Own the Wind (Chaos, #1)(6)

Written By: Kristen Ashley



She turned back and all words died in his throat when he saw by the cab’s light the tears shimmering in her eyes and the tracks left by the ones that had slid silently down her cheeks.

His body went rock solid at the evidence of the pain his lesson caused. Deserved, he knew, but it still hurt like a mother to witness. So when she leaned in, he didn’t move away.

“You don’t know me,” she whispered. “But now, I know you, and, Shy… you’re a dick.”

Even with these words, she still lifted her hands, placed them on either side of his head and angled closer. Pressing her lips against his, that sweet, pink tongue of hers slid between his lips to touch the tip of his tongue before she let him go just as quickly as she’d grabbed hold. She jumped out of the cab and ran gracefully on the toes of her high-heeled sandals up the side deck and into the house.

Shy had shifted to watch her move, his chest and gut both ablaze, the brief but undeniably sweet taste of her still on his tongue.

The light on the side of the house went off, and he was plunged into darkness.

“Shit,” he muttered before he put the truck in gear and turned around.

As he drove home, he couldn’t get her tear-stained cheeks and wet eyes out of his head.

He also couldn’t get her taste off his tongue.

*

Five months later…

The bell over the door of Fortnum’s Used Books rang as Shy pushed it open.

Shy came to Fortnum’s for one reason, and it wasn’t to buy used books. It was because they had a coffee counter and seating area in the front of the store, and everyone in Denver knew that the man named Tex who worked the espresso machine was a master. Shy liked beer, bourbon, and vodka, occasionally tequila, sometimes Pepsi, but with the way he lived his nights, his mornings always included a whole lot of coffee.

Tex’s eyes came to him as he moved through the tables and armchairs scattered in front of the espresso counter and he boomed a “Yo, travelin’ man! Usual?”

Shy jerked up his chin in the affirmative, but something caught his attention from the side, and he looked that way to see Tabby sitting at the round table tucked in the corner.

The fire hit his chest.

She had books and notepads stacked around, two empty coffee cups on the table, one half full. She was bent over a book, elbow on the table, hand in her mane of hair at the top of her head, holding it away from her face. Her concentration was on a book and a notepad in front of her, pencil in hand.

He hadn’t seen her since that night he gave her the lesson and took her home. She wasn’t a regular at Ride or at the Compound, but she was around. She was tight with Cherry; they went shopping together a lot, and Tabby met Cherry there when they went. Sometimes she studied in the office while Cherry worked. She was tight with some of the brothers, particularly Tack’s lieutenants, Dog and Brick, and Big Petey, one of the founding members who took a break from the Club for a few years to go be with his daughter while she was fighting cancer. He came back when she lost that fight and Tab, being how Tab could be and growing up with Big Petey, moved in to balm that hurt. So it wasn’t unheard of to see her shooting the shit with Pete opposite the counter inside the auto supply store, teasing him by his Harley Trike in the forecourt or sitting close with him and talking on one of the picnic tables outside the Compound.

Then, for five months, she’d disappeared. Not a sign of her. Shy wasn’t on Chaos every minute of his day but when he was, she wasn’t there.

She hadn’t been to one of the three hog roasts they’d had. She didn’t even go to the party they threw when they took on their new recruits, Snapper and Bat.

And there hadn’t been another Tabby Callout since that night.

Now here she was, studying. Business was bustling and Tex seemed to need to make as much noise as possible when forcing a coffee drink out of the espresso machine, and yet she didn’t look around or break concentration at all.

And, Shy thought, there it was. He’d made his point. She’d learned her lesson. Focus on the shit that mattered. She was taking the opportunity her father was offering to set herself up with a good life, getting control of that wild side and cleaning the trash out of her life.

He paid the knockout redhead named Indy who owned the place for his drink, got it from Tex at the other end of the counter and moved to Tab’s table.

He pulled out the seat opposite her and twisted it around to straddle it, saying softly, “Yo, babe,” before her body jerked with surprise and her head came up.

Her eyes hit him and he saw something that made him uneasy flash through them before she shut it down. Her face went blank, and her eyes slid through the room before coming back to him.

“What’re you doin’ here?” she asked quietly.

He lifted his to go cup. “Coffee. Best in town. Come here all the time.”

She looked at his cup then at the two coffee mugs on the table in front of her before her fingers slid through her hair and she straightened in her chair.

When Shy recovered from watching her thick, shining hair move through her fingers and he realized she wasn’t speaking, he asked, “Studying?”

Her gaze went to her books like she’d never seen them before, it came back to him and she answered, “Yeah. I’ve got two tests this week.”

“Harsh,” he muttered, though he wouldn’t know. He’d never studied for tests. The fact that somewhere in the junk in his apartment was a high school diploma was a miracle.