Authors: Emily Stone
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Romance, #Contemporary
This is a work of fiction. Any names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons--living or dead--is entirely coincidental.
Ride with Me @ 2014 by Emily Stone. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embedded in critical articles or reviews.
RIDE WITH ME
There were no ‘Welcome Home’ banners hanging from the rafters for Manny Pershing. Ten years in the San
Bernadino County Federal Detention Center on a bogus drug trafficking charge had given him plenty of time to think about who was responsible for putting him inside. The only people he cared about seeing were his son and his crew.
They were waiting for him inside. Waiting for him to take back his position as President. His son, Rex, had taken over the Vice-President spot on Manny’s orders when he turned eighteen. Manny needed someone he could trust to keep an eye on things, specifically Xander Thorn, the President of a rival club, the Karthadossian Riders.
In the three years since Rex had taken over the number two spot, things had gone from bad to worse. There had been nothing Rex or the others could do, it had been a deal between Xander and himself that had caused the issues.
About a year after Manny had gotten locked up, Xander Thorn had come to him with a complaint against one of the smaller clubs that fell under the Siouxan Brothers protection. They made a threat against Xander’s daughter, a violation of the only agreement the two men had ever made. No matter what their rivalry was, their kids were off limits.
He ceded the club to Xander as per the agreement. The man who’d made the threat was banished from the club and the others given the choice to stay and fall under the Karthadossian Riders group or leave the area for another club. Most had stayed, unable—or unwilling—to leave the area.
Over the next five years, two other small clubs broke the agreement and were ceded to Xander. Again, most had stayed. The clubs that had been ceded were on strategic routes that the Siouxan Brothers used to do business in and out of San Bernadino County. Being behind bars meant there wasn’t much that Manny could do to stop the invasion of the rival club.
He hoped that putting Rex in his second’s spot would cause some of the younger members of those ceded clubs to loosen their tongues. So far, no one was talking. Rex had managed to find out that Xander had installed senior members of his own club in those locations, but not why.
Ten years inside allows you to talk to a lot of people you wouldn’t normally get to have conversations with. Especially folks from rival clubs who needed protection while they were inside for a few days awaiting trial. Ten years also lets you do a lot of thinking as to other people’s motives.
Manny had a working theory and if he was right, all hell was going to break loose between the Karthadossians and the Siouxans.
Rex Pershing was under a lot of pressure. Being the second in a motorcycle club was a lot of responsibility—even more so when the President was your Dad. He had a lot to prove to people who didn’t think he deserved the spot. He hadn’t earned it. He was too young. In the past three years, he more than earned his place, stood up when it was needed and gained the grudging respect of the others in his Dad’s crew.
With his Dad home, he thought that some of that pressure would ease up. If anything the past three weeks had been more like hell than before. His Dad was determined to figure out what was going on with Xander and his group and he wasn’t wasting time planning out strategies for getting his territories back.
So far, there has been no progress. No one would talk to Manny. No one was talking—period. Over the past couple of years several large storage units had been set up on the smaller club’s properties. Two or three times a year they would see large trucks unloading boxes into the units. Without breaking in they had no way of knowing what was in those boxes.
The Karthadossians were flush with funds. They didn’t dabble in the drug trade the way some of the other clubs did and no one knew where the sudden flow of money was coming from.
Manny wanted to cut the lock on one of the storage units. They could be in and out quick but the chances of getting caught and starting a war between the two clubs was high. Until they knew what was going on, Rex wasn’t keen on the idea of a break-in. His Dad had always been a hot head, ready to go at a moment’s notice with a half-assed scheme. It’s what had gotten him popped by the Feds. It’s really easy to set someone up when they are shooting off at the mouth all the time.
Rex played his cards close to his chest. Growing up with so many people with little to no impulse control had taught him a thing or two. One of the most important was keeping your thoughts to yourself. Not drinking to excess and running off at the mouth was smart.
Yesterday his Dad had come to him and said the break-in idea was tabled for the time being. He had a new plan he wanted to talk to him about. When Manny Pershing came up with a plan it was hell trying to talk him out of it.
Xander Thorn was a smart man. Smarter than the men who worked for him. Smarter than the cops and smarter than the men he was working for. He had his life under control. Things ran smoothly and he liked it that way.
The past ten years had been a real boon for Xander. Getting Manny tossed in the federal penitentiary was the best idea he’d had in a long time. Well, that and getting to take over the clubs he needed by exploiting an old agreement made between them when their kids were little.
Admittedly, he’d had a few sleepless nights over the idea of using his baby girl as a tool to gain more power but in the end it had worked out. Worked out so well, he’d done it two more times.
Without access to the routes surrounding those clubs his plan would have never worked. Manny had unwittingly let his one weakness be exploited for Xander’s gain. It was the only time he was glad that his little girl and Manny’s kid had been friends in school.
Now that Ellie was grown up and able to take care of herself, their little agreement would be coming to an end. Not that he thought Manny would do anything to his daughter. No, Manny was too nice. Too bad Xander wasn’t nearly as nice.
Rex sat at one of the scarred up tables in the club with his Dad, half listening to him while texting a possible hook up for the night. He hadn’t slept well last night and his head was already pounding.
Whatever plan his Dad had come up with hadn’t panned out so he was back to the break-in scheme. He’d spent the better part of the morning arguing with him and his Dad’s fuse was getting shorter and shorter by the second.
When he finally had enough, Rex got up and walked away before the argument got any worse. His Dad would never get physical with him but he could find other ways to cut him to the bone. Rather than wait around for that to happen, he hopped on his bike and headed into town.
For a while he just rode, letting the stress go, letting the frustration go. When his chest stopped feeling tight and his mind was calmer, he went to find a place with good beer and better burgers. The place he picked had outside tables and his favorite brew. He settled in to eat his meal and people watch.
The woman he’d been texting earlier texted him back, wanting to meet up at a local bar later. He had no plans to go back and argue with his Dad so the arrangement was fine with him. She’d be happy to give him a warm place to sleep for the night, he was sure.
The bar was loud, hot and packed to the eaves. A haze of smoke that was doubtful to be from cigarettes hung over the dance floor. They’d barely been there an hour and already Ellie was ready to go home. She had chapters due and should have been working instead of drinking. If it wasn’t so crowded she’d be having more fun.
They’d come to dance but so far, they hadn’t even had a chance to get near the dance floor. Honestly, turning twenty-one and becoming legal hadn’t been a huge deal to Ellie. She grew up in a world where drinking, smoking and sex weren’t limited by any age restriction law. Not that she’d been a huge part of it. Her Dad had kept her away from the rougher parts of
world as best he could. Still, she wasn’t a novice.
This place was trendy, which was why it was so busy. New clubs always were. She’d wanted to go to a place where they knew more people, could relax a bit but she’d been outvoted by her own crew.
After another half hour they were ready to go someplace else. Ellie tried to bail but her friends were having nothing to do with that. They had their eyes on a bar down the street, a place better suited in her world than their safe suburban one.
There was just as much smoke, and it was as loud as the last place but the crowd was smaller, more diverse and less polite. They walked in on a fist fight and had to quickly move to the side to avoid the fists that were flying and the bouncers that were trying to gain control.
Laughing at their near miss, her friends rushed the bar and began ordering drinks to make up for lost time. Ellie held back, knowing her limits was something she’d learned the hard way.
Settling at a table, the three friends she’d come with immediately began perusing the crowd, checking out the available merchandise. She wasn’t there to hook up. She’d simply wanted a break from all the words in her head.
After guzzling a couple of strong drinks they got up to hit the dance floor. Finally, she could lose herself in the music and shut out everything else. Closing her eyes she let the beat of the hard base notes flow over her.
Rex had been stood up. It wasn’t the first time and it wouldn’t be the last but it sure pissed him off when the women he met didn’t have the courage to say no thanks, not interested. Instead they’d rather waste his time and leave him waiting.
He shrugged off the irritation. It didn’t do him any good to be angry. Women loved the idea of a bad boy but when push came to shove, most of them were wary and for good reason. He wasn’t exactly husband material.
Skipping out on the place she’d chosen to meet up, Rex hopped on his bike and headed downtown to a place better suited to his personality. There were several other bikes in the lot. He could feel the base in the pavement under his feet.
Inside it was dark, smoky and smelled of hot bodies and cold beer. Like coming home. He made a beeline for an unoccupied corner of the bar, ordered a beer and sat back to do a little more people watching.
A streak of light swept over the dance floor and his eye caught on a flash of wild tawny hair. Nice. The light moved but he could be patient until it came back. When it did, it highlighted lush hips and long, long legs bared by a short skirt.
His interest piqued, he stood up and moved to the edge of the dance floor to get a better look. With her back to him, he could openly admire the curve of her ass—she was no stick, she had meat in all the right places--and the way she moved to the beat. Very nice.
Until she turned around he’d have no way of knowing if the front was as nice as the back. Unconsciously, he moved a little closer, waiting for her to show him her face. Her arms were up in the air when she did, a wide smile of pure happiness on her full lips. He choked on the sip of beer he’d been taking.
. The lush piece he’d been eyeing was none other than Ellie Thorn, all grown up.
Ellie had blocked out the world around her so completely that she never noticed she was being watched. Her friends did though and their sly smiles as they informed her were proof enough that whoever he was, he was hot.
When the beat changed and slowed, her friends deserted her. A large hand fell on her shoulder while a second snaked around her waist. She felt his head coming down and he whispered in her ear, ‘Dance with me?’ as if he wasn’t already claiming her with his hands.
Something about his voice sounded familiar but she couldn’t place it. She tried to turn but his hold was firm as he started them swaying in place, pressing her tight to the front of his body. His hard, well-muscled body.
She allowed it for a moment, lost in the mystery of it. The hand that was resting on the front of her waist was wide and tanned, with long fingers. The way he had them spread had his thumb nearly brushing the bottom of her right breast. The hand led up to an arm that was covered from wrist to forearm with tattoos. Biker symbols. Familiar biker symbols.
This time when she made to turn he allowed her but kept her tight to his body. Her eyes came up clashed with his dark blue gaze. She’d recognize those eyes anywhere. “Rex,” she breathed, eyes wide with shock.