Claire pulled up in front of the house. She had bought stuff for burgers and Betty was already there with the grill going. The old lady was a kick in the pants and Claire liked her immensely. The bikes were parked all over the place along with several work trucks. She could smell the charcoal and it made her smile. She missed grilling. She didn’t even mind it was with sweaty work men. She shut away the thoughts of her previous home. She was ready for a beer and a burger and the bed in her new home.
The movers were making good time and would be there a day early. She was ready for her things. She stepped out of the rental car. She missed her large SUV and couldn’t wait for it to get there. She started pulling out bags of food and carried them to the door, repeating the trip several times. She would need help with the beer and sodas she bought. She opened the door and shuffled everything into the kitchen, sweating slightly as she lifted the last bag onto the counter. She stepped out the side door and waved at Betty.
“Hi…I have beer but it’s…” Several heads snapped towards her at the mention of beer. She saw Hunter and ducked back slightly. “Um…a little heavy.”
Hunter told several younger guys to go help. She wondered why he didn’t get off his ass and help himself. She smiled at the guys and offered her hand, both of them were very helpful and grabbed the sodas, ice and beer she bought. They lifted the cases like they were nothing. Betty came inside and she smiled at Claire.
“Do you need any help?”
“No…I just need to get the fixins together. Think they might want bacon?”
“I have no doubt.” Betty watched her new tenant fidget around the kitchen, putting things away and setting out things for the burgers. “Are you okay Claire?”
“Yes ma’am…just missin home a little bit. But I’m okay. My things will be here a day early, I’m excited. Oh and I got the warehouse store!”
Betty knew she did, word was traveling fast about the pretty woman who showed up in town dropping cash. She knew the men outside had talked about her after she left. There was some new blood in town and with her pretty looks, there was no doubt she was going to catch some attention.
The smell of frying bacon soon brought several men to the side door.
“Hi Max, how are you?”
“Good, thank you…starving.”
Claire smiled at him. “Well, let me get this bacon on out to ya'll and we can get to chowin.”
She pulled out a variety of deli salads that she ordered, sticking serving spoons in them. A knock at the door interrupted her and she went to answer it. A petite dark haired woman was standing there with a plate full of brownies.
“Hi…I’m sorry to barge over. My name is Stella, I’m Max’s ol’ lady. I wanted to welcome you to the neighborhood.” She smiled a wide smile and thrust the large plate at a surprised Claire.
“Hi! Thank you…would you like to come in?”
“Are you sure you don’t mind?”
“Not at all…please. Miss Betty is here. I’m not really good with names, other than Max.”
“I recognize the bikes. You have a good half dozen club members here including the President. They should have their cuts on which will help with their names.”
Stella wrinkled her nose and smiled. “Max…he’s the club Treasurer.”
“Oh…okay. Makes sense now. They all have the same tattoo. I get a little lost in my own world sometimes and the obvious isn’t always quite obvious.” She smiled at the dimpled woman in front of her.
“How many have asked you for your number?”
Claire burst out laughing. “None. Thank god. But one did yell at me, so I think I’m safe.”
“Someone yelled at you? Who?”
“Umm…dark hair, tattoos?”
Stella burst out laughing. “Half the club.”
“Tall, really built.”
“Half the club…” Stella whispered and grinned.
Max peeked in the side door and smiled as he saw his wife. “Hi babydoll.”
“Hi handsome. I come bearing brownies.”
“Claire…my wife makes the best brownies, scratch.” Max crooked his finger at his wife. “Come here woman. You look pretty in that dress.” He looked at his wife, she was wearing a pretty sundress with thin straps. Stella practically ran to him.
“Hi Miss Betty!” She waved at Betty as Max picked her up and hugged her.
Claire’s heart clenched as she watched the happy couple. Toby used to pick her up like that. She pulled the bacon off the pan and let it drain before transferring it to the large pile. She twisted the black pepper over it.
“I think we’re ready.” She smiled at the two and started handing off dishes and heavy bowls. She came out with the plate of brownies and set them down on one of several tables that had been set up. Betty handed her a beer and she smiled at her.
“I just want to thank all of you for getting the house ready a lot earlier than anticipated. I appreciate it very much. And if you’re still hungry after this, we can order pizza.” She raised her beer and glanced at the men, offering them a smile. “And thank you Miss Betty for giving me the opportunity to start over. And Stella, I am most looking forward to getting dirty with these brownies later.”
The group busted up and Claire relaxed. She took the hug Betty offered her and found herself getting a little emotional. She stepped inside for a minute to go wash her hands and get some space. She hated Toby for what he did to her, to them. There was no way she could stay in the town she called home for five years and run into him and a child she couldn’t give him but that his mistress could.
She came back outside not seeing the set of eyes watching her.
“So Claire…tell us what you plan on doing with the warehouse.” Stella spoke up as she bit into a burger.
“Wow…word travels fast.”
“Honey…you have no idea.” Stella smiled at her.
“I refurbish old furniture and sell it. But I also do…doors and all sorts of other things.” She set her plate down, not having much of an appetite. She drained her beer and got up to get another one. She hadn’t reached the cooler when a large hand thrust one at her. She mumbled a thanks and went back to her chair.
“She wants to see some of Rosie’s things before I sell them.” Betty beamed. She missed her friend and was thrilled at the possibility of her things finding new life in new homes.
“Is that bedroom set in there?” Stella asked.
The men were quietly listening to the women. There was information being garnered about the newcomer. Stella was a pro at this shit and Max and Hunter both were glad she agreed to come over.
“The fancy one?” Betty wondered what Stella was up to.
“What? Fancy what?” Claire felt her body start to buzz and drained her beer. She craned her neck towards the garage. She went to go get another beer and the large hand thrust one at her. She mumbled her thanks and looked towards the garage.
“Miss Betty…has she not seen the garage yet?” Stella grinned.
“Not yet.” She glanced around.
“No time like the present.” Stella watched as Claire had wandered to the garage, standing on her toes as she tried to look into the windows.
“She’s struggling. She needs a project. Did you see how she lit up?”
“You sneaky girl. Let’s go see what she does. Boys…give us a minute. Eat. We can order pizza.”