Crossroads: Book 1

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Chapter 70


Seagulls are flying in the air and creating music with the sound of the waves with their calls. There are a few other people out on the beach, but not many are in the water, save for the boys we came here with. They are about waist-deep in the ocean, diving for the football they pass around to each other. It’s December, and the water is still way too cold for swimming, but the sunshine is nice and warm. Those boys are crazy for being in that ocean.

I am completely content laying on my beach blanket soaking in the Georgia sunshine, playing with the dense gray sand in my hands, and watching the boys have their fun showing off to us girls. They leap in the air and crash into the waves as they each catch the football. There is only one body that I am watching closely, and I still can’t believe that he’s my boyfriend. How did I get so lucky?

His body stretches above the water to throw the football to Squirrelly or Paul – the tattoos stretch with his skin, and his muscles contract with each throw and catch. He falls into the water gracefully only to stand back up like he’s posing for a GQ magazine or something as he runs a hand through his hair to slick it away from his eyes.

Now that we are officially together, I wonder if he’ll open up more about his past and the scars that share his body with the ink...

“I could watch this all day,” Rose sighs, lying next to me.

“You could say that again,” Rachel agrees, sitting legs crossed on the other side of me.

“Mhm.” Hopefully, I won’t be self-sabotaging this newfound relationship, but I can’t help wondering if what we have can be more than physical. I really don’t know much about him at all. The realization is hitting me like a ton of bricks.

Paul and Rachel have only known each other for a few days, and she already knows his past and how he came to be a part of the club. She knows his favorite food, his favorite drink, his favorite color, even his ideal fantasy – which could have been kept to herself, but she felt the need to tell me. Mike and I have spent so much time together, but we never really got into what makes each other tick. Instead, we just simply enjoyed each other’s time, cuddled, or made out.

What makes Mike tick? I still feel like he is a complete mystery. Instead of enjoying the entertainment in front of me, I want to pull this particular actor out of the water and start drilling down to who he really is.

“What’s on your mind, sugarplum?” Rose interrupts my thoughts.

Maybe Rose can help me get more of an insight on this new boyfriend of mine. “Michael.”

She laughs, and Rachel turns her head towards the conversation that’s about to take place. “What about him?” Rose asks.

I feel my lips gather to the side while trying to figure out how to word everything. “I’ve known Mike for about two months now, and I’m still not sure I know him. Like really know him. He closes himself off whenever I ask about his parents, his past, stuff like that. When we are together, it’s great, and there’s a lot of chemistry, but I don’t know how he became... him...”

When I don’t hear anything, I turn to face Rose. She’s biting her lip as if to stop herself from saying something she shouldn’t or to stop a secret she promised to keep.

“Rose, what is it?”

“I’m not sure I should say. That is definitely a conversation for the two of you,” she halts.

“Rose. Come on. It can’t be that bad,” I reason.

She sits up on the blanket and hugs her knees. Rachel inches closer to listen thoroughly. “He’s complicated. I’ve known him for a long time. He really is one of the good ones. He always makes sure that the club takes care of its own, including Ovid and me; he does his best with the cards he’s given. When Mike is in, he’s all in. He is the most loyal man I have ever met. That’s all you need to know.”

That was vague. Wait. “Ovid?” I ask.

“Who’s Ovid?” Rachel is as intrigued as I am. The look on Rose’s face tells me that she thought I knew. How would I supposed to have known?

“Ovid’s my sister. She’s in the same grade as you.”

I recall that moment when Declan defended me in front of Ovid after the fight that Mike got into with Zack from school. Why would Declan refer to Ovid’s sister – Rose -as a whore? She doesn’t look like one or act like one...

“I didn’t know you had a sister, much less one that had English lit with me,” I tell her honestly. If Rose has any impact on Ovid, I don’t see how someone like Ashley would be Ovid’s best friend...

“The topic never really came up, I guess.” Rose shrugs her shoulder.

My sights turn to the boys in the water. It doesn’t look like they have a care in the world.

Mike and Ovid are in the same grade I am... How long has Rose known Mike? She’s older than Ovid, but by how much? Mike makes sure that the club takes care of them...take care of them how? If Rose is older, shouldn’t she be the one making sure to take care of those younger than her, Mike included?

“How many years apart are you from her?” I ask.

“Six years,” Rose answers, tilting her face up to the sun.

“How long have you known Mike for?” I pry.

She crosses one foot over the other out in front of her. “Uhm...sometime after he joined the club.”

“When was that?” Rachel lightly taps my shoulder to signal that I should stop interrogating Rose. I want answers.

Her face turns to me. There’s a hint of frustration in her eyes. “I don’t know,” she clips.

I look down at my hands as I peel off another piece of my nail. “I’m sorry.”

Rose stands up and starts to fold her blanket. “It’s fine. I need to go.” Before I have a chance to stop her, she calls for Squirrelly to meet her at the shore. He runs up to Rose and threatens to hug her with his cold body, but she shoves him away. I can’t hear the conversation, but both sets of eyes land on me. Hers are a bit icy, but his seem warm and a bit sad.

“You need to learn when to stop asking so many questions,” Rachel whispers next to me.

I didn’t mean to upset Rose. I do ask a lot of questions sometimes...maybe I’m just not asking the right people.

“Hey, where are y’all goin’?” Mike calls out to a retreating Squirrelly and Rose as he emerges from the water.

“I just lost track of time. I need to get home,” Rose tells Mike. For some reason, Mike turns his sights on me before looking back to Rose and Squirrelly. He jogs over to meet them. The conversation between them seems to be a bit heated and hushed; I can’t hear a thing past the sound of the waves.

Rachel scoffs. “I know you ask a lot of questions, and I’ve seen some people act annoyed, but this is ridiculous.” Paul walks past the threesome pow-wow right towards Rachel.

I take the opportunity to really look at the difference between Paul, who is nineteen, and Mike, who is a year younger.

How does Paul feel to be older than Mike yet have to answer to him? Mike really doesn’t look like an eighteen-year-old... I noticed that when dad introduced him to me. He carries himself with a lot of confidence, and he has a grown man’s body. He is filled out, sculpted, and has more facial hair than any other boy at school that I’ve seen.

Paul looks closer to what I see at school: muscular but very lean with not a lot of facial hair or chest hair... I shake the thought. Mike probably just developed earlier than most other boys our age.

How does an eighteen-year-old even become the president of a motorcycle club in the first place?

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