The grill was smoking behind us. The smell of the barbeque sausage and steak made my mouth water. I had never eaten so well as I had this past month, never knew food could be so enjoyable to consume.
The minutes rolled on as someone played music, the men mostly lazed around, and a few brave souls moved, jumping off rocks and into the cool pool of water.
I was actually having fun. Up until now I had not known what fun was.
“Hey! Snow White!”
I watched as Rider turned his head behind me, then met my eyes. “They’re talkin’ to you, Mae.”
Glancing around, I saw Viking, Flame, and AK all huddled together, looking my way. They had been on the “run” with Styx and only just returned. I was not sure about this trio. Of all the brothers, they were the scariest in the club—by far—particularly Flame. As handsome as the man was—perfectly sharp features, toned physique, dark hair—the soulless look in his black, dead eyes froze me to the bone. The way he watched everyone with constant suspicion, the way he could never sit still for more than a few minutes at a time, the way he always held a blade, rolling it between his fingers and stabbing it into his flesh, did nothing to make me feel safe.
I looked at Rider, who had stripped to a white T-shirt, his bronzed, muscled arms now on display and his trademark bandana keeping back his long hair. “What or who is Snow White?” I enquired.
He smirked and a playful glint flashed in his eyes. “She’s a cartoon character.” I frowned. I had no idea what a cartoon was. Rider had clearly seen this in my expression. He laughed. “She had black hair and blue eyes, pretty damn hot for a moving drawing. It’s what they call you.”
I swallowed hard as his eyes bore into mine. Over the last few weeks, the way Rider looked at me had become more intense. The way he treated me became less aloof and more considerate. The distance he tried to keep seemed to lessen daily.
A piece of bread from a burger bun hit my arm. Turning, Viking jerked his chin, trying to get my attention again. “You gonna tell us where you came from, mystery girl?”
My heart seized as he asked the question. I looked at Rider for help. “You don’t need to answer that question if you don’t want to,” he assured, a deep frown on his face. The chatter that had been filling the humid air quieted. Most folks now listened in.
“I… I do not know the location,” I replied quietly. “It was forbidden.”
Viking looked at AK and Flame, and laughed. “You don’t know where you lived, grew up? Are you f**kin’ joking?”
Shaking my head, I said, “No, the women were never allowed to know. We, the sisters, never left… ever. I was never permitted to leave my quarters, apart from on special occasions. The brothers left commune from time to time, but even then it was only rarely. They did not want to be away from us too long in the sinful outside world.”
“Left where? What the f**k you gettin’ at?” Flame asked, with a wide grimace. Chills shivered down my spine as I read the word PAIN tattooed on his gums.
Swallowing back my fear, I answered, “The… the commune. The Order. My… home… my people.”
The confused faces of the club members began to suffocate me, and my hands set to tremble. Rider’s denim-covered leg was flush next to mine and I felt him stiffen at my words. I did not understand what was wrong with them all. Was my upbringing that peculiar to them all? By their shocked expressions, I surmised it was.
“I… I ran away, found a way out and got injured as I did so. That is how I hurt my leg,” I added quickly.
AK leaned forward. “And how the f**k did you find us? We live in the middle of nowhere. You weren’t sent here, were you? Some us have some real suspicions ’bout a bitch turning up outta the blue, setting up camp at the compound.”
“No… no… I… A woman in a truck found me on a deserted road and after a couple of hours traveling, I felt sick, due to my injury, so I asked her to let me out where we were. The clubhouse was the closest thing nearby, so I made my way there. The next thing I remember was waking up in bed… in Styx’s room.” I pointed in Styx’s direction but did not look his way.
“And how d’you know Prez? That was quite the reunion in the bar and he ain’t saying shit about it or about why he’s protecting you. You open those long-ass pins and pu**y-trap him? You convince him to let you stay with a good f**k?” Viking asked. The other brothers laughed at his crude comment. I dropped my mouth and hesitated in my answer when, suddenly, Viking looked up with his palms thrust out, shuffling back against a rock.
Turning around, I saw Styx behind me, his white T-shirt off and tucked into the waistband on his jeans, a frightening look of fury on his face. I squirmed as I stared up at his wide bare chest, muscles bulging under taut skin. His shoulders were perfectly formed, every inch of skin covered in colored tattoos. His stomach; Lord, his stomach was outlined with hard packets of muscle. Beads of sweat trickled into the low waistband of his jeans and down a deep, defined V on his lower abdomen. I suddenly felt too hot in my leathers. Blushing, I caught Beauty’s knowing gaze at my reaction but Rider’s expression of concern.
“Fine, I’ll leave it,” Viking said, interrupting my impure thoughts.
I faced the redheaded giant of a man and answered, “I do not know him, not really and especially not the way you are suggesting. He is kind and gentle to me, though. I like him very much.”