Unbridled & UntetheredBy: Elle Saint James
The Double Rider Men's Club 10
To my wonderful husband, who keeps me tethered in reality, since I spend so much time in fictional places.
Copyright © 2012
Double Rider Men’s Club property
Emma Rae Madison brushed an errant lock of blonde hair out of her eyes, exhaled a long breath to dispel her unreasonable fear, and stepped across the threshold of Clayton Forrester’s well-hidden security fortress on the Double Rider Men’s Club property.
Clay beckoned her farther inside the shadowy entryway. “Thanks for coming, Em. I know you hate to make house calls. Especially late at night on a weekend.”
“Luckily, you pay really well, or trust me, I wouldn’t.” Emma Rae hated the dark. Hated it with all her heart and wounded soul. But she hadn’t been doing anything else on this Saturday night, and the financial boon he offered would be worth it. It wasn’t like Clay had interrupted anything important.
“Touché,” he answered with a sudden and very infectious grin.
Regardless of her disquiet, she allowed a very small tilt upward of her lips in return.
Clay was not only one of her very best customers, he was also a very good friend. Maybe even her best friend. She wasn’t sure if he knew this, but one of these days perhaps she’d get up enough nerve to tell him.
Her exclusive, one-employee-only business was all about fixing computers. Hardware, software, or a combination of both, she loved working through computer problems to restore balance.
There were those who thought she communicated with computers better and more easily than with humans. That was likely true. Good with computers since she was old enough to type at a keyboard, Emma Rae was sought out by many local businesses as an excellent problem solver for various hardware and software integration issues.
She’d only been in Ryder for a little over a year but already had amassed a decent client base who kept her in the black as far as her small business and her singular needs were concerned.
Few if any knew she preferred the company of computers to most humans. Well, perhaps Clay did, but no one else.
To her way of thinking, machines never lied. Nor did they kick a person while they were down, dominate them, press their will on another, or worst of all lock someone fragile in a dark, suffocating place for two days. Her past was unfortunately littered with some very nasty men.
Her most recent messy, horrible breakup had taught her, among other things, that trust and sex didn’t necessarily combine well. She’d also learned that getting out of a bad relationship could be as difficult and even more painful than staying in it. She still believed this more than a year later.
The move to Ryder had freed her from the likelihood of seeing her ex around the town where she used to live. Emma Rae knew he wouldn’t ever leave the area, so it was left up to her to go when she got tired of running into him everywhere. Because he had a prominent family with deep roots in the community and she didn’t. She was alone.
Regrettably, she’d learned that very important relationship lesson more than one time. After her last boyfriend had been such a bastard, Emma Rae had been overly cautious about getting close to any man since. Occasionally, she looked, but she by no means ever touched or got involved. Maybe never again. She was lonely, sure, but not enough to change her life or test another man only to discover she brought out the ultimate beast in his personality.
Emma Rae found much-needed control and satisfaction working with computers and software. A control that hadn’t ever translated well to her private life. It wasn’t that she needed to be controlling or always in control, but she hated being told what to do. Someone’s idea of “what was best for her” didn’t often set well in her bones. It engendered resentment. Hers. Unfortunately, she’d found out the hard way that some men don’t like being told no for any reason.
While she appreciated that Clay was very attractive, very tall, very muscular, and very easy to look at, he wasn’t a future love interest.
Most importantly for her personal fears to be eased, Clay had a sad and even more tragic former love life than she did. She didn’t know all the details, just that he’d lost someone he’d loved. Therefore, they simply remained good friends. That was all.