Authors: Abriella Blake
|Forbidden Beauty (Coffin Cheaters Motorcycle Club)|
|Hearts Collective Publishing (2014)|
Coffin Cheaters Motorcycle Club
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Devil’s Kiss (Widowmakers Motorcycle
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by Celia Loren
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by Celia Loren
Wrecking Beauty (Devils Reapers MC)
by Celia Loren
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Cheaters Motorcycle Club
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I wasn't designed to be anybody's “baby.”
I didn't grow up watching Disney movies, or playing with Barbie
dolls—like all the other saps in south Florida. My pre-teen years were spent
learning the history of the great American motorcycles: the Marman Twin, Wild
Bill's Roadog, Harley, Harley, Harley. I drank my first PBR at eleven. I first
rode a motorcycle when I was nine years old. I still remember that day, too—clutching
the leather vest around my father's thick middle, terrified as the wind whipped
through my long red hair, seeming to pull me backwards. Getting off that
Harley, I remember Pops bending low and staring into my freckly, frightened
face: “You like the bike, kid? Cause there's plenty more where that came from.”
Even as a young girl, I knew my life would be different—different from the
confined-housewife-world of the women I sometimes peeped on the garage's TV. My
life would be an adventure.
For one thing, I only knew one other woman especially well,
in my nest full of bikers: my twin sister Tatiana. Gisele and Tatiana: a couple
of tanned, skinny redheads with exotic-sounding names. Pops told us that we had
“fancy” names because our Ma had originally wanted to be an actress.
Unfortunately, the big adventure of Liza Dunne's life was cut short by the
birth of her two children. Statistically speaking, Western women rarely die in
childbirth these days. That is—unless they forsake giving birth in a hospital,
for legal reasons and fear of the police.
Here's pretty much all I know about my parents: Liza Dunne
was a two-bit grifter, employed occasionally as a hotel cleaner, a maid, and a
convenience store cashier around the south of Florida. She liked to shoplift
and pickpocket, which was how she got hooked up with my father, who was also a
regular practitioner of the five finger discount. To hear him tell it, the pair
of them both tried to stick up a gas station at the same time. Only instead of
killing one another and making off with the drop, my parents fell in love right
on the spot. Now that I'm older, I'm not sure how much of this story to
believe, but it sure as hell made for a good bedtime tale. Tati and I asked a
lot of questions about Ma, when we were younger. At one point, though, without
even a memory to go on—our maternal shadow faded completely away.
But it's not as if I grew up without a family—don't get me
wrong. Pops is—was—a key member of the Coffin Cheaters, the most badass MC in
Miami-Dade County. The group sustained by holding a monopoly on a lot of the
swamplands' black market, the part of Kendall that bleeds right into the
Everglades—arms-running, drugs, what have you. Pops led a crew so tough that
the local newspapers were afraid to name any one of them in their stories—snitches
knew bad things would happen to their families. And sure, the MC had its
violent hobbies, but I stick to
own guns on this one: my Pops was not
a bad man. He never hurt anybody who didn't deserve it. That's why I like to
think he died a hero's death.
On November 17
, 2004, a rival MC—the Knights of
Styx (a.k.a. the yellow-bellied dumbfucks) took my father's life in a raid on
our club. The Knights and the Cheaters had been rivals for years, but showdowns
were rare. I was told that the other riders killed my father, and seven other
good men in our club, over some kind of turf dispute. They came like cowards
one night, while we slept in the clubhouse. Blew my old man's face off with a
sawed-off when he wasn't even armed. T and I might have died too, that night—were
it not for some cloaked stranger, yanking us from our little bunkbeds and
pressing our faces into the ground. Bullets rained overhead, but we survived. I
think about that mystery savior all the time.
Tati and I were thirteen the year of the skirmish. And I
know what you're thinking; yes, it was hella unconventional for two little
girls to be running around an MC—but my father had never figured out what to do
with us after his wife died. The other men had raised hell about us as children—understandably—but
Pops put off their quibbles by procrastinating. “I'll send the twins off next
year,” he used to say. “When they're a little bit older.” Of course, the man
never had a back-up plan, so when he died his untimely death, Tati and I
continued to bop along under the club's radar. We sang for our supper, making
the meals, doing the chores. We managed to amuse ourselves. We even picked up
our makeshift education where our father had left off, teaching ourselves to do
basic math (Tati got as far as algebra) and yanking books from the library
whenever a rider would take us into the city. Some of the riders' old ladies
liked to baby us, and most of the boys were friendly, but more often, we were
on our own. Tati got lonely and fell in with a townie crowd when we were
teenagers, but I preferred the solitude. I loved the smell of engine grease,
and the feel of all those bikes underneath my fingers. I loved the way the
riders made me feel both independent and like part of a family. We always had
one another's backs, to the point that I never
like an orphan.
So despite its crazy, tragic start, I was content with my
life, and peaceful, and sans mystery.
Until I met Carter fuckin' Knox.
* * *
How the hell are you, twin? I miss your face—then again,
when I get too sad about it I just look in the mirror. The road is pretty fun!
St. Louis is a sweet little town. I think Cat's band could actually make it to
the big time, and I wanna be here to collect when that happens. I've put too
much good loving into that man already, I won't have him running off with some
groupie slut. Or a different groupie slut, I should say. HA.
But seriously—if you ever want to skip out on that smelly
old bachelor's paradise, write my P.O. Box. I'll send you a ticket to wherever
I am. We'll get you tuned in to the band right quick—there's a foxy, silent
drummer I think you'd dig. They really are good, Gizzy. The best part of it is,
it's like I've found a new family. I don't want that to hurt your feelings, but
truly—what's keeping you tied to those miserable riders? Dad's ghost isn't
coming back any time soon, you know. He'd want you to be happy, I think. He'd
want you to be free. Remember: you don't owe those sad bastards ANYTHING.
Anyways. Miss you, love you, always.
“Hey, shitheel,” Dog said, his breath hot in my ear. “What's
the glazed look all about? You dreaming of my dick in your mouth?” Thinking
fast, I curled my left hand up into a ball and socked my friend in the mouth.
He spun away quick, but I still saw a thin trickle of blood rolling down his
“Nice reflexes,” Dog said, smiling crookedly. “...
“And nice way to say good morning,
Dog, a runty recent recruit, had quickly become my unlikely-best
friend in the Cheaters. He was the gangliest in the group, tall and skinny like
a beanpole. He'd joined the MC in the traditional fashion—his father had been a
rider, and when he'd died (the previous year, of a heroin overdose) his son
took his place. But despite Dog's foul mouth and womanizing ways, few riders
took him seriously. He just had one of those faces you wanted to punch. Alas,
despite this undeniable fact, I'd slept with the bastard.
We got friendly the first time he tried to hit on me,
sometime around my eighteenth birthday. I socked him in the gut after he
smacked my ass, and mutual respect had grown between us pretty quick after
that. In fact, I'd kinda sorta gifted Dog my virginity, one drunken night at
the clubhouse—I'd been horny, and he'd been...there. We'd hooked up a few times
after that, but let's just say the evenings were short on fireworks.
But I digress.
“Is that a letter from Tati?” Dog said, the joke over.
“Sure is. She's in Missouri now.”
“Still chasing that rock star high?”
“Something like that.” I crumpled the letter in my fist.
Though I wouldn't have admitted this to another biker, I missed my twin
something fierce. She'd never loved the club the way I had, so it wasn't really
a surprise how she'd skipped town with her deadbeat boyfriend just three days
after we turned seventeen—but it was hard to be reminded in her letters that
she'd chosen another family over me. Every day she was gone, I felt more
adrift. We were turning twenty in the fall, and it was high time I made some
kind of decision about my future. Yet I felt paralyzed—the only thing I knew
was the life of the Cheaters. The only love I'd known had been here.
Dog ruffled my hair with his greasy fingers, one of my
serious pet peeves. I reached up and clenched his grip in my own, until my
wormy buddy winced. The look in his eyes briefly reminded me of the way he'd
looked while lurching above me, during our short-lived tryst. I was no expert
on the subject, but I don't think Dog was very good in bed.
“Well, hey. You ever get too lonely, you know where I bunk,”
he said finally, dropping his hand and leering my way. I gave him a friendly
cuff on the chin in reply.
Though my friend-with-benefits and I had been cultivating
our shtick for more than a year now, I could tell that he wasn't always joking
about the sex stuff these days—there was some uncomfortable, creepy
undercurrent to our banter. More and more often in the MC, my body was
betraying me. The men who had held me when I was a baby, who'd let me run wild
as a little girl around their bikes—they'd all started giving me the side-eye.
Some of the old ladies and ashtrays who ran with the riders (my private
nickname for the Cheaters' regular whores) had tried to warn me that this day
would come, that one day my “tight little ass” and “big tits” would be a
liability in a club full of horny old men—but I hadn't wanted to believe the
truth. I'd kind of hoped I could be the Cheaters' little girl forever, as opposed
to another one of their pieces of ass. I wasn't exactly looking to be the old
lady of some rider I'd grown up calling an uncle.
Tati, as usual, was right. I needed to come up with
something new to do. Skulking away from the mailbox, I turned towards the
clubhouse kitchen—because I'd recently taken to splitting my days between the
stovetop and the garage. There were always girls hanging out in the kitchen, so
it was a nice place to shoot the shit. The garage was reserved for the times I
wanted to be alone. I'd wander around the machines, listening for the clicking
and easing of engines in the humid Florida heat.
There was a brief, swampy ditch separating our winding side
street from the clubhouse entrance—mostly as a precaution, in case of a police
raid. The Cheaters called this ditch “the moat,” as it acted as a natural
defense; even the best riders often had to dismount when they rode up to the
house. I shirked off my flip-flops and waded through the thin mud. Because fuck
it—who was I trying to impress?
In the kitchen, three of the ashtrays were leaning against
the countertops, smoking cigarettes and coughing and yelling in a kind of
frantic cacophony. Esse, Nunu and Rayna were all a few years older than me, so
they liked to think this gave them the right to offer unsolicited advice—even
though I'd been an honorary Cheater far longer than they'd been fashionable
company for the riders. The ashtrays were like geishas—they didn't get the same
respect that the old ladies did. Of course, during the day, the boys were sweet
to Esse, Nunu and Ray...but evenings were a different story. For the same
reason that I was learning to hide my body in frumpy clothes from my fellow
Cheaters, I preferred to avoid the clubhouse in the evenings. Needless to say,
I knew each of these women well by the sounds of their sex screams, piercing
“Look who it is!” Nunu cried, as I began to track my muddy
feet across the linoleum. Nu had big hips, and mousy brown hair chopped into a
severe bob. She'd been a favorite paramour of Dog's father, up until his death.
“Little Lady Marmalade! How you doing this morning, sugar? Hanging out by the
roadside like your auntie?”
“You're all of two years older than me,
said, banging around the cabinets on a fruitless quest for jam. “And
sounded alright—from what I could hear of it.”
Nunu took another drag of her Kool and laughed a throaty
laugh. “No need to be so prudish, Ms. Gisele. You're gonna want some of that
good loving soon. Maybe you wouldn't be so uptight if you got a little D.” The
other girls echoed her laughter, so the sounds seemed to zoom around the
kitchen like bees in a jar. I merely shrugged. So what if I had built up a
slightly chilly exterior? I wasn't like these ladies, in their grubby hand-me-down
t-shirts, their make-up sliding down their faces. I wasn't quite sure who I
wanted to be, but I was fast ruling out who I
want to be.
“Any more word from that pretty sister of yours?” Esse
ventured. This was another running joke with the club—this notion that Tatiana,
despite being my identical twin, had somehow gotten the better half of the gene
pool. It was true that she was the “girlier” of the two of us—she wore dresses,
she applied the right potions and lotions to her skin and hair—but I found this
joke particularly irksome. I guess 'cause it rang a little true.
“Got a just letter today,” I said, pulling a jar of peanut
butter down from a top shelf. “She's still on the road and loving it.”
“Such a sweetheart!” Rayna called. Rayna's voice was the
worst: loud and soprano and grating as nails on a chalkboard. Suddenly, I
wanted to be alone again. I yanked a slice of waiting bread from the toaster
and turned my back on the harpies.
“Wait! You know we're just playing, Miss Gisele,” Nunu said,
in her Slightly More Serious voice. She blew a thin line of smoke in my
direction. “We know you've been antsy lately. You let your ladies know if you
need anything. Y'hear?”
“I hear you,
,” I said, cracking. These women
claimed to have my interests at heart, after all. They wanted the best for me,
in their weird, totally warped way. Moving towards the garage, I allowed myself
a half-smile. Didn't I need to let people in, just a little bit more?
“And don't forget what we said! About the D! Everybody needs
some, sometimes!” called Rayna. I listened to them chuckle at my retreating
back, and turned scowling towards my sandwich. Unbidden, I felt hot tears
coming to my eyes. Because here's the thing: I didn't want to be a shrew, I
didn't want to be a burden—but I also couldn't stand the thought of being
anyone's whore. For the first time in a while, I missed my father so much my
breath caught in my chest. I let myself feel ugly and petty for a minute more,
then I shook the tears away.
Something was going to have to change, alright. I let my
gaze dance over to my favorite bike of the moment: a 2012 Street Bob, fully
pimped out with a brand new LED headlight and some bitchin' Dyna forward
controls. I needed a breather, was all. I'd head into the city.