Animal Rage:Devil Dogs MC, Volume 3(9)

By: Kathryn Thomas

“I say he dangerous. Was I wrong?” Rosa’s hands are on her sizable hips, assessing Isabel with her ‘don’t fuck with me’ stare.

Isabel sighs deeply, abandoning her pile of laundry. “No, Rosa. You weren’t wrong.”

Rosa makes a satisfied sound. “But you still don’t answer my question.” She waggles her finger at Isabel, as if she is a naughty schoolgirl. “It don’t matter. I can tell from your face and your sad little green eyes that you do. So, I have a story I want to tell you.”

Much as Isabel enjoys Rosa’s stories about her time back home in Italy, she has a feeling this particular anecdote is going to have a special message for her and she isn’t quite ready to fend off another attack of kindness from the older woman. At that precise moment, the doorbell rings and Isabel smiles in spite of herself. Never has a sound been so welcome to her ears.

“Saved by the bell.” She says the words under her breath but Rosa still hears her; the woman has hears like a bat. She swats her playfully on the behind with a dishtowel as Isabel runs up the stairs to answer the door. She tries to tell herself it’s foolish for her to still get her hopes up whenever someone comes to the door. It’s not going to be him; she knows that. But her heart hasn’t quite caught up with her mind on that front yet. So she hurries up the stairs, her heart beating like a drum.

By the time she gets to the door, she’s breathing heavily but doesn’t even pause for breath before she swings it open, her eyes shiny and full of hope. It’s not Wesley. She’d known that; it really shouldn’t have been a surprise. What she’s not prepared for is the sight of the man standing in front of her, the last man she expects to see on her doorstep.

“Mike!” She blinks as if he were some kind of apparition. “What are you doing here?”

“Good to see you, too, Issy.” A warm smile breaks out on his face, highlighting his All-American looks that never failed to make the women around him swoon.

Isabel opens and closes her mouth, doing a pretty good impression of a goldfish, but she can’t find the words to say.

After a few moments of just standing there and staring at each other, Mike shifts the duffel bag he’s holding over one shoulder. “So, can I come in?”

Isabel backs away from the door, opening it wide and gesturing for him to come in.

It takes another few moments for her to find her voice. “Can I get you something to drink? Are you hungry? I bet you’re hungry.” She leads him into the kitchen where she starts opening and closing cupboards at a rate of knots. Now that she’s found her voice she only seems to be capable of babbling.

“I’m fine.” When she doesn’t stop spinning around in the kitchen like a whirlwind he steps into her path, forcing her to stop. “Issy, I’m fine.” He looks down at her and she sees all the emotion in his eyes; it’s enough to choke her.

Without even thinking about it, she throws her arms around his shoulders and hugs him hard, feeling indescribably better. Whatever happened between them, Mike is still her friend. They have shared so much together; they have been buddies for longer than they’d been anything else and she feels so grateful to have him here.

“It’s so good to see you.” She speaks the words against his shoulder and she feels his hold on her tighten as he rubs her back. Eventually she pulls away, smiling up at him through the tears that are threatening behind her eyes.

“I was worried you might not be all that happy to see me.” Mike shoves his hands in the pockets of his designer jeans, looking a little uncomfortable.

“Mike, I’m always happy to see you.” She gives him a serious look, ignoring the elephant in the room and hoping that he will, too. But she knows better. Mike has never been the beating around the bush type.

“Is that why you’ve been avoiding my calls like the plague?” He levels her with a look that tells her she’s not getting out of this confrontation without giving him a real answer.

“I haven’t been avoiding them!” Isabel shakes her head, not looking directly at him. She’d promised herself that she wouldn’t lie to him anymore, but she isn’t exactly getting off to a great start on that front.