Authors: Carmen Faye
This is a work of fiction. Any names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons--living or dead--is entirely coincidental.
Tease copyright @ 2015 by Carmen Faye. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embedded in critical articles or reviews.
Adventure rarely entered into Maya Marriot’s life, beyond visiting exotic locations for photo shoots or meeting the random guy at a release party. But as she took a seat on a dirty stool at the bar in this local dive, she smiled to herself. If she didn’t find some trouble on her own, it would definitely find her.
Her agent always urged her to fly to her scheduled shoots, whether on a commercial jet or a privately chartered jet, but she didn’t feel like sitting on a plane, sipping a cocktail and staring out the window while she listened to Franz jabber on the phone. Instead, she’d rented a sweet little convertible and plotted out the drive from Houston to Los Angeles. And she’d purposely taken a route through the Mojave Desert. After all, what equaled greater adventure than driving through 48,000 square miles of nothing…where anything could happen?
She hadn’t exactly planned where she would stop for the night, and when she’d rolled into a town that didn’t exist on her map called Wheelie, Arizona, a few miles from the California border, she’d been ready to stop. The town consisted of an old motel, a gas station that didn’t accept credit cards but still took checks, and this dive joint, called The Wheelie Bar.
Motorcycles lined the front of the bar, and inside, she stared at the backs of leather vests everywhere, admiring the artistic design of the logo. The letters ‘MB’ had been threaded as a single winding line created by a green and brown snake with a rattle at the end. Its head had horns, and its eyes were beady but glared with red embroidery. Beneath the intricate logo, she read ‘Mojave Boys Sidewinders’.
It intrigued her greatly.
“You lost?” The man behind the bar addressed her gruffly, but Maya blew it off. She dealt with Alpha males and machismo every day of her life.
She shook her head. “Just a stop along the way to my destination.”
He huffed and said something under his breath. Maya didn’t catch the words, but she caught the tone. And proceeded to ignore it. “I suppose you’re looking for some sort of fruity drink or a spritzer. We got none of that here.”
Smirking, Maya shook her head. “Don’t judge a book by its cover, Bull. I’ll take a whiskey sour and a shot of Jack, straight up.”
“Sure,” the guy said, his voice dripping with sarcasm. Yet, he moved to fill the order.
“Your problems holding your liquor don’t reflect on anyone else, Joe. Let the lady prove herself.” The voice was like a slather of butter spread over freshly toasted French bread, and it made Maya’s mouth water even before she turned around to see to whom it belonged.
She had noticed him instantly when she walked in. He exuded masculinity with the cockiest swagger in his step she’d ever seen. He wore one of the vests over a button-down black shirt with a menacing skull that smiled back at her. His jeans fit his ass like a glove, and they came down straight over black leather boots scuffed and dirty from wear and tear.
The green bandana around his head did nothing to take away from the rugged sexiness of his appearance, his dark brown curls damp with sweat as they peeked out. He could have shaved his five o’clock shadow and graced the cover of some of the same magazines Maya posed for, but she wouldn’t change a thing about him. He sparked instant arousal, as she finally met the emeralds that shone where others had dull eyes.
He was rock-hard muscle from head to toe, and his scent overwhelmed her, a combination of leather, desert, and pure male sexual energy. The feelings he awakened within her had Maya calling up images of a praying mantis mating ritual. She wanted to eat him alive.
He casually took the barstool next to her, leaning an elbow on the counter that allowed him to face her. His body language told Maya exactly what he wanted, and his eyes confirmed, as they roamed her from top to bottom and back again. She was used to that; after all, she was a model and her body was her ticket to fame. Still, her opinion of the guy darkened a bit. He seemed a bit arrogant.
“I can’t imagine you landed here on purpose,” he said gruffly. Perhaps Maya was a little out of place in her flirty little sundress and sandals that wrapped around her ankles. However, she didn’t like the insinuation that she felt she was too good for this particular bar. “How’d you end up in Wheelie?”
She raised an eyebrow at him and said, “I was driving through and decided to stop here. It seemed charming.”
He laughed out loud, tilting his head back and letting it ring in the air. A shiver went down her spine, and Maya had a vision of waterfalls of honey and cream. She wanted to lick her lips, so delicious was the sound of his humor. “Charming. That’s the last word I’d use for our little blip on the map.”
Maya scoffed. “It’s not even a blip. It’s not on GPS—not on the map. If I hadn’t seen it, I wouldn’t believe it exists.”
He nodded. “That’s the way we like it.”
His cryptic words had Maya curious, but she didn’t ask any questions. The bartender—Joe, apparently—returned with her order, doubled, and pushed one set in front of her and the other in front of the attractive man on the stool beside her. “Okay, Vance,” Joe said, looking less than pleased. “You put that away, and we’ll talk.”
Maya recognized the challenge and wondered if maybe Vance, as the bartender called him, didn’t drink much. But the rough, handsome man shrugged and held up the shot of whiskey in a toast. “To finding little gems in the desert.” His eyes roamed her body again, and she knew he wasn’t referring to Wheelie.
Still, Maya liked his audacity, even if his arrogance turned her off. He was too gorgeous for her to want to walk away. She touched her shot to his and said, “To diamonds in the rough,” before throwing back the burning liquid. She chuckled when he chased his with the whiskey sour, refusing to chase hers at all as her chest and stomach grew warm and fuzzy.
He stared at her with an air of respect. “Where the hell did you come from, woman?”
She chuckled. “I’m surrounded by high levels of testosterone every day. I learned fast that white wine and Irish cream didn’t hack it with the big boys.”
“Well, you’re not Danika Patrick. She doesn’t hold a candle to you. I don’t know of another female race car driver, so where did you get balls as big as mine?” he asked with a devastating, crooked grin.
Was he that pleased with himself in the bedroom? She could picture him above her with that cocky smile as he made her cry out in ecstasy. Shoving the wayward thought aside before she got too hot and bothered, she told him simply, “I’m in marketing.”
“I’ll bet,” Joe mumbled behind them.
Maya turned to give him a look that sent him to the other end of the bar, scowling, and the man she knew only as Vance shook his head. “Joe’s harmless. He’s just bored and wants to live vicariously. I keep telling him if he didn’t spend so much time sticking his nose in other people’s business, he might get a little ass now and then.”
“Are you the authority around here on how to ‘get some ass?’” she asked, letting her tone speak volumes about her distaste for the term she heard far too often in her line of work.
He shrugged. “I do okay.” Sipping the whiskey sour, he changed the subject. “So, marketing. I guess image means a lot in that line of work.”
She nodded. “Keeping up appearances helps in most industries. Does that explain your particular ensemble?” She gestured at his clothes.
“I try to dress like the person I am.” Was he suggesting she didn’t, or was he just defending himself? It was hard to tell. “Well, you have a way with words. Only someone in marketing would use a word like ‘charming’ for Wheelie.”
“If you have such a problem with it, why are you here?” she challenged.
He motioned toward a table in the middle of the small room, where several other vested men sat playing poker. “My family is here. The Mojave Boys are my people, and this is where they make their living.”
A motorcycle club, of course. Maya could only imagine what sort of ‘living’ they made. She was well aware that most biker gangs participated in some form of illegal activity. She wondered what brand of lawbreaker Vance was and how deeply he was involved in the practice. She could think of several possibilities—drugs, weapons, stolen cars. That was just the beginning.
And she knew no biker gang would choose to live in the middle of nothing like this, off the grid, unless it was into some heavy shit. “So, loyalty keeps you here.”
“You could say that.” He stared at her, but Maya didn’t waver. She kept her eyes locked on his, accepting the challenge. Finally, his grin broke the hardened mask on his face once again. “Do you have a name, or is that confidential?”
Instead of answering, Maya waited for Vance to say more, but he remained silent. She hedged, “You don’t get a lot of travelers passing through your quaint little desert town?”
He shook his head. “We get visitors from time to time. And the guys’ old ladies come around. Most of them live here, but a few can’t hack it in a place without a mall in driving distance.”
That made Maya wonder why those women would latch onto any of these guys, unless their activities under the legal radar were just that lucrative. Of course, Maya figured no one would stick with illegal exploits unless they paid off. Then again, some people just liked danger and taking risks.
Which breed was Vance?
“And your old lady?” she asked.
He laughed out loud again. “Doesn’t exist. Tying yourself down when you live this life doesn’t work. Besides, then you can have your pick of single women whenever you want.”
“I bet that’s your game.” She had this overwhelming desire to push his buttons.
Again, he gave her that half smile. “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t take advantage when I could.” He drained his glass. “What are your plans while you’re in our desert wonderland? Are you meeting someone or just stopping in?”
Maya hadn’t decided yet. She had over a week to get where she was going in L.A., and it shouldn’t take more than another three days. “Not sure. My appointment isn’t for a few days.” Would that warrant her some sort of welcome, or was he trying to run her out of town?
“You still haven’t told me your name,” he reminded her.
“Maya,” she answered shortly. “My name is Maya.”
“Vance.” He glared at the bartender, who was still watching and listening. Maya had noticed his attention was only broken by drink orders from other curious bikers, seeing if they could catch a part of the conversation. Maya was used to that, too. Everyone wanted a piece of information on a model’s life, especially if it involved a possible relationship, sexual or otherwise.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Vance,” she offered in a very businesslike tone, holding out her hand to shake. Instead, he surprised her, taking it gingerly in a roughly callused hand and bringing it to his lips where he kissed the back of her knuckles.
His lips were surprisingly soft and moist, and the feel of them on her skin made her blood rise in temperature. “You’re the pretty lady in a dive bar with a bunch of bikers surrounded by nothing but hot dust and burning sun. I’d say the pleasure’s mine.”
She was usually just as hot under the blaring lights on an indoor set or runway, or at a tropical beach on location. Maya didn’t find it so bad here. At least as the sun went down it cooled off significantly. “I told you, it’s charming. It’s different, and that makes it adventurous.”