Heartless CHAPTER 6
Bikers rarely visited Granny’s and Ruby – though she liked to play the tough girl – had a bad feeling about them from the moment the arrived. She knew of course who they were, she saw them a few times in town and down at pool-hall. The Stone brothers were quite infamous, their visitors were Rafe, the oldest, Rob the youngest and one of the twins George or Tim – Ruby couldn’t tell for sure, but at least it wasn’t all five of them present. After drinking a few beers and firing a few rude comments at Ruby, the three of them left quietly, though.
She stayed to close down shop, after everyone had left and then started to walk home. She has already forgotten about the bikers but then the brothers appeared from nowhere, just as she was turning into the street the motel stood in. They cornered her before she could look for a way out.
“Isn’t it dangerous for a beauty like you walking around in the dark?” Rafe asked.
She frowned at him.
“If listening to your bad humor counts as dangerous” she answered flippantly, but she regretted it when she saw the wolfish smile appear on his face.
“Oh, we have much more on our minds than joking around, don’t we guys?”
His two brothers nodded eagerly.
“It is said you really like bad boys” the youngest, who was no more than twenty, said.
Rafe moved closer and put his big hand on her ass. She jerked away violently.
“Take your hands off of me!”
“Oh, Ruby baby, don’t play hard to get, we all know the truth” Rafe said and he pushed her against the wall, feeling her up roughly.
She tried to kick out but she couldn’t find any leverage and the other two were coming closer too, one (the twin) grabbing her arm in an iron grip. She wanted to scream, but Rafe pushed his mouth against hers and kissed her forcefully. His free hand that wasn’t pushing her into the wall was moving down, between her legs. He smelled of beer and sweat and she cried out, but that was muffled by his mouth, too.
“Let her go!” a voice suddenly rang out from the end of the street and she could hear running footsteps.
She knew that unmistakable accent immediately and she sighed in relief. The men let her go and three of them turned towards the newcomer.
“We were just fooling around, sheriff” Rafe said placatingly.
The sheriff stopped a foot away from the three brothers and he kept his eyes on them as he asked:
“Are you all right, Ruby?”
“Yes” she answered but her voice came out weak and trembling.
“Please, go inside the motel” Graham said and Ruby realized that they were only two buildings from her home.
She did as she was told, her limbs trembling still, but she stopped just inside the door and through the glass she watched on what was happening outside. She was also close enough to hear what was being said. She was amazed how calm the sheriff sounded facing three brutes.
“You are under arrest for assault” the sheriff said. “I suggest you come to the police station willingly.”
One of them laughed out loud.
“And how do you imagine to arrest the three of us, when you are alone?” Rob, the youngest one, asked mockingly.
To be honest, Ruby thought the same. Maybe she should call someone. But who? The sheriff was the police in town, there was no one else, not even a deputy. There was Sidney who helped out in the department sometimes as a volunteer but she had no idea how to contact him.
“You really want to try it out?” the sheriff asked back and actually smiled.
“I don’t see a gun on you, so I guess we take our shot” Rafe said.
“That would add violence against an official to your record. Just so you know.”
The brothers obviously didn’t care about their record much, or at least Rob didn’t, because he jumped the sheriff with a shout. Ruby cried out, too in warning or in fright, she wasn’t sure, but she didn’t have to worry. Rob attacked with fervor but Graham sidestepped him easily, grabbed Rob’s raised left hand and twisted it hard. Rob cried out again, but in pain this time and he had to turn if he didn’t want his arm to break. When his back was to Graham, the sheriff pushed him, and Rob fell to the knees.
Graham stepped back in a defensive posture. The two other brothers attacked together. The movements were too quick for Ruby to follow properly. Graham grabbed Rafe’s arm, made a half-turn pulling the guy with him and then slammed him against his also attacking brother. The twin fell at the sudden impact but Rafe turned back, somewhat hazed, his fists still up, but Graham dodged and then punched Rafe in the face. Rafe crumbled to the ground without a noise. Meanwhile, George (or Tim) was turning on the sheriff again, but he actually seemed extremely slow in comparison to the other man. Graham even waited a second, letting the attacker come closer, before striking out again – the movement reminded Ruby of a predator attacking – and he hit George on the chin. His head snapped backwards with the force and something audibly cracked, but the guy was strong enough to stay standing. He even made a slashing move with his right arm, but the sheriff bent under it, and his fist pounded against the biker’s left side, leaving him breathless. This time he fell too and stayed down, panting and moaning.
By this time Rob stood up, but seemed to be more careful now. He stayed a foot away and his eyes moved between the sheriff and his brothers worriedly.
“You still think I can’t take you in?” Graham asked and to Ruby’s amazement he was still smiling and a little bit breathing harder than before the fight.
Rob raised both arms in surrender.
“Good idea” Graham said. “Turn around. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say or do can and will be held against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand these rights I have just read to you?”
“Yeah” Rob mumbled.
“You too?” the sheriff asked the other two brothers. “Because I won’t repeat.”
Rafe mumbled something and George (or Tim) nodded.
The sheriff put handcuffs on Rob, then moved to the other too and pulled some zip-ties from an inner pocket. When all the brothers were tied up, he pulled them to their feet.
“Step to the wall” he said and they obeyed meekly. “Ruby?”
She opened the door and stepped outside.
“Are you all right?” he asked again.
“Yes, I’m fine.”
“I’m gonna need a confession from you later.”
“Could you come in tomorrow? Or I can come to you if you would feel more comfortable at home.”
“No, it’s okay. I can go to the station tomorrow.”
“Fine. Go in and rest. Don’t worry, these guys won’t bother you again. Right, boys?”
They just groaned something. Graham waved at her once more, and then herded the Stone brothers away. Ruby looked after them for a few second but when the disappeared at the corner, she went inside to follow the sheriff’s advice.
“And now give be back what you took.”
The Huntsman straightened, panting and pushing a hand against his aching left side.
All the trolls stood up, only Urkh stayed sitting on the ground, massaging his neck. The trolls’ leader looked at him with a dismayed frown, but hearing his words his frown turned into an even uglier snarl.
“We don’t have it” he said.
“You didn’t ask whether we have it. Anyway, I didn’t think that I would have to deliver.”
For a short second the Huntsman really thought that he could get out well of this whole mission but now it seemed he had to go back empty-handed. And the Queen won’t be happy with that. He shivered as he thought about telling her.
“Where is it?” he asked.
“We didn’t steal it for ourselves, it was just a job and we gave it over to the buyer.”
“Who is it and where can I find it?”
“You can’t get it back from her. If you go there you surely die.”
“You wanted to kill me yourself an hour ago.”
“True. The blind witch has it.”
The Huntsman has heard about the blind witch before, but not much.
“Where can I find her?”
“You know Lake Marble?”
“Two miles north from there, there is a clearing with a strange house on it, the witch lives there.”
He turned and left the trolls. The wolf joined him after a few feet. He looked up at the sky to see the time and then started off to the castle with quick steps.