Home > Ride Steady (Chaos #3)(14)

Ride Steady (Chaos #3)(14)
Author: Kristen Ashley

Immensely amusing.

“We’ll need your keys,” he stated when his eyes again met mine.

“I, well, yes, of course,” I dangled them out in front of me while a man in coveralls jogged from the bay, heading our way. “I kinda have a financial situation.” I shared my understatement. “So can you give me an estimate before you take care of everything?”

Both men stared at me like I was crazy before lanky guy said, “We’ll get Joker to take care a’ that.”

I nodded and told him, “I have to grab my purse and something from the back.”

Greasy jeans guy came to me, nabbed my keys, and said, “Get ’em, babe.”

I looked to him, nodded agreeably, then rushed back to my car. I leaned in deep and grabbed my purse from where it sat in Travis’s car seat. Then I went to the back and got the pie.

When I closed the door and turned to the guys, I saw they were all leaned slightly to the right, heads tipped, eyes on my behind (or, in the case of the lanky guy) my legs.

I felt warmth hit my cheeks and called, “Is Joker around?”

They all came to and looked to my face.

“She brought him pie,” the lanky guy muttered.

“Fuckin’ brilliant,” the greasy jeans guy also was muttering.

“Does Joker even like pie?” the coverall guy was only slightly muttering.

But my heart squeezed.

Didn’t he like pie?

Didn’t everyone like pie?

Oh no! What if he didn’t like pie?

“Does Joker like anything?” greasy jeans guy asked.

“I bet, today, he’s gonna like butterflies,” lanky guy noted.

“Today, I like butterflies,” greasy jeans guy declared.

I cleared my throat.

Lanky guy’s lips quirked again just as he jerked his chin to the right and said, “Compound.”

“Sorry?” I asked.

“Joker’s in the Compound, babe. Building over there.” He swung his clipboard in that direction and then smiled a highly appealing but definitely meaningful smile. “Go right on in. He’s not out front, someone in there will get him for you.”

I looked where he was indicating and saw a large, long building that ran the entire length of the property from the back of the auto store to well beyond the garage. It had an overhang along the front, picnic tables under it (five of them, precisely), a big barrel grill to one end, and four kegs with taps looking like they were ready for use sat against the wall of the building, close to the grill. Last, there were a number of motorcycles parked in formation at the front.

There was also a set of double doors.

I turned my eyes back to the men.

“Thanks!” I called on another bright smile, ignored the strangeness they were making me feel and my inability to understand if it was a good strangeness or a bad one, and then I moved toward the Compound, carrying my pie in front of me with both hands, acutely aware they were watching me.

It was a long walk, and when I made it to the end, balanced the pie, grabbed the handle to one of the doors, pulled it open, and chanced a look back, I saw what I had a feeling I’d see.

Not a single one of them had moved, and their eyes were on me.

More strangeness invaded but even if it was quite a distance, they had to know I was looking at them. So I lifted a hand to wave before I slid through the door.

Only the coveralls guy waved back.

I rebalanced the pie in both hands, took two steps in, and stopped because I had to due to the fact I couldn’t see a thing.

The place was dark. After the bright Denver sun, my eyes needed time to adjust.

This took time, neon beer signs finally coming into focus. Then more.

None of it good.

Tatty furniture. Pool tables. A long sweeping bar. Flags on the walls like the one flying over the auto store under the American flag. Pictures also on the walls. Harley-Davidson stickers, again stuck to the walls. It wasn’t tidy. It wasn’t even clean.

It was just scary.

“Yo!” I heard and turned my head right.

I had company.

At the curved part of the sweep of the bar, a man was standing, leaning into his arm on the bar. He had a goatee. He was large. He was rough but nonetheless very good-looking. He had a lovely redheaded woman in a dainty blouse and tight skirt in front of him on a barstool. He was standing very close to her. Although he looked firmly the manly biker yin to her girly classy yang, she clearly didn’t mind this.

Behind the bar was another man with dark, messy hair, a mustache over his lip that also grew down the sides. A patch at the indent in the middle of his lower lip. An adorable baby younger than Travis tucked securely in the curve of his arm, an arm that was decorated in tattoos of dancing flames. And finally, an elegant, tall, stunningly beautiful brunette in the curve of his other arm (which also had flames).

Last, sitting beside the redhead was a black lady in a dress I might sell a kidney for if it was my style (it wasn’t, it was chic, cutting-edge, and sophisticated, I was flirty, ruffles, and sometimes flowers, definitely butterflies, none of this I knew in a glance she’d ever wear, even upon threat of death). Her hair was coiffed to perfection. Her eyes were sharp in a way she could never play dumb and get away with it.

Those eyes, as were all the others, were on me.

And the remains of their fast food lunch was all over the bar.

“Hey!” I called and took several more steps in.

The men’s eyes dropped instantly to my skirt.

The women’s eyes moved directly to each other.

“I’m looking for Joker,” I informed them.

The women’s eyes instantly swiveled back to me.

“Say what?” the black lady asked, sounding like she was choking.

“Um… Joker.” I lifted up my pie. “He helped me out a couple of days ago. I wasn’t in the position to say a proper thank-you then. So I popped by to say it now.”

The second I was done talking, I jumped when the goatee guy turned his head to the side and roared, “Joker!”

“Holy crap,” the redhead breathed.

“This… is… awesome,” the brunette whispered.

“Girl, get your butterfly ass over here,” the black lady ordered. “I need to get a better look.”

Disregarding this order, sensing his movement, my eyes skidded to the mustachioed man to see his head dropped. He was looking to his feet, but his shoulders were shaking.

The baby in his arm gurgled.

The door behind me opened. I turned to it and saw lanky guy entering.

He looked right to the bar. “Couldn’t miss this.”

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