Shade's Lady
Page 7

 Joanna Wylde

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I didn’t know how long we’d been riding when I started to look at mile markers. We might’ve been heading south—I couldn’t tell for sure. I’d just started to move from “slightly uncomfortable” toward “scared shitless” when I saw a sign for Cranston. I hadn’t given much thought about where Shade might live, but I guess it made sense for him to live close to a chapter…so I guessed technically Rebel hadn’t lied to me.
We’d have words about this later, I decided. Stern words, and lots of them. Until then, might as well make the most of it. I forced myself to relax, leaning with Shade as we followed the long, sweeping curves of the highway through the hills, arms wrapped tight around his waist.
In a strange way it was almost fun.
Except “fun” wasn’t really the right word. Maybe exhilarating, because despite the fact that Shade was scary, he was also sexy in a way I didn’t like to think about. (You know, because scary trumps sexy, or it’s supposed to.) It was hard to stay scared, though, when we were flying down the road in the darkness, the sound of the big Harley engines surrounding me like a loud but very comfortable blanket.
There was nothing quite like riding a bike at night. One of the things that’d attracted me to Rebel in the first place was his motorcycle. (And yes, I realize that makes me shallow. In my defense, I don’t think Rebel even looked up from my boobs to check out my face until our third date, so it wasn’t like he was a saint, either.) I’d never ridden before, but from the minute I hopped on the back of his bike, I loved it.
Loved it.
As in, loved everything about it. I loved the wild, free feeling it gave me as the wind blew by. I loved the sound, the sense of connection with the road. I even loved the danger, because the smallest mistake could lead to a crash, yet the man cradled between my thighs was in total control and that was hot.
Unfortunately, riding with Shade was significantly hotter than riding with Rebel. There was something about being so close to him, my front glued to his back as he took full control. The way his body tensed when my fingers gripped him tight. Too, too many tinglies.
This wasn’t a good thing.
Not for a girl with a boyfriend. Like I said, I can admit I’m shallow, but I’ve never been fickle. I wasn’t a cheater and something about this seemed like cheating.
Maybe it was the way I could feel all the muscles under his leather.
I mean, I’d speculated when I’d seen him at the barbecue (I’m only human), but until now I hadn’t had proof he was actually as sexy under his clothes as my imagination insisted he must be. His thighs were big and solid, too. I knew this because I had to stretch my legs wide to make room for him, and since he didn’t have a backrest on the bike, that meant I had to stick tight or risk falling off.
As seductive as all this was, there was also something weirdly relaxing about our ride.
Shade was in charge. Nothing I did could change that, which meant I had to just relax and let him do his thing. When he leaned, I leaned. There was no hope of taking control over the situation, and while riding this fast through the dark should’ve been scary, he handled the bike in a way that left me feeling completely safe. Rebel was a much sloppier rider. Come to think of it, he was sort of a sloppy lover, too. He made up for it with enthusiasm, but still… I couldn’t help but wonder if Shade’s control of his bike would extend to other things…
Nope. Don’t go there.
Eventually we slowed and I realized we’d come to a town. Cranston, which was bigger than Violetta. A lot bigger. We passed a sign for a University of Idaho satellite campus, and I remembered the catalogue my sister had been looking at last month. She wanted to get a nursing degree, although seeing as she had three little kids and a van that couldn’t make it out of the front yard, I wasn’t entirely sure it was a realistic goal.
Passing the school, we rode through the small downtown before turning again and heading back out into the countryside. I started to tense up—riding to Cranston was one thing. I hadn’t expected to come here, but it also wasn’t very far from home. Going past Cranston wasn’t part of the deal no matter how you looked at it. I’d just made up my mind to signal Shade to stop when we slowed again, turning onto a gravel road.
The kind of road you drive down to bury bodies.
Rebel, I’m gonna kick your ass for this one.
Thankfully, I saw lights up ahead, and then we pulled up to a building that’d been constructed out of rough-hewn logs. You know, the kind that pioneers used to build because they didn’t have any money and that rich people build nowadays because they have too much. At least twenty motorcycles were parked out front, and I saw people on the porch hanging out and drinking beer. Loud music poured out of the building.
I don’t know what I’d been expecting, but this wasn’t it. Not even a little bit. It couldn’t be Shade’s home, that was for damned sure. It was a motorcycle clubhouse, and they were in the middle of a full-fledged party. Either Shade had been lying to Rebel or Rebel had been lying to me.
Fucking men.
Shade turned off his motorcycle, and then I was climbing off and hunting for Rebel. He should’ve been right behind us but there weren’t any headlights in the distance. Shade swung off his bike and caught my arm possessively, dragging me toward the broad porch. Something was wrong here. Really wrong. I jerked back against him, but he didn’t let go.
“Where’s Rebel?” I demanded, a mixture of fear and anger building. Shade might be the club president, but he had no damned right to drag me off like this.
Shitty to be me, because nobody seemed to have told him that.
“Get inside,” he said, sounding angry. Really angry. His fingers dug into my arm and I wondered what the hell I’d ever done to him. If Rebel had blown us off, it wasn’t exactly my fault. I was just trying to do the two of them a favor.
I stumbled up the steps behind Shade, surrounded by the other bikers who’d been riding with us. Several men on the porch shouted out a welcome, and I saw a woman who looked vaguely familiar frown at me, her expression thoughtful. Then we were through the door and in what would’ve been a greatroom, if this was a house.
It wasn’t a house, though. Not even close.
It didn’t have regular furniture, for one thing. Just lots of little tables, a few mismatched couches, two pool tables and a bar along one wall. Across the wall facing the door was a massive Reapers MC sign, complete with the skull and crossed scythes they all wore on the backs of their vests.