A Nixon and Trace Novella

  by Rachel Van Dyken

  Smashwords Edition

  Copyright © 2015 RACHEL VAN DYKEN

  This is a work of fiction. Names, places, characters, and events are fictitious in every regard. Any similarities to actual events and persons, living or dead, are purely coincidental. Any trademarks, service marks, product names, or named features are assumed to be the property of their respective owners, and are used only for reference. There is no implied endorsement if any of these terms are used. Except for review purposes, the reproduction of this book in whole or part, electronically or mechanically, constitutes a copyright violation.


  Copyright © 2015 RACHEL VAN DYKEN

  ISBN: 978-1-942246-51-0

  ISBN 10: 194224651X

  Cover Art by P.S. Cover Design

  Enamor: Infatuated or in love with. To be smitten or besotted, literally ensorcelled by.



  I stared up at the ceiling and memorized each of Trace's breaths, still debating what to do, how to return everything to normal. It had happened so slowly, the downward spiral into madness and now I knew more than anything that I couldn't give her what she needed, not by myself. I could love her, but eventually if she didn't have a life of her own, she'd resent me, and I cared about her too much to put that type of weight on her shoulders.

  With a sigh, I rubbed my hands against my face and turned on my side. Dark hair spilled around her pillow like a crown encircling her head. Damn but she was beautiful. Every day I spent with her was like another slam to the heart, I cared too much for her and it terrified me. Terrified me that one day my enemies would discover my weakness—my wife—and take her from me.

  "Nixon." She groaned and lifted her right hand to cup my face. Blinking her eyes open she smiled. "Are you having nightmares again?"

  "No." I leaned in and kissed her nose, needing to touch her, needing to be closer. The obsession I had over her was ridiculous but telling myself that didn't really work, it just was. Fighting it only made me tired; pushing her away had only hurt us both in the end, which was why I was having such a hard time right now.

  "Do you need water or something?" She closed her eyes briefly then opened them, probably trying not to fall back to sleep. "What can I do?"

  I licked my lips, my lip ring gave off a metallic taste as I self-consciously licked against the dryness again, damn why was I so nervous? She was my wife!

  Her eyebrows arched as she pushed up to a sitting position. "Okay, so now you're freaking me out, what's going on?"

  "Everything." I scooted up and wrapped my arms around her body, her head fell against my chest. "I want you to be normal."

  "As opposed to crazy?"

  "As opposed to getting shot at." I cursed the fact that I couldn't say that in a calm voice, couldn't even think about it without shaking with complete and utter rage. I'd like to think I'd come a long way with my anger, but thinking about anyone hurting Trace was my tipping point, it always would be.

  "School." I cleared my throat. "It was what your grandma wanted."

  "This…" She pulled away to look at me. "The reason you look like someone died is because you want me to go to school?"

  "We talked about it a few weeks ago but then everything happened, and I just… I want to make sure you girls actually do it. I need you to do it."

  "So you can shoot things in my absence?" She teased.

  "Not funny and I only pull out my gun for very serious reasons, violence shouldn't be the first answer."

  "Whoa there, preacher, didn't you shoot Tex in the shoulder a few weeks back? In the kitchen of all places?"

  "Entirely valid circumstances," I argued. "And you know it."

  "Normal would be punching him."

  "I have rage issues," I defended. "So back to the school topic…"

  With a smirk, Trace fell back against my chest and gave me a few pats. "I'll go to school… if."

  "Oh wow, bargaining with the boss… tell me how that goes." I scolded.

  "Oh wow bossing your wife around, let me know when you want to have sex again."

  "I'm listening." I growled, irritated that she bested me, again.

  "I want to learn how to fight."

  I took a deep breath. "That's it? Okay fine, you can take a kickboxing class."

  "Not kickboxing," she said proudly. "Israeli hand-to-hand combat."

  I clenched my jaw so tight it damn near popped. "That's not my specialty…"

  "I know that."

  "That's Chase's and Tex's…"

  "And Phoenix."

  "Hell, no."

  "Trust him."


  "Nixon…" Trace tiled my chin towards her face. "Think of it as a small step. Let him train me, I'll go to school and you guys can build back up that fragile relationship."

  "He attacked you!" I roared pushing away from her. "And now you want him to touch you? To teach you how to defend against monsters like him? Sadistic freaks who think it's okay to overpower a woman?" My chest heaved with exertion as I clenched my fists and managed—only slightly—not to punch the hell out of the headboard until my knuckles bled.

  "See?" Trace didn't react, at least not outwardly. "You're still upset, and I think I need this, Nixon… to get over things, I think we all do."

  "Not if I kill him."

  "He's a boss now." Trace pointed out, slowly drawing lazy circles on my chest with her fingers. "You can't."

  I snapped my teeth. "Watch me." I was ready to get in the car and freaking drive to Sergio's house, put a bullet between his eyes and never look back, the rage was so menacing, so dark, it was hard to stay calm, hard to even think about him touching her, using the same tactics he'd used before. I closed my eyes and pinched the bridge of my nose against the memories, against the trauma.

  "Nixon." Trace gripped my hands in hers. "You trust me, now it's time to trust him, time to forgive. You say you forgave him, but right now says something else, you say you want me to be happy, let me be happy. Let me do this, let me heal, let me stop being afraid, let him stop torturing himself. Let us live."

  I groaned, touching my forehead to hers. "I'm dangerously close to tying you to the bed right now so you can't tell anyone this plan."

  "Please." She snorted. "Like I'd stay tied, you always give up once you can't take it anymore."

  "I'm immobile," I taunted. "Like a stone or a statue or a—"

  Her hands moved down my naked torso, she tucked her thumbs into my boxers and tilted her head. "Oh yeah, just like stone, Nixon."

  "I've created a monster."


  "I don't like this plan."

  "So… make the call, boss." She kissed my mouth, hard, her lips pressing against mine, as her tongue slipped past my lip ring, flicking it once, twice.

  Groaning, I pulled back. "Damn it, you know I love that."


  "Fine." My heart hammered against my chest. "But if anything goes wrong, and I do mean anything, you tell me, you run out of the workout room and tell me."

  "Then you have a deal." She held out her hand. I stared at it and smirked patronizingly. "What?"

  "Sorry sweetheart, that's not how we seal the deal in the bedroom. At least not in my house."

  "Oh, your house?"

  "My house." I bit down on my lower lip then kissed her neck. "My wife." I grabbed her shoulders and ran my hands lightly down her arms, my hands rested on her hips. "Mine, mine, mine, just in case you were wondering. This." I tugged her body against mine. "All mine, so sweetheart, don't you think we can do better…" I trialed open mouth kisses down her collarbone until I met her breasts. "Than a hand shake?"


"Yes what?" I teased.

  "Yes sir." She smacked me on the shoulder then stopped talking all together as I showed her exactly why it was important to seal the deal my way—not hers.



  I was nervous. Not like, first-day-of-school nervous where you imagine yourself completely naked and people pointing and laughing, but throw-up nervous. As in, I really shouldn't have tried so hard to convince Nixon to let me do this when I wasn't even sure I wanted me to do this.

  I clenched then unclenched my fists as I waited in the gym. The old clock on the wall mocked me as I leaned against the wall. A practice mat was set out on the middle of the floor. Pretty sure my butt was going to be spending a lot of time on that particular mat in a few minutes.

  Nixon refused to tell me about his conversation with Phoenix but I couldn't imagine it being a pleasant one. Nixon had truly come a long way with the whole anger thing but when it came to Phoenix, he still lost all control.

  My answer came a minute later when Phoenix pushed open the door to the workout room and briefly glanced in my direction. He set down his water bottle and a white towel then faced me.

  A swollen lip and the beginning of a bruised cheek was the only evidence I had that he'd talked to Nixon, or better yet, that Nixon's fist had talked to Phoenix's face. I still wasn't sure if it was because Phoenix had originally said no and Nixon had convinced him, or because he'd said yes and Nixon was threatening him.

  Phoenix took a deep breath and walked to the middle of the mat. He hadn't always been a monster to me. In the beginning he'd been one of untouchable Elect, perfect, good looking, funny and then after my attack he'd morphed into this monster. I think even in my dreams I imagined him as this sinister beast. Not the broken man in front of me with shadows under his eyes and secrets behind his lips.

  No the man I was looking at, wasn't the same man. Which was why I could do this, which was why I needed to do this as much for me as for him.

  "Should we start?" He asked softly.

  I licked my lips and nodded, meeting him in the middle of the floor, my fists were still clenched at my sides.

  Phoenix sighed heavily then looked directly at me, his eyes finally meeting mine in such a piercing gaze I wanted to run out of the room. So much pain was hidden behind those eyes, why had I never seen it before? Had he truly been that good at putting on masks? At covering what he really was? Raw—every emotion was readable on his face, this was killing him, ripping him to shreds. I almost backed out right then and there but again, we needed this, to heal, to make things better.

  "Krav Maga," he spoke with authority, "is basically hand-to-hand combat, it's deflection, it's attacking with so much thought it seems almost thoughtless. Whether you're pushing away a gun, a knife, or just gouging someone's eyes out in order to run, the point is never to engage long enough to get hurt, but long enough to be able to escape, do you understand?"

  I swallowed and nodded. My throat was already dry, my heartbeat picked up as he took a step forward. "The proper stance is similar to a boxing stance, feet shoulder width apart, and your dominant leg first."

  I bit my lip and looked down at my left foot then my right. "How do I know which is dominate?"

  "Which foot do you lead with while snowboarding?" he asked.

  I shrugged. "Never been."

  Without any warning he pushed me roughly against the shoulders. I staggered back on my right foot.

  He nodded his approval. "Right foot in front, left foot towards the back but not far enough to look like your about to kick someone's ass."

  I positioned myself somewhat to the side.

  He shook his head. "No, you look like you're about to punch me, all you need to do is wind up your arm and you've just given yourself away, space your legs a little closer together." His hand moved to my hip adjusting my stance and then moved to my hands. "Keep your hands loose, no clenching, you haven't been attacked yet, you have no idea if you need to throw a punch or a kick."

  "Right." Information swirled around my head as I tried to keep my focus on him and not the fear that was already starting to course through me at the fact that he'd just touched my hips, and then my hands. I was seriously losing it.

  "Hit me," he ordered.

  "Um?" I licked my lips. "Is this part of the training?"

  "Hit me."


  "Hit me dammit or I'm going to hit you, do you want to be hit first?"

  I hit him.

  Not hard.

  It was more of a light slap across the cheek. He cursed and staggered to the left rubbing his cheek. "You slapped me."

  "You said to hit you!"

  "Hit." He nodded slowly, fighting a grin. "Not slap."

  "I was confused." I chewed my lower lip and put my hands on my hips. "Plus aren't they interchangeable?"

  His eyebrows shot up. "Hit me again and I'll tell you."

  "In the face?"

  "Would you rather hit me in the balls?"

  "Am I supposed to answer that?"

  He looked away from me and then down at the floor. "Make a fist, hit me, however Nixon trained you, however Frank taught you, hit me that way, in the face, right now."


  He moved so fast I didn't have time to prepare. One minute he was in front of me, the next minute I was on my back and he was standing over me.

  "That," he said offering me his hand, "is how fast an attack happens. I think we're both aware that hesitation gets you nowhere. When I say hit, I mean hit, you don't hesitate. When you're in a situation, you act out of impulse out of necessity out of habit, not out of hesitation, got it?"

  "Yeah." I rubbed my hands together. "Got it."

  "Hit me."

  Yeah, I officially hated training.

  "Fine." I answered raising my fist.

  In an instant he'd deflected my fist and reached for my throat softly pushing me back. "What did I do just now?"

  He could have hurt me, could have bruised my trachea, instead it had been done so softly it almost tickled. "When I went to hit you, you saw it coming, I think you used my momentum to push me to the side and counter attacked."

  His grin was so beautiful I think my mouth dropped open.

  Let it be known that I'd never, in my entire life, seen a real honest to God smile from Phoenix. Sure, I'd seen him laugh but it had always been sinister, even when I first met him there was darkness lurking.

  This was sunlight.

  I actually looked away like a total coward, not sure I wanted to see the light, not sure I was ready to feel the humanity I knew he possessed again.

  "Well done." He clapped twice. "So most attackers go for easy, they grab a girl's hoodie or her ponytail."

  "Or her book bag." I added, not recalling for a moment that was exactly what he'd done to me.

  His smile fell.

  His entire demeanor darkened.

  I took a step back.

  He took another step forward.

  Hot and cold washed over me, should I run? Was that too far? Had I pushed him? Woken the beast? I was just getting ready to bolt when he whispered, "Right, or a book bag, purse, anything that can tug the person' body close enough to where you have leverage."

  I gave a quick nod.

  "So, the minute that happens, you need a plan. Already you're stuck against the person's body, and a guy can easily overpower you, so the idea is to give yourself some time to use his body weight against him or surprise him. Depending on the situation."

  I gulped and then nodded slowly. "I'm ready. Show me."

  His eyes widened a bit before he took another step forward. "Just tell me, tell me…" his voice cracked. "…if I scare you, say…" He closed his eyes again. "Saying stop would bring back too much, can we think of a word that isn't…" he didn't finish just stared at the ground, his face pale.

  "Moo." I nodded. "I'll say moo if I'm freaked."

  A smile broke out on his face. "You're going to moo?"

e a total cow."

  He barked out a laugh and nodded his head. "Alright, if you moo I'll back off, just make it loud."

  "It's really the only way to Moo, Phoenix." I winked and then got in the ready position.



  "Wow. All you need is a set of binoculars and a creepy van and you'd be a relative stalker. Hitting up the local playground later?" Chase slapped me hard on the back and laughed.

  "Hilarious." I didn't turn around, didn't acknowledge his teasing, just watched the screen in front of me and winced every damn time Phoenix put his hands on her.

  I was in the security room, doing my job, which was to protect Trace. She'd see me if I looked through the window outside, so this was the next best thing. Watching their training like live TV. "How'd you find me?"

  Chase sat down in the chair next to me and leaned back. "Easy, I saw Phoenix in the gym with Trace and put two and two together. She'd see you through the window so—"

  "Sometimes it terrifies me how much we think alike."

  Chase cursed. "Don't I know it."

  "Are we starting a spy club?" Tex's booming voice sounded behind me. I groaned into my hands ignoring the hard slap on my back.

  "Nixon's monitoring." Chase answered for me, nodding reassuringly.

  Tex scratched his head. "Don't you have, oh, I don't know… a family to protect? People to kill? Torture? Threaten?" He put his feet on the table in front of me and leaned back in his chair like Chase did.

  "It's Saturday." I said gruffly.

  "Right." Chase nodded. "I forgot we don't kill things on Saturday, it's why I set that bad ass spider free this morning… no blood on God's day, oh wait, no that's Sunday…"

  "Where's Mil?" I changed the subject. "Shouldn't you go check on her or something?"

  Chase chuckled. "Because she's five and in need of a babysitter?"

  "Shopping." Tex licked his lips and watched the screen in front of me. "She and Mo wanted to make appetizers for New Year's."

  "Shit." I jumped out of my seat. "Today's New Year's Eve?"

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