Authors: Kat Barrett
VERNIGHT PUBLISHING ®
Copyright© 2016 Kat Barrett
Cover Artist: Jay Aheer
Editor: Katelyn Uplinger
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
WARNING: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. No part of this book may be used or reproduced electronically or in print without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in reviews.
This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, and places are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Thanks to my good friends, and family, who support and encourage me to continue writing.
I have to admit, though, I love to write and see what happens as the story progresses. No, I never know in advance, and usually when I think I know, it takes a turn and goes elsewhere. With a cup of coffee in hand, I will continue to write until I run out of ideas.
Thanks also have to go out to my husband, who finds other things to do as I sit at the computer typing.
To you, my fans, I enjoy your feedback, and without you, I would be writing for only my own amusement. Thank you.
The Secrets of Dragons, 1
Copyright © 2016
Lou sat on the concrete seat, looking out over the line of motorcycles as they passed. The cute little terrace had six tables, each one having two half-circle, bench type seats that would sit four. The outside patio was mainly a local roadside hangout with pizza, coffee, and ice cream shops, but her poison was coffee. It was also minutes from the beach, which was hidden by a strip of multi-story hotels that attracted the variety of tourists that frequented Daytona each year.
Her latest boyfriend of six months had recently taken off with a teenybopper on spring break, and she was mildly angry to be alone during bike week.
“May I sit down?”
She glanced up, noting the only table with an empty seat was hers. It further reinforced her single status. “Be my guest.”
It wasn’t an invitation for anything further, including pleasant conversation, but he obviously didn’t catch the undertones of the comment.
“Hi, my name is Alex.”
“Lou,” she replied flatly.
He frowned deeply. “So what’s Lou short for or did your parents get the genders mixed up?”
“It’s short for Louisiana.” He was definitely a biker, but she hadn’t seen him pull in on a motorcycle. He also didn’t have coffee or an ice cream, so someone else was probably serving him. That meant he had a girlfriend, making him even more undesirable. She had never gone out with a taken man, and she wasn’t about to start now.
“Cool name. Mine is Alexia. However, it should be Alexander.”
“You could always have your name changed.”
“I could. Of course my friends call me Demon.”
He wasn’t wearing colors, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t gang affiliated. “And why is that? Are you evil?” She was an agnostic, but the question seemed logical.
“Not by nature. I’m only evil when pushed too far. Then I’m downright nasty.”
“Don’t they have anger management for that?” Was she trying to drive him away or just piss him off? More likely she was in a rotten mood and should relinquish the table to him and his significant other. He didn’t have a wedding ring on.
Alex surprised her by laughing. “They do. Not my thing. I keep my temper under control most of the time and only allow anger when I have a good reason. That’s good enough for me.”
A younger looking man flipped his leg over the bench and took a seat behind Alex. He put the two coffees on the table and grinned at her. “Hi, I’m Eric.”
“Lou, short for Louisiana.” Judging from appearance, as Alex leaned back into Eric, his significant other was male, and Eric was wearing a wedding ring. Either they were married, or Eric was a cheat. Too bad, they were both extremely good looking, and it had been a long time since she had a ménage. “It’s been nice to meet the two of you, but I have to ride.”
She was in the process of standing when Mildred stormed out of the shop. “Damn,” she snarled. “I hate these fucking spring break chicks. They are so rude and stupid.”
Lou sat back down. Mildred was always working during the time she was in the mood for coffee, and she was friends with all the regulars who stopped by during the day. “Why, what happened?”
“The line’s out the door, and I’m trying to take their orders. They’re too busy talking on their phones and giggling to give me a straight answer. They destroy the bathroom, and I have to clean it. Then they can’t make up their minds when they finally decide to order.”
“So you’re leaving Mark alone to deal with them?”
“I’m going to kill one of them. I want to take their phones and bash them in the head with it.”
Lou glanced at Alex. “Maybe you could give the girl a hand?”
He laughed, rolling his eyes. “I don’t do disrespectful little girls.”
That was good to know. “Too bad my ex didn’t have your moral standing.”
“Joe wasn’t worth the trouble of you being upset,” said Mildred. “I guess I should go back to work.”
“Maybe it’s time to find another job.”
“Too much trouble.” Mildred turned and strutted back into the coffee shop.
“So you’re single?” asked Eric.
She hadn’t meant to give that fact away. “Yeah. He dumped me for a girl who thought it was okay to stroll down the street in a g-string bikini. I have a feeling he’ll be back when break is over, but I already changed the locks.” She was also hesitant to get involved with anyone else. These men would be gone in a week just as the spring break girls would be. It might be nice to have a casual fling, but one-night stands weren’t her style. “As I was saying. I have to go. Have a good night, boys.”
Without waiting for a reply, she stood and walked over to the trash can. Lou threw out her cup, then walked to her bike to unlock it. A small voice in her mind reprimanded her as she got on, started it up, and backed the bike out of the spot. She glanced at the table again, but the spot opposite where she had been sitting was empty. It sent a small pang of regret through her. Had she been hoping they would come after her and stop her from leaving? What a stupid thought that was.
As she crept the bike toward Main Street, she gazed at the people walking by. She was hoping to see Alex and Eric, but they weren’t among those walking. What she did see was an unusual amount of couples. They were kissing or simply walking arm in arm. It made her feel all the lonelier, and she sighed. Lou had no problem getting a new boyfriend, but always seemed to choose the wrong ones. Shane had been her first serious boyfriend, and he seemed like an angel. Then his sweet persona had disappeared into a haze of barhopping and drunken nights filled with suspicious accusations of her infidelity that were completely unfounded. When Shane was drunk, he was a complete moron. After Shane was Brian, the mama’s boy who wanted a servant rather than a girlfriend. Lou could list each man by the faults that crept through after the veil of first date niceness faded away.
She was looking for love and happiness, but it eluded her. Lou was going to be thirty-three in a few weeks. She was alone and it sucked.
The three bikes directly before her began horsing around. They revved their engines, one at a time, back and forth between the bikes. The vibrating, high pitched sound reverberated between the buildings, hurting her ears. She pulled the clutch and put the bike in neutral to stick her fingers in her ears to muffle the sound. A moment later the traffic moved forward a few inches, and she put her bike back in gear. The Trike backed up well, but to push her large three-wheeler forward was almost impossible. The bike’s weight made it a bitch in traffic like bike week created.
Lou felt as if half an hour passed before she turned onto Main Street and the parade began. Her bike was custom painted and always got a fair share of looks and photographs from people on the sidewalk. She smiled when a man jumped out in front of her to take her picture.
A bike started on the curb and caught her attention. As the photographer stepped back onto the curb, the bike pulled out. Alex grinning sheepishly from behind the handle bars, and Eric rode bitch on the back. That was an unusual sight.
The narrow street with motorcycles parked to both sides forced her to follow them down to the light. When it turned red, she pulled up beside them. “Nice paint job. The demons fit your name.”
“They do. You didn’t think you were going to get away from us that easily. Wanna go grab a drink?”
“I don’t drink on an empty stomach or when I’m riding.”
“Then how about something to eat?”
Did she really want this? Oh hell, why not. “Sure.”
Lou was surprised when they pulled into the small side street Barbeque Shack. The small restaurant was normally frequented by locals, but their food was really good. She got off her bike, and then locked the front caliper before walking over to them. “I’m surprised you know about this place.”
“Why wouldn’t I?” Alex asked with a smile.
“It’s not the usual tourist attraction.” Eric held the door for her, and she walked in, followed by Alex.
“Who says we’re tourists?” asked Alex.
“No one. I’ve never seen you around the coffee shop before, and I think I would remember a bike painted with red flames and demons.” She would also remember two such nice looking men, especially if Eric was riding bitch, but she left that part unspoken.
The woman behind the desk showed them to a seat. Alex sat down and Eric slid in beside him. “I was a local. Eric and I went out to California a year and a half ago to help his dad. When he passed away, we came back. We’re currently holed up over at Rose Bay in our motorhome.”
That was even more interesting. “When did you get back?”
“Two days ago, but other than shopping, we haven’t gone out. Why?”
“I live in one of the permanent trailers. I’m officially trailer trash.” It was a stereotype that had always struck her as funny. Most of the full time residents were older, retired, and had respectable families. There was nothing trashy about them or her for that matter.
“I doubt that,” said Alex. “The place has a higher standard. I don’t think I’ve seen anyone around as young as you, though.”
“The trailer was my grandmother’s. I gave up my entire life to go stay with her when she needed help, and I’m her only grandchild. When she died, she left me everything. The place is nice, near the water if I want to go fishing, and quiet. I decided to stay.”
“Ah, so you live down on the back circle.”
A waitress came over with her pad. “Are you ready to order or do you need more time?”
Lou looked at Alex and Eric and shrugged. Alex held his open palm out to her. It was a nice gesture, and indicated he was a gentleman. “I’ll have the three-time sampler with coleslaw and sweet potato fries.”
She was surprised when Alex ordered two more of the same thing. It was a delicious combination of beef ribs, corned beef, and chopped chicken all on one plate. “So how long are you staying?”
“We moved back here, but a storm did a number on our house while we were gone. It’s going to take them a while to get everything working and sealed up again. We’ll be staying in the motorhome until then, to stay out of the way,” replied Alex.
Did Eric have no voice in their relationship? Was it rude to ask exactly what their relationship was? Probably, but she did it anyway. “So what’s the deal with you two?”
Alex turned to smile at Eric. There was true love in his gaze, and Eric returned it. “We are married and monogamous with each other, but open to a female joining us. It’s something we’ve had before, but things didn’t work out.”
“I guess it happens.”
“She wasn’t into melding,” added Eric. “She wanted to split us up, and that’s not going to happen.”
What exactly was melding? Were they offering her the spot or simply answering her question?
“Interested?” asked Alex with a flex of his brow. “We are.”
He seemed the type who was up for a challenge and considering how she had treated them… “What would give you that idea?”
“You said yes to dinner, but that wasn’t it. We liked the way you said nothing about our display at the coffee shop. You took it all in stride. We hoped you bolted because you were spooked by your recent break up.”
“I guess that would put me on the rebound.”
“I doubt it. You hardly appear distraught. Are you?”
She had no idea how, but Alex had her pegged. “Not particularly. He was a waste of time and probably did me a favor. I also know he’ll be back and begging forgiveness, which I will not give. I have no tolerance for cheats.”
“Good. Neither do we.”