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Bounty(3)

By´╝ÜKristen Ashley



It also wasn’t the manner in which he held his body, his fingers casually wrapped around his beer like he forgot he was holding it. Comfortable with his large frame, one with himself, unconsciously stating he did not give that first damn if anyone looked or what they thought with what they saw.

I didn’t know how I knew it but I knew that he was not there to get laid. If that happened, it happened, but that wasn’t why he was there. He was also not there to see and be seen, a part of this bar, a regular, a player. He wasn’t about the music. Definitely not the dancing.

He was just there because he was a biker, these were his people and there was beer and a good laugh to be had. Hanging with his bud. Throwing one back. Trading jokes or manly barbs or whatever dudes did when they were out shooting the shit because it was better than being alone in your living room with one hand tucked in your waistband, a beer in the other, feet up, staring at mind-numbing TV.

No, it wasn’t any of that.

It was the way his face looked when he laughed.

I couldn’t put my finger on it even as his laughter died down and he was just smiling at his friend, which was not as good, but it definitely didn’t suck.

He wasn’t even gorgeous, not in a handsome way. He was too rough, but it wasn’t that either. His features were not classic or rugged or striking.

Yet he was not the guy next door.

He also was far from average.

It was just that you’d look twice, absolutely.

Maybe because of his size.

Mostly because, with one look, I knew he was that nut a girl itched to crack. Just watching him laugh, he made you be the girl who wanted to make him laugh like that. Who wanted to pull out the teddy bear cuddler within from the rough exterior that was without. Who wanted to live her life knowing no one would harm her because he’d sweat and bleed to make that so. Who wanted to strip that, “take me as I am, I don’t give a shit, my life is mine and I’m gonna live it,” clean away—not in everything, only in the sense you wanted him as he was, but he did give a shit about what you thought, and more importantly, his life was yours.

In my life I’d seen many a player, rocker, club rat, cowboy, jock, biker, businessman.

And with all I’d seen, all I’d met, all I’d had…

It was him.

A man in faded jeans and a white tee at a chain link fence in a biker bar in the middle of nowhere in Wyoming, sucking back a beer, laughing with his bud.

And I didn’t know his name.

What I knew was that I wanted him to take me wherever it was he lived his life, plant me in it so deep I could never pull at the roots, flourish in the life we built together, and wither to dust by his side.

I also knew this would never happen. No way in hell.

That man would not touch me with a ten-foot pole. He’d find out who I was and cut me so quickly, I wouldn’t feel the bleed until after he was long gone.

As I realized I’d stopped dead to stare at him, and I didn’t want him (or anyone) catching me staring at him, I tore my eyes away, casting them to my feet, and moved quickly to the vacant table, around it, putting my ass on a stool with my back to the corner. I tossed my purse on the table and set my drink there.

And I felt the bleed.

He’d never speak to me.

I’d never know his name.

It was him. Only him. But even if there was another him in the miracle of life, I couldn’t have that him either.

I’d never have that him.

I was what I was, who I was, and finally having that knowledge that the less I was thinking I wanted actually was more, much more, and I’d never have it…

Yeah, I felt the bleed.

I sipped my Jack and Coke and then did the only thing I knew how to do to staunch the flow when it all got too much. When what my dad called “the curse of the Lonesome” reared its head, making me think things like I thought about that man, just at a glance. Making me feel deeper than was healthy.

Making me bleed for no reason that was every reason.

I pulled out the tiny notebook in my purse, sucked back more Jack and Coke so it was nothing but ice, tugged the band from around the embossed leather covering the notebook and opened it to a fresh page. The page where I always kept my pencil at the ready for times like these.

I bent my head and began.

Wither to dust

Crumble like rust

Do it at your side

Fresh air

Cold beer

Root myself in you

Together kiss the morning dew

Breathless to bring on the night

Memorizing you, the only thing that’s right.

Wither to dust

Crumble like rust

Do it at your side

You, the only thing I need when I have everything

You, the breath I breathe I only get when you’re laughing

Chain links

Worn jeans

Wither to dust

Crumble like rust

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