I liked to think of Misty as THE WHORE, which I wrote in all caps for all emphasis whenever I texted someone.

I set the bread out to rise on a tray on our old picnic table outside and decided to get going on the weeds around the porch. It was hot, so I popped on a bikini top (which I must say, I filled out nicely, despite my smallish cup size). I grabbed some old work gloves I’d found in the shed and poured myself some iced tea, rolling down the windows on my car so could I blast the radio. Then I set out to commit some serious acts of violence against all weed-kind.


Half an hour later the weeds seemed to be winning so I decided to take a break. I climbed up on top of the picnic table, resting my feet on the bench seat on one side and lying back with my arms over my head, dangling off the far side. It felt fantastic to be so relaxed and free in my own yard without a care in the world.

Naturally, that’s when all the bikers showed up.

I heard them coming, of course, although not as early as you’d think—I had the music cranked pretty high. I didn’t realize we had company until they were about halfway down our long driveway, which wound through our landlord’s orchard. I sat up and leaned back on my hands as they pulled closer, dumbfounded. Usually I liked the fact that we lived in the middle of nowhere without neighbors. Now I felt very alone.

Who were these guys?

It didn’t occur to me that I was glistening with sweat and wearing a bikini top until they turned off the bikes, pulled off their helmets and turned to scope me out. To make my own personal cliché perfect, Def Leppard’s Pour Some Sugar on Me blasted through the radio. I winced—I must look like a white-trash princess from hell, basking outside my trailer in a bikini to outdated butt rock. I actually felt their eyes crawling over me, and while all three seemed to appreciate the view, it was the one in the middle who really caught my attention. The man was big. I don’t just mean tall (which he was—he had to be nearly six and a half feet compared to my petite five foot four) but large. Broad shoulders, muscular arms with tattooed tribal cuffs around his wrists and biceps. I’d bet I couldn’t put my two hands around those arms, and thick thighs I wanted to squeeze…and maybe lick.

He got off his bike and walked toward me, eyes holding mine hostage. I felt a startling flush of warmth between my legs. I’d gone a long time without feeling sexual at all, to be honest. The last few years with Gary had been frustrating at best and painful at worst. But something about the way this biker swaggered, taking up space and the very air around him with his presence, caught me off guard and knocked me right in the…

Well, you know.

My ni**les hardened and I swayed a little as he stopped, reaching out with one finger to trace my collarbone from my shoulder inward, then running it down between my br**sts, grazing the sides. He raised it to his mouth, tasting my sweat. He smelled like motor oil and sex.

Holy shit.

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“Hey, sweet butt,” he said. That broke the spell. Sweet butt? What the hell kind of guy called a girl he’d never met something like that? “Your man here? We need to talk.”

I scrambled backward off the table, away from him, nearly falling off in the process. The music stopped abruptly, and I glanced away from him to see that one of his buddies had reached into my car and pulled out my car keys. He put them in his pocket. Uh oh.

“You mean Jeff? He’s in town,” I replied, trying to compose myself. Shit, should I have admitted I was alone? I really didn’t have a choice. I mean, I could have said I needed to go get Jeff from inside and then locked the door, but the trailer was thirty years old. The deadbolt had been rusted shut since I was a kid. Not to mention that they had my keys. “Why don’t you wait out here while I call him?”

The big man studied me, his face cold and expressionless. I couldn’t be entirely sure he was human, I decided. More like a Terminator. Unwilling to hold his gaze, I let my eyes drop to his vest. Beat to hell, black leather, lots of patches. One of them caught my attention in particular, a bright red diamond that had a number one with a percent sign next to it. I didn’t know what it meant, but I was pretty sure I wanted to get into the house and put on some more clothing.

Maybe a burkha.

“Sure thing, babe,” he said, straddling the table’s bench and taking a seat. His friends sauntered over to join him.

“How about a drink, girl?” one of them asked, a tall man with short dark hair and startling blue eyes. I nodded and walked quickly toward the trailer, using every bit of my self-control not to break into a run. I heard them laughing behind me. Not a friendly laugh.

Thankfully, Jeff actually answered his phone on the first try.

“There are some guys here to see you,” I said, peeking out through the kitchen window, careful to keep the faded curtains decorated with pictures of little flying vegetables closed. “They’re bikers. I think they might be dangerous. They look like murderers to me, but I’d like to think I’m crazy on this one. Tell me I’m being paranoid, please.”

“Fuck…” Jeff replied. “That’s the Reapers MC, Marie, and they don’t f**k around. Do what they say, but don’t get too close to them. Whatever you do, don’t touch them or talk to them unless they talk to you first. Don’t even look at them. Just stay the hell out of their way. I’ll be home in twenty minutes.”

“What’s an MC?”

“Motorcycle club. Stay calm, okay?”

Jeff hung up on me.

Now I was really scared. I’d expected him to laugh at me and tell me they were just harmless guys who liked to ride their bikes and play badass. I guess this was the real thing. I ran into my room and pulled on a baggy t-shirt I liked to sleep in. I dropped my shorts and put on a pair of capris, pulling my long, dark-brown hair back into a messy bun. A quick look in the mirror was enough to convince me that I was worrying too much—they might have been crude and suggestive toward me, but I was no man’s dream girl. I had dirt smudges on my face, my nose had burned bright red and I’d somehow gotten a giant scratch across my cheek. It contrasted nicely with the fading yellow and purple of the bruise Gary’d given me.

My hands trembled as I poured three big plastic tumblers of iced tea, wondering if I should put sugar in them. I decided to bring some sugar in a cup and stuck a spoon in it. Then I wedged two of the tumblers between my right arm and my torso, grabbing the third with my hand. I snagged the sugar with my left and managed to get through the door with some careful maneuvering. They were talking to each other in low voices when I came out, watching me as I walked to the table. I pasted a bright smile on my face, just like I used to wear when I waitressed back in high school. I could do this.

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