Home > Bayonet Scars #5.5 - Crave

Bayonet Scars #5.5 - Crave
Author: J.C. Emery


 

Prologue

THEY’RE EVERYWHERE, THE motorcycles I mean. I can’t step foot over city limits without running into a fucking Harley. I love Harleys. Any other town and I’d welcome the sight, but not this one. At least they don’t look like Forsaken bikes. That’s something. Fort Bragg is home, I guess, but it doesn’t really feel so much like home these days. As long as my mother’s here, though, I’ll keep coming back.

I pull into The 101 Club’s gravel parking lot slowly, careful not to hit anything. The lot is packed today, with no open spaces in the front that I can squeeze this stupid truck into. I’ve spent so many years on my bike that driving Louis’s big-ass truck throws me for a loop. It’s also just too goddamn quiet. When I’m on the road with my girl, she’s so loud that she blocks out the racing thoughts I can’t seem to shake.

I shouldn’t complain. If not for my mom’s boyfriend, Louis, and his big-ass truck, I wouldn’t be able to take some of the jobs that come my way—jobs I want to take regardless of the fact that they’re more likely to bring in casseroles than cash. It’s hard to threaten to hog-tie a man and deliver him to the county sheriff if he doesn’t make good on his child support if you have no way of getting him to said sheriff.

There’s one open space right next to my mom’s sedan, but it’s too small for me to squeeze into. As much as I’d like to freak her out by parking that close to her, I won’t do that to Louis. I have his truck for the next month—and while I know he likes having Mom drive him around everywhere, he’s as sneaky as hell because his generosity isn’t about them spending more time together as much as it is about Louis getting Mom and me to spend more time together. I love my mom, but she’s nosy and has been hinting at things I’d rather she not. Like the job I’ve been on for months now and refuse to tell her about. Not that there’s much to say since I’ve gotten basically nowhere with it.

I turn the corner in the gravel lot and instantly regret it. Sterling fucking Grady is leaning up against the side of the building with three of his brothers, a cigarette hanging from the corner of his mouth and his wavy hair half in his eyes. It doesn’t matter that he’s closing in on forty—he still looks the same he did when we started hooking up. Grady pulls the cigarette from his mouth and shakes his head at Wyatt, the vice president of the club. Wyatt rolls his huge-ass shoulders and turns to Ryan and Diesel. God, Ryan Stone. He’s a pain in the ass if ever I’ve met one, but he’s family. I used to babysit him and his brother, Ian, back in the day when they were just a little too young and irresponsible to watch after themselves, and I was a little too young and a little too stupid to realize that keeping Ryan and Ian out of trouble wasn’t worth the fifty Aunt Ruby and Uncle Jim slid my way for the effort.

There’s plenty of space in the side lot, so I have my choice of parking spaces. I choose one that’s as far from the guys as possible and try to climb out of the truck as quietly as I can. I don’t think any of them know Louis’s truck, so they may not even notice me weaving through the parked vehicles. From what I can see, it looks like there’s only the four bikes parked along the side of the building next to where the guys are standing. I spot Grady’s bike with ease. I’d know his bike anywhere. He still hasn’t painted over the scratches I accidentally put on the gas tank when we were putting on a new set of rearview mirrors. I used to smile at those memories.

My right foot twitches in irritation. I’d much rather back out and turn the wheel in the direction of his precious fucking bike and floor it into the side of the building, destroying her in the process. Lucky for him, I have too much respect for the bike to do that. Instead, I turn the truck off, climb out, and head quickly for the front entrance.

I’m not that lucky.

“We can see you sneaking away,” Ryan calls tauntingly from across the lot.

I still in place for too long. I’m being awkward, and it’s too obvious by now. Taking a deep breath, I spin on my heels and head over to say hi.

I’m less than five feet away when I raise a brow and smirk in Ryan’s direction.

“How’s the nose?” Okay, that’s not very mature of me, but I don’t much care. I broke his nose the last time I babysat him, and even though it earned me a month’s grounding, it was worth it. The little fucker gave me a titty twister, and I guess he thought he’d get away with it. Dad didn’t ground me and neither did my mom. It was Aunt Ruby who sentenced me to a month of yard work for making Ryan bleed on her new rug. Had I dragged him outside and busted his face there, I would’ve gotten off scot-free. The memory makes me smile. Ryan snarls at the comment and turns toward me.

“How’s your tit?”

“Better than your girl’s, I bet. You still like manhandling underage tits?”

“Shut the fuck up, Phillips,” Ryan growls. “She’s legal.”

“Sure she is,” I say with a disbelieving nod.

Wyatt gives me the manly silent head nod he always does, but I barely notice him. I might be verbally sparring with Ryan, but it’s Diesel who has my attention. He hasn’t looked my way even once. He’s like this a lot—quiet and brooding. We used to be cool, but then something changed a few months ago and now shit’s just awkward. Not as awkward as it is with Grady, though. Maybe I’m just being awkward in general and has nothing to do with anyone else.

“Well, I got lunch with my mom,” I say and nod my head a few times. It’s my tell, and I fucking hate it. Grady’s kept his eyes downcast since before I walked up, only raising them once to greet me, but when I start with the head-nod business, he lifts his face to stare directly at me. His deep green eyes penetrate mine in a way they never have before. He’s looked at me with lust, with irritation, and with ambivalence. But this is brand new—this looks like guilt. It’s the same look he’s given his daughter, Cheyenne, when he can’t fulfill one of her many wishes. I don’t want him looking at me this way. It’s unsettling, and so instead of standing here and feeling like shit, I take a few steps back and excuse myself.

“Elle.”

It’s a single word. My name. People say it all the time. Grady’s said my name hundreds of times in the years we’ve known each other, but he’s never said it like this before. Six months ago I would have loved to hear the emotion in his voice. I would have almost begged for it. But not now.

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