Authors: Amy Isan
Ruin Outlaws MC, Volume 1
Published by Amy Isan, 2014.
This is a work of fiction. Similarities to real people, places, or events are entirely coincidental.
First edition. April 23, 2014.
Copyright © 2014 Amy Isan.
Written by Amy Isan.
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wring my hands and stare across the flickering pavement. I can’t believe this is happening. I fixate on the burning wreckage and want to look away, but I can’t. Breaking my trance, I spot a rider approaching me, and I freeze up. His leather vest has deep creases from his muscles, and I feel pinned down by his stare. His eyes lock on me, and I find my knees buckle a little. This must be the same rider I saw the other day, but what does he want with me? I swallow hard and keep my eyes on him.
But, I’ve gotten ahead of myself. This isn’t where the trouble all began...
. . .
“Sara, what is it this time?” I answer the phone, nestling it between my ear and shoulder. I’m stuck in rush-hour traffic, and I direct my frustration at her. I don't know why. She hesitates when she hears my tone. I can’t help but grin a little.
“Where are you?”
I sigh, annoyed. “I’m coming home, jeez, what are you my mom?”
“Your dinner will be cold.”
I laugh. “You didn’t have to make me dinner, Sara. I’m an adult.” I suck on my teeth, waiting for the silence to grow awkward. Things have been tense... and strange between us. Since she broke up with her boyfriend, she’s been a bit... clingy. I can’t really say why, but I feel shaken up most of the time. Sara thinks it might be because of my new job, but I can’t be so sure. Either way, my nerves feel so frayed at the moment, that Sara’s grumbling over the line is more irritating than the pick-up with three burnt-out brake lights in front of me. “I’m coming, okay?” I finally bite out. I add, “Thanks.”
I wait for her to reply, but she just sighs and the line goes dead. I groan and toss my phone into the passenger seat.
“Come on, just put it in park already,” I mutter to the driver in front of me. I turn on the radio and try to find a station that isn’t talking about the traffic jam, looking for some oldies or jazz. A flash of light in my mirror steals my attention, and I wonder, who the hell thinks they can move in this grid-lock?
The motorcycle engine races as bike and its rider slide between several cars and to my side, straddling the lane. I adopt a glare and turn out my passenger window, expecting to see a fat, old and balding man on top of a dirt bike. But it isn’t.
A leather-wearing man. My age, I think. A sexy dash of closely cropped hair, a strong jaw with a bit of stubble, and a defiant grip on the reins of the beast shakes me to my core. The man suddenly looks right at me, and I feel my cheeks flush with embarrassment. Why? He twists his motorcycle and makes it howl in protest, before speeding off between the lumbering and frozen cars scattered along the highway. The last glimpse of him I get is the back of his leather vest, bearing a skull with fangs instead of teeth, and the words “RUIN M.C.” in dark red letters.
Who does he think he is anyway? I shut the radio off as the announcer switches to another commercial. I stare at the suffocating traffic.
The motorcycle rider’s eyes. They looked... hurt. Like I had personally attacked him with my look. Was it my fault? What could I have done to make it better?
Maybe my imagination was playing tricks on me. Before I shrug the thought away, a sentence passes over my lips silently: Come back to me.
. . .
I slide my key into the lock at the apartment that I’ve lived in for the last three years. The trees scratch the windows on windy days, the lights flicker out at inopportune times of the night, and I swear I can smell weed most of the time, but it's home. Not only that, but it's cheap.
I throw my purse on the counter and slump into a chair, eyeing the tin-foiled casserole dish suspiciously. It doesn’t smell like cold pot-pie, but something much better. Sara must’ve slipped into her room, since her door is closed. I lift up the tin foil carefully and a burst of steam spills out. Lasagna.
Ugh. How could I stay mad at her? I can’t even remember why I was anymore.
I dish myself up some of the steaming noodles and cheese, and tip-toe down the cramped hallway to her door. I give it a quick knock and she hollers from the other side. “Yeah?”
I push the door open and frown when I see her. She is laying on her bed in her pajamas, and she barely looks away from her book as I step in. I hold up the bowl of food. “Sorry for earlier.”
“Don’t worry about it.”
I shake my head and my frown lines deepen, which I hate. I can feel them setting in as I get older, which makes my stomach a bit queasy. Wasn’t I supposed to grow into laugh lines?
My mouth opens to say more, but no words came out. I step back and shut her door with a quiet click of the latch. I want to say I’m sorry for being a bitch, but I can’t bring myself to. I still feel a lingering cloud hanging over me.
I sit back at the counter and eat like an animal. If the traffic wasn’t so bad, it wouldn’t be what feels like midnight before I could have dinner. My mind wanders to the motorcyclist I saw weaving between the cars like they were dumb cattle. His tanned arms seemed to glare with glistening sweat, and the short glance I got of his eyes was enough to make me choke. I’m so swept up in my thoughts, I don’t even notice Sara until her finger jabs me in the shoulder.
I snap at her. “What is it?” and immediately regret it. I’m not even mad at her, but I don’t want to lose the image in my mind. Her face freezes and her eyes widen. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean that...”
“Not even. The traffic was killing me.” I rub my neck and try to knead a knot out. Sara sits down next to me at the counter and leans on her palm. She drops her phone on the tile. I take it as an invitation to keep going. “There was...”
“An accident?” she says, trying to finish my sentence. I shrug, I have no idea what caused the traffic.
“No, a motorcyclist was pissing me off.”
“What an asshole.” Sara is flippant immediately. I grin, but my smile quickly fades when I realize she isn’t listening. “I can’t believe that Mark did this to me, leaving me for some tramp. I bet he’s at her trashy slum on the east side. Ugh, it makes me so mad.”
I roll my eyes and pat her on the shoulder. “I’m sure he’ll get all riddled with diseases, does that make you feel better?” I say. She chuckles a little and shrugs.
Outside, the wind picks up and makes the tree bat at the window, the naked branch only just growing buds. The flowers will bloom soon, but I can’t make myself happy about it. What’s the point anyway? All spring means is that my birthday is coming, and it’s another year that I’ve done nothing with my life.
Sara’s phone beeps and she plucks it from the counter. She skitters off into her room and shuts the door. The slam is so loud, I almost take offense.
After cleaning my dishes, I disappear into my room and start to get undressed.
The trees continue to batter the windows. It’ll be another night of restless sleep for me, I can already tell.
I slip into my night clothes and climb into bed. I want to stay up for a little longer, but I can hear Sara giggling in the other room. The walls are a little too thin for my taste. When Mark was in the picture, I could hear them banging all night long. It wasn’t the most worst thing in the world, but it was enough to make me dream of breaking down her door with a stool after the eleven-billionth time.
She must have already wrangled in another one. I still don’t know how she does it. These men seem to just flutter down from the sky - every time one disappears, five more emerge from the woodwork. Not bad looking guys, but just boring to me. Accountants, file-clerks (whatever that is), and bank tellers. I had my share of that before. A nice boy named Greg. Our passion was so barren I knew I’d never be attracted to his type again. The thing they all seemed to have in common was a thirst to change me, and not in an exciting or adventurous way. Always in a boring, “let's play online video games,” kinda way. I have better things to do.
Like wash dogs.
Or listen to my roommate have absurd phone sex.
. . .
I wake up the next day and get dressed quickly. It seems like my morning lethargy the last couple of weeks have been getting worse, and I want to blame it on my age. If I don't get up quick enough, I'll pass out again and miss work.
“You’re only turning 26, Cassie,” Sara is a little too quick to point out. I swallow my over-cooked eggs and chug some water before getting one back at her.
“That’s four from thirty, I might as well be dead.” I walk over to the sink and start loading the dishwasher without a thought.
“Whatever,” Sara says. She can’t understand anyway. Two years my junior, she still thinks she has the world on a platter. Everything will fall into place, is what seems to be her motto. Of course, she still whines when a two-month long boyfriend falls out of the picture like they were going to grow old and die together.
Jesus, Cassie. I breathe and slow down. I’m nearly gouging scars into the plastic plates at the sink, my thoughts are racing so fast. I drop the dish and scrubber into the basin and fold my arms. I’m not usually so uptight, I don’t think. The neon glow of the microwave clock shakes me back to reality. I’m already late for my super important job.
I’m a dog groomer at a little salon a town over. I want to say it's for people who don’t have time to wash their pets, or treating their hunting dog to some luxury. But the reality is I wash poodles and labradors that probably get more physical affection from my brush than their owners’ hands. The dogs aren’t the bad part, it’s the customers. Their snootiness gets under my skin and gnaws at me. I always bite my words back, but it's draining.
I pack up the rest of my meager lunch and grab my coat. The drive isn’t very long, but with traffic the way it’s been, I’ll probably be an hour late at this point.
I hop in the car and stash my purse in the passenger footwell. The seats and dash are dirty, and I swear I just cleaned them.
. . .
I slip into the front door of the groomers without getting my coworker’s attention. A loud blonde woman is chastising her for scuffing her precious poodle’s nails. I manage to walk right by them both. Who even notices the nails on their dog anyway? Are they pulling their frail paws under a microscope to check for uniformity? Christ, I just got here and I’m already letting them get to me.
In the back, I slip my uniform on and hear Becky come in behind me.
“What’s your excuse this time?”
I turn and finish tying my apron, trying my best to adopt a sad expression. “I’m so sorry, Becky —.”
“Can it. I want to know why you’re late.”
I gulp and shake my head. “Sara took the last of the hot water.” I can’t believe what a bad excuse it is. Even if it wasn’t a lie, it wouldn't mean a thing. I want to slap myself in the face.
Becky shakes her head. “You’re going to have to start rehearsing, or getting a better book-of-excuses.”
I nod solemnly and I can feel my face burn with embarrassment. “Yes, ma’am.”
She snaps her fingers in front of my face, making me jump. “No ‘ma’am,’ you know I hate being called that. Makes me feel old...” I want to scream. You are old! You’re sixty-two! She relaxes and points me out of the break room. “Get to work already. Ms. Johnson’s poodles aren’t going to wash themselves.”
“What was that?”
“Nothing,” I call back. I disappear into the front and wrangle a couple of poodles from Lizbeth, my co-worker. She's usually the one who has to deal with the customers, which I’m super thankful for. Just overhearing them going on and on about their dogs and lives is enough to make me vomit. Let alone having to actually nod and smile throughout the whole thing. It doesn’t seem to bother her though.
“Did Becky chew you out?” she asks me. I shoot her a grin and shake my head.
“Just a little.”
Lizbeth chuckles and fishes up some reins that are resting on the counter. They’re attached to two corgis, and for once I’m glad the animal isn’t a high-chinned and pompous labrapoodle. “These little guys get the Star Treatment, so you’ll be with them all day.”