I frowned, and tried again. “It’s not starting.”
“Your check engine light is on.”
“I know,” I said absently. I pushed on the gas pedal and tried again. The starter whined in protest. “It goes on and off all the time.”
“Sweetheart, you do realize that when the check engine light comes on, you’re supposed to check the engine, right?”
I shot him the Look of Death, and he laughed.
“Want a ride back to your place?” he asked. “I can figure this out for you, but I’m thinkin’ if you want to be with your girl while she’s all upset, now isn’t the time to start tearing apart your rig.”
I closed my eyes and sighed.
“Thank you,” I said. “That would be great. I can’t believe it’s not working. What am I going to do about picking up Jess tomorrow? Shit, now I’ll have to rent something and it’ll be a fortune and—”
“London. Honey. Settle the fuck down. One of the perks of datin’ a man who owns a repair shop is that shit like this is no longer a crisis. I’ll find something for you to borrow while I take care of it, okay? Now get your ass out of there and over to my bike. I’m takin’ you home.”
He pulled the door open and I stepped out. He held out his hand.
“Keys, babe. Gonna need keys if you want me to fix your car.”
“Don’t fix anything without checking with me first,” I said, my voice serious. “If it’s really bad, I may need to go out and find something new. This van is nearly twelve years old, not sure how much life she has left in her.”
I pulled off the van key, which I kept on a little dealie that snapped off my main keychain for situations exactly like this one.
“Great. Now get your ass on the bike.”
I stepped toward the big Harley, which was black and silver, with the Reapers symbol painted on the gas tank. The seats were black leather, the chrome was shiny, and the whole thing looked ginormous now that I was actually standing right next to it. Hayes handed me a helmet. I studied it, bemused. It’d been a strange day and now it was getting stranger—the president of a motorcycle club was giving me a ride home.
After fucking me.
And he planned to fuck me some more.
It took everything I had to bite back a little squee of excitement, because there’s not a woman on earth who doesn’t secretly want to ride off into the sunset with a bad man on a bike … Especially after having excellent sex with that man.
I glanced up at the sky. Sure enough, it was streaked with pinks and blues and gorgeous clouds, glowing as the very last of the day’s sunlight kissed the north Idaho mountains.
“It goes on your head.”
I blinked, confused.
“The helmet,” Reese said, slowly and distinctly. “It goes on your head.”
Then he smiled at me and I think I might have blushed, which is kind of crazy considering I’m thirty-eight and well past the blushing years.
“Where do you go when you drift off like that?” he asked. I laughed and gave a shrug.
“Everywhere, I guess. I’ve always done it. Used to get in big trouble at school for it, because they thought I was ignoring them on purpose. But things just catch my imagination and then I’m off. I’m sorry—I wasn’t trying to be rude.”
“Doesn’t bother me,” he said. “Just curious. Let’s go make sure your girl Mellie is all right. Come mornin’ I’ll get one of the boys to run a car over for you.”
“Thank you,” I said, wondering if any of this was real.
“Just remember, Friday night is mine.”
“Friday night is yours,” I repeated.
Then I climbed on Reese Hayes’s bike, wrapped my arms around him tight, and let him carry me off into the sunset.
It was full dark by the time we reached my place.
I didn’t want to get off the bike and step back into reality … there was something incredibly thrilling and powerful about riding with Reese, and I wanted to enjoy it while I could. Whatever he might have said earlier, I wasn’t exactly holding my breath that this would turn into a real relationship. The odds weren’t in our favor. But until things fell apart, I’d let myself savor the moment—giving up control and trusting him to keep me safe was the most liberating thing I’d done in six years.
When he turned off the Harley, I couldn’t seem to make my hands let go of him. This didn’t seem to bother Reese. He caught them in his own and pulled me tighter against his back. I smelled the leather and felt his strength between my legs. Surreal.
Then he let go.
I climbed off the bike and back into reality. The porch light came on and the front door opened to reveal Mellie. She stopped dead when she saw Reese, and her jaw actually dropped.
Last time she’d seen me, I’d been dating a deputy sheriff. Now I’d come home with an outlaw biker, and I’d be willing to bet that anyone seeing us would know we’d been together. There was an intimacy between us that hadn’t been there before. I felt it in the way he put his hand on my back protectively, and the way I found myself leaning toward him.
Oh, and it probably didn’t help that I’d lost my bra—the night air was cool enough to nip me out in a big way.
Mellie had always been shy, so I was surprised when she stepped off the porch and started walking across the lawn. The kid must’ve been even more upset than she sounded on the phone. I’d just started toward her when a horrific burst of sound and heat and light exploded out of the house. Reese tackled me to the ground, covering me with his body.
Everything fell perfectly, utterly silent.
What the hell had happened?
Reese lay on top of me for long seconds. I couldn’t hear his voice but I felt the vibrations of his yelling through his body. Why couldn’t I hear him? After an eternity, he rolled off me and I looked up to find an inferno where my house had been, flames licking up toward the sky.
I realized my house had exploded.
My house had fucking exploded!
An instant later I remembered how close Melanie had been when it went up, and my heart stopped.
“Mellie!” I yelled, grabbing Reese’s arm, jerking him toward me. “We have to find Mellie!”
He yelled something back at me, but I couldn’t tell what it was. Then he was on his feet, running across the lawn. I staggered upward, trying to figure out what the hell was happening. Neighbors were pouring out into the street all around us. Slowly sounds took shape—mostly an unpleasant ringing—and I realized the force of the explosion had temporarily deafened me.