My head swam with all the French around me. I was used to reading the language, not hearing it, speaking it- much less swimming in it.
Montreal- the most populated city in Quebec. I had never visited for longer than a day, much like every other tourist-y city. It wasn't safe for me. Nowhere was safe from her rage.
From the outside looking in, I looked like a normal girl- brown, wavy hair, blue eyes, and pale skin. Having just turned 23, I was at a crossroads in my life. I pulled my blue raincoat around my body and kept my eyes on the wet pavement. It was a dark shade of grey, closer to charcoal than I had ever seen. My black shoes were a single shade darker, it seemed. I was dripping wet from my head to my toes, and I needed somewhere to rest. I could barely read all the signs, and the French-speaking folk were a little too much for me. I couldn't stop, nor ask for directions. I was lost in a city I had never visited, like every time before me.
I had to keep running- from her, from the things she threatened to do to me. I had to run. I was never going to be safe unless I had a god protecting me. I could never have a god protecting me- they didn't care about me, about girls like me. I was simple, I was against everything they stood for.
I shook the thoughts out of my head. They plagued me every day and every night. I could never be free.
I need to stop and relax, I told myself. I needed to get to Jet. I didn't know where they were, but I would find them.
I stumbled into the first bar with an English name- The Revelry, I read. I wasn't scared of a bar fight, heavens know I've seen enough. I heard English all around me and finally felt safe. A kind woman with black hair offered to take my coat. I said no. That was lesson number 1- don't trust strangers.
"I'm Nala," she said, holding her hand out for me to shake. I shook it gently. "Welcome to the Revelry. Of course, fighting is strictly forbidden here, so don't worry."
I smiled at her. "Hi, Nala. Thank you."
"What would you like to drink? Anything?" Nala gestured to the wall of drinks behind her. I looked up at the impressive collection. They seemed to have every kind of alcohol known to man.
"I-I'll just have a beer," I said softly.
Nala nodded and turned to the bar. She started to pour a glass of their house brew for me. I watched as the foam filled the glass, followed by the amber liquid. I held my hand out and took the glass, holding it tightly. I took a sip and the rich taste filled my mouth. I smiled. "This is good. Thank you."
"We're proud of our beer here," Nala explained. "What brings you to the Revelry?"
"Well, I'm looking for a friend," I admitted.
"Oh, you're that." Nala's eyes darkened. "What's this friend's name?"
"I-I-I'm not an escort," I sputtered.
"Oh honey, I know," Nala smirked. "Our boys attract enough women that they don't need escorts."
I blinked repeatedly. Our boys? This woman wasn't old enough to have kids, let alone of the drinking age. I looked around the room and saw a wide-spanning crowd of men in leather jackets and cuts being swooned over by women dressed anything but modestly. One of them caught my eye- a brown-haired guy, about my age. He had the same beer as I did in his left hand. His feet were kicked up onto the table, showing off his black combat boots. He was speaking in French to his buddies, waving his right hand.
"C'était rien, les gars. Arrête vos accusations." His voice was deep and rough, but with a certain eloquence to it in the European language. He took a long sip of beer as one of his friends filled in. I didn't pay attention to his buddy's voice, totally mesmerized by him.
"Regarde, Jet m'apporte un liaison entre nous et les autres. J'ai confiance en eux." He glared at his buddy and rolled his eyes. Every little move he did lit my body on fire. I found myself blushing harder than I ever had. Nala shot a glance where I was looking.
"Oh, good choice. He's good with his girls, that one." She snickered.
"What's his name?" I found myself yearning to know it, to know what name to call out to when I found myself alone with my toys tonight.
I whipped around at the more familiar voice. An old friend stood at the doorway, shaking their hair out. Jet Cooper. I smiled and ran into their arms. "Jet!"
"Hey, Maddie." Jet wrapped their arms around me. "Been a while, huh? Glad you could make it."
"I've missed you. What have you been up to, lately?" I looked up into his bright green eyes.
"Riding. Welcome to the Chaos Hunters, Maddie." They rubbed a hand on my back.
"The Chaos Hunters?" I breathed. I had heard of them before- ruthless killers, motorcycle riders and sometimes bounty hunters. I didn't know that Jet had joined them. "These are the Chaos Hunters?"
"Sure are." Jet grinned. Their left incisor was pure silver now, sharper. "You didn't see all the bikes around?"
"N-No. It was raining so hard that I didn't notice." I shook my head. "How long have you been with the Riders?"
"Not long enough," Jet chuckled. "Anyhow, thanks for coming so quickly."
"Anything for my bud." I smiled at them.
They grinned and walked through the bar to the handsome brown-haired man that I had been ogling. "Yo, James!"
James turned around and before his eyes landed on Jet, they landed on me. The breath left him and his jaw dropped. "Oh- hi."
"H-Hi." I tucked a lock of hair behind my ear.
Jet landed their hand on my back. "This is the liaison I was talking about."
I turned and looked at them. "You want me to work for you guys?"
"All we need is info," Jet shrugged. "You'll have our protection and our sanctuary."
"I would like that," I admitted, keeping my eyes on Jet. They were god-like, like every other person in here, but not the same way James was. If I kept my eyes on them, I wouldn't look at him. I wouldn't see his honey-brown eyes and the spill of freckles on his face. I needed a distraction. "Where would I be staying, Jet?"
"Probably in the apartments above the bar." Jet explained. "They're double-locked and furnished. Food's free, too. You're with the Hunters now."
I sighed with relief. "And you'll protect me?" James stiffened at those words.
"Maddie, I'll protect you to the end of the earth. Now c'mon, let's introduce you to everyone." Jet grinned and held their hand out to me. I took it happily, shooting one last glance to the handsome biker who was looking back at me.
His eyebrows were knit together, his jaw clenched and his teeth grinding together. He looked annoyed that Jet was with me. I could read his face and knew he was thinking the same thing Jet told me.