Three hours later I was still thinking about the altercation as I served my sixtieth cup of coffee.
Which was why, when he came in only moments later with the full force of the KPD SWAT team at his back, my face flamed.
I turned away quickly, but the man and his sharp green eyes lasered in on me.
I wondered if he’d been among the ones that had saved me. I only knew at the time it’d been Kilgore SWAT.
I wondered if he knew the one that had shielded me with his body a few months ago during the worst workday ever.
The job that I’d lost because the owner of the law firm had died. And my job, as well as my apartment, had taken a hit as well.
After the shooting, the main partner, Mr. Pierson, had died of wounds sustained during the standoff.
His wife had decided to sell her share of Pierson, Tide and Associates. Since Mr. Tide could no longer afford to keep me, I’d lost my job. And shortly after, my apartment.
At least I still had my car, but that was only because I’d cashed in my bonds I’d gotten when I was a kid, using them to pay for my college for this semester, my car note for three months, and my new apartment for five.
Now I was working at a diner in town called The Angry Goose Diner.
For the most part, I liked it. Although, it was a lot of work.
I was the only other server besides the owner.
The owner also didn’t do half the stuff that I did.
However, I guess that was a perk of being the owner and all.
I couldn’t say that I’d do the same in her position, but I could say that I understood.
The positive side of it all was that I got to keep all the tips.
Regardless, it was me who had to go up to the table of men since I could tell Jessica wasn’t planning on doing it.
Mostly because she saw them come in, pointed to a table in the back of the room, and then proceeded to continue flipping through her magazine while her husband and I slaved away.
A table of men in which three of them I’d accused of being gay not even twelve hours earlier.
They still looked just as jacked with clothes on as they did without.
Out of the nine men, all but one was sizing me up as I walked towards them.
When I reached the table, my eyes automatically found Downy’s and I had to will myself not to blush.
Outside, I was a rock. Inside, I was a melting puddle of goo who wanted nothing more than for the man currently running his eyes from the tips of my feet to the top of my head to take me into the back office and fuck the ever loving hell out of me. Hard and fast.
“Can I get you guys something?” I asked politely, knowing with a certainty that each and every man here knew who I was, and what I’d accused the three men living next to me of this morning.
“Coffee.” The blonde that had answered the door this morning ordered.
I nodded and looked to the next man. This one was dark and handsome. He had dark eyes and dark hair, and his features spoke of some sort of Hispanic heritage.
“Water,” he ordered.
I nodded and turned to the next man. This one was the only one wearing long sleeves. Every bit of his skin was covered from hands to shoulders, and he had a hat seated deep on his head that depicted him as a ‘country boy’ despite being in full uniform other than that.
“Root Beer,” he ordered.
I nodded and turned to the next.
The other man that’d been in the house last night.
He looked much like his brother, and it did have to be brother, now that I was getting a better look at him through non-sleepy eyes.
“And you?” I asked.
The corner of his lips kicked up into a smile as he replied with, “Coke.”
“Coke, as in Coca-Cola?” I clarified.
He nodded. “A coke is a coke.”
I turned to the next man. His eyes were dark and all consuming. He was the least non-threatening of the group, but I knew him to be just as deadly as the next.
It was all in the eyes.
You didn’t judge a man by his appearance. Appearances could be deceiving.
You judged them by their eyes, and what you could see in their eyes.
And his had death written all over them.
“You?” I asked.
And so it went until I got to the last man. The man whose name I’d woken up moaning as I masturbated in my sleep.
And by the looks of it, the fucker must’ve heard it.
I didn’t flinch, though.
I’d seen and heard too much, experienced more than the average twenty-year-old woman would ever experience, to be embarrassed.
Shit happened, and you either got over it, or it’d consume you.
Life was unpredictable like that.
“And you?” I asked finally, not showing even a hint of weakness.
He took a really long moment to answer.
So long that I started to shift from foot to foot as he watched me.
It’d been the reaction he’d been searching for, because he answered shortly after with a smile tipping up the corner of his lips. “Unsweet tea. No lemon.”
I nodded and turned to go, but his words halted me in my tracks. “I might need some of your honey. To sweeten up the tea, of course.”
“She’s not going to remember any of those,” one of them whispered.
Not soft enough, though, because I heard. And I vowed that I wouldn’t screw up one single thing the entire time.
Some vow that was, though.
It was all the stupid red head’s fault.
Did red hair make you turn into the devil or something?
Had I done something to challenge him?
Because he was acting like I was his rival, and it should be me who was offended. He’d been the one keeping me up all night! It wasn’t like what I said was a hanging offense or anything!
It all started when I brought out the honey. The honey he’d asked for.
After setting all of their drinks down on the table in front of them, ones I’d gotten right, might I add, I asked them if they were ready to order.
They said no.
So I left, giving them five minutes while I attended to my other tables.
I had a table that was being unusually rowdy, but I let them be, knowing it was better to ignore it rather than confront them about it.
“Yeah, we’d like a couple of refills. Please feel free to bring us some of your honey, too,” the young man jeered.
I barely contained the urge to roll my eyes.
The kids were probably still in high school by the looks of their clothes, and hair. They also didn’t have much muscle to them, either.
“Alright, I’ll bring y’all a couple of refills. Do y’all want them in to-go cups?” I asked as I started to step away.
They all focused on my boobs, and I wanted to scream at them. However, that didn’t bring in the tips, so I would do what I had to do. Even if I had to endure them looking at my boobs.
It was all harmless for now.
If another table complained, then I would intervene. However, they were keeping it rather quiet, only getting rowdy when I was around, so I left them to it.
Only, when I got back from bringing them refills, none of the men would look at me, or even acknowledge me.
I turned startled eyes to the men one table over, the men I assumed were responsible for the change, and saw them looking only at each other. I knew, though, that I had their attention. Just knew it.
I narrowed my eyes on the red head, drawing his attention from whatever he was discussing with the men.
He raised his brow in silent invitation, and I narrowed my eyes at him. I didn’t rise to the goad, though. Little did he know that I knew how to handle hardheaded men who thought they knew what I needed.
I walked over to their table, and stopped on the opposite side of the table this time, the one furthest away from Officer Lachlan Downy.
“Have y’all decided on what to order?” I asked, moving from foot to foot.
It was a nervous tell of mine, but they might not know it. At least I hoped, but I could tell from the small smiles on all of their faces that they knew I was uncomfortable.
So I shored up my spine and stopped moving, waiting patiently for them to go through their order.
Once again, I didn’t write anything down, and I heard them say the same exact thing as I left. “She’s never going to remember all of that.”
I just laughed as I walked into the kitchen, up to the note pad beside the grill, and pressed play on my watch.
Their orders were all played back to me, one by one, and I wrote it word for word down onto the paper.
I snorted, surprised that none of the ‘observant’ cops at that table had known what I’d done.
Then again, I’d been doing it for a month now and not one customer had noticed yet.
I handed the paper over to Vinnie and barely contained the dry heave that threatened to boil out of my throat when Vinnie took it, but made sure to touch my hand even though I’d just barely been holding on to the ticket as it was.
He was very touchy, and I was fairly sure he liked to change my orders and make them wrong just so I’d come back to the back to see him.
Hence why I got the watch, so he knew I’d written the order down correctly, and couldn’t use that excuse anymore.
I’d gotten hip on what he was doing shortly after I’d gotten my fifth order wrong.
That’s when I got the watch, just so he could hear me getting the order, and then writing it down correctly.
I also made sure to check the order before I took it out there. There was nothing like being made to look stupid in front of customers.
“Is it pretty busy out there, Mem?” Vinnie asked.
I wanted to smack him.
I wasn’t really fond of nicknames, and every chance he got he used one with me.
After correcting him for the tenth time, I stopped trying, knowing it wouldn’t make a difference.
“Just the usual lunch crowd,” I said as I backed through the door.
I didn’t hear Vinnie’s reply, and couldn’t say that I was unhappy about it.
He really did creep me out, and I couldn’t wait to have my degree finished so I could get the hell out of here.
“Oh, you had two tables come in while you were in there,” Jessica said as she flipped the page.
I growled low in my throat and went to greet two of my regulars, taking their drink orders before I went to the next table.
Although I was busy, Downy still occupied all of my thoughts.
I kept chastising myself. He was a cop, and cops were not to be trusted according to my daddy. That was only because daddy was a cop himself, and had been for nearly forty years. But he knew how cops thought. Knew what they knew. He was them.
His name was Byron “Stone” Conner, and I loved him desperately. However, I didn’t love that he didn’t have any boundaries when it came to my life. Hence, why I’d moved here, and why he didn’t know how hard it was for me to get by.
Daddy was a part of The Dixie Wardens MC. His charter was in Alabama, about a four-hour drive from the state line due East.
I’d grown up in the motorcycle club life.
I dealt with their shit for twenty years. The constant, silent presence at my back.
When he finally started to try to control what I did with my life, wanting me to go down a different path than what I was on, I started to pull away.
I moved out, found my own place and lived my life.
I still spoke with my dad once a week. Still saw him on holidays and birthdays. But he didn’t run my life anymore. I had friends that didn’t know my daddy was a cop or president of a motorcycle club. It’d come up eventually, but right now…right now I was happy and living my life. Even if I had to do it by living a little lean.
Mom, well mom was just that…my mom.
She was first generation Chinese American, and an all-around bad ass. She had to be to deal with my daddy.
She was also the one who taught me to always be nice and respectful…something I’d do if it killed me.
Most of the time, that was.
There was always a first time for everything.
And when I went to the empty table after the rowdy inhabitants left it, I was mad enough to spit nails.
Here’s your tip: Maybe you should tell your boyfriend that he can shove his badge up his ass. Maybe if he hadn’t threatened to shove my plate up my ass, face up, you’d be getting a tip right now.
I whirled and faced the man that’d just cost me money and glared.
He caught the glare the moment I turned, and his eyes narrowed on the check that was in my hand. When he made to stand I shoved the flimsy paper in my hand into my back pocket and turned around.
“Jessica,” I said making my way up to the bar. “The men at the back table are through. The only ones left are the ones in the front reading their newspapers, but they’ve been taken care of as well. If it’s okay, I’ll take my break now.”
Jessica waved her hand. “Sure thing, doll.”
Lord fucking save me from hard headed men.