Truths & Chains – Chapter Six


    Elias walked into JJ’s apartment building, one hand wrapped around Gordo’s harness, his free arm hugging a folder full of news articles and police reports to his chest. As much as he didn’t like elevators, he’d spent most of his time at Hank’s on his feet, and his legs couldn’t handle the stairs on top of it. He waited for the doors to open and forced himself to walk inside. Gordo followed, pressing himself against Elias’s leg. He appreciated the reminder that he wasn’t alone in the metal box as he pressed the button for the third floor.

    Thankfully, Elias and Gordo made it to JJ’s floor without anyone else stopping the elevator for a ride up or down. It was a lot more bearable if there wasn’t anyone else inside.

    Two doors down from her apartment, Elias came upon a beautifully tanned giant. The gorgeous tan was hardly visible through the intricate tattoos that crawled up his arms and disappeared beneath the sleeves of his black shirt. He was leaned back against the wall, dark blue jeans slung low on his hips, v-neck tucked in at the front. His eyes were closed, the fingers of one hand drumming against his belt buckle as the other hand held a cigarette to his lips.

    Elias cleared his throat. “I, uh, I’m about one hundred percent certain this is a non-smoking building.”

    The sunkissed man cracked open one brown eye as he turned his head toward Elias, one brow raised. “You plannin’ on tellin’ on me?”

    Elias had considered a few possibilities for what the strange man in the hall might sound like, but deep and Italian hadn’t been one of them. “No, the landlord’s a twat.” The stranger snorted. “But my friend’s allergic to the smoke, and I gotta stick up for her.”

    “Ah, well, I can respect that.” He took a small drag of his cigarette before pulling it from his lips and hanging his hand down at his side. “Tell you what. If you give me four-oh-five’s name, I’ll get outta here lickety split.”

    “Why?” Elias asked, drawing the word out over several beats.

    The stranger smiled. “I’m horrible with names. Totally fuck ‘em up at every turn. I did that in four-oh-five’s apartment before I got the rest of my things, and she won’t hand ‘em over till I figure it out.”

    “Wow. You slept with her and don’t know her name? Surely it came up a time or two.”

    “I’m sure it did. But like I said, it’s not my strong suit. Faces, sure. Names? Nah.” The stranger raised both brows before a slow smile spread across his face. “Sex? Yes. Names? No, sir. Brain just don’t work that way, gorgeous.”

    Elias laughed. He did not want to address just how low his standards had fallen for charming strangers. Of course, the tattoos, the accent, and the chiseled jaw all played a pretty good role in the whole ‘charming’ thing.

    He stepped forward and knocked on four-oh-five’s door. “Dani? It’s Elias. Why don’t we go ahead and give this gentleman his things so he can head on home, huh?”

    “Gentleman? He is not a gentleman.” Dani, a blonde Latina gal he’d only really met in passing, yanked open the door. One hand on her hip and the other gripping the door, she glared up at the stranger. “There. He just said it. You know my name now?”

    The stranger licked his lips, the tiniest smile gracing his face. “Look, uh, Dani, names aren’t my strong suit, really. Total horror show up there when I’m tryin’ to remember ‘em. I’m sorry that hurt you or offended you in some way. Really, I am. But if you give me my things, I’ll be on my way, and you don’t gotta see me again. Sound good?”

    “Sounds wonderful.” Dani grabbed a grocery bag from the floor and shoved it into the stranger’s chest.

    The little smile came back to his face as he brought a hand up to the bag. “Thanks, babe.”

    “Ugh.” She slammed the door, and Elias heard the lock click a moment later.

    “Thanks for the help, gorgeous.” The stranger tapped the bag to Elias’s shoulder and put his cigarette back between his lips. “See you around, huh?”

    “Oh, very classy. Hitting on my right outside your latest conquest’s apartment. How risque.”

    “I am quite the risk taker.”

    Elias snorted. “Well, you might want to take your ‘risky’ self and your cigarette smoke on outta here before Dani steals your things again.”

    “Mm. Yes, sir.” The stranger flashed a crooked grin, brown eyes sparkling. “See you around.” He tossed the bag over his shoulder, the straps looped around his first two fingers, and headed down the hall as he whistled a little tune Elias couldn’t quite place.

    After a moment, Elias shook his head free of any pretty Italian boys and headed two doors down to JJ’s place.

    The tall brunette opened the door, eyes immediately falling to the thick folder pinned to his chest. “Jesus. What’s all that?”

    “I paid a visit to Hank Sawyer. The guy who ran the MC my dad belonged to?” he asked. JJ nodded. “Anyway, he had every single article ever printed that related to the ‘accident’ we were in every single one. And he had a whole bunch of copies of police reports before they were redacted.” He tapped his fingers against them. “And now we have them.”

    JJ stepped back and motioned for him to come in. She leaned out into the hall, looked down both ends, and then closed the door. She did up both the doorknob lock and the chain lock before turning to face Elias. “I know we talked about the risk of sullying your memory you have of your dad, but I’m more worried about getting ourselves killed now. They don’t just redact shit from case files for any reason. Especially when the victim is an adult instead of a minor. The redactions could mean it’s the mob or the cops or some one-percenter, you know? We’re putting ourselves at risk if we go any further past this point.”

    “I don’t want to drag you any further into this if you don’t want to, JJ. But me? I-I have to know. I can’t keep forcing myself to go through the motions each and every damn day, pretending like it’s okay that I don’t know who killed him. I can’t.”

    “I’m your ride or die, El. I am always going to be that for you. But we need to sit down and make sure we both know the risks of digging into this. The further we dig, the harder it’ll be to get outta the hole and keep ourselves safe, so we need to be totally sure before we keep digging.”

    Elias tightened his hold on Gordo’s handle for a moment. “I’m sure that this is what I need to do, no matter the consequences to myself. But now I gotta ask you to be sure that this is what you want to be doing. Not because I want to. Not because I need to. Not because it might put me in danger. Because you want to do it. Because you are okay with the risk. I can’t have you putting yourself in the line of fire just because I can’t keep going on like this.”

    “You’re willing to put yourself at risk because you can’t keep living not knowing what happened to your dad.” JJ laid a hand over her heart. “I’m doing this because I can’t keep living if you’re not living too. Okay?”

    Elias’s brow furrowed for a moment before he nodded. “Okay,” he whispered.

    “Good,” she whispered back. She nodded toward the folder. “Have you looked at the non-redacted stuff yet?”

    “A little, but not too much. I didn’t think the Uber driver would ask what I was looking at, but I still didn’t wanna risk it.”

    “Probably not a bad idea. Come on. Let’s get some coffee, sit down, and figure out what the hell’s going on.”

Enjoying the story? Consider dropping a comment or a like down below!!

Love what I do and want to help support me? You can ‘buy me a coffee’ on Ko-fi!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: