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Bared:Dirty Cruisers MC

By:Brook Wilder

Bared:Dirty Cruisers MC
Brook Wilder

       Prologue


She had to catch her breath as she stepped out of the small car into the balmy Colorado spring air. She stared, her warm dark eyes wide on the large, rough looking building that seemed to jut out unnaturally from the mountain range that ran on like jagged, snow-capped teeth behind it. It looked rough, and it was rough. She knew that from experience.



Outside, it looked like a nearly abandoned warehouse or old industrial factory, with weathered and grey raw wood boards as siding and most of the windows barred. She forced herself to take another step forward, easing out from behind the shield of the driver's side door and closing it firmly behind her. Each step closer to the front door was a battle and as she neared the sound of the loud rumbling of raised voices coming from inside reached her, and she nearly turned around and bolted back for her the safety of her car then and there.



She was Elle Watson, and Elle Watson didn't belong in a place like this. Elle Watson didn't frequent biker bars, or low brow establishments and she certainly didn't go to parties at a notorious biker gang's clubhouse. And yet, there she was, her trembling fingers grasping the rusty metal bar that served as a doorknob on one of the heavy double doors that barred the entrance.



Elle took another deep breath, trying in vain to calm her racing nerves. She'd never been comfortable in social situations, and it didn't help that she knew she was walking into a pit of Vipers. Literally. She knew one of the bikers whose name really was Viper. Or at least, that's the nickname that he went by. And then there were the others. Tucker, and Hot Wheels. Sparkplug and Joel. And of course, Honey.



Ridiculous name, she scoffed to herself. You're stalling, another voice whispered back, the small voice deep inside herself that she kept locked away most of the time. Of course I'm stalling, she hissed back, I don't belong here.



You could. Those words whispered through her and she let them for the briefest moment before shoving them, and that little voice, back into the corner of her mind. Without waiting to give herself time to have any more second doubts, she yanked the heavy door open and strode in. And immediately froze.



The inside of the clubhouse looked just as rough and weather worn as the outside but instead of wind and snow and icy temperatures, the wear was from booted feet and broken glass and copious amounts of spilled beer that let the uneven wood boards of the floor slightly sticky as she took another tentative step forward. The place was also packed.



She knew it would be. Carla had told her that the celebration of a raising a new president was a wild one, drawing every member of a biker gang out and could last for days on end. It seemed like the Dirty Cruisers weren't any different.



At the thought of Carla, her best friend and next door neighbor, Elle scanned the loud, hard partying crowd for her familiar dark brown hair and bright blue eyes. The same eyes that had given her the nickname Bluebird when she had first started dating Joel Lasseter, the man of the hour and newly raised president of the Dirty Cruisers himself.



Elle shuddered slightly at the thought, unconsciously. At first, she had disapproved of Carla getting involved with a biker, and a criminal at that. They had first met the year before. Carla had been working at Honey Bud Farms, a marijuana farm just outside of Denver, and had been driving a shipment of the stuff to a dispensary when her truck had been run off the road, and the shipment stolen by none other than Joel and the Dirty Cruisers.



But after everything that had happened with Maurice, Carla's old boss and owner of the farm, Elle had come to trust him. Marginally. He had saved her best friend from a murdering scumbag, after all.



You're stalling again, that damn voice was back, egging her on, taunting her and it didn't help that it was right. Elle stared helplessly around the large crowded room, feeling her heartbeat spike in her chest as anxiety sunk deep. She hated crowds. She hated loud places. Ever since she was a kid, she'd felt a crushing sense of nervousness whenever she was forced to be in one, like now. She never would have come if Carla hadn't made her promise that she would, and Elle Watson never broke a promise.



As if the thought had conjured her, Elle suddenly saw Carla's beaming face break through the rowdy crowd and rush towards her. A moment later Carla was giving her a big, squeezing hug.



"I'm so glad you made it!" Carla said, breathless and red cheeked from fighting through the throng of leather clad bikers, "I was worried you weren't going to come."



"I wouldn't want to miss my best friend's further descent into a life of crime," Elle said, with a mock serious look, "Besides, I promised."                       
       
           



       



Carla rolled her eyes at Elle's words, focusing her bright blue gaze on her own dark brown. "I'll have you know that from here on out, I'm going straight." She leaned forward, whispering conspiratorially, "and so is Joel."



Elle's brows raised in surprise, "Really?"



"Yeah, you know I've bought out that bastard Maurice and took over the farm?" Carla barely waited for Elle's nod to continue, "Well, now that I am the new official owner of Honey Bud farms, I offered Joel and the Dirty Cruisers a position as a … silent partner, we'll say."



"What does that mean?" Elle asked. She remembered how Joel fronted most of the funds for Carla to buy the farm. She hadn't seen much of the records and files, but enough to know that the farm turned a tidy profit, and Joel had realized it.



"Well, it's much more profitable and much less dangerous to sell marijuana legally. He just … " Carla paused, looking around and lowering her voice once more, "Joel's worried about how the rest of the club will take it. They're used to a certain lifestyle and going straight isn't really part of any of their plans. He hopes that once the money starts coming in from this year's crops it will be enough to quiet any complaints."



"Does he expect trouble?" Elle asked worriedly, and Carla just shrugged, grinning once more.



"Joel's the president now. His word is law. No one would go against him."



"If you say so," Elle said slowly, then looked up at her friend once more, "Are you sure about this Carla? This whole business is what got you into trouble last year. It almost got you killed."



"I know," her friend said thoughtfully, pausing for a moment as she looked back over her shoulder at the handsome dark haired, gray eyed man who was laughing and joking in the middle of a circle of his fellow crew, "but it also brought me Joel." When Carla looked back, Elle could see the raw emotion and love shining from her blue eyes and for a brief moment felt a stab of jealousy before she pushed it viciously away.



"I'm happy for you, Carla. I really am," Elle said, forcing herself to mean the words, "I just … I worry about you."



"You worry about everything," Carla snorted giving her another quick hug, "Now go. Have fun. Enjoy the party."



"Not likely," Elle whispered under her breath but it was too late for her friend to hear. Carla was already gone, lost amongst the crowd to reappear a moment later next to Joel's side. Elle watched them for a moment, as Joel turned, smiling down at Carla with pure tenderness in his silvery gray eyes as he pulled her close. She cleared her throat, looking away, feeling … uncomfortable. That's it. That's it all it was. Just uncomfortable. Certainly, it wasn't jealousy once more raising its ugly head.



With a sigh, she turned in a random direction, hoping to find a quiet corner where she could hide until enough time had passed that she would go, and quiet place that would ease the tightness in her chest. The tightness that only grew as she had to push her way through the rough, heavily drinking bikers.



She nearly cursed out loud when she finally shoved her way into an opening, only to find herself standing in front of the old, worn wooden bar and the last person in the entire world that she wanted to see.



Honey. What the hell kind of nickname was that anyways, especially for someone as tall, and muscular and covered in tattoos as the Dirty Cruiser's resident bartender was. And handsome. Don't forget handsome.



Elle shook off the thought, trying to ignore it but that didn't make it any less true. With his wavy, glossy auburn hair and melting, chocolate brown eyes he had a way of charming everybody. Well, everybody but her. She could see straight through his shameless flirting, and she certainly wasn't going to fall for his tricks.



It's a little late for that, isn't it? She really did growl under her breath, once more ignoring that small, sly voice, and resolutely turned around, hoping to escape without being noticed but it really was too late for that.



"Elle!" His voice, low and rumbling and intimate sounding even in the middle of the crowded party, "Elle, wait!"



She took a deep breath, her name on his lips sounding like, well … honey to her ears. And that just annoyed her even more. With a long suffering sigh, she steeled herself, then turned around. Elle Watson was a lot of things, but cowardly wasn't one of them. And she wasn't about to let him think he had the power to chase her away.                       

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