Josiah is a biker, mourning the death of his wife. When he unexpectedly inherits two businesses in the town of Bracketville, he meets Brooke, a local woman hoping to escape to greener pastures. The pair quickly bond, seeing in the other a chance to start over. But being the leader of a motorcycle gang is dangerous—putting the young lovers’ future at risk…
Age Rating: 18+
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Jab. Cross. Hook. Jab.
Josiah’s eyes stung from the sweat dripping down his forehead as he pummeled the 100-pound bag that hung in the corner of his office.
Maybe he wasn’t as strong as he used to be. Maybe his form wasn’t as good as it was during his days as a pro.
But a steady stream of rage flowed through him at all times, and he channeled it into every sharp, powerful punch.
This exercise was the daily release he desperately needed.
He couldn’t let loose on any more poor, unassuming guys that crossed him at the wrong time. It wasn’t right.
He needed to set an example for his crew: to only use force when absolutely necessary.
Jab. Hook. Jab.
Josiah’s violent meditation was interrupted by the blaring of his cell phone.
He wiped his brow with the hem of his T-shirt and peered at the screen. It was a call from an unknown number. He answered.
“What’s up?” Josiah was never one for pleasantries.
“Hello. This is Mr. Lawson of Lawson & Son Law Firm in Bracketville.”
Josiah felt his chest tighten.
“Well—um—” Mr. Lawson continued, “I’m sorry to tell you this but…Mr. and Mrs. Tucker are dead.”
Josiah slammed the phone down onto his desk. His face was stoic, but the newly-formed cracks in his phone screen betrayed his pain.
“Hello? Mr. Anderson? Are you alright?” continued the voice of the lawyer, Mr. Lawson.
Josiah’s hand shook as he pulled the phone back up to his ear. “What do you want from me?” he said sharply.
“Well, Josiah, it’s very important that you come down to my office as soon as possible. I need to review their wills with you.”
“Why?” Josiah hadn’t seen the Tuckers in years. Three years to be exact. No way they would leave him anything.
“I can’t discuss the specifics over the phone, but the Tuckers were always very fond of you. Even after—”
Mr. Lawson cut himself off. Josiah swallowed the knot that was forming in his throat.
“Please come to my office tomorrow at noon. Do you need the address?”
“I know where it is.”
Josiah abruptly hung up the phone.
He let out a primal grunt and ran full speed into the punching bag.
Then he stepped back and continued his assault, seething as his grief and anger coursed through his fists.
Josiah had vowed to never return to Bracketville. Not after what had happened to Misty.
Sweet Misty Tucker.
His wife. The love of his life. Shot dead in her prime.
Misty didn’t have to die. That bullet had been meant for him. She didn’t have to take it. And yet, she had.
She had because she’d loved him. Loved him more than any man on Earth probably deserved.
More than he deserved, anyway.
And because of that, because of that love, he was living and she wasn’t.
She had died, and he had lived. And now he was alone.
“Woah,” said a voice from the doorway. “I’d hate to be the guy you’re picturing right now.”
Josiah turned to find Promise watching him through the doorway.
Promise was Josiah’s closest friend. His “sister from another mister.”
She could always tell when something was wrong with Josiah, so there was no use pretending.
“Misty’s parents are dead,” he blurted out unceremoniously before crashing down into his desk chair.
“Woah! Wow. How do you—? Are you okay?” She bolted into the room and sat opposite him.
“A lawyer called from Bracketville. Apparently I’m named in their will.”
Promise’s eyes widened. “Woof. What are you gonna do?”
Josiah just shook his head, raking his fingers through his hair.
“You’ll be miserable if you go,” Promise said.
“But if you don’t, you’ll be even more miserable. Misty would have wanted you to show up for them.”
Josiah shot daggers at her. “Don’t do that.”
“Woah. Don’t look at me like I’m your punching bag. You know I’m right.”
Unfortunately for Josiah, she was. But it still pissed him off to hear it.
Promise reached over the desk and rested a hand on Josiah’s forearm. “Me and Rico will hold down the fort here.”
Bracketville was a five hour drive away. Going there would mean leaving his Motorcycle Club behind for a day or two.
Josiah was the president of the Fury Riders, and the club meant everything to him. The members had become his surrogate family after he’d lost Misty.
Rico was his second-in-command, but Josiah wasn’t sure if he was prepared to handle the operations of the club without him.
Promise must’ve sensed his unease. “Joey,” Promise whispered, “it will be fine. You have a Promise’s promise. That’s the best kind of promise there is.”
She winked at him, and Josiah softened. She could always make him feel better.
Josiah nodded, resolved in what he was going to do.
He would go to Bracketville that night.
Josiah awoke at 8 a.m. in a dusty Bracketville motel room.
He got ready for the day and checked out his appearance in the smudge-filled bathroom mirror.
Piercings in both of his ears. A few scars from his boxing days. A silver skull ring. Full tattoo sleeves on both of his arms.
And one tattoo that couldn’t be covered by a jacket or long sleeve shirt. The bold letters F.R. inked onto his right hand, in honor of his MC.
Josiah did not look like someone who was going to an important meeting with a lawyer. But he didn’t care.
Let them stare.
He had dealt with more than his fair share of judgmental glares when he’d visited this town with Misty.
Especially from Misty’s brother Andrew.
Andrew had always disliked Josiah. When Misty died, that distaste had turned into a deep, profound vitriol.
Would Andrew Tucker rear his weaselly little head? Did he still even live in Bracketville?
Josiah exhaled long and hard.
Only one way to find out…
But he wasn’t sure he would be able to control his temper if Andrew tried anything today.
This was the thought that rattled around in his head as he started his motorcycle and began his ride through Bracketville, toward the offices of Lawson & Son.
Brooke Mitchell leaned back in her chair and let out a long, profoundly bored yawn.
She could literally see the water in the flower vase evaporating, that’s how bored she was.
It was her third day filling in at Lawson & Son, and she could have sworn that each second that passed had been slightly longer than the previous one.
It wasn’t that she disliked Mr. Lawson. He was a good man, albeit a very tired one.
And it wasn’t that she disliked the extra pay she got from filling in; she was more than happy to have that.
It was just that business was slow, and slow meant boring.
No one had come in over the last three days, and there was only so much paperwork one could file.
Business had been so lethargic that Brooke had actually found time to do her online college homework.
Or, to be more accurate, she’d found time to start doing her online homework and then get bored of that as well.
Brooke glanced eagerly at the clock, which, somehow, seemed to be in the exact same position as it was in fifteen minutes ago. What was she going to do?
She closed her eyes and massaged her neck. She relished in the feeling of her fingers digging into her tight muscles.
She wished someone else was there to massage her so that she could relax into the pressure of their touch.
A thought entered her mind. A naughty, mischievous thought that was sure to get her fired, but she was sure was what she needed at the moment.
She glanced over her shoulder to check that no one was there and then leaned forward and discreetly typed “erotic massage stories” into Google.
Within an instant, her browser was flooded with countless sexy encounters to choose from.
This alone was enough to make Brooke smile, and for the seat of her pants to grow warm.
She sighed contently and leaned back in her chair; she clicked one entitled “Happy Endings.”
Brooke glanced down at her phone and saw that she’d just received a series of texts from Ron, the monstrosity of a man who insisted upon calling himself her “ex.”
So it was painful, but no surprise to her, when she opened the phone and saw the following messages.
Brooke felt her cheeks flush with color—though whether it was from rage or shame she couldn't tell.
It wasn’t just the utter arrogance of these statements.
It wasn’t just the entitled, misogynistic belief that she was “his” and therefore had to answer his questions and let him know where she was at all times.
It was the fact that he called her BB.
The name that he’d given her that awful night.
The name that brought back the smell of cheap beer—the sound of deafening laughter.
The name that had pushed her from merely thinking about leaving Bracketville, to absolutely needing to.
Josiah checked the time as he cruised toward the office. He was early but preferred to keep people waiting—especially lawyers.
He decided to take a quick detour to a place he visited a lot in his dreams.
Misty’s favorite old oak tree.
When they rode past it the night they met, she’d lifted up the visor of her helmet and spat on its roots.
“I’m watering it,” she said, which made Josiah laugh so hard that he’d skidded to a stop, turned around on his bike, and kissed her for the very first time.
Now, when he rounded the corner and saw the spot, a sharp dagger cut through his heart.
No. No no no.
The lawn had been paved over into a parking lot. The tree was gone.
He had wanted to run his fingers over the letters JA+MT that they had etched into the wood on their anniversary. Now he never could.
But who cares? he found himself thinking. It wouldn’t make him feel better anyway.
He bolted away from the scene toward Lawson & Son, staying on course, trying to avoid any other landmarks that would remind him of Misty.
But it was difficult. Their love story was tattooed all over Bracketville.
When he returned to the main road, Josiah glanced up and saw five, rough-looking young men standing on the corner, drinking.
They all gave him the finger as he passed.
Bracketville…charming as always.
Josiah was tempted to stop, to break those pesky fingers, to teach them a lesson about manners.
But there was no time and no use. They weren’t hurting anyone, after all.
Instead, he clenched his Harley’s handles and revved the engine, focusing his gaze back on the road.
Lawson & Son. It was around here somewhere.
Misty would always make fun of the cheesy poster of the two Lawson’s standing back to back, arms crossed.
He needed to find it so that he could get whatever the Tuckers had left him and get back to the Fury Riders.
Get back to his family.
Get away from the sorrow and regret that permeated this rusty shell of a town.
Brooke was still staring, unblinking, at the texts from Ron.
Even the sight of his name paralyzed her. She didn’t want to respond, that was for sure. But if she didn’t, he would track her down.
Brooke was pulled from her reverie by a loud—
The roar of a motorcycle ripped through the Lawson & Son parking lot.
Frowning, she looked around for the source of the noise and let out a little gasp.
There, right outside the office, seated atop a giant, black, chrome-plated motorbike, was a man she’d never seen before.
And what a glorious specimen of manhood he was!
He had no helmet on; he wore only aviator shades. His long, dark hair was pulled back into a ponytail. And his skin was smooth and tan.
Brooke felt her heart rate spike, and she leaned forward, all trace of boredom and fear of Ron gone in an instant.
He’s headed over here!
As the stranger approached Lawson & Son, Brooke got a much better sense of his height.
He was huge—well over 6 feet—and positively covered with muscles. He reminded her of a professional wrestler she’d seen on TV once.
Oh, what was his name?
She didn’t have time to remember, though, because the door opened, and he stepped in.
Josiah stepped into the office, expecting to be greeted by some stuffy, unpleasant lawyer. But he stopped in his tracks when he saw the girl behind the desk.
She was, to put it bluntly, gorgeous.
She had hazel eyes, long, blonde hair, and a peachy complexion.
Josiah also noticed her green blouse, showing off her considerable bust.
He’d run through all the potential scenarios of things and people he might encounter in Bracketville.
Coming face-to-face with an intriguing, blonde beauty wasn’t even on the list—let alone at the top.
She really was a knockout.
Before he could even muster the word “hello,” Josiah found himself staring at her lips, imagining what it would be like to kiss her softly, to caress her lustrous skin.
This girl had to be the most exquisite example of womanhood he’d ever seen.
Well, not the most exquisite. That title still went to Misty.
As this thought entered his mind, he found a weed of doubt sprouting up in his heart.
He hadn’t been with anyone in three years. Not since Misty’s death.
Was this genuine attraction he was feeling right now? Or was it just loneliness?
He contorted his face into a polite smile, uttered an incomprehensible greeting, and then yanked his eyes away from the girl and over to her computer monitor.
The stranger was right here—in front of her. And he was smiling!
She felt her heart rate jumping. She felt her cheeks flushing. She felt her thoughts running away from her.
Snap out of it, she told herself. Be a professional and say something!
But even as she did this, she struggled to pull her eyes away from his mammoth pectoral muscles. Then suddenly, she noticed something.
The stranger wasn’t looking at her. He was looking at her screen, skimming the sexy story that was open in her browser window.
That was why he was smirking.
Brooke felt her heart skip a beat.
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“Working hard, huh?” the stranger asked as Brooke quickly navigated to the red x and clicked out of the screen.
She looked up at him with a guilty smile.
“Oh—yeah— It’s—uh—research for a class. Gender Studies. I’m in college, but I’m just filling in for my mom. This isn’t my normal job. I also work part-time at a hardware store—”
Shut up, Brooke. He doesn’t need your life story.
“So yeah—um—if you take a seat, Mr. Lawson will be right with you, Mr—”
“Anderson. Josiah Anderson. And you are?”
“Mitchell. Brooke Mitchell.”
He chuckled softly before moving toward the corner of the room and planting himself on the squeaky leather couch.
He must think I’m such an idiot.
I AM such an idiot!
Brooke locked eyes with her computer screen and pretended to busy herself with work.
But she found she could still smell him—even from this distance.
His scent was an intoxicating blend of pine and leather.
She yearned to be beside him, to bury her nose in his chest, to take a long, deep sniff of that natural, manly musk.
Half-way through typing a completely fake email to no one in particular, Brooke heard the front door open again.
Her eyes darted up to find a red-faced young man in a cheap, rumpled suit.
Lucas Lawson Jr.
Oblivious to the guest in the corner, Lucas made a beeline for Brooke.
“Hey sexy lady,” was his greeting this morning…and every morning that she filled in for her mother at the front desk.
“Good morning, Lucas,” she replied.
She hated dignifying him with a response, but he was one of her bosses. She felt she had no choice but to keep things civil.
“You gonna take me up on that date anytime soon?” Lucas asked. “I can get us a reservation at Il Tiato. That’s right. The owner is a personal friend.”
“No, thank you,” she replied through gritted teeth, for what felt like the millionth time.
“Come on. We’ll have fun. You don’t wear a shirt like that to the office unless you’re looking to get my attention.”
Brooke’s breath started to contract. She couldn’t catch a break with the men in this town.
They were always taking advantage of her kindness—always making false assumptions about her.
“Please, just let me get back to work,” she pleaded, turning again toward her computer.
“Don’t avoid me. When I see something I want, I—”
I always find a way to get it.
She had heard this speech before, but something stopped him from finishing his diatribe this time around.
When Brooke looked up at him, she saw a large, strong hand resting on Lucas Lawson’s shoulder.
He couldn’t stand another minute watching this weasel flirt with Brooke.
Flirt? More like harass her from across the desk.
Josiah felt a sudden animalistic urge to protect her. His perpetually short fuse was about to blow.
Before he could stop himself, he was back on his feet, holding the creep’s shoulder in his grasp.
“You know,” he said, his voice slow and steady. “I was taught to respect a woman when she says ‘no.’”
“Is that so?” Lucas asked. He didn’t even bother to look at Josiah, and his tone conveyed utter disinterest.
“Oh yeah,” Josiah said.
“Well,” Lucas snickered, finally turning around, “I was taught to mind my own busin—”
He trailed off as soon as he saw the giant standing behind him. In an instant, all the color drained from his face, and his lip, once curled with a sneer, began to quiver.
Josiah wanted to shove him to the ground. To unleash just a little bit of the anger that was always simmering beneath the surface since Misty had died.
No! Breathe. Stay calm.
Instead of wailing on Lucas, he just tightened his grip ever so slightly and enjoyed watching the fear mount in Lucas’s eyes.
“Why don’t you get to work and stop bothering her. Yes?”
“Don’t tell me what to do. This is my office,” Lucas huffed under the weight of Josiah’s arm.
Just then, a door behind Brooke’s desk flew open, and the elder Mr. Lawson appeared. He gaped at the scene in front of him.
“Actually,” the stout, world-worn man corrected, “this is my office. What is going on here?”
“Dad, call the police. This lowlife is assaulting me.”
“Mr. Lawson, this is Josiah Anderson,” Brooke interjected.
Josiah wanted her to say his name again. The sound of it coming out of her mouth unknotted all the tension in his body.
He pulled away from Lucas and reached a hand toward Mr. Lawson, who shook it.
“Pleasure to meet you, Josiah. Thank you for making the journey.”
“Dad!?” Lucas whined. “What are you doing??”
“Son. It’s already noon. You’re three hours late. Stop bothering Mr. Anderson and do your job.”
Lucas slinked off, and Mr. Lawson cleared his throat.
“Sorry about all that. Find the Anderson/Tucker file for me, Brooke. Mr. Anderson, come with me, please.”
As Josiah followed Mr. Lawson into his office, he smiled at Brooke one final time, wishing that he was headed into a private room with her instead.
It’s not wrong for me to feel this way, right? Josiah thought as he followed Lawson into the office. After all, it’s been three years. I’m allowed to be attracted to other women.
He nodded to himself.
Especially beautiful women like that.
He imagined this woman letting him push her down onto her desk, pressing his lips against hers, and ripping open her blouse to reveal her bare chest to him.
He felt his pants grow tighter as he fantasized about leaving a trail of kisses down her neck, each one eliciting a soft mew of pleasure.
No! Stop! I can’t feel this way. Not after Misty.
But there was something about this girl Brooke—some spark that made him feel different.
In the three years since Misty’s death, no woman had gotten as strong of a reaction from him as this girl Brooke.
That is to say, no woman had turned him on so much that he’d imagined them riding him while he rode his Harley.
In truth, no woman had gotten any real reaction from him.
He couldn’t describe what that thing was, but he knew it.
He’d seen it in Misty the first time they’d met.
And he hadn’t seen it since her death.
If he was being really and truly honest with himself, it was something that he’d never thought he’d see again.
“Have a seat,” Mr. Lawson said, breaking Josiah out of his trance.
The four wooden legs creaked under Josiah’s weight.
He paid the chair’s protests no mind, though. He was too caught up contemplating his attraction to Brooke.
As soon as he and Lawson were seated, Brooke entered, a file in hand, and laid it down on the desk.
As she bent over, Josiah couldn’t help but stare at the smooth curve of her backside.
Sensing his gaze, Brooke glanced back at Josiah and flashed him a quick smile before exiting the room and pulling the door shut behind her.
“I’m sorry for my outburst,” Lawson began, “but it’s been a difficult two weeks here. Your in-laws, their deaths took a real toll on me.”
“You knew them?” Josiah asked.
“Leon and I went to school together. Played on the same lacrosse team. We’ve been friends ever since,” Lawson said.
“I was one of the first people he told after he got his diagnosis,” he continued, “and I was one of the first to find out it was over. I never would have imagined she’d be gone so soon too, though.”
Josiah shook his head.
“I don’t know what to say. I’m sorry. I had a lot of respect for Mr. and Mrs. Tucker.”
Lawson smiled. “Believe me, Mr. Anderson, they knew that. And they had the utmost respect for you too. Which brings me to why I called you here…”
He opened up the file Brooke brought him.
“When Misty died, Leon adjusted his will so that everything she stood to inherit would be passed on to you.”
It took Josiah a moment to respond because he was caught so off guard by the word “everything.” It was a concept almost too big for him to grasp.
I must have heard wrong.
“Me?” he eventually asked, frowning with confusion.
“That’s right.” Lawson nodded.
Josiah shook his head in disbelief. This had to be a joke. There was no way that the Tuckers would leave “everything” to him.
“But…why? I don’t understand.”
“They loved Misty more than anything. Misty loved you more than anything.” Lawson shrugged.
“What about Andrew? He’s their son. I’m just—”
Am I even still considered their son-in-law now that Misty is dead?
“Andrew…” Lawson said wistfully. “Let’s just say he didn’t quite get along with his parents. Leon didn’t want to leave his son any more than was necessary.”
Josiah barely suppressed a laugh.
“Are you serious?”
“Oh yes!” Lawson nodded. “I shouldn’t be saying this, but Andrew’s had gambling problems for many years now.”
“He’s well over six figures in debt—but that stays between you and me,” Lawson said, catching himself. “Leon told me that in confidence.”
“Which is why Leon decided to leave you this.”
He slid Josiah the file, and Josiah frowned as he flipped through it.
He looked up at Lawson, eyes wide with disbelief.
“Leon always thought you had a good head on your shoulders. So he decided to leave you his two businesses, Rose’s Café and Tucker’s Motorcycle Shop.”
Josiah sat back, taking in the information. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing.
Two businesses? I've now got two businesses to run in Bracketville? How? I can barely keep the club together as it is.
Josiah couldn’t even begin to organize his spiraling thoughts.
“Wow. I… I don’t know what to say.”
“You’re unhappy with this arrangement?” Lawson asked, tilting his head to one side.
“No, no,” Josiah said quickly, even though, internally, he wanted to shout yes. “I’m honestly overwhelmed that Mr. Tucker trusted me enough to leave this to me. But, well, I wasn’t planning on staying.”
“I mean, I’ve got my own organization to run,” Josiah continued. “And I’d rather not be away from it for too long.”
Lawson considered Josiah’s words before continuing.
“Well, before you make a decision, why not visit the businesses? Just to see what they’re like.”
Inspect them? Hmm. How long would that take? Not too long, I hope. I mean, this is a small town, after all.
Josiah nodded. “All right. I think I can do that.”
Lawson’s face broke into a huge grin.
He stood up, as did Josiah.
“I think you’ll be very impressed with both,” Lawson said, opening the door. “Rose’s is the best place to eat in town. Though I can’t say I like the manager—”
Mr. Lawson continued talking, but Josiah had stopped paying attention the second he stepped foot into the lobby.
Josiah stormed over to Lucas who had returned, once more, to Brooke’s desk.
“Are you really so stupid that you need a learn a lesson twice? ’Cause I can teach it to you again. Harder this time.”
“Oh, I’m so scared,” Lucas tried, and failed, to say sarcastically.
“Lucas, please don’t embarrass the firm in front of our new client,” Mr. Lawson said. “We will now be representing Mr. Anderson.”
Josiah grinned as an idea came to him. “Actually, you’re going to personally handle my case, so I will know if you’re doing your job, or if you need another reminder.”
He clenched his fists to let Lucas know just what kind of “reminder” he should be anticipating.
“And as for you,” Josiah said, turning to Brooke, “Would you like to get some food with me later? Turns out, I own a restaurant.”
Brooke’s eyes widened with disbelief. She blushed and looked down.
Suddenly, Josiah was struck with doubt. Was he doing the same thing Lucas had done moments before?
Was he just another guy bothering Brooke while she tried to work? Leering at her perfect face and form?
His stomach tightened as he waited for her response, wishing he’d never had the nerve to ask her in the first place.
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