Authors: Billie Kasper
“He slid his hands around my waist and pulled me close, latching his hot, hungry lips onto mine. I melted into that kiss, licking and suckling his firm lips as our tongues dueled. His stubble scratched my face but I didn’t mind. I loved it and I wanted him.”
Hope Powell is your average girl working a dead-end job just off the highway. The future is looking bleak when a handsome stranger storms into her store—and murders a biker right in front of her.
Now, Hope is caught up in a sensual and sinister game of cat and mouse between Slade, the smolderingly lethal hit man for the Black Widows MC and Officer McGinn, a clean-cut cop with desires as dark as his eyes are gorgeous… Will Hope succumb to her passions, or will she burn out in the process?
Don’t miss this sexy and scintillating high-octane adventure from Billie Kasper!
Table of Contents
“That’ll be $14.59.” My voice was bored, but who could blame me? It was a boring Tuesday afternoon. I should have known to be suspicious of Tuesdays, though. It’s always the most boring day of the week, after all, isn’t it?
You see, Tuesday isn’t the beginning of the week, like Monday. Well, I guess it sort of is, but that’s beside the point. It’s not the very beginning of the week and it’s still so far away from Friday that the weekend is like a barely visible dream just over the horizon. On a Tuesday afternoon, it feels like the week will last forever and you might as well get used to it.
And of course, that was my problem. I had gotten used to it. I had gotten used to my boring life. To working at this place. But it was all about to change. If only I had known…
The stranger paused, perplexed. His treasures, a motley assortment of cigarettes, snack food, and, most strange of all, a teddy bear, had apparently cost him more than he imagined they would. He tucked the ten-dollar bill back into his wallet and hesitated for a moment before pulling out a credit card.
“You take Visa?”
“Of course!” I chirped chirpily. They told us to be chirpy, especially with the men, and especially with the men like this one, who looked tired, who looked beaten down, like they’d been on the road so long that they were the road, like the road was riding them.
Men like him were born on the road and they responded, I had found, to chirp and so I chirped. I was good at chirping. I had always been good at chirping.
My name is Hope Powell. I’m nineteen years old. I work at a no-name convenience store about fifty feet from an exit ramp off of I-7. It’s boring, boring work but it’s indoors and it’s a job, so I guess I can’t complain.
Of the forty girls in my high school graduating class, I’d say about half are pregnant, a quarter have jobs like me, and most of the rest are messing around with drugs or gangs or both. One or two might have gone to college, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they had dropped out by now, owing to one of the other situations I just listed.
So, when you put it all in perspective, it starts to seem like I was doing pretty good for myself. But it sure as hell didn’t feel this way.
I glanced at the stranger’s Visa card as he handed it to me. Michael O’Connor was his name. I ran his card and printed off a receipt for him.
“There you go, Michael,” I said, chirping still.
“Slade,” Michael said. “I go by Slade.” He signed his receipt with a great big, illegible signature that, as far as I could tell, did indeed begin with a giant “B.”
“Slade? Why’s that?”
His eyes flashed. It was only then that I realized how… How handsome he was. In a torn up, beaten down, miserable kind of way. Like an old leather jacket (which, coincidentally, he was wearing). He couldn’t have been more than thirty, but there were years of wisdom in those dark brown eyes. His long hair was swept back into a ponytail with surprising care, with only a few strands drifting loose. What’s more, he was tall… And I love tall men. He looked like he had a model’s physique underneath the leather jacket and stained undershirt but I knew that men like him don’t get such bodies from years in the weight room. They don’t knock back protein shakes while on their bikes. They’re men who’ve had hard lives and so they get strong in response, like a diamond being forged over the centuries, and the result is the six-pack and firm biceps barely contained by his clothing.
Weird as it seems, he reminded me somehow of an animal. I couldn’t tell you exactly what kind—maybe a wolf of some sort, or a bear? No, really, what it was… Was a jackal. He reminded me a desperate, lonely desert jackal, angry and powerful, ruthless, the kind you see on National Geographic documentaries with blood and antelope meat dripping in rivulets out of his fang filled mouth. And looking him in the eye, I felt like I could very easily be the next antelope to fall victim to his hungry gaze… not to mention his claws.
He took the teddy-bear and laid it face-down on the counter in front of my cash register. He revealed a switch blade, previously hidden in the pocket of his jacket. As it clacked open, I gasped and looked around. The store was empty. I started to reach for the panic button but the touched the blade to the flesh of my forearm. He lifted a finger to his lips, smiling as he shushed me.
Now, he applied the blade to the back of the teddy bear. He slashed it open and it gushed stuffing. I felt bad for the bear, even though it was dumb. I felt stupid for mourning the death of this plush bear and I felt myself blushing even as tears came to my eyes, as much from fear as anything else.
Now. Slade drew something else from his jacket. A pistol. I gasped again, but didn’t dare reach for the panic button behind my counter.
Slade fit the barrel of the gun into the back of the teddy bear, burying it almost completely. It was almost totally concealed, except for the stock. He could hold it and it would just look like he was clutching a teddy bear by the scruff of the bear’s neck.
Slade nodded to the parking lot outside. There was another biker leaning against a bike and reading a porno magazine which I recognized as one we carried—as one I peeked at occasionally when no one was around and when I was bored.
It was only then that I understood what was about to happen. That was a marked man. Slade was going to kill that man.
“Wait at least two minutes before you call the cops, all right, darling?” he said, his voice husky. I nodded dumbly. He winked at me and in a quick, swift motion, sliced through two of the buttons on my blouse, letting my breasts tumble out, revealing my flesh to him. I blushed and tried as best I could to cover my cleavage.
“That’s a good look for you,” he growled. “You should thank me. You’ll sell more crap if you come to work dressed like that.”
And with that, he walked out of my store, taking the cigarettes and the bear and leaving the snacks. I watched as he approached the other biker.
This man was blonde, heavily tattooed, wearing a denim vest. He was skinny and almost looked like he might be sickly. He had a wispy blonde goatee and moustache that sickened me for some reason, though I couldn’t explain why…
Suddenly, I knew that this man had to die. I couldn’t explain it at the time but I knew that Slade was right in killing this man, that there would be justice here, somewhere. I didn’t understand it, but I wanted this man to die and I wanted Slade to do it.
I couldn’t hear anything they said. Slade called out to the man, who looked up from his magazine. Slade held the bear-gun up, leveling it at his target. The blonde man looked confused, tilted his head to the side, and after a moment, realized exactly what was about to happen.
His eyes widened. He started to scramble but three red blossoms bloomed over his chest, knocking him back. He was on the hard pavement now, out of my line of vision. I felt sick watching it, observing the murder, but I couldn’t look away. Slade approached him and stood over him, pointing the bear-gun down over his body.
I saw the bear jerk twice more as Slade delivered two more bullets into his prey. More grey-white stuffing spilled out of the bear, but now, it had turned black with gun powder.
With that, he pried the teddy bear off the gun and dropped it on the corpse. He holstered his pistol and mounted his bike—a dark crimson Harley Davidson. I couldn’t help but admire the beast of steel and gasoline between his legs… I couldn’t help but imagine what it would feel like between my own legs.
I watched Slade tear away, roaring the wrong way up the exit ramp.
I didn’t do what he said.
I waited three minutes to call the cops.
Two State Police showed up an hour later. One was the usual boat of lard highway cop, complete with a stupid broad-rimmed hat and sunglasses. The other, however…
Tall, blonde with close-cropped, gelled hair, and shoulders that seemed to go on for days. His partner was dressed like a slob but this blonde Adonis was clad in a perfectly pressed uniform, complete with a dark tie.
“Hope? Hope Powell?” the blonde cop said as his partner took a look at the body in the parking lot.
“That’s me,” I said, blushing as I realized that he was looking at my cleavage. I didn’t have a shirt to change into and part of me wanted to see if Slade was right about selling more stuff by showing off a little…
“Are you all right?”
“I… I think I am. It just all happened so quickly.”
“I understand,” the cop said. He removed his sunglasses and offered me his hand. “I’m Officer James McGinn, State Highway Patrol. I’d like to ask you a few questions, if that’s all right.”
“Oh, yeah, of course.”
“So, you got a good look at the perpetrator, correct?”
I nodded slowly, picking my words carefully.
“I guess I did but I don’t remember too well… He was, you know… The usual biker type. Leather jacket. Jeans. Or were his pants leather too? I can’t remember.”
McGinn laughed. “I understand. Did he buy anything here?”
“Yeah… A pack of cigarettes, some snacks, which he didn’t take with him… And a teddy bear.”
Officer McGinn didn’t seem at all surprised by that last detail.
“And, how did he pay?”
“Do you mind if I check your sales records?”
Shit. Of course, they would get his name off the card. I had no choice but to let McGinn lead over my counter and play around with my register, pulling up the most recent sale. He was dangerously close to me, close enough that I could feel his warmth on my bared chest and smell his cologne—a seductive combination of sandalwood and something sweet which I couldn’t place.
I watched him purse his lips as he worked and I couldn’t help but imagine kissing those lips. What would it be like to have my tongue between those soft, focused lips?
“Hope? Hope?” McGinn said, jerking me out of my reverie.
“Thanks, that should be all. I got the name from the card. It’s just as I suspected. It was Michael O’Connor.”
“Oh… Do you know him?”
“Sure do. He’s a member of the Black Widows—they’re a local bike club. They usually stick to low-level stuff, like drug dealing and extortion, but recently, there’ve been rumblings that they’re looking to make a play for more power in the area. The gun in a teddy bear—that’s their signature.”
“Oh… So, was this, like… Gang warfare?”
Officer McGinn grinned.
“Actually, no. The victim, Clarence Boyle, he was an IG too. A real scum bag too. Sex offender, not allowed within five-hundred feet of a school. He ran a child pornography ring for a few years in Germany before joining up with the IGs. They’ve been trying to put him away for years but nothing would stick. Looks like O’Connor did our job for us.”
So that was it.
That’s why the man had to die.
I knew, I just knew from Slade’s body language, from the way he approached Boyle, that this was a bad man, that this was justice. And here was my proof.
“Actually, Ms. Powell, I do have one more question for you.”
Again, I was snapped out my reverie.
“Sure, what is it?”
“What’s your phone number?”
I blushed. Why would he want my number? Why would he need to call me? Was he hitting on me? Not that I was complaining… I definitely wouldn’t mind going out with this cute cop, and maybe doing more than just going out.
“So I can call you if I have any more questions,” Officer McGinn said quickly, with a grin. “Just so you don’t get the wrong idea.”
I must have visibly deflated at that moment, my shoulders slumping. I even felt like my cleavage shrunk into my chest.
I gave him my number and he started out, back into the parking lot and toward his fat partner.
I watched his tight, toned ass in his perfectly tailored pants walk away from me and I couldn’t help but feel a pang of disappointment.
“Oh… One more thing,” Officer McGinn said, turning around and approaching my counter again. “What are you doing Friday night?”
My eyes widened. There was no way this could be official business.
“Um, nothing. Nothing that I have planned, I mean. I mean, I don’t have plans,” I sputtered nervously, unable to meet his eyes.
“Good. I’ll take you out for a drink. If that’s okay with you.”
Oh, boy… Was it ever!
“I’ll give you a call,” he said with a wink. “I’ve got your number now, after all.”