Forgiving Raven

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2: Fool

The Reapers weren’t joking about the bar being packed with patrons of all kinds. It’s divey, far from any towns, and serves beer without discipline. It’s every rabble’s wet dream.

I take a seat in an empty booth and Grave, Blade, and Switch join me. Silver stopped at the bar the moment we walked in to talk up the bartender. He called it recon, but I suspect it had everything to do with the pretty brunette serving drinks.

At some point, the other ranking officers will make their appearance.

“Seein’ any tats, Blade?” Switch asks after a group walks past us. I look away from the bar in time to see the Tail Gunner shake his head.

I take another look around the place. Back behind the bar are three pool tables all in a row. From what I can see, the people conjugated there all wearing their colors. I doubt who we’re looking for would dare betray their club by joining up with the gang that had just taken out so many bikers. Then again, I’ve heard of betrayals far worse than that. Fuck, I’ve killed for worse.

Being at the center of the bar itself, it isn’t hard to scope the place out. My gaze returns to the other side. Over Switch’s shoulder, I can see the group of guys that had walked by us just moments ago. They’re a rowdy bunch that I watch closely.

It’s young kids like that who end up with malicious gangs like the Serpents. They get drawn to the chaos of the lifestyle. In that way, I suppose gang life is similar to a biker’s. That’s where the likeness ends, however. In my years as a mercenary, I saw gruesome shit done by gangs that most lion-hearted bikers would cry over. Though some, like the stoic mass to my left, probably wouldn’t bat an eyelid.

The Reaper’s VP has cold-blooded written all over him. To be hardened like that, it takes a lot of fucked up shit and grief. Already the guy has every ounce of my respect.

“Jesus fucking Christ,” Switch growls in impatience as another handful of minutes pass by with no sign of a serpent tattoo. “We should have had the prospects on this shit. Or at least brought ’em along to do the watching. I fucking hate watching.”

Something tells me that recon isn’t all he’s referring to.

“Not my fault the ladies like me more,” his ride partner Blade jokes, affirming my thought.

“Seeing anything worth taking home?” Switch replies to that.

“The bartender’s cute.”

Switch nods. “Yeah, not my type though. Unless you want her?”

The big guy gives another shrug of disinterest and shortly after, nods in my direction. “What about you, Founder?”

Knowing well that I don’t, I look over my shoulder in the direction of the bar anyway. She’s more than cute. She’s exquisite. With lush curves made for a man’s touch and thick blue-tipped tresses that brush the middle of her back. She’s also out of the question.

“No,” I say, returning my gaze. The word leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. I wash it away with one of the shots Silver returns with and places at the center of the table.

“Our bartender that you were so blatantly staring at is single, Founder,” the SA mentions.

“Recon, huh?” I say, not letting myself get bothered by the ‘our’ in his words. Not a single fucking bit.

Silver smirks. “Recon also got me her name. Raven. Do what you will with that information, Founder.”

There he goes again with that. “I’m not your Founder,” I mutter. If I had my way, the Reapers wouldn’t exist in the first place.

“Ah, fine. Lock it is then.” The SA snickers, tossing back a shot. “Locked up tight. You hear that boys, Founders got a road name.”

Switch takes a shot for himself and cheers, promptly grimacing. “What is this shit, Silver? The devil’s piss?”

“Top shelf whiskey off the rocks,” he snorts.

Switch shakes his head. “Fuck, that burns.”

A flash of black hair beside our table and I ignore the Reapers banter. I watch Raven as she carries a pint toward the group in the back. They eye her curves as I expected—lustful and not trying to hide it a damn bit. I grab another glass from the center and empty it, the burn stamping down the growing irritation in my gut.

Silver whistles from his spot in the booth, and I reluctantly return my attention. “I think we might have found our girl. Check out inked beauty over there.”

I follow his line of sight. Sure enough, there’s a woman sitting alone in a booth with a snake wrapping around her bicep.

But it doesn’t look quite right.

Grave pulls out his phone and lays it flat for us to see. The tattoo in the picture he’d taken could almost be an exact replica of the one on the woman’s arm. Almost.

“Not it,” Blade acknowledges before I do. “Snakes aren’t even the same kind.”

“What are you talking about? They’re the exact same,” Switch argues, rising from his seat. “Let’s take her out back and get this done and over with.”

Blade shakes his head and grabs his counterparts arm. “They’re two different fucking breeds, Switch.”

The Enforcer’s eyes turn to slits. “You’d know much about snakes, huh? You screamed like a 6 year old girl at the sight of one. It was a garter by the way.”

“Sit down, Switch. It’s not the one,” the VP states.

Silver shrugs. “Damn. What are the odds this girl has her tatt uncovered anyway? If I were a gang member I don’t think I’d be flaunting it in a joint like this.”

I nod my head and scope out the room again. There are a number of women with their bodies covered head to toe. Even the bartender isn’t showing more skin than around the collar of her shirt and expanse of her hands.

“I think that means you’re up, Silver,” Grave states. “Show Lock here how you got your name.”

“Oh, no problem there, Veep. No problem at all.”

Within the next half-hour or so, Silver has fluttered around and talked just about every woman out of a few layers of clothes.

Everyone except the bartender. Raven.

I watch with narrowed eyes as he approaches her. The conversation visibly catches Raven off guard, but it isn’t long before she realizes what he’s up to. As each second passes of Silver running his mouth, the polite smile on her face fades.

It’s over before it even begins. Silver places his hand on her wrist and slides it up her forearm, and her eyes squint. As her shirt slides up, the subtle irritation in her eyes flares. Raven pulls her arm away and fixes him with an appalled glare.

Switch laughs in the booth when she shoves the drink tray she’d been carrying over into Silver, nearly tipping him off balance. “Think the SA’s mouth finally got him into trouble. Fuck me, that is gold.”

I get up from my seat without thinking and head toward the bar. Raven is cursing underneath her breath and tugging a sweater over her head. The Diggs, is in bright bold yellow letters across the back.

“I take it you didn’t like Silver’s attention?” She jumps and turns around at my voice. Her hazel eyes round in surprise and suck me in at an instant.

“I-um...” she finishes righting the bottom of her sweater. “Who?”

I gesture at the booth over my shoulder. “The guy that’s got you cursing enough to make a sailor blush.”

“Oh,” she laughs. “Yeah, if I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard the lines he used, it might actually make working here worth it.”

She repositions herself behind the bar and grabs a waning bottle of whiskey and some shot glasses. “Did you need a refill? I was about to ask before your buddy Silver came onto me.”

I glance back at the Reapers, Silver is obviously sloshed, and the others but Grave are well on their way. “No, we’re good,” I say.

“Sure? I’m making the last call soon?”

I lean onto the counter, allowing myself just this closeness. I shouldn’t be here talking to her. I should have stayed put in the booth.

It becomes clear that my mind has other intentions, however. “Take a shot with me. I’ll buy the bottle full price.”

“Hmm...” Raven taps her fingers on the counter as she thinks. “Fine. But you better pay up because drinking on the job is the last thing I should be doing.”

She pours two shots and we reach for them at the same time. I prolong the contact between us as long as I can without thinking. It should be illegal to have as soft skin as she does. It makes my thoughts turn dark and filthy. How blissful would it be to discover the softness of the rest of her body...

“Cheers,” I say and tap my glass to hers before knocking back the shot. I watch her as she drinks her own and clench my jaw. Her lips press against the rim of the small glass, eyes close, and her head falls back.

I’ve never been a man with a thing for a woman’s neck. But hers... God damn. It would look stunning with my hand wrapped around it as I anchored her writhing body still beneath me.

My fingers twitch at the thought. I squeeze the shot glass in my hand and set it back on the bar. “One more,” I plead. As if I really need to watch that all over again.

Raven settles her glass next to mine and smiles as she reaches for the whiskey bottle. “Last one,” she says as the smooth, dark liquid pours.

This time when they’re full, I take her glass instead. I make sure to put my lips over where hers just were and flick my tongue against the rim. Somehow I convince myself that the intoxicating taste isn’t the liquor, but all her.

Fuck, I need to go before I do something I’ll regret.

I push myself back from the counter and nod my head. “Thanks for the drink.”

“You’re welcome. I’m Raven by the way,” she says, stretching her hand out to me.

I take it in mine without hesitation. “Lockwood.”

“Lockwood,” she whispers to herself, but I hear. It’s the sweetest fucking sound—my name on her lips. My cock pulses as I think about how it would sound if it were leaving those lips as a moan.

Step the fuck back, Lockwood, I internally growl at myself. But I can’t. And I definitely fucking can’t bring myself to let go of her.

“Lock,” Silver slings his arm over my shoulder and grins at Raven. She pulls her hand back and scowls at him. “You found your key.”

I want to tell him how wrong he is. That I’m the one with the cock that would fit into her as if her pussy was the sole one it was manufactured for—or that she isn’t mine. But letting him think that she is mine is too satisfying to pass up.

The other Reapers gather around. “We’re headed back to the clubhouse,” Grave says. “You coming?”

“Yeah, I’ll be right behind you.” I dig into my jean pocket and find my wallet. I slide a fifty across the counter instead of placing it in her hand. I’ve tempted myself too many times tonight, another touch might send me spiraling down a path with no return.

“Hey, Lockwood! You forgot your whiskey!” Raven calls out as I make my to the exit.

I turn my head and smile. “Don’t worry about it. I’ll be back tomorrow.”

I will be. But my return will be on behalf of the club, not because of her. At least that’s what I tell myself over the next few days.

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