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Bounty(2)

By´╝ÜKristen Ashley



It wasn’t a downer.

I actually had it all. And if I didn’t have it, I had the means to get it.

Having the feelings I was having, sitting at that bar, it made me feel ungrateful.

Because in coming to understand I wanted more, I was coming to understand that I actually wanted less.

I also, right then, needed to get out of there. Not cut Lacey and Bianca’s fun short by heading back to the ranch (which meant one or the other would come back with me). Not leaving them drinking and carousing without a wingman who could keep her eye on things.

Just a breath of fresh air, out of that heat, the crush, the loud music.

Just…out.

“Lace!” I shouted across the table and, being Lacey, even with two bikers on her hook, she turned to me immediately.

“Yo!” she shouted back.

“Need a breath of fresh air,” I yelled. “You good?”

She nodded. “Good, but want me to come with?”

Again, so Lace. She had two hot guys right there ready to make her every wish their command and she would ditch them to take a breather with me.

I shook my head. “No, babe. I’ll be okay.” I glanced up at the guys then back to her. “And I’ll be watching.”

Lacey gave me a big professionally-whitened-teeth smile. Even though I’d seen it frequently and the lighting wasn’t great in that bar, it still startled me like it always did. What with her smooth, milk chocolate skin (a perfect mix of goodness given to her by her Brazilian mom and African American dad), high cheekbones, shining black hair and almond-shaped tawny eyes.

She was the full package, petite, a lot of curves, a lot of hair, good genes from top to toe.

But even if her folks poured good into her since birth from the genes and then some, I still felt the abundance of beauty she had inside was all Lacey.

“I’ll be watching too,” she yelled back.

There it was, as ever. Proof of that beauty.

I gave her a short wave and slid off my stool.

Then, trying not to catch anyone’s eyes, I made my way through the crowded bar toward the hallway that led to the restrooms, kitchen and double doors that remained open to the outside for air flow. They also remained open because there was a big patio out there (with another bar) for the smokers and folks who wanted to have a conversation without shouting.

I turned that way and saw in the hallway were three tables. One was cluttered with plastic cups and bottles, clearly a set down point for people to drop their drinks so they could hit the dancefloor. The middle one had three girls and four bikers, by the looks of it from my experienced eye they were in the throes of getting-to-know-you in order to later get-to-know-you.

The last table, a little removed and shoved into a corner, was vacant.

I moved that way, head coming up to scan the area in case someone had the same intent and I had to hurry to cut them off at the pass.

And that was when I saw him.

There was a tall chain link fence outside, closing the customers in to the patio area.

He was straight on from the hallway, turned sideways, standing at that fence. He had a bottle of beer in his hand and a buddy who was shorter than him (in fact, smaller than him in every way, which it would seem at first glance anyone would be).

And he had his head thrown back because he was laughing.

Seeing that, suddenly, he was the only man there.

The only man at the bar.

The only man in the universe.

The only man breathing.

The only man for me.

He was huge. Not tall. Not big. Not broad.

All of that.

Huge.

Long blond hair pulled back in a ponytail at his nape. Cut, strong jaw liberally stubbled with red-brown whiskers. Heavy brow over (from what I could tell in profile) deep-set eyes. The muscles in his thick neck standing out, the cords of his throat so defined, they could be traced on paper.

He had on faded jeans, motorcycle boots and a white T-shirt. None of it was tight, except for in good ways at good parts in regards to his jeans. But it had to be an impossibility for that big of a guy to find a T-shirt that didn’t pull at his wide chest or cling to his broad shoulders or mold around his amazing biceps.

I knew with an instinct I didn’t understand that what had me in his thrall wasn’t about his body, even as good of a body as he obviously had and as much of it as there was. This giving the immediate feel that this guy could be a teddy bear if he was into cuddling, making you feel small and safe and warm and protected just by wrapping his arms around you. At the same time he could also be a lion, annihilating anything that might threaten to harm you.

It also wasn’t the obvious fact that he didn’t give a shit about what he wore, how he looked, he wasn’t out to impress, and more than just the way normal bikers rocked this look. He was him, with long hair clubbed back without much care, not bothering to shave, throwing on utilitarian clothes as a chore, maybe simply because it was illegal to walk around naked, mostly because he didn’t give a shit.

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