RUSH (A Stone Kings Motorcycle Club Romance) (2 page)

BOOK: RUSH (A Stone Kings Motorcycle Club Romance)
3.29Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

How the hell did he know what I thought it was? I knew one thing about it. The only thing that mattered: it was a member of that very same MC that had killed my father.  

I couldn’t figure out why Cal didn’t seem to care about that. But I never got the chance to ask him before he was off to do some job or other for them. Hell, he didn’t even have his own motorcycle yet.  Hence why he had my car tonight.

I grabbed my glass abruptly and took a long drink, savoring the feeling of cool, flavorless liquid and searing carbonation burning my throat.  Enough thinking about all of this for one night, I told myself harshly.  I wasn’t going to solve my problems sitting here brooding. I stood up and took my empty glass with me as I walked back behind the bar. I grabbed the apron I had stowed on the shelf and put it around my waist.

“What are you doing?” Andi asked, glancing over at me from the cash register.

“I’ll help you close the bar if you’ll drive me home afterwards.”

Her eyes widened.  “Nice! You’re on! It’ll be sweet to be out of here a little earlier. I can use the extra sleep.  Early practice tomorrow.” Andi was a budding singer and songwriter, and performed at various venues around town with a local band called the Nopes.

A couple of hours later, Andi dropped me off at my apartment.  I noticed wryly as I walked up the front walk that Nate hadn’t bothered to drop off my car. “You sure you don’t want to come home with me?” Andi called again from the open passenger window. “I know it’s late, but just in case you don’t want to be alone…”

“I’m fine, Andi.  Really.” I smiled reassuringly at her.  “Don’t worry.  I’ll see you Saturday.” We often worked together on weekend shifts.

“Sounds good.  Have a good one, chica!” As she rolled up the window of her dark blue Kia, I heard the sound of the radio being cranked up.  She put the car in gear and drove off, head bobbing ferociously to Pink.  I grinned in spite of myself and walked up the sidewalk to my building.

The apartment was dark when I got in, so I knew that Carly hadn’t changed her mind and come back home after the gallery opening. She was an unapologetic night owl, so no way would she be asleep yet.  I dumped my purse on the chair beside the door, flipped on the light and looked around. Despite the late hour and the long work day, I wasn’t tired at all.

Aimlessly, I walked into the kitchen and opened the refrigerator.  After digging around for a minute, I found a half-eaten pint of cookies and cream ice cream.  It seemed like the sign that a comfort food and movie session was in order, so I sat down to watch one of my favorite old movies:
City Lights
, by Charlie Chaplin.  I discovered it my freshman year at college, when the campus had scheduled a silent movie series, and I must have watched it over a dozen times since then.  I sat quietly watching the movie with its strangely affecting music, laughing at the funny parts, and crying like a baby at the end, when the little tramp’s love interest finally realizes that he has given up everything to make her happy.

CHAPTER 2

Grey

 

 

It felt good to be home. Mostly.

“Grey!” my VP, Trigger, shouted as I walked through the door of the clubhouse bar. About half a dozen members of the Stone Kings MC turned toward me. “Fuck, brother, we didn’t expect you back for three, four more days,” Trigger continued.

“Yeah, well, I couldn’t leave the club in the hands of you bunch of pussies, now could I?” I snarled.  A chorus of raucous laughter greeted my words.

Trigger came up and gave me a big bear hug, clapping me on the back, and I returned the favor. A few other members of the Stone Kings gathered around me and called their hellos: Levi, Repo, Tiny… A few of the club whores were around, as well, and one or two nodded and winked their open invitations at me.  The men and I exchanged a few minutes of pleasantries as I got caught up on news of this member’s pregnant wife, that one’s recently sick kid.  Eventually, the crowd dissipated a bit, and I turned back toward Trig and pulled him aside.

“How you doin’ brother?” he grinned as he stepped back to take a look at me.  “The cabin treat you good?”

“Yeah. It was fine.” I nodded at his beer.  “Let me get one of those and let’s you and me talk about what’s gone on in my absence.”

I walked over to the bartender of the moment, a peroxided blond named Tammy, and grabbed a bottle for myself and another one for Trig.  “Here you go, Grey,” she said, making sure to lean way over so I could see down her shirt.  Those tits were fucking fantastic, I knew from personal experience.  Of course, they should be, as much as she probably spent on them. I smiled. “Thanks, Tam.” She winked back.

I turned and gave Trig a chin nod, motioning him over to a private table at the back of the bar. 

“What’s up?” he asked as he slid into a chair.  He leaned back and took a long swig.  “Like I said, we weren’t expecting you back so soon.”

“Yeah, well, I got bored,” I retorted.  Not exactly true, but it may as well stand in for the truth.  I’d been gone for close to three weeks, and the truth was, sitting there alone with my thoughts up in the cabin had started getting the better of me.  Eventually I figured it was better to get back here and face the music.  My head was on straight enough, I guessed, in spite of what had happened.  At least I hoped so.  It had to be.

“So,” I continued. “Any more news since we last talked?” Trigger had phoned me two days ago with a short update. 

“Nope,” he answered.  “Nothing much has changed since you left.” He laughed, a short, dry sound.  “Hammer’s still dead.  And the boys took care of Jethro, just like you ordered.”

I winced at the mention of Hammer, but nodded.  “Good. All the evidence been disposed of?”

Trig grinned wryly.  “You know it.”

Jethro had been one of ours.  At least, we had thought so. That son of a bitch betrayed each and every one of us.  He was the one responsible for Hammer’s death.  That piece of shit fucking ran from the scene instead of staying to fight with a brother. He left Hammer to fucking die.

I had been the one to let Jethro into the club when he patched out of my uncle Lawless’s club in Reno, and I had beaten myself up for it every goddamn day since Hammer was killed. Hell, I not only let him in, I had lobbied for it, and even convinced a couple of the other brothers when they weren’t sure about him. Ultimately, I had betrayed the club’s trust by pulling in someone I shouldn’t have. I had let my judgment be clouded because he came recommended by a family member.  I was fucking bound and determined to make up for that.  I swore to myself that I would not let my judgment be clouded ever again.

Going forward, I knew that what happened in the coming weeks and months was crucial.  It was one thing to take Jethro out.  That much was necessary, but it wasn’t enough. As club president, it was absolutely fucking essential that my brothers knew I was not afraid to take out the most exacting vengeance for a traitor in our midst. To show them this would never happen again, and that no one —
no
one — was above the law of the Stone Kings.   Before I let anyone else in this fucking club again, I would be goddamn sure of them. No matter what.

“So,” I continued, “We any closer to finding out who killed Hammer?”  Shit. Hammer. My best friend.  More a brother to me than my own brother. Just thinking of it put a load of ice in my stomach. It had been a month, and I still couldn’t believe he was gone.

“Still pretty sure it was the Cannibals.  Nothing has happened since you left, though. We still got no real proof.” Trig took a long pull of his beer.  “But who else would it be?”

I thought about it.  The Cannibals in theory were our biggest potential problem at the moment, since their territory butted up against ours. If they wanted to make a play for, it they could be the biggest threat to our arms territory. But things had been relatively calm on the Cannibals front for a while now. It didn’t make sense that all of a sudden this would have boiled up to the surface.  Unless something was going on that I didn’t know about.  Unless there had been some sort of plan in place for longer than I had realized, and it was just now starting to show itself. 

When Hammer had been killed, my first instinct had been to end anyone and everyone who could have had something to do with it.  Problem was, we had no idea who that was. That was part of the reason why I took off for a bit: to cool my head.  I knew Trig could handle the club in my absence, and I knew he’d call me immediately if any shit started to go down.  I could make it here from the cabin in less than an hour.  I’d spent my weeks up there trying to get some distance, to think it all through.  I still hadn’t come up with anything.  Which is why I’d come back. Now that my anger had cooled, it was time to pursue those responsible with a cool, clear head.

“Yeah, okay.  I’m with you that I can’t figure out who else but the Cannibals it could be. But I wanna be sure.  Absolutely fuckin’ sure.”

“You and me both, prez.  We’ve been doin’ some recon while you were gone.  Not much to report, but Levi and Repo can tell you what we got.” He glanced over at the bar and nodded toward them. 

I took a deep breath and let it out.  “Okay. We’re gonna need to have church tomorrow to talk more about what to do about this. As for tonight, though, I’m in the mood to have a little fun.” That was bullshit. I was in no fucking mood to party. But I figured the guys needed to see me, there with them. They needed to see that I had straightened out my head and was ready to go. That the loss of my best friend hadn’t made me weak.  Being the president of an MC was about more than leading.  It was about showing no fear in the face of danger.

“I hear you, brother,” Trigger agreed.  “We’ll set up some shots in Hammer’s honor, and get this party started.” 

“Do it,” I nodded.  “By the way, how the new prospects lookin’?”

Trig shrugged.  “Dunno.  They look like fuckin’ puppies, they’re so young. The one, the guy who looks like Frankenstein, I guess he’s okay. He doesn’t say much. But he doesn’t bitch no matter what you ask him to do, either, so that’s a plus.”

“Frankenstein’s monster,” I said.

“What?”

“It ain’t Frankenstein.  It’s Frankenstein’s monster.  Frankenstein was the scientist.”

“Fuck you, Grey.”

“Hey, I can’t help it if you’re an ignorant bag of shit. Go read a goddamn book.”

Trig twisted open the second bottle of beer he’d brought with him and chucked the cap with me. “I got no time to read a book.  I’m knee deep in pussy, brother.”

I laughed. The first real laugh in a week. God, it
was
good to be home after all.  “What about the other prospect?”

“Cal? He’s okay. He’s full of shit, but he’s a funny dude.  Got his eye on half the club whores already,” Trig grinned.

“He better slow his ass down,” I remarked with a frown. I finished my beer with a final swallow. “He’s got more important things to do than chase tail.”

“Brother, ain’t no more important thing than chasin’ tail,” Trig corrected. “Besides, it ain’t exactly ‘chasin’’, now is it? Most of these girls’ll give it up for anyone in the club, no problem.  ‘Sides, Cal’s not a bad-lookin’ dude.  Most of the time when he’s lookin’, they’re lookin’ right back.”

“Good lookin’ is he?” I cocked my head.  “Maybe you want a go at him yourself?”

“Brother, you better watch yourself if you don’t wanna get cracked over the skull with this bottle,” Trig warned, but he was smirking as he said it. Trig could give as good as he got, but he could take a joke.

I looked out at the bar as more of the brothers wandered in.  “Hey, Tammy!” Trig yelled.  “Set up some shots for everybody.  We’re gonna drink to Hammer’s memory!”

“Will do, Trig!” Tammy yelled back.  A chorus of yells followed.  Time to get the party started.

“Well, we’ll see about these prospects,” I said, looking at my VP as I stood up.  “I’m gonna be ridin’ the hell out of ‘em.  We can’t afford to take any more chances.  After what happened.”

Trig looked me in the eye.  “Agreed. ”

“All right, enough talk.  Let’s party. I need to shake this road dust offa me.”

“Yeah,” Trig said with a shit-eating grin. “Let’s go see how many shots the prospects can take before they puke their guts out.”

CHAPTER 3

Seton

 

The next morning, I woke up on the couch with an empty ice cream container sitting on the coffee table. Next to it was my phone, and I checked it to find another text from Cal, saying my car was in the parking lot of a local bar owned by the MC. I actually laughed, it was so ridiculous.  I supposed I should be grateful that he actually included directions on how to get there.  The location of the freaking Stone Kings Motorcycle Club was not exactly on my radar, and I was pretty sure it wouldn’t be on Google Maps, either.

I was feeling pretty sorry for myself, but it was Friday and I had most of the day off, so I decided I needed to take advantage and try to get some things done before my evening shift. Even though I didn’t normally eat breakfast, I made myself a plate of eggs and hash browns to fortify myself. I even brewed half a pot of strong coffee, which I drank while sitting on the window seat in the living room and staring out at the street. It was early summer, and school had just gotten out, so of course there were little kids riding around on bikes and yelling crazily, letting off all the steam of the school year in one go.  It was fun watching them. I kind of remembered being like that myself, but it was so long ago.  Every carefree moment of my childhood seemed to have come screeching to a halt when my dad was killed the summer I was nine years old.

My father.  Clayton Greenlee.  The town drunk.  Well, I suppose technically he probably wasn’t old enough to be the town drunk. Don’t town drunks have to be old? But that’s where he was heading, anyway.  He probably would have died of the drink eventually, except that something else killed him.  Something else entirely.

At the time, I was too young to know that the town thought of him that way.  I didn’t  even know what an alcoholic was.  All I knew was that he and my mom fought about his drinking a lot. If Clayton and Maggie Greenlee had ever been happy together, those times were long gone by the time I had any memories. Mostly, I just remember the arguments, and of those arguments, I mostly remembered my mom’s criticisms. I knew that she blamed him for having to go to work after Cal was born.  I knew she was angry that he had trouble keeping a job for very long. I knew she considered him half the man she had thought he was when they had met.

But I didn’t really know or care about any of those things. Because to me, he was my daddy, my hero.  Any weaknesses he had, I looked right past them and saw only the way he smiled at me, ruffled my hair and called me his SeeSee.

Growing up the middle child between two brothers, I often felt out of place.  Reed and Cal preferred playing with their own rambunctious classmates to spending time with their boring sister who preferred reading to sports. My mother seemed to choose her solitude over spending time with her only daughter or teaching her things. To be fair, it wasn’t just me she ignored. Maggie Greenlee never seemed to really take to motherhood. When my brothers and I were young children, it seemed like we were always trying unsuccessfully to get her attention. Whenever she did seem to notice us, it was usually to yell at us for messing up the living room or spilling milk on the kitchen floor.  But whereas my mom could be volatile, aloof and temperamental by turns, my dad was always constant, doting and affectionate with me.  He loved me, and I always knew it.  His affection was the center of my world. 

Most of my memories of my father were hazy now that I was an adult: a hand on my head, the smell of his beery breath when I came home from school, his raucous laugh when he would tell me little-kid jokes. But by far my strongest, most vivid memory of him was when he died at my feet, in the street. Shot by my mom’s lover, a member of the local biker gang.  The Stone Kings.

In the weeks leading up to his death, my parents had been quarreling more and more.  I’ll never know how long my dad knew about the affair, but I remember him coming home drunk more often, and that he had a haggard look in his eyes that I had never seen before. Then one day, just as school was letting out on the second to the last day of the year, Reed came running up to me as I was walking off the school grounds and told me Dad had been shot. 

I got to my father just moments before he died. I still remember being shocked by how ashy gray his skin was, and how vivid the crimson of his blood looked by comparison. As he wheezed his final breaths and I clung to him, he whispered something to me that I couldn’t catch through the sound of my own sobs.  I opened my mouth to ask him what he had said, but he was already gone. It still haunts me that I didn’t know what the last words he ever said had been.  I felt like I had failed him by not hearing them.

As unknown hands were pulling me away from my father’s body that day, my eyes ran unseeing over the crowd of mostly adults, until suddenly they locked on the eyes of another child. I remember he was a boy, of about Reed’s age.  A wave of anger hit me so intense it almost knocked me back to the ground.  It was a blinding, rabid fury at him, whoever he was, for being a child like me, but who probably still had a father. Who would probably sit down to dinner that night with him, and tell him about school, and his father would ask him whether he had any homework. Things I would never have again.

After the funeral four days later, my father’s name became all but forbidden in our household.  It wasn’t that my mom ever said that, exactly, but somehow it was clear to all three of us kids.  I didn’t want to talk about him much, anyway.  My pain was too deep, too private, to share with anyone.  My older brother Reed became sullen and withdrawn.  My younger brother Cal asked for my father a couple of times in the first days, but after being hushed angrily by my mother, he eventually stopped. I retreated to my room, and tried to pretend that my daddy was still there, that he was simply at work and would be coming home soon.

The story behind my father’s death traveled quickly through the town’s gossip circles, and we became the subject of feverish whispers.  I was too young to understand exactly what had happened, why my father had been killed, but I knew that people were saying whatever had happened was because my daddy was Bad, and my mommy was Bad, too.  The town whispered about it when I or my brothers would walk by, to the drug store to buy candy, or walking home through downtown after school.  Our family had the whiff of scandal about it now, and everyone knew the name Greenlee, though few talked about any of it to our faces. 

My mom grew even more remote after my father’s death.  She had never been a particularly affectionate mother, anyway — as an adult, it seemed a mystery to me why she had had kids in the first place, given that most of the time she just seemed irritated by the mess we made or the noise we caused.  But whereas before that day she had yelled at us frequently, afterwards it was almost as though we didn’t exist.  Reed was just old enough to babysit us younger kids, and so Mom began to leave us fairly often to fend for ourselves in the evenings.  We didn’t know where she went, but it didn’t seem to be in Lupine, because we probably would have heard about her goings on from other people in the town if they’d known anything. Reed would put us and himself to bed, and then in the morning, she would be back, and no one would talk about when she had come home or where she had been.

Eventually, my brother Reed left home at seventeen, moving in with the family of one of his friends until he could finish high school. My mother didn’t protest. Once he turned eighteen, he left the area, and we had only had sporadic news from him after that. Barely three months after I graduated from Lupine Senior High, my mother packed up and moved to Scottsdale, Arizona, leaving me with a junker car full of possessions to drive myself to my freshman dorm at Aspen College.  My younger brother Cal, who had just turned thirteen, went with her.

I spent my freshman year of college mostly alone, save for the occasional terse hand-written letter from Scottsdale with a couple of twenty-dollar bills inside. I went “home” for the summer, but it didn’t take long for me to figure out my mom didn’t really want me around.  Away from the taunting gaze of Lupine, she had found a new life for herself with a perpetually-tanned dentist named Darryl who smiled too much and laughed too loud.  He put up with Mom’s moods, though, I had to hand that to him.  And really, he was nice.  But I felt out of place, and Cal was just old enough to have found himself a crowd of teenage boys to hang out with, and he was rarely around. So, I went back to school that year, and when I ran out of money to live on spring semester, I didn’t ask my mom for help. Instead, I took a leave of absence and decided to get a job to save up the rest of my tuition money myself.  Somehow, I ended up back in Lupine, and three years later, here I still was, working at the bar and saving for a future I didn’t even know if I wanted.

I finished up my coffee and my musings and went to take a shower. When I got out, Carly had come back.  “Hey, girlfriend!” she called to me cheerily.

As always, Carly looked supremely fashionable, her curly riot of blond hair mussed just to perfection, her makeup stunning without being overly noticeable.  She was wearing a tight black dress and dark knee-high Frye harness boots.  The exquisitely-done Mayan-design sleeve tattoos on her arms somehow made her look only more elegant.  In my formless bathrobe and wet, straggly hair, I felt like a schlub next to her.  It was a good thing she was so nice, I told myself, because otherwise I would have felt like strangling her.

“Hey, you’re back!” I replied.  “You want some coffee?” I asked, nodding over to the maker. “There should still be a cup or so left.”

“No thanks,” Carly said, plopping down on the couch and heaving a long, dramatic sigh.  “Man, I am
bushed
! What’s up?”

“Not much.” I decided to spare her the pity party of me whining about my last twelve hours or so. “I thought you weren’t going to be back until Sunday.”

Carly rolled her eyes and grinned at me. “Yeah, I know. But my mom was already driving me crazy.”  I had met Carly’s mom a couple of times, and to me, she seemed perfectly nice, but I knew she and Carly clashed over her career choice. “Besides, I ended up getting a last-minute wedding gig tomorrow.  A friend of mine who is doing the wedding needs a hand because her assistant backed out at the last minute.  So I have to go do a practice run with the bride and bridesmaids today.”

“Cool,” I said.  I knew weddings tended to pay well, even if they were very time-consuming and could be stressful.

“Yeah. The money’s cool, anyway,” Carly admitted. “I hear from Gabi that the bride is kind of a bridezilla.  So I’m sure she’ll be pissed that I’m coming in last-minute.”

“You’ll wow them,” I assured her. And she would. I had seen Carly’s work. She was amazing at what she did. And passionate about it. Watching her grow more and more in demand as a hair and makeup artist made me wish I had some idea what I wanted to do with my life.

I bent over and gave my hair a good towel-drying. “You shouldn’t do that,” Carly said mildly. “It’s damaging to your hair. You’re roughing up the cuticle.”

“So you’ve told me,” I grinned. I was used to Carly’s beauty hints.  If only I followed half of them, I was sure I would look ten times better than I did, but I was just not that much of a girly girl at heart.  Laziness usually overtook most of my best beauty regime intentions.

“You should really get a micro-fiber towel. Those things are amazing.” Carly kicked off her boots and put her feet up, leaning back against the sofa pillows.  “So, what’s your story? What do you have going on today?”

I told her I had to go pick up my car, and why, and she was appropriately sympathetic.  She did offer to drive me to the bar to pick up my car, though, which was super nice of her, because otherwise I’d have to walk or figure out whether there was a bus that went by there. I ran to the bathroom and dried my hair, pulling it back into a loose pony, then went to my bedroom and changed into a white t-shirt and some shorts.  I wasn’t really in the mood to put on any makeup so I decided to skip it. By the time I was finished changing, Carly was ready to go, too. I gave her directions to the address Cal had given me as she drove.  Turned out the clubhouse was about four miles away, in an area of town I hadn’t spent a lot of time in.

“There’s your car,” she said, pointing.  Sure enough, there it was. In a parking lot full of Harleys of different sizes and shapes, my aging Mazda stood out like a sore thumb.

I thanked Carly for the ride, wished her luck that afternoon, and got out. Walking over to my car, I suddenly realized two thing: first, I had forgotten my spare key. And second, I had no idea whether Cal would even think to leave the set he had in the car for me. I groaned in exasperation. If I had come all the way here only to not be able to pick up my car after all, I’d have a four mile walk to get back home.

I reached the car and tried the driver’s side door, which opened, thankfully.  But when I got in, I didn’t see the keys anywhere.  I looked under the floor mat, and above the visor. No luck. I checked the glove box, but they weren’t there, either. Frustrated, I sat in my car with the door open for a couple of minutes and tried to think what to do next.

“You lost?” a deep voice said beside me, making me jump. I looked up, and locked eyes with one of the biggest men I’d ever seen.

He looked down at me with strangely intense dark eyes, his expression unreadable.  His hair was close cropped, his jaw square and hard. A shadow of a beard just made his features more striking. He was wearing a black t-shirt that stretched tight across his chest. A ripple of tattoos ran down his tanned, muscular arms. Faded jeans sat low across his narrow hips, and his thighs were so sculpted I could see their hardness through the fabric.  Holy cow, this guy was ripped. And hot as Hades. I wondered in a daze whether I had ever seen a man so good looking in real life before.

BOOK: RUSH (A Stone Kings Motorcycle Club Romance)
3.29Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

The Spook Lights Affair by Marcia Muller, Bill Pronzini
The Green Gyre by Tanpepper, Saul
Scarecrow by Richie Tankersley Cusick
Second Chance Romance by Sophie Monroe
I'll Be Seeing You by Mary Higgins Clark
The Lost King by Margaret Weis