Ashton Granger is a perfect wife to her husband. She has to be, if she’s not, he will find a way to correct any perceived imperfections. Such is life, and so it has been for a very long time, eroding Ashton’s sense of self, cracking her sense of worth until she lays in a million pieces on the side of a stretch of lonely highway.
Ethan “Trigger man” Howard is the Sergeant of Arms for The Sacred Hearts Motor Cycle club. After several tours as a Marine Corps sniper overseas, he’s seen and done enough damage for a man three times his age. He’s out. Done. So over it, and home to nurse his wounds, physical, emotional and psychological with the help of his MC brothers. Now he simply deals with the scars that life handed him.
Was it more than just luck for he and Ashton both that he was the only other soul traveling that isolated stretch of highway that night?
“A lot of lost souls find their way here sweetheart,” Chandra said, taking a drag. “You ain’t the first.” She blew out a long stream of smoke and I was just about dying for one of my own. I pulled out the unsatisfying e-cig and she smirked at me. I frowned at her but sucked on it anyway, blowing out a weak-ass cloud of vapor.
“There you go, darlin’. Go get dressed.” Doc leaned back and I lifted her down off the bar gently, but damned if she didn’t go into the kitchen. She came back out with a bottle of kitchen cleaner and a roll of paper towels and deliberately cleaned the bar where she’d been sitting. Chandra laughed and I fought not to grin.
“Sunshine, that bar is cleaner than it’s ever been before, even after your pretty little ass was on it. Go get dressed so we can go,” I said and she stood there and blushed all the way to the roots of her pretty auburn hair. Her eyes welled with tears.
“I’m sorry, sir,” she whispered.
“Hey, no. It’s Trig ‒ or keep callin’ me Ethan. There is no ‘sir’ here. Not anymore.” My lips compressed into a thin line and she nodded, eyes wide, and bolted for a different room. She came back a minute later. The tee fit, the shorts were a bit tight, and she wore the button-down open over it all. It wasn’t the best look but it wasn’t enough to land her on the Walmartians website or anything. I nodded, satisfied. Chandra threw down a pair of oversized leopard-print flip-flops onto the floor and Ashton jumped at the sharp slap but obediently stepped into them. She looked like a child playing dress-up.
“How old are you, Ashton?” I asked.
She looked up sharply. “Thirty, why?” she asked.
Shit, I was only six years older than her. “Just curious. Ready?”
She sucked in a long breath and let it out slowly. “I suppose,” she said, nervously.
That made two of us.
“C’mon, Sunshine. Let’s get you out of here,” he said.
“Yes. I’d like that,” I said and took Ethan’s hand, grateful for his strength. We all trooped downstairs. Maynard looked like he was seething and Chandra lit up.
“Hey, baby! We’ve been having a good ol’ time at the rent-a-cop’s expense out here. You missed it!” I blinked and gave her a tentative smile in return. The suitcase and clothes went into the back of the truck; the box I held, Ethan took from me, sliding it into the truck as well.
Chandra got in the driver’s side. I got in the passenger’s and took one last look at Chadwick. The look he gave me chilled me to the bone. He had murder in his eyes and I knew without a doubt that none of this was over, not by a long mile. Ethan looked from me to Chadwick then back to me. He leaned in the open door of the truck.
“I’m right behind you, Babe. It’s going to be fine,” he said and then he kissed me.
My world stopped spinning, everything that had felt so out of control and completely mad the moment before simply fell away. It was a quick, chaste press of his lips over mine. My hand flew of its own accord, the scruff of two days growth scratching against my palm as I gently cradled his face and returned the press of his lips against mine. The universe seemed to hold its collective breath and all too soon he pulled away.
Text Copyright © 2014 A.J. Downey
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
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