“You’re a pig,” I whispered back. “You know that, right?”

“So far bein’ a pig works for me, babe,” he said. “Gotta go now. Check out the college. Hit the clinic and get some pills. Don’t call your brother. Cook something f**kin’ great for dinner and don’t wear any panties. That’s all I ask.”


With that he pushed himself up off the couch. I watched him pull up his pants, stunned and bemused. He walked out the front door. I heard his bike roar to life and then I was on my own.

That whole cooking dinner/no panties thing didn’t quite work out.

My trip to Coeur d’Alene was great. I didn’t really know my way around, but it wasn’t hard to find downtown. It was right next to the great big giant lake that gave the place its name, sort of a “once you drive into the water you’ve gone too far” kind of situation. I stopped off and bought a cup of coffee and a bagel at a little coffee shop right down on Sherman Avenue, the main strip through town. The waitress there helped me find the college campus—surprisingly, just a few blocks away, also on the lake. I ended up walking there along a broad, paved trail that had a beach on one side and a really pretty park on the other. Everywhere I looked there were kids running around and having a good time, punctuated by painstakingly casual groups of teens in tiny swimsuits trolling with their friends. Just offshore, a seaplane took off from the water. Farther along I saw someone parasailing.

The trail took me into a residential neighborhood and then I started seeing college buildings. From there it was easy to find the admissions office. I talked with a lady for close to an hour and left with a handful of brochures.

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On the walk back I saw a bank, so I went and checked my balance on their ATM. Exactly $1,146.24 total. Seeing my balance felt good, and I got out $200 in cash, just in case. Horse said he’d give me money, but I hadn’t given up on finding a way to earn my own. It might be okay to play house with him for a while, but I wasn’t stupid enough to think I should count on him. I couldn’t define what we had, and I couldn’t afford to fool myself about my situation. I was a still-married woman held as collateral by a motorcycle club for her brother’s debt.

I might have to leave town in a hurry at some point.

I finished up by visiting the women’s clinic and got a prescription, reminding myself I was way too early in my cycle to seriously worry about a pregnancy. That seemed like enough for one day, so I headed home to start dinner. Horse hadn’t said what time he’d be back but I didn’t want to call and ask. That would be a little too real or something. Playing house scared me.

There were two strange cars in the driveway when I pulled up—a small, red convertible and a classic Mustang, beautifully restored. I parked my little car next to them, wondering who I would be dealing with now. No sign of Horse’s bike, and he hadn’t mentioned someone coming to visit either. I pushed through the front door to find four strange women sitting in the living room, laughing and drinking beer. All of them had that biker chick vibe going on—not slutty, but definitely not shy about showing some skin. They smiled and started coming toward me. Thankfully, Darcy walked in from the back of the house, carrying a tray with a bowl of chips and some dip on it.

“Marie! I’m so glad you’re back, we weren’t sure how long you’d be!” she said, setting down the tray on the coffee table and pulling me into her arms. It was a little overwhelming but it felt good too. Then she let me go and turned me toward the other women, who’d collected around us.

“Girls, this is Marie,” Darcy said, wrapping an arm around my shoulders. “She’s Horse’s property now, think I filled you in on that. Marie, this is Cookie, Maggs, Dancer and Em.”

I smiled uncertainly at the women as they crowded forward, most of them hugging me and kissing my cheek. They ranged in age from Em, a young girl who looked strangely familiar to me and had to be in her early twenties, to Darcy and Maggs, both of whom were probably in their forties.

“Come on,” said Cookie, taking my arm and pulling me toward the couch. Dancer grabbed my purse and hung it on a hook by the door. Maggs handed me a beer and they settled like a flock of birds, watching me. Awkward… I couldn’t even remember all their names, let alone think of anything to say.

“I’m Dancer,” said a tall, black-haired woman with chocolate-brown skin. Her features were sharp and she wore her hair long and straight down her back. She looked Indian to me, and I wondered if she was part of the Coeur d’Alene tribe. I’d seen several historic markers around town, and a lot of them seemed to be sponsored by the local tribal casino. “I’m Bam Bam’s old lady.”

That startled me—Horse was pretty darn pale to be this woman’s brother, but he’d said his sister was married to Bam Bam.

“You’re Horse’s sister?” I asked. Then I blushed, realizing how rude I must sound. She laughed.

“Half-sister,” she said. “I’m Coeur d’Alene, he’s not, but it works. Bam and I have been together forever, got three beautiful little babies to prove it. I’m really happy to meet you, honey.”

I smiled a little uncertainly.

“I don’t know how much you know,” I started to say, thinking I should probably clear things up pretty quick here before they got the wrong impression.

“We know it all,” said Maggs. She was petite with shaggy blonde hair, bright eyes and a great big smile. She reminded me of Goldie Hawn. “I hope you don’t mind, but Darcy told us. I mean, some of it’s club business and we don’t have those details, but she told us everything you told her.”

I frowned. I guess I hadn’t exactly sworn Darcy to secrecy, but I hadn’t expected her to make all the details public either. Maggs reached forward and took my hand, rubbing it between hers with a look of concern.

“Oh honey, don’t worry,” she said quickly. “We’re all family here. If you’re with Horse, you’re with us and trust me, these boys cause enough trouble that they need all of us to keep them straight. It’s a group effort.”

The others murmured agreement.

“Old ladies have to stick together,” Darcy said. “Things can get rough, but no matter what we have each other. This is your family now, and we’re here to welcome you.”

I shook my head.

“I’m not Horse’s old lady,” I said. “I don’t know what I am, but we’ve only been together for a couple of days.”

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