I CAN’T take my eyes off her.
It’s a pretty fucked-up thing, really. I kissed her best friend and even though it didn’t really mean anything, I know that it’s not working in my favor. In fact, there’s pretty much nothing going in my favor right now.
I’m the president of the Wild Men MC, a club with a history I’m not exactly proud of. I told myself that when I took over, things would change, and I’ve tried my hardest to make that a reality. The old club president was my stepfather, who happened to be the biological father of one of the members of a rival MC. When Rake found out the truth of the situation, shit didn’t go over well. My stepfather raised me instead of him and his sister—something I always felt guilty over, especially after meeting Rake’s sister, Anna. I promised myself that I’d try to make up for it, that I’d always be there for her, and so far I’ve kept my promise. She’s like a sister to me now.
Rake, on the other hand, hates me with a passion. Probably rightly so, considering we used to be enemies. The Wild Men and the Wind Dragons have always had bad blood, but it was brought to a head when one of the Wind Dragons’ women, Mary, was killed by a Wild Man who broke into their compound. It turns out Mary meant something special to everyone, especially Arrow. When my stepdad died and I became president of the Wild Men, I wanted things to change. I’ve tried to close the gap between the two clubs, and have made progress, considering we don’t try to kill each other on sight anymore.
But like everything, it’s one step forward and two steps back with them. And I can admit that it’s probably my fault Rake still hates me. There was the incident when I invited Anna, a WD old lady, and her friend Bailey to my birthday party at the clubhouse. In fact, I may have guilted her into coming, which was stupid on my part. I should’ve known better. Oh, and did I mention that I also kissed Bailey, who’s now Rake’s old lady and Tia’s best friend? Tia, the woman I can’t stop staring at.
If I’m being honest, the reason I kissed Bailey was to stop Rake from being an idiot, to push him into stepping up and claiming her. Of course I got something out of it—a kiss from an attractive woman—but really I was just enjoying getting Rake worked up. Getting under his skin.
I tend to do things like that. My cousin Shayla always tells me that I like to push people just to see how far I’m able to do it. I test people. I like to see if I can manipulate them into doing what I want without asking them for it directly.
It’s not one of my finer qualities. I’m trying to work on it.
I down the last mouthful of my drink, then slide the empty glass along the bar. When I see Tia glance over at me, her eyes widening, I know that I need to leave before she comes to talk to me.
Then why the fuck aren’t my feet moving? Nothing good can come from us speaking. Why dangle something in front of me that I know I can’t have? Waste of time. The memory of us kissing flashes through my mind, making me grit my teeth. Yeah, she is fuckin’ tempting, but she isn’t for me. I know she’s very friendly, not the type to snub someone she knows. At least that’s what Anna has told me about her, that she isn’t a shy woman—she’s more of the takes-whatever-she-wants type. So she won’t sit across the room and give me her best sex eyes, waiting for me to approach her like some women I know. She’s a fighter. I can already tell that about her, and I like it.
To be honest, I like her more than I should, and now isn’t the time for me to get tangled up with a woman, especially one with ties to Rake and the WDMC. She also has a kid, and what the fuck do I know about being a father?
No, I’m not as good a man as Rake—who slipped right into the role of father to Bailey’s daughter, Cara—and I know that, so there’s no point in pretending. Anna told me how amazing he’s been, and how he took to fatherhood almost naturally. I also have a shitload of things going on in my life, especially with my club, and a woman to take care of is not what I need right now.
I wait a few more moments before I force myself to throw some money on the bar and head home. I make my way to the exit, not making eye contact with anyone, and definitely not looking in Tia’s direction. I’m at my bike when I hear her voice.
“Not even a wave hello?” she says in a tone that’s a mixture of dry and amused.
I turn around to face her and flash her a smile I’ve perfected over the years, one that oozes charm and confidence. “Got somewhere to be.”
“Don’t we all,” she murmurs, coming to stand in front of me. She’s a tiny thing. Petite. With her oval-shaped face, light blond hair, and wide blue eyes, she has an ethereal look to her, like an angel. When you take a deeper look into her eyes, though, they’re sharp and knowing, more like the devil’s. I also happen to know that she cusses like a sailor, those sweet lips saying anything and everything.
“How’ve you been, Tia?” I ask her, knowing that she isn’t going to let me leave without some small talk at least.
“Fine,” she says, narrowing her eyes a little. “How have you been, Talon? It’s been a while since I last saw you.”
It hasn’t been that long. The last time I saw her was when I ran into her and Bailey while they were out drinking one night. I stayed, just to make sure they got home safely—or at least that’s what I tell myself.
“Been busy,” I reply, which is an understatement. I have so much going on right now that the stress is going to eat me alive. And it’s not like Tia and I hang around the same people. Sure, she has ties to the Wind Dragons through Bailey, but the only person I see on a regular basis is Anna, and I haven’t even seen much of her lately. I don’t have many fans in the WDMC, especially after my birthday. But my cousin Shayla couldn’t be there, and Anna is the only other person I have who is like family to me, besides my club brothers.
“Who are you here with?” I ask her, surprised that the woman I saw her in the bar with wasn’t Bailey, or any other woman I’ve seen before.
“Friend from work,” she replies, shifting her handbag up on her shoulder. “Bailey’s watching Rhett for me, said I deserved a break.” She smirks, her eyes smiling. “Practically pushed me out the door. Apparently ‘a break’ is code for a drink. So here I am, being social.”
My lip twitches in amusement. One thing I’ve learned about Tia in the short time I’ve spent with her is that she has a good sense of humor.
“And how’s that going for you?”
“Being social,” I say, my gaze lowering to her slender neck. She’s wearing a sexy baby-blue suede choker that’s a mix of sweet and sensual. I find myself wanting to gently put my hand on her throat and trail my fingers down her body until I reach the valley in between her breasts.
“It’s kind of nice to get out,” she admits, and my eyes snap back up to her face. She grins, as if she knows exactly what I was thinking. She takes a step closer to me and looks me dead in the eye. I know grown men who are too afraid to do that. “I like Knox’s Tavern. You always see a friendly face, and Reid, Ryan, Summer, and Tag are awesome people.”
“You look stunning without makeup,” I blurt out, taking in her flawless skin and long lashes. She really is a true fuckin’ beauty, and she doesn’t need any of that shit on her face.
“I look stunning with it too,” she fires back, grinning.
“You do,” I agree, mainly because I’m not an idiot.
She flashes me another smile, then says, “Nice to see you again, Talon.”
She gets up on her tiptoes and kisses me on my cheek, then walks back into the bar without looking back. I touch my cheek with my fingers, wondering what it would be like to feel those lips on every part of my body. Just then my phone beeps with a text, bringing me back to reality. It’s from Ranger.
Need you at the clubhouse, now.
I shove my phone back into my pocket and get on my bike. What the hell is going on? Lately it’s been one issue after another.
I ride back to the Wild Men clubhouse and rush inside, looking around for Ranger. I find him with his hand around Lash’s throat, just as Slice, my second-in-command, beats me to tearing the two of them apart. Slice is one of the very few men, along with Ranger, I trust implicitly. We’ve been through a lot together and always have each other’s backs.
“What the fuck is going on here?” I ask, looking between the two men. Ranger hardly ever loses his temper, so the fact he’s about to choke Lash out says a hell of a lot. Slice finally gets Ranger to let go, and Lash falls to the ground, clutching his throat and gasping for air. Ranger turns to me, chest heaving and eyes narrowed. “This shit is getting fuckin’ tiring.” With that parting comment, he storms off. Losing my temper, I pull Lash up from the ground and slam him against the wall. “What the fuck was that about?”
“Nothing,” Lash says, avoiding my gaze. The men won’t snitch on each other and I know it—I even respect it—but it fuckin’ pisses me off sometimes. I let go of Lash, who looks between me and Slice, then leaves the room.
“What were they fighting over? Any idea?” I ask him, staring at the spot Lash just vacated.
Slice shrugs, shaking his head. “Nope, but we’ll find out.”
I grit my teeth, knowing that this is going to play on my mind until I figure out what happened.
“This is a biker clubhouse, Talon, not a fuckin’ country club. Fights will happen; don’t stress over it. They’ll sort it out between them.”
I take a deep breath and look up at the ceiling. “Yeah, you’re right.”
I don’t know why, but I just have this feeling. A bad one. Like everything is about to come crashing down on us.
Something has changed around here, and I’m going to find out exactly what it is.