Elle Graham was glad when the Del Fuegos finally stopped again. She had already felt awful from being in the sun for so long, while the wind had cooled her down, her overall state was not much improved. Clinging on to her rescuer she felt a strange mixture of comfort and discomfort. At the one hand it was good to have someone to hold onto, on the other hand he was a total stranger who lead a gang of bikers. If she had felt any better she might have the energy to worry more about him and them.
After they had stopped she gave the building a closer look. At the front it showed a huge sign that read "Del Fuegos" surrounded by differently coloured light bulbs. None of them were turned on at the moment. There were bikes on the second and third floor balconies who seemed to be pure decoration. All in all, everything looked rather dirty.
More observations had to wait, Jack signalled her to climb off and the moment she did, she felt was overcome by dizziness She took two steps away from the bike and her sight blackened shortly. In the next moment, she felt two strong arms grabbing her.
"Woo there," she heard the biker say.
Her almost fall to the floor was stopped and as the dizzy-spell passed she realised that one of his hands was pressed almost casually against her right breast. For a moment she considered protesting but then she decided it did not bother her that much.
"I guess, I got a bit too much sun after all", she replied.
The other bikers looked at them and she realised that he was not actually looking at her.
"Heh, why are all the lights out?" one of the bikers said.
So there was something odd about the building besides the strange decorations. Elle took another look and realised that the electricity was out. There was strange smell in the air.
"We did pay the bill, didn't we?"
"I think so, Jack", another one replied.
The leader of the Del Fuegos looked around. "I don't like this. Where the hell are Loofer's and Jet's bikes? Let's go inside and see what the fuck is going on. Murdock, Red, Tiny - with me, the rest search the grounds."
Most of the Del Fuegos seemed more curious than concerned, some mumbled about how a black out inconvenienced them as they scattered about. It was only Jack who was tense. He looked at Elle and she nodded. Then they headed for the door, the three bikers following closely. As they reached the main door, Jack let go of her and signalled to her to stay back as he and Murdock got ready to open the main door. It was unlocked. With one quick move they pulled the door open and went inside. Ellen followed the two with Red.
"I don't get it, those ass-holes just left the place and did not even bother to lock up?" Murdock cursed.
Ellen looked around the bar, it was dusty and dirty on top of it. Chairs were scattered around the room some beer bottles stood in the corners and on some tables. Yet, there was no indication that someone had messed up the place trying to rob it. This was not good, the strangest feeling of dread rushed over Ellen.
"Everything looks okay", Red said.
"Apart from the lack of electricity ..." Jack added and canvassed the room.
Leaning against a table, Ellen tried to process all the information. Usually, it came easy to her but she still felt dizzy and realised that she was also nauseous. Her back hurt from the weight of her back-pack. She slipped off the straps and let it sink to the table behind her.
"This smell", Jack said from behind the bar.
"Rotten food", Ellen suddenly said. "The electricity must have been out for some time. In the heat..."
She did not need to finish the sentence. Jack stared at the door leading to the storage room. The smell was coming from there.
"Shit." Red said.
"What is going on here?" Murdock complained and stepped up to the counter.
"Not sure, but were are going to find out." Then he turned his attention to Ellen. "You look a lot paler, maybe you should lie down, while we try to figure things out."
Ellen raised an eyebrow. Normally, she would have protested the decision. It sounded a bit too much like the male macho crap her colleagues were constantly sprouting. Today, she did not mind - she just wanted to lie down. "Love to."
"Okay, you two clean this place up - tables to the side, the big one in the middle, I show our guest where she can lie down."
Murdock grinned: "Yeah, and when will you be back?"
Red started to laugh and was rewarded with a straight punch to his jaw from Jack. "Get moving", he yelled. "I be back in a moment."
As he was close to her leaned forward, took the back pack behind her and put his other hand on her back. Ellen let him guide her up the stairs, ignoring the looks the other two gave her. Even though Jack made it a point to constantly invade her private space she had the feeling that for the moment she did not need to worry about him. There was something going on and for the time being that was Jack's main concern.
Once they were out of ear shot and the noise of chairs scraping over the floor was behind them, Ellen asked where exactly they were heading to. With the same playful smile as before when had picked her up, he told her that they were heading toward his bedroom. If he had expected her to be mildly concerned or re-act upset, he was able to hide the disappointment over the weak nod she gave him.
His room was at the end of the hallway and was fairly big. It featured a large bed and two wardrobes in one corner, but it also had a tv, sofa and other stuff that made it apparent, it was just as much a living room as bed room. A door lead to a bath room. The benefits of being the leader, Ellen thought.
"You are more than welcome to use my bed." Jack said and put her stuff on the sofa.
The way he said it was almost playful. Ellen had the feeling that he wanted to be nice by offering her a comfortable place to rest and yet he could not help to point out the underlying implication.
"Thanks, I really appreciate all your help", she answered him.
A moment they looked at each other, then Jack - still smiling - nodded and turned around.
After he had closed the door and left her alone, Ellen walked over to her bag and grabbed her aspirin bottle. She swallowed a couple of pills and then just removed her boots after she sat down on the bed. It seemed clean enough. Considering that she was sweaty herself, she did not mind the fact that the sheets could use a thorough washing. It felt good to lie down, her head resting on the soft pillow.
Lying still Ellen could hear the men downstairs moving things. After a while it went quite except for the distant sound of voices. It was not possible to make out what was said. Listening to the faint noises accompanied by the throbbing in her temples she fell asleep.