Animal Rage:Devil Dogs MC, Volume 3(13)

By: Kathryn Thomas

Isabel smiles and shakes her head. “I could say the same about you.” She stares at the man in front of her, with his handsome face, his lean runner’s build and she asks herself what woman in her right mind wouldn’t want him?

“I guess I should get going.” Mike moves to pick up his duffel bag.

“What do you mean?” Isabel shakes her head, putting her hands on her hips. “You’re not going anywhere.”

Mike gives her an amused look. “Well, Issy, I can’t stay here, not after...” He lets the phrase trail off; there’s no need to finish it. They both know what happened.

“The hell you can’t!” She moves round to block his way out of the kitchen. “You listen here, Michael Anthony Curtis, there is no way you’re coming all the way to Chicago to stay in some depressing, bland hotel when you should be staying here. I won’t allow it.” Isabel just manages to stop short of stamping her foot.

“Issy, I can’t.” He shakes his head sadly, lifting his hand up as if to stroke her cheek before letting it fall. “It’s hard for me to be around you, knowing you don’t feel the same.” He shrugs his shoulders and the action makes him look so sad that it pulls at Isabel’s heartstrings.

“Mike. Please. Just stay.” She lays a hand on his shoulder, looking up into his eyes. “We’re still friends, aren’t we?” She doesn’t wait for him to answer, knowing she might not want to hear his response. “It’s getting late and you must be tired. We can talk more in the morning when we’ve both had a chance to sleep on everything.” She gestures vaguely around her as if to encompass ‘everything.’ “I don’t want us to leave things like this.”

Mike looks at her and then looks up to the ceiling and back down to her. “You know it’s not fair when you give me the puppy dog eyes. You know I’ve never been able to say no to them.” He chucks her playfully under the chin.

Isabel smiles broadly. “I never said I played fair!” She winks at him and he laughs. It almost feels like old times. Almost but not quite, there’s still an underlying level of tension that had never been there between them before.

Mike locks eyes with her and she can feel his gaze turn heated in a matter of seconds. They’re standing too close to each other. She thinks about stepping away, but she doesn’t want to break the moment they’ve just shared, the moment that has made it seem as if they were just two buddies again, as if none of the other stuff has happened.

“It’s really good to see you, Issy.” Mike lifts her chin up with his index finger and leans down, as if he’s about to kiss her on the lips. But when he’s only inches away he turns her head slightly and kisses her on the cheek, just at the corner of her mouth.

Isabel’s eyes widen, knowing she should say something, but at a complete loss. A polite cough behind her snaps her out of her stupor.

“Rosa!” She is so happy to see the older woman she could almost cry. “Rosa, this is Mike.”

She introduces the two, taking the opportunity to take a few steps away from him as he shakes Rosa’s hand and exchanges pleasantries with her. Above all else, Mike is polite. That’s something no one could ever fault him on.

“Rosa, Mike’s going to be staying with us for a couple of days. Could you show him up to the Blue Room?” Isabel makes a point of only looking at Rosa, knowing Mike’s attention is focused on her and not in a purely platonic way.

“Wonderful, I show you.” Rosa gestures for Mike to follow her, reading Isabel’s need to be alone.

“I’ll see you in the morning?” Mike stops at the threshold of the kitchen, looking at Isabel meaningfully.

“I’ll be here.” She smiles broadly, doing her best impression of being footloose and fancy-free.

“Great.” Mike nods, as if he’s persuading himself of something. “I want to talk more about all this, Issy. I’m not ready to give up, not yet.” He gives her a pointed glance before he hurries after Rosa to catch up.


Isabel sinks into one of the mismatched chairs in the charming rustic kitchen and puts her head in her hands, wondering when exactly it was that everything had become so complicated. It is at times like this she misses her mother most. In the past, she would have speed-dialed her mom and she would have given Isabel the best advice. She would have made it seem as if everything was going to be all right, as if everything could be fixed. Caroline Bishop’s emotional openness had balanced her daughter’s emotional retardedness and now that she is gone, Isabel is a little like a boat without a sail, just drifting around without really knowing where she is going or what she is doing.