Grand Central Publishing
Copyright © 2013 Kristen AshleyISBN: 978-1-4555-9924-0
All rights reserved.
I'll Make You Coffee
It was ten to eight when I held my breath and turned off Broadway into the wide,cement-covered drive that took me around the big warehouse auto supply storethat was part of Ride's operation. I made it to the forecourt of the three-baygarage that was the other part of Ride's operation.
I studied the mammoth garage as I approached.
Ride Custom Cars and Bikes, my new place of employment, was world famous. Moviestars and Saudi Arabian sheiks bought cars and bikes from them. Their cars andbikes had been in magazines and they were commissioned for movies. Everyone inDenver knew about them. Hell, everyone in Colorado knew about them, and I waspretty sure most everyone in the United States too. I was pretty sure of thisbecause I knew not that first thing about custom cars and bikes. In fact, I knewnothing about non-custom cars and bikes, but I still knew about Ride.
I also knew the Chaos Motorcycle Club owned the garage and four auto supplystores, this one in Denver, one in Boulder, another in Colorado Springs and thelast one that just opened in Fort Collins. I knew the Chaos Motorcycle Club too.They were famous because of Ride and because many of their rough-and-ready-looking members had been photographed with their custom bikes and cars.
I also knew them because I'd partied with them.
And that day I was starting as the new office manager of the garage.
And that day was only one, single day after I'd been laid by Tack, the presidentof Chaos Motorcycle Club and, essentially, my boss.
And lastly, that day was only one single day and one single night after Tack hadslam, bam, thank you ma'am'ed me.
"God," I whispered to my windshield as I parked in front and just beside thesteps that led up to the door next to the triple bays of the garage, a door witha sign over it that said "Office," "I'm such a stupid, stupid,idiot."
But I wasn't an idiot. No, I was a slut.
I didn't know how to cope with being a slut. I'd never been one before. I didnot jump into bed with men I barely knew. I did not have flights of fancy whereI thought they were beautiful, perfect, motorcycle man daydreams come to lifeand therefore did tequila shots with them and then had hours of wild, crazy,delicious, fantastic sex with them.
That was not me at all.
I was not the kind of person who lived life like Tack did. I was thirty-five andI had lived a careful, quiet, risk-free life. I weighed decisions. I measuredpros versus cons. I wrote lists. I made plans. I organized. I thought ahead. Inever took one step where I wasn't absolutely certain where my foot would land.And if I found myself in a situation that was unsure, I exited said situation,pronto.
Until two months ago, when I looked at my life and the toxic people in it and Iknew I had to get out.
So I got out. I didn't plan it. I didn't measure the pros and cons. I didn'torganize my exit strategy. I didn't think ahead. When I'd had the epiphany andrealized where I was, how dangerous it was, how unhealthy it was, I had no ideawhere I'd land when I jumped off the ride that was my life. I just straightenedfrom my desk chair at work, grabbed my personal belongings, shoved them in a boxand walked out. I didn't even tell my boss I was going. I just went.
And I didn't go back.
For the next two months I bought the paper every Wednesday and opened it to thewant ads section. On each page of the want ads, I closed my eyes and pointed. IfI was qualified for the job my finger touched, I applied for it.
That was the extent of my plan.
My best friend, Lanie, thought I was nuts. I couldn't say she was wrong. I hadno idea what I was doing, why I was doing it, where I was going and what wouldhappen once I got there.
All I knew was that I had to do it.
So I was.
Now I was here and here was where I decided I needed to be. I'd spent all daythe day before trying to figure out if I should show for my new job or not. I'dscrewed everything up, literally, and I hadn't even started the job yet. Ididn't want to see Tack. I never wanted to see him again. The very thought wasso humiliating, I felt my skin burning and I had that very thought nearlyconstantly since I slid out of his bed, dressed and, mortified, slithered out ofhis room.
But I had been out of work for two months. I had a nest egg but I also had amortgage. I had to find employment. I had to start my life again. Whatever I wassupposed to be doing, I had to do it. Whatever I needed to find, I had to findit.
There was no going back now. I'd jumped out of the roller coaster at the top ofthe crest, just before it took the plunge and I was falling.
I had to land sometime and it was here that I was going to land.
So I'd been a slut. There were lots of sluts out there, hundreds of thousands ofthem. Maybe millions. They went to work every day and some of them surely wentto a workplace where there were people with whom they'd had sex. They probablydidn't blink. Their skin probably didn't burn with mortification. They probablydidn't care. They probably just found a new workmate or random guy that madetheir heart beat faster and their skin tingle with excitement and then theyslept with him. They probably liked it. No, they probably loved it.
That was part of life, wasn't it? That was part of living, right? You did stupidstuff because it felt good and if you screwed up, you moved on. Everyone didthat. Everyone.
Now, even me.
And damn it, I'd been on a scary, freaky roller coaster for a long freakingtime. That whole time, I had my eyes closed and ignored the scary, freaky stuffthat was happening around me. I was too scared to open my eyes and take a riskon life.
No more of that.
So I slept with my boss. Who cared?
I sucked in a deep breath, hitched my purse on my shoulder, threw the door to mycar open and got out. Then I looked around the space. It was early and clearlybikers didn't do early. There was no one there. There was a line of bikes, fiveof them parked in front of the Compound, which was a long, rectangular buildingto the side of the forecourt separating the garage from the auto supply store.There was a beat-up pickup truck parked behind the auto supply store. Nothingelse. No movement. No sound.
Eloise was supposed to meet me at eight to show me the ropes. I figured I wasearly but I walked up the steps and tried the door anyway. It was locked. Iturned to face the forecourt and looked at my watch. Seven minutes to eight.
I took my purse off my shoulder, dug my cell out, slid my purse straps back overmy shoulder and texted Lanie.
Approximately five seconds later, Lanie texted back.
OMG! Why? Are you nuts?
I'd told my best friend about the motorcycle club party I'd attended and I'dtold her about my new boss's slam, bam, thank you ma'am. I did this in anattempt to stop my skin from burning when I thought of it because every girlknew, a problem shared with her best friend was a problem lost. Though I'dlearned a new life lesson, and this was that those problems mostly werediscussions of what to wear on first dates or whether or not you should investin that fabulous wrought iron wine rack from Pottery Barn and not the fact thatyou'd had a one-night stand with your new boss. I learned this because evenafter sharing with Lanie, it didn't help.
Lanie was of a mind that I shouldn't show at my new job and what I should do wasmy want-ad finger-pointing thing for another two months, or twelve, just as longas I never entered Tack's breathing space again. Then again, Lanie had a reallygood job as an advertising executive and was living with her fiancé, Elliott.She didn't have to worry about her nest egg depleting not only because she wastalented, in great demand and therefore made a more than decent salary but alsobecause Elliott was a genius computer programmer and made big bucks. Huge. Shewas spending ten thousand dollars on flowers alone for her wedding. Theircatering budget sent my heart into spasm. And her dress cost more than my car.
My thumb went across the number pad and I texted back, Not nuts. I need apaycheck.
Five seconds later, Lanie texted, What if you see him?
I was prepared for that and I'd spent a lot of time preparing for seeing Tackagain. Indeed, I'd spent all night doing it considering I had all of two hoursof sleep.
If I see him, I see him, I texted back. I'm embracing my innerslut.
To this, I received, You don't have an inner slut!!! You're Tyra Masters.Tyra Masters is NOT a slut!!!
She is now, I replied, adding, or she was Saturday night.
No more flying solo, Lanie texted in return, then right on its heels came,Any and all future social events you attend, I'm your wingman.
I smiled at my phone, heard a door slam and my head came up. Then my lungsseized.
Shit! There was Tack standing outside the door to the Club's Compound. He waswearing faded jeans, motorcycle boots and a skin-tight white t-shirt. Even froma distance I could see his hair was a sexy, messy bed head. And I knew why sincehe was currently making out with a tall, thin, dark-haired woman, and when I saymaking out, I mean making out. They were going at it, her hands at hisfantastic ass, his hands at hers.
God, I'd been in his bed Saturday night and he had a new woman in his bed lastnight, Sunday. And he hadn't walked me to the door and made out with me to saygood-bye. Hell, he hadn't even said good-bye.
I closed my eyes tight and swallowed and when I did, it hurt ... a lot.
Okay, maybe I couldn't do this.
I opened my eyes and pinned them to the phone, my thumb flying over the numberpad.
He just walked out of the Compound, I told Lanie.
Two seconds later, I received, OMG!!!!
He's making out with a brunette, I informed her.
OMG!! OMG!!! OMG!!!! Get out of there! Lanie texted back.
I heard an engine cough to life and lifted my head to see the brunette in thebeat-up pickup. My eyes slid to Tack to see his on me. My gaze shot back to thetruck to see the brunette was waving at Tack but he was done with her. I knewthis because she was waving at him but when I looked back to him he was notpaying a bit of attention to her and was walking my way.
I looked back down at my phone and typed in, She's taking off. He's comingto me.
I sent my message and stared at the phone, not lifting my head and trying hardnot to bite my lip or, say, have an embarrassment-induced seizure.
"Red," I heard when my phone beeped in my hand, and luckily I didn't have tolift my head immediately because I was reading Lanie's latest message.
Escape, Tyra, go, go, go!!!!
"Red," I heard from closer, and I finally lifted my head to see that Tack wasthree of the eight steps up and climbing toward me.
He looked good. Everything about him looked good. The way his clothes fit. Theway his hair looked like he'd just got out of bed and run his fingers throughit. The way those lines radiated out the sides of his eyes. The way his bodymoved.
Nope, I couldn't be a slut. I should have listened to Lanie.
"Hey," I forced out.
My skin started burning and I was pretty sure it was pink top to toe as his eyesslid the length of me. When he made it to the top of the steps, he looked downat me and he didn't look happy.
"What're you doin' here?" he asked.
I stared at him, surprised. I mean, I'd told him on Saturday night I was his newoffice manager.
So I said, "I work here."
"I work here."
His eyes did a top-to-toe again then he repeated after me, "You work here."
"Yes, Eloise hired me. I'm taking over for her. I'm your new office manager."
He stared down at me and he didn't look any less unhappy. In fact, he lookedunhappier.
Then he stated, "You're shittin' me."
I fought against biting my lip again, succeeded and shook my head.
Apparently, Tack wasn't a big fan of working alongside women he'd loved andleft. Or, in my case, loved and then kicked out of his bed.
I found this interesting, not in a good way, but it was interesting nonetheless.
Then Tack announced, "You don't work here anymore."
I blinked up at him as my hand automatically reached out and grasped the railingbeside me.
"What?" I whispered.
"Babe, not good," he growled. "What the fuck were you thinkin'?"
"About what?" I asked.
He leaned in and it hit my fogged, stunned, fired-before-I-even-started brainthat he was even unhappier than before, and I had to admit, it was a littlescary.
"I do not work with bitches who've had my dick in their mouth," he declared, andthat was when my skin stopped burning and felt like it was combusting.
"But," I started when I could speak again, "I thought I told you I was your newoffice manager."
"You did not," he returned.
"I'm pretty sure I did," I told him.
"You didn't," he replied.
"No, I think I did."
He leaned even closer to me and growled, "Red. You. Did. Not."
"Okay," I whispered because he was now definitely scaring me but also because Iactually wasn't pretty sure I did, I was just kind of sure I did.
"I do not fuck anyone who's got my signature on their paycheck," he again madehis opinion perfectly clear, and my mind raced to find a solution to this newdilemma at the same time it struggled with fighting back the urge to run as fastas I could to my car and peel right the heck out of Ride Custom Cars and Bikesforecourt and get as far away from this freaking scary guy as I could.
I mean, what was I thinking? I thought he was beautiful. Perfect. My motorcycledream man.
Boy, was I wrong. Very, very wrong. He wasn't. He was a rough-and-readymotorcycle man, the president of a motorcycle club, and he was downrightfrightening.
With effort, I pulled myself together.
Then I told him, "Okay, that works for me. Minor blip. We forget it happened andsince it's never going to happen again, we move on from this and you don't haveto break your no-sleeping-with-employees rule in order to, um ... employ me."
"We forget it happened?" he asked, looking even angrier.
"Uh ... yeah," I answered.
"The rule's broken, babe, no unbreaking it," he returned.
"It's not broken," I told him.
"Red, it's broken."
"It isn't," I stated, and he opened his mouth to speak again, his face hard, hiseyes flashing and I quickly went on to explain my reasoning. "See, you said youdon't sleep with anyone who's got your signature on their paycheck. Eloise hiredme but I hadn't actually started. So, I didn't have your signature on mypaycheck because I'd only had the job offer. I wasn't actually doing the job. Iwalk in that door," I pointed to the office door, "that's when I'm your employeeand since we're not, erm ... you know ... and won't again, then, technically,you didn't break your rule and, um ... won't."
"I know what you taste like," he informed me of something I already knew.
This was an odd and slightly rude thing to share so I had no response.
"And what you sound like when you come," he continued being rude.
This was not getting better and I clenched my teeth to stop myself biting mylip.
"And how fuckin' greedy you are," he went on. "Babe, you think you're around I'mnot gonna want seconds, you're fuckin' crazy."
Then I asked quietly, "What?"
"Darlin', you're the greediest piece of ass I've had in my bed in a long fuckin'time. I got a taste for greedy, you think I'm not gonna take it?"
Now he was definitely being rude.
"I'm not greedy," I whispered.
He leaned back. "Jesus, you fuckin' are. So fuckin' hungry, you nearly wore meout. And, darlin', that's sayin' something."
This was already not fun and it was getting less fun by the second.
"Can we not talk about this?" I requested.
"Yeah, absolutely, we can not talk about this. That works for me. It also worksfor me you showed since you didn't leave your number before you took off onSaturday. So give me your number, get your ass in your car and I'll call youwhen I got a taste for you."
Oh my God. Did he just say that?