I’ve been playing with an idea about the early days of Mica, how she came to be embraced by the club, and what kind of encounters she might have had. It’s from her point of view, but kinda not, since we know all the players. Some of the guys are talking, and I kinda like what they’re saying. It does start out far in the future, so this is your spoiler alert. If you aren’t up on all the currently released titles, you might want to turn back now.
Here be monsters …
She leaned her head back against the hard wooden surface of the straight-backed rocking chair. Closing her eyes, she listened to the soothing sounds of the lake lapping along the shore and docks. Seated on the back porch of the house she had shared with her husband for more than forty years, she longed for the sounds of laughter that once rang through the space.
Mica Rupert sat in the sunlight streaming in through the broad expanse of windows facing Lake Michigan and dozed, dreaming of her life.
“Seriously, girly, today was graduation. We need to let loose and live a little.” Jess Nalan broke out into song, dancing awkwardly to her own lyrics to the tune of ACDC’s School’s Out. “Graduation day is over. I haven’t had fun in like forever. Our life’s about to cha-hange.”
Mica looked over at where she stood in their shared kitchen. Their dorm rooms had become a place of safety and sanctuary over the past four years, and today was the day they were supposed to be out. Even knowing it was coming, Mica hadn’t emotionally prepared for this. Plans, yeah, she had those, but prepared? Not even close.
“I know,” she told Jess. “Let’s get the last boxes into the back of the pickup and we’ll head out. Chicago, here we come!” Bending over, she grabbed her computer bag and the box of software she had left for last. With one last glance around the space, she and Jess walked out the door and into their new lives.
In the truck on the way to their new homes, Mica laughed at Jess when she continued on her path of party central for tonight. Interrupting her soliloquy on how sober was overrated, Mica told her, “So, there’s this great looking bar not far from the temp housing the realtor set me up in. We should totally go check it out. Jackson’s looks classy, at least from outside.” She’d bought a house, but it wouldn’t be ready until next week, when the furniture her sister Molly was sending up from Texas would be delivered.
“Walking distance from your digs? Hells yeah, that sounds perfect. We’ll tie on a little celebration tonight and see what kind of hottie we can hook you up with because Mica, girlfriend, you need to get laid in the worst way and by worst way I mean best way as in a yelling, screaming orgasm-filled night of fun in your new by-the-week which happens to be walking distance from an uber-cool bar.” She took a breath, then repeated on a shout, “Hells yeah!”
Mica wasn’t going to touch the hottie comment with a ten-foot pole, and Jess knew the exact reason why. She even knew the name of the reason why, Ray Nelms. “Let’s get your stuff unloaded first, then we can head over to my place.” She cut a glance across the cab of the truck at Jess when she asked, “Does Brandy know you’re moving in next to her bakery?” Brandy Still was the girl Jess had crushed on for the last two years. Jess had been unusually recalcitrant to make a move or announce her interest in the woman, which Mica took to mean it was serious.
“No,” Jess responded, her tone tense as she turned to look out the window.
“She’s going to see you coming and going, you know,” Mica scolded.
“I know, I just don’t…” Jess trailed off, then took in an audible breath before continuing. “I just don’t want her to feel obligated to be friendly. If she sees me and is happy at the surprise, then maybe there’s something there. If she sees me and just waves, or says ‘Hi,’ then I’ll know.”
“She’s been watching you all year, Jess,” Mica said softly. “There’s something there, honey.”
“I hope so,” Jess whispered, voice uncharacteristically low and intense, her face still turned towards the window.
Four hours later Mica turned her steps into the parking lot beside Jackson’s, looking at the lines painted on the asphalt in confusion. Finally she saw some appropriately sized parking spaces and stared at one of them. Looking around, she saw the reason for the narrow spaces in the number of bikes parked up near the building. “Oh, crap,” she muttered and Jess laughed.
“You didn’t realize it was a biker bar?” Still laughing, the diminutive blonde turned on her heel, walking backwards in front of Mica so she could look up at her face.
“Jess, get back here,” Mica hissed, looking around. “We’ll find somewhere else to go.”
“Nu-huh, girly. You promised me drinks and I’m holding you to that promise right here, right now. Drinks at Jackson’s, which is walking distance from your digs, but not mine, which is why my first night in Chi-town will be spent sleeping on your pullout instead of mooning over my wanna-be girl on my own bed.” She turned around and skipped the rest of the way to the door, pushed it open and glanced back in clear challenge at Mica before she stepped into the dark doorway, disappearing from sight.
Mica stood for a moment, watching the door slowly close behind her friend, hearing the noise that had flooded out through the opening mute as the door settled into place in the frame. “Crap on toast,” she muttered, walking over and pushing it open again.
When she walked in, there were the normal bar noises of music playing over the speakers, pool balls clicking over by the tables, but it seemed all conversation had ceased at Jess’ entrance, and had remained paused while Mica walked in behind her friend. There were about forty faces turned their direction, and she glanced around, seeing a variety of ages, with two commonalities for all of the patrons she could see. They were all rough looking men, and all wore leather or denim vests and jackets. Some of the men were older than the rest, but most looked to be in their late twenties or early thirties. And, as she had already noted, they were all intensely interested in the two women who had just walked into the bar.
“Come on over,” called a woman’s voice, and Mica looked towards the bar where the welcome came from a middle-aged woman standing near the register behind the countertop.
“Jeeezus,” she heard from over by the pool tables and swung her glance that way, but wasn’t able to decide who had spoken. There was one player over there who had his back to her, a large Hispanic man, but she turned away to look back at the woman who was now motioning them somewhat impatiently over.
“If you just come in on, they’ll stop staring,” the woman called and Jess snorted a laugh.
“Doubt that,” Jess said under her voice and Mica found a grin tipping the corners of her own lips.
“Nothing ventured,” she said softly, walking towards the bar, startled into stillness when two men wordlessly vacated stools in front of the woman, one making a gesture towards the now-available seats. There was a light shove at her back from Jess and she began walking again, her footsteps inordinately loud in the bubble of silence surrounding them.
“Beer or you got something else in mind?” The pleasant-faced bartender tossed a coaster down in front of each woman, and stood there waiting, a smile on her face.
“Jack and Coke,” Jess ordered, twirling her stool around to look out at the men in the bar, legs swinging back and forth restlessly.
“Tequila,” Mica said and the bartender raised an eyebrow as she asked in return, “You want well tequila or…”
“Top shelf,” Mica clarified with a grin and the woman laughed as she turned to fill the orders, muttering, “Damn good choice.”
“Wanna play a game of pool?” Jess asked a few minutes later, lifting her half-empty glass for a sip.
Without turning around, Mica asked, “Is there an open table?”
“No, but I bet one of the guys would be open for a challenge,” Jess laughed. “You can beat ‘em, girly.”
“Can, probably,” she responded, watching in the mirrors as there was movement over by the pool tables. “Should? I’m gonna go with probably not.”
“Table just opened up,” the bartender said, stepping over to put a larger glass and several stacks of quarters in front of Mica. “Chilled you a double, hon. Take this over to the table. Here’s your change.”
Standing at the end of the table, Mica waited for Jess to push the coin slider in so the balls would drop. There were men at every available seat in this area of the bar and she had noticed not all of them were part of the same gang. The images on the backs of their vests were different, but a lot of them, maybe even the majority wore the same skull with the words Rebel Wayfarers across their shoulders.
She heard the distinctive noise of the balls falling and squatted. Bringing the rack out of its hiding spot and laying it on the table she began placing balls into the triangle, using both hands, bringing up three at a time. “Daaammmn.” The drawled word came from behind her, followed quickly by a grunt. Glancing over her shoulder, she saw the same big biker with his back to her, standing next to a grinning man who was rubbing his stomach.
She stood and swiftly arranged the balls, alternating solids and stripes, placing the eight-ball into its normal spot in the center position. Rolling the white cue ball up the table to Jess, she stepped back and picked up the stick she had already selected from the ones left on the table by the previous players.
Over the next few hours, she and Jess played several lazy, laughter-filled games alone, then they were challenged by one of the men. That changed the atmosphere of the table, and the game was tense for Mica, even though she handily beat him, retaining control of the table. He offered to play again but Jess bumped him with her hip, telling him she was up next and he laughingly acquiesced, walking away. Then came another challenge, and another, until she had played five or six men in a row, Jess seated astraddle a chair nearby, happy to be offering unhelpful advice and laughing scornfully when Mica or the men made a mistake.
A tall man repeated the challenge several times, putting his coins on the edge of the table and waiting. She heard several men joking with him and calling him Digger, so the next time his turn came she greeted him by name and was surprised when he blushed beet red, staring down at his boots for a minute before shoving out his hand. Muttering, “Laich, Nicolas Laich.”
She shook with him, giving him her name in response. “Mica Scott.” Tilting her head, she retained hold of his hand, the tequila making her brave as she asked, “Why do they call you Digger, then?”
“It’s my club name,” he said mysteriously, pulling out of her grip. “You won, so you’re breaking, let me rack.”
No one else challenged after that, and she and Jess alternated playing with Nicolas until it was nearly closing time. The conversation with the young biker became so easy and comfortable, at one point she forgot the masses of other men crowding around to watch. She had leaned far over to attempt a difficult shot, then adjusted, stepping back from the table and stretching out her leg to get better leverage when she felt what was unmistakably a hand stroke up the inside of her thigh to her ass, curving around and squeezing her cheek gently.
Startled, she jumped to one side, head up, and hair flying free from her ponytail as she eyed the three men who were close enough to have touched her. Two of the men looked at the third with sneers on their faces, and one of them glanced back at her and lifted his chin, giving her a soft smile before turning back and reaching out to firmly grip the offender by the shoulder. He and the other man shoved the one away, and she heard the one who had first moved say, “Demon, understand you got business elsewhere, yeah?”
“Bear, you got this?” She heard the voice call from across the room and looked up to see a wiry man stalking across the space towards the crowd around the pool table. Everyone moved out of his way unbidden and she felt a shiver of fear at the power he apparently held over these men. His head twisted, and he called over his shoulder, “Bones, get the door, would ya?”
The man who had Demon by the shoulder responded with, “Yeah, boss. It’s under control.” He was evidently called Bear, and he pushed Demon hard, making him stumble backwards by several feet.
From over by the door she heard an accented voice call, “Why yes, Slate. I can definitely man the door for you.” Glancing over she saw a man with tattoos on every visible inch of skin had pulled the door open, letting in a fresh breeze as he held the door in place with the heel of his boot.
Mica stepped close to Jess, suddenly worried because there was so much going on, and it was all happening so fast, she could hardly keep track of who was doing what. The realization of where they were crashed back in on her, forgotten over the past couple of companionable hours spent relaxing over drinks with Nicolas and Jess. She thought, You forget you’re in a biker bar, Mishy? Tensely, her gaze skimmed across the crowd. Most of what she saw were men’s backs, they had moved between the two women and whatever was going on over by the bar’s entrance. Nicolas was standing directly in front of them, every line on his body tense.
He took a deep breath and turned to face her, relaxing again, dipping his head to look into her face. “Your shot, Mica,” he urged gently, then he asked, “You okay?”
Her gaze skated across the men standing around the table, most of who had turned to face her again, and she swallowed and then nodded. Stepping around Nicolas, she opted for a different shot, one that required a less risqué position from which to shoot and a throat cleared behind her. Turning, she saw an older man, white hair held back with a bandanna. He was making a face and without thinking she asked, “What?”
“You got nothing to fear in Jackson’s, Mica,” he said softly, taking a slow step towards her. “I’m Tugboat, and I promise you that there’s nothing worth your fear in here.”
Copyright (c) 2016. MariaLisa deMora. All rights reserved.
So … ??
What do you think? Want more of Mica before she knew Mason? Be sure to let me know!