Reaper's Property (Reapers MC, #1)(3)

I winced.

“I’ll take care of the shopping,” I said quickly. “And the cooking,” I added, glancing toward the kitchen sink, which was piled high with dishes. And pots. And something green that might just hold the cure for cancer…

“Great,” he muttered, then turned and stumbled back toward his room.

Now it was two weeks later and things were looking up. For one, I’d made enough progress in the house that I wasn’t afraid to sit on the toilet any longer, or use the shower. My next project was the yard, which hadn’t been mowed in at least two years. I’d also gotten a job at the Little Britches Daycare, which was run by my old friend Cara’s mom, Denise. Cara and I had fallen out of touch when she’d gone to college, but I’d seen her mom around occasionally and always asked after her. Cara’d worked her way through law school and had a job in New York at some hot-shit firm. Her mom showed me pictures sometimes and Cara looked like a TV lawyer to me, all designer suits and fancy shoes.

Not me though. I’d had grades as good as hers, but I’d been in looooove with Gary, so I blew off college. Great thinking.

Anyway, Denise asked cautiously if I was still with Gary, eyeing the foundation I’d spackled over my bruise. I told her about my new living arrangements and that was that.

So I had a job now and while it didn’t pay much, I liked working with the kids and had even started doing some babysitting in the evenings for different families who brought their children to Little Britches during the day. Jeff loved having me around because I cooked and cleaned and did the laundry. I’d done all that for Gary too, but he never said thanks.

Nope, he just bitched about how I’d done it wrong.

Then he’d gone off and f*cked his whore.

I got off work at three that day, so I came home and made bread. Over the years I’ve perfected my technique—I start with a basic French bread recipe, but I add a ton of garlic, Italian herbs, five different kinds of cheeses and an egg-white glaze. The recipe makes two big loaves and I planned to serve it with spaghetti topped with fresh tomatoes from Denise’s garden and my signature spinach salad. Of course we couldn’t even come close to eating that much bread, but I planned to take the second loaf to work tomorrow for the girls.

Denise had a huge garden behind the center, and she’d told me to help myself. I planned to take advantage of it as much as I could before the season turned. I had this fantasy that I’d do some canning but it probably wasn’t realistic. I’d left all my equipment at Gary’s place, and I wasn’t ready to go back there. He hadn’t gotten in touch with me since I left (which made me happy), and I’d heard around town that he’d already moved Misty Carpenter into our bed (which made me want to puke).

I liked to think of Misty as THE WHORE, which I wrote in all caps for all emphasis whenever I texted someone.

I set the bread out to rise on a tray on our old picnic table outside and decided to get going on the weeds around the porch. It was hot, so I popped on a bikini top (which I must say, I filled out nicely, despite my smallish cup size). I grabbed some old work gloves I’d found in the shed and poured myself some iced tea, rolling down the windows on my car so could I blast the radio. Then I set out to commit some serious acts of violence against all weed-kind.

Half an hour later the weeds seemed to be winning so I decided to take a break. I climbed up on top of the picnic table, resting my feet on the bench seat on one side and lying back with my arms over my head, dangling off the far side. It felt fantastic to be so relaxed and free in my own yard without a care in the world.

Naturally, that’s when all the bikers showed up.

I heard them coming, of course, although not as early as you’d think—I had the music cranked pretty high. I didn’t realize we had company until they were about halfway down our long driveway, which wound through our landlord’s orchard. I sat up and leaned back on my hands as they pulled closer, dumbfounded. Usually I liked the fact that we lived in the middle of nowhere without neighbors. Now I felt very alone.

Who were these guys?

It didn’t occur to me that I was glistening with sweat and wearing a bikini top until they turned off the bikes, pulled off their helmets and turned to scope me out. To make my own personal cliché perfect, Def Leppard’s Pour Some Sugar on Me blasted through the radio. I winced—I must look like a white-trash princess from hell, basking outside my trailer in a bikini to outdated butt rock. I actually felt their eyes crawling over me, and while all three seemed to appreciate the view, it was the one in the middle who really caught my attention. The man was big. I don’t just mean tall (which he was—he had to be nearly six and a half feet compared to my petite five foot four) but large. Broad shoulders, muscular arms with tattooed tribal cuffs around his wrists and biceps. I’d bet I couldn’t put my two hands around those arms, and thick thighs I wanted to squeeze…and maybe lick.

He got off his bike and walked toward me, eyes holding mine hostage. I felt a startling flush of warmth between my legs. I’d gone a long time without feeling sexual at all, to be honest. The last few years with Gary had been frustrating at best and painful at worst. But something about the way this biker swaggered, taking up space and the very air around him with his presence, caught me off guard and knocked me right in the…

Well, you know.

My nipples hardened and I swayed a little as he stopped, reaching out with one finger to trace my collarbone from my shoulder inward, then running it down between my breasts, grazing the sides. He raised it to his mouth, tasting my sweat. He smelled like motor oil and sex.

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