The Not-Outcast

Page 40

I was going to try with him.

If I didn’t, I felt like I was back on those streets. I felt open to the elements. I’d always be fighting, feeling the desperate edge because I couldn’t go back to where I was when my mom died. I couldn’t, but he soothed the outside around me. He helped me focus. It was like he was a home for me, opening a door and beckoning me to come inside.

If he pushed me out, then I’d have to deal.

I closed my eyes. I really enjoyed this feeling.

It was warming to someone who’d only ever been cold.

I hadn’t known anything other than the cold until the first time he touched me.



Since the first event, I’d gotten so many different looks from Cheyenne. Perplexion. Vulnerability. Hilarity. Sexiness. Freeing. But this one was different again. She felt serene, almost peaceful. I’d never seen her like this, and I wanted to help in any way I could.

I had to help, it was just what I was going to be feeling with her.

I was not that guy. Never had been. I let Chad use me, but that’s because I loved him. He was my brother, but even Chad never brought this reaction out of me. My family, my own brothers, none of them. It was different with Cheyenne. It was all different, and I was starting to realize that I wasn’t just seeing her in a different light, I was starting to see everything in a different light. Not better. Not worse. Just different. There was more texture, more colors, more depth.

Also, I needed to be real with myself. This was rocking me to my core a bit.

“Oh, wow.”

Cheyenne sat up, seeing how far the line to get into Bresko’s was. It extended at least a full mile, if not more.

I drove past. The line was in a third lane that we got special approval to get put out here.

I said, “I was in on some of the planning.” I gestured around us because Bresko’s was in the middle of nowhere for a reason. “We own all of this land. Did this on purpose because we knew the parking lot wait would be a lot.”

“Why do that, though? So people have to wait in their vehicles.”

“Makes it more exclusive. That was the thinking behind it. Also, if you’re driving to the club with friends, there’s the idea that you’re already having a pre-game in your vehicle before you even get to the club. We wanted to build on that.”

She was listening, her eyes thoughtful. “It’s just different. People can’t come off the streets or hop out of a cab to enjoy what this place offers.”

“Exactly. If they’re coming to Beskso’s, they’re committed for a full night, or they’ve got some serious cash, or they’re determined enough to get inside. There’s also some serious poker games in the basement going on. Those last till the mornings, usually. And there’s some VIP rooms that are always booked. They’re full every night.”

“For celebrities like you?”

My mouth twitched at that. I knew I was a celebrity, but I never felt like one. “You’d be surprised how many celebrities have a house in the area.”

We were coming to the turn off and I hit the signal, but eased to a stop. One of the parking attendants approached the vehicle.

“Mr. Ryder. I didn’t know that was you.”

“Hey, George. How’s the night so far?”

“It’s good. It’s good, sir.” He lifted his radio. “I’ll call you up.”

“Sounds good. Thanks, man.”

“Of course, sir.” The attendant moved his head to see Cheyenne. “Miss.”

I raised the window again, and Cheyenne laughed. “Miss. I thought I was going to be a ‘ma’am’.”

We eased forward. We still had two lanes to head up, but one lane was taken up by those waiting in line to get inside. We had it looped so two lanes went up, around, and we had two lanes heading out. The two ways never crossed over each other. When people left Bresko’s, they headed to the east. People had to come from the west to get into Bresko’s. It helped cut down on the traffic and smoothed out the overall experience.

George called ahead for us, so when I pulled up, we wouldn’t have to go through another attendant. (Which was the situation for everyone as there were three main checkpoints along the way.) We’d get clocked, then waved through, and there’d be a slot right at the door ready for us.

“Is that usual for an investor to know a worker’s name?”

I shook my head, going into the first roundabout. “No, but the owners give a fuck about who works for them. They wanted loyal workers, so they treat them right, and the hope is that the workers will be loyal back. It was a mission I liked and why I bought in. George has been with Bresko’s since the beginning.”

I felt her gaze on me the rest of the way, and then wheeled into the slot that was left open for us.

“Mr. Ryder.”

I nodded to Juan this time and started around the truck. Henry and Penny were on the sidewalk as Cheyenne was getting out. Henry at the door, and Penny waiting with a drink in hand already. I didn’t greet them by name, but they knew I knew them, and each gave me a smile and nod.

Cheyenne bypassed the drink but gave both a smile.

“She’s a water girl.”

Penny’s eyes lit up in understanding. As we headed inside, I knew she’d be radioing ahead. Cheyenne would have a water at her disposal the rest of the evening, whether she knew it or not. Cary met us inside. I took Cheyenne’s hand, but glanced back to read how she was handling the inside.

Her eyes were squinty, but she was looking around for her friends.

Her hand seemed good, strong. Her head was up and steady, too.

Maybe it helped that she’d been here before. I didn’t know for sure, but she seemed good.

I was suddenly grateful that the owners purposefully kept the inside of Bresko’s dark and low on stimulus. They didn’t want customers to get overwhelmed when coming in, but instead feel more like they were being eased into paradise. The interior opened to a small front room. A bar was set up. Clean and simple lines. Only two staff stood inside. Cary glanced at Cheyenne, but stepped back as I walked toward her. She fell in step with me as we walked through a back hallway. “Mr. Miller is in your usual box. He had some guests join him. Are you here because of the situation?”

I nodded. “The new guests are her friends. One of them called.”

Cary glanced to Cheyenne, but swung back to me. “Do you want any extra assistance?”

She was asking if I wanted her there, or security, or anything really. I was always low-key the few times I came here, so I appreciated her asking. I liked to slip in unnoticed and quietly. “We’ll be fine.” I indicated to Cheyenne again. “This is a close friend.”

Cheyenne frowned, but didn’t say anything.

Cary nodded immediately. She knew what I was saying. The only other ‘friend’ I had was Chad. If the other players came, they came in on their own celebrity. Chad was given special treatment because of me. Cheyenne would now receive special treatment as well.

“I’ll leave you two here then.”

Cary gave us both a smile and a wave as she headed down a hallway toward her office. Her hand was already up in her ear, and she was sending the notice about Cheyenne to the rest of the staff.

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