Home > Ride Steady (Chaos #3)(12)

Ride Steady (Chaos #3)(12)
Author: Kristen Ashley

He squirmed in my arms and squealed louder.

Goodness, that sound was beautiful.

No better sound in the world.

Not one.

I kept playing with my boy, and in doing so, I was suddenly unconcerned I was standing on I-25 with a biker from a biker gang changing my tire, and that soon I’d be handing my baby off to my ex and Tory, so I wouldn’t have him for a whole week.

Right then, it was just Travis and me.

It had been just him and me for a year and a half, part of that time he was in my belly, the rest he was my entire world.

I’d wanted a family. After Althea died, I’d started wanting that and made it with my dolls, then my Barbies, then in my dreams.

That’s all I wanted. All I’d ever wanted.

A husband. A home. And lots of babies.

I didn’t care what it said about me that I didn’t want a career. That I didn’t dream of cruises or tiaras or being important, carrying a briefcase, getting up and going to a high powered job.

I wanted to do laundry.

I wanted to make cookies.

I wanted to have dinner ready for my husband and children when they got home.

I wanted to be a soccer mom (though, I didn’t want a minivan, I wanted something like Aaron’s Lexus SUV).

That’s all I wanted.

I wanted to be a good wife and a great mother.

And again, I did not care even a little bit what people thought that said about me.

My mom worked. She’d worked even before Althea died. She’d worked after too.

I didn’t mind that then. It made her happy.

But now, I wanted those moments back, the ones when she was at work. Those times she was away when I got home after school.

I wanted them back.

I wanted my dad to have them back.

And that was what I was going to give my husband. I was going to give my children the same.

That’s all I wanted, to give my family that.

All I’d ever dreamed.

That dream had to change. Aaron killed it so I had to revise it.

So now it was just Travis and me, every other week.

That was my new dream and if I tried real hard, I could convince myself I was living it.

Even though I wasn’t.

Not even close.

But I’d make do.


My head jerked up and I saw Joker standing in the turf a few feet away.

“Looked at your tire, hoped it was a nail,” he informed me. “It wasn’t. It blew. Your tread is low on all of them. They all need to be replaced.”

My bubble of joy with me and my baby burst as life pressed into it, the pressure, as always, way too much for that bubble of goodness to bear.

I couldn’t afford four new tires.

“Can’t drive on that spare,” Joker kept speaking, but he was doing it eyeing me closely. “Not for long. You need to see to that, soon’s you can.”

I stopped thinking about tires, my inability to afford them, and the absence of time I had to deal with it, and stared into his eyes.

They were gray. A strange, blunt steel gray.

It was far from unattractive.

It was also very familiar.

“Yeah?” he asked on a prompt and my body jolted because my mind was focused on trying to figure out how his eyes could seem so familiar.

Travis lunged.

And yet again, surprisingly Joker instantly lifted his now bare hands to my son and took him from me, curling him close, natural, taking that beautiful load on like he’d done it since the moment Travis was born.

Something warm washed through me.

“Yeah?” Joker repeated.

“Uh, yes. New tires. Don’t drive on the spare,” I replied.

“You go to Ride, I’ll give them your name. They’ll give you a discount.”

And that was when something dirty washed through me.

The dirty was the fact that my car was twenty years old, faded, rusted, worn out, and probably only still working because God loved me (I hoped), and all that was not lost on him.

This was embarrassing.

And as that washed through me, more did. Suddenly, gushes of nasty poured all over me.

The fact that I hadn’t shifted off the last fifteen pounds of baby weight.

The fact that I hadn’t been able to afford highlights for the last seven months so my hair did not look all that great, the golden blonde streaks starting four inches down from my roots in a way that was not an attractive ombré.

The fact that I was dressed to go to work in a polo shirt, khakis, and sneakers, and not in a cute dress and cuter shoes.

The fact that he had expensive glasses, an expensive bike, a leather jacket, and he might be ill-groomed, but he was tall, broad, had interesting eyes, was nice, generous with his time, great with kids, and a Good Samaritan.

“You got time to do it and can hang,” he went on. “I’ll ask them to go over the car. Make sure it’s good.”

Oh no.

He was taking pity on me.

More dirty washed over me.

“No… no,” I shook my head, reaching out to take Travis from him. It was a feat, Travis didn’t want to let go, but I bested him and tucked my son firm on my hip. “I… you’ve already been very nice. I should…” I flipped out my free hand, “I have money…”

I trailed off and twisted to get to my purse, thinking the twenty dollar bill in it was not enough, but it was all I had. I was also thinking that I was unfortunately going to have to use my credit card to get gas.

“No need. Just get to Ride. Sort out that spare, yeah?”

I turned back to him. “You sure?”

“Don’t want your money.”

That was firm in a way that sounded like he was offended, something I really didn’t want, so, hesitantly, I nodded. “You’ve been really kind.”

“Yeah,” he muttered. “Be safe.”

And then he turned toward his bike.

He just turned toward his bike! I couldn’t let him just turn toward his bike and walk away.

I had no idea why but there was no denying in that second that I knew into my bones I couldn’t allow the biker named Joker to walk away.

“Joker!” I called.

He turned back.

When I got his eyes, I didn’t know what to do so I didn’t do anything.

“Right,” he said, walked to me and got closer than he had before.

Even as Travis tried to make a lunge at him, he lifted up his hand and I held my breath.

I felt his sunglasses slide out of my hair.

“Thanks,” he murmured and turned back.

“Really, thank you,” I blurted, this a hopefully not blatant effort to detain him (although it was an effort to detain him) and he again turned to me. “I don’t know what to say. I feel like I should do something. You helped me out a lot.”

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