I felt my eyes widen as I got my first good look. In my mind, she was still just a girl, short and straight, all gangly arms and awkward movements that come with being a young teen. Somewhere over the last few years, she’d grown up.
I hesitated, stunned. This woman was nothing but trouble; tall, athletic, and beautiful enough to make even me notice her. Her dark hair was longer than it had ever been, her face had thinned, making her cheekbones seem sharp, and her lips look puffy. For a split second, I stared into her artic blue eyes, completely blown away. If I hadn’t known better, I would’ve sworn there was relief in those depths.
Something I’d thought I’d lost stirred in my gut.
“Don’t touch me!” she sneered, trying to get free as I caught her and gripped her shoulders tightly. When she couldn’t break the hold, she glanced over my shoulder, her panic clear. “Where’s Matty?”
“Let go!” She shoved at me again. “I need Matt, not you.”
“You’re in my clubhouse, little girl,” I growled, pushing away anything but the irritation that my stress-free night had gone to shit so quickly. “If you didn’t want to see me, you should have stayed in that cushy little apartment I pay out the ass for.”
Blue eyes narrowed as she tipped her head back and looked at me. Seeing my shiner, she raised an eyebrow, her nose wrinkled in disgust. “Someone finally gave you the beating you deserved? Sorry I wasn’t here for that.”
The strong scent of alcohol on her breath made me clench my fists. She winced as my fingers dug into her flesh, and it took every ounce of self-restraint I had to loosen my grip. I took a deep breath and tried to control my rage. “You’ve been drinking.” It wasn’t a question.
Her eyes narrowed in crystal-clear hatred as she jerked her head back. “Go to hell.”
“Already been there, Brat. Fought my way out. Explain to me why you’re here.”
“I told Tonka Truck,” —she sent Tank’s back a seething look—”I’m here for Matty. I meant it.” Her hands planted themselves on my chest. “Get the fuck away from me before I start to scream and these guys”—she leaned her head toward the table—”give you another black eye.”
I laughed humorlessly at that.
The stupid little girl was fucking clueless. She could scream all she wanted and not one of the brothers here would step in to help her. She wasn’t at some college frat party where a good Samaritan was waiting to rescue the pretty damsel in distress. Tank and I were the closest things in this room, and if we were the ones causing the scene, everyone else would sit back, drink and watch the show.
“Let’s go!” I snapped.
Cris shook her head. “I’m not leaving. Not without—”
“Now!” I yelled, cutting off her words.
Her jaw set. “Fuck off. I’m not leaving.”
Five years ago I’d had enough of her attitude and manipulation to last a lifetime—I definitely wasn’t ready to deal with it again. I refused to cause an even bigger scene with the drama queen in front of me, to risk the chance that someone would figure out she was worth something. Her brother could deal with her shit. I was done.
If Matt had been here, I would’ve stepped aside and let him handle her. Since he was home studying, she was my responsibility. Fucking bullshit best friend code. But I knew he’d do it for me.
So, I did the only thing I could. I grabbed her, threw her over my shoulder, and strode out of the clubhouse.
When fists started pounding into my lower back, and she started demanding I put her down, my hand itched with the need to spank the jean-covered ass on my shoulder. As we made our way outside, I hoped the anger and hatred coursing through my veins was clear on my face. If any patched member stepped in, I’d have no place to argue—I wasn’t their equal yet; I was still a guest in their club.
A few brothers nodded my way, amusement clear, as I headed for the door, but no one tried to stop me. Thank Jesus. I wasn’t sure what I would’ve done if they had. Probably something dangerous to my health and definitely something stupid.
Once the brat realized that she couldn’t fight her way down, she did the only thing an immature child like her would—she tried to pants me. I knew when she was quiet for a moment too long that she was up to something. I thought she was going to give it one final push and try to break free, but when her hands moved to my back pockets and she gave the denim one solid shove , I almost laughed.
Instead, I yanked on my waistband, barely keeping it around my hips, and gave her thigh a warning squeeze with my free hand. The whole city could see my blue Fruit of the Looms, and I still wouldn’t put her down until I’d safely deposited her ass in my truck.
When she gave them another push, I snapped. “Cut the shit, Cris.”
Such a polite and sweet little girl my best friend’s baby sister was.