Title: Resurfaced Passion
Series: Book 6 – Renegade Souls MC Romance Saga Series.
Genre: MC Romance
Trope: A love that would never quit.
“I’d totally date me,” she muttered to herself with little confidence in what she was saying, whittling the corner of her left thumb nail with her teeth in a show of frenetic energy rushing through her veins. Online dating was just not her friend, but she was soldiering on.
She dealt with people on the daily, so she was impervious to nerves.
Unless it was something personal.
Paige Simmons was a baker who liked to watch bad TV, scream at every football game, wear odd colored tights and very high heels and sing badly along with the radio, even if she was in public. She loved anything cheesy and if she saw a puppy, she would 100% get down on her knees and baby-talk to the good boy.
She was also prone to dyeing her hair different shades of pink for no reason other than she felt every woman should dance to her own tune and not follow the masses.
She wasn’t a feminist as such. She liked bras. Bras kept her ample boobs in check and pointing in the right direction, thank you. But she’d always felt as though women could choose to do whatever they wanted. And if that meant marching in rallies, chaining themselves to railings and getting arrested for the greater good, then so be it. It also meant she could dye her hair whatever color she wanted on a Saturday night, while she ate her weight in cheese puffs and not care if the older generation looked at her strangely.
Taking a big gulp of the too sweet lemonade sitting near her right hand, the fizz all but evaporated, she gave another cursory glance to the laptop screen; her own image glaring back at her.
Was she really going to put herself out there, on a dating website of all places? Seriously, had it come to this? Was twenty-seven considered too young to be called a dating disaster?
Lonely. Gah, what a nasty word that was.
That was the word circling her overburdening thoughts over a glass of wine last night, so much so it motivated Paige to open the laptop and start the process of making an account.
Now she was looking at the photo she’d used on her bio and was having doubts in epic proportion. It was supposed to be a little bit of fun, but this didn’t feel like fun at all. Not with her tummy on a spin cycle of nerves.
She hovered the mouse arrow over the delete account button a dozen times at least.
Going over her bio again, she mentally tore it apart. Did men want to know her life goals?
God, she didn’t know.
Maybe she should be honest. Wants a connection and maybe some sex.
She sucked at this dating shit and knowing what men wanted was like learning a foreign language in three minutes.
Hells fire, she couldn’t even get the man she wanted to be interested in her, apart from the weird way they danced around each other, so what chance did she have with a complete stranger?
Hunched over the laptop she hit publish.
There. Her profile was live. Watch those swipes roll in.
With a harried noise, she slammed the lid shut.
She wasn’t bad looking. She had a slim figure and received compliments on her toned legs, even if they were on her small 5’4 frame. She loved her waist long hair and her tight bottom and sometimes she liked her boobs, they weren’t pointing towards her knees yet, so that was a boob bonus.
Just a little clumsy at times and a bit forgetful… ha, now that was funny. But overall she wouldn’t say she was a bad choice to date.
Finding a mate to love and cuddle and do all those mundane, wonderful things, she saw couples doing every day. She was envious of the hand holding, laughing at private jokes together and just knowing someone was there.
She ached for that.
And she’d wanted it with just one man for such a long time, but he’d shown little indication that he wanted anything more than a weird friendship with her.
She couldn’t wait around forever.
Even if her heart said to wait a while longer.
A few more months. A day. A week. A year or two.
Men were slow. All women knew this. Unless they were guided by the hand and taken to their emotional destination, men hardly arrived at all.
But the truth was; Paige wasn’t all that brave.
Where affairs of the heart and sex were concerned she wasn’t bold in the slightest and couldn’t… she would absolutely die of awkwardness if she had to ask a guy out on a date.
Why would Reaper want a plain Jane like her? Whose only discernible talent was identifying every Krispy Kreme donut just from lick alone, when she’d witnessed the kind of vivacious, extrovert, gorgeous women who partied with the bikers.
That was the kind of woman she wanted to grow up to be. One with body sociability and didn’t cringe about asking for an orgasm or five.
Great. With her confidence dipping, she left her place on the couch and decided to do something productive with the rest of the night.
Sure, it was 11:27 pm on a Saturday night, but who doesn’t pull out a tart pan to make a banana crème pie at nearly midnight? It was a new recipe she’d been tweaking for weeks now and was sure this was the one to put in the diner this coming week. Though she was technically just a waitress doing managerial duties, the moment the boss found out she baked, and baked well, he convinced her into making all the pies, on account of the diner cook being great with eggs and hash but terrible with pastry. Then it advanced to breakfast muffins when the pies were a big hit and now it was most all of the desserts on the menu.
She enjoyed it. But she was living for the day she had her own cake shop.
It was a pipe dream, but girls needed a dream or two.
Reaper and cakes. Her two dreams.
One her passion, the other her weakness.
Only one was obtainable. She smiled to herself pulling out ingredients from her pantry and wondered what the unattainable dream was up to right now.
* * *
Brex Mahoney was the biggest piece of piss walking.
And Reaper, in his thirty-one years of life so far had known at least five dozen.
He hated dealing with the city mayor. He was a braggart and a big mouth, and a goddamn fucking bore to listen to.
Business was business, he kept telling himself as he climbed down off his vintage Harley Davidson and pulled off his leather gloves to shove in his pocket, so he needed to make these next thirty minutes go as fast as humanly possible.
He’d always been the one to deal with Brex, ever since he joined ranks with the Renegade Souls and Rider—his Prez, offered him the patch as Negotiator. It wasn’t a true MC title and pretty fucking funny among the boys, knowing how little Reaper did talk. However, what skills Reaper possessed was the patience of a saint. He could deal with slime balls like Brex, and even the Mexicans on occasion and not lose his cool and slice them in two.
It was why, from day one, Rider sent him out to Brex and many other difficult people they did business with, for the fact there was only a slim chance Reaper would go kamikaze on their asses.
Only one reason would push his buttons and send him into a killing rage and lucky for all concerned, as he took measured steps in his thick soled boots and approached the nondescript building, she was nowhere near here.
Of course, the mayor of the city wouldn’t meet one of the notorious lawbreaking bikers who ran most of their city, in his public office at city hall. That would be too dangerous for the man who wore a devious mask.
How that charlatan kept getting re-elected was anyone’s guess.
He strode through the door, smelled coffee and felt his belly protest that he hadn’t eaten yet. He’d woken late, and that always put him in a bad mood because it meant he had to skip going to the diner and head directly from his two-bedroom apartment and go to the RSMC compound to see what was needed of him today.
If he wasn’t running these kinds of errands, then he worked in the auto shop.
It was the purpose of why he’d put the feelers out to Rider Marinos years back when he arrived in Colorado and needed a job to keep his mind sane. Since he’d worked in his dad’s auto-garage back home in New Zealand from the age of seven, he had the skills to back up his application. What Reaper didn’t know about engines wasn’t worth knowing. He could single handed strip down a wreck of a car and rebuild it into a fucking masterpiece.
Red Light was the only other man Reaper knew who could do the same kind of work. Rider, for a long time had wanted the pair to open up a build shop for the club. Making one of a kind bikes. Because Red Light was a Nomad and preferred the open road, that idea never took flight.
Working in the auto shop kept him mentally ticking over.
Kept his brain occupied when he wanted to descend into misery.
His negotiator skills had been handy for Rider over the years. There was that one lawyer fool who ripped off his clients, hid the evidence in a Souls safe box and became difficult when it came time to paying his bills. A few select words from Reaper had the man handing over the cash without so much as a protest.
“Is he here?” Reaper asked Joseph, the mayor’s aid and right-hand co-conspirator in all things shady. He was a fair-haired kid, all of twenty-three and cocky as one of the Trump’s. He’d need to be, to hold down that kind of high-powered job, so Reaper didn’t hold it against the guy when Joseph smirked and nodded his head towards the open office on the left.
The four-story building was all but empty. He didn’t know what it had once been, only that this was the place he met Brex every few weeks, depending on what the old man needed from the Souls.
“Reaper, son. How’s it going?” The balding man with his overly large gut greeted him like they were old friends. He always got a weird vibe from the way the old man raked his eyes up and down Reaper’s 6’2 frame.
Reaper wasn’t surly by nature; he just didn’t suffer fools lightly and didn’t like two-faced fuckers who would smile at the same time as sticking in the knife.
He’d known a few of those in his time and recognized it clearly with Brex’s demeanor. The man was a snake in the grass. But while he had money to burn, the RS would happily take it from him.
He offered a hand and they shook briefly.
“Can’t complain.” He parked his ass on a table and folded his arms, the leather of his thin jacket creaking, while Brex squeezed his bigger bulk into a leather backed chair. The office space they were in boasted zero windows and was no more than eight feet wide, so he figured they were doing the transaction in a broom closet.
“What do you need?”
“Straight to business. I like that, son.” He chuckled nasally. His watch dog stood outside the door but didn’t step inside.
“Actually nothing. I’m here to close my account, so to speak.”
Reaper arched his brow under his skull cap. Say what now? For as long as he’d been with the Renegade Souls, and it was coming up on five years now, this rat in the garbage paid over the odds to hide all his dirty deeds and secrets in one of the Souls underground bunkers, midway up the mountains.
Impenetrable. Untraceable. And safe from prying eyes and law enforcement, more to the point. Especially those who would bury the mayor for discovering the dodgy deals he was involved in with other politicians. Not to mention the prostitutes he paid into the tens of thousands each year and not from his own pocket.
It was genius when you think about it. No one would ever suspect the upstanding mayor of ever having anything to do with the biker club, not when his officials tried hard to have them closed down.
Anyone in the outlaw lifestyle would see Brex for his true self. The mayor was shady as fuck and slimy with it. Reaper wouldn’t trust the guy as far as he could launch him over a fence.
But he’d take his money.
“Is there a reason behind this sudden switch?”
He smirked. “Let’s just say I was given a better offer of protection.”
With no concrete reason why, the Russians came to mind rapidly.
His gut instinct said it was Grigori trying to undercut, undermine and generally be a pain in the dick for Rider. The bratva underboss didn’t know when to quit or realize he’d been shown leniency to leave on his own two feet and not in a body bag.
Reaper shrugged. He could care less. It was one less fuckwit to deal with. He unzipped his jacket and brought out the padded brown envelope. Held it in mid-air just out of reach.
He waited until Brex brought out his own envelope from inside his blazer and handed it to Reaper.
He wasn’t dumb. He counted that shit first. It was all there. Ten grand on the dot.
“This settles up, correct?”
“Yup.” He tossed over the contents of Brex’s lock box as requested.
Reaper turned on his boots and headed for the door.
“Seems the tides are changing, son.”
Swerving his head he could have told the fat oaf he was not his son and then punched him in the throat. But Reaper was a calm man.
Most of the time.
He stayed silent and waited.
Assholes always had to have the last word.
“With who runs things around here, I mean. Times a changing. It’s no longer the Souls.”
“And it’s not you either, old man. Go back to city hall and push a pen.”
Or go on a fucking diet before your blood pressure kills you.
He strode out, staring at his weasel sidekick who backed up out of Reaper’s way.
All roads definitely pointed to the Russian mafia and Rider was gonna be pissed if Grigori was making new connections instead of getting his ass back to wherever he came from.
The bratva had a US base in Chicago until they’d turned up in Colorado.
Things were not looking good. Firstly, Grigori teamed up with Rider’s dick-for-brains uncle, the former club Prez, who pitched one helluva tantrum when Rider replaced him. And now the man who held the legal rights to the city, was possibly working with Grigori too.
Shit always did attract shit.
As bad as it could get for the club, who had been nothing but welcoming to Reaper in all these years…he still only had one priority; and it was the girl with the pink hair and lavender shaded eyes.
The girl who smiled at everyone.
The girl who baked at 4 am and drove a crappy car and sang out of tune and cried at sappy movies.
The girl who loved animals but wouldn’t get a pet for herself.
The girl who tied his guts into physical knots.
His Achilles heel.
If Paige was the magnet, then Reaper was the metal.
There was no circumstance he could ever think of that would sway him from being drawn to her. Putting her first no matter what, even when she didn’t know it. That extraordinary pull he felt day and night just to be near her grew more monstrous with every ticking second, until he felt the jealous and possessiveness rush through his blood for anyone else who got the chance to spend a minute in her company.
He was seriously fucking screwed.
Damned if he did. Crazy if he didn’t.
That fact alone had kept him breathing.
He didn’t know what he was waiting for anymore. Only that he couldn’t not wait.
He swung his leg over the bike and started it up just like he had thousands of times before. With two destinations in mind, for once he wouldn’t head to the diner first.
Rider had always been good to him and he owed the guy. He’d go to the club first and fill him in.
He then needed to put his eyes on Paige, to remind himself she existed, and she was smiling, and she was okay.
All other shit after that could wait.