Craving Vera(10)

By: Nicole Jacquelyn

I felt like shit for the way things had ended. I’d never meant to hurt Vera, hell, I hadn’t even realized that I could hurt her. She’s seemed so mellow, like she was just hanging out with me until something better came along. I’d just assumed that she was using me to pass the time when she had to stay at her grandmother’s house. She knew I was just hanging with my ma for a while and then I’d be gone again.

Hell, half the fun of hanging with Vera had been wondering if she was into me the way I was into her.

“You pick up the package in Tacoma?” my pop asked as he strode by, smacking me lightly on the back of the head.

“Already gave it to Doc,” I replied to his back as he walked away.

My dad was the president of the Aces and Eights Motorcycle Club and I barely saw him unless we happened to pass by each other in the clubhouse. The man was busy and even if he wasn’t, he didn’t exactly give off a parental vibe. I’d lived with my mom growing up after she’d left him when I was six. She hadn’t been able to handle life in the club and my dad couldn’t imagine life outside it so they’d split. I was pretty sure she’d cried herself to sleep the day I turned eighteen and told her I was driving down to Oregon to live with the Aces.

“You gave me something?” Doc asked, his wide mouth pulling up in a grin as he sat down beside me at the bar. “I don’t remember that.”

“That’s real funny,” I shot back, shaking my head. “Say that any louder and he’ll kill me.”

Doc was a good guy. He’d gotten his nickname because he actually was a doctor…almost. He’d dropped out in his last year for reasons that I’d never ask about. If someone in the club wanted to share, you listened, but it was bad form to ask questions. Most of the guys here had a past they didn’t have any intention of sharing.

“I’m just givin’ you shit, kid,” he replied. “It’s all gravy. You get things with your ma all taken care of?”

“Yeah.” I nodded. “The fucker she was seein’ won’t bother her again.”

“Good boy,” Doc said.

Even though my ma hadn’t been able to hack it in the club, the members—including my pop—still practically worshiped her. From the stories I’d heard she’d been a well respected old lady, ready to help the brothers with relationship problems, making sure they had presents for their kids on their birthdays, and generally showing them the softer side of life that many of them had never seen. When she’d left, it had been a blow, but from what I gathered, none of them had been surprised. She was too delicate to be the wife of the president.

Unfortunately, time hadn’t hardened my mother at all, and by the time I was fourteen I’d turned into her protector. I wasn’t sure how a woman in her forties had never gained enough backbone to throw her own asswipe boyfriends out when they’d overstayed their welcome, but lucky for her I’d become adept at doling out whatever incentives were necessary to get them gone.

I’d never tie myself to a woman like that, even though I seemed to be drawn to them like a bee to honey. Hell, look at Vera. The chick wore pink every day. She was a preacher’s daughter and cheerleader for chrissake. There wasn’t anything hard about her. I should have steered clear. But damn, the moment she’d wandered into my mom’s back yard to introduce herself, looking all sweet and innocent, I’d been hooked.

I threw back my drink and grumbled under my breath. Her reaction to me and Jess was exactly why I shouldn’t have gone there. I’d convinced myself that she couldn’t be as naïve as she seemed and it had blown up in both our faces.

“Yo, Charlie,” one of the prospects called from across the clubhouse. “Phone call for ya.”

“Who the hell’s callin’ you?” Doc asked in surprise. “You ain’t got no friends.”

“You’re a fuckin’ comedian,” I mumbled. His laughter followed me as I walked away.

“What?” I answered, pressing the phone against my ear.

“Charles,” my mom said, her voice ringing with disapproval. “That’s no way to answer the phone.”

“Sorry, ma,” I replied automatically. “Everything okay?” My ma rarely called the clubhouse. I think she was too afraid that my pop would answer and she’d actually have to talk to him. The man was a son-of-a-bitch, but my sweetheart of a mother still loved him even now and I knew the feeling was mutual.

“Oh, I’m sure it is,” Ma hedged. “But—”

“But what?” I asked as her words trailed off.