Eight of us roll up to the clubhouse and through the stockade gates. Tires crunch on the gravel as one after another we back into spots by the door. I hit my kickstand with my boot, resting the weight of my Super Glide down on it, and climb off.
It’s been a long, tiring two days making the run up to Shreveport and back, and I, like the rest of the crew, could use a cold beer. I pause to stretch and crack my spine, trying to relieve the tightness that has formed in my lower back, when I feel my cell phone vibrate in my hip pocket. Pulling it out, I glance at the screen.
She’s had my number for years, and it hasn’t changed. But this is the first time she’s used it since she hit town two weeks ago. I swipe my thumb across the screen and put it to my ear. “Yeah?”
“Wicked, um, I hate to bother you …”
I hate the timid tone in her voice, and I hate that she thinks she’s bothering me. That’s not the old Paige I used to know. “What do you need, babe?”
“I broke down on the side of the road.”
My eyes focus on the sun sliding down the western sky. It’ll be dark in a couple hours. “Where are you?”
“US 190 … across from Fontainebleau State Park. I just passed that Nature Center, do you know the one?”
“On Bayou Castine?” Hell, she was almost to Mandeville.
“Yes, I just crossed the stone bridge, actually.”
“All right. Stay in the truck. I’ll be there as fast as I can.” It’s a good twenty-minute ride, but I plan to make it in half that time.
I disconnect and shove the phone in my pocket, wishing she’d go back to calling me by my given name like she used to in the old days. It sounds so much sweeter on her lips than Wicked. If I ever get her in bed, I swear that’s the only name I’ll let her use. I swing my leg back over the bike and lift it off the kickstand.
Blood pauses with one hand on the door Sandman, Joker, So-Cal, and the rest of the crew just went through. “You comin’?”
I shake my head. “Paige broke down on the side of the road.”
He lifts his chin. “You need help, let me know.”
I nod, already firing the bike up and popping it in gear. With a twist of the throttle, I roar off.
Ten minutes later, I roll up next to Ransack’s old pickup. Paige is standing beside it and my eyes sweep over her as I drop my kickstand. She’s wearing a pretty little yellow sundress that matches the color of her hair and reveals her tanned legs to mid thigh. That has me taking a second to think about them wrapped around my body. I swing my leg over the seat and stand, unbuckling my skullcap helmet to drop it on the seat.
“It just quit running,” she explains as I walk toward her.
Her eyes are hidden behind a pair of dark sunglasses. I long to pull them off and see her eyes, but I resist, moving past her to the driver’s door. I open it and reach down to release the hood latch. Straightening, I see a cellophane-wrapped bouquet laying on the old-style bench seat Ford stopped making years ago. It was why Ransack bought the used F150. He’d wanted that bench seat so Paige could sit right next to him.
The flowers throw me, and I stare at them a moment. They’re already wilting in the steamy New Orleans heat. I move around and lift the hood, knowing what I’m looking for; occasionally, Ransack used to have problems with the wiring harness and the engine control module.
As I’m bent over the engine, checking the wiring and connections, I ask the question I suddenly can’t get out of my fucking head—the one I know I won’t be able to let go until I have the answer. “Who gave you the flowers?” I turn, my gaze hitting her shades. I wish she’d pull them off so I could see her eyes; they always give her away.
I stare at her until she elaborates.
“I was on my way to Mandeville Cemetery.”
Trying not to let my reaction show, I turn back to the engine. Mandeville. Now it all makes sense why she’s way out here. I should have put it together earlier. That’s where the MC has its plot, and where Ransack is buried. She’s bringing the flowers to put on his grave. Here I am, jealousy flaring inside me thinking some dude gave her the flowers. I feel like such an asshole. But as I think about her paying tribute to her husband, my club brother, I’m jealous all over again. Jealous of a dead man. Ain’t that a fucking joke? And ain’t I a fucking douchebag for feeling this way?
I pull my head out from under the hood and slam it shut. “Wires are corroded. I’ll have to get them replaced.”
She stares at the truck. “Oh.”
I pull a black bandana from my back pocket and wipe the grease off my hands. “I’ll need to go to the parts store and come back and fix it.”
She digs into her purse and pulls out her wallet.
“What are you doing?”
“Giving you money.” She pulls out a credit card and attempts to hand it to me.
“Put that back,” I snap. “I don’t want your money.”
“It’s my truck. I’m grateful enough you’re helping me. Of course I’m paying for the parts.”
I stride toward Paige and stare down at her. “You want my help, you don’t ever flash money at me again. We clear?”
When she stands there uncertainly, I lift my brows, challenging her to argue with me.
“Travis,” she says my given name softly. She’s the only one I’ll allow to call me by that name.
“Put the card away, Paige. Now.”
“Okay, fine.” She shoves it back in her purse and turns to reach for the door.
“What are you doing?”
“I’m going to wait for you, I guess.”
“I’m not leaving you in this heat, and I sure as hell wouldn’t leave you on the side of the road. You’re coming with me. Grab the flowers.”
She frowns. “You’re taking me to the cemetery?”
“It’s on the way.” I move to the bike while she grabs the bouquet and follows me. I sit on the seat and fire it up. Paige doesn’t even hesitate to climb on the back in her dress. She slides the strap of her purse over her head and tucks the flowers in between us. I pass her my helmet and wait while she straps it on. Glancing down, I see her wedge sandal take its place on the foot peg and feel her thighs press against my hips. God, I’m in heaven and I can’t resist reaching back and laying my palm on her bare leg just above her knee and giving it a squeeze. “You ready?”
She leans forward to reply in my ear over the rumble of the bike, and I feel her breasts press against my back. I like them there. It’s where they belong, so I grab her wrist and pull it around my waist. “Hang on.”
I want her to hold me tight, and I don’t give a damn if that bouquet is crushed when we get to the cemetery.