“You boys settle right the hell down! This is a restaurant, you idiots, not some damned bar where you can tear things apart and nobody even notices because it’s such a dump!”
Everything stopped, and I cautiously raised my head. Regina stood on a table in her purple track pants, chunky plastic jewelry, and tennis shoes, every gray hair on her head aligned perfectly. She looked like any other sweet old grandmother, but her eyes were like chunks of obsidian, sharp and brilliant.
“Now get out, all of you,” she said. “Boonie, Eva will be in touch about the damages. I’m assuming the club will be good for it?”
“But they didn’t start it!” I piped up, outraged. “Jake and his friends—”
“Let it go,” Darcy said, pulling me to my feet. I looked at her, startled to see her eyes were dancing with laughter. How she could laugh I couldn’t imagine. I was fucking pissed.
“It’s not fair!”
Boonie came up behind me, his hand coming down on my shoulder with a thump. I jerked—startled—and then the anger drained out, replaced with that old fear I felt whenever I got too close to one of the bikers. What was I thinking, arguing with these people over the damages? I needed to get out before Puck cornered me—I couldn’t deal with him. Not today.
“We got this,” Boonie said in a low voice. “Jake and his boys’ll pay, don’t worry.”
That sounded ominous. I swallowed.
“Go outside,” he said over my shoulder, talking to Darcy. “I’ll meet you in a few. Make sure Eva doesn’t follow her, got it?”
I closed my eyes as the full ramifications of the fight hit me.
This is what happens when you let your temper take over. I could actually hear the high school counselor’s words in my head, along with the smug, prissy tone of her voice. She’d been lecturing me about the way I’d coldcocked a guy who tried to cop a feel, but the same principle applied.
Hitting people rarely solved things.
I had a problem, but at least I’d stopped feeling sorry for myself over the years . . . Earl insisted this was a step in the right direction. Healthy, even. Looking around the trashed restaurant, I had to wonder if maybe he was full of shit.
So much for my job—I’d lost it for sure, or at least I would once the dust settled. Fucking sucked, because despite Eva’s nasty personality, I had the perfect schedule, allowing me to get in a full shift every day and still go to school.
School was my future—normal girls go to school and support themselves. I couldn’t afford mistakes like today, not if I wanted to make something of myself.
“This sucks,” I muttered, following Darcy out to the parking lot, where at least half the residents of Callup were milling around, anxious to see what the fuss was all about. Now that the fight was over, they weren’t leaving. Nope. They were standing in little clumps to whisper and point at me, and more looky-loos were pulling up to join them every minute.
News travels fast in Callup and this was the most exciting thing to happen since Regina and Melba had their confrontation in the beauty salon over who stole whose hairstyle.
Fuck, I hated it when people talked about me.
“You okay?” Carlie asked. I nodded, trying not to look at her. Carlie was everything I hated. She was tall, skinny, and gorgeous. Like a model. Exactly the type of woman who belonged with Puck, because they fit each other. Her eyes sparkled and her teeth were bright and straight and white. The only thing less than perfect about her was a tiny gap between her front teeth. Somehow that just made her look more interesting, though.
And she was nice.
“I’m fine,” I replied, feeling my adrenaline fade a little. “Do you think anyone was really hurt?”
“No,” she said. “Coop’s probably got some burns, but nothing serious. It didn’t keep him down for long. I have to give you credit. That took balls.”
I shrugged, because she had no idea about the real me. I’d grown up surrounded by dangerous men—Jake and Coop were innocent babies compared to them. I could teach them all kinds of things about fighting dirty . . . But that part of my life was in the past, and I wanted to keep it that way. Boring was better.
Boring, comfortable, and safe. Words to live by.
Words I wished my mom would learn for herself. So far as I could tell, her favorite word was “drama.”
“Don’t worry,” Darcy said, wrapping an arm around my shoulders and pulling me close. I think it was supposed to make me feel better but it kind of creeped me out. She was attached to Boonie, and Boonie was president of the MC. Not that I hated the Silver Bastards—they scared Teeny, which meant he wasn’t a threat, and I appreciated that a great deal. I just preferred to appreciate it from a comfortable distance. “My old man will fix it. He always does.”
Sure, he’d fix it for the boys. At the end of the day I’d still be out a job, though. Probably Blake, too.
Puck, Boonie, Deep, and Blake came sauntering out of the restaurant, laughing and slapping each other on the back like it was all a big fucking joke. This frustrated me, because it wasn’t a joke—it was my life. Of course you could make the obvious argument that my whole life was one big fucking joke. But I’d read a book about the power of positive thinking last year, and had decided I wouldn’t let myself wallow like that ever again.
Stop thinking about it, I told my brain, which of course made it worse. You’re a joke, it hissed. Trash. Who the hell do you think you are?