Cover Artist & Model: Bryan Keller
Rachel — Getting pregnant in high school hasn’t exactly made my life easy, especially since my daughter’s father wants nothing to do with us and his parents hate us. Starting over in a new town sounded easy enough, but finding work and a place to stay isn’t so simple in Blackwood Falls. I never counted on a knight in shining armor coming to my rescue, or that he’d be riding a Harley. There’s something about the sexy silver fox that makes me feel safe. Steel might be some big, tough biker, but anyone who rescues a pug and names her Victoria can’t be all bad, right? I only hope I’m not falling for the wrong guy yet again. My heart can’t handle it, and neither can my daughter’s.
Steel — I may have seen a lot in my time, and done things that would give most people nightmares, but I’m admittedly a softie when it comes to kids and animals. Little Coral might have enchanted me at first, but her mom is the one I can’t get off my mind. I can tell she’s running from something, and I’ll find out what one way or another. She thinks she’s all alone, but she’s wrong. She has me — because I always go after what I want and I’m going to make her mine. Doesn’t matter I’m more than two decades older than her. I pity anyone who stands in my way or dares to harm any of my girls — I won’t hesitate to put the bastards six feet under.
WARNING: This age-gap romance contains graphic language and sex, animal abuse, graphic violence, and a big bad biker with a heart of gold. Guaranteed HEA, no cheating, and no cliffhanger.
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Copyright ©2020 Harley Wylde
“How much are you paying per night at the motel?” he asked.
I hesitated, unsure why he needed to know. Although, he’d been incredibly nice so far. Maybe he was worried I wouldn’t make enough to keep living there?
“It’s forty dollars per night, which I know is incredibly cheap, even for a small town.”
“There’s a reason for that,” he muttered. Rick pulled a calculator closer to him, then started punching buttons. “If you stay at the motel, you’ll end up paying around twelve-hundred dollars a month if you stay on the nightly rate. What they didn’t tell you is they offer a weekly rate for long-term guests. It’s still not cheap, but it would save you a lot in the long run.”
He was right. I hadn’t known about the discount. Of course, I hadn’t known how long we’d have to stay there when we’d arrived in town. Maybe if the motel clerk had known we’d be there for a while, he would have offered the cheaper rate. Then again, he hadn’t looked like the sort to care.
“There’s an apartment over the diner that used to be rented to wait staff who needed a place to stay, but it’s currently occupied. It was part of the paperwork I reviewed this morning, and I’m afraid their lease isn’t up for another three months. If you’d like the apartment when it becomes available, I’ll reserve it for you, but the cost is four hundred per month, and there’s only one bedroom and one bathroom.”
“We don’t need anything big,” I assured him.
“Then I’ll make a note to let you have first option of renting whenever it’s available again. Until then, I’d suggest you tell the staff at the motel you need to book your room by the week. It’s about the cost of your room for three nights at the daily rate.”
I did the calculation in my head and knew I’d need around one-hundred-twenty dollars to accomplish that. While I did have enough left, it would only leave me about thirty dollars for other essentials. But if Rick gave me this job, which it sounded like he would, then at least one meal would be covered for both me and Coral until she started school, unless I pulled a double and got two meals, or I made other arrangements for her. Once I started getting tips, then I could stock a few more things in the motel room for us to eat.
“If everything sounds agreeable, I’ll get the employment forms and you can fill them out now. Could you start as early as tonight? Dinner is usually our biggest rush, and I’ll go ahead and let you know I only have one other person handling that shift today. You’ll be extremely busy, but we’ll make sure there’s a spot for Coral at the end of the bar. You’ll need to be here by five and you’ll get off at eleven. I know that’s only six hours, but I want to see how you handle things the first few shifts.”
“Yes! Thank you, Rick. I really appreciate the opportunity to work here.”
He pulled out a bunch of papers, attached them to the clipboard, then handed them over. “I’ll need a copy of your driver’s license and social security card.”
I removed both from my wallet and handed them over. He turned to a printer in the corner of the office and lifted the lid, using it as a copier. Once he’d finished, he handed back my two forms of ID, then waited for me to complete the paperwork. When I’d given him everything, and shaken his hand once more, he found a uniform in my size.
“You’ll have to be responsible for keeping it clean,” he said. “We only give out one per employee, but they can acquire a second one for a flat fee of fifty dollars. If you quit working here and return both uniforms, then that charge will be reimbursed and included in your last check.”
“I don’t have enough to keep the motel, feed Coral, and get the second uniform right now, but I’ll try to put some money aside for one.” I thanked him again, then went to check on Coral. She’d finished her shake and was speaking to an imposing-looking man next to her. His hair was pulled back and a short beard covered his jaw. The leather vest over his shoulders said his name was Steel.
Neither noticed my presence, or at least Coral didn’t. I had a feeling this Steel person didn’t miss anything. He had the look of someone who’d seen the darkness in life. I’d seen the same look on cops, military guys, and even the mafia men who ran my hometown. Coral wasn’t one to trust just anyone. The way she smiled at him and chattered told me she felt safe with Steel. I only hoped she wasn’t talking to someone who would kidnap her or worse. Not knowing anyone in this town meant we were surrounded by strangers, and didn’t know who to trust.
“Coral, stop bothering the nice man. It’s time to go,” I said, reaching for her hand.
She hopped off the stool and grabbed my fingers. “It’s okay, Mommy. Mr. Steel is really nice. He said maybe one day I can pet his puppy.”
My gaze jerked to his. I hoped he really did have a dog and it wasn’t a euphemism for anything else. Of course, I’d never heard a man call any part of his person a puppy before. Steel stood up, his height towering over me. He held out his hand, but with Coral holding onto me and the uniform clutched in my other palm, I couldn’t exactly shake. He smiled when he saw my dilemma.
“You have a very sweet little girl,” he said. “My name’s Steel, and I promise I’m not going to hurt either of you.”
I backed up a step. Wouldn’t someone who would hurt us say the exact same thing? I cast a quick glance toward Laura, but she was ignoring us as she refilled a customer’s drink. She didn’t seem worried about the man speaking to me, so maybe he wouldn’t hurt us. Or she was so oblivious she didn’t even know he was here.
Steel nodded and backed up. “You’re right to be cautious. I see you’ll be working here. I come in here rather often, so I’m sure we’ll see one another again. You run into any trouble, you stop by the Devil’s Fury compound on the other end of town. Ask for me.”
He tossed some money onto the counter next to his half-eaten burger, then turned to walk out. I saw the back of his vest and realized he was a biker. Devil’s Fury MC was stitched on the back with a rather ominous-looking logo, or whatever they called it. He walked out, not pausing to turn back toward us, and went over to a motorcycle parked nearby. As he started it up and the engine made a loud rumble, I held onto Coral and watched him ride off.
“Those men aren’t exactly harmless,” Laura said as she came to stand next to me, “but none of them would hurt your daughter. They’re all rough around the edges, and into some stuff that isn’t exactly legal, but they protect kids.”
So, she had been paying attention. It was good to know the man could be trusted, and apparently anyone else from the Devil’s Fury. At least Coral hadn’t been talking to a pedophile while I’d been trying to land this job. It made my stomach stop knotting, and I led my daughter outside. As we walked back to the motel, I told her about my job and let her know she’d get to eat dinner there later. I only hoped the one coloring book and few crayons she had would be enough to keep her occupied during my shift. I’d picked them up at the dollar store before we’d boarded the bus to come to Blackwood Falls, and I knew she’d colored most of the pages already.
Whatever it took, I’d keep this job, and I’d make sure my daughter was fed and cared for. She was my entire world and I’d do anything for her.