Even though I’m taking it easy, wind whips my face as I cruise down 63, Olivia tucked against my back. Beer Can’s motorcycle lessons might’ve been rigorous, but it’s already second nature to me. Or maybe it’s just my blood, the tide finally coming in and reclaiming the shore.
Still, I’m not great with turns just yet, so I plan to just take her straight down and then back. I ease into a gas station, teeth gritted. If I dump us, I’ll never forgive myself. We make it in one piece, though, even if my turn was too wide. Beer Can promised I’ll get the hang of it, that I’ll be flying up and down the back roads with the rest of the club in no time. If I don’t, I guess they’ll realize their mistake and turn me out.
Balancing the Screamin’ Eagle between my legs, I shut the engine off. It continues to vibrate through me, my blood singing. This whole thing should be unnerving, but I’m thrilled. Every step into the club just draws me in deeper. But I’ve promised myself I’m not going to be like him. I’m already better.
Instead of climbing down, Olivia remains snuggled against my back. “That was nice,” she murmurs.
She’s so warm. The wisps of her spirit wrap around me, claiming me. This woman is going to completely undo me if I can’t have her. I want this moment to last, but she’ll think something’s up if I linger. I have to let it be exactly what it is: a ride. Nothing more, nothing less.
Untangling myself from her arms, I swing off. “Need anything?” I ask, nodding to the gas station.
She shakes her head dreamily. “I’m coming in with you, though. It’s cold.”
We walk inside together, my head still trying to catch up with my actual life. A big part of me is still inside, lying on my bunk staring at the ceiling between shifts. Not only has a motorcycle club taken me in, but they’ve also given me a beast of my own to ride. The Screamin’ Eagle is almost a decade old and club property, but it fits me like a glove. And the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen is riding home with me.
Well, not home home.
The gas station attendant perks up when he sees my girl. He’s cut but wiry. “Hi Olivia.” His eyes practically laser into her, ignoring me. I instantly don’t like him. His gaze is too intense, his eyes too vacant.
“Oh, hey Eli.” She smiles. “I didn’t know you live out here.” Leaning on the counter, she looks too damn familiar with him.
My fists clench inside their leather gloves.
“I just work here,” Eli says. “It’s still close enough to campus.”
My eyes hood in suspicion. If I remember correctly, Olivia’s school is in New Haven. It’s about thirty minutes from Naugy. And I don’t like the way he’s looking at her. “I need a pack of Marlboro Blacks.”
Eli sets his jaw, his sandy douchebag haircut flopping. “Yeah, in a minute,” he says, as if I’m a fly he’s trying to shoo out of the store.
I bow my head, eyes locked on his. Deliberately, I nuzzle my nose into Olivia’s hair, inhaling her scent. That dark jasmine envelopes me, damn near making me dizzy. I pull her closer into me. “Time’s up.”
Olivia cocks an eyebrow at me over her shoulder. “Cliff,” she says, almost amused, “this is Eli, from my photography class.”
The hot guy. Of course.
My lip curls into a sneer but my arms remain locked around her. If she wants this asshole, there’s nothing I can do about it—but right now, she’s out with me. “How nice,” I say. My stare never leaves his face. “Marlb Blacks. Now.”
He snuffles a laugh, eyes flicking from me to Olivia. “He your friend?”
“I’m not going to ask again.” The words are careful, measured. Dangerous. Blood pumps through me, and the familiar anticipatory thrill of a fight awakens me. I outweigh this guy by at least fifty pounds.
Olivia sighs and tips her head back, exposing her creamy, pale throat. I want to sink my teeth into her, to hear her gasp and scream as she comes. She rolls her eyes at me. “You can take the convict out of prison . . .” she intones, a smile tugging at the corners of her mouth. It’s even more thrilling, knowing that she’s amused. I could beat the guy to death and she’d still be laughing. At least, that’s how it feels.
Photography douche’s eyes snap to attention. “Prison, huh?” He smirks, crossing his arms. “Is it true what they say?”
Behind that jerk facade, though, he’s practically sweating bullets. “What?” I ask, my voice low. My fingers brush Olivia’s hips. “That we’re feral when we get out?”
Olivia peers over her shoulder, eyebrows lifted, lips parted. Her wide eyes are luminous and shimmering with lust as she arches into me.
It’s my turn to smirk.
Eli tosses a pack of cigarettes at me, his entire face sagging. Something clicks in his eyes over and over, like gears in a broken windup toy. I reach for my wallet, but he holds up a hand. “They’re on me.” Cold eyes tunnel into me.
I slap money down on the counter anyway, then wrap an arm around Olivia’s waist and lead her outside.
Olivia glances at the gas station over and over as I start the bike. I’m not a one kick wonder yet, so it always takes me time to get the thing going. Which is really useless in a time like this when I’d love to rip right out of here.
The Screamin’ Eagle roars to life. Olivia hugs me as we take off back into town. Since the passenger seat is several inches higher than mine, her lips easily brush my ear.
“What was that all about?” she asks over the engine.
My shoulders stiffen. “I don’t like that guy,” I call back.
I don’t hear her sigh so much as feel it. “He’s letting me borrow one of his cameras,” she says.
“There’s something wrong with him.”
I turn onto Meadow, the short street that’s one of many hills that populate Naugy, my teeth clenched. It’s steep, and going down was a lot easier. Riding this thing takes so much concentration. There’s a lot of respect and trust involved. It’s me and this machine, working in tandem.
As we near Lucy’s, Olivia wraps her arms even tighter around me. “Are you jealous?” she purrs into my ear.
There’s a hell of a lot of implication behind her words. It gives me a headache, trying to figure out where she’s heading—whether she’s angry or pleased. She is so much goddamn work.
I say nothing as we roll quietly onto Lucy’s street. I park the motorcycle, but neither of us move. The night presses onto us, winter’s last few ounces of strength. Soon the weather will be good and I won’t have to worry about killing myself on icy streets. Tonight the pavement was dry but tomorrow it’ll be back to bumming rides from Lucy. Despite what Beer Can says, I’m not comfortable enough to ice skate. Yet.
“You are,” Olivia says softly.
“What?” I shift in her embrace and look at her over my shoulder.
Solemn brown orbs measure me. “Jealous.” Her lips curve around the word.
I hold her gaze and drop my voice. “Maybe.”
Her grip on me tightens. “Take me home.” The heat smoldering in those words blasts into me.
A Disturbing Prospect
Ex-con Cliff thought Olivia was the peace he needs, but she might be the hell he’s trying to escape.
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