A hand suddenly gripped my arm. As I looked up, Styx was before me, immediately dragging me back into the clubhouse. Bursting through the door, he pushed me against the nearest wall, the brothers now out of sight.

As I looked at his face, his nostrils flared and his hand ran down my cheek, then along my hair, his eyes following suit. I bit my lip as his hand continued to travel downward, skirting along my arms, along the indents of my waist, and feathering across my hips. My breath was short, fast, and out of control. Styx was not faring much better.

One large foot moved toward me, then another, until Styx’s breath blew warm on my cheek; it was sweet, enticing. His forehead dropped to mine, his hands cupping my face. I could not take my attention off his perfect mouth, his strange metal ring dead center on that full bottom lip, glinting in the light above. He inched in, panting now, and my palms flattened against the wall.

“Styx?” I whispered, heat building in my stomach, swirling and slowly traveling downward between my legs. As the sensation took hold, my eyes widened in fearful anticipation, and I instinctively clenched my thighs together.

I gasped a confused questioning whimper. “Styx?”

Something in him broke the moment and he pulled back, just as his lips were about to brush mine. He slowly surveyed me from top to bottom, along my every curve, like a painter watching his muse. I felt stripped bare… naked… wanted.

Sucking in a shuddering breath, he said, “I-I got L-Lois on the back of m-my f**kin’ b-bike.” His lip curled, almost in disgust. “Y-you g-go with R-r-rider.” His hand slapped the wall above me and he hissed, “F-FUCK!”

With that, he turned, walking toward the door. Stopping, head still facing away from me, he rasped out in a graveled voice, “Y-you l-l-look real f-fuckin’ g-g-good.”

My heart squeezed in my chest and closed my eyes but for a moment. As he pressed on the handle to leave, I whispered, “I have missed you.”

His back bunched under his leather cut, his head lowered, and he hissed again, “FUCK!” before wrenching the door open and storming out.

Slumping back against the wooden wall, I tipped my head back, trying to still my heart and gather my wits. Was Styx actually going to kiss me? Did he want me to ride with him and not Lois? What was he thinking about me? Did, did, did—?

“Mae?” Hazily, I tried to focus on the door as Rider walked through. His eyebrows narrowed at my position against the wall. “You good?”

Clearing my throat, I pushed the hair from my eyes and nodded.

Flashing me a rare smile, he said, “Come on. You’re riding with me.”

We walked through the crowd to Rider’s black-and-chrome Chopper (he had told me this, the make of his bike, one night when I had asked). I stood awkwardly at its side as Rider climbed on the front. I could see Styx two bikes ahead of us, his broad back stiff, facing straight forward and Lois’s arms wrapped tightly around his waist. My heart sank.

Rider patted the seat. “Climb on, sugar and wrap your hands around my waist,” he instructed.

The sudden, deafening growling roar of the bike’s engine startled me. When I glanced up, I could see Styx staring at me through his wing mirrors. His lips were tight, teeth bared, hazel eyes blazing…

“Mae?” Rider called again. Painting on a smile, I climbed onto the warm leather seat. Taking the proffered helmet from his hand, I placed it on my head. “Wrap your arms around my waist, Mae. Hold on real tight,” Rider instructed once more.

Swallowing hard to calm my nerves, I slipped my arms around Rider’s waist, clutching tightly to the leather jacket, inhaling the smell of the fresh summer grass. The unmistakable scent of old leather permeated the air and the thick aroma of engine smoke whipped around the pack of bikes.

Rider revved his engine, the entire bike vibrating against my legs. Styx held up his right hand and pointed forward and we moved out of the compound as one, in a staggered cavalcade. Styx led the way; a large truck filled with food and drinks took up the rear. We began to make our way down the long, deserted road.

I had never felt so alive, so free…

Chapter Eleven


I confess I had never seen anything like it. Tall buildings dominated the skyline, streets teamed with people, and music of all kinds played on every corner. We had traveled about an hour to the center of Austin, Texas and I was instantly in love with the experience.

So this is what the outside world looks like, I thought. This is a world filled with evil? Viewing the happy smiling faces of the people we passed, I struggled to believe this truth.

My eyes could not drink in all of the new sights. I especially found it fascinating how people would stop and watch us pass by, some staring in awe and some in blatant fear, often hiding their small children behind their backs.

We slowed as one at a red light. After Rider explained that red lights mean for traffic to stop, I scanned the surrounding area. I noticed people pointing small black devices at us. Turning to Rider, I asked, “Why are people acting like that?”

He shrugged. “Folks know us ’round here. Wanna get it on video. It’s a rare sight, us all out together.” He did not say any more about it. I was not sure if this was a good or a bad thing.

We rode through the center of the city, out to a less busy area, green fields suddenly coming into view. The countryside looked beautiful and flowers of every color lined the sides of the roads. There were rolling acres of corn and wheat farms and animals grazing on the pastures. I did not realize I was fisting Rider’s jacket until we slowed and he told me with a quiet grin it was too distracting.