Chrome: With a Heart Forged in Steele (Carolina Bad #4) (13 page)

BOOK: Chrome: With a Heart Forged in Steele (Carolina Bad #4)
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When I got her back in my arms, I skimmed my lips up her neck to her ear. “No one’s more proud of you than me, Phoebe.”

After a sharp intake of breath, she smacked me on the arm. “Cut that shit out!”


Phoebe
,” I whispered against her neck.

Her body flagged against mine. “Hate it when you do that,” she murmured, curling her fingers into my hair.

I chuckled, watching fire flare in her pretty irises.

“Number 94.” I flicked the number on her back. “That means something?”

“It’s about my mom. When she left me.” Her eyes drifted closed. “When I lost her.”

“Shit. I’m sorry, Rayce. C’mere, darlin’.”

She let me coddle her for a few moments before getting back into the game. “It’s okay, Boomer.” She held out her hand. “Shall we?”

We all ambled to the parking lot after the winning places were awarded, and we
all
stopped short at the sight of a big pickup parked near our rides.

I stepped forward. “
Ahh
. Here’s the real main event. Tail?”

Tail looked like he wanted to murder me as he eyed the moped on the truck’s trailer.

“You have got to be fucking kidding me.”

“’Fraid not.” The moped I’d chosen was Pepto-Bismol pink.

I managed to hold back my laughter long enough to assure him, “And they’ll even load up your bike and get it back to Charleston for you.”

I’d never heard Brodie laugh so loud, Tuck for so long, or witnessed the number of highly entertaining and creative curses that flew from Tail’s mouth.

Excellent.

Holding Rayce’s hand in mine, I continued to chortle as Tail threw one massive leg over the pretty pink scooter.

“Don’t forget your helmet.” I handed him a matching brain bucket.

He swore some more, strapping it on.

And then we all stood around snapping pics on our phones of the huge black-haired dude on the teeny tiny moped. In fact, I decided this would be an excellent photo op to include on the wall in Retribution.

Tail wanted to kill me. He told me exactly how in great detail.

I just could not give a fuck.

I was too busy heckling him along with everyone else.

“Let’s see how many honeys you pick up on your granny-cycle.” Brodie doubled over.

Waiting with Rayce as her and Sadie’s dirt bikes were loaded onto the trailer they’d hired to transport their rides, I took it as a given she’d be heading out with me.

I was right, smugly so. She watched her baby depart, knowing it would arrive safely back in Mt. Pleasant, then she saddled up beside me on her
everyday
enduro. There was nothing everyday about the street bike, or her.

As we headed out on the road, our one and only tail gunner struggled to maintain a thirty miles per hour speed on his puny pink 50cc moped. When we hit the open highway and hammered down, we left poor, poor Tail in the dust.

Back in Mt. Pleasant, Rayce and I peeled off from the pack and stopped at a crossroads halfway between her place and mine. Several minutes after the rest of the crew headed on, Tail put-put-putted into sight from the distance.

I cheerily waved as he slowly passed us.

He threw his middle finger up at me.

While he faded out of sight at the speed of a snail, I drew Rayce into my arms. “So, I was thinking we need to take this thing to the next level.”

“You and me?”


Mm hmm
.”

“What next level were you thinking about?” A sweet dimple appeared in her cheek when she smiled up at me.

“A date.”

“Oh hell no. I was just kidding when I said that at the garage.” She recoiled with a full-body shudder. “I don’t date.”

I dragged her back to me. “Well, good. I’m glad you don’t date other guys. And you won’t either. Ever. But you’re definitely gonna go out with me.”

“You’re a bossy sonuvabitch, you know that?”

“Yup.” I was. Especially with her. So I decided to tag on, “And no other anything else with any other guys either, while we’re talking about it.”

“Is this you marking your territory?”

“You bet.”

“I’m not going on a date with you, Boomer.”

I shrugged. “Then I’ll just tell everyone what your real name is, princess.”

Her head flew back. “You wouldn’t dare.”

“You really wanna play that game with me?” My eyes narrowing, I lowered my lips to her mouth. “You saw what I just made Tail do.”

Resorting to bribery to get what I wanted from her?

You bet.

“I hate you,” she hissed.

“But you really like me,” I insisted.

I set my lips on hers with a hot, seductive, longing goodnight kiss. I let her know how much I wanted her by the way my mouth skimmed across hers, by how slowly I sucked the tip of her tongue, by the way my hands drifted all over her body.

Releasing her with final soft suck on her full bottom lip, I swept the hair back from her face. “Go out with me.”

“Okay,” she whispered.

I was slowly melting her defenses.

Soon I’d have her completely.

Chapter Twelve

Chasing Rayce

 

 

 

THE WEEK PASSED QUICKLY. I rested a little easier reasonably assured Rayce wasn’t out popping wheelies on the MX track with her bike. I put my hours in at Chrome and Steele and didn’t even give a shit when Brodie and Lucy gave me
their
usual shit. Cat came to work, glowing. And fuck, she looked cute with that mound of a belly growing.

Not that I’d tell Sis that. She still had a mean right hook.

Nicky was celebrating—or recovering from, as Cat put it—his latest multi-bestseller book release in his new MC shifters series,
Shifting Gears
. I knew for a fact he and Leelee still placed friendly—or not so friendly—wagers on all their book releases.

With Ashe happily pregnant, Brodie was less of a pain in the ass than usual.

I finished the last project on the house. The top secret one.

It was all good.

Better yet, it was finally date night. That second Thursday in January I’d spiffed up a little—shower, a tidy of my black stubble, a splash of cologne. An old pair of black leathers paired with a nice long-sleeved T and my battered leather jacket. I hadn’t planned anything flashy. I didn’t want to spook Rayce.

She was supposed to meet me at my house after her shift at Stone’s so I could take her out. Six thirty came and went. Six thirty-five. Six forty-five.

Shitlock prowled around my ankles as I prowled around the house.

I texted her.

I called.

I checked in with Josh.

No dice.

I contacted JB and Sadie in turn. They hadn’t heard from her all day. Finally, I gave up with this calling around bullshit and headed to Retribution where watchdog Cole told me she hadn’t been there all evening.

Maybe she’d gotten the date mixed up.

Maybe she’d gotten caught up in some bad shit with her dad.

My nerves on fucking edge, I headed to her house—her
other
house—the First Ladies of Redemption MC, thinking maybe one of them could shed some light.

Situated across the road from the Retribution MC compound, Redemption occupied a slightly smaller lot with their insignia painted on the side of the whitewashed brick walls. Not pink. Not girly. Nothing like the prissy princess moped Tail would never live down.

I didn’t have anything against broads on bikes. Just the opposite in fact. The problem with walking into the First Ladies was I’d fucked a lot of these women. And it came as no surprise a lot more of them wanted to get me in the sack.

I didn’t boast about my conquests because frankly they weren’t conquests at all. The chicks had been more than eager to spread their legs for the President of Retribution. Whether it was my big build or the
let’s-fuck
Arctic blue eyes, my status, or the rumors about my cock size, I hadn’t wanted for a bed mate when I’d just needed a warm, wet pussy to sink my dick into. I’d definitely sowed my wild oats
all over
this place.

I took one step inside the door, and women perked up. My name was heard whispered around the bar. Honeys left and right gave me the come-hither, smolder-smolder, eyelash flutter. I uncomfortably rubbed the back of my neck, taking in the scene.

Wall-to-wall babes in leather and lace. The place was as clean as Retribution, well maintained. Music pumped in—loud and rockabilly. The walls were painted dead-red. The bar boasted a large array of top shelf alcohol.

The bar. A good place to start.

I headed over, keeping my gaze off showy cleavage, long painted fingernails, and streaked and curled hair fluffed in my direction. The women’s stares landed on me like unwanted caresses.

I didn’t recognize the girl behind the bar. Thank God for that. “Hey.” I nodded. “You new here?”

“You sure are,” she quipped with a flirty smile.

“No, he’s not.” Carlie hipped up to me. “This here’s Boomer Steele.”

Ahhh, shit.
Just the honey I did not want to tangle with tonight.

She draped herself against me. “Lookin’ for some company tonight,
Boom
?”

“I saw him first.” The bar chick propped herself over the counter between us.

Aaaand
there was the cleavage shot I’d been avoiding.

“But I had him first.” Carlie dragged a dragon-purple fingernail down the center of my chest, heading south toward my cock.

She wrapped around me like a starfish, trapping me against her curves. Just before her hand made landfall on my cock, I carefully extricated myself from her arms. And legs.

“Sorry, Carlie.” I scratched a hand across my stubble. “I’m with Rayce. Rayce LaFayette? You seen her tonight?”

“Oh hell, Boomer.” She peered at me from perfectly made-up eyes. “You got hooked?”

“Yeah. You could say that.” Tucking my fingers into my pockets, I leaned against the bar just as a shot of tequila arrived for me. I downed it in one.

“Look at you, grinning. Dimples. Damn.” Moving in closer, Carlie went for that tentacle-trap again. “I coulda been so good for you.”

“Taken.” I quickly eased back.

“In that case, Jerry, hit me with a shot too.” Carlie flicked the dragon’s blood nails at the bargirl.

Wrinkling her nose at me, Carlie slugged down the burning liquid. “I ain’t seen your girl in a couple days.”

She snapped her fingers for another round of drinks. “Rayce, huh? I guess if it had to be someone else, I’m glad it’s her. Big heart. No bullshit. Works hard. Big knockers, huh?”

“I’m a little worried about her though. She’s MIA tonight.” Swirling the liquid in my glass, I frowned.

“Well, here goes nothing.” Carlie raised herself up onto the bar and stood up, kicking off a shot glass with her knife-heeled boot.

The shattering sound of glass got all the ladies’ attention, but just to make sure she whistled long and loud.

The music cut off.

“Listen up, Redemption!” Carlie tossed her head back with her hands on her hips as her heels clattered down the length of the bar. “Boomer here is looking for Rayce. Any of y’all seen her or heard from her today?”

There was a lot of head shaking, which gave me little hope.

“You checked her house?” one woman called out.

Another one added, “Her dad. He’s a real piece of work.”

“I tried to get Rayce to room with me, but she said that shitstain needed her,” someone else mentioned.

All things I already knew and didn’t want to hear again.

The only bright spot was the Ladies of Redemption clearly had her back.

Something clicked in my head. I remembered what Josh had said. That Rayce sometimes bunked at the garage when things got bad.

I slammed my glass on the bar and started weaving through the women.

“You think you know where she is?” Sadie grabbed my arm.

“Yeah.”

She let me go. “Let me know she’s okay?”

“Will do.”

“Hey, Boom?” Carlie called out.

“Yeah?”

“Make sure you take care of our Rayce.”

“’S’all I want to do.”

****

I made a quick detour to Josh’s house then hit the road as fast as my Black Shadow
could jet. The lights were off at Stone’s Garage, the place locked down. I hoped like hell Rayce was there.

Using the spare set of keys Josh had handed over with a sad shake of his head, I opened the front door. I locked it behind me and tucked the keys in my pocket.

“Rayce?” I shouted.

It was only eight o clock, but full dark had fallen hours ago and shadows surrounded me, broken only by the faint glow of streetlights shafting in from outside.

I stuck my head inside the door that led to the garage bays. The familiar smell of engine oil surrounded me, and I called her name again, getting no response.

Hitting the hallway, I strode to the end. The door to Josh’s office was cracked.

I wedged it wider and stepped inside. “Rayce?”

A small lamp on the desk illuminated her form huddled on the small two-seater couch, mostly hidden inside a sleeping bag.

“Rayce. What’s going on?”

Curled up with her back to me she looked incredibly tiny. She didn’t turn around, but I knew she was awake because her shoulders immediately hunched up to her ears when she heard my voice.

Crouching down, I stroked her back. “Hey, princess. Gonna talk to me?”

She slowly rolled over, her eyes cast down, her cheeks damp. She wouldn’t look at me.

A knot forming in my throat, I cupped the side of her face. “What happened, Rayce?”

“He told me I looked like a whore.” Her voice was barely audible. “Because I got dressed up for you. Put on lipstick and stuff.”

Her face looked scrubbed raw. Teardrops spiked her thick eyelashes.

I rocked back on my heels, my fists in tight balls. “Your dad did what?”

She shifted farther into the couch, making her body even smaller. “He’s been drinking more. Been worse since you punched him that day. Calls me
slut
,
whore
,
cunt
.” Her voice broke, and my heart splintered right along with it.

I seriously needed to punch something but I couldn’t leave her side. Unclenching one hand, I ran it up and down her arm. “Baby, let me hold you, please. This is killing me.”

She furiously shook her head, sitting up quickly, hugging her knees as the sleeping bag fell away.

“No. He’s right anyway. I’m not good enough for you. You should just leave me alone.”

“Like fuck I will!” I burst to my feet. “I should go out there right now and bust his face in half.”

Rayce jumped from the couch and grabbed my arm. “Don’t! Promise you won’t, Boomer. It’ll just get worse for me.”

“Christ, Rayce. Are you serious?” My hands fell to her shoulders. “Does he hit you?”

“No.” Her eyes found mine, stark and sad. “He’s not that bad. I shouldn’t be telling you this.”

“Are you kidding me? ’Course you should. Fuck’s sake, Rayce. The way he treats you is not right.”

“Don’t want to talk about it anymore. I don’t want to think about it.” She rested her head against my shoulder.

I swallowed down a serious load of anger, vibrating inside my skin. “You’re coming home with me, and I don’t wanna here a single word about it.”

“Okay.” For the first time ever, she seemed completely broken, and that just rankled me more.

Rayce was made of fire and heat, and no one should ever make the woman feel weak.

I helped her on with her jacket, getting a good look at what she was wearing for the first time. Baggy sweatpants and a huge sweatshirt. Not the outfit she’d dressed in to go out with me, judging by what she’d said. She’d obviously been made to feel so fucking cheap she’d put on whatever clothes she could find to hide her beautiful figure.

I bit down on my lip as my nostrils flared, because I swore if it was the last goddamn thing I ever did I was gonna beat the ever lovin’ shit out of her dad for trashing his own daughter so thoroughly she wouldn’t let anyone see how completely amazing she was inside and out.

In the parking lot, I led her to my bike. We helmeted up. When she straddled behind me, I clasped her arms around my waist and held her hands in mine for a moment.

“You just hold on to me, princess.”

I wished like hell I had her on the motorcycle under different circumstances, like the date I’d planned, but the ride was short and smooth, and no matter what, Rayce fit so fucking perfectly against me.

In the driveway, I gave her my keys. “Go on and get inside. I’m just gonna put this in the garage.”

A sure shot of confidence straightened her shoulders as she marched up the front porch of the house like she owned it. Shitlock was in for a surprise, that was for sure. He wasn’t used to women on his turf.

After locking the motorcycle away, I grabbed Rayce’s ever-present backpack and headed inside. She stood in the big open hallway, Shitlock chuffing like a friggin’ steam engine in her arms.

Fucking tomcat needed to get his own chick.

“Have you eaten?” I set her pack down on the bench and shucked my jacket.

“Not hungry.” Rayce looked anywhere but at me. “Kind of lost my appetite.”

Taking Shithead from her arms, I set the horny bastard on the floor and ignored his meow for more attention. I unzipped Rayce’s leather and plopped it next to mine.

“I’m starving,” I said, grabbing her hand. “Sandwiches sound good?” I towed her through the snug warm house into the kitchen.

She stood, looking uncomfortable, while I piled a platter full of fixings from the fridge.

“You wanna feed Shitlock for me? He won’t shut it otherwise.”

I hid my smile as she snapped her fingers at the furry beast and finally lost the last of the stiffness in her shoulders as she located the cat food.

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