“What the hell is up with all these names?” I demanded abruptly, swaying in my seat. They all looked at me blankly. “Picnic? Bam Bam? Horse?!? Who names their baby Horse? And what the hell is Ruger all about? His name is Jesse, for God’s sake. I met his mom and she told me.”
They all burst out laughing.
“What’s so funny?” I asked, feeling put out. It was a serious question.
“You thought they were real names!” Marie asked, losing it again. “It’s funny because I know exactly how you feel. I asked the same question. Horse is a f**king ridiculous name, isn’t it?”
I narrowed my eyes.
“Is that a trick question? I don’t want to insult the guy you’re marrying. Also, he’s scary. He has a metal bat and likes to carry around duct tape. All he needs is black plastic garbage bags and he could be a serial killer.”
I leaned forward and jabbed a finger to make my point.
“I know these things. I watch TV.”
Marie snorted so hard margarita came out her nose.
“Horse’s real name is Marcus,” Dancer said, giggling and rolling her eyes. “He’s my brother, by the way. Horse is just his road name—like a nickname, you know? Most of the guys have ’em. Girls, too. Dancer’s my road name.”
“What’s your real name?”
“No comment,” Dancer replied primly.
“Agrippina,” Em declared proudly. “I shit you not.”
Dancer blew a stream of frozen margarita at Em through her straw.
“Are you f**king with us?” Kimber asked, looking between them. “Agrippina? After Agrippina the Younger or Agrippina the Elder?”
We all looked at her blankly.
“Mom had a thing for Roman history,” Dancer said after a pause. I shook my head, trying to follow the conversation. The drinks weren’t helping. Oh, yeah. Road names.
“So why is he called Horse?” I asked. Marie blushed bright red and looked away.
“Ha!” Dancer said, smacking the table for emphasis. “Horse says he’s called that because he’s hung like one. But I know the real reason. When he was a kid—like three, four years old maybe?—he used to carry around this little stuffed horsie all the time, slept with it and everything. One day he and I got in a fight and he started hitting me with it, over and over again. Mom took it away from him and gave it to me. He started following me around crying, ‘Horsie, Horsie,’ all the time, and it stuck.”
Marie’s eyes opened wide.
“Are you f**king serious?” she asked. Dancer nodded, her face full of the kind of evil glee only an older sister can express. “Holy shit, that’s hysterical.”
“His dad insisted it was because he had a big dick, right to the day he died,” she continued. “But I swear to you—it’s because of that stuffed animal of his. Don’t let him fool you.”
“Did you ever give it back to him?” Em asked breathlessly. Dancer shook her head.
“I still have it,” she declared. “And I promise you this, Marie. The day you marry his stupid ass, I’ll give it to you. That’ll keep him in his place.”
We all lost it again. Kimber poured another round of margaritas from the king-sized pitcher she’d found in Ruger’s kitchen. This party wasn’t ending anytime soon.
“So are all the names like that?” I asked when I could speak. “I mean, shouldn’t bikers have cool names, like Killer or Shark or Thor’s Revenge?”
“Thor’s Revenge?” Maggs asked, raising a brow. “Are you serious?”
“That’s just silly,” Em broke in. “Road names stick because something happens to make ’em stick. You know, a funny story or something stupid someone does. You earn them—just like any nickname.”
“Emmy Lou Who, for example,” Dancer said, blinking innocently. Em’s eyes narrowed.
“Shut the f**k up, Agrippina.”
“Seriously, they also serve a purpose,” Maggs said. “If people don’t know your real name, makes it harder for them to rat you out to the cops.”
“So what’s ‘Ruger’ all about?” I asked. “He’s been called that forever.”
“I have no idea,” Dancer said, frowning. “You’ll have to ask him—Ruger is a gun brand, that might be it. Picnic got his because he threw a guy through a picnic table.”
“Speaking of …” Marie said. “We haven’t finished talking about Em’s situation. You need to get your dad to back off, babe. Nobody will date you so long as he keeps shooting your boyfriends.”
“He didn’t shoot him because he was dating me,” Em snapped. “It was a hunting accident and he’s fine. The fact that he was cheating on me is a total coincidence.”
The women burst out laughing again, while Kimber and I stared.
“Go ahead and keep telling yourself that,” Dancer murmured.
I made a mental note to learn this story as soon as possible.
“Let’s talk about something else,” Em declared. She looked around the table, searching for a new victim. Her eyes reached me, filling with sudden, unholy glee. “Like … hmmm … So tell us, Sophie. What’s the scoop with you and Ruger? You guys f**king or what?”
Everyone—even Kimber—looked at me. Kimber stared, silently urging me to speak. I kept my mouth shut and shook my head.
“Shit, I have to do everything,” she burst out. “Okay, here’s the whole story.”
Ten minutes later they knew far too much about me and Ruger, and I’d silently vowed never to tell Kimber anything again. Ever. Not even where I stored the toilet paper, because that’s how untrustworthy she was.
“And he just tucked in his dick and walked away?” Em asked for the third time, clearly awed. “He didn’t even start yelling or throwing shit?”
I shook my head. I should’ve been embarrassed, but I was a little too drunk to fully appreciate my humiliation. Stupid Kimber. Backstabbing bitch.
“He’s a man-whore,” Kimber declared, shrugging. “Who knows why guys like that do anything? Instead of wondering why he did it, we need to focus on the real problem. How do we get them into bed with each other?”
“No!” I said. “I am not sleeping with him. Didn’t you get the whole point of the story? That would f**k things up for me and Noah living here.”