She was the best he’d ever had. She was the stuff of dreams for a man like him; everything he could want in a woman. Long dark hair, a sleek silhouette, and a body made for sin. The connection they made was unreal, and just as quickly as she’d come into his life she was gone.
He thought he’d lost her forever, that he’d made the worst mistake of his life letting his little bird fly away. That was until his phone rang in the middle of the night and a voice, her voice, filled with terror and heartbreak filtered over the line.
Now he’s hellbent on getting her back, riding at a grueling pace to the rescue, and he’s bringing the stuff of nightmares with him.
I looked back over my shoulder, doing a double take as I waited behind some blue-hairs to get their geriatric asses out the way. The woman behind me was a looker. Tall and slender, what a lot of guys would call a cool drink of water. Except she was a citizen through and through. Her shapely legs ensconced in a prim pencil skirt to her knees, paired with smart hose in a pair of expensive-ass pumps. The skirt matched the jacket, the blouse straining over her tits, a light cream – both the blouse and the exposed skin of her throat.
Boy howdy did she have a rack. I wished for a better look, but those tits were hidden behind the book she had clutched to her chest. A familiar title that I happened to own.
So, she may be a citizen but maybe not a prude. Interesting.
“Next please!” the guy behind the counter called and I stepped up, the old fart that’d been in front of me putting himself between me and his wife with a hostile stare. I chuckled inwardly and gave the old-timer a polite nod. I had no interest in the Q-tip in front of me. Just the woman behind me. I didn’t make a thing out of the disrespect. He was a Vet. One of those blue trucker hats on his more than likely balding head declaring his station and whatnot. I didn’t have anything against Vets. Had several in the club I belonged to. It was the only reason he got a pass.
I set my purchases on the counter and the guy behind it let his eyebrows shoot up.
“You kidding me?” he asked, and he was either fearless or that fucking dumb.
“No,” I growled simply and leaned in. He predictably leaned away from me – afraid – which is as it should be. I had enough respect for the old-timer given his age and record of service to the land I loved, but this hipster douchebag didn’t have anything going for him to get him into my good graces. At least, not yet.
“You able to look up an author and title in that damn thing and ring it up for me, even though I ain’t got the book?”
“Uh, yeah, why?” he asked.
I jerked my head back and he looked over my shoulder, his eyes falling on the book tucked against the woman’s chest, her dark eyes otherwise occupied by the screen of her phone which was in her other hand.
“You know what it is?” he asked. “I can’t see it from here.”
“That I do,” I said. “Love In Purgatory by Timber Philips.”
“Thanks.” The guy clacked keys on the register’s keyboard, a few mouse clicks and done. He reached for my books and I shook my head.
“Ring that up first on its own then I’ll pay for these.”
“Right, okay. Whatever you say.”
“Customer is always right,” I agreed and put some menace in my tone.
I think the guy may have shit himself and that amused me.
I handed over the cash for the book in the woman’s arms and got a receipt, paid for my purchase, let the guy bag the titles I’d picked, and took the bag from him.
“Thanks,” I muttered and turned, walking up to the woman stopping in front of her, jerking my head at the dude behind her in line to go around and go ahead.
“Hey!” She frowned at him as he went past, then looked up at me. She had to be five foot nine, maybe five ten easy, but that was nothing against my almost six foot seven.
“Your book’s paid for,” I said, handing her the receipt. She took it and blinked at it like she didn’t understand while I plucked a pen out of the front inside pocket of my cut.
“Why would you do that?” she asked.
I plucked the book out of her arms and flipped it open to the front page and wrote my road name and number in it. I closed it, made a great show of putting my pen away and handed her the book back.
“Figured my odds might be more improved buying you a book rather than a drink,” I said.
I was crazy.
I’d called the biker from the bookstore, admittedly intrigued, and now, here I was, seated in Caffe Ladro in Kirkland, waiting for him… to talk? To flirt? I didn’t know what.
I’d called him. It’d taken me a couple of days, but I’d eventually picked up the phone and dialed and lo and behold, he’d picked up the phone. I still couldn’t fathom why I would call a man like him. Especially considering all he had written in my book was ‘Dump Truck – (206) 555-2122.’
I mean, what the hell kind of a name was Dump Truck? Other than, you know, the sheer size of him.
I had stared at the patch on his back as he had stood in front of me in line, out of place in the elegant downtown bookstore location. On the top had read ‘Sacred Hearts’, the middle a red human heart, veined in blue, wrapped in barbed wire, the valves of the heart morphing into what I supposed was supposed to be tailpipes. Beneath the grisly colorful patch was another curved patch that declared ‘W. Washington.’
His long brown ponytail had interrupted it all, hanging just past the middle of his back in this strange black leather sheath, snaps all along its length holding it closed. I hadn’t wanted him to catch me staring so I’d buried myself in my phone, answering messages, committing to dinner with my father by the end of the week, although he was the last person I wished to see right now.
Maybe that was why I was doing this. The fact my father had practically brokered me to the highest bidder to save his floundering real estate ventures. Marrying me off, quite literally, like chattel to a rich and admittedly handsome real estate mogul out of Las Vegas. I mean, at least he was my own age and wasn’t botoxed to within an inch of his life. Still, he wasn’t as authentic as the man who’d been in front of me only two days ago, who had bought me the latest book by my favorite author and who had flirted with me because… well, I didn’t know why. All I knew is that I couldn’t get his warm brown eyes out of my head. How he looked at me as though he could actually see me.
The door to the coffee shop opened and the heavy tread of booted feet against the polished concrete floor brought my head snapping up. He scanned the room, deep dark eyes alighting on where I slowly stood from my seat by the window. He waved me down with one hand and went to the counter, ordering a drink for himself in that deep bass voice of his. The timbre of it somehow soothing.
He paid in cash, and I caught a glimpse of a great wad of green in his wallet. I wondered about that – although not too hard. I’d learned a long time ago that you didn’t want to think about or wonder too loudly about that kind of thing. It just wasn’t something you did. You could find yourself in entirely too much trouble if you weren’t careful. Another bitter lesson learned at my father’s knee.
I took a sip of my latté and its velvety foam and waited for this bearded, and admittedly sexy, hulk of a biker to join me at my little table.
“When you said to choose where to meet, I half expected you to say ‘not Kirkland’ when I said here,” I told him.
He set his coffee down and hooked the chair behind him with a boot, pulling it forward up under him as he sat. It was actually kind of impressive considering he hadn’t taken those deep dark eyes off of me. His lips curved into a smile, hidden in his dark beard and he considered me.
“Why’d you pick it then?” he asked and I felt myself pale.
Good going, Bianca. Now you have to admit to living or working near here.
“Seemed like a good idea at the time,” I said, letting out a slow breath.
“If you’re trying to catch me off guard or whatever, it won’t work,” he said, raising his coffee to his lips and taking a sip. “Been judged my whole damn life, coming someplace where the judgy rich folks like to hang ain’t gonna bother me none. Sure is going to draw a lot of attention to you, though. Although, I have to guess that maybe that was what you were going for.” His chin came up slightly as he fixed me with those deep brown eyes of his, calculations of social projections and trajectories sliding behind them.
“Then again, maybe not. Maybe I’m judging a book by its cover here… because now I’m not so sure. In fact, by the look on your face, I’m pretty sure you didn’t tell anybody you know you were meeting a Sacred Heart. How am I doing?”
“Um…” I didn’t know what to say. I mean, he was right about a lot of it. I kind of was one of those judgy rich people…
Text Copyright © 2020 A.J. Downey
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, event, 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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