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Bounty(10)

By´╝ÜKristen Ashley



I hit the button to disconnect, thinking I could have probably worded that better but, like Mr. T, beginning not to care.

When I’d arrived at that bar, it was time for a drink.

After all that, it was time for a drink.

My door screamed in protest as I pushed it open and it did the same after I jumped down and shut it. It was so loud, I jotted a trip to somewhere in this little burg to find some WD-40 in order to fix that. And it was also so loud I nearly didn’t hear my phone beep with a text.

As I walked to the front door of the bar, I looked down at it to see it was from Mr. T.

Enjoy your drink but be safe and be smart. Congratulations on your new home.

I wonder if his fingers were burning having to type out the word “congratulations.”

Thus I had a small smile on my face as I pushed open the door to the bar and walked in.

It didn’t have a lot of windows and it didn’t have a lot of light. It was sunny outside so it took me a couple of beats to let my eyes adjust.

And when they did, I went completely still.

This was because, at the end of the bar that was dead ahead of the door, standing next to an older guy in a ball cap who was sitting on a stool was Deke.

Deke.

Deke of the biker bar in the middle of nowhere in Wyoming who invited me for a ride and never showed. Deke who was now in a biker bar in the middle of nowhere in Colorado, looking no less larger-than-life, vital and amazing, chatting with an older guy in a ball cap who was sitting on a stool.

Deke who made me think during a conversation that might have lasted about ten minutes (if that) that in all I had, I could have more. Get to the important part. Finally find the reason I was put on that planet. Something that had, now for thirty-four years, eluded me.

Deke who didn’t even know who I was and all that meant, but he still turned his back, walked away and never came back for more.

Seven years, ten minutes, and I knew him at a glance.

Seven years, ten minutes, I was right then drawn to him so deeply, it was taking physical effort to stop my body swaying his way, my feet from moving to him.

Deke, now leaning into a forearm in the bar, torso turned sideways, feet in motorcycle boots crossed at the ankles, profile expressionless (from what I could see), clearly not moved even to show interest at whatever random person just walked into the bar. Definitely not sensing that random person was his soulmate, lost in Wyoming, found in Colorado seven years later, turning to me and rushing me, sweeping me off my feet, begging forgiveness and then handing me a new world.

The world where I was meant to be.

“Yo! Free People! We got a show-at-the-bar, set-your-ass-down, buy-a-fuckin’-drink policy. Not a stand-inside-the-doors-and-stare-at-fine-male-ass policy.”

I felt my body jerk as did my eyes to a petite woman behind the bar who had ebony hair, long, the ends flipped in a style that screamed 70’s jack-off poster, the tips of the flips flaming red.

She was also glaring at me.

Unbelievably (because I couldn’t remember the last time it happened), I fought the heat in my cheeks. At the same time I fought the desire to turn on my sandal and flee (and not just because I was embarrassed but also because it was clear the bartenders in this joint were cool with being unbelievably rude) as I forced myself to make my way to her. And as I did, I forced myself to look left first, to see bikers and other patrons hanging at tables and playing pool, before I looked right.

The right sweep included seeing Deke had turned toward me. His eyes were making a descent of my body, and as I walked, they hit the bottom and came back up.

He looked at my face.

Then he turned to the guy with the ball cap.

My stomach sank, and not for the first time I cursed the poet’s soul my father gave to me because this didn’t feel like that guy who you were attracted to not being attracted to you.

For a poet, something like that happening with a man like that was the end of the world.

I looked different, it was true. It wasn’t just that seven years had passed (though they had). In that time, I’d embraced a variety of fashion options before I settled on the one I liked (or, I should say, my mom and I settled on it, since Joss was my stylist and this not just because she was my mom who would naturally have input into that kind of thing, but because she was my stylist).

Now my look was one that was not like the miniskirt, tank top, teased-out hair, rocker/biker vixen version of me Deke had met.

This meant I was in a long, flowing slip dress embellished with matte gold sequins in zigzags and diamonds, back gone completely to my waist, held up by double straps on each side that crisscrossed. The back of the dress was hot, though, but the front gave awesome cleavage.

My dark brown hair was mostly down, some of its thick curls loose and hanging to my waist, some hanging in braids, the top front twisted back in a messy way from my forehead.

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