“So, are you a good biker boy or an arrogant creep?”
Jarek Zenko turned to look at the speaker of the unusual question. He recoiled. Not in a bad way. The woman who’d dropped down on the stool next to him at the bar was…stunning. Blonde hair rippling down her back. Wide eyes. Perfect features. “Now that’s one I haven’t heard before.”
Her unlined brow furrowed. “One what?”
“Pick up line.”
Instead of being insulted, she laughed. “Not tonight, buddy. I just got burned.”
“By an arrogant creep?”
“What’d he do?”
“Cheated on me.” She held out her hand. “No more ring here.”
She shook her head. “Engaged. Past tense.”
“Let me buy you a drink.” He held up his hands arrest style. “No strings attached.”
She watched him. Dissected him. He knew he wasn’t exactly attractive. But he had okay features, big gray eyes, a decent haircut, longer than he used to wear in Afghanistan but still short.
“Sure. I’ll have a…” a slight hesitation as she glanced at his bottle “…a Molson’s.”
Signaling the bartender, he ordered her drink. The band had stopped playing so it was quiet enough to talk. And the crowd had thinned, but there was still a low buzz of conversation. When her beer came, he turned back to her. “Did he at least do it gently? In a private place.”
Now her face lost its sassiness and turned sad. “No to both. We were having dinner at The Lakeview Restaurant. Over our wine, he told me he was tired of me.”
“Tired? Of you?” How could a man get tired of that face? He took a quick peek. From what he could tell under her shirt, her body was great, too. “He’s gotta be nuts.”
“Go figure.” But the tone was self-effacing. She forced a smile. “I threw the drink in his face.”
“Good for you.”
“He found somebody who was more exciting. Younger.”
“How old are you?”
“Biker boy, you don’t ask a woman that.”
“We’re way past niceties, biker girl.”
She laughed at what he called her. “Thirty-five. You?”
“Are you married?” she asked.
“No.” A deep frown. “I wouldn’t be flirting with you if was.”
“You’re flirting with me?”
“Yep. And you’re flirting with me.”
Now the smile was genuine. He noticed the raisin color lipstick on her mouth. It looked…tasty.
“How’d you get involved with such a jerk?”
She sipped the beer. “The bastard and I grew up in the same neighborhood. We started dating and were on and off many years.”
“How come you didn’t tie the knot sooner?” he asked her.
“Neither of us was ready.”
She studied his face. “Why aren’t you happily wed?”
“I was. Or so I thought.”
She said, “Oh.”
“Did she die?”
“No, just her feelings for me. I was in…never mind?”
“In, what? Come on. We’ll never see each other again.”
He guessed he could tell her some. “She sent me a letter while I was out of town. It was awful. A lot like getting dumped by text.”
Reaching out, she touched his arm. Her fingers were long with unpainted nails.
He turned his body more to face her. “How’d you end up here at Harley’s?” A local biker bar.
“An advertisement about the auction was left at my work.” She glanced away for a minute. “How about you?”
“A buddy of mine in our biker group had a son who died from an overdose. He has these benefits periodically.”
Her gaze dropped to his black t-shirt. It sported a huge white eagle on the back with a tire in the middle. Running through it was a purple ribbon with Larry Thomas Memorial Poker Run. Below the eagle was a quote, Your light shines on us. The sleeve had a small purple ribbon folded over itself like the pink ones used for breast cancer.
“Love the shirt.”
“Yeah? You want one?”
He reached over into his backpack which sat on the floor. Produced another shirt. She took it, stood, shook out the tee and poked her arms and head into it. She was tall but slender and the thing dropped to her knees. She sat back down. “Thanks.”
Now his smile was genuine. “You, lady, are something else.”
“Nah, I’m boring, remember? The bastard said so.”
“Nah, you’re fascinating. Hang around awhile?”
“If we stay anonymous.”
“You’ll be the gorgeous woman I met at a bar.”
“And you’ll be the guy with animal magnetism that I met at a bar, too.”
She thought he had animal magnetism? Nobody ever told him that.
She lifted her beer. “To bikers.”
“To beautiful, feisty women.”
Their eyes met as they clinked their bottles. A kick of electricity shot through him at the look they exchanged.