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I knew Bone sent them drinks on the house sometimes, but they’d always left something for me. Now I’d lost my hours and gotten stiffed.
Five minutes later I’d punched out, grabbing my bag as I went to look for Rebel. He met me coming down the hallway, obviously excited. I opened my mouth to ask about his talk with Shade. Before I could say anything, he caught me up into his arms, giving me a hard, smacking kiss.
“Gonna get the bike,” he said when it ended, eyes still dancing. “But I need your help picking it up. Shade wants to take care of things tonight. That’s why he asked Bone to let you off work.”
Ah, crapsicles. That explained Bone’s general pissiness about sending me home.
“You should’ve talked to me first,” I said, frowning. “I can’t afford to—”
“It’s all good,” Rebel insisted. “Bone won’t hold it against you, I promise. But I really need your help. I’ve got my truck here. We’re gonna head to Shade’s place and pick up the bike, and then I need you to drive the truck back home for me.”
“Can’t we go in the morning?” I asked, annoyed. “It seems weird that we have to do this in the middle of the night.”
“He gave me a discount, okay?” he admitted. “Way better deal than I expected. I’m scared he’ll change his mind. We get it done tonight, it’s done. You’ll love the new bike, I promise. We’re gonna have a blast on it.”
“Okay,” I said. “But you owe me.”
“Anything you want, baby. I promise. Just do this one favor for me. I swear you won’t regret it.”
Grabbing my hand, he dragged me down the hall, through the bar and into the parking lot. Lined up across the front were the Reapers MC bikes, flanked by Shade and his brothers. Most of them were busy getting ready to leave, but Shade stood staring at us, his big arms crossed over his chest in the dim glow of the single streetlight.
“Oh, I forgot one thing,” Rebel said, pausing on the porch. He turned me toward him, frowning apologetically. “I’ve got a bunch of shit in the front seat of the truck. Boxes and stuff that can’t go in the back, so there’s no room for you. I need you to catch a ride with Shade, sound good?”
My eyes widened, and I stiffened.
“No, that’s not good,” I hissed in a low voice, glancing toward the man in question, hoping he couldn’t read lips. Offending him wasn’t the brightest, but neither was climbing on his bike.
Way too scary.
Rebel caught my shoulders, giving me a little squeeze as he stared deep into my eyes. “I’m sorry, babe. I really am. But I need your help tonight, so please say you’ll do it? Just this once? It’s not even that far.”
I looked back toward Shade, who watched us, his face expressionless. The man was terrifying, no question, but would it really kill me to take a quick ride with him?
“You’ll be right behind us the whole time?” I asked Rebel, frustrated. But it wasn’t actually that big of a deal, was it? I’d already clocked out for the night and since I’d planned on pulling a full shift, it wasn’t like I’d had anything else going on. Rebel nodded.
“Right behind you,” he said. “No worries. But you better get your ass over there. He’s waiting, and he’s not the most patient of guys.”
With that, Rebel turned me toward the steps and pushed me forward, giving me a little slap on the butt. Usually I thought that was fun and cute, but it wasn’t nearly so fun and cute with the Reapers as our audience. Taking a deep breath, I steeled myself to face Shade.
It’s no big deal, Mandy. Just one quick ride. Get over yourself.
“You okay with this?” Shade asked, looming over me. He didn’t look like a man who was happy because he’d just sold a bike. He was clearly in a shit mood, and that frown of his would’ve sent children screaming.
Hell, it nearly sent me screaming.
Suck it up, Mandy. No big deal. You’ve dealt with guys worse than him before.
Hmm… Wasn’t entirely sure that was accurate. My ex—Trevor—had been a jackass and a petty criminal, but if those murder rumors were true, he was nothing compared to Shade. Of course, Shade hadn’t gotten me thrown in jail and sentenced to probation, so that was a point in his favor.
I swallowed, glancing at his intimidatingly large maroon Harley. The Harley I’d soon be riding. I wondered how it would feel to cradle his ass in my hips and immediately got tinglies. Yup, those were definitely tinglies. I just couldn’t quite decide if they were tinglies of fear or—
It’s only a ride, I reminded myself. Probably won’t even take very long. Then we can go home and I can have a little talk with Rebel about boundaries, and how he shit all over mine.
“Yeah, sure. It’s no big deal,” I said, trying to keep the words light. The fact that my voice cracked halfway through probably didn’t help my case.
Shade cocked his head, staring me down.
I glanced toward Rebel, who nodded eagerly. Right now he wasn’t looking very cute, I decided. Not very cute at all.
“I said it’s fine,” I told Shade, and this time my voice held steady.
“We leaving, boss?” one of the other Reapers asked. Another big guy. Did they make these bikers in any other size? His vest patches declared his name was Dopey and that he was something called a road captain. I looked him up and down, deciding that he looked less like one of the seven dwarfs than anyone I’d ever seen in my entire life—and I’d spotted Dolph Lundgren in the Las Vegas airport once.
“Guess so,” Shade said. “You’re with me, little waitress.”
I sort of wanted to protest this, but mostly I wanted the whole thing over, so I climbed up behind him on the motorcycle. He kicked it to life with a roar, the bikes slowly pulling out in formation with ours in the front rank. Rebel shot me another thumbs-up as we passed.
I’d have flipped him off, but Shade gave the throttle a twist and the powerful machine leapt forward with a burst of speed that had me holding his waist tight with both hands. Then we were tearing down the highway, the sound of engines splitting the night.
Rebel had insisted that we wouldn’t be going far. As the miles passed, I started to realize that his definition of “far” and mine might be slightly different. Given that I’d only lived in the area for about six months, it wasn’t like I recognized any landmarks at night.