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Chapter 1

Dixie Chicks- Landslide

The sound of the bikes in the distance reminded Claire of the thunderstorms in Texas. She stared out the window of the diner, playing with the cup of tea she let get cold. She had been in town just a couple of days and was waiting on the rental to finish getting freshened up. She was glad to be getting out of the motel she was staying in. She was looking forward to opening up her store and getting settled in. There were no resale shops within a hundred miles. The inventory she was bringing from Texas would do well. She had already had several pieces she wanted to re-do that she had found at a few garage sales.

Summit, the small town she was trying to settle in, had been welcoming for the most part. The older woman, Betty, she was renting from lived just a block away from the small home. It had belonged to a friend of hers that had passed away and had left Betty all of her belongings. She was thrilled when Claire called from Texas and the two hit it off immediately. Claire begged her not to get rid of anything, which she would be happy to pay for any items but she wanted first dibs, explaining to her what she did for a living.

“That’s so exciting! I wish I had some creativity like that. I look at something old and all I see is old…including myself!” The older woman laughed.

“Miss Betty…I can’t wait to meet you in person.”

“Me either.”

The two finally met in person when Claire called her the morning after getting to town. The older woman drove up in an old pick-up truck straight from a fifties movie and Claire was immediately in love. The two women hugged and knew instantly they would be friends. Claire handed over an envelope that had enough cash to cover the deposit and three months of rent and utilities.

“Come see the house! The boys are working on it and it’s getting a new fridge and washer/ dryer in a few hours. I’m sorry it took a little longer than I expected.”

“I can’t wait to see it.”

“I’ll bring you back, you can ride in Lula with me.”

“Lula is gorgeous.” Claire took in the glossy red paint that looked wet.

“And she knows it too.”

The two women laughed as the truck started up with a loud growl. The drive was short and she thought maybe she could walk to the store, provided she got the space she applied to rent out. It was a large brick warehouse that had been used as a clothing store. It was perfect and had everything she needed. She should be hearing anytime if she was approved or not. She checked her phone just in case and to make sure her volume was turned all the way up.

There were numerous motorcycles and a couple of work trucks parked out front of the small white clapboard house and detached garage. The flower beds were newly done and she swooned as she got out of the truck, carefully shutting the door. There was noise coming from both inside the house and out back. Hammers banging and saws buzzing. She listened as Betty told her about doing the flowerbeds herself.

“I love it and I promise I will take care of them. And the house…like it’s my own.” Her heart lurched at the thought of the home she once shared with her shit head ex-husband. She let him buy her out and he insisted on keeping it with everything in it down to the towels. She didn’t intend on making anything easy on him. She was glad to have found the town she hoped to make her new home.

“Let’s go see what the boys are up to and you can look around.” The older woman grinned at her and she grinned back. Betty opened up the door to the house and Claire had to stifle a squeal. The dark wood floors and light grey walls were freshly done. A large man was putting a ceiling fan up and grinned when he saw the older woman.

“Miss Betty!” He stepped down from the step ladder he was on.

“Hi Max! Everything looks fantastic.” She clapped her hands and hugged the giant. “I’d like you to meet Miss Claire Stewart, my tenant and new friend.”

Max wiped his hands on his jeans and stuck his hand out. “Nice to meet you. Max Porter.”

Claire shook his large hand. “Pleasure to meet you. House looks great.”

“Thank you. We should be done by tomorrow afternoon.”

“Really? I thought you were going to need it until the end of the week.”

“I brought in extra help. I didn’t want Miss Betty to worry about anything.” Max smiled at the women.

“I had no worries Maxie. You all are good boys. Claire…go take a look around.”

“Are you sure? I don’t mind waiting.” She was trying to keep from hopping in place.

“You got ants in your pants, go shake them out.”

Betty grinned and Claire turned pink and shuffled into the small kitchen. She wandered into the first bedroom, peeking into the guest bathroom and then wandered down a short hallway where she surprised a shirtless man covered in tattoos, who was putting up another ceiling fan and had dark wood blinds set to hang.

“Private property. Get out.” He snapped and pulled a dirty work shirt on.

Claire opened her mouth and shut it. She practically ran down the hallway bumping into Max who heard the angry voice from the back.

“Hunter…Miss Betty and her new tenant are here.” Max turned and looked at the older woman and smiled at her apologetically.

The solid thumps of booted feet came down the hallway and the dark haired man that barked at her just a few moments ago came out with a smile. He wrapped Betty up in a hug and dipped her backwards, giving her a loud kiss on the cheek.

“Hunter…you are trouble.” The old lady flushed and giggled as he set her back up. “I’d like you to meet my tenant, Miss Claire Stewart.”

“Hunter Rhodes…Miss Claire Stewart.” Betty smiled and was surprised that Claire offered him nothing but a short nod.

“Thank you for letting me tour the house. I didn’t mean to interrupt your work.”

Claire wandered outside and looked at the garage that she knew was full of furniture and the little backyard that had a pretty new patio cover. Misters were being installed and she was thrilled. She had a patio set that was coming that would be perfect along with a buffet. She stayed away from the other men that were covered in tattoos. She realized several of them had the same one.

“What the hell did you say to her?” Max looked at the President of their chapter of the Fallen Angels MC.

“I told her to get out, private property.” Hunter shrugged.

“Asshole. I’m sorry Miss Betty.”

“Hunter…you need to not be so gruff.”

“Yes ma’am.”

“She’s a nice lady, bringing some business to the area. She’s starting over, I expect you boys to treat her with the same respect you treat me.”

“Yes ma’am.” Hunter rolled his eyes. Max glanced at the cranky chapter President and kept his mouth shut.

“We should be done by lunch tomorrow.” Max broke the tension from Hunter.

“Wonderful. I appreciate you boys and all the work you’ve done in this place. I’ll bring your final payment tomorrow. Behave.” She kissed them both and patted their cheeks.

The men watched as she went outside. Claire had been at the cherry red truck, quietly waiting. Max saw how excited she was when she first got there and now her shoulders were slumped and she was kicking at a rock in the road.

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