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Mystery Man

By:Kristen Ashley

ve to the auto supply store on Broadway and found a spot on the street. Even before I knew Dog, and thus figured out this was probably a front for a biker gang’s nefarious dealings, I knew about this store. It was called Ride and I’d shopped there mainly because I could find an excuse for shopping anywhere. But Ride was awesome. It had cool stuff in there. I bought my windshield wiper fluid there. I bought new car mats there last year and they were the bomb, supreme car mats, the best I’d ever had. And when I was in my twenties and going through one of my many phases, in an effort to pimp my ride, I also went there and bought a fluffy, pink steering wheel cover and a glittery, pink Playboy Bunny thingie to hang from my rearview mirror.

And everyone knew Ride had a triple-bayed garage in the back but it wasn’t for normal cars and motorcycles. It was for custom-built cars and motorcycles and it was world famous. They built cars and bikes and they were extremely cool. I’d read an article in 5280 magazine about the place. Movie stars and celebrities bought cars and bikes from there and, from the pictures, I could see why. I wanted one but I didn’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars so that was a bit down on my List of Things I Want, right under a Tiffany’s diamond bracelet which was directly under a pair of Jimmy Choo shoes.

I got out of my car and walked down the sidewalk to Ride hoping my outfit was okay. I’d put my hair in a girlie ponytail at the top back of my head, I was wearing low-rider jeans, low-heeled boots and my biker jacket. Mine wasn’t like Darla’s. It was a distressed tan leather, had a bit of quilting around the high waist, was lined with short, warm fur and it had a six-inch tuft of fluffy fur at the sleeves. I thought it was hot and the deal I got on it was hotter. However, I wasn’t sure about the fluffy fur. I didn’t think bikers were concerned with animal rights, I thought they’d think it was an affront to their brotherhood and they might garrote me.

Welp! Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

I straightened my shoulders, walked into the cavernous store and turned direct to the long counter at the front that held one cash register even though sometimes the place could get packed. Since I didn’t have his cell, my intention was to ask if someone there knew how I could get hold of Dog. I didn’t expect to see tall, broad, inked-to-the max, long blond-haired Dog standing at the other side of the counter, one big, rough biker guy on his side of the counter, three on the outside and all of them turning to me the minute I walked in.

“Hey Dog,” I called on a smile, walking up and then stopped dead when his eyes sliced to me.

Uh-oh.

His eyes narrowed and his face didn’t get near to hiding the fact that one look at me made him extremely pissed off.

“Do not shit me,” he growled and I took the nanosecond before I pee’d my pants to try to remember the moves I’d learned in the one, half hour self-defense class I took.

When I made no response and didn’t move, Dog repeated, “Do not come in here and fuckin’ shit me.”

“I’m not shitting you,” I told him because, well, I wasn’t.

His brows flew up. “That cunt sent you?”

Uh-oh again. Dog was using the c-word. I suspected that the c-word wasn’t worda-non-grata in Biker Club Land like it was in the rest of the English-speaking world but still, it said a lot.

Before I could speak, Dog did. “She sent you. Jesus, Gwen. You got one warning, woman. Get your head outta your ass, turn that sweet tail a’ yours and get… outta… here.”

Wow. Dog thought I had a sweet tail. He was scaring me but he wasn’t entirely unattractive so I thought that was kind of nice.

I focused on the matter at hand, took a deep breath and walked forward. All of the bikers went on alert, or, more accurately, scary, biker guy alert so I stopped moving.

Then I said to Dog, “Ginger didn’t send me.”

“I’m bein’ cool with you, babe, go,” Dog replied.

“No, really, she didn’t. Darla came around this morning and she freaked me out. She did this.” I lifted my hand up and did the gun thing with the sound effect thing and my gun blast was nowhere near as good as hers but I forged ahead. “She seemed serious so I thought I’d check in with you, make sure Ginger is all right.”

“Ginger is not all right,” Dog returned instantly. “Ginger is far from all right.”

I closed my eyes. Then I sighed. I did the sigh thing loudly and I was good at that since my sister made me sigh a lot and I had practice. Then I opened my eyes.

“I take it you two aren’t together anymore,” I surmised.

“No, babe, we are not,” Dog confirmed.

Damn.

“What’d she do now?” I asked.

“You don’t wanna know,” Dog answered.

“Are the police after her?”

“Probably.”

I studied him. Then I asked, “But that’s not why she’s in trouble?”

“Ginger’s got all kinds ‘a trouble, babe. But if the cops are after her, that’s the least of her worries.”

“Oh boy,” I whispered.

“That’s about right,” Dog remarked then his eyes shifted over my shoulder.

I was turning to see what he was looking at when I heard a deep, gravelly voice ask, “Who’s this?”

Then I saw him. I wasn’t into biker dudes but I could seriously make a turn to the Harley side for this guy. He was tall-ish. He was broad and ripped and there was no “ish” about either of those. He had a lot of tattoos up his arms and neck that I instantly wanted to examine, up close, to the point of cataloguing them and maybe writing books about them. He had salt and pepper hair, mainly pepper, black pepper and it was long with a bit of wave but not too long or too wavy. Ditto with the pepper in his salt and pepper goatee that hung a bit long at his chin in a biker way that was mammoth cool. His cheeks were a couple days passed needing a shave which looked good on him too. He had spikes of pale radiating in the tan skin around his blue eyes. There were only two words to describe all that was him: Biker Yummy.

“H

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