Own the wind, p.1
Own the Wind, p.1Kristen Ashley
Table of Contents
A Preview of Fire Inside
In accordance with the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, the scanning, uploading, and electronic sharing of any part of this book without the permission of the publisher constitute unlawful piracy and theft of the author’s intellectual property. If you would like to use material from the book (other than for review purposes), prior written permission must be obtained by contacting the publisher at [email protected] Thank you for your support of the author’s rights.
Here we go, baby
I wish to start my shout outs with Emily Sylvan Kim, my superagent but also a woman who makes the grand feat of diplomacy seem like tying her shoelaces. I’m not sure you knew what you were tackling when you signed me on, honey. What I am sure of is that I’m delighted you’re on my team.
Going my own way for so long in the self-publishing world, I was worrying myself silly about forging new relationship with folks who would dig their hands into my stories. I care about my work more than is probably healthy, and I strive to provide stories to my readers that are far from disappointing.
More proof that the star of fortune has finally decided to shine its light on me as it led me to Amy Pierpont and Lauren Plude at Grand Central Publishing. Amy took pains to preserve my voice, listen to and hear my meanderings about everything under the sun that meant something to me to share about Tabby and Shy, and put up with my crap along the way. And she sent me a bottle of tequila. So you know that’s gonna be good stuff. Thank you guys and here’s to good things to come.
Own the Wind will be my first book with a bona fide publisher, another in a mess of dreams come true. This beauty would not have befallen me if not for my loyal, dedicated, kickass readers who pimp my books, blog like crazy, and shout my name from rooftops. I wish I had the time and space to name you all, but that would take a decade. I hope you know… down to my bones, mamas.
Finally, as my life preferences are writing and communing with my readers, not logging sales spreadsheets, updating websites, and dealing with bank managers, so last but oh so not least…
Erika, I love you.
Chas, no way… no way… I would be here without you.
You Don’t Know Me
His cell rang and Parker “Shy” Cage opened his eyes.
He was on his back in his bed in his room at the Chaos Motorcycle Club’s compound. The lights were still on and he was buried under a small pile of women. One was tucked up against his side, her leg thrown over his thighs, her arm over his ribs. The other was upside down, tucked to his other side, her knee in his stomach, her arm over his calves.
Both were naked.
“Shit,” he muttered, as he lifted and twisted himself out from under his fence of limbs. He reached out to his phone.
He checked the display and touched his thumb to the screen to take the call.
“Yo, brother,” he muttered to Hop, one of his brethren in the Chaos MC.
“Where are you?” Hop asked.
“Compound,” Shy answered.
Shy lifted up to an elbow and looked at the two women passed out in his bed.
“Not anymore,” he replied.
Knowing Shy and his reputation, there was humor in Hop’s tone when he stated, “Tabby Callout.”
At this news, fire hit his gut, as it always did when he got that particular callout. He didn’t know why, it made no sense, he barely knew the girl, but always when he heard it, it pissed him way the hell off.
“You are shittin’ me,” Shy bit out.
“No, brother. Got a call from Tug who got a call from Speck. She’s out on the prowl, as usual. She’s closer to you than me, so if you can disentangle yourself from the pussy you got passed out in your room, it’d be good you go get her.”
There it was. Hop knew Shy and his reputation.
“I’m on my bike. Text me the address,” Shy mumbled, shifting from under the bodies to put his feet on the floor at the side of the bed.
“Right. Under radar, yeah?” Hop returned, telling him something he knew, and Shy clenched his teeth.
Three years they’d been doing this shit with Tabby. Three fucking years. It was lasting so damned long, he knew, unless she got a serious fucking wakeup call, that girl would never learn.
But no one was willing to do it. The Club didn’t normally have any problems with laying it out no matter who it needed to be laid out for, but Tab was different. She was the nineteen-year-old daughter of the President of the Club, Kane “Tack” Allen.
That meant she was handled with care. That also meant when they got word she was out carousing and needed someone to nab her ass and get her home before she bought trouble, they did it under radar. In other words, they didn’t tell Tack. And they didn’t tell Tack because the first time it happened he lost his shit, but worse, his old lady took off to extricate Tabby from a bad situation and nearly got her head caved in with a baseball bat.
No one wanted a repeat of that kind of mess, so the brothers kept an eye on her and took care of business without getting Tack involved.
“Under radar,” Shy muttered then finished, “Later,” and touched the screen with his thumb.
He rooted around on the floor to find jeans, tee, underwear, and socks. The women in his bed didn’t twitch when he sat down next to them to pull on his boots.
Dressed, he turned off the light to his room and headed down the hall and into the common room of the Club’s compound. The brothers’ rooms were at the back, doors opening off a long hall that ran the length of the building. A doorway in the middle of the hall led to the common area, which had a long, curved bar and a mess of couches, chairs, tables, and pool tables. Off to the side through another door was their meeting room, a kitchen, and a set of locked, reinforced storage rooms.
As he moved through the common space he saw Brick, one of Chaos’s members, flat on his back on one of the couches. He had one foot on the floor and was dead to the world. He also had a woman draped on him, dead to the world too. She had a short jean skirt on, and Shy saw that Brick was sleeping with his hand up the hem, cupped on her ass. Shy also saw the woman wasn’t wearing any underwear.
Other than that, the space was empty and currently lit only by a variety of neon beer signs on the walls.
That night, Brick’s girl had brought two friends to party.
Brick got his girl. Shy got the friends.
Shy left the Compound, went to his bike, threw a leg over, and drove the six blocks to his apartment. Once there, he didn’t bother going upstairs to his place. He never bothered to go upstairs to his place.
He wondered vaguely why he kept it. He was rarely there. He ate fast food that he ordered to go. He slept in his bed at his room in the Compound. He worked in the garage at Ride or the auto supply store attached. He drank and partied wherever there was drink or party provided. He communed with the brotherhood.
All other times, he was on his bike.
This was because Parker Cage only felt right on his bike.
It started with the dirt bike he got when he was fourteen, and it never stopped.
Five years ago, on his thirdhand Harley, he’d cruised by Ride Custom Cars and Bikes, a massive auto supply store that was attached to a garage in the back that built custom cars and bikes. He’d heard of it, hell, everyone had. The Chaos MC owned and ran it, and the garage was famous, built cars for movies and millionaires.
But it was the flag that flew under the American flag on top of the store that caught his attention. Until that day, he’d never look
The second his eyes hit that flag, he felt his life take shape.
Nothing, not anything in his life until that time, except the first time he took off on a bike, had spoken to him like that flag. He didn’t get why and he didn’t spend time trying. It just spoke to him. So strong, it pulled him straight into the parking lot and set his boots to walking into the store.
Within months, he was a recruit for Chaos.
Now, he was a brother.
Outside his apartment, he parked his bike and moved from it to his truck. If she was in a state, Tabitha Allen wouldn’t be able to hold on to him on a bike. If she was feeling sassy, which was usually the case, she’d put up a fight he couldn’t win with her on a bike. So he hauled his ass into his beat up, old, white Ford truck, started it up and took off in the direction of the address on the text Hop sent.
As he drove, that fire in his gut intensified.
She was in college now, supposedly studying to be a nurse. Cherry, the Office Manager at the garage who also happened to be Tack’s old lady and Tabby’s stepmother, bragged about her grades and how good she was doing in school. Shy had no clue how Tab could pull off good grades when she was out fucking around all the time. He couldn’t say one of the brothers got a Tabby Callout every night but it was far from infrequent.
The girl liked to party.
This wasn’t surprising. She was nineteen. When he was nineteen, he’d liked to party too. Fuck, he was twenty-four and he still liked to party in a way he knew he’d never quit.
But he wasn’t Tabby Allen.
He was a biker who worked in a garage and auto supply store, oftentimes raised hell and kicked ass when needed.
She was studying to be a freaking nurse with her dad footing that bill, so she needed to calm her ass down.
This didn’t even get into the fact that it wasn’t a new thing she liked to party and take a walk on the wild side. Three years ago, on his first Tabby Callout, she’d been sixteen and her twenty-three-year-old boyfriend had roughed her up because she wouldn’t put out. That was the situation where Cherry nearly got her head caved in with a baseball bat, and it happened right in front of Shy. It was a miracle of quick reflexes that didn’t end in disaster. Shy liked Cherry, everyone did, the woman was the shit; funny, pretty, sexy, smart, strong, and good for Tack in every way she could be.
If you could pick the perfect old lady, Tyra “Cherry” Allen would be it. She had sass but with class, dressed great, didn’t let Tack roll all over her but did it in a way she didn’t bust his balls. She was hilarious. She was sweet. She was a member of a biker family while still holding on to the woman she always was. And, honest to Christ, he’d never seen a man laugh and smile as often as Kane Allen. He had a good life, and it wasn’t lost on a single member of the Club that Cherry made it that way.
So, during Tabby’s first callout, it would have sucked if Cherry was made a vegetable or worse because of Tab’s shit. Not to mention, if Shy had to explain why he was at Cherry’s back, watching her head get caved in with a bat, instead of taking the lead and protecting her from that eventuality, Tack was so into his old lady it was highly likely Shy would no longer be breathing.
How the fuck Tabby hadn’t learned her lesson after that mess, he had no clue, and as he drove it came crystal that she needed to get one.
And he was so pissed, he decided he was going to be the one to give it to her.
Shy pulled up outside the house and he wasn’t surprised at what he saw.
He knew that scene, lived it until he found the brotherhood.
In high school and out of it, the other kids had attached him to the “stoner” crowd, the “hoods,” even though his affiliation with them was loose. He didn’t connect with anyone in high school or after it, not in any real way, but that didn’t mean he didn’t find an escape. A place to drink beer and find a bitch so he could get laid. So he’d been in many houses just like this with cars and bikes outside just like the ones he saw now.
He still lived that scene but it was better.
It was family.
He saw a couple of bikes parked outside the fully lit and heaving house, and they pissed him off even more than he was already pissed. The bikes were older, the kids inside didn’t have enough money for better, but still, they didn’t take care of them.
If you had a Harley, you took care of it. You treated it like a woman, lots of attention, lots of TLC. No excuses. If you didn’t do that, you didn’t deserve to own it.
There were also a couple of new souped-up muscle cars, which meant whoever owned them put every nickel into keeping up the cool.
But there were more junkers and classic cars, the latter in the middle of restoration, all of it loving. Whoever owned them was taking their time, doing it right, saving up and taking care of their baby before they moved onto the next project in line to make their Mustang, Nova, Charger, GTO, or whatever cherry.
Those cars meant that not everyone in that house was a loser.
At least that was something.
Shy angled out of the truck and moved toward the house. Once in, he shifted through the bodies, ignoring looks from the girls and chin lifts from the guys. He was on a mission and wanted it done.
It didn’t take long to find her. She was in the living room sitting on a couch, a cup of beer in her hand, her head turned away from him, her pretty profile transformed with laughter.
When he saw her it happened like it always happened. He didn’t know why he hadn’t learned, why he didn’t brace. He always expected he’d get over it, get used to it but he didn’t.
Seeing her hit him in the chest, the burn in his gut moving up to flame in his lungs, compressing them, making it suddenly hard to catch a breath.
He didn’t get this.
She was pretty. Jesus, she was pretty. All that thick, dark hair and those sapphire blue eyes, her curvy, petite body, perfect, golden skin still tanned from the summer. Any guy, even if they didn’t get into short women with dark hair, could see she was pretty.
It was more and he knew that too, had been around her enough to see it and often. Her face was expressive, she was quick to smile and laugh. She was animated. She was just one of those chicks it was good to be around.
She could get pissed off. She could get feisty.
Most of the time, though, she was in a good mood, but her good moods were the kinds of good moods that filled a room. Even if you were having a shit day, if Tabby Allen wandered into the common room of the Compound wearing a smile, some of that shit would wear off and your day would get better.
But she was his brother’s daughter and that was reason number one not to go there. Further, she was too young and too immature. She did stupid shit, like her being with this crowd, drinking beer underage and laughing rather than home studying or hanging with kids from college. So regardless that she was fucking pretty, had a sweet little body, and could light up a room with her mood, he was never going there, but even if he could, he wouldn’t, because she was flat-out trouble.
And yet every time he saw her, it somehow rocked him.
He ignored this feeling that he didn’t want and didn’t understand, and his mouth tightened when he saw how she was dressed. Tight skirt, short. Tight top, cleavage. Lots of leg on show even if she wasn’t all that tall. Nice leg. Shapely leg. Fucking great leg.
And fuck-me high-heeled sandals that even if she was too young and his brother’s daughter, the sight of them Shy still felt in his dick.
He ignored this too and moved through the room, eyes on her, determined.
She must have felt his approach because she turned her head, looked up, and that burn didn’t lessen at all when her unbelievable blue eyes ringed with long, dark lashes hit his.
He was not surprised whe
That pissed Shy off too. He fucking hated it when she cursed. Tack didn’t give a shit, even when his kids were younger. Shy, though, detested it. There was something just very wrong about words like that coming from lips as beautiful as hers.
“Let’s go,” he clipped.
“Shy—” she began but didn’t finish, mostly because Shy grabbed her beer, set it aside, then grabbed her hand and hauled her ass off of the couch.
Surprisingly, she didn’t fight.
Good, he thought. He wanted this done.
He got her out of the house, down the walk and opened the door of his truck for her. He was pulling her by her hand to get her close to the cab when she finally spoke.
“Shy, I keep telling you guys that this is not what you—”
He leaned in, nose to nose with her and cut her off. “Shut it.”
She blinked even as her head jerked. This wasn’t a surprise. Brothers respected brothers, and one of the ways they did that was by showing respect to their kin. Chaos was Chaos, it was all family. Brothers, old ladies, kids. Shy had never spoken to her that way. None of the brothers had. Not to her.
“Get in the fuckin’ truck,” he went on.
Tabby rallied and started to say, “Can I just explain—?”
Shy interrupted her again. “Get in it or I plant you in it, Tab.”
Even in the shadows of night, he saw her eyes flash before he saw her clamp her mouth shut. It was with jerky movements that she yanked her hand from his, turned, and climbed into the truck.
Shy slammed her door, rounded the hood, and folded in.
They were on their way when she tried again, her voice quiet. “Shy, really, those are my friends. It’s all cool. Just a couple of beers. A few joints. I’m not smoking and I’m driving so I wouldn’t—”
“So all of those kids are nursing students?” he asked.
“No,” she answered. “They’re friends from high school.”
Own the Wind by Kristen Ashley / Romance & Love / History & Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes