Tattoos and Cupcakes
Being sequestered on Sunset Point Island is the least of Lane Erikson’s worries. Being a witness to a murder may be her demise. What does one do when a network of FBI wanted criminals are looking to kill you? You run like hell, even it’s to a place you’ve never heard of.
Dane Hutchinson, local tattoo artist, sets his sights on winning Lane’s affection and sharing her with Bannock Garrison, Sunset Point police officer. Bannock never wanted a ménage relationship, even though his parents have lived a happy life in one. The idea of sharing a woman bothers him, but losing Dane’s friendship bothers him more.
As the relationship begins to soar with possibilities, Lane is faced with her world crashing down again, and her life hangs in the balance. Can Bannock and his colleagues save the day? More importantly, can Bannock overcome his distrust for women and allow Lane into his heart and share her with his best friend?
Genre: Contemporary, Ménage a Trois/Quatre
Length: 64,672 words
TATTOOS AND CUPCAKES
Copyright © 2013
Off the coast of Florida, surrounded by sand and sea, there lies a secluded island that has a very interesting history and an even more intriguing present…
Sunset Point Island is a tropical Mecca, consisting of a quaint town, a lavish resort area and a top-grade security force that keeps its wealthy inhabitants safe. But there is more to Sunset Point than first meets the eye. Founded by those seeking a haven for their unusual lifestyles, this island is a place where ménage relationships are cherished and protected. Closed off from the outside world, Sunset Point is a place of fantasies…won’t you come join us?
Lane hated this, hated that everything had gone to hell. If she would have known sooner, things may be different now. If she had any idea, she would have stopped it, or would have tried. If only. She pushed her unruly hair out of her face. Her hands trembled as she recalled the scene. How did she miss blatant evidence that must have been in front of her face the whole time? How could she have not seen the terror behind their smiles, and the fear concealed by their sensual glances and movements?
She couldn’t stop crying. Dead. Ingrid had been dead when she found her, laid out across the floor with her long blonde hair haphazardly strewn over the hardwood floor. Smart, she thought, the hardwood that is. Carpet would have been a nightmare to clean up. She wondered if he had killed before. Is that why he chose hardwood over carpet? Goddamn it! Why didn’t she see the monster under his handsome face? Had she been so caught up in her own world she ignored any and all clues of his true nature? I’ve had sex with a monster, a killer! He had touched her body in the most intimate of ways. She had given herself freely to him. She wanted to shower in extremely hot water with the toughest soap on the planet. A gag involuntarily rippled over her tongue. The desire to brush her teeth became an immediate urge.
At the sink, Lane brushed three times. Her queasy stomach threatened to blow any minute. The problem was she’d done that already, three times during her run from the club to the police station. There was so much blood, so much damn blood. The last thing she noticed before she ran was Ingrid’s expressionless face, eyes wide open, staring up at the ceiling. Those beautiful blue eyes of hers were like ice, shimmering with intensity. Her tall and fit body demanded attention from all those that passed by her in the club. Even women stopped to stare, unable to understand how any woman could be as striking or beautiful.
When Ingrid had danced in the club, her long, blonde hair draped over her shoulders, cascading down her back in large ringlets, and framed her slender face. Plump lips made her red lipstick envious and grateful to be smeared over such perfectness.
Now, she was gone. All her dreams were dead and gone like her cold body that was probably at the morgue by now. The mortician may die of shock when he unzips her, Lane thought, sure he’d think he was staring into the face of an angel. Then he’d weep for her and hate the monster that took her from this earth.
Lane knew she needed to get it together, stop crying, and pretend to be strong. For crying out loud, she didn’t even know Ingrid. She had just seen her at the club working, dancing, and using her perfect body to captivate the men who entered.
For the last three months, Lane Erikson had been to the club quite a bit to see her boyfriend, the owner of the club, The Sinful Seven. She thought Joe was a good guy. He owned one of the most exclusive night clubs in LA, which anyone who is anybody frequented. And she thought he was a good guy? She questioned herself again. Right, I’m a dumbass. And since when had she been so dense, so naïve, and downright dirt dumb?
Everything was gone. Everything she’d worked toward all these years and finally succeeded and it was gone. Her life as she knew it would be screwed, along with her apartment, new car, and shoes…lots of new shoes. Most importantly, her career was over. There was no way she could model in high fashion magazines and be a runway model without being recognized. From what she understood, the criminal network her boyfriend was involved in was large, expanding to each continent around the world. Lane had become a key witness and a liability. They wouldn’t want her story told.
The name of the club, The Sinful Seven, finally made sense and it struck Lane hard. She face-palmed her head. There are seven continents and the club showcased women from each, and all were housed under one roof. They were kept as prisoners though. A headache developed, almost debilitating with the intensity. She needed pain relievers in the worst way.
Lane returned to her bedroom to continue the task she had started. Mr. Suit from the FBI stood in the doorway, leaning against the doorjamb in his black suit and tie. His eyes regarded her without emotion. It was just business for him, but for her, devastating. What do I even take? Where am I going? And when can I come home?
“Can you tell me where I’m going?” She pulled a handful of panties from her top drawer.
“Ms. Erikson, you will be briefed later this afternoon.” Mr. Suit replied with a solemn tone and a seemingly uncaring expression when he spoke.
“Well that’s great and all, but that sure as hell doesn’t help me with packing. Now does it?” Lane couldn’t help her sarcasm. Of course she realized the man was only doing his job, but it was how he did his job that pissed her off. “Can you at least tell me if I’m going to the North damn Pole? Seriously, what kind of clothes should I take? Do I need a frigging parka or a light jacket? Flip-flops or fucking snow boots?”
Mr. Suit exhaled as if irritated and rubbed his eyes. “Ms. Erikson, considering you’re from LA, I doubt you own a parka or snow boots.”
“Grrr,” she sounded off loudly and wiped another offending tear away. She started shoving shorts and sweatpants into her luggage. Jeans, I need those, too. Back to the closet she went and pulled out a couple of pairs. Socks, shoes, makeup, hair supplies…Her mind became overwhelmed with a task that should be simple. And suddenly, she couldn’t catch her breath. A sharp pain constricted her chest. Breaths came in fast spurts and no matter how quickly she tried to take them, it wasn’t enough. She didn’t feel like she could get enough oxygen. She turned, terror gripping her, and held her chest. “I, I can’t, can’t breathe!” She struggled to suck in another breath.
The last thing she heard before darkness took over was Mr. Suit’s voice. “Oh, hell. Send help!”
Sometime later, Lane awoke in a daze of confusion with no idea how long she was out or where she ended up. While struggling to open her eyes, she could swear they were full of sandpaper and glass. The sunlight made them burn as the light peeked in. Closing them again, she squeezed her lids tightly together. We’re moving, or I’m moving. A car, that’s it, she decided. She was in a car. They just made a right turn. The pounding in her head was worse than it had been before. What was I doing earlier? Where am I now? She finally forced her eyes open and shielded them from the offending sunlight.
She was thirsty as she touched her face, noting the puffiness of her eyes. I must look wretched. An object tapped her leg and she looked to see what it was. Sunglasses. Her eyes moved upward to the man sitting next to her. Mr. Suit, as she called him, since she had forgotten his name as soon as he had introduced himself, sat with an expressionless face, offering her his sunglasses. She had been sure he was a heartless prick until now. “Thank you,” she rasped out and felt her throat burn.
It was all coming back. Mr. Suit and a trio of other suited men escorted her to her apartment to gather her things. Then, the pain from the events that brought her to this particular point in time hit her full force, like a Mack Truck, and she was the pedestrian at the wrong place at the wrong time.
“Water?” Mr. Suit offered.
Lane accepted a cold bottle from him and twisted off the cap. The water soothed her throat. It bubbled as she guzzled down the entirety of it without stopping. A loud crunch of the plastic in her fist was the only sound breaking the silence. Her anger was still flaring and her emotions running rampant with unanswered questions.
“Ms. Erikson, I know you’ve been through quite an ordeal, but you need to push it out right now. Take a slow deep breath through your nose. Allow your chest to expand until you can’t take anymore.” Mr. Suit nodded as she followed his instructions. “Now, slowly exhale that breath.”
Lane exhaled and the exercise helped some, but not enough. “I think I could accomplish the same experience with some pain relievers and a cigarette, if you’ve got it.”
Mr. Suit reached into the inside breast pocket of his jacket and pulled out a pack of cigarettes. With a light flick of his wrist, two popped out of the top and he extended them where she could pull one out. Lane wasn’t really a smoker, but it helped her stress level from time to time. Her life had been anything but normal. The last few years, up until a year ago, an uphill struggle.
One year ago, her electricity was shut off because she didn’t have the money to pay the bill. The cell phone bill had always been paid on time though. It was her lifeline and the only way to hear from prospective employers. The refrigerator had been so barren, even a mouse would shake his head, pack his bags, and leave. She had lived that way for the better part of three years since she moved away from home. She felt pretty pathetic, aged twenty four years and still living at home with her mother. When her mother remarried to a wonderful man, Lane didn’t want to ruin the bliss they had found. Lane’s father had skipped out on them when she was three and her brothers five and seven. Their mother struggled to keep them fed, in clothes with a roof over their heads. With her mother single and Lane an adult, it just made sense to stay as a roommate and help with the bills. Well, until Mr. Wonderful stepped into the picture.
She inhaled the cigarette deeply and immediately felt her blood pressure drop. The soothing flavor of the smoke passed over her tongue and filled her lungs as the anxiety momentarily drifted away. She quickly drew another long drag and held it for a second before releasing it. Since she didn’t smoke much, she caught a buzz instantly. The tiny distraction allowed her mind to drift off as she enjoyed the nicotine rush and stared through the darkly tinted windows. The only bright light coming in was through the windshield. The sunglasses made it bearable.
“So, Mr. Suit, how many damsels in distress have you rescued this week?” she asked, needing any kind of subject to think about other than her own miserable predicament.
Mr. Suit chuckled and a nice smile lit up his face. “You’d be the first this week, Ms. Erikson.”
“Hmm, must be your lucky day, huh?”
“Well, I’d feel a lot better once we get you safely out of here.” His tone was genuine and his baby blue eyes sparkled with honesty.
“Yeah, me, too.” She turned to stare out the window again, taking another puff of the stout cigarette he had given her.
Before long, they pulled into a parking garage. The driver stopped and handed his identification to the sentry and the gate rose ahead of them. He sped through like someone was hot on their trail. Lane turned to look out the back window just to be sure they were safe. Who would have ever guessed that me, Lane Erikson, born poor, struggling my ass off to rise above it all, would find a dream come true for a life, and then poof! All gone. She shook her head with the dizzying array of shapes and patterns floating through her mind, courtesy of the chemicals contained in the cigarette. She flicked her ashes out the cracked window and wondered if she was dreaming? Surely this couldn’t be happening to her?
The driver parked with an abrupt stop, making her chest heave forward. Her legs acted as a buffer to keep her from face-planting the driver’s seat in front of her. No one else in the car apparently thought his driving sucked, just her, damsel in distress, sitting in the back seat.
“Ms. Erikson, Mark will bring up your bags. If you will accompany me, I’ll get you the man that has the answers you need.” Mr. Suit spoke in his businesslike manner, but offered a sorrowful grin.
“Thanks for the shades and the cigarette.” She smiled even though she wanted to cry.
They got in the elevator and exited on the fifth and top floor of a seemingly innocent-looking building. From the outside, one would guess it was nothing other than a business call center of sorts, but on the inside, a sterile facility with men and women in plain business suits of blacks and grays. She walked past a bank of cubicles, each occupied by the same expression of business as usual. Phones periodically rang with that incessant landline quality Lane grew to hate when she had worked as a telemarketer a few years ago.
“Right this way, Ms. Erikson.”
Lane followed Suit past an official looking secretary and into an office just as sterile as the rest of the space.
“Mr. Donaldson.” Suit addressed the man sitting inside behind a desk.
The man peered away from his computer to look their direction. “Ms. Erikson, have a seat and we’ll get down to business.”
Suit patted her on the back and smiled. “Good luck, Ms. Erikson.”
She nodded and took a deep breath. She hated to see Mr. Suit go. Up to this point, he seemed to be the only semi-friendly face. He exited the office, leaving her stuck with Mr. Donaldson. She took a seat when he motioned toward the empty chair opposite his desk.
“I’m sure you have a lot of questions, so let’s get down to business.”
Her mind still raced with the events of the past twelve hours. She’d been in police custody since she had run screaming into an LA precinct sometime after midnight. Damn right she had questions, but she waited for fear her thoughts would come out in a jumbled up mess. All she knew was that she’d be going somewhere. That place had yet to be named.
“Ms. Erikson, I’m sure you already understand that your life is in danger. You’re a witness to a murder committed by a man the FBI has been investigating for some time.”
“Yes,” she said, and it was the only word she could manage. She had oodles to say in reality, but couldn’t form a coherent thought or sentence.
“Joe Reicher is under investigation for human trafficking—”
Lane waved a hand, already figuring out as much. All she wanted to know at that point was where in the hell they were sending her and when she could return to her life? “Skip it. All I want to know right now, at this very instant, is where on God’s green earth you are sending me? I haven’t slept in nearly twenty-four hours. I’ve seen a beautiful young woman dead—”
Mr. Donaldson interrupted. “I know this isn’t easy for you—”
“Isn’t easy, you say? You, the man sitting there calmly with a file folder opened up while I’ve had to pack my clothes to go…who in the fuck knows where.” She tossed her hands in the air with irritation. “Well, you, you apparently know. Meanwhile, my life has been upended. It’s going to hell in the blink of an eye, and you say, ‘I know this isn’t easy for you.’ Hell no it isn’t easy! In fact, it sucks and not in a good way!” Her nerves bunched up again and she began getting that nervous leg jiggling twitch she gets when worried. What about her life? What about her career? What about anything that meant anything to her?
“Ms. Erikson, I don’t mean to sound uncaring, but we have to expedite you away from the area until the investigation is complete.”
Lane rolled her eyes. “And how long will that be?”
Mr. Donaldson shrugged. “As with any investigation, there is no set in stone date for completion. The agency has been working on this case for a while. I cannot say with certainty when it will be completed. The important part, right now, is you. We need to keep you safe.”
“Why?” She leaned back in her chair and crossed her arms. “Because you care about my life, or because you care since I’m a witness?” She cocked her head to the side and studied him.
“Whatever.” She shifted in her chair. “I’m exhausted. I can’t form a logical thought. Every time I blink my eyes I get dizzy. So, tell me, where in the hell are you sending me, and when in the hell can I come home and resume my life?”
Mr. Donaldson pushed a folder toward her. “Inside is the location. I can’t say with confidence how long you will be there, could be months, years even.”
She sat upright in a fraction of a second. “What? Are you fucking kidding me? Years?”
He folded his arms over the desk and stared at her. “Yes, ma’am. This case is large with a huge criminal network—”
“Yeah, yeah. I don’t care. I have a life here. I’ve got modeling jobs next week!”
Mr. Donaldson stared at her for a moment. “You will have to cancel.”
“Can I opt out of this? I don’t want to leave. I didn’t ask for this!”
“Mr. Erikson, I know you didn’t ask for this, nor does any other person put into witness protection. We will need your testimony in the future, and we think it best if you’re alive to give said testimony. Of course, you can opt out. We can’t force you to take our protection, but the next place you may end up will be in a body bag like the young woman from the club.”
She swallowed hard. Body bag? Me? I don’t want to die. Would Joe kill me or have someone else do the deed?
As if reading her thoughts, Mr. Donaldson continued. “Yes, he would. I know what you’re thinking, and I’m telling you, Ms. Erikson, your life is in danger.”
Lane pulled the folder off the desk and lifted it up where she could focus through her bleary eyes. Blinking, she pulled it closer. Damn, it’s about time to have my eyes checked. “Where is this place?” She caught the name and realized she’d never heard of it. “Sunset Point Island?”
“It’s a small island located in the Pacific.” He replied in a matter-of-fact tone.
“You’re sending me to a small island!” All she could picture was Gilligan’s Island for some reason. She got to watch many reruns as a child. Small huts and no running water without the aid of the professor entered her mind.
“Ms. Erikson, this is the only place we feel with certainty you will be safe. There are only two ways on or off the island a couple times a day. It is a small place with a hometown feel.”
“Hometown feel as in we all share the same outhouse?” She’d like to think she’d be going to some posh resort island, like Maui, but since she had never heard of this particular place, doubted it could compare.
“Ms. Erikson, I think you will be quite pleased after living in LA.”
“I guess it doesn’t matter at this point. Does it? If I accept protection, I have to go where you say. Right?”
“Yes, that is correct. I mean, I could send you into northern Canada where the snow reaches six to ten feet during a single storm.”
Lane coughed and shook her head. “No, unknown island with outhouses will do.”
Mr. Donaldson offered a smile like he knew something she didn’t. Of course he does, she thought, he had the dart and threw it at the map for sport to pick out a place to hide her out. She began to wonder if they did that, just for fun and all. She turned the page while Mr. Donaldson narrated.
“The next page is your new identity. When you arrive at Sunset Point, you have to become Reece Wyatt. You are from Wichita, Kansas and the Wyatts of the island are your aunt and uncles.”
Lane looked at the picture of the three people. “But, I don’t know them.”
“You will. We have been in contact with them and worked out the details. Since the island is very picky about new residents, having relatives on the island will help you in and hopefully to blend in.”
“What kind of place can pick and choose who moves there?” Seriously? A place could do that? She suspected the place was smaller than Mr. Donaldson led on.
“Sunset Point can pick and choose new residents. It’s in their charter.”
The strangest feeling overcame her. She knew she must be dreaming, because she couldn’t make this shit up. A yawn echoed in the room. She was so tired she couldn’t even form a thought. The Skipper began to dance in her head with his goofy hat and grin. Would she be trying to build herself a boat, too, in order to get off of Sunset Point Island?
Who is online
Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot] and 2 guests