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Off Balance

Chapter Reveal


River


Eighties rock music blares through my headphones as I move down the back roads toward the clubhouse. Tonight the girls and I are going to a bar so I can meet with the Drago Defiance MC Road Captain. They want me to race for them for the upcoming season. There’s some guy who wants to sponsor a nitro bike and wants me to ride it. I’ve seen the DDMC around. Most of the guys are former military. Nothing major came up in their criminal backgrounds when we ran our research. They are all fairly clean.

I come into the turn before the clubhouse and twist the throttle, taking it at a dangerous speed. Disappointment hits me for a brief moment when I come around the corner. Sometimes I wish I would crash and it all be over with. Every day I question why I’m alive and my parents are not. Why did they have to die so soon?

It's been years since I lost them, and I still feel the pain. No matter how much time has passed or how many MC sisters I now have, I still feel lonely. I’ve only shared these private thoughts with one person, and she’s the reason I’m here. My best friend and her daughter, Skyler, are the reason I wake up every morning and push through the darkness. They are why I live now. When I look into Skyler’s eyes, the questions in my mind of my own existence stop. I’m here to help my best friend raise her little girl. A little girl she had when we were both still young ourselves.

I look out over the rolling hills that blend into the Cumberland Mountains. The orange and red colors of fall make the hills look like they are on fire, while the gold of the mountaintops looks like molten liquid. I never thought I’d live in Widow’s Creek, Kentucky. It’s as far from my small town of Ptarmigan Falls, Alaska, as I could get. When I lost my parents at sixteen, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. All I knew was I couldn’t stay there. I had to get away from the memories. The love they had not only for each other but for me was palpable, and I could feel myself drowning in it. I knew Scout couldn’t handle the changes in her life without me, so I jumped on a plane and was southbound before I could question my decision. Her uncle had helped me get emancipated, and another family member of hers took me in while I got on my feet. I finished high school and college before I got a job helping Scout in her shop. Now I’m one of the most sought-after automotive painters.

As I approach the turnoff for the clubhouse, I slow down and take the gravel road fast enough that my back tire slips slightly to the side. I learned to ride motorcycles when I was a kid. My father used to race bikes at Tanacross, and now I do the same here for other clubs. Being on a bike is second nature to me. I trust it more than being in a cage. I don’t even own one. I borrow Scout’s or Violet’s if I need one for something. I could’ve had my father’s classic car, but I sold it after he died. I couldn’t look at the 1969 Chevy Chevelle SS without remembering all of the times he and I had worked on it together. It was the first car I ever painted. He let me do the rally stripes on it. He had even let Scout work on it once in a while. Other than my mom and me, his Chevelle was his pride and joy. Someday I’ll regret selling it, but it was too much then.

All the bikes are parked in front of the clubhouse. Scout’s Indian is sitting in the lineup. I don’t go anywhere without Riddler—Scout’s road name—if I don’t have to. I’m pretty much a homebody or a recluse. I can usually be found in my studio, the paint booth at the shop, or spending time with Scout and Skyler. I hate crowds, but I’m here because Brazen, our club president, called and said all hands on deck. Drago Defiance is new to racing, and to be honest, they have a sweet machine I can’t wait to get between my legs.

Scout and I have been best friends since elementary school when my parents relocated to Ptarmigan Falls. My father was stationed at the Army base in Fairbanks, and my parents decided to settle down and raise me in one place. Even back then, Scout was a grease monkey. Now she and I run one of the most popular cycle and automotive restoration garages in the area. She knows motors inside and out. She knows them better than people sometimes. I’ve been an artist since before I could walk, according to my mom. I paint and design. I see what I want the tank or body to look like and then I just do it. It’s natural for me to have a paint brush or airbrush gun in my hand. There’s callousing on my fingers from my hard work, and I don’t care.

I’m not the pretty, sweet girl most guys like, but I don’t lack for male companionship either. I’m taller than average at five foot nine. My mother was from Puerto Rico, and my father was Texan with some American Indian in him. I inherited his height and stronger features, and my mother’s long, thick black hair and curves. I don’t go out looking for men a lot, mostly because I have different needs. I’m scared to tell a man what I really want and like, so I just suffer through sex. Some idiots think Scout and I are a couple because neither of us seek out sex. She struggles with trust issues due to her exes. Skylar’s father betrayed her, and the next guy she dated beat her so badly he nearly killed her.

I pull off my helmet when I hop off my bike, leaving the bandana over the top of my head so my curly hair doesn’t go crazy everywhere. Riddler walks out with Ginger close on her heels. Ginger is taller than me and working her way into being an enforcer. Her long red hair is pulled back into a ponytail at the base of her skull with a leather wrap around it. I changed at the shop, and we all three look pretty similar dressed in all leather. Scout is very petite compared to Ginger and me.

“Ready, Jinx?” Riddler calls me by my road name and moves to her bike.

“You got this, girl.” Ginger thumps me on the back, and I shake my head.

“Riddler, Jinx, and I will go in first. The rest of you give us about fifteen,” Brazen orders.

I flip my long leather clad leg over my bike and slip on my helmet again. I know Ginger doesn’t like this plan. She likes to forget that Riddler and I are trained as much as she is in martial arts. I’ve studied Tae Kwon Do since I was a small kid. Riddler learned Krav Maga after her ex, Phantom, attacked her. I started working out harder with her after that too. I wasn’t going to let her be a victim again if I could help it.

We head out to a bar in neutral territory. Bikes are parked all over the parking lot. Not only do we, the Devil’s Handmaidens, come here but so do other clubs. All are welcome as long as they don’t fight. If you break that rule, you’re banned along with your club.

This time when I get off my bike, I pull off the bandana and fluff my curly hair, bringing the curls on top back to life. I bend over and shake out my hair before I rise up and adjust my breasts in my skimpy leather top. I know how to use my assets when necessary.

Brazen leads the way with Riddler and me at her back.





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