The last day of school is my favorite, and today was my last day as a high schooler, which makes it even better! Walking through the clubhouse to the back of the bar, I toss my backpack on the pool table and plop down on the sofa. The bar is mainly empty, aside from the club girls. Dad is holding Church in the main meeting room, welcoming the transfers from upstate.
The old cabin-style walls of the bar hold old tattered canvases, with my art on display throughout. Even though I’ve lost loads of time focusing on them, I still always notice something different about each piece when I take the time to look.
When I was younger, I was so embarrassed when Dad would hang another crappy canvas of mine up, but now that I’m older, I appreciate the sentiment. Looking at my art is something I enjoy now, especially since I haven’t picked up a brush in ages.
Dad wasn’t always the best at spending time with his kids as we grew up, but he made it a point to show how important we were when he could. I would hardly call myself an artist, but I rather enjoyed the calmness of a paintbrush in my hand brought me.
The sound of the gavel pounding against the table lets me know Dad has finished up Church. A moment later, a blur of leather files out of the meeting room doors, flooding the bar, joined by a few fresh faces.
One of the new guys stands out from the rest. I feel some sort of instant connection the moment our eyes meet. Every molecule of me tells me I need to know him.
I’ve read so many stories about soulmates. It feels like I’m having one of those moments they describe. As if my soul recognizes his, sending that ping of connection coursing through my body.
“Hey, kid. How was the last day?” Dad asks, grabbing a drink from the girl’s hand before sitting on the coffee table in front of me.
“Just glad it’s over, mostly. How was the meeting?” I try to keep my focus on my dad, but the feeling of being watched won’t let me, and my eyes keep drifting back to the new guy.
“Same old, same old. I had to brief a few of the new guys that got promoted up here.” He nods over to the group of new guys, and my eyes instantly meet the mystery guy’s gaze once again.
“Think they’ll be a good fit?” I mainly ask because I’m curious about the one fresh face in particular.
“They wouldn’t be here if they weren’t. We’re just about to take a ride, show them the ropes. You’ll be alright, yeah?” He sets his drink on the table as he stands, the water droplets running down the side, forming a circle. I roll my eyes, quickly picking the glass up, placing it on the coaster that sits two inches from it.
“Don’t worry about me. Bitz has me cleaning carbs all day.” I let out a small laugh. I’d be surprised if I wasn’t doing carbs.
“Sounds right. See you later, kiddo!” Dad pats my back as he turns toward the door.
“Keep the rubber side down!”
“Always,” Dad replies, giving me a quick wink before disappearing out of the door.
Grabbing my bag off the table, I head out to the shop to start on the carburetors. This will most definitely get my mind off the mystery man for a while.
After cranking the radio, I grab my tools and sit on the stool in front of the large table that holds at least ten carbs waiting for me. I’ll be here awhile.
Hours that felt like minutes had passed, and the faint sound of engines roaring closer brought me back to reality. Looking at the clock, it’s already eleven.
I barely remember doing a single carb as I step into the shower. I went straight into auto-pilot the second I sat down. After washing the day off, my stomach reminds me I haven’t eaten since this morning before school. Throwing on a club hoodie and some black sweats, I pull my long brown highlighted hair into a bun and make my way back downstairs through the bar to the kitchen.
Perfect timing! The girls are just finishing up the food for the members. I quickly make my way from dish to dish, over-filling my plate. The nice thing about being the president’s daughter, I don’t have to wait through the lines. Most of the time, I don’t mind and gladly wait my turn, but tonight I just want to get it done and go to bed.
“Crap! I am so sorry!” I stutter as I run straight into someone sending food everywhere.
“Should be.” A deep voice replies, walking away, not bothering to offer help or anything.
“The hell is your problem? I said I was sorry.” My brows knit together in frustration.
“It’s not hard to watch where you’re going, considering it’s packed in here.” He says, turning back around to face me. Then I realize it’s the guy from earlier! Huh, I guess my gut was wrong?
“Exactly why it’s easy to run into someone, asshole.” I roll my eyes, grabbing some towels off the counter. How the hell could I have thought there was a connection with this prick?
“What’s going on here, Cass?” Sharp chimed in, making his way over to the food displayed across the floor.
“Nothing, I just dropped my food.” I narrow my eyes on the guy I had run into for a brief second before looking back at Sharp.
“You know you don’t have to clean that up, right?” Sharp motions his hand in the air to one of the club girls, and she effortlessly makes her way over with a broom already in hand.
“I think she’s more than capable of cleaning her mess.” The mystery guy looks at Sharp, then at me. “Isn’t that right, sweetheart? Isn’t that one of your requirements?” he narrows his eyes.
“I’ll let that slide since you’re new here.” I throw the towel at him and storm out of the kitchen. I can hear his boots stomping up behind me. This is going to be interesting.
“What the fuck is that supposed to mean?” He bellows.
“Exactly what I said.” I cross my arms at my chest, training my eyes on him.
“You sure have one hell of a smart ass mouth on you for a club slut.” He smirks.
“Excuse you? Club slut? Oh! I’m sorry! I forgot that because you’re a man here, you automatically think every woman is your property.”
“That’s what you’re all here for, isn’t it?” He smirks again, and I want to smack the expression straight off of his smug face.
“You’re disgusting. Get the hell out of my face!” I scream, nearly lunging at the guy. By this point, we’re drawing more attention to us, and I watch intently as my dad, Sharp, and Bitz come tearing out of the kitchen.
“I’m sorry, honey. Is it your day off?” The mystery guy speaks again as he eyes me up and down, taking in my baggy clothing.
I look back at my dad just in time to see his face turning an awful shade of red.
“JUST WHO THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU’RE FUCKING SPEAKING TO LIKE THAT, GHOST!” The room vibrates with my dad’s outburst.
So that’s his name, Ghost. I can’t see why with the mouth on him.
“This club slut thinks she’s above me.” Ghost laughs, nodding my way.
“THAT CLUB SLUT IS MY FUCKING DAUGHTER! AND we don’t fucking speak to women like that!”
I watch Ghost’s face drain of color. Maybe that’s why they call him Ghost? Because he’s capable of being nearly translucent?
“Holy fuck! I am so sorry! I didn’t know!” Ghost tries backpedaling, rubbing a hand down his face. As if it were okay to even speak to the girls like that.
“You’re going to be fucking sorry!” Bitz pipes in, stifling a laugh.
“Enough! He’s new. He didn’t know who I was. Not that it’s okay to speak to anyone like that.” I glare at Ghost, “I can take care of myself. Like I told Ghost here, I’d let it slide this time.”
“You sure, Cass? I can remove him easier than I brought him in.” Dad’s voice is softer with me, but his face still holds his signature stern expression.
“Not even worth it. I’m going to bed, night guys!” I brush past Ghost, giving my dad a quick hug.
“Night, kiddo!” Half of the members respond simultaneously per usual.
I feel a hand lightly grip my arm as I turn toward the stairs, and I regretfully turn back around.
“Hey, I am sorry. It’s just been a long day. You should at least eat.” Ghost says quietly.
“Don’t waste an apology on me. I can see right through that fake apology. You just don’t want to lose your spot here… or your life. Don’t act concerned that I didn’t eat.” I pull my arm from his grip.
“Fucking Christ. It’s not even about that. I couldn’t give a shit less about where I am. I know I was in the wrong, and I’m just trying to make it right.”
“Right. Have a good night.” I give him a quick nod and spin on my heels, leaving him staring at me in disbelief. I’m guessing he probably isn’t too used to women not crumbling from his every word.
My phones vibrating pulls me from my dreams, and I squint at my brother’s name on the screen as the light assaults my eyes, “Caden? Everything okay?” I sit up, rubbing my eyes.
“Yeah, everything’s good. Is Dad there? He isn’t picking up our calls.”
“Not sure… They had a late night with the transfer guys. I can go check and call you back.” I throw the covers off, standing up.
“Uh, the guys that got promoted or whatever?”
“Right. I forgot about that. Well, if you see Dad, just tell him to call us.”
“I will. When are you guys coming home? Graduation is next week.”
“I think in a couple of days, hopefully. We’ll be back in time for graduation. I have to go, Cass. I’ll see you soon, love ya.” The line goes dead before I can reply.
I haven’t seen my brothers in several weeks. They went to take care of some loose ends for dad, and it should have only taken a week at most, but the list kept snowballing. It’s been nearly two months now.
I make my way down to the kitchen, filling my plate up with everything in sight. Thankfully, it’s early enough that almost no one is awake. The nice thing about living in a clubhouse is you can do as you please, don’t have to be up early to go to a regular nine-to-five job.
Almost everyone at school thought it was the strangest thing that I live here, but it’s normal to me. I love that I got to grow up with the freedom I did. Sure, this lifestyle has taken too much from me already, but I have an entire community to lean on here.
Glancing up from my plate, I see Ghost stroll through the door, and I can’t help but stare. He’s at least 6’6 and has intricate black ink swirling down his arms, aside from one lone bare spot. His dark curly hair bounces against his shoulders under his black Heaven’s Regrets SnapBack. His eyes are the most attention-drawing feature, an intense shade of blue so dark they’re nearly black. His signature white t-shirt blatantly hugs his torso under his vest. Everyone else around here typically wears black undershirts.
He’s the type of guy your parents would warn you about… if you didn’t grow up in a motorcycle club.
“Enjoying the view?” Ghost’s gruff voice pulls me from my thoughts, and I instantly feel my face turn red.
“Oh, uh, sorry. I was just thinking how everyone else wears black shirts.” I attempt to cover my ass.
“Whites more my color, I guess.” He shrugs out a laugh.
“If you say so.” I turned my attention back to my food, hoping that would be the end of the awkward moment.