Tina Wainscott

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Two guys walked out, squinting in the sun as smoke and now louder music poured out with them. Their black vests identified them as Vipers, with the logo of a bike’s profile, the tires made of the snake’s body. They slowed as they saw her, and Julian wandered over and slung his arm around her waist and pulled her close. He greeted the two men, who kept on going to their bikes. As soon as the engines filled the air with sound, Julian leaned close to her ear. “Be easy with me.”

Mollie turned, finding the rasp of his stubble rubbing against her cheek. “What do you mean?”

“You’re my BOB, remember? My girl.”

“Bitch on the back,” she said, recalling how he’d explained it.

“Exactly. We probably live together and have had sex a hundred different ways.”

Her body reacted to those words, adding the image of him lying on the bed, sunlight slanting across him—

“That’s what you want these guys to think, to see—that you’re mine,” he said. “Not tonight or for a couple of hours, but mine. When they look at you like those two just did, I’m going to claim you.” His hand tightened on her waist. “You need to move into me to show them there’s no question about where you belong.”

She knew he was saying something important, but when he said ‘you’re mine,’ and ‘where you belong,’ it completely stole away her thoughts. Especially with him holding her like this. Still holding her. She merely nodded.

“But just now when I put my arm around you, you stiffened.”

“Sorry. It feels … strange, you touching me like that.” Strange and nice, which made her even more uncomfortable. “I mean, I hardly know you.”

The guys roared out of the lot.

“Pretend I’m your boyfriend,” Julian said. “If you need to, picture me as your last boyfriend.”

She laughed the moment it came out of his mouth. “You are so nothing like Jimmie. He was more of a hand holder. Or a hand clinger, really, always reaching for me with a clammy grip.” She shuddered at the memory now. Why had she even liked him to begin with?

“Yeah, well, we’re not holding hands in these kinds of places. Think about some other guy you dated who was strong. Able.”

She shook her head. “I’ve never dated anyone like you.” She sorted through the few guys she’d gone out with, all for less than six months. “This sounds pitiful, really, but the few guys I’ve dated are usually needy. In trouble. I guess I’ve always been drawn to guys who need rescuing.”

He seemed to assess her for a moment. “I’ve done my share of rescuing myself. Just remember, it can be a pit with no bottom.” He brushed a strand of hair from her cheek. “Then this relationship we’re perpetuating is going to be much different than anything you’ve experienced. Being an insensitive son of a bitch is different for me, too, so we need to sink into our roles out here before we go inside.”

She settled against his side. “I’ll do my best.”

“Do better than that. Once we start asking questions, it has to look like I’m your old man backing you up. Couples don’t attract a lot of attention. Two nosy people who are not materially connected do. They’ll think cops, and once they have that in their mind, they’ll shut down. So if I do this, you need to flow with it.” His hand on her back, he turned her so that she was flat up against the front of him. “Relax, Mollie.”

She was supposed to relax with that hard body pressed up against hers? They were materially connected, all right, from her thighs all the way to her chest. She inhaled and breathed out, forcing herself to relax. With her face next to where his neck curved, she breathed in the scent of cologne, fresh air, and Julian.

He ran his hands up and down her back. She reached around him and slid her hands into his back pockets. Hadn’t she seen women do that? Which, she realized belatedly, put her hands right over his tight, firm butt.

The familiar sound of two Harleys roaring into the parking lot obliterated any conversation they might have for a few moments. They remained there until the engines cut. Julian nuzzled her neck as he subtly turned so she could see them. Two men, one with a beard, the other a goatee and red bandana, dismounted. It wasn’t until they turned toward their bikes that she saw their colors—Doomslayers, the top rocker on their vests proudly announced. One guy’s hair was so long, she could barely see the skeleton logo through the greasy strands.

“Not Brick,” she whispered.

The men’s gazes were on her and Julian as they swaggered toward the door, both with leering smiles. The front of their vests boasted several smaller patches. She didn’t see the skull and crossbones, indicating they’d killed for the club, but she still wasn’t exactly comforted. Especially as they paused when they came up beside them.

“Is there more of that inside?” one of them asked Julian.

Julian’s hand slid all the way down to her butt, squeezing it possessively. “We haven’t gone in yet, but I brought my own.” At the same time, he swiveled so that she was slightly behind him, and farther away from the men. “You’ll have to get your own.”

One of the men patted a pocket on jeans so dirty, they would probably stand up on their own. “Got some stuff if you’re of a mind to share.”

Drugs. They were asking if Julian wanted to trade sex with her for drugs. The thought repulsed her, and yet she had to keep cool. Julian’s body tightened, but he was keeping his cool, too. She snuggled her hip closer to his.

“Not a sharing kind of guy,” Julian said. “And my ol’ lady’s a one man type of gal.”

The two bikers traded a look that sent a cold shiver down her body. As though they were wondering if they could take Julian. He casually scratched his stomach, drawing their attention to his waist—where he kept his Glock. Then he gestured to the door. “After you, gentlemen.”

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