MC Romance: Ride of Their Lives (BBW, Military Romance, Alpha Male) (Bad Boy Motorcycle Club Romance Book 1) (3 page)

BOOK: MC Romance: Ride of Their Lives (BBW, Military Romance, Alpha Male) (Bad Boy Motorcycle Club Romance Book 1)
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Chapter Five:

Two days later, Chris was still having trouble distracting himself from thoughts of the incredibly sexy Doctor Barnett. Holy smokes, but she made his blood churn. Never would he have expected that the laid back, witty, tomboy from the bar would be none other than his pristine therapist with her high heels and knee-length power skirt.

He had kept himself busy between the shooting range and exploring old haunts on his motorcycle. Though he was still the best shot on base, and had even run in to some old riding pals, there was not much that kept the spunky brunette from his mind.

He pulled the Harley into a gas station after a particularly long afternoon astride the beast.

He had almost finished pumping the gasoline when he heard a commotion on the far side of the station.

A young woman was battling three rowdy kids as she attempted to put air in a seriously deflated tire.

Annabelle Pomeretti.

Chris felt his stomach roll and twist. For a moment he thought that he might actually be sick. There, in her beat-up blazer was the wife, the widow, of Chris’s recently deceased best friend.

She looked like hell. No surprise there.

A young mother of three, newly widowed and left to fend for herself. It was no surprise that she looked as if she had been hung out to dry.

For a moment, he considered speaking with her, but then thought otherwise. She looked frazzled enough without a confrontation with Chris. For he knew that it would be just that. He was supposed to visit the family after Tony’s funeral, but he had not. Tony had been an avid family man. His wife and children were the pride of his life. As the best friend, and as a member of the same unit, he should have been there to help the family in their time of need.

However, he simply could not bring himself to do it. Guilt washed over him for his actions. He kicked the bike into gear and rumbled away before she could recognize him. Maybe he was a coward, but he was not ready to speak with her.

Instead, he decided to go visit one of his old riding buddies. At least these guys, who had slowly eased away from the life of crime, were not known for asking questions.

 

Chapter Six:

Natalie sat at her desk, brooding. Chris was potentially coming in for his appointment this afternoon and she had no idea what to do.

All of her spare time in the past days had been spent going over the extensive notes of Chris’s case file.

He was a highly decorated Seal sniper with more medals of honor than she had even heard of. It was obvious that he was the best of the best. The elite. He was known for his ability to evaluate a situation with quick, precise determination.

He flawlessly executed his plans, led his unit with poise and precision, and never took unnecessary risks.

His team was both skilled and unnaturally successful on their missions.

How, then, had everything gone so terribly wrong?

The case report from his most recent mission was shocking enough to raise the hair on the back of Natalie’s neck.

The elite group of seals had somehow been ambushed while they had been separated. One by one, the team members were slaughtered. All except for Chris Ryker.

The incident was currently under investigation and Natalie now understood why Chris was so hesitant to talk.

There were conflicting testimonies in the case. Chris’s debriefing had raised some questions that were inconsistent with the investigator’s findings.

Obviously his survival had raised questions. Despite their best efforts the analysts were unable to locate, or determine, infiltration by any enemy forces.

It appeared that the deaths had been an inside job. Cold-blooded murders.

Natalie could not blame his commanding officers for sending Chris to a therapist. Their theory was that if Chris was responsible for the deaths of his teammates, then a therapist might be able to draw a confession from him. If he was somehow innocent, they might be able to gather details about what actually occurred. If this were the case, though the odds did not sway in his favor, they figured that he would need professional help to deal with the trauma of such a brutal, internal attack.

Was Chris Ryker a homicidal manic? Had he murdered his own teammates and best friend?

Natalie tried to force that thought from her mind but it kept circling back to the same details.

A small notation at the base of the report concerned Natalie the most. One of the victims had almost survived the attack. While the medics had been struggling to keep him alive, he had spoken in short incoherent bursts. The only thing that anyone had been able to piece together was a short string of words, “Ryker took him out.”

Natalie could not keep that phrase out of her mind.

Ryker took who out? All of them?

Unfortunately, that is what the evidence pointed to. The sole survivor with a finger pointed firmly in his direction.

She had no idea how to process this information. Additionally, if she was expected to draw forth a confession, how could she manage that now, when their professional relationship was already so muddled?

Try as she might, Natalie could not find a solution. She only hoped that if he did show up for their session, she could remain calm and not act like a blubbering fool.

If Chris really did take out his entire team, should Natalie be afraid of him? Surprisingly, she did not feel that fear. Despite what she had learned, Natalie still found herself innately trusting of the man. Maybe it was because of the fact that they were already intimately connected, but at no point during their encounter at the bar had Natalie felt unsafe or uncomfortable with Chris. If she had, she would have been long gone before he could have said, “What are you drinking?”

Natalie needed to keep her wits about her on this case for sure. Not only would her evaluation have the ability to make or break Chris’s career, but she also knew that the committee would be watching the case closely. If she was suspected of showing preference, or irrational judgement in any way, it would be the end of her own career.

With a sigh, she turned back to the beginning of the file. Maybe if she re-read the notes she would come across something helpful. Not, she reminded herself, that it had worked the first dozen times.

 

Chapter 7:

With a soft knock Chris entered the office to find Natalie swinging her chair back and forth in front of the window. She must have been deep in thought because it was obvious that she had not heard him enter.

With the silent steps of a professional he crept up behind her chair. When the high-backed chair swung in front of him, he stopped it firmly in its tracks.

He had never seen a woman move so fast. Natalie was out of the chair in an instant and rounding on him as if braced for a fight.

When recognition dawned on her, she placed an open palm against her chest and took a series of calming breaths. The action was distracting, to say the least.

“You can’t sneak up on people like that!” She gasped.

Chris laughed. “Sure I can. I have years of training that tell me it’s OK.”

She slapped at his arm when she walked past, as if the minor punishment was anything other than playful. In response he slid an arm around her waist and turned her toward him.

With wary eyes she gazed at him. One perfectly arched eyebrow raised as she waited for him to release her. He did, but not before they both felt the heat that pulsed between their bodies as they pressed against one another.

“You’ve read my file.” He quipped as he flung himself lengthwise along a nearby couch. Placing his arms behind his head he closed his eyes and assumed what he considered was the stereotypical
therapy position
. “I’m ready for you to shrink me, Doc.”

He heard her sink into the chair directly across from him.

He knew from the look that had crossed her face that she was now intimately familiar with the details of the investigation. If that were so, then there was no point in Chris elaborating any further. He had made his statement and he was sticking to it.

“Are you going to take this seriously?” Her voice was low and calming.

“Sure.” He replied. “I’d say we are about as serious as I can ever remember being with a woman. We’ve seen each other, what… three times this week?”

He could almost hear Natalie roll her eyes.

“I’ll take that as a no.” she sighed.

“What do you want to know? I’m an open book.” He settled more comfortably into the sofa.

“Why don’t we just start with you telling me about yourself?” Her voice once again reverted to its professional tone.

“Well… as you know I’m extremely charming. Damn near irresistible, so I’ve been told. I mean by you.” He turned his head and glanced quickly at her blushing face. “You said that, you know.”

Natalie’s only response was a glare that could freeze fire.

“Anyways…” He resumed his pensive playacting. “I’ve spent more time overseas in the past ten years than I have on home soil. I own my own home, which my sister happily decorated, even though I can’t for the life of me find a thing in it, and I’m more of a dog person than a cat person but that’s really irrelevant since I don’t own either. If you want references I would be happy to pro…”

“Are you finished?” Natalie’s voice floated over him with steely precision. “As witty as you seem to think that you are, Mr. Ryker, your little speech actually reveals quite a lot about you.”

“Is that so?” He rolled to his side and stared at her. “I would love to hear your evaluation.”

“Oh, you’re textbook.” She smiled. He could see that she knew very well that he would bristle against any claim of the sort. “You’re a classic loner. No time for personal relationships. Sure, you have friends and family, but no one would be surprised if you disappeared for several years and then showed up on the holidays as if you never left.” He felt his eyes narrow. He did not like where this was going. “You ride a motorcycle and run with the most elite men in the military because you think you’re tough. So tough, that you are perfectly unscathed by the brutal deaths of your team, best friend, and what should have been your own end of the line.”

She was mad. He could tell. She was annoyed by his refusal to take her session seriously and he was desperately searching for a way to get her to stop talking. Her words were hitting too close to home for his liking.

“Instead of being open about what happened, you keep your mouth shut because you think that you can deal with it. Well, you know what!” Her voice was quiet but from the tone she might as well have been shouting.  “You can’t. I lost one of my brothers in Afghanistan and I thought the other four were going to tear themselves to pieces before they accepted help. That’s the reason I went into PTSD and grief counseling. I saw what it did for them. I know what it can do for you.” 

“I don’t need counseling.” He sat up and faced her with a serious expression.

“Why not?” she challenged. “Tell me what happened and let me be the judge of that.”

Suddenly, he needed to make her as uncomfortable as she had made him.

“I’ll tell you if I can get a repeat of the other night.” He accessed his most captivating smile.

“Stop it.”

“Alright, fine. I’ll make an exception if you at least go on a date with me.” He pressed.

“GET OUT!” Natalie shouted.

For a moment he had thought that he had seen a flicker of interest in her eyes. When Natalie’s office door slammed behind him he felt a moment of pride that she was so sensitive to his flirtations. Afterward, however, he felt like a jerk for giving her such a hard time.

 

Chapter 8:

Natalie was at a loss. What was she supposed to do about Chris’s impossible attitude?

He blatantly refused to talk, continuously upended their professional relationship with flirtations and reminders of their one steamy encounter. The problem was, a part of her had wanted to accept his offer.

That, more than anything else, worried her.

She should not be harboring feelings for a patient. She should not be thinking about, remembering, or fantasizing about sexual encounters with said person. She should NOT be considering a date, and where that might lead, whether or not it produced results.

The worst part was, she had liked the idea of a date even without the offer of information.

She just wanted a date. Period.

She shook her head and tried to regain some semblance of sanity. She was supposed to be focusing on his case, not his long legs spread over the length of her sofa. Not his killer abs that even the layered shirts that he had been wearing could not disguise. Definitely not the fact that he had picked her up, curves and all, and held her while they made love as if she were nothing more than feather.

Natalie needed to focus. She needed to find a new approach. A solution.

She drummed her fingers along the top of her desk as she thought.

Finally, she flipped open his case file and dialed the number inside.

While she waited for an answer, she lectured herself on the necessity of maintaining a professional relationship with her clients. Especially, one who could be as potentially dangerous as Chris Ryker.

“Barkley.” The gruff voice answered.

“Commander Barkley. This is Doctor Barnett at the VA Clinic. I was hoping that you had a moment.”

The man on the other end of the line grunted.

“Ryker’s giving you problems, huh? I’m not surprised.” He sighed and Natalie imagined a weathered man rubbing his brow in frustration. “What can I do to help you?”

“I’d like a little insight, if you don’t mind.” She explained. “I don’t seem to be getting anywhere and I was wondering what your thoughts were on the situation.”

“It’s a damn muck-up.” The commander spat. “Ryker is one of the best men I’ve ever worked with. It doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t fit.”

Natalie waited with bated breath for him to continue.

“He has an impeccable record. He is thorough, reliable, and resilient. His men loved him. They trusted him. I just don’t see how Chris could have done this. If Murphy hadn’t had said those words I’d have told the investigators that they were off their rockers. Even so, who knows what sort of mindset Murph was in at the time. Maybe he was confused…”

Natalie listened to the commander trying to piece together an outcome that seemed unlikely.

“Commander Barkley, I can’t seem to get your boy to open up. Do you have any suggestions?”

Laughter trickled over the phone.

“Ryker isn’t going to open up to anyone. Especially not a therapist. He’s rock solid and too smart for that. No, if he tells anyone, which I highly doubt he will, it will be someone he trusts with his life. Hell, he wouldn’t even talk to me and we’ve been to Hell and back more times than I can count.” He paused, and then continued. “Chris isn’t one to volunteer information about himself, and definitely not about something he has already decided to keep a secret. Those of us who know him well only have our own observations to work with. I can’t say that I envy your job, Miss Barnett, but I hope you understand how important it is that you succeed.”

Natalie considered the Commander’s words.

She thanked him and hung up with a new level of resolve.

He needed to trust her. Not as a therapist, but as a person.

She wondered how serious he had been about his offer… she just might have to take him up on it and find out.

BOOK: MC Romance: Ride of Their Lives (BBW, Military Romance, Alpha Male) (Bad Boy Motorcycle Club Romance Book 1)
8.16Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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