Chapter 1 ~ Begin Again
Two failed relationships in the past ten years, one romantic and one friendship. A proposal, a miscarriage, the funerals of five friends, a runaway cat, fired from my job and the sale of a house I never got to live in. This is what my life had ended up as, driving back home to my Daddy and Mammas in Gatwick County. The home of the world’s biggest haystack, smallest minds and religious homemakers. Ten years since I had sworn to myself, I would never come back here and yet, here I was.
I’d just hit twenty-eight, and had lost the strength to start again.
Evan, the last ass that I was unfortunate enough to cross paths with, had stripped me of all ability to rise up from the ashes of my melted, disfigured and emotionally maimed life. Not just that, Nadia, my ex-boss and ex-friend, chose to vandalise my career for informing her about her husband propositioning me on her birthday - at their house - so now no publishing company will touch me with a ten-foot pole. I had lost it all, even the damn cat decided to skedaddle and abort this sinking ship.
“You’re here; finally my baby is home, lord knows I missed you baby girl.” My mother, the epitome of a country, god fearing, duck shooting, quilt making and apple pie baking dames. Her light brown tresses pinned back in a high ponytail with her soft brown eyes and her pink pouty lips. Even at her age, she was still stunning. She and my father married young - straight out of high school. She swears it wasn’t because she was pregnant with me but the six and a half months later that I was born proves otherwise.
“Hey Mumma,” my unenthusiastic and thickly unimpressed tone slithered out without filter or restraint.
“Baby, I can hear that tone, now you best remove that attitude before your father hears it.” I stand there in the driveway blinking up at her, fantastic five fucking seconds and I’m in trouble.
“Mum, I’m twenty-eight.”
“Hush, you will always be my baby.” I can’t help the images that swirl across my mind that resemble something of a very warped horror movie, consisting of me blowing my head apart with a handgun. Unfortunately, I never sought to obtain my gun licence, so there goes that idea.
“I just drove for thirty-six hours, across this damn country, and you’re already on my case?” I loved my Mumma, I honestly did, but we had always had a somewhat ‘undernourished’ relationship. My Daddy, however, he and I used to see eye to eye on almost everything - used too.
I walked into the old colonial house at the top of the green grassy hill - once a place I loved, now a place I loathed. It had not changed since my days of running around and skinning knees. The same antique plates stacked on their stands in the china display cabinets the moment you enter the door. The hardwood floating floors looked freshly mopped, and the plush antique furniture sat unused in marked off sections of the house. After all these years, we still had to remain behind the rope, so as not to disturb the ‘living areas’ in case company showed up. Let’s ignore the fact they are called ‘living areas’ for a reason, but in this house, ‘living areas’ were not to be lived in.
“Mumma, where’s Daddy?”
“Where do you think, baby? In his study. Now, drop those bags off in your room before you say hi, okay?” She headed back to the kitchen in her pretty white, knee-length dress and flowery cooking apron.
I trudged upstairs, my pulse pumping and my heart rapidly beating in my chest. The last time I saw my father, the words ‘I will never be back here again’ graced my lips and ten years on - look where I am? I inwardly groaned at my 18-year-old self, god, was I delusional. I thought I had all the answers, I thought I was a big city fish, and this town was my restrictor. God was I wrong.
As I deposited the bags that carried the ashes of my blown apart life, into the bedroom that held a much younger idealistic self, there on the bed, sat a drastic reminder of my messed up existence. The crown I’d been given at homecoming, taunting me from its spot. Where did it all go so wrong? I was sure I had gotten everything right this time.
I held in my evident distaste for the fact my Mum had left my childhood room the exact same I had left it. I wonder if those sheets had been on there for ten years, in anticipation for this very moment?
Running my hands over my face, I could feel the beginning pangs of a stress headache brewing up a storm inside my overly worked brain. I wonder if Harvey, the smoking surfer, still hung out on the corner selling kids weed to ′expand their minds′ so he put it whenever he got arrested. I could do with something to numb the slap of this cold realisation.
Knocking on the door, I waited apprehensively, “come in.” My father’s study door, still white with the thick smell of cigar’s seeping out from under it. The exact door I would wait for him for hours to come out of, convinced, I could not go to bed until he had chased away all the monsters with his powerful daddy presence. Funny how ludicrous and distorted we see things.
“Hey Daddy,” I popped my head in, not really looking at him before pulling my head back and going to shut the door.
“I said, come in, Paxton – Rose.” I rolled my light bluish/grey eyes groaning softly - incidentally, my eyes falling upon the exact same coloured ones watching me shuffle in from the hall. My father still sat in the same high backed, swivel, red leather chair he always had, at the same reddish brown timber desk with his hands enlaced in front of him. His short grey hair and now grey beard nicely trimmed - as always - and those haunting light bluish/grey judgemental eyes staring me back. All while his vast library of knowledgeable books lined up perfectly behind him, still teasing me with their known smarts.“How have you been?”
I tucked my light brown wavy hair behind my ear, “fine... you?”
“Fine, though I distinctly remember the last time we saw each other, you were adamant on never stepping foot in this town again?”
“Daddy, I came to see you and Mumma, I could have easily wallowed in my apartment in the city, but no, I decide to drive all this way only for you to give me a hard time the moment I arrive.” Not entirely true, but it’s not like they really need to know that.
“I’m sorry baby, it’s just a surprise is all.”
“You’re telling me...” I stated, “anyway, I’ll see you later.” My growing need to escape this wretched torture near on breaking point.
“Fine, fine, inform your mother I shall be out soon, will you?”
“Yes, Daddy.” I cringed as the words come out, he was a bastard to me now, just like the others. My senior year was when the breakdown occurred that year, my father went from my hero to my betrayer all in a matter of a split second. I closed the door behind me, groaning painfully as the air finally fills my lungs and the tense, hostile atmosphere, now left to guard the door from the inside.
How could she stay with him? After everything, he had done, and she stayed - loving him -pretending like everything was fine. She was a fool, and now, I remember why I stayed away.
“Mumma, he’ll be down in a little while.”
“Thank you, baby. I thought you and I...” I grabbed my keys heading for the door, “where are you going?”
“How could you stay with him after what he has done?” My tone was set to hurt, why? Because I hurt. After all these years and they pretend like nothing has happened, as though they are the picture perfect family. No wonder my life was so messed up, and I couldn’t keep my shit together.
She wiped her hands on her tea towel, “baby...”
But I wasn’t ready to hear her excuses, it was time to get the fuck out, “forget it, I’ll be back later.”
“Where are you going? You just got here,” she questioned with tears welling in her eyes.
“Out... I’ll be back later.” I couldn’t handle it anymore, the childhood home I had known to care and love for me was a house built on lies and deceit - it made me sick.
There had been a few additions to the town since I left, more restaurants, more bars, not too shabby. I guess my time here wouldn’t be as horrid as I thought, there seemed to be a lot more to do but as I neared the pub, I realised that this was a colossal mistake and tomorrow, I would check the job sites and head anywhere, to any state, just as far away from here as I could get. I came here seeking direction, and I guess I found it, direction... get the fuck away from here.
The local pub had clearly changed ownership and was now called Ollie’s. It had been renovated too, to a more welcoming atmosphere, considering my Dad was who he is, I could never sneak into the old place. I guess now’s a good as time as any to test out the local watering hole that had been so active in my childhood.
Sitting alone at a table in the darkest corner of the place, swirling a jack’s and coke with the straw, I thought about these past few months. At least I didn’t have to worry about money for a bit, the sale of the house saw to that. The loans and credit cards I had were paid off, it wasn’t enough to live off forever, but I would be okay for a few more months. Well, until I found work and a new state. This place still reeked of a past I’ve spent ten years trying to forget.
Why had I come? I had passed through countless towns on the way here, that would have been just as good to set up camp in, but no, stubborn me had decided to drive the full way home, to a place I had forgotten held such dishonesty. My heart needed comfort, but there was no comfort to be gained here, nothing but phantoms.
“Well now, if it isn’t little Paxton-Rose Bradbury, the local Sheriff’s wild daughter?” I look up to see a very familiar high school face. “Now if my memory serves me correct, you said you were never coming back to this here little town.” God his country twang just got thicker as the years rolled on by.
“Ollie.” I huffed and rested my forehead on the table before sliding off my stool to give him a hug, “I take it this is your place?”
Ollie was tall, athletically built with short blonde hair but it was covered by a basketball cap, which I had a sneaking suspicion was hiding the start of a receding hairline. His face was now stubbly, and he had wrinkle lines at the side of each eye, his golden brown orbs still gleamed with mischief. “Brought it off Lucy about 7 years ago now.”
“You’ve done great with it, it’s a nice place,” I mumbled.
“Now darlin’ that don’t look like the face of someone appreciating my architecture - what are you doing back here?” He pulled up a bottle of jacks and two shot glasses, pouring me one and then himself.
“C’mon Ollie, can’t a girl visit her Daddy and Mumma?” I say attempting to sway the conversation.
“Darlin’, a girl like you with the world at their feet, doesn’t return to a place like this unless she was lost... who was he?” I gave him a questioning look before he shrugged and answered my silent question with, “counselling degree.”
I moaned rather profoundly and then sighed out of frustration. “He... is not important, and she, destroyed my career over her husband’s inappropriate proposition.”
“Ouch,” he shook his head before pouring us another shot. “So, ya came home to start again, huh?”
“I honestly don’t know why I’m here,” I reply before downing the second shot.
“You sound like ya’ll wanna gap it first chance ya get?”
“Would that be so bad? Don’t tell me the pace around here has somewhat picked up?”
“It ain’t the same round here, not like we know it, things are changing.”
“Still looks the same to me,” he pours me another shot.
“That’s because you’ve still got your small town glasses on your eyes. When you really stop and look - you will see.” He nodded to reaffirm his words were the truth.
“Huh, I’ll believe that when I see it.”
I watched her from the moment she walked in tonight. She was stunning in those black heels, black ripped skinny leg jeans - which cupped her shapely ass nicely and a black long sleeved bodice. All of it topped off with rose gold jewellery as her light brown wavy hair cascading down her back, shimmered when the disco lights hit it. Her light bluish/grey, sincere, sparkling eyes, both haunting and capturing at the same time.
“Well now, if it isn’t little Paxton-Rose Bradbury, the local sheriff’s wild daughter?” The moment that idiot Ollie said her name I was interested. Paxton, yes, that name rolled off my tongue quite nicely. She had banged her forehead on the table before she stood to hug him, and I got another good look at those curves. Clearly, they had been friendly in their past, but how close were they now? And I was more than curious as to why she felt the need to head-butt the table first?
I sat there - just one table over from her - listening in on the whole conversation, including the part where she had revealed her obviously loser ex and ex-friend. This was why she had rolled into town, god, she was mesmerising, even if she became looser with every shot downed.
The problem being though, Ollie had said she was the Sheriff’s daughter - that would be just like that asshole to have a drop dead gorgeous child. The old bastard has been watching my every move since I got out of the joint ten months ago. Yes, I know I fucked up my life big time, but everyone deserves a chance at redemption, right? And who better to keep me on the right path than a tasty lavish morsel such as Paxton-Rose Bradbury?
I needed to know more than her name and the fact that she had ended her relationship with some foolish, foolish man. Why the hell would he let her go? She seemed confident, I mean you had to be to show up here and drink on your own. She seemed gentle, although that could be the shots of jacks her and Ollie were throwing back at rapid rates. I leaned in to listen more intently to their conversation.
“So, what ya doing here instead of at home with the folks?” Good question Ollie, ten points son, you’re not as dumb as you look. What was she doing here if she just rolled into town?
She groans and wipes her hands over her face. “I don’t even know them,” she begins to play with her straw again, her elbows leaning heavily on the table.
“What? They’re your folks’ darlin’, of course, you know em.”
“No, I actually don’t. Everyone thinks my father is a wonderful man...” she tries to tap the end of her nose three times but misses, she must be well and truly pissed? Oh, there you go, she finally got it. “...but if only they knew the truth, his pristine fucking reputation would be blown to smithereens.” Daddy issues, I can work with that.
“This the reason for the dramatic departure senior year?” From the way he sounded that sentence, he’s clearly drunk too. Thank god the bartenders are my men and can look after the clubs investment.
“I used to love them, you know...” she slurs her speech. “I used to worship them, I was going to have a life just like the one they had. Now, I can’t stand to be in the same fucking room as them.”
“Hate to break it to ya darlin’ but all parents fuck up along the way, they are humans.”
“Yeah,” she waves him off. “But anyway, what about you? Besides the bar, what else have you done? Girlfriend? Wife? Kids? Husband?”
Ollie throws his head back and laughs, “ha, no darlin’ I was waiting on you to roll back into town and look at that, my patience has been rewarded. Now, you and I can start that relationship I always wanted.” That fucker is after my woman, okay, I know she is not my woman, but she will be, and that asshole needs to stay away. I knew he took too much interest in her - careful Oleander, you are messing with the wrong man.
“Con, you playing this round?” My VP patches interrupted my recon mission. Patches was your typical biker - leathers, dreads, tattoos and one hell of a tough man in the ring.
“Yeah patch, just give me a minute,” I throw back without looking.
“Ollie, as flattering as that is...” she stands and wobbles slightly, I knew she most definitely wasted now. “I have to get back before I shot you out of jacks.” He pulls her in for a hug, keeping his hands on the top of her ass, the sly fucker. I ground my teeth together, watching his movements as she tries to pull away.
“Come on, darlin’. I will just keep coming until you give this man a chance.” He was pressuring her while she was intoxicated.
“Good night, Oleander Mac Dermot.” She sways her curvaceous body and saunters out of there.
“Patch, grab the bikes and follow me, you ride mine - Trixie ride Patches bike,” I ordered. Trixie was Patches Mrs, of close to seven years, they were inseparable, those two.
I watched her as she tried to open her car door. “Hey, love, why don’t you give me the keys, and I’ll take you home?”
“I don’t even know you three,” she replied as I stood there alone. Yep, she was worse than I realised.
“Well, my name is Connor, Connor Steel, and now, you are?”
“Connor Steel.” I loved the way it sounded coming from those plump, pouty pink lips. “My name is Paxton, Paxton Bradbury, and I can assure all of you that I’m quite fine to drive.”
“Oh, I’m sure you are Paxton, which is why - since we are new friends - I’m going to drive you back to your Ma and Pa’s.” She rolled her beautiful bluish/grey eyes.
“Fine, but you better know where you are going.” Paxton hands me the keys without further question. Man, I’ll have to watch her when she is pissed. I chuckled at her as she maundered around the front and into the passenger’s seat while I jump behind the wheel of her Dodge Charger. For the woman to own this kind of car is a bit incredible - but it also means she doesn’t have kids because if she did, she would be driving something responsible.
I hear our bikes startup, and I wave for them to follow. “So... Connor Steel?” She enunciates my name as if committing it to memory, “what do you do?”
“Well, Paxton Bradbury, I own the mechanics down on Govern Drive.” She flicks through her phone and presses play, ‘Remember the name’ by forte minor, blasts through her decent stereo system. “Which actually means I’m the only one in town that can service your car.”
“Mechanic, huh? - and why are there bikes following us?” She turns in her seat, scanning the motorcycles curiously. For a drunk person, she was actually pretty perceptive.
“They are my friend’s love, they are following us until we drop you off safely, and then I’ll head home on my bike.” She seemed to smile at this, hmm, this minx is into danger.
“You ride?” She purrs seductively while her eyebrow arches.
“I do,” I confirm with a wink as she narrows her alluring gaze on me.
Sitting back, tilting her chair a bit and hanging her feet out of the rolled down window. I couldn’t help but allow my predatory eyes to rake up her luscious body - her father is not going to like it when the boys and I roll up to the front of his house. That old bastard thinks he’s invincible, I can’t wait to see his face. “You still with me, love?”
I shake her thigh only to find she has fallen asleep. This is going to be fun. Sheriff Bradbury has been doing weekly inspections of my home and of my workplace, now it’s time for a little inspection of my own.
We pulled up to his drive and just as you expected a pompous ass to have - trees lined both sides of his entranceway, the sound of the bikes following must be causing him panic by now. And there he is, standing with a massive rifle, in his elephant print pyjamas, looking on with a confused face. Thank you, Paxton, for this wonderful sight.
“Put the damn gun down, sheriff!” I throw up my hands while walking around to the passenger’s seat, extracting his daughter as she lay comatose in my arms - her head flopped all the way back as her whole body remained utterly limp.
“What did you do to my daughter Steel?” He hissed.
“Saved her damn life, she tried to drive drunk,” I growled back, walking up to his front door. “I may have been in the clink Sheriff, but I’m not a wanker. Paxton was too drunk to drive, she could have killed someone or herself,” I scolded as I handed her over.
“Thank you.” He grounds out, annoyed at the fact, I actually helped.
“You’re welcome. I am responsible for my own fucked up life but if I can save someone else, I will! Tell her - next time - when she wakes.” I turned on my heels and walked away.
I’m a cruel bastard, he will be racking his brain all night trying to figure out what ‘next time’ means. I smile from ear to ear, knowing that and the fact that I added a butt load of healthy guilt to his conscience. Yep, a cruel, cruel man.
The boys and I rode out of there. Would I have liked our first meeting to be different? Sure, I would have, but the look on the Sheriff’s face was worth it and that love, will be mine.
We made our way back to the clubhouse on the outskirts of town, the property itself was vast. It used to be a highway Inn - now it’s the official clubhouse for The Red Riders Motorcycle Club.
We are not as terrible as you may think. Yes, we dabble in minor illegal stuff but it’s really funded by legitimate businesses, I have to be careful, I ain’t ever going back to prison and that Sheriff has been trying to pin something on me since the damn day I stepped foot out of the joint.
I’ve always run The Red Riders that way, but I got pinned because of my accountant, who fleeced our money and dodged the books. Of all the things to get stung for? And that was mine. Needless to say that the accountant didn’t make it to his next birthday and I don’t regret a thing. We recovered more money than he had pilfered and we consider that interest.
Yes, I look scary with my bulky muscles and tats, but it’s my dark hair and steely eyes that sends the girls creaming at the thighs and the men pissing their pants. Yes, I’m intimidating, and I’m thankful for it because otherwise - I would have ended up someone’s bitch in the clink and let’s face it, I ain’t no one’s bitch. However, I know which bitch I want to ride my cock into oblivion.
Strutting inside, I pulled off my shirt, and it falls to the floor. After picturing Paxton and her remarkable curves, I need to relieve a slight straining. Heading into the shower, this was going to require a good tug, to release this amount of pent up tension incurred.
Standing completely naked, as the water cascaded over my body, I gripped the thick girth, sliding up and down my rigid dick. The thumb gliding over the neck of my cock as I conjured images of taking Paxton from behind, that soft but firm meaty round ass being slapped as I slipped in and out of her tight centre.
I could feel my release building, and I wanted harder, picturing her rich voice mewling my name while slamming my big fulla into her tiny petite pussy. My mouth surrounding her pebbled nipples that just happened to be the same colour as those plump, pouty lips of hers.
God, even the imaginary her pushes me almost over the edge. I could see her riding me as Paxton moaned with uncontrolled pleasure racing through her body as I tugged a bit tighter, palming my heady monster fervently.
“Ooooohhhhhh,” sweet release. I shot my creamy cum all over the shower floor. Fuck me, I will just about do anything to claim her now.
This has to be a well thought out construction, and she will have to come to me. I saw the spark of excitement when she realised I rode. Maybe I will have to take her on my bike? Oh shit, I’m already springing to life again. Let’s just hope her Daddy tells her, who brought her home or at least, I hope she will remember me, she was pretty wasted.
“Target?” I called out to one of the men that now deals with the paperwork.
“YO!” His deep voice hollers back over the side of his balcony a floor below.
“Get me a full background check on Paxton-Rose Bradbury, I wanna know everything from the day she was born.”
Okay Paxton, let’s find out what you’ve been up to?
The first thing I felt when I woke up was my furry teeth and immediately noticed my lack of hydration. “Ooooohhhh,” a groan of hellish pain, that seemed to amplify the pressurising of my brain, escapes through my clearly hung over and drastically dry mouth. I attempted to moisten my lips with my tongue, only it felt more like sand. “What did I do?” I groaned again, feeling the tension pulse harder with every word spoken.
A very distinct and pungent, meaty smell of heaven, drifts past my nose... BACON... my mind screams at me, it was time to test my ability to walk. Fuck it, it’s not like I haven’t been in worse states before? Get up!
I dragged my feet to the dresser, grabbing my sunglasses - the only saving grace against the blinding sun, and shuffled, slightly unbalanced, down the stairs and into my parent’s kitchen. I swear by the time I got there, it felt like bulls were running continuous circles in my head. “Here, baby,” mum handed me some pain meds and water.
“Thanks, Mumma,” I croaked out. I could see the delicious bacony goodness cooling on the paper towel and my mouth salivated at the sight.
“You were passed out drunk in the arms of an ex-convict,” my father snapped.
“Do we have to do this now? I’m a little worse for wear at the moment,” I groaned sarcastically from behind my shaded sunglasses.
“He’s an ex-convict Paxton-Rose, an ex-con at my house,” Dad snarled. “How do you know Connor Steel?”
“And what does ‘next time’ mean? That was his message for you.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Don’t play dumb with me, he and his motorcycle hoodlums drove you home while you were knocked out cold. You brought a convicted felon onto my fucking property.”
“Careful Daddy, can’t have the public hear you swearing.” My jab meant to goad him.
He picked his plate up and threw it at the wall. “I’ve had enough of your attitude, you can’t just roll up here after all these years and expect us to bend over backwards for you...”
“No, you won’t ever bend over backward for me because you were too busy bending that slut over and shoving your dick up her loose twat!” I screamed back ferociously before storming off upstairs.
I hate him, I hate him for ruining us, I hate that I was the one who walked in as he was Cumming in that bitch, I can never erase that image from my head. I hate that I blame him for destroying my trust in all men; therefore, I now pick the wrong men, I hate him.
I spent the rest of the day in bed with the door locked. Mum had tried to talk to me, but I, under no circumstances, was allowing her entry. It was foolish of me to expect something had changed after all these years, I still felt the sting of his betrayal as hard as the day I walked in - I can never forgive him.
Scrolling through job after job and realising there was just nothing in my field, my already fragile emotions turning to despair and frustration at the lack of options. I fell asleep for the rest of the day, sneaking out very late at night to grab munchies from the fridge and then heading straight back to my room. I was reliving senior year all over again, sneaking around the house, avoiding the topic and my parents. “Ggggaaaahhhh,” when will this nightmare ever end?
The following morning brought some relief at least. The continuous drumming in my head subsided, and I cringed at my shameful display of, shot for shot, and confiding in Ollie of all people. But then a particular character returned to my memory bank. A rather stunningly handsome stranger who I presumed was the elusive Connor Steel, my father was so fired up about.
I remember saying his name to commit it to memory. Thank god today is Monday and all shops will be open. Now to find the bike riding mechanic from my fantasy last night and to see if he were in fact, as distractingly gorgeous as my lascivious mind portrays.
Deciding on white strappy wedges, blue denim ripped skinny jeans, a white wife beater singlet and a blue leather jacket - I lightly added some makeup and curled my long brown locks. I would go as far as to say, I was looking fine and feeling determined.
After googling the area’s car mechanics and realising very quickly, there was only one - Steel Mechanic’s on Govern Drive - I grabbed my purse, throwing it into the centre console and I was off.
With my aviators on and the windows rolled down, ‘pour some sugar on me’ by Def Leppard, blasting through my system - it was the pinnacle of cliché, but I couldn’t help it, did I want his attention? Of course, I fucken did.
Pulling up in my Navy Blue with silver metallic flecks, Dodge Charger, I was surprised to see as many men there as I did and my confidence faltered a little. They eyed my car curiously but then again, so did others. It was a magnificent vehicle.
I lifted the windows and flicked off the engine.
Swallowing hard as I was visually investigated by rather intimidating and fierce-looking men, I shrugged off my blue leather jacket because now I had begun to perspire under their intense scrutiny. Exposing my arms revealed my fully tattooed sleeves and as I pushed my aviators up to rest atop my head. Straightening my spine, I sucked in a sharp breath and strode towards the front office.
“And here I was thinking you wouldn’t remember me?” A husky voice called from the mass of bulky onlookers, drawing my attention.
As he stepped forward in blue overalls that were folded at the waist, a white greased up singlet with tattoo’s that sprawled across his thick muscular chest and down his sculptured arms, I whimpered. With slick gelled back, dark hair and those haunting steel grey eyes from my dreams, I couldn’t help but bite my lip in solid appreciation of all things holy that created this divine man.
Sucking back another sharp intake of breath before moving forward to him, “I didn’t at first actually.”
“Way to build a man’s confidence,” he paled.
“Once the hangover began to ease, my memory came back.” His boys were watching us with remarkably intense inspection, I looked left and right warily before tucking my hair behind my ears. “I wanted to thank you, I was in no state to be driving.”
“You’re welcome.” His epically white teeth sparkled as he smiled. Of course you fucking sparkle, you damn enticing sexually masculine figure. One of these days, I will get caught talking outside of my head if I’m not careful.
“What does ‘next time’ mean?”
“Nothing, I just said that so your Pa would get a sleepless night trying to figure it out,” this made me chuckle.
I once again looked around at the large group of gathered eyes, feeling a massive depletion in my confidence. “Hey, darlin’, I saw you across the road, thought I’d come say hi.” I couldn’t help but groan and roll of my eyes as I turned forcibly around.
“Hey, Ollie.” He looked nice, country... but nice, he was a nice guy.
“I had fun the other night.”
“Sorry, I don’t usually get that drunk,” I pursed my lips.
“You were fine, anyway, it is your lucky day!” He chirped.
“It is, why is that?” My tone, I hoped, sounded friendly.
“Can we talk somewhere in private?”
“No, you can say it in front of us, Oleander, we’re all friends here.” I could hear the disdain in Connor’s sentence.
“Why is it my lucky day?” I wanted to bite my tongue off and swallow it whole, I already knew what was coming - I could feel it in my bones.
“Because you and I are going out tonight.” Ollie was a nice guy, maybe I could get to know him?
“We are?” Now I could feel the heat of another body standing behind me, but I didn’t dare look to see who it was.
“Sure are darlin’. I will pick you up from ya Daddy’s at seven.” He had balls, I’ll give him that. An entire mass collection of criminals are scrutinizing our every movement, and he strides over for a date.
“Ollie?” A man calls from across the road, beckoning him back.
“See ya tonight, darlin’.”
I hung my head defeatedly, running my hands over my face just as I felt fingertips brushing my hair to the side and I froze. “I don’t think you should go tonight...” Connor’s hot breath fanning the curve of my neck, the heat from his muscular body overshadowing my smaller frame. At a guess, I’d say he stood roughly around 6ft 2, my being shuddered excitedly at his close proximity.
I was panting heavily and desperate for mouth lubrication, “A-a and w-why n-n not?” I stuttered out, slightly tilting my head to the side.
“Because I’m going to take you out.” His words shot a bolt of excitement, straight between my thighs, I had to bite my lip to stop from moaning as his husky whisper ignited my senses. I couldn’t think clearly, the smoky tendrils of invisibly raw and pure sexually burning lust, wormed around my entire being and I struggled to concentrate on anything other than his hot breath fanning my scorching flesh.
With sudden panic, I realised this was not right for a man to conjure up these kinds of feelings - liquid limbs and a fogged mind just from his breath. This man was danger with a capital D, and I could not afford to be lost in his clutches.
I took a step forward out of his intoxicating presence and turned to face him. “I j-just wanted to say thank you.” Finally, I can breathe, I mentally cheered. His steel eyes darkened and glazed over with electric ardour, “for helping me...” I took another step back and saw his eyes narrow, he didn’t like that, but I had to do it for my own sanity.
“And tonight?” He folded his appetising arms across his finely tattooed and chiselled chest.
“Tonight?” I questioned numbly.
“Your date with Ollie?”
“Ollie?” For the life of me, I failed to remember he had even waltzed over. “Oh god, Ollie,” I suddenly realised, only then to cringe at what I had agreed too. “I will be spending the evening with my ‘friend’ Oleander,” I replied with a gentle emphasis on ‘friend’ hoping he would understand.
“You and I both know love, he’s not after friendship.” I had no reply, the truth was, I knew he is not after friendship, I also knew back in high school he had a crush on me, but it had been ten years, surely, his interest had subsided by now? Maybe I could learn to like him? Oleander is safe, gentle and definitely doesn’t make me lose my mind just by standing next to me.
I looked up at the convicted fantasy, “I know, but he’s the safer choice.” I prayed he would understand the meaning behind my words as I turned and walked to my car. Reaching for my handle, I felt his hand on mine, halting my movements. God, he smelt delicious.
“So, your Daddy spilled my history?” Conner didn’t look surprised.
“He mentioned it, but that’s not why Ollie is the safer choice...” I turned around to peer up at him. “I couldn’t care less about your prison history or your affiliations, he’s the safer choice because he’s boring, common and plain - like dry toast, he’s safe.”
“It’s one date, go out with him tonight if you have to prove something to yourself, but tomorrow... tomorrow, give me a chance?”
I must be going completely insane. If this Connor Steel, manages to get too close I am screwed, but I so wanted to be screwed and screwed into orgasmic oblivion. “Fine,” I whispered so incredibly quiet.
He leans forward and brushes his succulent, tender lips against the softness of my earlobe causing me to shiver, “I’ll pick you up tomorrow at seven then? Enjoy having fun with dry toast.” An involuntary moan slipped past my lips as he captured my lobe with his mouth and sucked the delicate, sensitive flesh. “If I can extract that reaction from your ear, imagine what my tongue can do with your pussy?” My mouth flew open as he kissed my cheek and turned to leave, all of his men smirking at me knowingly.
I watched that sonofabitch walk away from me as my mind was inundated with scrupulously detailed erotic thoughts. I climbed back into my car with ragged breaths and headed for home. That was not at all, how I thought today was going to go down and yet, here am I, rubbing my thighs together as my sex pulsed and salivated in need for some very handsome motorbike riding, convicted cock.
Shit, I’m in trouble.
I had no time to dwell on that divine fantasy creature because I had another date to get ready for. A date with a nice, calm and even slightly, goody two shoes guy, Oleander. He’s the safer choice, he’s the kind of guy parents adored and the kind that is invested in things for forever. Ollie is loyal and sturdy, to a T dependable sort of boring. Shit, I mean safe, shit, I mean nice, oh god, what have I done?
I had settled on a maroon T-shirt dress, thigh high, with an embroidered chest, eliminating the need for a necklace. I paired it with black wedge heels and a black clutch, Mumma and Daddy were watching T.V in the front room as I descended the stairs - Dad called me in.
“Yes, Dad?” I asked, leaning against the wall.
“You look nice, where are you off too?” He queried.
“A date.” My father clenched hard, flexing his protruding jaw.
“With who?” I knew what he was really asking.
“Oleander Mac Dermot, from high school.” You could see the tension leave his face and wash with relief. If only he knew what was happening tomorrow.
“Well, he’s a nice lad.”
“Yep... like dry toast.” Plain, boring and depressing.
“Your mother and I were wondering about your work obligations? You haven’t specified how long you will be here or even why you came home? What about your money situation?” I rolled my eyes to keep from charging off tap at him. I had no right to be annoyed, I really hadn’t said anything to them about my fucked up, mangled existence.
“You don’t need to worry about that,” I cautioned.
“And why is that? How long is your holiday?”
“I’m not sure,” I shrugged.
“Why can’t you ever make things easier, please baby? We just wanna know what’s going on with you?” My mother implored, probably due to my less than revealing answers.
“Mumma, I don’t know how long I’ll be here or in fact, what the fuck I am doing with my life. But you do not need to worry about it because I have some money left over from the sale of my house.”
“You had a house?” My father appeared surprised, “why did you sell it?”
“Because it was brought with my ex-fiancé Evan, I decided we no longer fit together and left him. So, we sold the house. I lost my job because my bosses husband cracked onto me and I told her thinking it was the right thing to do - but as it turns out, it wasn’t. She turned all our friends against me and blacklisted my name from working in my specific field and I, somewhere in my mixed up mind, felt I had to come home, because, after months of trying, I still can’t manage to put the pieces of my shattered life back together.”
The truth was, I was relieved to finally have it off my chest, to actually speak to someone who might understand how it feels to become the city’s number one pariah.
It may have seemed as though I was blasé about the whole thing, but deep down, it hurt. Nadia, my ex-boss, was my best friend for ten years, we did everything together, I was even her maid of honour at her wedding. Her husband had always made inappropriate advances, but when he flat out propositioned me, held me against the wall, groping at my breasts and rubbing his erect pencil dick against me, thinking he would never get caught, I chose to speak to her in private about it finally. Hoping to be delicate about her feelings because she was my friend, and I loved her dearly. But as I learned, by Monday morning, I had become the harlot, the promiscuous whore that could not allow her to be happy and my jealously interfered in the sanctity of her marriage.
It takes a lifetime of hard work and dedication to build your reputation and mere seconds to have it stripped away. Despite all of our friends knew him and me, yet they chose to take her word for it, and I was locked out and humiliated.
“Oh, baby,” my Mum was sympathetic to my confession.
“I’m sorry that happened to you,” my Dad genuinely empathised.
“Yep, so am I... because now, I have a degree and experience that can’t be utilised. Nadia has blacklisted me from every publishing company from here to the coast - just to rub the salt into an already gaping wound.”
I heard a car pulling up out the front, “anyway, I think that’s Ollie. Feel free to kick me out whenever because I can see that’s what you really want to do,” I pushed off the wall and headed for the door.
“Paxton-Rose?” My Dad demanded, and I turned around to stare at him with an unimpressed look on my face. “I am sorry, this will always be your home.” For some reason, tears prickled at the corners of my eyes, maybe it was because I was finally being shown support, but my heart clenched at what he had said. I wanted him back, I wanted our relationship again, but I couldn’t voice my true feelings because I still hated him, I was still so angry at my father, and perhaps that is why Evan and I failed?
“I have to go,” I stated before opening the front door and leaving, completely overwhelmed.
I’m greeted by a thrilled Ollie, “darlin’ you look beautiful,” he chimed.
“Let’s go,” I pushed urgently, but he thrust flowers into my hand. I hated flowers, I hated that they shrivelled up and died after a week or two, I hated that they were a reminder of death and I hated how men thought they were the way to a woman. “Thanks, they are lovely...” I lied. “Let me just leave them here until I get back and can put them in water.” I smiled and so did Ollie as I placed them on the porch love swing. He took my arm and opened my door, a pillar of the southern gentleman.
We arrived at the restaurant after sitting in the car in almost silence, which continued as we were seated, but who happens to be at the tables surrounding us? Connor Steel, and his band of renegade bikies. I tried desperately to hold in my amusement, especially when I saw Ollie’s face - he was not impressed. “I’m sorry about this, it must be uncomfortable for you?”
“Ollie, just ignore them,” I gently guided. “What do you feel like eating?”
“I’ll go with the muscles, it’s an aphrodisiac.” Whoops, I think I just threw up in my mouth.
“I’m sure that’s oysters, and I’m allergic to shellfish,” I lied, quickly derailing that thought.
“Oh... oh... ah... well, how about chicken?” He was thrown, his seduction tactic foiled and I mentally high fived myself for coming up with that brilliant excuse so fast.
A waitress walked over to take our order, I noticed her eyes on two men in the room - one being Ollie and the other Connor. Connor looked ravishing though, he wore a white button up dress shirt, a pair of navy Levi’s and white sneakers. Shit, concentrate Pax, you’re on a date with Ollie, I chastised myself, but it was like the angel, and the devil sat in the same room. The Angel in front of me and the tempting steel-eyed devil at the next table over.
“Chicken sounds good,” I nodded.
“Two chicken risotto’s please darlin’” he ordered winking at her.
We sat there in awkward silence, my glance kept drifting off to Connor, and he loved it. He was pretending not to notice, but he knew, it was like a game to him, foreplay in the lead up to tomorrow.
“So darlin’ those tattoo’s?” Ollie began, “do they have any significant meaning?”
“Um yes, I was actually burnt really badly a couple of years ago and decided to cover the scars with ink.”
He fumbled in shock, “oh my god, darlin’ really? I’m so sorry. How did it happen? You don’t have to answer that, it’s probably...”
“Ollie, I’m fucking with you, would you relax? We are friends, right? Friends can talk without pressure, you’re making it awkward.” I hear a lot of snickering from the surrounding bikie horde.
“Right, friends,” he grumpily mumbled. I couldn’t help but roll my eyes.
The rest of the evening was just as disastrous - everywhere we went, we were followed by Connor and his pack of Neanderthals, until I had finally had enough. All of Ollie’s confidence had gone, and I felt awful for him, it was clear that he put a lot of effort into tonight and it’s being destroyed. We arrived at the bowling alley, and I told him to go book the lanes while I dealt with the pack of morons.
“Don’t any of you get off your bikes.” I strode straight over to Connor, “what are you doing?” I accused in a scolding tone.
“The boys and I...” I cut that gorgeous sonofabitch off.
“No, you need to go home - now. This behaviour is making me angry at you.”
“Alright, I get it, we were just having some fun...”
“Fun? FUN?” I roared, “you are intimidating him on purpose and being an absolute jerk about it, you keep pulling this shit, and you can forget tomorrow night.” I tried to storm off dramatically to show how serious I was, but his hands gripped my waist.
“Wait... I’m sorry... you are right, and I shouldn’t have, we didn’t actually know you’d be at the restaurant, that was fate, we’ll go. The thought of someone else touching you...” he gently slides his rough chin along the curve of my neck, I can feel the heat rising within me as his breath fanned my skin, “I won’t disturb you again, love.” My eyes flutter closed as he withdraws entirely from me.
I release the shaky breath I had been holding and mosied back to my date as the rumbling of the motorbikes echoed off into the distance.
“How did you get them to leave?” Ollie wondered.
“I am very good at negotiation. Now, I hope you are ready to have your butt handed to you?”
“You cannot beat the master darlin’” he joked, suddenly Oleander was back to his playful, confident self.
Two games of bowling and we both won one each. On the way back to my house, he put his hand on my thigh and began to stroke his thumb forward and back, “I’m glad you’re home.”
“I won’t be here much longer Ollie, it’s almost time for me to leave.” I aimed to move away from him but struggled in the confined space.
“Why would you want to leave?”
“Because this is the town for babies and retirees, not for me.”
“What are you so afraid of?” I looked at him incredulously.
“To have a mediocre life, to be stuck, tied down, to not experience flight.” I pushed Oleander’s hand off my leg as we stopped out the front of my parent’s house. “Ollie, you are a great guy, but you are the wrong guy for me,” I exited his truck as quickly as I could.
“You think Connor is?” He spat furiously at me as I hurried toward the front door. “I’ve seen the way he looks at you like you’re something to eat, he is nothing but a fuck boy. I’ve liked you since school Pax, just give me a chance, don’t cut me off. Half of our night was ruined because of his lot following you, I was sitting in front of you while your eye’s trailed to him...” I’d been caught, and now I was feeling guilty. Oleander came to stand in front of me, cupping my cheeks and urged in a whisper. “Paxton I am a good decent man, I would never hurt you, I would never make you cry, I would never cheat on you or put you down. I am the type of man who would support you and lift you up, I am the type of man you deserve, not some criminal who still plays follow the leader.” Ollie leans forward and brushes his lips against mine gently, softly and filled with... love.
He was right, I could be happy if I tried. I could have a... nice... life because he is a... nice... sweet guy, just like Evan once was. As Ollie steps back, I glance up into his golden brown eyes, but I can’t answer him. “Go out with me tomorrow night?”
“I can’t, I’m busy tomorrow night.”
“Wednesday, then?” Maybe I could convince myself he is not like Evan and perhaps if I tried really hard, I could, maybe, possibly like him and enjoy the white picket fence, kids and dog’s lifestyle? Right?
I nodded my head in agreement, it was worth giving it a shot. Heck, it’s not like I could fuck my life up anymore? But I just gave him a whole lot of hope, and I’m afraid I’m going to break his poor heart.
The truth was, Connor, scared the shit out of me, not physically but emotionally. I was undeniably attracted to him and felt a powerful pull to his raw masculinity. However, every choice I had made in the past had led me in the wrong direction and left me enormously messed, maybe a step toward something my heart is not attracted too, is a move in the right direction?
I was so confused, and as I walked inside and closed the door behind me, my heart sunk at my dishonesty toward Ollie. “Good night?” My father’s question breaking through my inner musings.
“It was alright, why are you still up? It’s late.” I brushed his presence off and headed for my room.
“Paxton-Rose, can we talk?”
“We have nothing to talk about.”
“Please?” I begrudgingly turned and leaned up against the wall. I was emotionally drained right now, and this was the last thing I needed. “I know you hate me for what I have done in the past...”
“Ha,” I scoffed.
“Your Mumma and I have worked hard on healing ourselves and healing each other. I think you came home because you need to heal from the hurt I have caused you.” Again the tears seemed to prickle at the side of my eyes, “I will never forget that day, the day I saw your light go out, your heart shattered...”
“You caused it all. You are the reason for years of heartache. How could you do that to Mum? To me? To our family?”
“Baby, I never meant to hurt you...” I cut him off again, the anger and hatred boiling up inside me and spilling over.
“But you did! And now I don’t see a hero, I see a pathetic lying coward.”
“There is more to this story than you know,” he took a step forward, I held up my hand to stop his approach as I slid down the wall, tears escaping from my eyes.
“I loved you, you were my whole world, I lived to make you proud, and now, my entire childhood is ruined, my life was a lie - I trust no man.” I sobbed at the foot of the stairs as he knelt down in front of me.
“I’m so sorry baby, I didn’t realise how much I’ve hurt you?” I pushed him back, and he fell on his ass in pure shock.
“You destroyed everything, and I can’t forgive you.” I ran upstairs as fast as I could, exactly how I had, ten whole fucken years ago. Same stairs, same bedroom, slamming the door closed exactly the same way - even the same tears.
*** Team Steel or Team Oleander? ***