Short Circuit (Riders of Tyr #7)

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When I called Ava if she wanted to meet for breakfast before I went to see Stig, I wasn’t expecting an invitation to a pool party in an escort. You got to love Ava for things like those.

“Typically it’s a girls’ day off but we are willing to make an exception,” Ava leads me to the side of the pool where there are other women sitting too.

I instantly know the one thing they all have in common. A Valkyrie tattoo.

“Cause I’m gay?” I smile at Ava.

“That too.”

“You know I’m not the kind of homosexual that knows about fashion and shit, right?”

Ava throws her head back and laughs. And it’s a sight to behold. Seriously, if I ever were straight, I would risk facing that bear of a husband of hers to have her.

Luckily for me, I don’t have such problems. Stig, my conscience readily offers. And is spot on. A week away and thrown into some serious shit and that blonde Swede was stuck in my head. I was almost elated to have come across this problem which meant that I had an excuse to see him again. Which I guess makes me a 15-year old girl at least.

“Huh?” I caught vaguely that Ava has asked me something.

“I asked, are you seeing someone?”

In a couple of hours.

“You know me, Ava. An emotionless workaholic.”

“Or you haven’t met someone special. Girls,” she turns to the group of women, “this is my friend, Nathan. Nathan, these are the Valkyries.”

If I am honest, Ava and the one I’ve already met along with an agile dark-haired possibly swimsuit model look the part. But the other three? I don’t see how they could be considered Valkyries. One is a pixie girl that smiles too brightly, one is her curvier spitting image that is reading a book and the last one is breastfeeding a baby while working on her smartphone.

“Magda, Lysa, Iris, Tamie and Chiara,” Ava introduces me to them.

I nod to all of them and they beam me a smile.

“Do you have a swimsuit?” Ava asks.

“I wore one when you mentioned the pool,” I wink and take off my clothes.

“Yep, a shame,” Magda says looking at me up and down.

“Sorry,” I smile at her.

“Heh, nothing to be done about it. Plus, you look good but I find my man hotter. Sorry. Still. A shame.”

“Why? What’s a shame?” Iris asks.

“Your friend here is disappointed that I am swinging for the other team.”

She frowns cutely.

“You know?” I try.

Still clueless. Can a girl married to an MC gangster be that innocent?

“Nathan is gay,” Magda offers. “Beer or cocktail, man?”

I scoff.


“So, how come you are back?” Ava sits on a long chair.

“I need a favor from your tech guy,” I try to sound cool.

“Ah,” Ava tries to sound cool but I see those wheels in her brain spin.

I go to the edge of the pool and prepare to dive in. I do love a good swim. Plus, it’s the best way to keep away from Ava. She is a master at extracting information you want to keep hidden. And though I don’t mind babbling about my crush with my girlfriend, I don’t think Stig is ready to step out of the closet.

So I dive in and swim to the other side of the pool and I love the weightless feel I get. I always feel that way. Weightless. It’s easy to be that way, nothing to weigh you down, no attachments, no responsibilities. Easy peasy. I get a job, I do the job, I finish the job and move on to the next one. I don’t own a place - one thing we had in common with Ava back in the day, I don’t even own a car. And it has been cool so far.

And empty. It has been too fucking empty. As I slide to the other side of the pool, this weightlessness feels a lot like a void. I think of Bjorn, the way he claimed Ava, the way he fiercely fought for her. Granted, she could have done the fighting herself if there was the need, but it must be special to have someone claim you whole, take you as you are and be ready to keep you no matter what.

No one would ever come to save me like that. My father taught me to be self-sufficient, cold, effective. It must have something to do with my mother abandoning us both. And I took those teaching to the end. I am cold and effective and alone. Yuppie?

I reach the other side of the pool and shake the water to shake my bad thoughts as well. There are several girls there that look at me and give me sly eyes but none seem to notice the disregard I look at them with. None is a tattoed, blonde, pierced Norse god.

I swim back to where the Valkyries are and I stay in the pool, my arms crossed at the edge. Ava is still focusing on me.

“So how is going with your thing?”

“You didn’t want to help me cause it was dangerous, remember?”

“While Stig is quite happy helping you,” Ava narrows her eyes.

Shit. You can’t hide from Ava. It is fruitless to deny the whole thing and I go to the tactic I use with her when I try to avoid any questions: half-truths.

“What are you hinting at, Ava?”

“I am hinting that Stig is hot, no?”

“He is.”

“Sooo,” Magda smiles. “You fancy our residential nerd?”

“I like blondes,” I wink at her.

“And Stig?” Ava persists.

Come on! Lay off my back already.

“What about Stig? Tor is making him help me and that’s all.”

That seems to move the focus on Ava on a new subject.

“What did Tor ask of you?”

“I can’t tell you that, girlfriend. I am like a priest. Sworn to secrecy.”

“Priest? You are nothing like a priest!” Ava laughs hard.

“Judging by the number of priests that have hit on me, I say I am pretty close,” I say and all the Valkyries laugh hard.

I laugh too, relieved that I got away with Ava’s Spanish Inquisition. Though I am not sure she won’t come back to the subject.

I swim to the other side of the pool again. It’s actually fun and if it wasn’t my date with-

“Stig!” I hear Ava.

I should have known, I underestimated the crafty Russian.

“What the fuck was the emergency, girl?”

I look and I see Stig looking at Ava behind dark glasses. He is in his worn jeans and a loose sleeveless tee eaten by clothing moth. He has two bags with him. A backpack with probably his laptop and one for a camera.

“I thought we had a breach in our surveillance,” Ava openly lies.

“Thought?” Stig takes off his glasses and glares at a smiling Ava. “I was fucking sleeping!”

“Oh, come on! You are here. Have a swim,” Ava points at the pool.

I know what she is doing. And since she went into all that trouble, I play along. I swim back to their side. Let’s see how the nerd likes me in a swimsuit.

“I don’t want to swim, Ava! I want to-”

He pauses when he sees me and I eat the distance. When I reach the edge, I support my body and lift myself up. I smile as his eyes take me all in. For a few seconds, we both forget we have an audience.

“Good morning, pretty boy,” I say approaching.

He says nothing just ogles me as I grab a towel and begin to dry my skin. His mouth will be drier if he keeps gaping like that. His look is burning me and I want to see his body too. I glance at him sideways and I throw that towel over my crotch. No need to flash an erection at a breastfeeding mom.

It lasts for a few seconds but it’s there. That promise for heated moments, the clash of bodies, the pleasure. Amazing, I roll my eyes internally. At this rate, the towel will become a tent.

“Hey,” Stig finally says coughing.

Damn, that’s cute. I am fully aware that I called a fully tattooed, hacker/member of a biker club whose gun is visible under his cut cute but I can’t help it. He is looking at me right now like a kid that can’t have candy cause his tummy will ache. And I want to give him all the candy in the world. Though in the end, there will be something aching for sure.

Yep. A tent for all of to enjoy the shadow, I am fighting with my urges. And since I never really needed to fight my urges, I am not doing very well.

“So, Stig,” Ava says with mischief in her eyes. “Do you have a swimsuit?”

Mercy! Say no, say no, say no!

“No,” Stig says.

I sigh in relief. A bit too loud if I am to judge by the look he gives me. A look that tells me that he knows what exactly I was thinking.

“It’s OK,” Ava smiles. “We got some in the pool house.”

Yep, that sigh was a bit too loud.

Stig looks at me with his two bright blue eyes. One long look all over my exposed body minus the still hidden by a fluffy towel erection and he smiles.

“Where do I find one?”

That backfired big time. As Stig goes on the pool house, I send a deadly dagger look to Ava. The bitch smiles and applies sunscreen.

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