Hard Ride

By: Opal Carew

Part One

Liv sipped her drink as she glanced around the bar, her heartbeat racing. Carl said he would meet her here at midnight and it was now close to one. She glanced toward the bar and the big, scary-looking tattooed guy who kept staring at her.

He saw her glancing his way and smiled, then stood up and started walking toward her table.

She turned away, keeping him in her peripheral vision, hoping he would be discouraged by her lack of interest. But no such luck. He grabbed one of the empty chairs at her table and turned it around, then sat down on it backward.

“Hey, babe. You look pretty lonely sitting here all by yourself.”

She turned to face him. His dark, unsettling gaze locked on her.

“A pretty little lady like you shouldn’t be all alone. Me and my men would be happy to offer our company.”

The scraping of other chairs drew her attention as three other guys sat down. They plunked their half-drunk beer bottles on the table.

“I’m not alone. I’m meeting someone here,” she said.

“Really?” He glanced around. “I don’t see no one.” He glanced at the burly-bearded guy to his left. “Hawg, do you see anyone?”

Hawg shook his head. “No, sir, Crow, I don’t see no one.”

Crow leaned close to her, his sour beer breath enough to make her want to vomit. “I think maybe you’re lyin’ to us. You bin sittin’ here for near an hour and no one’s come by.” He scratched his raspy chin and glanced at the others. “I think maybe the lady thinks she’s too good for us.”

“I think you’re right, Crow,” the tall man who sat across the table from him said. He had a ring in his nose and a tattoo along each side of his neck.

“Hey, leave the woman alone or I’m callin’ the cops again.”

Liv glanced up thankfully at the bartender, who’d stepped to her rescue.

“Danny, why don’t you just stay out of it? It’s no skin off your nose if—”

“Shut it, Crow,” Danny said, cutting off his words. “If you don’t want me banning you from here for good, then get lost. You’re cut off anyway.”

Crow scowled, but pushed himself to his feet. “Whatever.”

The others followed him to the door and they left.

“Look,” Danny the bartender said, “I don’t need you coming in here, causing trouble with my regulars.”

“But I didn’t do anything.”

His gaze slid down her body, then back up, and he harrumphed. “Yeah, right.” Then he turned and walked away.

Anger seethed through her. All she did was sit in a bar and be female and she was blamed for the actions of those oafs?

She’d long ago realized that life wasn’t fair, but she hated being reminded of it.

She settled the bill and stood up.

* * *

Shock stared across the bar at the woman sitting alone at the table. She had big eyes, a small, heart-shaped mouth, and honey-blonde hair that floated in waves over her shoulders.

“Ah, fuck,” he said as recognition hit him.

Wild Card glanced around from his conversation with Magic and Dom. “What is it?”

“I know that woman,” he said. And, as usual, she was somewhere she shouldn’t be, probably causing all kinds of trouble.

He’d watched as the men approached the single woman sitting at the table, ready to lurch to her aid. She clearly hadn’t wanted their attention, but Danny had stepped in before things had gone too far.

If Shock had known it was Liv, though, he would have been at her side in the blink of an eye. As much as he resented her rejection in college, it didn’t change the intense protectiveness he’d always felt for her.

She stood up and headed for the door.

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