Home > Ride Steady (Chaos #3)(13)

Ride Steady (Chaos #3)(13)
Author: Kristen Ashley

“Get you and your kid off the side of the highway and get safe, that’s all you gotta do.”

“Oh. Yes. Of course. I should do that,” I babbled.

“Later,” he said and moved to his bike.

“Later,” I called as he did, not wanting him to go.

I didn’t understand this.

Okay, he helped me out and he was very nice about it.

And okay, I was alone. Like really alone. No family close by. No friends. No husband. New baby. New life I didn’t like all that much (except said presence of my new baby).

And Joker stopped and helped me out, making a problem I would have had to sort into one of those now nonexistent times when I got to let someone else sort it and I could play with my son, even if that time was on the side of a traffic-clogged interstate.

That meant a lot.

But I didn’t want him to go in a way that wasn’t just not wanting to see the last of a person who did me a kindness.

It was different.

And it was frightening.

But what was more frightening was that he was on his bike and making it roar.

It was almost over.

He’d be gone.

And I’d be alone.

It wasn’t that (or just that).

It was that he’d be gone.

I opened my mouth to yell something over the noise of his motorcycle and Travis hit me in the jaw.

I looked down at my son.

I needed to get him to safety.

And then get him to his dad.

I closed my eyes, opened them, and saw Joker jerk his chin in an impatient way to my car.

So I hurried there, opened the passenger-side door, got my son safely in his car seat, rounded the car, and got in.

Joker didn’t merge into traffic until I did. He also didn’t leave the interstate until I did. He followed me off the ramp to Speer Boulevard.

Then he turned off.

And was gone.

Chapter Three

Down on Her Knees


I LOOKED INTO the mirror and blocked out all thoughts but what I could see.

The dress wasn’t bad. It was one size up from what I’d worn before Travis, but it was cute. It was a blushy-pink fake silk underneath with a chiffon overlay in blush with black butterflies on it. It had no sleeves but it did have wispy frills at the at the arm holes. It had a full, shortish, flirty skirt, pleats up the front of the bodice, a scoop neck with a little bow at the base, and another bow at the belt at the waist.

It hid my little leftover baby pouch. It also hid my larger-since-Travis behind.

I wore it with my amazing black sandals with a thin T-strap, big double-winged butterfly at the toe, and platform wedge with cork at the sides.

All this was cheap, not to mention, I’d bought it on sale, the only way I could afford clothes for me, clothes I needed since none of my old ones fit.

Still, it was cute. Or at least I thought so.

I’d done up my hair so it was fuller and the ringlets more pronounced. I’d also given myself a new pedicure, elegant, understated ballet pink on my toes. I had on good makeup, slight drama around the eyes, but mostly pink and dewy. And I’d used my expensive perfume, something I rarely used, since it was almost gone and I couldn’t afford to buy more.

I was ready.

Before I could think on what I was ready for, I rushed out of my bedroom and into another one of the three rooms that made up my apartment: the kitchen/dining bar/living room.

I grabbed the chocolate pecan pie with its homemade crust that I’d covered in cling film from the bar.

And again, before I could think, I dashed to my car and headed out.

It was two days after Joker had fixed my tire. I still had the spare on. I hadn’t had time to deal with it, what with work, laundry, cleaning house, not to mention pedicure and pie-making.

Now, I was going to deal with it.

And give my thank-you to Joker.

This made me nervous, so I didn’t think on it as I made my way to Broadway, down Broadway, and straight to Ride.

I was still not thinking on it as I pulled in and drove past the parking spots where you’d park if you were going into the store.

I headed straight to the enormous structure at the back that had three big bays.

The garage.

I drove right to one that looked mostly empty and stopped outside it. I threw open my door, threw out my cute sandaled foot and heaved myself out.

Before I could move to the back seat to grab the pie, two men came out from the bays. One was tall, dark-haired, lanky-(but hard)-bodied, carried a clipboard, and had eyes on me. The other was tall and sloop shouldered, was wearing greasy jeans and an oil-stained tee, and also had his eyes on me.

The greasy jeans guy was your normal, everyday guy.

The lanky guy was incredibly handsome.

“Hey!” I called on a little wave, a bright smile, and moved to them.

They both watched and, normally, this wouldn’t make me feel strange. Dad had told me I was beautiful since I could remember. Mom had done the same thing. Aaron had said it so many times since we met and started dating when we were freshmen, I believed he believed it (until recently) and I believed in me.

I knew I wasn’t ugly. More importantly, I knew back then I was loved.

Now, not so much.

Now, I was a size bigger (two in pants), had a baby pouch, a big bottom, and a husband who dumped me for a size 0 model. I also had grown-out highlights that didn’t look great.

No cute dress or cute shoes were going to cover any of that.

I’d known appreciative glances. I’d had them since I could remember too.

Now, I wondered what both of those men thought, me, twenty-five (almost twenty-six), dumped, a single mom (not that they knew that but I felt like I wore that knowledge on every inch of me), climbing out of an old, worn-out car, wearing a flirty but cheap dress and cute but cheap butterfly shoes that at that moment felt stupid and, worse, desperate.

I should have worn jeans.


I shouldn’t have come at all.

“Yo,” the lanky one called.

I got close. “Uh… yes, yo.” He grinned. It was highly attractive. I ignored it and I carried on, “I’m Carissa. Carissa Teodoro. A couple of days ago—”

The lanky guy’s head jerked and he interrupted me. “Joker’s girl?”

I shut my mouth.

Joker’s girl.

Why did that sound so nice?

“Yup, spare. Tercel. Joker gave us the heads-up. We’re covered,” the guy in the greasy jeans said and twisted toward the bays. “Yo! Someone come get this bucket! Joker’s girl is here!”

I looked from him, mouth open to say something, to the lanky guy with the clipboard (thinking, seeing as he had a clipboard, he was probably someone with authority). But I didn’t say anything because he was looking me up and down with attractive green eyes and his lips were quirked like something was amusing.

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