Bounty:Fury Riders MC(7)

By: Zoey Parker

It could have disappeared into me.

“I have to throw up,” I moaned, fighting the wave of nausea.

“We’re almost there.” He barked it like I was an inconvenience. He didn’t have to take me with him. Now he was treating me like a piece of garbage.

“I mean it! I have to puke!”

“Calm down. Take a breath. You’ll be fine. I can’t stop right now.” His words were almost lost in the wind, and I had to lean into him to pick them up. I smelled sweat, blood, and aftershave. It was a unique mixture, and it didn’t do much for the nausea.

But I did as he said and took a deep breath. Then another. I told myself to calm down. I didn’t get hurt except for the scrapes along my hands from the glass on the sidewalk. That was nothing. The man in the alley was probably dead. I had a boo-boo.

The thought made me laugh. I was becoming hysterical. Calm down, girl, I thought, taking another breath. You’re fine.

Was I? I didn’t know this man from Adam, and I’d seen what he could do with his fists. What would he do to me?

No. Don’t even think about it. He didn’t have to save me. This wasn’t the jungle—he wasn’t taking me for himself. He was ensuring I didn’t get hurt. I could call a cab when I got to wherever we were going. It wouldn’t be a big deal. I could go home and crawl into bed and consider staying a children’s photographer for the rest of my life because nothing was worth the feeling that I was about to die.

I thought about my camera, back in the pocket of my hoodie. If the memory card was destroyed or somehow stuck inside, there was no chance of using what I had on there. It would all have been for nothing. What a joke. What a cruel, senseless joke. It reminded me of the end of my favorite episode of “The Twilight Zone,” when the man with the thick glasses finally had time to read all the books he ever wanted…before his glasses fell to the ground and broke. I felt like that man.

We sped on and I looked at the man who had saved my life. Who the heck was he? Why me? Was the Universe throwing me a bone to make up for my broken camera by sending a man to save my life? He didn’t look like an angel, and I didn’t think angels typically beat men unconscious. I’d never forget the way it felt to see another person’s face getting punched in like that. Not that he didn’t deserve it—he totally did, and then some. But it was nothing like what I’d seen in the movies. Visceral and loud. I had heard his nose break. It wasn’t a sound effect. I’d heard the real thing. My skin crawled.

We were moving out of the city, into the outskirts near the river. My instincts went into overdrive. This was even sketchier than the blocks I’d been walking on earlier. It was darker, more rundown. Empty warehouses and factories stood out against the cloudy sky, their windows long since broken. Empty docks stretched out to our left, lining the river. This used to be a thriving port, but the advent of air travel slowed things up considerably. Now it was more of a hangout for homeless people and drug dealers. What the hell were we here for?

The air was damp, chilly, especially with the river so close by. He wasn’t going to dump me here, was he? Or worse? Was I wrong all along? Was he only taking me for himself?

Then we pulled up to a lit building, with a row of bikes like his lined up in front. The building didn’t inspire much hope, but there were at least signs of life coming from inside. Was this his hangout? I didn’t want to see what awaited me inside.

As it turned out, I didn’t have a choice in the matter. He pulled up at the end of the row of motorcycles and turned off the engine, pushing down the kickstand before resting the bike on it. I was stock still, frozen in place. I didn’t want to move for fear of what would happen next.

“You have to get off if I’m gonna get off,” he said, his back still turned to me.

“Huh?” My eyes were going in all directions. His words weren’t sinking in.

“I said get the hell off the bike so I can get off, too.”

The tone of his voice cut through my shock, and I put down one shaky leg to balance myself as I swung the other over. I watched him do the same thing, though he looked considerably more in control of himself than I was.

“You okay?” he asked. He took my arm, shaking me a little.

I thought about the blood that had to be on his hand, and I remembered what I’d seen him do and what might have happened to me. I ran to the side of the building and bent over, throwing up as quietly as I could.

When I finished, my knees shaky and weak, I thought I might burst into tears. None of this was supposed to happen. I wasn’t supposed to be here. I was a nice girl, a good girl, never mixed up in anything even remotely shady. This building, the bike I’d ridden, the man I held onto, was all part of a different world. I wanted to go home and pretend none of it ever happened.

“Finished?” He was behind me, and I could have died from embarrassment. Nothing like a stranger listening to you throwing up to make you feel about two inches tall.

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