Copyright © 2015 Michelle Woods
All rights reserved
All rights reserved
The city behind the wall was the only protection that people had from the lawless world outside of it. Only while they hid in their ivory tower the world outside had reset itself. It was no longer lawless and it was now ruled by another Law: An outlaw’s law. Bikers living outside the wall had created their own set of rules, ones that were made and enforced by gangs of bikers who weren’t about to let anyone change the world they now ruled.
In the year 2075, the world was well on its way to being disease free. Technology had advanced and society was soon to be ruled by the upper class. Only Mother Nature had another plan.
When the government discovered that the world would lose more than half its land mass to the ocean from a massive tidal wave, they built the city behind the wall. It took them three months and only the rich, the privileged, and their servants were allowed to retreat behind it.
At four thousand feet high and two thousand feet wide, the wall was able to take the relentless pounding of the ocean that would slam against it. When the wave came, those unable to escape behind it fought to survive.
The world outside the wall became lawless and dangerous. As the years passed, the city behind the wall was ruled by the upper class, the Hillies. The Hillies kept the lower Slum class subdued with fear, and crimes were punished by forcing the accused into the lawless world outside the wall.
Outside the wall life flourished again and people forgot about the horror they’d lived through before the Outlaws took over. Now their only fear was the constant fighting for dominance between rival gangs and they all prayed that the bad guys didn’t win the fight.
Sammy Franklin gazed into the mirror, hearing his voice in her head telling her that she was fat and ugly as he’d hurt her. He’d screamed at her with spittle coming from his mouth and a disgusted look on his face that she was a whore, a nasty dirty whore. A shiver went down her spine and she felt tears sting her blue eyes. She didn’t want to cry anymore over his cruelty so she tried to hold them back, unsuccessfully because one slipped silently down her cheek. Whipping it away with the back of her hand, she gazed at her reflection.
She felt pathetic and used. She had known for years that she enjoyed rough sex, even needed it to get off. Sammy had accepted that about her needs when she was eighteen and she hadn’t looked back. At least not until him and that night.
Sammy brushed her strawberry blonde hair off her forehead, looking at the small scar on her brow. She felt more tears slipping down her cheeks. They felt like hot brands of pain filling her up because she wasn’t good enough. Knowing that those were his words and not her own, she wanted to scream and rage. He’d made her into something less that night as he’d ripped and torn at her while she’d been forced to allow it because of her proclivities. Maybe she wasn’t anything more than a whore; she liked having sex while tied to a bed after all.
No. Damn it, no.
She wouldn’t allow him to make her think less of her own body and her sexual desires. She wouldn’t. She suddenly wanted to throw something at the mirror, to watch it shatter into a million pieces. Anything to make this pain go away, only she didn’t because she needed to get over what he’d done to her, otherwise he won. Sammy refused to let him win. She was stronger than this.
She could beat the voices he’d put in her head.
Over the past few months a lot of things had changed for her. Sarah, her best friend, had become the Blue Bandits M.C. vice president’s old lady. That shouldn’t have changed Sammy’s life, but somehow it had, because she’d been pulled into that very same M.C. without meaning for that to happen. The Blue Bandits had adopted her because of Sarah and Josh, Sarah’s son. Now she was finding bikers camped out on her front lawn every night, following her to work every morning and to Spangles, the local bondage club, when she managed to work up the courage to go there.
Sammy sighed ruefully because she didn’t often manage to find enough courage to walk into Spangles anymore. She hated that. It made her feel broken. Every time she didn’t enter the club she felt damaged. She hadn’t been able to bring herself to go home with any Doms or heck, even dance like she used to since that fateful night. Sammy shook her head, wiping the tears from her cheeks with shaking hands. She trembled with anger and pain as she stepped away from the mirror.
She needed to get herself back together. She needed to see if she could get a few hours of sleep because tomorrow she was off and she needed to go the store. As she brushed her hair out she thought about the bikers, who were a pain in the ass because if they weren’t following her around, they were bringing her food.
It was strange really. One or another of them would show up at Hal’s Diner where she worked with food. Or they would come in and insist that she sit with them while they ate and insisted she eat too. The first time it happened, she’d brushed it off because Reaper might just want to be sure she wasn’t going to hate him and cause issues between him and Sarah. Only the next day Iron was the one who’d shown up and asked if she’d sit with him. He’d ordered two of everything and insisted she eat because he’d ordered too much.
That was strange but when it began to happen every day, she’d realized what was going on. She was surprised that Hal, the owner, didn’t have a fit over her having to sit with them at lunch every day for an hour, but she supposed she shouldn’t be. The Blue Bandits ran this town and if Hal didn’t like it, he wasn’t going to say. Otherwise they would refuse to eat there and make sure that no one else in town did either. Hal wasn’t a stupid man, that was for sure.
Most of the time she told them no and went back to work anyway. Except when they brought Animal. She couldn’t bring herself to challenge him. He would just look at her with those dark brown eyes that commanded her to obey and she couldn’t refuse him. He was like the ultimate Dom. The man barely spoke and still she couldn’t seem to tell him no.
It frightened her because she wasn’t sure that she should feel so subservient to him; she barely knew him. He was a biker after all. Her mother had always taught her to stay away from those types. They were a bad element, she’d always preached.
Of course, she had also told Sammy she was a sexual deviant when she’d kicked her out after finding her having sex with Johnny Tompkins. She’d been tied up and blindfolded at the time and it had been a very awkward scene because Johnny had run out when her mother had started screaming about sexual perversions and how they were going to lead them to hell.
Her mother had been raised in the Christian community that was very cult-like. They believed that they had been punished with the flood by God because all men were wicked. They also believed that setting themselves and their children on fire was a great plan to burn away their sins so that they could be born again. Her mother had been eight and she had barely survived. She and ten other children had been saved by those ‘bad element bikers’ from a burning building in the dead of the night.
Setting down the brush and grabbing her face cream, spreading it on her face, she remembered how her mother had screamed at her. Since Sammy had been tied to the bed she’d had to listen to her mother rant for over half an hour about how vile her being into sexual domination was before she’d untied Sammy and told her to get the fuck out of her house.
Shaking her head to dislodge those memories, Sammy walked out of the bathroom after taking one last look at her puffy eyes. She walked to the bed, sitting down on the edge before she peeked out the window beside her to see a tall, dark figure lurking near the building. He leaned back against a tree and she saw him lift his hand to wave at her.
She jerked back.
How did he always know when she was looking? She hadn’t moved the curtain and she’d barely leaned forward. The lights were out so she knew it wasn’t that he saw her.
He just always knew. It was freaky, just like him.
He haunted her. He hovered outside most nights that he wasn’t working at the tattoo parlor. She didn’t know why he only seemed to work three days a week. She would have sworn that he worked more often than that when she first met him but he was here four nights a week every week, so she must have been wrong.
Sammy lay back on the bed, her mind racing around and around in circles with thoughts of him. She’d never admit it but Animal being outside soothed her somehow. She slept on the nights he was here and she didn’t when he wasn’t.
When she peeked out the window and the figure lurking outside didn’t wave, she knew it wasn’t him. Those nights she lay here staring at the ceiling wishing it were dawn because then she could quit pretending that she was sleeping. When Animal was outside she didn’t lay awake; somehow knowing he was there she felt safer, she realized. Perhaps it was the fact that he seemed to be the ultimate dominant.
She knew that if the man who hurt her came back that Animal would make short work of him. He’d be dead before he even got close to her. She closed her eyes even as her mind raced, spinning out of control like a top.
She wanted to get over what had happened four months ago, but she couldn’t seem to get past it. It was frustrating because she had always been a very sensual woman. Now she was just a scared, frightened mess every time she even entered Spangles, the bondage club she used to love.
She was also sexually frustrated and a bit cranky that she’d let his abuse change the way she lived her life. She’d tried to let Mark, a Dom she’d allowed to bed her in the past, help her work through it. She’d been with him several times and thought that she would be able to trust him. Only when she’d entered the room and seen the blindfolds, whips, and other things that used to turn her on, she’d turned tail and run. She could still remember the panic that had her tossing their safe word at him when he tried to stop her and then bolting out the door. She had thought that she’d be able to get over what he’d done before now but she couldn’t seem to.
Animal had begun following her around that week, his presence both disturbing to her and comforting. That was also the week that Marta, Josh’s grandmother, had kidnapped Josh while Sammy tried to stop her. She’d felt even less effective after that because they’d taken Josh and she’d been unable to stop the large goons. If it had been Sarah instead of herself witnessing the kidnapping, she’d have taken those bastards out in a second. It made her feel a little more useless even if no one had blamed her. She still remembered falling to her knees, feeling the concrete scrape them as Animal had come running out of the small café with Rebel. Unfortunately it had already been too late; Marta had been in the car zooming away with Josh.
Sammy had decided then and there that she was going to learn to defend herself. Her first step had been going to the gun range with Sarah, who as it turned out was a crack shot, so that she could learn to shoot. That was three months ago, and she was getting quite good. Not as good as Sarah, of course, but she could take out someone if she had to. She needed to learn hand-to-hand combat now and she knew who she wanted to ask to teach her. She had just been putting it off because she didn’t want to ask him.
He was the only man she could trust to help her even if she wanted to deny it. Animal was a standoffish sort and yet he was the one she’d ask. He was the only man she could ask because all the rest of them frightened her. Animal, for some odd reason, made her feel safe somehow. Animal had very little give in him but she still felt that way about him because to her, he was an Alpha’s Alpha. He seemed to exude dominance like a scent or pheromones.
When he was around he dominated the room, took all the focus from any other man straight to him.
She hated it and at the same time loved it.
She didn’t want to be attracted to him because he was kind of a dick most of the time, not just to her but to everyone. Sammy rolled over onto her side, punching the pillow to fluff it before she closed her eyes again. She needed to stop thinking about this mess and get some rest. She didn’t know if she’d be able to sleep tomorrow because she didn’t know if Animal was working or if he’d be lurking in the dark shadows outside her bedroom window.
Animal Harris stood in the darkness watching the silent window of Sammy’s apartment. He knew that she was likely finally getting some much needed rest. The past two nights he’d worked and he knew that she didn’t sleep when he wasn’t leaning on this tree. It should worry him that he knew that about her, but it didn’t. Rubbing a hand over his chest because it itched, he shifted slightly to get more comfortable.
It was an odd relationship they had; she seemed to hate him and yet she couldn’t sleep when he wasn’t around. She also didn’t eat if he wasn’t there to make her. That was bothersome. She was becoming very dependent upon him and that was a bad thing between a dominant and a broken submissive.
She had been broken by a fucking putz masquerading as a dominant. He knew that her trust had been damaged and for a submissive, that wasn’t a good thing. Dominant-submissive relationships had a very delicate balance to them and that idiot poser had destroyed it. That was why she didn’t go to Spangles and flutter around like a sexy strawberry blonde butterfly anymore.
Animal had watched her go home with other men for months and he’d considered taking her to his private room at Spangles. As one of the six founding members, he had that privilege. The six of them had started the club from an idea. Four of the six were part of the Bandits but two weren’t: Mark and Jason. They met one night at the Bluebird and after a bit of talking, they all realized that they had similar tastes. It was there in that private room that the birth of Spangles had come about. It took them a few years to get it going but they all made a tidy profit off of it now.
His remembered the first time he’d seen Sammy dance. His cock had turned to a steel rod and his hands had gripped the table to prevent himself from leaving the table. He had known that he didn’t need that kind of trouble no matter how sweet it looked.
She’d seemed too soft, too tender for him.
He wasn’t the type of dominant a woman went home with unless she needed the lifestyle and he was sure that she was only playing. Sammy wasn’t a true submissive, he had told his raging libido every time she had left with another man. He had wanted to rip those few men apart for touching her.
Even Mark, who he had been friends with for four years, was hated because he had touched Sammy. Yeah, that shit was fucked up but sometimes shit just was the way it was. The beast didn’t share well and it was always prowling inside his chest looking for a tasty morsel to eat.
Her reactions to him since meeting her in person had made him begin to think that perhaps he’d been wrong. Those reactions were why he had talked to Reaper about cutting back on his shifts at Ink Bandits. He’d told Reaper that she didn’t sleep unless she knew he was there and since Sammy was his old lady’s best friend, Reaper had allowed him to cut back on his shifts. He didn’t need the credits he made at Ink Bandits anyway. He made enough off the club and his one-sixth of Spangles to still be in the black. He loved art and he was good at inking, so he worked at Ink Bandits.
Sammy was good at art too he’d discovered a few months ago when she’d drawn a tattoo for Sarah. He’d done the work because he’d wanted to know that he’d inked her work on her friend and not someone else. He shook his head at his own idiocy because the part of himself that he called the beast was possessive to a degree he wasn’t comfortable with. That was why he had inked the reaper she’d drawn on Sarah.
Again, they were in a strange relationship. He ran a hand over his thick reddish brown hair before leaning his head into the tree in defeat.
Staying neutral towards Sammy wasn’t working anymore. He was becoming beyond possessive of her and he felt like his dick was going to punch a hole in his pants almost constantly when she was near. She was sexy as fuck and he wanted so badly to collar her. It was fucked up because she was still not part of the lifestyle he was. Not the dominant lifestyle but the biker one. The whole club dynamic confused her and she seemed to resent the fact that they were trying to take care of her. It was what family did and that was part of the reason he’d joined the Bandits to start with. They looked out for one another even as they lived and let live.
Animal shifted against the tree, his boot propped on the rough bark. The nights out here in the dark were uncomfortable and by the time someone else took over watching her at seven he was barely able to stumble onto his bike and head home.
He would catch about five hours sleep and then head over to the diner if she was working or her house if she wasn’t. He’d make sure she ate something because whatever that sick fuck had done to her had made her refuse to eat. She hadn’t been heavy but she used to have curves that made him want to weep. Now she looked a bit angular in her face and he would bet she had lost about twenty pounds. It made him angry that her beauty was being marred by something the putz had done to her. If he ever found that son of a bitch he was going to fucking rip his intestines out and feed them to him. Pacing back and forth in his chest, the beast roared his agreement.
Animal wasn’t sure why Sammy being hurt made him think of doing things he hadn’t done since before he’d joined the Blue Bandits. Who he’d been before he came to this town four years ago wasn’t pretty and he’d thought he’d left that part of his life in the dirty room on the side of route nine when he’d done something he’d regret till the day he died.
The only time that part seemed to take over was if a woman was being abused. With Sammy it was different because he knew that if anything happened to her he would react that way. He had almost cut Rebel up for insulting her the other day. If she hadn’t stopped him, he might have done it. Sammy had stepped between them, making his focus shift from killing to sex.
He was glad what had happened that night four years ago had woken him up and made him realize that he was following a very dark path; he still couldn’t forgive himself for it. He’d left the Headhunters MC the very next morning and never looked back. He’d shown up here broken and cold. He’d met Pansy in a bar on the other side of town. He had been returning from a run and stopped to get a burger. Animal had been at the bar nursing a whiskey, wondering if it was worth living with the knowledge of what he had done.
Pansy had sat down next to him. He hadn’t spoken until after his food came.
Then he’d asked, “You any good at Ink?”
“What?” he’d asked, looking at the man with dark red hair and eerie light green eyes.
“Ink?” he asked, pointing to the tat Animal had on his arm.
“Oh, yeah. I’ve done Ink before. Why? You need a tat?” Animal had asked, thinking he could use some more credits if he decided to stick around. He’d been doing Ink for the Headhunters for over three years. He hadn’t known it at the time but Pansy had known that already.
Pansy had recognized the tattoo of a tiger trying to claw through the skin on his forearm because the Headhunters were looking for him. They wanted him back and weren’t happy about his desertion. Once a member, always a member was every MC’s motto. Only when that faithfulness wasn’t returned, you did what you had to. It wasn’t like that with the Bandits and since joining, he’d never thought of leaving.
Pansy had saved his life that night and Animal would be grateful for Pansy’s interference for the rest of his life.
“We’re looking for an artist. Come by Ink Bandits tomorrow.” He then ate his dinner without another word. Animal had watched him warily but Pansy hadn’t said anything else until he stood to leave.
“Sometimes we have things we don’t like about ourselves. Those things shape us into the man we could be. Come to the shop. Might surprise you.” Then he’d left, Animal looking after him wondering what the hell the man knew about him. The next morning he had been on his way out of town when he saw a sign for Ink Bandits. He’d pulled in the parking lot and gone inside. That was when he had discovered that even a broken man could belong somewhere.
Animal shifted again, looking at the window to Sammy’s bedroom, his mind circling back to the woman inside the room and what had happened to her. He knew that she’d been hurt but no one, not even Sarah, had been able to get her to talk about it. It was making him feel a little savage. He wanted to kill the son of a bitch but if she wouldn’t tell him who he was, how could he?
Sammy was still losing weight and she seemed frightened all the time, but the thing that disturbed him most was Spangles. Having watched her for over six months, he knew that her behavior about sex and bondage had changed. She used to come into the club and dance with abandon for hours before she went home with her preferred dominant, mostly from a small group of three men she was used to.
Only one night she’d tried a new one and that son of a bitch had broken her trust and likely hurt her. He wanted to murder the man every time she sat at the table in the corner at Spangles, pale as a sheet with her hands clutching a glass of whiskey as she desperately pretended she didn’t need release, although they both knew she did.
It infuriated him.
Every time he watched her sit there, he boiled with a rage so deep he felt it in his bones.
Animal looked at the silent house, his eyes scanning the perimeter looking for anything out of place, only settling when he saw nothing out of the ordinary. He knew he was getting too engaged with Sammy and he didn’t do that. Not since––well, not since that night when he’d made a mistake.
She wasn’t for him. He was damaged and she didn’t need that on top of her other issues, but the thought of her with another man now made him feel a bit untamed. He suddenly wanted to rip the faceless man’s nuts off. It was why he should turn this over to Pansy or Iron, but he couldn’t seem to do it.
He’d tried a week ago to just let them take over. He had lasted about an hour at home pacing and wondering what the hell was going on and if she was safe. He ended up riding over here to her place. He had walked toward this tree where Pansy had been standing. He looked towards the apartment seeing her standing at the window looking out. She was a few feet from the curtain and he knew she thought whoever was out here didn’t see her, but he did. Pansy had nodded at him.
“Animal,” he had said.
“How long has she been there?” he asked, knowing Pansy could see her too.
“Hour,” Pansy replied.
“She was waiting,” Animal said, realizing that she knew he was supposed to be there and she had been waiting on him to show.
“Yep, seems to like when you’re here. Might do you both good. You look frazzled and I suspect that’s ‘cause you need to be here as much as she needs you here,” Pansy told him, stepping out of the darkness.
“You know I’m not right for her. I can’t be here for her,” Animal told him.
“Seems to me that it’s time to let the past go and take a chance on the future. We’ve all done things. I know I have, but at some point we have to let it go and hope that we can do enough good to outweigh it,” Pansy told him.
“Pansy, I know you think that everyone should get a second chance but not me. Trust me, I don’t deserve it. I am not for her. I need to walk away.”
Animal stared at the window where she stood waiting. He knew what she was waiting on and he knew that he shouldn’t give in to the urge to give her what she needed so she would go to bed and rest. She should learn not to rely on him but even as that thought entered his head, he lifted his hand and waved to her silently. He saw her body relax and after only a second she was gone from the window.
“No, you’re right where you need to be, Animal,” Pansy said before he walked away, leaving Animal to stew about his need to be here for her and the fact that he couldn’t get her sexy ass out of his head.
Sighing, he stared at the apartment wall that separated them and wondered what the hell he was thinking. If he had even a lick of common decency, he’d call someone else to watch her place and forget she existed. Only he knew even as the thought curled around inside his head that he wasn’t going anywhere. Common decency apparently wasn’t his strong suit.