An MC Romance
Everything had gone more or less perfectly in the months of our club, and now some California meathead was about to fuck things up.
We stood inside our brand-fucking-new clubhouse for the first time, and it looked like a thing of beauty. Back against the bar were all sorts of liquor—some of it from the house, some of it a gift from Cole, some of it shit I’d just managed to smuggle and steal at different points—and beers. In the middle of the room were two pool tables, as well as a dartboard that was bound to lead to some competitive fights. On the far left, a door led to a place that Brock now called “church,” the spot where we, the Black Reapers MC, would gather to discuss business and how to fight the Bandits.
And now, some big meathead asshole from California named Butch was going to come and tell us how to run things?
“Hey,” Butch said.
“Butch will be in charge of making sure you guys know how to use all the weapons, what it takes to fight shit in this town, and perhaps even undergo some initiation.”
“The fuck?” Connor said.
“Yeah, this isn’t a fucking fraternity,” I said.
I chuckled. Butch shot me a glare that got everyone else quiet. I, too, went silent, but only because no one else in the room seemed to follow my lead. That was fine; I’d figure out how to push back properly in time.
“There was a sense of urgency with the presence of the Bandits to make you guys an MC,” Cole said. “And when they came to my bar and started a fight that people still fucking talk about, then I knew I had to skip a few steps. But it’s been three months since that incident, and the Bandits have quieted down.”
“Which means we have a little more space to make sure that you guys can be properly initiated.”
“OK, and how—” Brock said.
“You will see,” Butch said.
“Can we get some ideas of what this will look like?” Mason said. “I’m too old to be dealing with fake IDs.”
“Yeah, Professor Smartass can get a whole bunch of them from his college friends!”
Again, I laughed at my joke. Again, Butch stared at me like he wanted to crush my skull. OK, so we’re serious now? I see how it is.
“No, this is not a university hazing,” Butch said. “Come outside with me.”
We all looked at each other but did as commanded. I did not know anything about this Butch guy other than he looked like a silverback gorilla desperately in need of a beard trimming, but anyone who tried to rain on my lifestyle was someone I didn’t take kindly to.
It was a life that I’d worked too hard to make. I really preferred not to go back to when things were “serious.”
When we emerged, we saw that Butch had a small trailer tagged to the back of his motorcycle. I couldn’t even imagine how much of a pain in the ass that must have been to carry from California all the way down here. He opened the trailer and started to lift guns…and guns…and more guns out of the trailer.
“What we have here,” Cole said, “are AK-47s, M16s, and much more. These are not the kind of weapons you can get at your local firearms store. These are serious fucking weapons that are meant for use in a place like Iraq, not New Mexico.”
“Fuck yeah,” Connor said.
“Don’t get too excited,” Butch said. “You use these, people will know. And if people aren’t ready for this, you’ll have state officials on your ass.”
“All of which is to say that the fewer people that know you have them, the better.”
But I didn’t fucking care. This was getting me pumped up. We’d fought the Bandits for too long with pistols and the occasional shotgun; we could hold our own, but this was like having an entire battalion behind our backs.
Fighting and fucking. They were my two favorite things in the world. And I could finally do the first as well as the second.
“So, what now?” I asked.
“Kill your enemy,” Butch said.
“Yes,” Cole said, leaving a pause in the air, “but you’ll need time to plan it, and we will make sure your initiation coincides with your goals for eradicating the Bandits.”
“How kind,” Mason said dryly.
Neither Butch nor Cole reacted. That was bullshit. Was I being targeted because of my reputation? There was going to be some fucking problems if so.
“In the interim,” Cole continued, “now that you guys have your clubhouse, break it in. Butch and I will come back on Monday, but for now, it’s Friday. Enjoy your weekend, gentlemen. Because when Monday comes, you’re going to learn how to fight in a warzone.”
I was sure that Cole had spoken with seriousness. But as soon as I heard “break it in,” I felt like the beacon had come on requesting my presence. I controlled the influx of women to these parties, and I was the gatekeeper who decided whom I wanted and whom everyone else got. Brock and Steele getting in with the Rogers girls, though amusing from the perspective of “why the fuck would you ever put all your fucking into one woman,” actually made my life easier.
More women for fewer men meant those men were happier. And when those men were happier, I got the props. I became the fucking king of the club.
“I’ll start making some phone calls,” I said.
“You do that,” Cole said, and finally, he smiled when he spoke. “Just remember—”
“Be ready Monday, yeah, yeah, I’ll make sure to scale back the shots Sunday night.”
“Garrett, you motherfucker,” Connor said.
“How many you think?” I said, looking to Brock. “You got your Rogers girls. Professor Smartass, any co-eds you could invite?”
“Of course,” Zack said. “You think I’d take courses and not hit on some girls?”
“I don’t know, nerd,” I said, an amusing remark considering Zack was still tough as fuck; he just also happened to be smart as fuck.
I looked around at the rest of the group. Connor and I knew mostly the same girls. That just left one person to ask.
But it was the very same person who had told me earlier in the day that it was his sister who was probably coming. It was the very same person whom, when I had cracked a joke about introducing her to the club lifestyle, had told me he would kick my ass if I came anywhere near her.
Well, on the one hand, I truthfully didn’t seek to stir drama. We had enough bullshit with the Bandits, and I practically had a buffet of options on my phone if I so chose.
But on the other hand…
I knew his sister, Hannah, but I hadn’t seen her in nearly eight years, before Mason had gotten her her own place and given strict orders to stay the hell away from the rest of us. Back then, though I was a teenager and she was one as well, I’d never found her that attractive. She wasn’t unattractive by any means—she had jet black hair, a nose stud, and a highly underrated and not-visible-enough rack—but she wasn’t the first person my eyes usually fell to. It was a good enough excuse, anyway, to ensure I didn’t draw the wrath of Mason.
But it had been nearly eight fucking years. I’d seen a lot of girls I knew in my youth go from boring and plain to porn-star hot. Had she changed at all?
I was feeling a little rebellious right now. I wouldn’t make it a point to do anything stupid, but…
Well, between Butch and Mason and Cole and every-fucking-one else trying to be “so serious,” I felt like I had to remind people that life didn’t need to be so serious.
After all, when it got that way, things fell apart in a tragic, brutally painful fashion.
* * *
It was late on a Thursday night and I was alone in my apartment on the north side of Santa Maria, cooking some ramen noodles as I prepared to sit down for my online psychology course. Outside, the sun had set on another New Mexico day, and the town had settled into a quiet peace.
At least, my side had.
Where I was, it was mostly retired people. My brother had to deal with a lot of shit in the middle of town and on the east side, and I think he very much preferred to keep me around the senior citizens instead of the assholes. After all, if someone attacked me here, they’d do so with a cane or judgmental words about my dress, not fists and abductions and much worse.
I finished my ramen noodles, sat down, opened the Google Doc to do my homework, and—
BAM BAM BAM BAM.
“Jesus Christ,” I jumped, literally feeling my heart skip a beat.
I went to the front door, trying to calm my nerves, and opened it to see Mason standing there. Even though he was the only person who had explicit permission to come over and knock without warning me he was headed this way, it still scared the crap out of me.
“How are you, sis?” he said.
Mason brushed past me, took a seat at the chair across from where I had my computer, and looked at me in disbelief.
“I mean, how are you really?”
“I said it the first time; I’m fine.”
“I know, I just want to make sure—”
“How do you think you’d feel if you were all fucking work and no play?”
My brother bit his lip, bowed his head, and leaned back in the chair, pushing it to just the back two legs. I felt the temptation to turn my attention to my work, but I was no longer the bratty young teenager whom he’d had to take care of far too early. I could at least have the self-control to hear him out, if not the self-control to not cuss him out in response.
“You know that ratio will flip eventually,” he said. “You’ll work your ass off now so you get a chance to play, and then—”
“I’m not looking for it to flip, I just want it to slide,” I said. “And at the rate I’m going, I may just take it into my own hands.”
“With what?” he said. “You know we’re using Dad’s money to pay for your schooling. If you’re not in school, that money’s…”
Not going to further us.
“I don’t need to go to New Mexico State’s campus and turn into a sorority bitch,” I said. “I just want to get out a little. Feel like I have a life. Feel like I have friends.”
Because the ones I had got the fuck out of here as soon as they could.
“It’s that bad, huh?”
“It’s what I’ve been telling you for some time now, Mason.”
I understood my brother wanted to protect me. But there was a difference between protection and probation. And I often felt like I was under the latter with him.
“Tell you what,” he said. “You’re coming to the club party on Friday, right? For the first part?”
“Why only the first part?”
He put his hands on the table and groaned.
“Because, Hannah, these parties turn into utter shitshows, and I don’t mean the cool kind that you see in movies at the beaches and such,” he said. “I mean the guys turn into fucking animals of the worst kind. Grabbing ass, groping, making out—”
“You say that as if I would have no say in the matter,” I said. “You really think I wouldn’t slap someone who did that?”
No, he doesn’t. Because someone under his eye is under his eye for a reason.
“It would make me feel a lot better if you weren’t there after the first hour,” Mason said. “I can’t force you to leave, obviously, but—”
“You’d highly recommend it.”
My brother nodded.
“I’m a big girl, Mason. We’re not trying to survive on our own anymore. I could go get a second job and quit school now if I wanted. I’m only listening to you because I feel like it’s best, but at some point, you have to let me be myself and have some freedom.”
It sounded so obvious and so simple, like telling a person that a dog had to be walked every day. And the truth was, Mason didn’t actually have any control over me. I rented this place out with a mixture of the inheritance we got—not much, but it was enough that we could nibble off it for a while—and the job I had. I wasn’t living in the same apartment as a high school dropout who worked construction because it was the highest-paying job possible for him, even if it all but guaranteed he’d be an achy, weary old man before he hit forty years old.
“OK, just be aware,” he said. “And you know Garrett, especially, will be looking at you.”
I struggled to recall such a guy. I knew most of Mason’s friends, but it had been some time since I had run into all of them in one setting. If I recalled right, Garrett had a serious girlfriend for a while. I guess something had happened.
“If it worries you that much, just tell him I’m off-limits. Or, better yet, tell him I’m not interested.”
“Oh, I’ve threatened to kick his fucking ass from here to Arizona if he so much as smiles at you,” Mason said with complete seriousness. “But that won’t stop him. He’s…he’s quite the animal.”
Interesting. I always thought Connor was more of that. Guess there’s a lot more to these guys over the last couple years or so.
“In any case, I just wanted to drop by and see how things were and confirm you’re coming,” Mason said. “If you need help with anything, let me know. Well, maybe not schoolwork.”
“Of course,” I said with a gentle smile.
This was the Mason Jett I appreciated and cherished. The brother who wasn’t so overbearing as to feel like a minister, but the one who still would punch an asshole who tried to touch me or the one who would offer to do anything for me if I needed it but not if he felt like he needed to do it.
He stood up, gave a short smile, and was on his way. A few moments later, I heard the sound of a motorcycle revving to life, which made me wonder how I hadn’t heard him approaching the first time. I guess you could just chalk it up to me being so focused on school.
After all, in a life with so much tragedy, one had to be good at focusing on what mattered.