Hard Rider (Bad Boy Bikers Book 1)(7)

By: Lydia Pax

That was okay though. Just so long as it all stopped burning.

After a few minutes the smoke cleared. The soupy sludge of the extinguisher hissed and chattered as it slipped down the engine chassis. She didn’t know a lot about cars, but it looked like something metal had melted. She knew enough to know that was bad.

Her guess was the radiator, overheated from the day. Her father used to always prescribe driving during the hot Marlowe summers with an extra tank or two of water in the back. It had come in handy more than once for him. She had forgotten such things—had tried to forget a lot about her life in Marlowe. It was not a friendly place for her.

A heavy-duty motorcycle pulled off the road just behind June and its rider walked toward her now.

June had to stop and watch him approach. He was that sort of man. Tall, heavily built. He wore a tight black t-shirt, practically painted to the heavily chiseled body underneath. Long sexy lines and delicate shapes of ink decorated the steel-hard skin of his arms.

She watched his pectorals shift, feeling something akin to hypnosis. A beard, dark and thick, was cut close under his chin. His gaze stared a hole right at June, and suddenly she felt under-dressed and over-dressed, both.

Under-dressed, because that kind of gaze made her feel close to naked. And over-dressed, because that kind of gaze from that kind of man made her want to get naked. He was like sex incarnate, and she wasn't sure if she could even survive a round with him in the bed.

And part of her desperately wanted to find out.

Her hair was long and chestnut and she pushed it to one side as he approached, suddenly not sure of how to approach the use of that fleshy thing between her teeth.

A tongue, was that what it was called? Words failed her, suddenly ending an alliance forged years and years ago when she'd picked up her first book of poetry at a swap meet.

“Radiator’s shot,” he said, taking a cursory look at the damage. “That’s what you get for picking a foreign car.”

She tried to compose herself and say something smart. “Who shoots a radiator?”

Oh, yes, June. Very smart. Let him think you’re an idiot, let him put his guard down.

He smiled, though, and took a long look at her, up and down. Appreciative, making a clear judgment in his head. There was a leather jacket vest in his hands, dark white and red patches on its surface. She couldn’t make any of them out.

June found herself vainly hoping he liked what he saw. It was stupid—idiotic, really—she was a woman with a personality and a goddamn college degree. She was more than a long pair of legs in tight jeans and a pair of breasts in a slender shirt, more than a piece of meat. But there was something about this man’s vibe, something about his scent, that made her kind of want to be seen as a piece of meat.

“I meant it got over-exerted. Probably from—”

“From the heat, I know. I was joking. I’d been driving for six hours and hadn’t stopped. It’s my own fault.” Her clumsy reticence was quickly being replaced with clumsy babbling. “I should have brought some water, but there wasn’t room in the car with everything else. It’s my whole life in there, you know, and I just—well. I’m trying to set up in Marlowe for awhile, and I couldn’t leave anything behind, so—”

“Marlowe?” he smiled. “Hell, that’s where I’m from, too. My name is Ram.”

He held out a hand. It was big and covered in callouses, near twice the size of June’s. She took it, gripping firmly. June had spent a lot of time practicing her handshake on frat boys in Austin and she knew her handshake was easily their equal.

It didn’t seem like it would be Ram’s equal—but then, he didn’t try to squeeze her fingers off like those idiots in Austin did.

“June,” she said. “It’s nice to meet you. Ram?”

He chuckled. “You don’t know anyone else named Ram, I take it.”

“Do you?”

“It’s a sort of a nickname. I’ll tell you about it some time.”

She smiled, cocking her hip just slightly. “Oh yeah? How’s that? You gonna follow me home?”

“Maybe. You’re gonna need a ride.” He pointed to his truck. “I can help you out, if you want. I make it a point to help out folks who need it, especially in Marlowe.”

“We’re not in Marlowe.”

He shrugged. “No, but you’re from there. You want my help or not?”

Not a man who wanted his time wasted. She licked her lips just slightly, imagining herself in the truck with this man. Wondering where his hands might wander. He didn’t seem like a man who heard “no” very often...or at all. Not the sort of man who paid attention if he did hear it. The kind of man who always knew best...and could back it up.

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