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Dirty Ride

By:Chantal Fernando

Dirty Ride
Chantal Fernando


HE'S late. Again.

I sit down at the dinner table, where the now-cold food congeals, and cover my face with my hands.

Two hours late. Again.

What am I going to do? How long am I going to live like this, waiting for him to change?

I need to make myself realize that the Darren I fell in love with isn't the man he is now.

Ten years of my life I've given him.


My first love, my first boyfriend, the man I thought I'd marry.

And then he turns into such a disappointment.

No, that's an understatement.

He's everything a man shouldn't be.

In fact, his mother should be fucking ashamed of the man he's become.

I hear the garage door open, but I don't move from my spot. Of course,  he stays in the garage and doesn't even bother to come up and see me. No  hello, even though I've been blowing up his phone for the last hour  wondering where he is.

He's a master liar. He has an excuse for everything, and I believe him every single time.

Love truly is blind. I can see the truth now, but does that mean I don't love him anymore?

I really hope so.

He finally comes upstairs and kisses the top of my head.

I don't bother to ask where he was, and he doesn't bother to explain why  he was so late. He just pretends everything is okay, that we're  perfectly fine, that all is well in our world.

"How was your day?" he asks as he eyes the food.

As if he gives a fuck.

"Fine," I say, looking up into his lifeless brown eyes. "Yours?"

"Yeah, good. Work was busy."

Today is a good day. The days I get ignored-they still suck, but they're better than most. Better than the alternative.

I touch my neck, and feel the bruises that still remain there.

This is how he expects me to live.

To not question him. To just work and come home and cook and clean.

To die inside, little by little, while he's off with his friends, injecting needles into his veins and fucking other women.

Before the drugs, he wasn't like this, but there's no point living in the past.

I've tried to leave a few times, but each time, he brought me back here.  I don't know what to do. I don't want to get any of my family or  friends involved, but if I don't reach out for help, I'm probably not  going to make it.

Darren the man is dead, and in his place is a monster.

I'll never forgive him for being so weak and turning to drugs in the first place.


I decide right here and now that I need to get away, to get out. I can't  live like this anymore, slowly turning into someone I'm not. I don't  care that he threatened to kill me if I leave. I'd rather die than live  like this, with him.

No one is coming to save me; no one.

I have to save myself.


Six months later

I KNOW I seem out of place, so I ignore the looks I get from the people  around me and stare straight ahead. I probably do look like a criminal,  if I'm being honest. The worn jeans and black hoodie really aren't nice  enough to be worn out in public, but it's not like this bar is some posh  place. I mean, it's nice enough, but it's still a bar. I have my hood  up, but strands of my fiery red hair are sticking out of it, framing my  face in messy curls.

I swallow a mouthful of beer and wipe my mouth with the back of my hand.

How did I get here? Not here as in this bar, but here, at this place in my life.

Alone and looking homeless. On my thirtieth birthday.

Yeah, today is an all-time low.

Happy birthday to me!

"Can I please have another beer?" I ask the extremely sexy blond  bartender at the bar, who grins, nods, and grabs me one. I open my purse  and pull out some money, then curse as a few of my cards slip out and  onto the floor. Sighing, I hand him the money, then pick up the cards  and shove everything back in, zipping my bag.

"If you think that hoodie hides your beauty, you're fuckin' dreaming," mutters a slightly accented voice from my right.

English? No.

Maybe Irish.

I turn to look at him, giving him my most unimpressed look. He's  good-looking. No, that's too bland a description for what he is. He's  sexy, in that bad-boy, I've been through a lot and I know how to handle  everything, including you way. Dark hair and eyes. Add in that slight  accent and he's just my type. Shame about the timing-I'm definitely not  looking for my next mistake right now. "It's worked up until now."

"Guess I'm smarter than other men." He grins and picks up his glass of amber liquid.

"Or maybe other men can take a hint," I say, my gaze roaming over the scar on his neck. "Which would make them smarter."                       


His dark eyes flash with amusement. "You callin' me stupid, darlin'?"

I glance at the leather vest covering his chest, then look at my bottle.  "I'm not calling you anything." I pause for effect. "But if the shoe  fits, feel free to wear it."

He laughs, a deep sound that I'm immediately drawn to.

My friend Lacey used to say Valentina, you always attract the worst man in the room.

I joked that it was my superpower. But, really, it was more like my kryptonite.

Glancing over at this man, this rough yet handsome biker, I just know, out of all the men in the bar, that he is the worst one.

And of course he had to hit on me.

Still feeling the blow from the last man I let get close to me, I should want to run from this man. I should.

I don't, of course-but that doesn't mean I won't.

"What's your name?" he asks, scanning my face. "And why do you look like you're hiding from something-or someone?"

"Tina," I tell him, giving him the nickname everyone calls me. "And what's your name?"

He takes a sip before replying. "Ardan."

I nod. "That's an interesting name."

"Then I'm sure you'll remember it," he says simply. "People remember interesting things."

My brow furrows. "Do they?"

He nods. "Yes, they do. I'm sure no one forgets your beautiful hair."

I shrug and pull on the sleeves of my hoodie. "I don't know. I've never  really thought about it." I pause. "Or cared whether people remember me  or not. Especially if they're random people, because who gives a fuck  what they think anyway, right?"

Ardan chuckles. "I like that."

I look over his black T-shirt, leather biker vest with patches on it,  and dark jeans. No, he definitely doesn't look like someone who gives a  shit what other people think.

"You going to avoid my other question?" he asks, raising a dark brow.

I nod at the leather vest. "What's your deal?"

"What?" he asks, smirking.

"The biker thingy," I say, rolling my eyes. "Are there lots of biker gangs around here?" Maybe I should drive to the next city.

"Clubs, not gangs," he corrects me.

I shrug. "Sorry, but it's not like I know much about bikers."

"I'm a part of a club, yes. The Wind Dragons. And this thingy is called a cut," he explains, sounding amused, not angry.

I take in his features.

He's older than I am, definitely. Maybe by five or so years. A strong  jaw. Sensual lips I want to suck on. A straight nose. The darkest of  eyes. Knowing eyes. And a head of thick, short dark hair. Then there's  the scar.

How did he get it?

My hand lifts without me thinking, to touch his neck. "What happened?"

He clears his throat, and I instantly drop my hand, cringing. "I'm sorry. I don't know why I did that."

Apparently I suddenly have no boundaries. I just expect them from everyone else.

"A knife got me," he says, then in one quick move, he pushes my hood backward, letting my thick hair tumble out and around me.

"Fuck," he groans. "That's a lot of fuckin' hair."

I roll my eyes and pull my hood back up. "We'll call that even, but from now on I think we should keep our hands to ourselves."

He licks his bottom lip and shakes his head. "No deal."

My green eyes narrow. "You don't make the rules here, Ardan."

Another grin. "Oh, but darlin', I do."

I purse my lips and study him.

A knife slashed him across his neck? What's the story behind that? I  have to wonder. How long ago did it happen? Did he almost die? What  happened to whoever did it to him? I know this should scare me. I  shouldn't want to talk to this man. He's obviously not led the easiest  life and has been involved in God knows what.

But he's also being nice, and I feel comfortable around him. Drawn to  him. Attracted to him. Like I've known him for years. Which is why I  really need to leave.

"I need to get home," I say, but make no move to go.

What is wrong with me?

"Let me take you home, then," he says, grinning, flashing his straight white teeth.

"Right, let the random stranger in a biker gang take me home," I scoff, raising my eyebrow. "I think I'll pass on that."

"Your loss." He smirks, studying me with an intensity I don't like. It's  almost too much, too direct. Like his eyes miss nothing. I've never had  anyone look at me like that before, and it makes me want to avoid his  eyes, but I don't. No, I look directly into them, and I feel something  when I do. What, I'm not sure, but something different, something that's  going to make me wonder.