Authors: Amber Morgan
Copyright© 2015 Amber
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is
No part of this book may be
used or reproduced electronically or in print without written permission,
except in the case of brief quotations embodied in reviews.
is a work of fiction. All names, characters, and places are fictitious. Any
resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or
dead, is entirely coincidental.
Margaret, who encouraged me shamelessly and
Blood MC, 1
Copyright © 2015
There was nothing like
a ride in a storm to make a man feel alive.
Tanner’s Harley roared
beneath him, ripping up the road and spraying water in its wake. There was
nothing but him and the crash of the storm all around him, exhilarating, wild,
and as good a fucking buzz as any drug or woman he’d taken. Nobody else was out
on the road so he was free to push the bike to its limit. The setting sun was
lost in a rush of steel-gray storm clouds, so Tanner felt like he was riding
into darkness, away from the light. It suited his mood perfectly.
As wind and rain lashed
at him, he sped up and let out a savage holler. The bike moved like a dream,
sheer perfection beneath him, handling the wet road with ease. Best fucking
money he’d ever
no contest. It wasn’t just a
machine. It was freedom, pure fucking freedom, and after the last two years,
freedom meant everything to Tanner.
He was racing along so
fast he almost missed the figure at the
road. In the growing gloom, she would have been invisible, but for the
split-second lightning flash that illuminated her as she ran. She sure as hell
wasn’t paying attention to him. She looked back as she darted into the road,
watching the wide-open fields behind her, not the motorcycle careening toward
Horror and fury shot
through Tanner. He slammed on the brakes and his bike
to a screeching halt just a breath away from her. She screamed and stumbled,
losing her footing and landing on her ass on the tarmac.
Jesus fucking Christ
, he’d been seconds—less than seconds—from
hitting her. Adrenaline filled him, so red-hot it almost blinded him. He jumped
off the bike, shaking with angry energy, and stood over the cowering woman.
Hands balled into fists, he leaned down. “What the fuck is wrong with you? I
could've killed you!”
She stared up at him
from under a mass of dark, dripping wet hair, and Tanner’s heart tripped. She
looked terrified. As well she fucking should, but she also looked so young and
vulnerable that he felt guilty for yelling at her.
“Are you hurt?” he
asked more gently. It was impossible to speak quietly if he wanted to be heard
over the raging wind, but he guessed he didn’t have to scream at her either.
She didn’t respond though, just kept staring. Big blue eyes, filled with tears,
and sweet soft lips that trembled almost invitingly. “Lady, are you hurt?” He
crouched down, putting his six-three frame closer to her. She whimpered and
scrambled back, but Tanner grabbed her by the arm and held her in place.
“Listen, if you’re hurt …”
“I’m fine. Let me go.”
She tugged but couldn’t free herself. The terror on her face intensified and
she glanced back the way she’d come. “Please let me go!”
This wasn’t just the
rush of fear from her near miss, he could sense that. “Okay. Chill out.” He
released her and stood slowly, hands raised to show he meant no harm. “Can you
She did, keeping a
careful distance between them. Whatever she was running from, she was badly
prepared for it. She only wore a thin T-shirt and ragged jeans. Her sneakers
were dirty with age, the laces falling apart. He took it all in in a flash,
recognizing the signs from the worn clothes to the wary look on her face.
Soaked to the skin and shivering hard, she looked pathetic, but he’d bet if she
was bone-dry and reclining in silks and satin she’d still look hunted, haunted.
Someone had hurt this girl. A fresh wave of rage filled him.
He forced it down.
Don’t borrow trouble, he told himself. But damn, he wanted to protect her. It
was a primal impulsive, triggered by her obvious fear and her sweet face. He
hated to see a woman cry. “Uh … Do you need a ride somewhere?” he asked. “Least
I can do, when I nearly mowed you down.” He tried a smile, aware that with his
unkempt hair and five o’clock shadow, not to mention the MC club patches, he
didn’t look entirely reassuring.
“Where are you going?”
she asked, still casting her gaze up and down the empty road as if she expected
someone to jump out on her any second.
She needed to get warm
and dry and she could probably do with a coffee— or something stronger— inside
her. There was a diner a few miles away that could help with that. “You know
the Five Mile Diner? No? They have the best fucking apple pie in the state.
How’s that sound? Near-death experiences always make me hungry.”
She managed a tiny,
frail smile. “Okay.”
He guided her to the
bike, feeling like she’d agreed because she felt she had no choice. She was
used to being ordered around, he guessed. Used to saying
because nobody listened to
It was clear in her hunched, defensive posture and the way she kept skirting
eye contact. Here was a girl who tried to be invisible.
Tanner groaned. He was
going to do it, wasn’t he? He was going to borrow trouble. His President would
choke him out. He could almost hear Nash’s guttural snarl in his ear now.
ou like it better inside, boy?
Real world not exciting enough?
Aw, shit. He raked his
hands through his hair and stared at his mystery girl as she in turn stared at
his bike. There was a mix of apprehension and wonder on her face that was just
fucking ridiculous. She was like some wild animal seeing civilization for the
Well, okay. It wasn’t
like he was adopting her or anything. He could take her to the diner, see her
right with a cup of coffee and some food, and then let her go on her way.
No trouble at all.
Bethany had never been
on a motorcycle before. It was scary and exciting at the same time, like some
great beast throbbing between her legs. She clung to her rescuer for dear life
as they ripped down the road, rain slashing at her face. He was warm and solid,
an anchor against the wild weather and the danger she’d fled, and she didn’t
want to let him go. It didn’t seem to matter that he’d nearly run her down—she
guessed that was more her fault than his, and he’d seemed genuinely kind
despite his gruff voice and dirty mouth. He was so big too, bigger than any man
she’d seen before, and there was something deeply comforting about that. A man
his size could be a shelter, a defender …
Stop it, she scolded
herself. It was senseless to let her imagination run away with her. He hadn’t
even told her his name, or asked hers. He’d dump her at this diner and she’d
never see him again. And that was fine, that was as it should be. She’d run
away because she wanted to avoid being tied to a man.
Still, while they
drove, she did allow herself the brief fantasy of staying with him. She rubbed
her cheek against his faded leather jacket, loving the masculine scent. There
was something raw and real about it, far removed from the sterility and
coldness of the home she’d left behind.
She shivered, unable to
resist glancing back even though they were going far too fast for anyone to
catch them. The road stretched out behind them, open and blessedly empty. By
now, Abram would know she was gone and he’d have the men of the Serpentine
Cross looking for her. How far would she have to run before they gave up?
And where would she run
to? She didn't know the world outside the Church. She had no money, skills,
nothing but the clothes on her back. All her life she'd been told what happened
to bad girls who couldn't obey.
Probably in that order.
And all her life, fear of the fate
that waited outside the Church's walls had kept her in her place.
Last night she'd
decided anything was better than staying. She just had to make sure she outran
Abram and the others. A motorcycle seemed like a good start.
She quickly lost track
of time, with the road falling away behind them and the storm raging all around
them, but it didn't seem long before he was pulling into a roadside diner.
Trucks and bikes filled the parking lot, and the building looked warm and
inviting from the outside. Of course, anywhere probably would, given how cold
and wet Beth was.
"Come on," her
rescuer said, slipping off the bike. "Let's get you inside and warm."
His apparent concern
for her welfare had her torn between suspicion and gratitude, but the warmth
and light the diner promised outweighed everything else. It was quiet inside,
country music playing low on the speakers and just a few people occupying the
booths. Her stomach growled as they entered and the homely smells of
fresh-brewed coffee and sizzling burgers hit her. She hugged herself,
He didn't seem to
notice, just strode up to the counter as if he owned the place and slapped his
palm down on it. "Mia! A pot of coffee and two slices of apple pie."
A Latina with glorious
chocolate curls bustled up to the counter, giving him a friendly smile.
"Alex Tanner, where are your manners?"
He pulled a
conciliatory face. "A pot of coffee and two slices of apple pie,
her smile melting into an expression
of such dismay that Beth wanted to hide from her. "Jesus Christ, Tanner,
this girl is going get pneumonia standing there like that!
What's wrong with you? She needs a hot bath and
some proper clothes!"
"Well, I don't
have those things," Tanner snapped.
Mia scowled at him, and
then fixed her smile on Beth. "Don't mind him, honey. As we've
established, he has no manners. What's your name?"
Beth said, ducking her face to avoid eye contact. It was a habit so deeply
she didn't even realize she'd done it until Mia
tapped her hand, making her look up again.
"Listen, I don't
want to assume, but it looks to me like you need a helping hand. And since Mr.
Tanner here isn't going to offer you any dry clothes, I will."
"Oh no ..."
Beth started helplessly.
It was too late. Mia
was already coming around the counter, her body language entirely
business-like. With Tanner scowling ineffectually at her, Mia took Beth by the
arm. "Lacey," she called to another waitress, "keep an eye on
things for a second, okay?"
The other girl tipped
her a salute, and Mia dragged Beth off toward a door at the back of the diner.
Tanner followed, which Beth was desperately glad about. Mia's no-nonsense
attitude wasn't intimidating, exactly, but it was easier to bear with Tanner's
bulk at her back.
"What on earth are
you doing out in this weather dressed like some homeless kid? You're not a
homeless kid, are you?" Mia asked her. "Tanner, where did you find
"In the middle of
the road," Tanner said.
Beth flushed. "I'm
not homeless," she said, feeling an inexplicable need to defend the
Church. It was ingrained, like the impulse to bow her head and avoid eye
contact. The Church was—had been—her entire world. It was hard to speak badly
of it, no matter what she might think of it.
Mia pushed open a door
to reveal a small, neat bedroom. The scent of lavender perfumed the air and
everything looked clean and fresh, from the white bedspread to the
flower-patterned curtains. Beth was surprised and impressed. The Church houses
were so lifeless and
"Wait here a
second." Mia disappeared again, leaving Beth alone with Tanner.
In a bedroom.
Her cheeks got so hot she was sure she'd
spontaneously combust. He stood in the doorway, watching her carefully, arms
folded across his chest. It was a pose she associated with anger, but he didn't
look angry. He looked thoughtful, his ruggedly handsome face softened by
whatever was on his mind.
She fidgeted, uneasy
under his scrutiny. What did one say to strange men in these circumstances?
"Thank you for bringing me here," she said finally.
He smiled. It was like
the sun breaking through storm clouds. "Well, couldn't just leave you in
the middle of the road, could I?" He closed the distance between them.
Beth resisted the urge to step back—mostly because doing so would have landed
her on the bed. But when he touched her face—gently, so gently— she flinched
and turned away.
don't," she whispered. Being alone in a bedroom with a strange man was bad
enough; letting him touch her was ... well, it was a lot of things.
Never mind that
his rough fingers were so careful and his light touch made her tremble.
He scowled, but she
sensed it wasn't directed at her. "I'm not going to hurt you," he
"No, but ... It
isn't proper." She gazed up at him, pleading silently for him to