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Home > Ride Steady (Chaos #3)(11)

Ride Steady (Chaos #3)(11)
Author: Kristen Ashley

He didn’t belong there. Not in those files. Not this biker.

But somehow, he did.

“Got the kid. Free hands, you can get the keys,” he said and I knew how he said it that it was an order, just a gently (kind of) worded one.

“Uh… right,” I murmured, tearing my eyes away from him still holding Travis, who had become mesmerized by the biker’s beard and was tugging on it. Tugging hard. Tugging with baby boy strength that I knew was already a force to be reckoned with.

But the biker didn’t yank his face back. His chin jerked slightly with the tugs but he didn’t seem to care.

Not even a little bit.

His eyes just stayed aimed to me until I took mine away.

I dug in my purse that was looped over my shoulder and came out with the keys.

I did this just in time to see the biker had tipped his chin to Travis and his resonant biker voice asked, “You gonna leave any whiskers for me, kid?”

Travis giggled, punched him in the lips with his baby fist then tore off the biker’s sunglasses.

I drew in a quick breath, hoping that Travis doing that wouldn’t anger him.

It didn’t.

He just muttered, “Yeah, kid, hold those for me.”

Then he transferred Travis to my arms, took my keys and sauntered to my car.

He had the trunk open by the time I got myself together and took two steps forward.

“Uh… sir—”

His head twisted, just that, he didn’t move a muscle of the rest of his body, and he said in a low rumble, “Stand back from the road.”

I took three hasty steps back.

He returned his attention to my trunk.

“I just wondered,” I called, juggling an active Travis, who was trying to get away since he clearly preferred leather and whiskers to his mommy, “your name.”

“Joker,” he answered, his hand appearing from the trunk holding tools, which he tossed to the tarmac with a loud clang. I winced as he went back in and pulled out my spare.

Joker. His name was Joker.

No, I didn’t know him. I knew no Jokers.

And anyway, who would name their child Joker?

“I’m Carissa. This is Travis,” I yelled as he moved around the other side of the car and I saw the back of his jacket. On it was stitched a really interesting patch that included an eagle, an American flag, flames, and at the bottom, the word Chaos.

Oh dear. He belonged to the Chaos motorcycle gang.

Even I knew about the Chaos biker gang. This was because when I was growing up, Dad got all his stuff for our cars at their auto store on Broadway, a store called Ride. Pretty much everyone did who knew about cars and didn’t want folks to mess them around.

“They’re bikers, but they’re honest,” Dad had said. “They don’t have a part, they don’t tell you another part will work when it won’t. They tell you they’ll get it, it’ll be in in a week, and then it’s in in a week. Don’t know about that gang. Do know they know how to run a business.”

As this memory filtered through my head, at the end of it, I realized the man called Joker made no response.

“This is really nice!” I called as he disappeared in a crouch on the other side of my car. The other side of the car meaning right by the traffic.

That concerned me. It wasn’t going fast and I’d pulled so far over, my passenger side tires were in the turf and scrabble at the edge of the shoulder, but it was still dangerous.

He again didn’t respond so I yelled, “Please be careful!”

His deep voice came back. “I’m good.”

“Okay, but stay that way. Okay?” I shouted back.

Nothing from Joker.

I fell silent. Well, not really. I turned my attention to my tussle with my son and did my all to turn his attention from the biker he could no longer see but very much wanted to get to.

“He’s busy, baby, helping us out, fixing our car.”

Travis looked at me and shouted an annoyed, “Goo gah!” and then shoved the arm of Joker’s sunglasses in his mouth.

I balanced him on my hip and tried gently to take the sunglasses away so Travis didn’t get drool all over them or worse, break them.

Travis shrieked.

“We can’t thank Joker for his help by breaking his sunglasses,” I explained.

Travis yanked the sunglasses free from my tentative grip, and so they wouldn’t break, I let him. He then brandished them in the air with victorious glee for a couple of seconds before bringing them down and shoving the lens against his mouth whereupon he tongued it.

I sighed and looked to where Joker was working, even though I still couldn’t see him, and cautiously (but loudly, to be heard over the distance and traffic) shared, “Travis is drooling on your sunglasses.”

Joker straightened, lugging my tire with him and tossing it with a swing of his broad, leather-jacket-covered shoulders into the trunk (something he did one-handed, which was impressive), this making my entire car bounce frighteningly.

His eyes came to me. “Got about a dozen pairs. He fucks those up, not a problem.”

Then he crouched down again.

I bit back my admonishment that he shouldn’t use the f-word. Aaron cursed all the time. I found it coarse, eventually annoying, and finally ended concerned he’d use that language around our son.

I had no idea if he did.

But he probably did.

Instead of focusing on that, I focused on the fact that Joker seemed really nice.

Not seemed, he just was.

All the people who passed me, not helping, but he stopped.

Now he was changing a tire and, except for the time my dad made me do it so he could be assured I’d know how if the time came to pass when I’d have to, I’d never done it again. But I knew it wasn’t a lot of fun.

He’d let Travis pull his whiskers, yank off his glasses, and even let slide the good possibility some baby he didn’t know would break them.

I looked to the glasses and knew they were expensive. They said LIBERTY on the side. They were attractive yet sturdy. I didn’t think he got them off a revolving rack.

And I didn’t want him to stop, help us, and lose his expensive glasses, even though he was very nice and didn’t seem to care.

“Please, baby boy, don’t break those glasses,” I whispered.

Like my eight-month-old understood me, he stopped licking the lens and shoved the glasses to me.

I grinned, murmured, “Thank you, my googly-foogly,” took the glasses and bent into him to blow on his neck.

He squealed with glee.

Since he liked that so much, like I always did, I did it again. Then again. And since I didn’t have anywhere else to put them, I shoved Joker’s sunglasses in my hair so I could adjust Travis in order to tickle him.

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