Kind of like Batman. On a motorcycle.
In a weird way, I owed him everything . . . the man still scared the shit out of me, though. Scared me, turned me on, you name it, because if there was one constant derailing my quest for happy normalcy, it was Puck Redhouse and his stupid, sexy voice. The man was my own personal North Atlantic iceberg, lurking under the cold waters, just waiting to shred me wide open.
Fucking biker. I’d had enough bikers to last a lifetime—I didn’t need him in my life.
Not that he’d ever said anything to indicate he wanted me in his life. But over the years he’d watched me . . . Sometimes I got the feeling he wanted to do a lot more than watch.
I shivered, because I’d never forget how he’d felt pushing deep inside, stretching and filling and blowing my mind all at once.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t time to give my stupid body the lecture about why Puck was all wrong. I had a feeling we were one step away from a bloodbath right at the breakfast counter. Too much testosterone. I needed to do something—break the tension and smooth things over.
“No issues—” I tried to say, but Blake cut me off.
“Yeah, we got a fuckin’ issue,” he snarled, pushing through the swinging doors from the kitchen into the counter area. “These cocksuckers think you can come in here and treat the girls like shit. Outside, McDougal.”
Across the dining room people fell silent, and then I saw Eva stand up and start toward us, her default scowl growing uglier than usual. Fuck. I was about thirty seconds away from unemployment, and believe me when I say there weren’t exactly an abundance of work opportunities in a mountain town of eight hundred people.
“Blake, please go back into the kitchen,” I hissed, deciding to ignore Puck because I just didn’t have enough space in my brain to deal with him. “Let me get coffee for everyone, and a slice of pie. It’s on me.”
“Can I eat it off you?” Jake asked. Apparently he didn’t have a highly honed sense of self-preservation. His friends burst out laughing as all hell broke loose.
I’m still not entirely sure what happened next.
I do know that Blake slammed his big spatula down on Jake’s hand right as Puck punched him. Jake’s jackass chorus might be idiots, but they weren’t cowards because suddenly they were all up and fighting. That’s when I discovered Puck hadn’t walked in for breakfast alone—nope, he’d come in with two other Silver Bastards (Boonie and Deep), Boonie’s old lady (Darcy), and another girl named Carlie Gifford. Carlie was about my age, and she’d been hanging around with the club for a while, which I knew because I knew everything about Callup. (I might not be a native, but the Breakfast Table was Grand Central so far as this town went—if something happened, I heard about it.)
As Eva started screeching at us to stop, Darcy grabbed me and jerked me out from behind the breakfast bar. Jake was shouting and clutching his hand, which dripped blood over everything. The big plastic sugar container with the funnel on top that I used to refill the sugar jars for the table went flying, showering all of us as Blake hurdled the counter to go after his former friend. Then Coop jumped Puck from behind and something inside me snapped.
This is where it’s worth mentioning that over the years I’ve developed a bit of a temper.
Okay, make that one hell of a temper.
Puck might be trouble, but he’d also saved my ass big-time and I didn’t want him getting hurt. Knowing he was around (Batman!) helped me sleep in a weird way. Nothing scares off a monster like a bigger, nastier monster, and every time I woke up screaming in the night after a dream about my stepdad, the memory of Puck beating his ass helped me keep it together. So long as Puck was in the region, I’d be safe . . . at least, I’d be safe from everyone but Puck.
I broke free from Darcy’s grasp and reached for a glass coffeepot that’d been left sitting on the counter. Then I brought it down over Coop’s head so hard it exploded, hot coffee soaking his shirt and coating his back. He screamed and fell down, so I kicked him in the nuts. Puck stared at me, obviously startled but impressed.
“Behind you!” I shouted, catching Alex lunging out of the corner of my eye. Puck ducked and spun around, punching the other man in the gut. Darcy caught me by one arm and Carlie grabbed the other one as an entire rack of clean water glasses crashed to the floor. Eva was shouting in the background and to my shock, I saw Earl lumbering toward the fight, a maniacal grin on his wrinkled face.
How did things get out of control so fast? And more important, where the hell was I going to work now? No fucking way Eva would keep me on after this.
Normal girls don’t start fights in restaurants! my brain hissed. Crapsicles. This was exactly the kind of shit my mom was always getting herself into. Generally I tried to look at any given situation, figure out what she’d do, and then do the exact opposite. My theory was that this would turn me from trashy to classy.
Someday I’d be classy if it killed me—probably not today, though.
The fight was spiraling out of control as a body hit the hostess table, sending it crashing over with a splintering, cracking noise. Jake and his friends were tough, no question. The mountains bred hard men, and the mines tempered them like steel. But Puck, Boonie, and Deep were hard men, too. And Blake? I had a feeling this wasn’t his first run-in with the boys . . . I’d always known he was a big, tough teddy bear, but suddenly he’d turned into a grizzly.
The crack of a shot cut through the air, followed quickly by a second and third. People started dropping to the ground and I heard Regina’s voice ringing through the room.