Hi biker babes!
With the release of Preacher Man only hours away now I wanted to share an exclusive chapter with you all before that dirty biker manwhore is out in the wild. I hope you enjoy his journey with Ruby. For me it was a story of healing, dealing with mental illness and coping with the pressure of grief and learning to lean on someone else, to know the right people will always have your back no matter what. It was a rough road for Preacher and Ruby for a lot of years, until they meet each other and then the epic dirty love began.
—- V. xox
“The only good advice my mama gave to me was never eating mayo with fries, and stay away from a man who treats his bike better than you.” – Ruby Steele.
“Hey, God. It’s me, Ruby Steele. I know, it’s been a minute since we last talked, no excuses, I avoided coming back. You got time to chat?” Sitting in the fourth pew from the front of the Gospel Baptist Church in the heart of Armado Springs the dark-haired woman sighed like she had the weight of the world on her slim shoulders. Ruby might as well have for all the good her choices were right now. She had diddly and squat to choose between.
Turning to God in times of need was for the stupid and the desperadoes, both of which she was, but she was out of options and what could it hurt, she’d thought, as she’d turned into the parking lot on a whim. The church was a beacon in the early morning skyline and she’d headed towards it before reasoning had sunk in. Sins clung to her like a rosary bead necklace trapped around her neck.
Sins she could deal with, it was every other problem that weighed her down.
Thanks to the state of the economy Ruby found herself up that proverbial shit creek without a paddle. Not that she minded so much being poor, she could eat ramen morning noon and night, and she wasn’t a MAC freak, didn’t want designer clothes, okay, she did, but was fine living with knockoffs, but no health insurance, for fuck’s sake, thank you, America.
The money she was sending to her sister was drastically going to have to be cut somewhere unless she could find a second job in the next minute that worked around her bar hours.
Praying to God might not be the best solution for time management when she could be home filling out job applications, or better; winning the lotto. But that would mean buying a ticket and really when it came down to it, ramen won out, she was overly fond of eating every day.
Ugh, she hated that despondent feeling that festered in her belly day and night, it was never ending and altogether annoying at the same time, not having a solution plucked from thin air was quickly becoming her least favorite foe.
Now she was turning to Him like the hypocrite Christian she and most of the population was. He only became relevant when people needed something. Healing, wealth, a nice pretty face. She’d make do with the elusive happiness.
Ruby sighed until her lungs were full to the brim of old stale musty church air, a touch of candle wax, incense and pure despair. Sitting back in the pew, the harsh wood bench biting into her butt, she gazed up at the front of the church with the epic sized stained-glass window depicting the last feast, and in front, a wooden statue of the man himself on the cross.
Rather than bringing her any comfort, her belly tightened. Anxiety in 3..2..1.
This was what her life was coming to, expecting miracles in a fucking church.
“I’m not asking for anything for me,” she said finally, looking directly at cedar oak Jesus. Was He listening? Was He even there? Her faith had waned so much, all mixed up in her mind for a long time, but if she didn’t put her problems into the ether so she could focus on what needed to be done then she might go insane.
Not literally insane, because she didn’t have the damn medical cover for that.
Go fricking figure, you even had to have a fat bank account for a six-week stay at the funny farm.
Those celebs with their vacations at rehab didn’t know how good they had it.
Ruby’s desperate plea was made worse by the fact she hadn’t missed going to church. Sure, it was something to do on a Sunday, and she always enjoyed Pastor Danny’s sermons, he was never a fire and brimstone man of God, rather, he spoke of kindness and love to one’s fellow neighbor. But even that was not enough to have her rolling out of bed at the butt-crack of dawn on a Sunday to listen to him, not when she’d worked until four AM. And not when she’d had an existential crisis and lost her faith.
For that reason, He should probably kick her out of His house.
After a long silence staring up at the statue, serene and terrifying, she supposed she best get on with it if she was to use some of her day off to look for second employment. She could hear a vacuum somewhere in the back rooms. But other than that, she was blissfully alone.
“If you have time, do you think you can look in on Sebastian? He’s not having a good time lately and I…” She inhaled, wishing some of the tension on her shoulders would dissipate as easily. “He means everything to me. If you can do something to make it better for him, I’d be grateful and do my best to not be a bad Christian as I have been.” Understatement. Sebastian was her life. God knows what would have happened to her these past six months if she didn’t have him to get out of bed for.
It might be May, but some days it was November again and she was up at that cabin with a psychopath for five long days.
Kyle. She shuddered with revulsion.
What a piece of shit that lunatic had been.
And better off not in her mind. Ruby popped up from her seat, made her way down the pew, only to come face to face with the pastor carrying a stack of bibles in his arms.
Daniel Murphy — Yes, those Murphy’s. Which Murphy’s Ruby was yet to know but it seemed to be a running joke for the Irish-born pastor — was the reverse of what you expect from a man of faith when he looked like Tom Hardy and Chris Hemsworth, on an ugly day, had a very good time together and spawned something very Irish and steeped in religion.
She smiled, hoping to slip out without much conversation because if she knew anything the pastor would use his skilful charm and godly guilt for her to return to church this coming Sunday.
“Can’t stop, pastor Danny. It’s good to see you.”
“That is a shame. It’s been but a minute since we last saw you, Ruby. You are well?”
Internally sighing, she smiled. Caught in the Irish gaze. Who could tell God’s bestie she had things to do without being a rude bitch?
The short answer she couldn’t.
“I am.” Lying to God’s emissary, shit, she really wanted that ticket to hell. “How’s it going with you, still playing the guitar?” It was known Daniel Murphy was a disastrous guitar player, could hardly carry a note, and what notes he did know were never in any order, thrown out at random, but his Armado Springs parishioners adored him so they suffered his musical contributions when the mood struck him.
He grinned a roguish smile that did not belong on his face, more like a movie set. “Aye, that I am, though I have a sneaking suspicion no one has missed me at choir these past weeks.” Rich Irish tones, as if from the valleys of Galway, glided through his amused voice. “Ruby.” That same tone changed to something serious, she saw it wash across his face before he went on. “I couldn’t help but overhear your conversation with Him. I wasn’t eavesdropping but sound travels in a building this old. Is there something I can be doing for you?”
Ruby frowned. That’s the blessing about people of faith, it didn’t matter the time lapse, they would always offer a hand.
The guilt multiplied in her breastbone.
It was on the tip of her tongue to lie and say she was fine and walk on.
What was it her uncle Silas said; God moves in mysterious ways, we often miss the signs for looking. Uncle Silas also said there was always a rattlesnake in the grass, so who could truly believe him.
It couldn’t hurt, maybe this was her sign.
“You seemed troubled. Can I help?”
She’d be there all day if she offloaded her issues to the pastor. Instead she smiled and answered vaguely. “Just dealing with unneeded anger.”
“Ah.” He replied, nodding. “You know, if you hold onto hate, it will eat at you. You alone have the capacity to forgive and to shed angers skin.”
Easier said than done these days.
“If you could put a good word in for me with.” She looked up. Pastor Danny chuckled a deep noise, walking to slot bibles in the pew seats. “I don’t think I’m his favorite person lately.”
“Aye, I can do that, but if you ever took note in Sunday school, Ruby, you would recall He loves all his children every single day through good times and struggles. Don’t underestimate His understanding to know when one of his children steps away for a time and why. And to have the grace and patience awaiting their return.”
A sharpness in her chest caused her to inhale quickly. God 1 – 0 Ruby.
“Surely some of us test that endless patience though?”
He grinned brushing a mop of straight brown hair from his blue eyes. In his simple black clothes and the superhero roguish looks, Pastor Danny was a test of many poor women’s eternal souls.
Fortunate for her she didn’t get even a tingle of attraction in his direction.
“Oh aye, that we do, but He has eternal endurance in these matters.” Beginning her walk back down the aisle, she turned and smiled. “I’ll keep that in mind if I ever rob a bank. Have a nice day, pastor.”
He chuckled, maybe he thought she was joking. “Don’t be a stranger now,” he added and waved her off.
Having done what she set out to do, Ruby was about to head to her car when fluttering paper caught her eye.
She detoured to the right where the bulletin board hung outside. It was used for bake sales, choir practice, or yard sales and lost puppies.
All of which didn’t interest Ruby, what she was hoping to see as her eyes scanned each A4 size notice was a nice fat job that made a thousand bucks an hour.
It could happen. She’d just had words with the big guy.
The way irony works, life screws you over and then you assume it can’t get any worse. Fat chance. Life made her bend over ready to take it up the ass one more time as her eyes drifted to one notice with a photocopied face of a man who instantly turned her blood to ice.
A greasy tension coiled in her belly, that unease she hated, the constant dreaded companion in the back of her mind, not allowing her a full restful night’s sleep in weeks. If she had the time she’d totally give into an anxiety disorder, but as it was too many people relied on her to keep her shit together, so she indulged in marginal freak outs before she pulled up her big girl panties and got on with things.
It was him.
Oh, god. It was him.
Kyle. That fucking lunatic from her cabin was blazed on a wanted poster. Or more accurately Be on the Lookout poster.
She hadn’t realized she was backing up until the print of the notice became unreadable. She forced her feet to stop, to breathe, to read it again.
He was called Kyle Williams and a biker with the Raging Rebels. Didn’t they sound like a basket of kittens? All bikers should come with warning labels if it was up to her.
She heard about it, of course, the local cops on a wide manhunt for a dangerous guy responsible for the fire and mass murder over in Westbank a few months ago, but it hadn’t penetrated her life so hadn’t given it much thought after that.
What vomit inducing kind of coincidence was it being the same lost hiker she’d helped in the woods that night and paid for it by being raped? Fucking hell. The weight of her baggage was growing heavier by the second. You don’t realize how heavy it is until your back is broken.
Letting air into her lungs, she ripped the poster down and tore it into a million pieces, eradicated that animal for good, let the police catch him, she wasn’t afraid, if anything she was livid. He’d done something terrible for her sympathy in a time she’d wanted peace and quiet, she’d allowed a stranger into her domain because she was always taught to help those less fortunate and how did the fucker repay her, by forcing her to enjoy something no women asks for.
It was that fact that chewed up Ruby’s mind more than anything.
Maybe she was sick in the head.
In any case, she didn’t plan to do anything about this new information.
She had that thousand bucks job to find.
Halfway back to her car an almighty roar drew her attention, recognizing the sound before it came in sight, it was one lone Harley. Ruby felt a clutch catch in her belly when she saw the guy turn slightly. Unable to gauge it was him for sure, but she was sure he swiveled his head and looked her way for a second before he took the curve.
Ridiculous. How would the legendary manwhore Preacher know to gawk at her? All bikers were bad news, she repeated, the Harley thrum drifting off in the distance.
She shrugged and slid into her car, it took three tries before the engine turned over with a lot of coaxing from her to just damn well work already.
Yet another hard-fast reason she needed money five minutes ago.
There was no better feeling than to ride up through those steel gates into the Renegade Souls MC compound. Known to his family and ex-army as Asher Priest, but to buddies and club brothers as Preacher, felt the air of satisfaction as he brought his bronze and chrome Harley Davidson FLSTF Fat Boy to a purring stop, his girl had gotten him home on the long journey from Nebraska in record time without one hitch. She deserved the good juice tonight.
But man, was he hurting inside his old bones like a motherfucker.
Friends came out of the bike shop, a thriving business now, slapping his palm in turn, welcoming back their road captain.
“The prodigal bastard returned at long last, what is it, Preach, you went through all the chicks in Lincoln and now there’s a national shortage of orgasms?” Joked Snake, toothpick held in his teeth, eyes lit up with humor as he advanced forward and met Preacher’s outstretched hand. Both men went in for that fast bro-back slap lasting no longer than three seconds because then it was a cuddle fest.
“Something like that,” smirked Preacher. It was far from the truth but he had a reputation and why ruin Snake’s fun. “How’s it been around here? I heard the Russians had gone quiet. Let’s hope they got buried in a snow drift back in the cold country.”
On Snake’s left came Grinder from inside the shop dragging an oil rag over his stained hands, a smile on his bearded face, the familiar black beanie hat on his head. Preacher met him halfway their hands connecting in a loud slap of deep friendship between the two men. “Bro.”
Preacher had missed his boy. Having been in Lincoln Nebraska sorting out some finance issues for the chapter there, technically it was their deal if they were in the red, but Rider being the kind of mother chapter president he was couldn’t and wouldn’t see any part of his club go down the toilet, he’d asked Preacher to take a ride through, this was only the third time he’d been back in Armado Springs Colorado in six months, once for his mom’s birthday, the second time being when Rider called him back for a weekend before Preacher and Red Light came to blows and killed one another.
But enough of that earache in his tired mind the better.
He grinned at his friend, got the lay of the land for a few minutes before he unbuckled his saddlebag and prowled his six-foot-six frame inside the clubhouse.
The usual noises and smells greeted him, like a hug to the face of everything that meant home to him.
Doing the rounds of greetings with more club brothers and prospects, he was dog tired and therefore unaware when a pair of slim arms tackled him from behind, tits and face squashed into his spine.
“Preacher! You’re back!”
“Hey, Marietta, darling.” Untangling himself from the woman he smiled down at her beaming face. Dark hair, tight jeans, and wearing a shirt that said ‘I don’t mind your screaming kids. You don’t mind my dick sucking.’ His lips twitched. “Nice shirt.”
“You like it?” She was a sweet groupie. He couldn’t attest for her dick sucking … that he could remember. “Slider got me it for my birthday. Are you back for good?”
“For now, darling. I’m dead on my feet, catch you later, okay?” He winked and set off to let Rider know he was here before he face-planted directly into his bed. He should ride home and fall into his own bed, and if his legs and brain would get him there he probably would, but his flop here would do.
He caught up with the boss in the kitchen making out with his old lady sat on his lap. Rider and Zara were disgustingly in love he noted, watching them unawares with a grin in his eyes. Good shit had happened to the prez and his old lady the last year, and Preacher was glad for them. Clearing his throat alerted to his presence before a dick was exposed. As he knew, he watched pink fuse onto Zara’s face. It didn’t matter that the entire club had heard the pair going at it like cats in heat, if she was caught making out it embarrassed the hell out of the MC queen. He smiled at her and slapped hands with Rider. “Still knocking around with this one, Z-girl? I thought you would have grown some taste in my absence.”
Always fun to rile the boss who glared at him. Zara chuckled.
Seeing the change in her these past months, there was strength in Zara’s eyes now. Her core was all club queen. Good for her, he thought. He’d known there was a fierce woman underneath her scared skin. And now the cock-for-brains Hades was well and truly out of the picture, thanks to Hawk’s samurai skills with a flick knife.
“Someone had to take him on, Preacher. I volunteered as tribute.” Lifting off Rider’s lap, Preacher was pouring his coffee and caught the tender moment between those two as she kissed Rider’s forehead and murmured something only for her man’s ears. “I’ll leave you boys to your catch up.” Zara touched his arm on her way out and smiled that Icelandic smile of hers. “It’s really good to have you home. Stop by the house, Rider will charcoal you a burger, it’s his new thing.”
“I don’t know whether to punch you for the sickening sight or feel jealous, Prez.”
Rider smiled smugly. Preacher took the bench opposite, not really wanting the coffee, he could hear his bed like a siren, but he had to catch Rider up on everything from Lincoln first.
“You’re a big bastard, but I’ll take you down, Preach.” Unfazed, Rider’s smirk had a give-a-fuck quality about being ragged for his sappy love.
Being hooked to only one woman for the rest of … ever. Talk about your common disease of the dick. Preacher couldn’t comprehend it, not when there was so much pussy to try out. He liked all pussy, but single pussy was his favorite.
“H is happy as a pig in fresh shit. Already the repair shop has a mark-up of more than sixty percent this quarter.”
“That was Red Light’s doing.” Offered Preacher slurping on the hot brew. “I just scouted around for the competition to see where we could undercut and made a few calls for supplies.”
“How was it, with Red Light?” Rider’s tone was easy enough, but he knew of what had gone down years ago with that nomad. He made a shrug look like a meh and left it at that. What was he gonna say, that Red Light still hated his guts and they’d nearly come to blows more than once? Old news with the same shit on a different day.
Preacher was coasting thirty-three years old, too damn old to be having school yard fights with kids who didn’t like him.
He’d once been good buddies with Red Light.
Not ever again from the way things appeared between them now.
He’d accepted it and moved on.
“I gotta get my head down for a few hours, Prez. Me and the boys are gonna head to Otis’ tonight to welcome the prodigal handsome fucker home, that would be yours truly. You coming, or you prefer the smooching on the couch these days?” For a tired motherfucker, he could still move fast and out run Rider when he made to get up and kill Preacher.
A minute later, fully clothed, he was face down on his bed, legs dangling over the edge and he let sleep claim him.
This was what he needed, he thought, striding into Otis’ bar and grill hours later, with his boys in tow, and a bar full of chicks. While he’d had some forgettable action down in Lincoln the last couple of months, that town was scarce on women he wanted to spend a few hours fucking, so he’d returned home, hungry and wanting.
He’d get laid tonight before settling back into his normal routine tomorrow, clear his fucking cobwebs out before his dick assumed he was a corpse.
“Nice to see things don’t change too much,” he noted watching every waitress’s eyes turn his way, he smirked at Grinder who only rolled his eyes at Texas. Brothers be hating. Not Preacher’s fault the ladies liked them big and built.
He slid himself into a booth, sitting in the far corner, all the better to survey the bar.
Some Pat Benatar song was playing on the jukebox. His tattooed fingers tapped the table.
The place wasn’t so busy yet that he couldn’t see everyone on a slow scan, mostly his green eyes browsed over the heads of people, didn’t even stop for the guys, but oh, shit… he’d forgotten about her.
Nah, that was straight up lie.
She was not the type of woman you forgot easily. The popping curves made a man thirsty.
His eyes drifted to the bar and stayed there, barely aware of a perky little red-haired thing bouncing over to the table to take their order, he vaguely remembered asking for a bourbon, but he couldn’t be sure until she brought his order, maybe it would be a cola, because fuck him, Preacher’s eyes were glued to Ruby’s slender back behind the bar.
She was stretched up on her toes trying to reconnect a fresh bottle of booze, the motion had the hem of her shirt riding up to reveal a patch of slim column of caramel colored spine and two of the cutest back dimples right above her butt where her jeans lay dangerously low.
His mouth went bone fucking dry. Straight up Sahara city.
No, he hadn’t forgotten her at all, though the last time they’d spoken she was a bitey thing snarking his head off for no damn reason.
Without realizing, he was mentally undressing her like a deviant while she was unaware his eyes were on her. Fuck, stunning.
“Yo, fucker, you wanna re-join earth any time?” Grinder punched the top of his arm to grab his attention and Preacher broke the spell between him and Ruby’s biteable-kissable-fuckable ass.
Damn. What an ass she had. All peachy shaped and made for squeezing hands. He was going to take that ass.
He remembered the last time they spoke, how she’d breathed fire and brimstone out of her eyes at him, so maybe he’d scratch fucking her ass…for now.
“You’re such a needy chick, G. What next, you want to start a book club?”
“Oh! I heard the new Chris Brookmyre is worth taking a look at,” announced Texas. Scotch in one hand. Under his leather cut, he wore a pristine white shirt and a fat blue tie. If Preacher wasn’t used to seeing the model attire on his brother he would have rolled his eyes a couple dozen times. But it was Texas. He was slick hair, slick clothes, and a slick manner.
“Let me guess. You and Lawless have actually got a fucking book club together … didn’t we talk about this; do we have to revoke your outlaw membership?”
His eyes were magnets with only one directional pull and they strayed behind the bar time and again. Damn, she was back on her toes, hiding that perfect ass from him.
He followed her, a dirty slick gaze watching as she served and smiled at people, leaning over the bar, showing off the mounds of perfect tits under her shirt. Fuck.
Preacher licked his bottom lip.
“It’s not a club per say.” Texas’ cultured voice explaining whatever new bullshit he was into now. “Lawless just tells me what to read and I read it. He’s never led me wrong yet.”
“Sounds peachy.” He added absently.
And now he was back to thinking of Ruby’s ass. He was up out of his seat before he realized. “I’ll be back.”
Or not. Depending on how it went.
Long legs took him across the bar in a few steps, through the food smells and the noise of the customers getting drunk out of their minds. It was pay day for most, what else did the masses do? Preacher fucked.
“Good to see you, baby.” A tiny blonde waitress attached herself to his hip out of nowhere, Preacher moved her easily, his path already chosen like a damn missile. “You want some company later?” Hope in her saccharine voice. What was her name? no clue.
“Sorry, darling. Not tonight.”
“Aww. Keep me in mind, baby. Any time. You know my number.” He didn’t.
It paid to be taller than most when Preacher easily got a spot at the bar, straddling a stool he waited.
Not even twelve hours back in town and he knew he’d missed two things; his club and the woman currently walking towards him trying to set fire to his eyebrows with her glare.
Book One: Dirty Salvation.