed up right under his nose at the Great Wolves Gym.

“Yes, oh wise one. What’s the key to keeping Bess Geary happy?”

“Let her be Bess, let her keep giving her all to the kids of this town and to Henry. If you understand that it is part of her bones and help her find a way to enjoy life at the same time. I’d say you’re golden.”

“Sound like the same advice I should be giving Craddock.”

“We’re talking about you here.”

“Sure, thanks for the tip.”

“Oh, and here’s another one, she’s a fan of your leather, likes it a lot.” Cassidy put her tongue in her cheek.

“All women are, it’s my secret weapon.” I waggled my eyebrows and made my exit. It was good to have an ally in the fight for Bess’s heart. I could not imagine a better ally than the fierce little Cassidy Parker.

It reminded me that I had another ally and it was time I gave her a call too. This one would not help me win a heart but it could help me crush The Bratva.

Chapter Ten

B
ess

Work left little time for pondering recent developments in my love life. Sawyer saw me to my office door and made me promise to let him know when I was ready to leave.

It was a promise I didn’t intend to keep. I did not need a babysitter even though a part of me appreciated having someone who wanted to protect me. My last significant relationship was Chris Geary and it felt like he enjoyed my distress.

Several cases were bubbling to the top of my brain. Three girls were a priority for me right now. Alexis needed to be placed; Cassidy had arranged a group home placement to start so her immediate needs could be met.

Soon I would have Cassidy work with her and help determine if a family would be next. What she had been through meant she needed more than the standard foster family. I planned to work closely with Cassidy on Alexis Brian’s case. I wanted to form a support net so strong under Alexis that she would never fall through again. I knew it was becoming more personal every moment with me but I could not stop it. In the same way, I could not stop my connection to Cassidy when she first came through the doors of my office.

Then there was Kirstin Jones. The runaway. Her foster parents still had no word from her. I hoped Detective Murray could help find her but the odds were low. A foster kid with a history of running away was not a high priority. Knowing what I knew about the rise of the trafficking activity in my town, I felt dark tentacles reaching for her. Wherever she was.

Finally, Cassidy’s client DeAndra Parrish was on my worry list right now. Cassidy’s concern had me stewing about DeAndra too.

It was a similar story to Kirstin Jones. Cassidy was worried about the girl and I took that seriously. Was the next horrible phone call going to be about her? For now, she was safely placed in a foster home. I would have to put that one on the back burner.

At the moment, it did not seem as though I could do a thing about any of the issues. Then I circled back around. That was what I had learned in a decade. Come back at the problem, even if you had to go sideways, and maybe you could fix it. Or at least, put a band-aid on it.

One girl was willing to talk to me and she needed to be taken to the group home. Before I turned Alexis over to Cassidy for most of the one-on-one, I would see to getting her set up in the group home.

I let my staff know what I was up to and head out.

Cassidy stopped me.

“Are you sure you don’t want me to handle this part?”

“You know I just feel like there’s more I can learn from her. Let me put on my investigator hat a little longer. You are going to be in charge of making her whole again but I have to be sure I know how they got her. Maybe I can help a kid in the future if I retrace her path.”

“You want me to come too?”

“I got this for now. Work on a placement after the group home. I believe you need to reach out to DeAndra Parrish?”

“You’re right. Norm said he thinks I’m worrying too much but I feel like something’s very wrong there.”

“We’ve both got important work. Text me if you need anything.”

“Will do.”

I had learned a little more about Alexis since Sawyer brought her into the agency. She was being served in the Genesee County office of the children services.

Norm was friends with a few people at the Genessee County office so I had him reach out to them.

As I drove to the hospital to get Alexis, I dialed Norm on my cell.

He briefed me on what the State of Michigan knew about Alexis.

“Her caseworker told me she’s smart. Placed after her parents died in a drunk-driving accident. They were the drunks. The family they placed her with was newer foster parents. They said she had been on her computer a lot and argued with them all the time. Talked about a boyfriend and then poof. Runaway.”

“She hasn’t said much about her life.”

“You know what happens when they run away. They’re sitting ducks.”

“Yes, I know.”

“Yep. She’s one of the dozens of runaways we’ve got open right now.”

That raised an alarm bell. Did I miss it? Where are numbers high than normal? “Get me the number, the exact number. Are we high?”

“Maybe a little high. Look Bess give them nice houses but it does not mean they appreciate it. Be glad you found her and she’s not a junkie already.”

“Norm you’re getting jaded.”

“I’m a realist Bess.”

I tried to be empathetic. He had seen just as much shit as I had.

But still. I hoped if I ever got that hardened, someone would tell me to get out. I didn’t have the heart to tell Norm.

What he lacked these days in compassion he made up for in knowing how to keep the paperwork flowing on the dozens of employees and hundreds of cases.

Norm may not be a bleeding heart anymore but he was a sharp pencil. I needed that too in my department.

As I pulled into the hospital parking lot, I refocused on the lost, now found, girl in front of me.

I suspected that in Alexis’s life the system had treated her like a number and not a person. I really hoped it was not too late to change that.

I knew the odds. She had been sexually abused to a degree that I could not even fathom. As I walked up to get her, I also realized that I needed more expertise. Human trafficking was what was happening and I needed to get much more familiar with resources we had available for Alexis. If the numbers were right, for the dozens more our agency might encounter.

Trafficking was not just abuse from a parent or authority figure, this was a girl sold and used as a piece of meat. I would keep a close eye on the work at the Michigan Human Trafficking Taskforce. I suspected I would be leaning on them a lot.

Alexis was ready to check out as soon as we got a final update from the doctor. I chose to allow her to hear what he had to say. She was 13 but in so many ways, not a child anymore. Nothing about her life had been sugar coated; I was not going to start now.

“You have Chlamydia and a urinary tract infection.”

“Is that the good news or the bad news?” Alexis retorted. God, I was loving this kid more and more.

“That’s the bad news. The good news is you aren’t pregnant and you’re not HIV positive.”

“You’ve just found out you don’t have HIV! What are you going to do? I’m going to Disneyland!” Her delivery was dry and behind her toughness, I saw relief. She knew she had dodged a fatal bullet with intravenous drugs and unprotected sex. I thanked God for that.

“A group home more like, but Disneyland compared to where you’ve been,” I said. She was 30 in a 13-year-old body. She gave it to you straight and deserved the same.

“You’re going to be on antibiotics for a while but you should be okay after that,” said the doctor.

“We’re all set to go?” I asked.

“Yes. She has a follow up next week with the clinic.”

“Got it.” Alexis didn’t have one personal item in her possession. I had rounded up clothes for her but it was not much.

“We’re going to the group home, but on the way, maybe a quick trip to Target? I can get you a few more things.”

“Whatever.”

This was not my job anymore but I didn’t care. Bonding with a kid does not happen overnight. It takes time to develop trust. Right now Alexis had no reason to trust anything on this planet. I hoped to change that.

We drove to Target and I didn’t push. I was anxious to learn more about her circumstances and more importantly, how she had been grabbed. But I also didn’t want to put her through any more trauma.

She did not want to try clothes on but I got her to agree to two pairs of jeans, a couple of tops, and a sweater. She was too little to take any of my old clothes; now that Cassidy didn’t need my hand-me-downs, I had a little stockpile. She would swim in my coat and that would not do for a Michigan winter, hell a Michigan spring required a heavy coat too.

So, I showed her three coats. A red one, a black one, and a silver one.

“I’ll take the black one if it’s okay.”

“Sure is, your choice.” I got her a backpack to hold all her recently acquired worldly possessions. As I did, she wandered a bit and I noticed her drifting to the book aisle.

“Do you like to read?”

“I used to.”

“You don’t forget that kind of thing. Let me buy you a book.”

“What looks good?” She walked up and down the book aisles of Target. Her hand landed on John Green’s Paper Towns.

“I read some of his other stuff.” This girl was a girl after my own heart. A bookworm.

“You’ll like this then.” I added it to our haul and we went through the checkout.

“Are you allowed to spend $100 dollars?” Alexis looked concerned.

“I’m the boss. I decide these things. So yes.”

She took that in. Part of my bond with Cassidy Parker so many years ago was showing her that a woman could do anything, be anything, and I may not be Oprah but I did okay. A confident woman in charge of her own fate was something these foster kids didn’t often see. I hope it registered with Alexis. I know it did with Cassidy.

The Barrow House was a smaller group home. It was not that far from Cassidy actually, at the outskirts of her historic neighborhood. Spaces were limited and it was by far one of the best Grand City had to offer.

It was pink and a Victorian like many of the homes in the neighborhood. The house had a small board of directors, a tiny staff, and rooms for twelve women and or women and their kids.

The current administrator, Doris Williams, was a saint in my opinion. A straight talking saint, with a huge heart and even bigger bosom, which she frequently used to envelope people in giant hugs. She kept the place going no matter what the donation situation was. No matter who came through the doors.

She greeted me with one of those signature hugs and a kind squeeze of the shoulder for Alexis. She understood about personal space when it came to what Alexis and others like her might have experienced. Her body was not her own. Part of the rehabilitation was to help her establish parameters that felt right to her. Doris Williams got that all down but the little contact was there, to comfort, to connect. Even just a little bit.

“I’m giving her the room at the end of the hall. My only vacancy right now. We have dinner at 6 p.m. You help cook and clean up. Otherwise, we are going to watch TV. After dinner in the common room and you’re welcome to join us.”

“What are you watching,” Alexis asked.

“Survivor. I love that show,” Doris explained.

“Oh, uh.”

“Think about it. Jeff Probst is not to be missed.”

“I’ll take her up.” I led Alexis away from Doris, who could not honestly understand why someone would not want to watch Jeff Probst at any opportunity.

We walked the creaking staircase and it always amazed me that this huge neighborhood of Victorian houses once was home to the rich founding fathers of Grand City. I imagined what it must have been like here in the early 1900s.

Now this house was a haven for women running from abusive husbands and kids like Alexis. The kids here, if they were not little ones with their mothers, were old enough to handle their basic needs and not require a babysitter but really, they were so far from able to care for themselves in this world that it was heartbreaking. That tough exterior they all had belied a soft and vulnerable child that could still be hurt to the bone.

BOOK: Sawyer (Great Wolves Motorcycle Club, #5)
2.34Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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