Chapter 1: Rowdy’s
A large hand grazes my back, skimming up along my neck. Strong fingers gently grip my jaw turning me so that I am face to face with the most memorizing beautiful dark blue eyes of a Stranger. His soft lips capture mine steeling my breath away.
Stranger: This guy bothering you
Frozen like a opossum in a spot light, I manage a slow nod of my head, my eyes glued to the lips that still hold my breath. His days old dark stubble outlining his masculine jaw pulses with a muscle tick of annoyance. Leading into a blend of clean shaved to thick dark brown perfectly trimmed hair. His lips curl up ever so slightly that most wouldn’t have noticed as he watched me ogling him.
Drunk guy: Hey man we got dibs, so fuck off.
The younger tall college drunk with a blond shaved head and brown eyes wearing a blue and white letterman’s jacket, who’s been pestering me while trying to finish my shift here at Rowdy’s bar stumbled closer. His shorter equally drunk friend with a light brown shaved head follows behind. Both are tall and obnoxious drunks, looking like they could do some damage. The stranger towers over me brushing his broad muscular chest against me as he pulls me behind him protectively. I realize just then how tall he really is, putting the drunk jocks to shame. After seeing the stranger step around me they both stop dead in their tracks.
Stranger: You think you can have dibs on my girl.
His deep voice booms with authority with out raising his tone. My pussy throbs as heat from the sexual tension radiates off of him setting me a blaze. The taller drunk jock looks past the stranger towards me with a smirk.
Drunk guy: I been watching her all night and don’t see no ring, so how about you do us all a favor and keep your nose out of other peoples business.
The stranger moves forward with a menacing gesture causing the jocks to flinch. They both stumble back as Rodney the owner of Rowdy’s comes out shouting at the two to leave.
Rodney: You boys are a long way from campus.
At the sound of a shot gun cocking back. They both flee knocking into a couple of tables. With a raised brow like a concerned father he turns towards the stranger who’s still shielding me.
Rodney is a Montana born, tall and rugged like Grizzly Adams with grey streaked wavy brown hair and beard. He is a big scary looking biker guy but a big old soft teddy bear at heart who took me in four and a half months ago.
Rodney: You ok River?
He asks me while keeping his eyes on the stranger. Who’s wide back side flexes as he rolls his shoulders turning to look at me side ways.
River: Uh huh.
I mumble like a blabbering fool. The strangers eyes squint curiously at me while the corner of his lips turns into a half confused smirk.
Rodney: You gotta name stranger
Owen: Just Owen
Rodney: Right, well as much as I appreciate you standing up for River here, it would be advised to do it with out tongue next time.
Owens hand reaches around the back of his neck showing off the rippled curve of his flexed bicep through his worn black leather jacket.
Owen: I apologize. I reacted on instinct.
When I realize he’s looking down at me, I feel my cheeks flush.
River: Oh, do you make a habit of going around kissing girls on instinct.
Rodney lets out a grunt as he heads back behind the bar. Owens chuckle is deep and sexual. His blue eyes bore into my own.
Owen: Only ones as beautiful as you.
Oh boy. I’m in trouble.
River: Well can I buy you a drink. It’s the least I can do.
Owen: I’ll take a crown if you have it.
River: I do.
I finally breath out the long breath I had been holding and relax a little as I move around the giant Adonis making my way behind the bar. Owen takes a seat while I reach up for the fancy bottle of Crown Royal. Thanks to my 5’5 height I need a step stool to reach the high shelf where all the good stuffs kept. Feeling his eyes on me as my fitted black shirt rides up showing a sliver of flesh causes me to falter. With unremarkable speed Owen behind the bar catching me in one arm and the bottle of Royal in his other hand. His lips only inches from mine. Thousands of tiny electrical currents course through my body as my breath catches.
His smoldering blue eyes darken with lust. Yet conflict. He felt that instant connection too. That spark that ignited when his hand first grazed my back, only now it’s intensified as he looks at me like he’s known me my whole life. The clearing of a throat has him setting me on my feet handing me the bottle before hoping back over the other side of the bar. Rodney squints his eyes growling as he looks between Owen and me. He pulls the cash register till and heads to the back office. As I slide Owens drink to him his eyes land on my right wrist.
Owen: That’s quite a scar.
I pull at my sleeve attempting to cover it.
Owen: And that?
He points at my right brow.
River: You make it a habit to point out a girls flaws.
Owen: I don’t see your scars as flaws. I find them as beautiful and interesting as you.
River: I assure you they aren’t very interesting.
Owen: Try me.
He takes a sip of his drink and smiles with approval of it. Then his eyes fall back to my arm.
River: I was in a car accident.
I say rubbing my arm before reaching for a cleaning rag to start wiping down the bar hoping he won’t ask any further questions. Just as he’s about to say something more, Tiny one of our regular weekly truckers walks in for his usual.
River: Hey Tiny, the usual.
Tiny: Make it a double doll. Got a long haul tonight through the Canadian pass.
River: You got it.
I grab the two thermostats Tiny holds out, and take them to the back to fill with coffee. When I return Owen is gone. My heart sank a little in my chest as I find myself saddened by his sudden disappearance.
Tiny: Everything alright with you River.
River: Yeah, everything’s fine.
I put a smile on my face and hand the thermostats to Tiny who isn’t tiny at all. He’s in fact an inch taller than Rodney at 6’2, a little on the heavier side, older with grey scruffy hair always tucked under a blue trucker hat.
River: I added an extra muffin in there for you.
River: You know it.
Tiny: What do I owe you.
River: Nothing Tiny. It’s the end of the night, Rodneys already taking the till.
Tiny: What did we ever do with out you River.
River: Chug burnt coffee and eat nasty artery clogging store bought muffins.
Tiny: God that coffee really was awful. You’ve been a true blessing around here.
Rodney comes out and starts chatting with Tiny while I go back to cleaning the bar. Under Owens empty glass is a $100 Bill. I eye the Bill curiously and wonder why. While he was most definitely a well kept man with taste, and spoke refined, he didn’t seem the type to just throw around $100 bills. This was ridiculous. I thought to run out after him and return the Bill, but as I held his glass under my nose smelling the mix of whisky with a subtle hint of fresh Irish spring I find myself remembering the kiss and feel of his lips on mine.
Tiny: Night River.
Snapped from my daze I wave goodbye to Tiny.
Rodney: Looks like you made quite the impression.
I attempt to hand the Bill to Rodney but he holds his hands up refusing to take it.
Rodney: River, That’s yours you earned it. Why not go and buy something nice for your self for a change.
River: As it is, I owe you a life time of debt, you know I will keep giving you every penny I earn until I’ve re paid you for all the medical expenses.
Rodney: We’ve been over this River. You have already done more for me than you can possibly understand. Why not go and buy a nice dress.
River: What do I need a nice dress for.
Rodney laughs and shakes his head.
Rodney: Child I saw the way that man looked at you and how he shielded you from those college idiots.
River: A guy that good looking who throws $100 bills around as a tip couldn’t possibly want someone like me, covered in scars with no memory of who I am.
Rodney places his massive paw on my shoulder gently.
Rodney: Scars or not you are the most beautiful woman I have ever met or seen in all my life. Next to my Dona of course. You blow those starving boney models away. And you know as well as I, our pasts don’t always reflect who we are in the present. Look at me and half the Wolf Creek bikers. Most of us were a bunch low life, drug smuggling, murderous thief’s. Now most of us are veterans. Even if you do get your memory back, who you are now, today! Is a person I admire and love like a daughter. You’ve been a blessing since the day you arrived. A true blessing.
River: I’m a blessing. If it wasn’t for you and Jax I would have died in the River that night.
Rodney: Oh don’t go thinking I did it out of the kindness of my heart. You know I just needed a bar maid.
We both burst out laughing as I smack him with the cleaning towel. Rodney was in his mid 50’s and treats me like the daughter he never had, who he says would have probably been my age guessing I’m about 25. His wife Dona died in a car accident 25 years ago. She was 4 months pregnant at the time, and Rodney never got over it. He tired to run from
It by joining the military, and most of his crew followed him. He says ever since he found me trapped in my car four and a half months ago in the Missouri River, I’d helped him to finally start healing. He wraps an arm around me and kisses my forehead like a loving father.
Rodney: Why don’t you head on home, I’ll finish closing up.
River: You know I won’t do that.
Rodney: River please. It’s getting late and you need to get some rest tonight, you have more muffins to bake for tomorrow. I need to finish a few things here and take Carl home.
Carl our eldest regular was falling asleep against the juke box as he did every Thursday night since his wife past away last month.
River: Want me to take him.
He says sternly with his hands on his hips gleaming down at me trying to keep from smiling.
River: Alright I’m gone.
Rodney: I’ll see you at home.
I head out back and hop into the old yellow 89 bronco Rodney fixed up for me and get but a mile down the road before the damn thing blows out a tire.