Good heavens. We are on the late freight with this post. Thanks so much for your patience. And as always, thank you to everyone who wrote, tweeted, and commented.
It was bound to happen: our first official tie!
Congratulations Co-Bosses @silverjames_ and @jasonlefthand
- @SilverJames_ Life among the Nightriders is obviously never easy, but I think what draws me into this rough world is that strong counter of love. The men (and their wolf halves) are so protective of their ladies, and willing to go to the wall to keep their love.
- @jasonlefthand This story is fucked up and I love it. I don’t know what Heather is—a succubus, an alien, a sex vampire—whatever she is, this story is cuckoo bananas. I totally wanted Adam to find a way out but alas, someone has to feed the love-starved lady.
- @SilverJames_ So much going on here but what draws me, what leaves me wanting more when this piece ends, is Cowboy’s introspection, his sense of the situation and himself. That sly wit and sardonic internal dialogue is freaking fantastic.
- @jasonlefthand The wicked twist here caught me like a sucker punch. I read those last two paragraphs over and over. Damn!
The Winning Stories:
Untitled by @jasonlefthand
Nights stretched on longer and longer the more I went without the love. The last two months were detox, an attempt to live my life the way I wanted to live. Clean and normal. Or perhaps, it was self punishment.
My apartment was dark and dingy. There was a drip in the sink. It was the only voice in the darkness. The drip, drip. I brushed my hair into a ponytail. I was tired of sitting. I needed that love. I smelled it from outside, the oozy good moods seeped in from under the door.
Face and faces, living emoticons, swept past me. I ached to reach out and caress the next face, to lean into that chubby man and be happy. Then I’d kiss that woman and feel excited. I knew it was wrong, but I felt sick. Maybe I was finally dying. I leaned against the side of a brick building and hid my face. I didn’t want to draw any attention to myself, but I was a terrible actor.
“Hey there,” he said. I looked over my shoulder. He was a young man, bearded, with neat blonde hair. “Are you feeling OK? I didn’t mean to scare you.” His hand was on my shoulder. I felt the love. It was inches away.
“Hello!” I said, “My name is Heather. What is yours?”
Maybe I was a little forward. He made a face as though I was too friendly. His smile almost disappeared, but he caught himself.
“Hello,” he said, “I’m Adam. Can I escort you home? It’s dark, and it can be dangerous out here for pretty girls like you.”
It took me a few seconds to realize me was complimenting me. We walked down the sidewalk. Maybe he loved me. It was not impossible. I knew I looked decent. My nose was straight. I had curly hair, but that wasn’t a fashion crime. Love. I was a stranger to love. The feeling was a phantom on my shoulder forcing my head around to look through his clothes, through his flesh and into the beating engine that promised so much.
“I want you,” I said. I was done being nice.
“You do?” Adam said, “But we’ve only met. Come on. I’ll get you home. You live this way, right?”
I could not help myself. Detox failed. I reached out, as he had his arm around my shoulder, and gently caressed his bearded face. All of his good memories, his first kiss, the one time he banged the hot girl from the office, the last cold beer he had, the birth of his daughter, the happy tears that rolled down his manly face. It was all mine.
His eyes lost that sheen of happiness. He let me go and clutched his chest as though I ripped out his heart. He fell to his knees in the middle of the busy sidewalk. I took a deep breath and skipped away. I had a big smile on my face.
Strays by @SilverJames_
Watching her sleep—in my bed—it did things to me. Things I had no business thinking about, much less feeling. She smelled of stale beer and cigarettes, of sunshine after the rain. I shoulda left her in that alley. Just fucking walked away after I assassinated the Hell Dog. That had been my mission—take the fucker out, get my Nightrider patch. I did both. But she was there. I shouldn’t have left any witnesses. But…
“You have a bad habit, Cowboy. Bringing home strays.” Dancer, the club’s VP, leaned up against the door to my room.
He was right. I fed some feral cats and a couple of dogs out behind the garage. Tinker didn’t give a damn, though he razzed me about havin’ a soft heart. I do. When it comes to kids and critters.
“She’s not a stray, Dance.”
“You don’t even know her name.”
Dancer shrugged and added one last bit of advice as he left. “Bad time to be fallin’ for a stranger.”
To love this life meant giving my all to the Nightriders. But I was a Wolf and when a mate drops into your lap? Yeah, not walkin’ away. Not now. Not ever. Not even for the MC.
The girl sighed, stretched, opened her eyes. I didn’t move.
“Uh…hi.” Soft voice. Shy.
“Hey.” I stayed put instead of pouncing her like my wolf wanted. “I’m Cowboy.”
She didn’t answer right away, taking time to look around, and just breathe a bit. “I guess.” She turned big blue eyes on me. “You killed him.”
“Because of me?”
Emily’s eyebrows crunched together as if my answer confused her. “Uhm…”
I shook my head. “You don’t wanna know, babe. Wrong place, right time.” Her expression said I’d confused her again. “I’m sorry you were there when I took out the Hell Dog, but I’m glad you’re here.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Better if you don’t. I did what I had to do. And I met you. That’s good.”
“Still confused here.”
“Are you scared of me?”
“I…” Her voice trailed off. “I should be…I mean since you…you know.” I nodded, waiting for her to continue. “But I’m not. You didn’t hurt me.”
“I didn’t. I won’t.” Hell, I couldn’t.
“You’re a Nightrider.”
Her smile peeked out. “I see why they call you Cowboy.” She inhaled, looked down at her hands gripping the sheet, her smile fading. “Can I go home?”
“You got anything waitin’ for you?” If she had a boyfriend. I’d have to kill him.
Yup. Gonna be bloodshed.
“Jake?” I asked slow, but my voice was tight and my claws came out, slicing into my palms as I fisted my hands.
Dog? Whew. No clean up on aisle five. “We’ll go pick ’im up. And your stuff. You’re movin’ in with me.” Oh, yeah. Dancer was gonna kick my ass. I was definitely a sucker for strays.