Authors: MariaLisa deMora
Rebel Wayfarers MC
Edited by Hot Tree Editing
Melissa Gill @ MGBookcovers and Designs
Copyright © 201
4 M.L. deMora
All rights reserved.
This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination, or are or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is entirely coincidental.
First Printing 2014
ISBN 13: 978-0990447306
To my family. Thank you.
What a great experience this has been. I want to thank my friends and family for supporting me, and putting up with me as I sent them revision after revision to review and comment upon. Stephanie, Hollie and Brenda – you guys are the best, and you’ve tolerated much abuse! Tequila (or drinks of your choice) all around! Also, thanks to Jackie for always wanting more.
A big thank you to Kayla the Bibliophile for her assistance in stripping out the extraneous in order to focus on the necessary. You and the folks at Hot Tree Edits rock hard!
Sitting on the window seat with her knees bent, heels tucked tight against her bottom, and arms wrapped around her legs, Michaela Scott could not see anything except what was directly in front of her, just outside the window. Green leaves arch over a side yard, sun dappling down from the impossibly blue sky onto the grassy area where chairs were pulled into a conversation circle, barely glimpsing the very edge of a picnic blanket.
Barren limbs reach
ed up to scratch at the gray sky overhead, the snow-covered expanse radiating cold
A green-grassed lawn with laughter in the background, lanterns stretched between the trees to illuminate a grill and the area around it. Silhouettes and shadows of friends gathered to share food and stories of their day.
Wind whipped the snow into drifts with dips and valleys, as it was carved around the trees to form a wind bow.
“I didn’t know who else to call, Mr. Mason. I saw your car outside your house and…I just didn’t know what to do!” Mica thought she recognized that voice, cracking high and questioningly at the end of the sentence, but she couldn’t concentrate to place it right now.
. Flowers bloomed near tree trunks, where they pushed through the ground—bluebonnets and Indian paintbrushes. Always first to show their nodding heads in the spring, they were reaching towards the sunshine and brittle heat in the blue, blue sky.
“I’ve never seen her like this
, and I am so worried. I’ve been here for hours and she won’t talk to me at all…won’t even acknowledge I’m here.”
Who could that be? I know that voice
, she thought again.
. Ice reached down with sharpened fingers from tree branches, where the few stubborn leaves refused to fall.
good, Jess. Give me just a few minutes with Mica, but don’t go far.” That was a different voice—soothing, deep, and sonorous—one to hear across a breakfast table, or from the darkness of a bedroom. Mica wondered a little at her imagination going places she didn’t usually go.
. Gray squirrels rustled in a waft of leaves strewn across the yard, looking for food to hoard for the winter season, running across the yard and stopping with their forepaws brought to their chest in surprise.
, she thought as something soft, but also hard wrapped around her back and then over her shoulders. Her thoughts continued,
That’s warm. That’s nice..
She’d been cold for a long time now.
“Mica,” the deep voice said beside her ear, “where are you, babe?”
I’m right here
, she thought,
“Mica, babe, what happened?”
Oh, no, my world is ending,
she thought, and voiced the overwhelming fear, anger, sadness, and frustration the only way she could.
The blanketing warmth jerked and pulled back, leaving a frisson of chill down her back and across her arms. They were still wrapped tensely around her legs, pulling and holding her knees tightly into her chest.
Running steps slapped down the hallway towards them, and then into the room, stumbling to a stop near the window seat. “What the hell was that, Mason?” asked the first voice.
“I don’t know, Jess; she just screamed. From the way her voice sounds, it’s not the first time, either.” That was the sexy voice again, the one that made her think of dark places
, forbidden emotions, and wanted things.
“Did you touch her? Did you freak her out? Why are you sitting so close?”
Mica thought a minute,
That voice…I know that voice. It was…known. It was…Jess…Jessica Nalan. She’s an employee, a friend. She’s…safe.
“Jess?” Mica rasped, turning her head to look into the room and away from the scene outside.
Jess was standing there in a UI sweatshirt and baggy jeans, feet clad in her favorite red Converse sneakers. She had topped off her look with a crazy patchwork toque tugged so far down on her head it only showed the very ends of her short, blonde hair. Her face was scrunched up in worry, looking at Mica and chewing on her bottom lip, but that facial expression was pretty normal for Jess.
gawd, Mica; you scared the fucking crap out of me with your shit. I hate you so hard right now!” Jess scrambled to her knees on the floor next to the window seat. “What the hell is going on, girly, and you better not tell me ‘nothing’. I’ve been here for nearly six hours, and this is the first thing you have said or done. Well, other than scream like a goddamn banshee a second ago, but I think Mr. Mason was the cause. Maybe he tried to cop a feel; I dunno. He’s a badass, after all. What the fuck…I should let you talk…sorry…shutting up now.” Jess finally wound down and wrapped her arms tightly around her torso. She laid her head on the window seat, her neck craning around to look up at Mica. “You are my best friend, bitch; don’t go scaring me like that again.”
Warmth settled against Mica’s back again halfway through Jess’s rant. She felt hard, wide, sculpted arms wrap around her, over the top of her arms and legs, warming her all around. Those strong arms were covered in ink, with both beautiful and brutal tribal, and intricate, colorful, artistic tattoos. The designs laid alongside each other on the skin covering those muscles holding her tightly.
She recognized one of the tattoos; she was very familiar with those colors. She looked down to study the beautiful phoenix rising from flames that covered all the way up one arm starting at the back of the hand. With that recognition, she jerked and looked over her shoulder, knowing exactly who she would see: Davis Mason, her next-door neighbor for the past several years—her very ripped and tattooed, very tough and powerful, very much without-boundaries biker neighbor.
She watched his dark, iron-colored eyes crinkle at the corners as he tried not to laugh out loud at Jess’s monologue. That lengthy flow of words covered her true worry about Mica. There was no ink on that handsome face with his strong cheekbones. Most of his tattoos began somewhere in the area covered by the soft, blue t-shirt that stretched over his well-developed shoulders and biceps, but she’d seen the
tats often enough as he worked on his bike and cars in the uncovered driveway next door.
His chin came to rest softly on her shoulder, the rough scruff on his cheeks rubbing against the soft skin of her neck. The move felt somewhat encroaching
and territorial, and it made her more than a little uncomfortable, but she didn’t move away. She was beginning to grasp that something had happened today, to her…but her reaction was confusing, even to herself.
she asked, looking between them in confusion. “How did y’all get in? Davis…um, Mr. Mason, why are you here?” She glanced around the room, seeing it was just their small group gathered on the window seat. “Jess, if you are here, then where’s Brandy? Is she coming over? I’m a little confused; how did you get in here? Better question—why are you here?”
Looking around, Mica didn’t see anything overtly out of place. Her furniture—all purchased
for comfort, not style—was where it should be. There were no holes in the walls, and nothing to indicate a need for the level of alarm she sensed in Jess.
Certainly nothing to warrant having Davis Mason in her home. He wasn’t someone that she was at all comfortable around, especially not in her personal space. If anything, the biker scared her, really frightened her. It felt like he was always holding himself in check, and he seemed eminently capable of dangerous violence. As a biker, he was plain scary—even though he’d never threatened to hurt her or even really given her grief—but it wasn’t until she found out he owned her favorite bar that she realized he had an uncanny ability to blend into the business world. The fact he could effortlessly bridge the two worlds—only one of which she was comfortable in—made him seem even more dangerous to her.
Jess lifted her head, eyes searching Mica’s face in concern. “You called and left a message at MishMash not making much sense, talking about how everything was wrong. Soon as I got it, I came right over. Mica, you know there’s a key to your house on my key ring, because you gave it to me years ago, by the way, and I let myself in like I always do. Bitch, you have a key to mine and Brandy’s place too. Don’t act like this.”
MishMash was Mica’s business, and Jess was her sole employee. They were a dynamic duo, working in the world of web and application development. The company had grown quickly over the past few months, and there was always more work than hours in the day. Mason also held the lease for her office space—another place where he encroached into her life regularly.
Brandy Still was Jess’s girlfriend, a fabulous baker who owned a brilliant little shop downtown called I Ache, You Ache Cupcakes. They’d all been friends since college, and regularly hung out together at one of Mason’s bars, Jackson’s. All of these facts made sense to Mica; they rattled around in her head and she let them settle for a minute.
Taking a breath, she asked, “But why is Dav—Mr. Mason… Why is Mr. Mason here?” Untangling herself from the hold his arms had on her, she shifted slowly to the other end of the window seat. Carefully stretching as her muscles long locked into one position complained about moving so quickly, she looked outside at the side yard again.
. Snow blanketed a yard, skirling around the mound of dirt and remorseless marble that threatened to break her heart.
. Snow blanketed the yard, blowing smoothly across the unblemished yard and drifting into the shoveled sidewalk.
“Mica, come back again; please, you are scaring us,” Mason called across the space between them. He wondered what the hell had happened to make this strong woman retreat so
completely into herself like that. Shifting on the seat, the leather vest with his club patches creaking as he moved, he looked at her,
looked at her for the first time since Jess escorted him into the room earlier.
With her long, dark hair hanging lankly across her shoulders and back, framing her round face, she looked drained. Combine that with the dark circles under her eyes, which were also drooping with exhaustion, and it was clear she was in trouble, emotionally and physically. Her lips were dry, and he watched as the tip of her tongue dragged across her bottom one, but it left no moisture behind. Her hands were shaking
lightly—no, her whole body was quivering, like a rabbit caught in a trap. She needed food, water, and a shower…maybe not in that order. “When did you last eat, babe?”
Her head swiveled to look at him, breaking the hold the images outside had on her. “I don’t know, Mr. Mason. I don’t think you answered me yet; why are you in my home?”
Thinking to herself that he must not be riding today, he didn’t have his full leathers on, just a vest. But if it was snowing, then of course he wasn’t riding. She glanced back outside, seeing the snow blowing across the side yard, but then met his look again.
He watched her face with focus; she felt like he was drowning her in those steely eyes, and she broke their shared gaze. Her mind wandered farther afield, observing that his jeans were nicely tight in all the right places, cinching around his narrow waist, and then flaring down his muscular thighs and legs to his boots. “Why would I think about his clothes?” she asked quietly to herself.
Jess coughed. “Whose clothes are you thinking about? Icalledhimover.”
. “You scared me, girly. You wouldn’t talk to me after I got here and I didn’t know what to do. I had his number in my phone from when he gave it to me months ago, and I saw his car across the drive and…”
Taking a deep breath, Mica unfolded her legs, shivering as she set her bare feet on the chilly floor and looked down at herself. She closed her eyes hopelessly when she realized her state of undress, seeing her pajamas, which were simply a sheer, loose-fitting camisole that hid nothing, not even the rosy areolas of her nipples, and her dangerously short running shorts that barely covered her more private areas.
I will not be embarrassed in my own home, in my own pajamas, just because there are people in the room who I did not invite,
she thought, struggling with herself to not wrap her arms around her chest in protection and modesty.
“Okay. Everything’s okay. I’m
fine now, thanks. You can both leave. Thank you for your help; I appreciate it.” She was hoping against hope that would be all it took to get them out of her home, her personal space. Making shooing motions with her hands, she stood quickly, hoping to move things along in order to regain her seclusion.
“What was the last thing you ate, Mica?” Mason asked again, quietly.
“I don’t remember, honestly.” She laughed, clamping her mouth shut and shaking her head when it came out a little high-pitched; that wasn’t what she had wanted to say. Taking a breath, she started again, “I’m okay, thank you. I’ll eat as soon as you are both on your way. I promise.”
There, that should get them moving, but…