The Rider's Keeper

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AS much as any woman would be thrilled to have a guy like that check her out, the action, especially with my mood, just kind of rubs me the wrong way.

Fucking perv.

“Hey, stranger! Eyes up here.”

Two dark orbs snap up to capture mine in a heated gaze, and a smirk rises to full rosy lips when he sees me raising a questioning eyebrow at him. “Never seen a woman’s boobs before?”

“You flatter me, Sparkles,” He says, that smug smile never leaving his face. “I was just thinking about how I’ve never seen a girl wear a nametag as well as you do,”

Really? “You don’t say, I mean, considering that you’re calling me by something that is clearly not written on here.” I point to my name tag, and his eyes follow.


“Forgive me. I don’t recall saying that I was reading the letters on your name tag.” He smirks. “It’s a lovely name, though, Olive. With your beauty, I say you really pull it off.”

“There’s a lot of things I can pull off, like the smirk on your face, for example. Don’t test me,” I warn, narrowing my eyes at him to show him I mean it in a literal sense.

“As much as I’d love the honor, I don’t think I can let you do that right now, seeing as I am occupied, of course.” He shrugs and points his strong chin to the food and coffee on his table.

Raising my eyebrow, I spare a glance at his friend on the table with him. “Is he always this full of himself?”

The guy chuckles. “You’d be surprised,”

“I doubt it,” I fold my arms across my chest.

Considering the build of this guy, I should be cowering underneath his gaze. But I can’t stop myself from running my mouth no matter how hard I try. “Keep those eyes from roaming to dangerous places, yeah?”

He tilts his head at me, exchanging glances with his acquaintance on the table, then raises his hands in surrender. “Whatever you say, Sparkles.”

I narrow my eyes, turn on my heel, and take my tray with me. What the hell is Sparkles?

It is incredibly hard not to react to the noise pollution and unpleasant talk that fill the room. It smells like a freaking bar, and with every moment I spend listening to these guys, my patience thins.

Jessi walks from table to table, asking the guys if they need anything else. It is undoubtedly brave and out of the bounds of what Jessi would consider ‘comfortable.’ A point that is proven when I see a bearded guy with a belly grab her arm and size her up, giving her hungry eyes like a man would give a woman at a strip club.

Annoyance flashed across my face as I consider stepping in and saving Jessi from this asshole. But I ditch considering altogether, push from the counter, and take determined steps towards the table when Jessi panics. “Let my hand go, you freak!”

Wrapping my fingers around his wrist like he is doing to Jessi, I give her a nod to step away, then turn to glance down at this guy with a creepy smile on his face. “How do you wanna do this, buddy? Do you wanna leave or behave?”

The guy chuckles. “Why would I leave, princess? I haven’t done anything wrong.”

“You think?” I seethe, anger bubbling inside of me. “Consent,” I say. “No is fucking full sentence. So without consent, I can’t appreciate you putting your filthy hands on one of my staff.”

“Filthy?” He smirks. He has the nerve to smile smugly at me. “I guess this filthy man here is dirtying your fancy table, so how will I leave, princess? Will you make me?” He stands from his chair, treading dangerously close to no-go territory.

I fold my arms across my chest and step closer, dropping my voice an octave lower. “I am more than capable of doing that. Unless you’d like a demonstration buddy, I don’t mind putting you on your ass,”

The guy blinks, taken aback. I can tell his head full of air is trying to weigh down the possibilities of being put down by a girl half his size. “Think carefully, buddy, say the word, and you’re out of here. If it’s a woman’s touch you desire, I’ll give one to you, but one not as gentle.”

He sizes me up like he doubts what I am capable of doing. “Nah, princess, I never put my hands on a woman, so I’ll let this one go.”

“Good choice,” I narrow my eyes at him. “You can take your seat now,” I turn on my heel to find April standing behind me, then begin to walk away with her when I feel a hard slap on my ass, followed by a few snickers.

Discarding all ration, I spin on my toes and stretch one leg out, landing my combat boot on this guy’s face in one swift movement, and he stumbles onto the table, gripping his face and glaring at me like he can’t believe I did that.

The room goes dead silent as the others process what I just did, and blood trickles from the guy’s nose and onto his awful brown jacket.

“Holy shit, Joe, you’re bleeding!” A guy exclaims as I take a step closer to the asshat, Joe, giving him my best glare.

“You still think I can’t put you down?” I ask calmly, clenching my fists by my side. It is hard to restrain myself in front of such a sorry excuse of a man who thinks of women as objects to fuck, break, beat up, and discard. I can’t stand them.

Joe pushes forward, raising his hand in the air while I harden my fists, preparing myself to evade his hit and then strike him twice. The blow never comes, and I look up to find Joe’s hand suspended in the air, a large hand gripping his fist. “You gonna lay your hand on a woman, Joe?” A deep voice growls, the room dead silent as everyone watches the scene unfold in front of them.

Straining my neck to glare at the tall guy next to me, I grit my teeth when I see it’s the guy from earlier. “She fuckin hit me, Blake!” Joe protests like a child who had his candy stolen from him.

“Get out.” I force through gritted teeth, my glare shifting between the two guys, Blake and Joe.

“What?” Blake frowns like he can’t believe what he’s hearing.

If he was expecting applause or reward for stepping in, he couldn’t have been more wrong. I don’t appreciate others fighting my battles for me.

“Get out,” I repeat calmly. “If you ain’t going to behave, get the fuck out of my store!”

“Whoa, hey, relax.” He raises his hands in surrender to try and deescalate the situation.

“You gonna let this bitch speak to you like that, Blake?” Asshat Joe interrupts, and I can’t help but fix my glare at him.

“Don’t make me punch you in the face before you can shut the fuck up, Joe,” Blake warns calmly, then turns to look down at me. “It’s okay. My friend pissed you off. He shouldn’t have done that. We’ll go.”

My lips part open, then closed. I never imagined it would be this easy to get them to leave, but what amazes me is the guy’s ability to shift from his playful and easygoing manner from earlier to this, this man who seems to command the room with just the tone of authority in his voice.

“Pack your shit. We’re leaving.” Blake orders in a no-nonsense tone, and one by one, some more reluctant than others, they leave the café, but not before Blake places a massive tip on his table. This guy is full of surprises.

Jessi balances herself against a table when the door shuts. She is still new, and I understand that she is frightened. “It’s all my fault. I’m so sorry.” A tear rolls down her cheek.

“Hey,” I hug her gently. “It’s not your fault that I let a dirtbag inside my store. If there’s anyone to blame, it is me.”

“Thank you for stepping in,” Jessi sniffles and wipes at her face when I pull back from her. “I wouldn’t have been able to do what you did,”

“It’s not rocket science,” I exhale a breath I didn’t know I was holding. “I’d do it all over again if I had to.”

April stands beside me, a proud grin on her face as she takes my hand in hers. “I could fuck you right now. You know that?”

“Eww, no! Why would you say something like that?” I yank my hand from hers.

“I always knew you had a temper, but this, this is better.” She squeals. “You are so hot!”

I can’t help but laugh. “Shut up,”

“Only if you kiss me,” April puckers her lips.

“No, stop it!” My cheeks heat up in embarrassment. “I am not kissing you.”

Jessi laughs beside April and Matt, who is still too shocked to speak.

“Come on. It’s time to call it a night.”


I wake up to the delicious smell of pancakes this morning, then quickly make my bed and hit the shower. I have my classes at ten today, so I want to drop by the café first.

Plopping down on the barstool at the kitchen island, I moan as I munch on my dad’s signature croffles smothered with cream and honey. “This is it, the correct way to start my day before a long day of work ahead of me.”

“Glad I could be of help, honey,” My dad smiles softly at me. He has always loved to watch me eat, said it ‘brings him joy.’

“Uh-uh,” Mom slams a tray of pancakes on the island. “We’re not doing this. Spit it out, young lady.” She says sternly.

I guess Matt filled them in on what happened last night, again. “Spit what out? That I kicked an asshole in the face? He deserved it.”

“Livvia,” Mom whines. She has always been against any form of confrontation with customers, especially if I was involved. “You know I don’t want you to get yourself into that kind of stuff. It’s too dangerous, with a group of bikers, no less?”

Okay, I admit it was a little stupid, just a tiny bit, but I can’t stand by and watch as injustice is blatantly committed right in front of me. That guy was harassing Jessi, and she was uncomfortable. I cannot look away from that.

Taking note of my silence, Mom turns to dad. “Mark, say something. She’ll tangle up with the wrong people one day, and what then?”

Dad shrugs. “She says he deserved it, and I believe her.”

A smile rises to my lips. “Really? That’s all you hear among the things I said?”

“Mom, please,” I gulp the last of my coffee and hurry to wash my plate. “I’m not a child.”

“It’s not about that. Sometimes you don’t know what ground you’re treading. Anything could’ve happened if that guy hadn’t stepped in.”

So Matt told her all the bullshit and then glorified the asshole who brought them in the first place. Way to go, Matt. “Show me who your friends are, and I’ll tell you who you are. He was just like the rest of them.” I grab my bag off the couch and start toward the door, well aware that he is not as he seems.

“It is not always the case honey, he must be a good guy if he stepped in to protect you,” Mom tries to reason. At this rate, she might even get me married to the guy.

“He’s still an asshole,” I yell as I walk out the door.

“Language!” My parents yell before the door shuts behind me.

It is 6:30 on a cold Friday morning as I rush to have the café open by 7 am before I head to school, and I scowl at the sun that shines brightly in the blue sky but is of no help in ridding us of the chill of the morning.

Rubbing my palms to warm them up, I slip into the driver’s seat and hit the road. Light music plays from my speakers when a fleeting thought about that guy from last night, Blake, enters my head. It lingers there for a moment as I remember the startling color of his eyes and how perfectly tall he was next to my five-foot-five self.

I may have been annoyed that he intervened, but a part of me is glad he did. If there is one thing I would prefer not to do is to go back to my old life, I fought hard to get myself out of there. I’ve fought men just so I could change my lifestyle, but as it turns out, a life for a life was the only acceptable prize. For once, it feels nice to have a man step in.

By the time I pull up outside my parent’s café, Jim, our chef, has already started working his magic. “Good morning, Jimmie!”

“Morning, Oli!” Uncle Jimmie yells as I slip into the safe to retrieve the float bag. “How’s your dad doing?”

“He’s alright. He is out of the woods, for now, nothing to worry about.” I count the cash float with a keen eye and quick hands before unlocking the register and arranging the notes inside.

“It’s good to hear that, kid. Matt told me about the gang that was here last night,”

I’m going to kill him, I swear to God. “Uncle Jimmie, that is one sore topic that I wish to forget about.”

It is. If I don’t, I will have to face the music and start thinking about the consequences I may have to face if that guy presses charges. And even though I doubt that he will since none of them ever like to admit that they got hit by a woman, I sense a second coming.

I may have bruised his face, but his pride is the only thing that’ll still be wounded by now. I doubt he will forget that easily, even if he was in the wrong. But I won’t let the likes of that asshat drag me down the road that I went through hell and high water to escape.

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