The cobalt blue Saleen S7 sped down the deserted highway. The driver shifted again. The speedometer hit 160 mph, 180mph, 200mph. It's maximum was 215mph, but Dom knew with nos he could hit 275mph easily. A slow grin lit his face as he began to decelerate. Oh yeah, this car was going to take 'em all at the Nevada Race Wars in May.
When he got back to the garage he was going to have Leon get to work on detailing the exterior. Make the outside as hot as the 7.0-liter, 550-hp, V-8 motor under the hood. Dom still couldn't believe he owned this car. When that rich little shit from "back east" had shown up at the races last week, spouting his own greatness, Dom had wanted nothing more than to knock his head off. The little shit, Randy, that was his name, had wanted to race only the local best, and for slips. Dom had no doubt his driving skills were superior to Randy's, but that car. After checking with the Mad Scientist, who'd looked under the hood, he knew he could take him.
Not that Dom wouldn't have raced him anyway. He had never backed down from a race, and even though he knew that the Saleen could easily take his Supra, even with nos, he knew his racing skills and experience would make all the difference. The race had taken less than a minute and at the end of it Dom was the new owner of the Saleen.
Mia watched as the young girl walked up to the counter. She was young, real young, probably only fifteen or so. She was also tiny, just barely 5 feet tall, and Mia would bet that she didn't weigh 100 pounds soaking wet. She was definitely an out-of-towner. She was dressed in faded threadbare jeans and a long sleeve gray sweater. The color matched the late December sky. Her long black curls were tangled by the light wind that had blown all day, and her large blue eyes were tired when she finally settled herself at the counter. She had a nasty bruise on one cheek that showed dark purple against the girl's porcelain skin. Once she was seated she dropped a small backpack at her feet. A runaway. Mia recognized the signs. She'd seen them before when first Leon, and then Jesse became part of the family.
"Hi," Mia said. "Would you like to see a menu?"
The girl nodded and Mia handed her one in a clear plastic sleeve. She noticed the girl's hand tremble when she accepted it, and that she also had bruises on her arm, at the wrist where someone had grabbed her. She kept her head down and watched Mia from beneath her long eyelashes.
"How about something to drink while you make up your mind?" she asked.
"Hot tea, if you have it," the girl's voice was so soft Mia almost didn't hear her.
"I've got it," she said. Then she turned away and pulled out a coffee cup and tea bag. She studied the girl while she poured the hot water.
"You're not from around here are you?" she asked setting the tea in front of the girl.
"No, I'm not," she replied, her voice again just more than a whisper. "I've um, only been here a week."
"Well then let me welcome you to L.A." Mia said with a smile. "I'm Mia."
"Thanks, Mia. I'm Kylie," she said with a small smile, obviously pleased that Mia was being friendly. It gave Mia the feeling that Kylie wasn't used to people treating her nicely.
"Nice to meet you, Kylie. Now what can I get you?"
Kylie looked out the car window at the the house Mia had pulled up to. It was a large two story white house, much bigger than the home she'd left behind. It had a front porch that extended across the length of the house. Looking up the driveway she could see a big detached garage. Because the doors were open, Kylie could see three men working on a red car inside. Mia shut the car off and opened the door to get out.
"Coming?" she asked smiling.
Kylie nodded and opened her own door. She stepped out and grabbed her backpack. She slowly closed the door and followed Mia up the driveway to the back of the house. As they got closer she could hear loud rock music coming from a radio, mixed with the deep voices of the men. Mia headed up the back steps and into the house. Kylie followed curious, about the men, and the house.
They entered a large kitchen done up in pale shades of yellow and blue. Mia dumped her back pack and purse onto the big wooden table. She turned to Kylie and smiled.
"Well this is it," she said with a small wave of her hand. "How about I show you your room and you can take a shower and get settled?"
Kylie nodded and followed Mia through the dining room and living room to the front hallway, where a flight of stairs led up to the second floor. Mia pointed to a door off of the living room.
"That's Jesse's bedroom," she said as she started up the stairs. "The bathroom is the first door on the right. Mine and Brian's room is right next door and Dom's is across from us. The room next to Dom is empty so I thought we'd put you in there. That way I'm just across the hall if you need anything. Vince and Leon's rooms are down cellar." She pointed out each room as they walked past and opened the door to the room where Kylie would be staying.
Kylie found herself in a small room with pale yellow walls. The twin bed had a light wood headboard that matched the gleaming hardwood floor. The curtains at the window were made of a light material and were pale blue with yellow roses. A small chest of drawers was next to the door and a nightstand was next to the bed.
"Be right back," Mia said as she left the room. Kylie walked over to the window and looked out. This room overlooked the area in front of the garage. She was able to make out the figures of the three men working inside. While she watched a young girl walked up the driveway and joined them. Now the noise level rose with greetings, teasing and laughter.
"I got some sheets and stuff for you," Mia said when she returned. "Go ahead and get settled. Take a shower, whatever. You should be able to find anything you need in the cupboard in the bathroom. And I brought you some towels with the bedding. When you're ready just head on down to the kitchen. OK?"
Kylie nodded and when Mia left she sat down on the edge of the bed. She couldn't believe how well things were turning out for her. Mia was a godsend. She had taken in Kylie's situation at a glance, and simply offered her a place to stay for as long as she needed or wanted it. Her and Dom's house had become home to most of their friends, and their friends had become family. At least that's the way Mia had explained it.
Kylie decided to take advantage of the goodness being offered to her. She pulled out a worn pair of jeans, a sleeveless button down shirt and some clean under clothes and set them on the bed. She grabbed her hair brush, tooth brush, and the towels Mia had brought and headed to the bathroom. She turned on the water and adjusted it. Then she stripped down, carefully avoiding her reflection in the mirror on the back of the door. She didn't want to see the bruises that littered her arms and legs, or the welts on her back. She stepped under the warm spray and let the heat seep into her tired body. After a few minutes she washed her hair and body. She took a few more moments just letting the water wash over her, hoping it would wash away the past and she could start her new life clean.
Dom headed into the house having sent Jesse and Leon over to the shop to help Brian, Vince and Rome close up for the night. They had so much work lately that they had been splitting into two teams, one staying at the shop and the other working in the garage here at the house. They needed a bigger garage and had two options, add on to the shop or find a new, bigger location. Right now the only thing Dom wanted to worry about was a nice hot shower. He went through the kitchen noticing the salad fixings Mia had set out on the table. He could hear her singing softly in the laundry room. From the oven he smelled the lasagna cooking. His stomach growled. Damn, he'd skipped lunch to help Jesse and Leon switch out the trannie on Juice's supra, and he was hungry. He hurried up the stairs and headed for the bathroom.
Dom pushed open the door and stopped in his tracks. Just stepping out of the shower was a beautiful girl. She turned to look at the sound of the door opening and let out a startled squeal and quickly grabbed a towel. She eyed him nervously as she wrapped the towel around herself.
"Sorry," he said. "I didn't realize anyone was in here."
She just stared at him, her blue eyes round with fear.
"It's OK I live here," he said trying to alleviate her fear. "You must be a friend of Mia's. I'm her brother Dom."
She nodded and looked at the floor. Dom continued.
"I didn't know she was bringing anyone home with her. What's your name?"
She said something so softly Dom couldn't make it out. He reached out a hand to lift her chin but she jumped back from him. He stepped forward.
"Easy," he said his voice low and steady. "I'm not gonna hurt you," his hand reached out again and this time he lifted her chin gently. "I just wanted to see who I was talking to. OK?"
She nodded again. Dom let himself take a good look at her. She was tiny, smaller than Mia, like his mom had been. Her hair was long, black and curly. Her eyes were the bluest he'd ever seen. And she was covered with bruises. There was one on her cheek, and there were ones shaped like gripping hands on her upper arms and wrists. He felt a stab of anger shoot through him. If he ever found out who had hurt her, God help him, and them.
"I couldn't hear you before. What's your name?" he asked gently.
"Kylie," her reply was little more than a whisper, but she smiled up at him.
Dom grinned back at her.
"Nice to meet you Kylie." He dropped his hand from her face and held it out to her. When she slid her own into his he felt that jolt of happiness. At least she wasn't afraid of him any more. He held her tiny hand in his for a minute and then stepped back.
"I'll let you finish up in here. If you need anything I'll be in my room, across the hall, OK?"
She nodded and he left the room shutting the door behind him.
Dom stood in the shower, hot water running down his muscled chest. He'd waited in his room until he'd heard Kylie leave the bathroom and enter the room next to his. Once she'd closed the door he'd waited a full five minutes, leaning against his door, before going into the bathroom. As he'd waited his head was filled with visions of her, as she'd been when he entered the bathroom.
She was tiny, no doubt about that. When he'd gotten close to her she barely reached his chest. Her hand had felt so fragile in his, so small. She was well developed though. Her breast had been full, her waist so tiny, her legs beautiful. He had felt desire shoot through him. Now, as his mind was again filled with images of her, he felt that desire again. There was something about her that made him feel like Tarzan. He wanted to protect her. He wanted to hurt whoever had hurt her. He wanted to replace the fear in her eyes with... Whoa, he'd only just met the girl. She was how ever, the only girl to catch his attention since he and Letty had called it quits, nearly a year ago. He shut off the water and stepped out of the shower. He quickly dried off and dressed. Then he headed downstairs, he couldn't wait to see her again.
He found her in the kitchen with Mia pulling out silverware, plates and glasses for dinner. His heart sped up at the sight of her in a pair of form fitting denims. He winked at her as he approached them.
"Hey, Mia, we feeding a small army?" he asked throwing an arm across her shoulders and giving her a quick kiss on the cheek.
"Funny, Dom. There are eight of us living here, nine now. This is Kylie. Kylie, this brute is my brother Dom."
"We met upstairs" he said grinning. "So, if nine of us live here why twelve plates?"
"Lydia, Lexie, and Rachel are joining us tonight. Now help us set the table," Mia answered handing Dom the pile of plates. She grabbed eight of the glasses, four with each hand and headed into the dining room. Kylie grabbed the other four glasses and the stack of flat ware.
"Watch it," he whispered to Kylie. "She's bossy."
They had just finished up with the table when they guys and Angel came in. Loud voices, teasing remarks flying, it sounded like 50 people had entered the house instead of six. Dom saw Kylie's eyes widen when the front door opened and Lydia, Lexie and Rachel came in. Rome slipped into the living room and pulled Lexie into his arms.
"Ladies are here!" he shouted towards the kitchen.
Just then Mia let out a piercing whistle and yelled that dinner was ready. Kylie slipped into the corner and watched the gang pile into the room each of them carrying something, a platter or bowl, some beers, or a pitcher from the kitchen. Dom held out the chair next to his and waved her over. Slowly she walked over and sat down. Dom sat next to her.
"Hey!" he yelled and everyone shut up and looked at him.
"This is Kylie. She's gonna be staying with us. Kylie, this is Brian," Dom began as he motioned to the blond man seated on his other side. Next was Mia.
"That's Leon, Lydia, Vince, Rachel, Jesse, Angel, Lexie, and Rome. That's the whole family."
Everyone was saying hello and Kylie felt herself blush. She dropped her head and looked at her hands in her lap. She wasn't used to this family stuff. At home nobody spoke to her unless they had to. And she'd never been allowed to eat at the table with everyone. She waited in the kitchen in case they needed something. Once they'd finished eating she'd clear the table and do the dishes. If she finished fast enough and her stepfather agreed, she'd get to eat the left overs, if not she went to the basement for the night and hoped she'd get to eat in the morning.
"Tonight I'll say grace, only because I missed lunch today and am totally starving," Dom said. The others all laughed, but quickly bowed their heads when he began. "Thank you, Lord, for the wonderful meal before us, for the family beside us. Thank you for guiding Kylie to Mia, and for bringing her to our family safely. Amen."
Everyone said amen and then they started passing the food around. Kylie felt her cheeks grow warm. She couldn't believe Dom had thanked God for her being here. It was something she herself had done just a short while ago. She looked up at him when she felt him reach over and squeeze her hand.
Beside her Rome looked at Dom, a silent question passed between them. Dom gave a slight nod and Rome looked to the small girl sitting next to him. He'd noticed the bruises on her arms and the one on her cheek. How anyone could have hurt her was beyond him. There was something about her, maybe it was her petite stature, maybe it was her big blue eyes, damned if he knew, but whatever it was made him want to protect her, defend her, keep her safe. He reached for the bowl of salad and after helping himself offered her some. She looked up at him from beneath her lashes and reached for the tongs. After getting her salad she accepted the bowl from him and then offered it to Dom. When she turned back Rome had already placed a large slice of lasagna on her plate. She shot him a questioning look and he smiled at her.
"You way too skinny girl, stick with Ol' Rome and we'll get some meat on those bones of yours."
She laughed softly and said thanks. Dom heard her laugh and felt a tug in his heart. It was a musical sound and he wished he had been the one to cause it, and the smile that accompanied it. He leaned close to her and asked what she'd like to drink.
She looked around the table. Most of the guys were drinking Coronas, Mia and Angel had water, and the other girls had soda. Dom had a glass of milk.
"Milk's OK" she replied pointing towards his glass.
Dom nodded a poured her a glass and handed it to her. She remained quiet throughout the meal, speaking only when someone spoke to her. She was captivated by the antics of the others. They talked, teased and laughed. They were a loud and boisterous group. They all attempted to draw her out, asking what type of things she enjoyed doing, what type of music she liked, that type of thing. Outside of asking where she was from, no one asked why she was in L.A. or about her family. They all sensed that these topics would upset her and no one wanted to do that.
After dinner the girls set about clearing the table, doing the dishes and cleaning the kitchen. They included Kylie as if she were a member of the family. She was amazed at how nice they were and at how they all pitched in with the clean up. They were just about finished when Angel, who was closest to her in age, asked her to help bring some Coronas to the guys, who were playing poker in the dining room. She grabbed three and followed Angel into the room. She handed a bottle to Rome and Vince. Then she held the last one out to Dom. He smiled and thanked her taking the cold bottle from her. When she would have walked away, he grabbed her wrist gently.
"How about being my good luck charm tonight? These guys are killing me," he asked.
"Me?" she asked surprised. "I don't know anything about playing cards."
"That's OK," he said gently caressing the inside of her wrist with his finger. "I'll teach you."
"OK," she agreed and started to pull out a chair to sit in.
"Oh no," he said quickly pulling her onto his lap. "You need to be close so I can consult with you without the others hearing," he whispered in her ear, his hand gripping her waist.
"OK," she answered so quietly Dom almost didn't hear her. She felt him lean closer to her and he slipped his arm around her so that he was holding the cards in front of her. He brought his mouth down next to her ear and whispered to her that they were going to keep the two aces he was holding and discard the other three cards. She swallowed hard at the sensations being held like this by him was creating, and nodded her head in agreement. The others watched the whole escapade in amusement. Dom was big-brothering her already, drawing her into their family and making her one of them.
They played for another hour, the other girls joining their men at the table. Lexie was doing her nails and Lydia was playing with Mia's hair, braiding it. Rachel was actually playing Vince's hand while he caressed her back and kissed her neck as she sat on his lap. Angel sat next to Jesse reading a magazine and watching the game. They finished up around nine when Leon, Lydia, Lexie and Rome headed out to a club for some dancing. Mia and Brian decided to catch the late showing of Miss Congeniality. The rest settled in front of the TV. After a half hour Vince carried Rachel upstairs and Jesse and Angel went to his room to play GTA Vice City on the PS2. Dom was sitting next to Kylie on the couch. He put his feet up on the coffee table and stretched his arm across the back of the couch. He was pleasantly surprised when Kylie snuggled up against him.
"Tired?" he asked.
"A little," she said yawning. She knew she should take herself to bed, but for some reason she didn't want to leave Dom alone. It must be hard for him living with all these couples. Mia had mentioned his being alone since his break up with Letty. Besides that she felt safe with him, she could relax completely. And that was something she hadn't felt and done for a very long time.
An hour later Dom decided it was time to turn in. Mia and Brian would be home soon, but the others would be out for hours yet. He led Kylie upstairs and left her at her door. Now he lay in bed thinking about the girl sleeping in the next room. He didn't know how old she was, but he knew he had at least five years on her, probably more. He was crazy to be thinking about her, yet he couldn't forget her beautiful blue eyes and the way she looked at him, like he was a super hero. He thought about how soft her skin felt beneath his fingers. He remembered how lovely she'd looked when he'd walked in on her, her tiny waist and full breasts. He wanted to hold her, to kiss her, to... Damn he was crazy. He finally drifted off to sleep only to dream of her.
When he woke the moon light was streaming through his window. The clock on his night stand read 3:42. Dom listened to see if he could figure out what had awakened him. After a few moments he heard Kylie crying. He threw back the covers and hurried into the hall. Just outside her door he met up with Mia and Brian. Suddenly Kylie cried out and Dom hurried to open the door.
He noticed immediately that she was still sleeping. Tears were running down her face, as she sobbed quietly. She was curled up in a ball, her hands over her head, as if to ward off a blow.
"I'm sorry...I'm sorry...please..." she was begging.
Dom hurried to her side. He sat next to her on the bed. Catching a hold of her hands he quietly called her name.
"Kylie. It's OK, Baby. C'mon, Ky, is just a dream. Wake up, Baby."
"It's OK, Little Girl, you're safe. It was just a bad dream." When she sat up he held her in his arms. She buried her face against his chest and continued to sob.
"It wasn't a dream. It was real. The night I left," she whispered.
"It's OK, Baby. It's over. No one is ever gonna hurt you like that again. I promise." Dom soothed her, his right hand rubbing up and down her back, his left holding her close. Over her head he looked at Mia, letting her know he would take care of the girl and for her and Brian to go back to bed. She nodded and the two went back across the hall. Dom turned his attention back to Kylie. He continued to murmur reassurances to her, still rubbing her back, kissing the top of her head. He knew how to handle bad dreams. It was something he had done for Mia after both of their parents' deaths.
After a bit she calmed down and grew quiet. Dom leaned back slightly and slipped his hand beneath her chin, tilting her face up so he could see her watery eyes. He brushed back the long damp curls and caressed her cheek with his thumb.
"OK now?" he asked softly. She nodded and he continued. "Think you can go back to sleep?" He could tell she was still tired, but was fighting it.
Kylie hesitated, then nodded. "I'll be fine," she assured him, silently wishing he'd stay with her.