Hunter

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Chapter 8

“It’s going to take two trips.” Hunter looked between Max and Gabe and the pile of furniture that needed to go to the warehouse. The box truck was already full.

“We got nothing else on the books till Monday.”

“Tell the boys to open the pool up at the clubhouse. It’s fucking hot.” Hunter watched a red faced Claire hang from the rafters, searching through a box.

Max had to pull Stella down several times who was trying to climb with Claire. “Woman, if you break your neck, I won’t wipe your ass.”

The group started laughing.

Claire dipped her head down looking at the sweaty men and the second pile of furniture. “Do you want to do the second load when it’s cooler? Tomorrow morning or tonight?”

“Yeah…let’s get this unloaded and we can come tomorrow morning.” Hunter glanced at Max who was silently thanking him. His long hair was in a bun on the top of his head. “Will you get down, it’s got to be a hundred degrees in the rafters.” He held his hands up to catch her and she swatted him away.

“I can get down. Thank you.” She swung down like a monkey, startling him. She grabbed onto an iron bed frame to steady herself. She was a little light headed.

“Damn it. Go get her some water.” Hunter snapped at Max. Stella was already yelling at Miss Betty to grab some water.

“I’m fine.” She shooed Hunter away and thanked Stella for the cold water bottle.

“You didn’t eat anything.”

“I did too!” She drained her water and took another one, laying it on the back of her neck.

“Stella…will you drive her to the shop please.”

“Yes sir.”

“Let’s get moving, it’s hot and we’re done after we empty this truck.”

“I can drive.” Claire interrupted.

“I was so looking forward to driving your fancy car.” Stella moved in. Hunter silently thanked her.

Claire snorted and mumbled something about consolation prizes. “By all means…drive it like you own it. You would have loved my Fer…okay, let’s get going so you guys can get out of the heat.” She grabbed her purse as the bikes started up. Miss Betty was following her as well, taking inventory and prices that Claire had been yelling out at her.

“She was going to say Ferrari.” Max watched as the women got in the fancy vehicle.

“Call the clubhouse…tell them to get stuff to grill. I’m so sick of sandwiches.”

“You ate half that casserole by yourself.” Max eyed the big biker.

“It was good.” Hunter put his helmet on and they pulled out following the truck.

Stella had a blast driving the high powered vehicle around. Claire had her stop so she could get everyone cold sports drinks. The guys were thankful and already pulling things out of the truck. Miss Betty had opened up for her and turned the cooler on. By the time they were done, she had a bunch of sweaty, shirtless men standing around. Not much different than being around the guys when they would screw around on a weekend playing ball. She was completely unfazed.

“Thank you guys…I appreciate the help.” She handed Max an envelope. “Paid in full. Plus a little extra. I’m sorry for yesterday...and last night.”

“No harm. Glad we didn’t smoosh you in the middle of Main Street.” Max gave her a toothy grin.

“Might have done me a favor. I’m going to close up…you guys get going. Thank you again.” She smiled but it didn’t reach her eyes.

“We will see you tomorrow morning, same time.” Max watched her.

“Okay…sounds good.” She waved as she watched the guys get on their bikes, eventually shutting the door and leaving her, Stella and Miss Betty to enjoy the cool air and the smell of old furniture.

Gabe was tempted to ask her to come to the clubhouse. He glanced at Hunter and decided against it. He would go by her house later and see if she needed any help.

“Claire…why is there a bra hanging on that gorgeous room divider?” Stella pointed out.

“Last night…took it off while I was working, bad habit.”

Stella was very aware of what happened last night. Max told her he almost had a heart attack when they came up the slight hill and she was standing in the middle of the street in the dark. She made Max recount twice the part about Hunter grabbing her while she cried.

Claire’s phone rang, interrupting the ladies as they chatted about the furniture.

“Claire speaking.”

“Claire…it’s Barb.” The nasally voice that belonged to the wicked witch also known as her former mother in law. She immediately stiffened at the voice that came over the speaker phone.

“How may I help you?” She could hardly unclench her teeth.

Betty snapped her eyes up. She hadn’t heard Claire use a curt tone with anyone before.

“I don’t appreciate that tone from you. I’m calling to conduct business.”

“I don’t recall asking for your business.” Claire pinched her eyes shut.

“You know this was all for the best. I want the eyelet bed set that goes with the crib, how much? It’s beautiful by the way, Amber loves it. You did an outstanding job.”

Claire felt the air leave her body as she sat down in an overstuffed chair. She glanced up at a teary eyed Miss Betty and a horrified Stella as her shaky hand disconnected the call. She blocked the number and stood up, shaking her hands out.

“I think I’m ready to go home. How about you ladies?” She smiled weakly at the women.

Stella was beyond pissed. She now knew who the owner of the anonymous quote was.

Miss Betty was going to cry.

“Stella, would you like to drive back?” Claire didn’t think she could drive.

“Absolutely! I’d race Miss Betty but I’m sort of thinking her hot rod might blow us out of the water.”

Claire made sure everything was locked up. She felt like a robot, the heat and the call drained her. The ride home was quiet as Miss Betty left them to do some errands. She didn’t realize they had pulled into the driveway till Stella gently touched her arm.

“Claire…were home.”

“Thank you…you should get out of the heat.”

Stella frowned. “I know you don’t know me very well…but if you would like to talk or need anything, I’m here.”

“Thank you…I appreciate that but I’m fine. It’s hot and I’m ready for a nap. Can we exchange numbers?”

“Yes! Please call or text anytime. Max works a lot so I’m always out and about.”

The women parted and Claire waited till Stella left in her car before she burst out crying. She brushed the tears away and decided to make some sweet tea and sit on the porch under the misters.

Stella was balling when she pulled into the parking space for her and Max at the clubhouse. He came outside to greet her and picked up the pace when he saw her wiping her face.

“What’s wrong?” Max was alarmed seeing his wife upset.

Hunter and Gabe heard him and stood up to see what was happening.

“It was horrible…she got a call from her ex mother-in-law and the quote in that article was her. She said the same thing…it was for the best. And she shut down…Miss Betty cried.” Stella couldn’t get a full thought out of her mouth.

Max looked at the guys, his wife was not making much sense. “Honey…I need you to settle down. I don’t understand what you’re saying.” He scooped her up and took her inside where she had some water and finally stopped crying. “Now, tell me what happened.”

Stella recounted the call and referenced the gossip article about Claire and the cheating husband. “She didn’t even know we pulled in, I had to sort of shake her. We exchanged numbers.”

“Did she say what she was going to do? Hunter asked before Gabe could.

“Nap.”

Gabe wondered about getting in bed with her for something other than a nap.

Hunter wanted to curl up in bed and take a nap with her.

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