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Ride Steady


PAGE 79


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That felt nice.

But not nice enough.

"Maybe, but he's not there," I returned. "And you knew. You couldn't do anything because you have a manly man biker code you have to follow. But I don't."

Tack swung his head toward his wife. "Red, you wanna help me here?"

Tyra shrugged. "I don't follow the manly man biker code either."

After she delivered that, she grinned at me.

I grinned back.

"Trust me, this is not a good idea," Tack growled to his woman and shifted his gaze to me. "Seriously, Carissa."

"You knew," I stated and softened my tone. "You know."

"I did and I do," Tack confirmed. "And I'll tell you somethin' you gotta learn, darlin'. You took up this life, you entered our world, you got one a' my brothers in your bed, and if you want him to stay there, this has gotta sink in. My woman fought my battles for me, that would make me far from happy. And Joker is a brother for a reason, that reason bein', like every man here, we share blood of a different variety."

I understood what he was saying, and what he was saying didn't sound good.

I swallowed.

"Think on this and don't do anything hasty," Tack advised.

Maybe I should take his advice.

I looked to Tyra.

She scrunched her nose and tipped her head to the side.

I didn't understand that, and in the company of four Chaos brothers, I couldn't ask.

I gave my gaze to Tack. "Okay. I won't be hasty."

He appeared visibly relieved, which kind of scared me that I might be doing the wrong thing.

"I... Joker's at my house. I need to get home," I said.

"Tell him we said hey," Hound ordered good-naturedly.

I gave him a shaky grin and nodded.

Then I gave my farewells and got out of there.

I got in my car and backed out of my spot by the stairs to Ride's office.

Okay, that didn't go as planned. Perhaps I should have thought it through more fully.

But I hadn't been able to get it out of my head. Even after what happened the night before (the good part on the couch, before and after the drama), falling asleep with Joker again, getting up with Joker (again), getting ready and heading out to work (with Joker... again), I could force myself to let it go.

But all day I'd be scanning groceries, doing it seeing the insides of his biceps. The random pattern of white rings surrounded by puckered skin.

Dozens of them.

All over.

When had he endured that?

I couldn't imagine the boy I knew in high school would allow that to happen. I'd seen him with split lips and black eyes, holding himself funny. But although he was larger now, had filled out, he was no scrawny kid. He'd have fought back if his father tried to do that to him.

Wouldn't he?

I shook my head as I drove.

He would.

Anyone would.

Burning.

This all could only mean one of two things. His father did it to him when he was younger and couldn't fight back, which was utterly unthinkable. Or his father did it to him when he was older, but did it after he made it so he couldn't fight back, which was also utterly unthinkable.

But even so, I couldn't quit thinking about it.

So I had to do something about it .

I was halfway home when my phone binged with a text. Being a mother, and now a girlfriend (I hoped, we hadn't made it official, but that was the only thought that made me smile all day), I didn't ignore it. I grabbed my phone and looked at it when I was stopped at a red light.

It was a text from Tyra that read Don't worry. I'm on it.

Oh no.

I wasn't sure that was a good thing.

I didn't text back but got another bing when I was idling, waiting for Tyra's garage door to open (the house even had a garage with a remote opener-I mean, could it get better?).

I drove in and parked, but before I got out of the car, I looked at the text and saw it was from Elvira.

It read Tyra called. We're sorting shit. Give me a few days.

This meant giving her boss, who from what I could tell was a private eye or something, a few days. Elvira, I knew because she threatened it repeatedly on any occasion that warranted it (or didn't), would drag him in.

What had I done?

I got out of my car feeling funny. Not feeling like I should feel knowing I was walking into a clean, safe, lovely house to a tall, handsome biker boyfriend (or at least I thought he was my boyfriend, it was early but we did spend a lot of time together) who was growing back his beard for me.

I walked in the back door expecting Joker to be at the stove (this being how accustomed I'd become to him taking care of me) only to find the kitchen empty.

I dumped my purse, started to move toward the living room/dining room area that ran along the front of the house, my mouth opening to call, just as Joker turned the corner and walked into the kitchen.

He was grinning at me.

I stopped and took him in.

Navy tee, faded jeans, heavy black boots, lengthy stubble, messy hair, so, so handsome.

"Hey, Butterfly."

"I think I messed up again."

He stopped dead because I blurted that out but also because he must have read something on my face since he was right then examining it closely.

"What'd you mess up?" he asked slowly.

I took in a deep breath and shared, "I'll preface this by saying that I was upset."

I stopped talking.

Joker didn't say anything.

I kept going, "And I'll also say that I'm very aware that you're a man."

His face got a little scary.

But he still remained silent.

"A manly man," I went on.

His face got scarier.

"A manly man biker," I kept at it.

"Jesus," he bit off. "What'd you do?"

Oh well.

The faster the better, like pulling off a Band-Aid.

"I kinda went to Tack, and Hop, High, Hound, and Tyra were there, and I, well..." I paused then finished hurriedly, "Asked them where your dad lives."

He looked to the ceiling.

"I was upset," I reminded him.

He looked to me.

"He needs to pay," I whispered.

"Yeah, Carrie, and how you gonna make him do that?"

That was a good question.

"I hadn't gotten to that part of the plan yet," I admitted.

"Right," he stated, crossing his arms on his chest. "You do know that Tabby went behind Shy's back and hired a private investigator to find the guy who murdered his parents."

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