Authors: Amanda Anderson
Copyright © 2015 by Amanda Anderson
All rights reserved, except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.
The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of copyrighted material is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in prison and $250,000 in fines.
This book is a work of fiction and any similarities to persons living or dead, places, incidents are completely coincidental and not intended by the author.
Printed in the United States of America
Other Works by this Author
Full length Novels
A Beautifully Normal Life
In Love With The Wrong Cowboy
Too Much Trouble
Life, Love, and Second Chances
The Tiger Series
The Tiger Within (Book 1)
Highland Tigress (Book 2)
Captive Tigress (Book 3)
Stripes (Anthology Containing Books 1-3)
Freeing the Tiger’s Soul (Book 4)
Big Sky Series
Defenders MC Series
Redemption of a Soiled Dove
Taming a Montana Maverick
One Good Cowboy
Marty Cross slid the plate in front of the mountain of a man that sat at the bar of the diner her friend Janice owned. Marty had worked there for five years, even before she was legally supposed to. She had seen all kinds of men and all kinds of trouble, but this one was special.
“Eat up and hit the road alright?” She said and crossed her arms over her breasts as she glared at him.
“You always this nice to the customers?” He frowned when he looked her over.
“When they wear those colors this is what they get. If you don’t like it you can stop somewhere else next time you’re through here.”
“I’m not here for trouble. I’m just looking for somebody and a meal and maybe, just maybe a little courtesy. Used to be able to get that in here.” Ace hated disrespect. A few years ago he would have demanded it, now it made him curious. It took guts to disrespect a Defender. Ace wondered why this girl would take the risk. He got the feeling it was personal but he had been gone from Georgia longer than she had been alive.
Marty crossed her arms and glared at him. Could he really be that dense? She knew she should just treat him like any other customer, but she wanted him to ask. She wanted him to care enough to ask.
“Times change. Who are you looking for anyway?” Her heart fluttered thinking he might say her name, that he somehow knew…
Guess not. “What do you want with Janie Cross?”
“What’s it to you?”
“Since she was my mama, quite a lot actually.”
BOOM! Marty wanted to laugh. The man looked totally shocked. She knew who he was. She had his picture in a locket around her neck along with mama’s, and she also knew he had no idea that she existed.
She nodded and poured coffee for a customer who sat at the other end of the counter.
“How old are you?” He asked when she came back.
He nodded and took a sip of his coffee. Marty could see him mentally counting back and she knew it only took a second for him to come to the right conclusion. She respected him for that. There wasn’t an ounce of doubt in his eyes when he looked up at her and that showed a lot about what he thought of her mama.
“You know who I am? That look on your face says you do.”
“I know enough. I was told that if I see those colors on a cut that I should turn and walk away.”
“Your mama tell you that?” He was looking her over now and the gruffness in his voice told her he didn’t believe she heard it from her mama. She knew he was seeing the resemblance. Her hair was dark like her mama’s, but her eyes were all his so was the shape of her nose.
Marty saw the way his jaw hardened and decided not to lie.
“I’d like to see your mama.” He grinned. “I’d rather not see your grandma.”
“Me too. Mama died about eight years ago. Nothing to worry about with grandma either. She passed about three years ago too.”
She regretted that. He looked like she had punched him in the face, but she was no good with words. She always just blurted everything out. It was best not to sully the facts.
“Where do you live then?” He asked as he tilted his head to study her like a bug under a microscope.
“Now she lives with me Ace.” A woman with curly red hair stepped up beside Marty and crossed her arms. “She’s going to school over in Dahlonega so I get to hang onto her a little longer. What are you doing back here? After all these years, why are you back now?”
“Guess I’m gettin’ old Janice. I wanted to see Janie. Life gets to all of us after a while. I wanted to revisit a happier time I guess.” He felt like a pussy when his eyes grew moist. Shit was getting to him, but it was the truth.
Janice nodded, she understood all too well. She looked at the man that had held her best friend’s heart until the day she’d died. He was older, but still a handsome man still broad and strong. She let her mind wander back to another man, one who had called to her own heart so long ago. “How’s Preach doin’? He ever marry that woman he was crazy over? Claim his boy?” She paused, knowing she would give herself away, but needing to know. “Tank?”
“Lindsey was killed by the Devils. Preach raised the boy though, turned out to be a good man. Tank died in a motorcycle crash about six years ago. His old lady took their daughter and moved to Tucson. Couldn’t stand the memories. They live near the brothers out there, but aren’t really a part of the club anymore.” He took a drink of coffee and met her watery eyes. “Why didn’t anybody call me? I could have done something here.” His eyes rested on Marty.
“You did enough.” She nodded toward Marty who was talking with a customer at the other end of the bar. Janice was trying not to let the news of Tank show on her face but it was as if Ace had cut her open. “Would you have come back?”
“I don’t know. Janie made it clear what she wanted. I wouldn’t have gone against that. I could have sent money. I’d have come for her when her mama died. A kid needs family. I should have had the option.”
“That’s a fact. So now that you know, what are you plannin’ to do about it?”
He let his eyes fall on Marty. “Whatever she wants. Whatever she’s willing to let me do.”
“You’d take me with you?” Marty crossed her arms and studied him after setting the coffee pot down on the warmer. She had been hovering. She knew she shouldn’t listen in, but she wanted to so bad.
“If you want to go. Get your shit. I’m hitting the road as soon as I finish here.” Ace had no idea what he was doing, but it felt right. It felt better than anything he had done in years.
Marty looked to Janice.
“You’re a grown woman, you don’t need my permission, but you be back for school.” Janice said with a wink. She remembered how it felt to be young and worried about doing the right thing all the time. She regretted always taking the right path. Sometimes you had to just go with it. There had been a time when she had been willing to have an adventure, but she’d had no one to share it with. She wouldn’t stand in Marty’s way.
Marty hugged Janice and raced out of the diner. She ran to a little house across the street and disappeared inside.
“Tell me about my kid before she gets back.” Ace insisted in an urgent voice that betrayed his worry.
“She’s smart Ace, damned smart. Watch her.” Janice grinned.
“Why do I get the feeling you won’t be too heartbroken to see her go?”
“Make no mistake, I love that girl like she was my own, but she can be a whole mess of trouble and she has a smart mouth on her.”
“So I heard. She’ll figure her shit out soon enough if she goes with me. I’ll keep her safe too.”
“You better do that Ace or so help me I’ll skin you alive. You can take that to the bank. She needs to be back in the fall to finish up school.”
“She’s smart. Graduated high school at sixteen. Got into a little trouble, but nothing stuck. She gets bored and that ain’t good. Keep her busy or be ready to call a lawyer.”
“Yes ma’am.” He was beginning to like this kid. He wondered what all she could do. He felt pride swell in his chest.
Ace stood and paid for his meal. He stepped out into the warm Georgia sun and watched his kid run back across the street. Damn she looked like her mama running toward him as she always had. His heard threatened to break in two, but he gritted his teeth against the pain. He had left and he’d never had a clue. He’d laughed at Preacherman for mooning over Lindsey for so many years and for being a fool not to know about Shadow now he would be the fool. He had thrown away a life of happiness to ride free with his brothers. He didn’t regret it as much as he wished he could have somehow had them both. Life just didn’t work that way.
Ace knew Marty would be welcomed into the club as his family, but he didn’t know how she would handle the lifestyle and he felt a little guilty taking her back to the club when he knew her mama would have pitched a fit.
“Well are we goin’ or what?”
Ace grinned when she slung her backpack on her shoulders and propped her fist on her hip. Maybe she would be alright after all. A kid about her age whistled as he stepped out of a big pickup truck.
“Little old for you ain’t he Marty? Why don’t you let me take you for a ride instead?”
“Kiss ass Jimmy. This is my daddy and that comment could make him mad enough to skin you alive and leave you for the buzzards.” She patted Ace on the shoulder in a soothing manner. “It’s ok pops, he didn’t really mean it the way it sounded. He’s just stupid and doesn’t know how disgusting he is to women.”
“Fuck, you kiddin’?” Jimmy looked like he was about to pass out.
“Nope. I think you should go on inside and let us get out of here. Riding will help him calm down.”
She climbed on behind Ace and it was all he could do not to burst out laughing. He kept his frown in place until the kid was out of sight. Then he laughed harder than he had in a long time.
“That wasn’t nice kid.”
“He’s a prick. Been after me for years just ‘cause he wanted to claim he had screwed a biker’s kid. Like I’d be wilder in bed or something or like it made him brave. I really don’t get it.”
She wrapped her arms around Ace and he started his bike. He hadn’t done her any favors. If anything he had made things worse on her just by being her father, but he would make damned sure he made things better from now on. She would know some pride in being his kid before it was all said and done to combat the hell she had suffered in the past.
He wanted to strangle Jimmy, but the real problem wasn’t him it was Ace and he would see to it that no one ever looked down on Marty again. He owed her that.