Chapter 12: Millville, MN – Spring Valley – July 27th
"I'll see you as soon as we get to Millville," I tell her, looking down into her beautiful eyes. I don't know what it is about them, but I can't seem to get enough.
She gives me a sweet little smile. "That sounds good."
"And then we'll practice together."
"Practice what?" she asks, raising an eyebrow and smirking.
"Oh, I'm sure you can imagine," I return, letting out a throaty little chuckle.
"That couldn't sound better." She sighs with a smile.
"C'mon B, we gotta hit the road," Alice shouts, hopping into the cab of the truck.
"Okay," she shouts back, turning her attention to me. "Behave yourself. And if you're a real good boy, I'll give you a treat."
I smirk, liking what I'm hearing. "What kind of treat are we talking?"
"You'll have to be a good boy to find out."
I let out another little chuckle. "All right, I'll be good. And you better be careful."
"I will; you don't have to worry."
"Uh-huh." I lean down to kiss her tasty looking lips. "I love you," I whisper against them.
Her eyes pop open, sparkling. "I love you, too."
"Break it up, love birds! We need to get this show on the road!" Mr. Swan hollers, shaking his head.
"Okay, I'll see you in a few days," I tell her, not really wanting to leave her side. She nods. I give her one last hug before I leave for the RV.
"Sounds good. Bye stud!" she yells, as I walk off.
"Bye Twerp!" I yell back, making her giggle.
Once we're in the RV the tension is present, something that's not really there when I'm with her. It seems like all the problems we have fall by the wayside when we're together. And that's the best feeling in the world.
Even Emmett, of all people, is on edge, so you know there's a storm brewing off in the distance.
God dammit, this is all I need. Especially with the way my back feels today.
I clench my fist as we roll away from Washington. I still haven't heard back from the RA. And like Ms. Santos said, I might not. But that's not sitting well with me. I need to do something.
I feel fucking useless and it's pathetic. I can't deal with it anymore.
If they don't do something soon, I'm going to have to take matters into my own hands. And that's just going to be messy. It's the truth.
Frustrated and annoyed, I'm not left with many options for keeping my mind off the situation.
We keep boredom away with taking turns playing card games. It's a twenty-six hour drive that Emmett wants to push through in two days. I think it's a lot, but if we take turns we should be fine, I guess.
"Wanna play 'War'?" I ask Jas.
"'Sure," he answers with a shrug. I grab a Coke out of the fridge, wanting something caffeinated so I can stay up with Em.
He gets himself a glass of milk and settles down at the table in front of me.
"Do you know how to play?"
"Yeah, highest card wins."
We sit there and flick cards at one another for a while. It's not interesting in the least. But it's something to do.
Jas phone buzzes and I stare at him while he looks at it, smiling a little school boy smile. It's so odd to me that someone can act like he does. I mean, he's not a bad person, when he's not calling me a sinner to my face. He certainly knows his shit when it comes to bikes.
"Something good?" I ask.
He shrugs. "She's just sending me Bible verses."
"Don't say it, man. C'mon, let's keep playing."
I shake my head, throwing my cards down on the table. "I gotta go check on Em. I'll be back in a few minutes."
And with that I head up to where Em's sitting and plant my ass in the passenger's seat. "'Sup?"
"Not much. What's the matter? Can't get along with him anymore?"
I shrug. "I don't know. There's just some things he does that boggle my ever-loving mind. And with everything else going on, I don't need to be bothered by him. You know?"
He nods. "But he's a good kid. He really is. You even liked him for a little while."
"I know but it's hard to concentrate on that when there's a shit storm brewing right outside."
He nods again. "Yeah, I get that, but sometimes you need to check your anger. I know yours isn't misguided, because Aro's the cause, but don't take it out on Jas. Like I said, he's a good kid. And he really helped your ass out back there."
That's true. He did. He put his girlfriend in a sticky situation and risked pretty much everything for Bella and me. "Yeah, you might be right."
"Might be?" he asks, looking annoyed.
"I'm an ass. I know."
"All right then."
"Besides, I came up here to check on you. How you feeling?"
"Tired. We'll stop in an hour or so. Maybe switch?"
I nod. "Yeah, that sounds good."
"Okay, go make up."
I head back as requested. Knowing Jasper's probably still at the table waiting for me. I feel like an ass and that's because I am one.
As soon as I get back there, he's right where I left him. His milk's almost gone.
"Am I going to have to call you a milk-a-holic?"
Jas cracks a smile. "Nah man, a milk junkie."
I laugh, enjoying the fact he's not holding my asshole-ness against me.
We get right back into a game, and for the next hour and half we play. Until Em pulls over at a rest stop. I switch with him, since I know I've got a few more hours left in me…and we keep on trucking.
Jas comes up to sit with me while Em heads to the bedroom to crash for a little while. He needs it.
"What's weighing on your mind?"
I sigh; this is so not the conversation I want to have right now.
"C'mon Edward, even I can tell there's something deeper going on. You can talk to me, you know?"
"Listen Jas, as nice of an offer as it is. I'm just not up for it."
He shrugs. "Okay."
A little while passes and he's still sitting there, staring out the window. I take a deep breath, trying to figure out what I'm going to say. Once I think I've collected my thoughts I start spilling.
"All right, you wanna know what's really going on?"
He turns. "Only if you want to tell me. You look like you've got a lot on your mind and I'd like to help you with that."
I slowly unravel for him exactly what's going on in my life right now. Finally letting him in on everything that's happening behind the curtain. And just when I don't think he can take anymore, he smiles at me.
"You know that's very selfless of you."
I give him a skeptical look. The Jesus preacher is telling me the corrupt bullshit going on is selfless.
"Because you wanted to help your mother and you really didn't have anywhere else to turn."
"Yeah, well, it's what I had to do."
"And anyone in their right mind will appreciate that," he tells me.
I take a deep breath, enjoying the feeling of being a little bit freer by telling him the whole story.
"So, Aro's not just a creep for not giving Bella a fair shot in the league, he's also holding you over a barrel."
"Pretty much," I confirm with grimace.
"That must be fueling your desire to get him back," he comments.
"Yeah well, if you were in my place, you'd feel the same way, wouldn't you?"
"Definitely. There's no doubt in my mind I wouldn't do everything I could to help Alice; if it were her."
I nod. Maybe I judged Jas too quickly. He's not so bad when he's not spouting off about Jesus and how he'll save my soul.
We talk for a while, just shooting the shit. It's kind of nice having someone else in on everything. Em might not be happy, but the way things are going I think he has a right to know what he's getting into. It's the only fair way of looking at it.
Believe it or not, it's probably even more humid here in Minnesota. It feels disgusting. Like walking out into someone's ass crack. As gross as that sounds, it's the truth. A big fat fuck's ass crack. Yep. Welcome to fucking Minnesota, eh!
We sweat it out pulling everything off the truck and getting our pit set up. It's a long afternoon, especially after being trapped on that RV for an entire day and some change.
"I'll be glad when this season's over," I say, knowing I sound cranky and tired.
"Yeah me, too," Em says, looking worn out.
"I'll just be happy to go hug Alice."
"You're allowed to hug each other?" Em teases.
I slap his arm. It's my turn to keep him in check. I don't know if it's because I connected with the little shit or what, but something in me is telling me I'd rather have him as a friend than an enemy.
I go to the desk to get my key; it's been a long ass day and right now all I want to do is sleep.
Em's doing the same.
"I'll see you after I get settled," I inform him, heading for the elevator.
"All right, man," Em hollers while signing a few papers.
I follow the instructions the cheerful young woman at the front desk gave me to get to my room.
Walking down the line of room numbers, I can't help smiling when I finally get to mine. I'm so fucking tired I could sleep out here in the hallway, but it'll be much nicer to be able to collapse on a bed instead the floor.
I slide my card key through the slot and push the door open. After negotiating with my bag, I'm in.
But one look around tells me I'm not going to be relaxing for long.
"Good evening, my dear Eddie boy," Aro greets, with a sickeningly sweet smile, from the couch.
Just what I fucking need.
"Oh, yeah, fuckin' peachy," I mutter under my breath, then spit, "What're you doing here?"
"Who me?" He points to himself. "Oh, I'm just checking out the hotel I'm footing the bill for. I wanted to make sure it was as good as they're charging me. You know, to make sure my best rider is nice and comfortable."
I lick my lips, trying to keep my temper to myself.
"Is it comfortable, Eddie darling?"
"I don't know, I just got here."
"Well, then, please, test everything out and tell me if anything is to your dissatisfaction."
"Aro, what is this about?" I sneer.
He takes a deep breath, narrowing his eyes. "It's about my lousy, no-good, only rider going up against my consideration to the RA. You wouldn't know anything about that, would you Eddie?"
He gets up and walks over to me. "Because it sure as hell looks like you do," he whispers in my face.
"I contested it," I admit with a shrug, as if it's no big deal.
He smiles. "You contested it?" he repeats, but with a humorless chuckle.
"Yes, I did. Because I think the consideration is a crock of shit."
"Do you know what that looks like coming from my own fucking rider?"
I shrug again, not giving one solitary fuck what it looks like.
"You, my young friend, are fucking with the wrong cat; or did you forget?" he asks; his voice quiet and menacing. "I own the house your mother's living in. And I own it until you win the championship. If you keep up the bullshit, I'll have her evicted, and I'll torch the fucking place myself."
"If you do that, I'll have no choice but to go to Mr. Forti and tell him about our little deal. He might even go as far as to call it blackmail. That would kind of tarnish your lovely image, right? The RA might even kick you out as a sponsor, no?"
"You can't prove anything! Not one fucking thing!" he shouts.
"Pretty sure I can," I say with confidence. "There's not a barrel big enough for you to hold me over."
"Retract your comments, or you'll regret it."
"I can't. I already have a hearing with the RA scheduled. If I back down they might think you threatened me. And then you know as well as I do they'll be investigating you." It may be a lie, but it's the only leverage I have.
He storms out, bumping into Emmett in the hallway.
"Get out of my fucking way," Aro seethes, pushing through the wall that is Emmett.
I shake my head as the asshole makes his way to the elevator.
Em comes in. "What the hell was that all about?"
"Eh. Bullshit," I tell him with a sigh.
"What kind of bullshit?"
"The RA shit. There must be a rat on the board because he knows it was me who contested it."
"Shit. He's going to make your life a living hell."
"Nah, I don't really think so. I think they're pretty empty threats, considering."
"Considering what?" he wonders.
"Em, I already filed a complaint against my own sponsor. He's going to look like a shit in the eyes of the RA. And if it goes through, it's bound to tarnish his image. I think he'll back off. At least until the end of the season."
"Yah, 'cause then he'll be out of their reach."
"And I'll probably have to be a little more careful with what I say. But until then, I'm not backing down. I'm hoping they boot him as a sponsor."
"It would take a lot for them to pass up money."
"Don't I fucking know it? But corruption, blackmail, and felony threats should do the trick."
"Shit, man, you better be careful you're not too big for your britches. You get in over your head and Aro, sure as shit, will knock you down with his goons."
"Yeah, that's what I'm worried about," I mumble, dragging my hand over my head.
The next morning I wake up feeling like I haven't slept much; I guess Aro really did rattle me. I didn't want to let him, but it's a little unsettling how far his reach extends.
I attempt to shrug it off, taking a shower and trying to mentally prepare myself for a day at the track.
I need to get out there and get my times. There's no fucking around this week. If not, I won't have the points I need for our deal. And then, I don't know what'll happen. From what it seems Aro plans to stick to his deal.
Just as I'm about to walk out the door my phone rings, and a quick look at the display tells me it's an unknown number. I hesitate to answer it, knowing I have to get going, but I swipe my finger across the screen anyway and say, "Hello."
"Hello, Mr. Cullen?" A woman's voice answers.
"This is Ms. Santos from the RA," she tells me. I immediately smile. This is the best thing I've heard in a while.
"Hi, yeah! How're you?"
"I'm well, thank you. And you?"
"Oh, I'm fine."
"That's good, because I was calling to set up a hearing. Mr. Forti seems very interested in listening to your side of things. We're wondering if you're available tomorrow?" she asks.
I don't even have to think about it, because honestly, this needs to be done and settled.
"I can make tomorrow work."
"Excellent, we'll see you at nine, sharp."
"Not a problem, Mr. Cullen. Just keep it relevant."
"I plan to, see you then."
Living on the high of hope from the call I smile, getting right around before hauling ass to the track.
The guys know something's up as soon as I get there.
"What's up with you?" Em asks, giving me a look.
I wait for Jas to come over before telling them both the good news.
"They're giving me a hearing to contest the consideration."
"Holy shit," Em comments.
"Yeah, what he said," Jas says, still looking on in awe.
"I know guys. But it's tomorrow and it's going to cut into my track time, so I gotta rock it today. Let's pull out all the stops with the bike and I'll try to kick as much ass as my body will let me."
Out there in the humidity, my body seems to clench up. From my back to my brain. I'm just overwhelmed and not making good choices.
My times aren't wonderful. And by the time the trials are over for the day I'm tried and sore. To add to the physical aches and pain, I'm frustrated and annoyed. But hey, I tried. It wasn't my best run out there, but nothing's been lately.
Maybe after tomorrow my luck will change.
"Thank you all for taking the time to meet with me today," I say, trying to keep still. I'm fucking nervous. I don't like public speaking, that's why I ride a bike for a living and not talk to people who are wearing clothes worth more than my house.
"It's a pleasure, Mr. Cullen. We're glad to have you," Mr. Forti says with a smile.
It's slightly reassuring.
"We're here to discuss the consideration that Mr. Volturi offered," Ms. Santos tells the rest of the committee. And there's a general confusion that surrounds everyone when they hear that.
"Can I just ask one question before we start?" one of the committee members asks.
"Go right ahead," Mr. Forti answers.
"Mr. Cullen, aren't you sponsored by Mr. Volturi?"
I sigh deeply. "Yes, however, just because he's bank rolling my riding career, I don't think that's a reason to disregard my feelings on a topic. And I think this one is an irresponsible move."
They nod, looking satisfied with my answer.
"All right, let's get right down to it. Mr. Cullen you have proof that Mr. Volturi's consideration has deeper roots?" Mr. Forti asks.
"Let's hear them then."
"I have physical proof that Mr. Volturi paid off other sponsors to keep a certain rider for himself. And when that rider wouldn't sign with him, he started this campaign. This proof shows that he's not concerned with the level of talent out on the course. He's concerned with padding his pockets and frankly, he's acting like a child who didn't get his way."
"Who's the rider?" Ms. Santos questions.
"So, you're telling us that Mr. Volturi paid off other sponsors from making offers to her so that he could have her for himself." I nod, and he continues. "And then when that plan backfired, he started this campaign; is that correct?" Mr. Forti asks.
"Indeed, yes, and I believe he's just doing this campaign to force her to sign with him…because obviously if this passes and she doesn't have a sponsor, she won't be permitted to race."
They all take this piece of information into consideration.
"Where's this proof?" Mr. Forti wonders.
"Right here," I tell him, pulling out the thumb drive that contains the video of Alice's handiwork.
Mr. Forti takes it, putting it on his computer for the rest of the board to see. They take a few minutes to watch the video.
"You taped Mr. Holms without his consent," Mr. Forti states.
"Unfortunately, I did. And I'm willing to take whatever consequences are associated with the alleged crime. I knew I had to do whatever I could to shed some light on how dirty Mr. Volturi is and what he's been underhandedly doing."
"Well, the way you went about collecting this information is very disconcerting to me Mr. Cullen, but I do suppose I'm glad you did. If you hadn't we may have approved Mr. Volturi's consideration and kicked a talented rider from the competition. We'll have to discuss any kind of repercussions that may result from the taping, though."
I nod, taking in the words.
"But, I think, for now, we all agree Mr. Volturi's consideration is off the table?" Mr. Forti half asks, half tells as he looks down the table, checking the nods of heads. He looks satisfied once he's seen them all.
"Thank you, Mr. Forti. I appreciate that, and I will take whatever punishment comes my way, if that is what I have to do to see justice done here."
"Good man," Mr. Forti murmurs.
"With that, we'll call this hearing to a close," Ms. Santos announces, before dismissing all of us.
I almost run back to the pit after hearing their decision. It feels so fucking good to get this weight lifted off my chest. I finally feel like I'm making some kind of progress and that's definitely a change from the norm.
I tell the guys right away.
"That's fucking awesome, man," Em exclaims, looking relieved.
"God, thank you," Jas murmurs, also showing his own relief.
I guess they were both more or less concerned.
"Yep, I'm pretty excited."
"I'm going to tell Alice right now."
"Hey, tell her not to mention it to Bella. I'm going to tell her, I've got a plan," I holler after him.
He nods and I leave Em there at the pit. I can't wait. I don't care if I don't get first pick for position, this is more important.
I pick Bella up, telling her I have some good news and we need to talk, right away.
"C'mon Cullen, just tell me," she murmurs, trying just about anything to get me to talk before we get back to my hotel.
But I keep it to myself until we're in my room.
"Okay, I'll tell you. The consideration was overturned today."
Her mouth gapes open and all kinds of dirty thoughts fly through my mind, because, well, let's face it, I'm a man. "What?"
Her confusion is adorable. And I want to tell her everything, but it's going to take a few minutes.
"But how? I thought once these are announced, it's not long before they're rules?"
"That's usually the case," I whisper, kissing her softly, lingeringly. I want to savor the moment. Remember her taste forever. Seal my heart with this moment, because for the first time, I've made a difference.
"I'll tell you everything if you promise to keep quiet until I finish," I tell her. I know for damn sure she's going to be pissed about it. But at least I got exactly what I wanted. And what she wanted.
She gives me a look, but settles back on the couch.
I take a deep breath before filling her in on everything everyone's done for her and how we all banded together to get this all done.
"Wow… It's nice to know that you're all batshit crazy! But damn it I couldn't ask for a better group of crazy ass friends," she tells me with a huge smile. "Or a guy willing to lay it all out on the line for me."
"Yeah, well, I might love you," I tease, pecking her nose with a kiss.
"Uh-huh, cut the might bullshit," she murmurs, kissing me.
"Oh, trust me, it's been cut for a while," I promise her, kissing her back.
"So, whose idea was it to catch that asshole?" she wonders.
"Mine, but everyone wanted to help."
"That's really cool." She smiles and takes hold of one of my hands.
"Yeah, it is. I mean, I couldn't see you go home. Not when you're kicking it as much as you do."
"You're too much, you know that?" She gives a little shake of her head.
"I don't know about that. I just couldn't see good talent be sent on their way."
"Sit back," she tells me with a smirk. Her eyes are lit up with mischief, and I'm not entirely sure why she's telling me to sit back, but goddamn it I do as I'm told.
She kisses me sweetly before working her way down me. Right to the button on my jeans. She pulls it open then unzips them, reaching in and pulling out my already semi-hard cock.
I am a lucky man. Oh, I'm so lucky…
She kisses it, sucking on it lightly, then looks up at me through her eyelashes. Jesus this woman has a way of being the perfect mix of everything.
Her tongue pokes out and she circles the tip nice and slow.
"Fuck," I breathe out, not able to hold back any longer.
"That's right, you like it, huh?"
I nod, as she gets back to the task at hand. To which, she adds her hand to the bottom of my shaft.
Her soft lips envelope my cock as her hand slides up to meet them. God, does it feel good. And good doesn't even begin to explain what it feels like. Amazing, incredible. Yeah, that, but right now, my brain can't really function.
I stroke her hair, trying to convey my thanks. Because I'm sure as hell not going to talk to her. She'll be forced to stop what she's doing and talk to me. And there's no need for that.
My hand wanders down into her shirt, cupping her full tit. It's right there so I don't see why I can't take advantage of it.
Her tongue and her lips work me over while her hand takes over for what they can't reach. Making me feel ridiculously fantastic. Yeah, that's a lot closer to what it actually feels like.
Sucking harder, stroking faster, and licking more seems to be the magic, because it's only minutes before I'm clenching my fists and coming intensely hard down her throat. I give her everything I've got, mainly thanks to how insanely amazing it is.
She kisses and licks me, making sure she's captured every last drop.
My heart races and my chest heaves as she crawls up into my lap. I smile at her as I begin to come down from such an amazing blow job.
"And in case you didn't get the message," she whispers, looking adorable. "Thank you."
"No problem," I answer, still feeling a little winded. "And thank you."
Race day is here. And I've got to kickass. At least that's what Em keeps telling me. I got fourth pick for position. It's not great, but it'll do and knowing my hole-shot is pretty much gone, I'm dealing with the stress of how much I'm going to have bush beat my way through the crowd today.
It's the only way I'm going to take first.
"Hey Edward." I hear Charlie shout.
I take off my helmet and wait for him to make it over to me.
"I know you've got to be out there. But I just wanted to thank you for everything you've done for Bella. You really put your ass on the line for her. And that says a lot about your character."
"No problem," I tell him. "I'd do it again, if needed."
"You're a good kid. Now get out there and kick some ass!" He pats me on the back.
I throw on my helmet, giving him a thumbs-up, before gunning it over to the starting line.
I take my position and try to sink in as far as I can roll. The track is damp and to me that means I'm actually going to have a chance of not wrecking my knee today.
The gate drops and it's a free for all. I push and muddle my way forward, but it's almost useless. I'm caught in the bottleneck.
There's a hole to the left, I swerve and take the opening cutting off a few people, and, fortunately, it gets me out of the crowd. Once I'm out of the mess, it's smooth sailing. I catch up to Paul and Bella pretty easily, thanks to how good I feel this morning.
The track isn't killing me for once.
Round and round we spray dirt everywhere, getting into the groove.
The first heat feels almost easy. Too easy. I know this feeling. It's the calm before the storm.
I move as hard and fast as I can, skipping right in front of Bella as the flag comes down. It's a cheap move, but I need the win. I know she needs the exposure, but it's life or death for me.
The second heat isn't as easy. The temp has risen and the humidity makes the air thick, hard to breathe. The bikes don't even want to run when they're choking for air.
The track is drier, the corners are harder. Everything feels more difficult. And while there's no bottleneck this time around, it's still crowded as fuck.
I push through it, trying to secure first again. Once I get away from the crowd, the track thins out to be just Bella, Paul, and me.
Bella scoots ahead of Paul, leaving me in third. But I gun it in an open corner and get pass both of them. I know I need this win. So I pound through each lap, hoping to keep first. But I can feel everything slipping.
If it's not the dirt drying out, it's my tires. Everything. My stability just isn't where it should be.
And that puts me on edge. My front tire feels weird wobbly. Then finally I push through, taking first again.
I'm winded when I roll through, finally done. So glad to have another completed race under my belt. Only three more and we're done. That's all I have to last.
Em and Jas are waiting for me when I pull off to the side, I pluck off my helmet and keep trying to breathe, calming myself down now the race is over.
I look up, taking in my friends' faces and not liking what I see.
"What's up?" I nod to Em.
"We've got a problem, E," Em says, looking worried.
"What's the matter?" I wonder, setting my helmet on my bike.
"Rosie just texted me; read it." He thrusts his phone into my face.
I read the words on the screen and cringe. Aro's gone too far this time. There's no going back. First place doesn't matter now.
Not one bit.