#TeaserTues Vested In Her Excerpt from Chapter One.
Haven Johnson bounced across the cracked linoleum floor to answer the call of the beeping oven, her tight tank top and short shorts doing little to cover her as she bounded around. Bending, she retrieved the surprise she baked for her childhood friends who were all crowded around a small, wobbly-legged table in her parents’ kitchen.
A man whistled behind her, but she ignored him. Gas was one guy she had no desire to be friends with, but him and Chrome were a package deal.
“Haven, that smells freakin’ awesome. You’re going to make some guy a great old lady one day,” Chrome said.
His older brother, Gas, smiled, his nut-brown eyes flickering menacingly, as he laughed. “We all know that won’t be an asshat like you, Chrome.”
The other guys around the table cackled with laughter, one even ruffled Chrome’s hair.
Lowering his bright red mop, Chrome stuttered to himself, his ginger mane was the only thing the two brothers had in common. The sea-green eyed Chrome was the more sensitive of the two. This trait manifested most apparently in his willingness to give riding lessons to townies down at the bike shop because he didn’t mind working with them. A mechanic at the same shop, Gas ruthlessly prodded him about helping their type.
Ignoring them, Haven carefully pried the cookies from the sheet pan and deposited them on a large, chipped dinner plate. She turned to set them on the table and almost collided into Crazy George, her dad’s right-hand man.
He towered over her, glaring at her with a foreboding gaze, made all the more menacing by his almost black eyes. His black biker vest, crooked smile, dark shades, and black jeans just added to his ominous biker dude persona. Reaching a gnarled finger toward the plate she held, he flipped it right out of Haven’s hands. The cookies and plate crashed to the floor with a commotion loud enough to garnish a greying eyebrow raise from her father seated in the living room.
Her father, Big Bruce, watched the whole exchange as he often did whenever Haven interacted with his men. He shook his shaved head, grunted, and flicked his gaze back to the muted TV.
Haven glared at Crazy George, her fists pulled into tight balls of fury. Her nails dug into her palms, the pain curbing her desire to scream at him. Oh my god, I hate you! If there is a higher power in this world, you will burst into flames right now, you bastard.
Crazy George openly smirked at her then turned to the table of guys and said, “If you lug nuts are done playing house with princess here, you need to polish the bikes for the morning perimeter check.”
The guys jumped at his decree, their chairs awkwardly scraping and catching on the worn floor sounding like a group of five-year-olds learning to play the trumpet. None of them glanced at Haven or offered to help her clean up the mess. They knew their place because her father and George made sure they did.
Once they left, Crazy George turned back to Haven, cocked his bald head, and laughed.
Haven swallowed the bile burning her throat, a verbal assault threatening to unleash itself from her mouth. Crazy George had it out for her, but she didn’t know why. Every time she hung out with the younger guys from her father’s motorcycle club, he spoiled her fun. But never in a ‘protective uncle’ kind of way. He always operated in an ‘I’m here to ruin your life’ way. She never managed to get close to anyone, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying. A couple of the prospects were good looking, and Haven wouldn’t have minded spending some time alone with them. Crazy George never let that happen, though. He was her dad’s bulldog, charged with guarding her, but that was all.
Crazy George followed the rookies outside, and then her father followed, his large frame taking up most of the doorway.
“Make sure to clean that up, sweetie. Don’t want mice in the house, now do we.” Bruce gave her a half smile and strode through the door.
Why don’t you stand up for me? Why do you let him treat me like that? But she knew the answer to that question because she had asked it before, and the answer was always the same. Her father would shake his head and say, ‘That’s George, baby. He’s been an ass for decades, and he’s not likely to change.’
Haven vibrated with rage. She learned long ago that George only picked on her harder if she made a big deal out of his actions. Tears brimmed her hazel eyes, but she didn’t let them fall for fear of a bigger lashout from him. Taking a few deep breaths, she bent to clean up the remainders of her morning surprise. Why she even bothered to try to be friends with the guys her age in her dad’s motorcycle club baffled her. Crazy George would never let anything come of it.
But what he didn’t know was she had been dating boys from a few towns over. Tally, her best friend, would cover for her while Haven’s boyfriends took her out. As an adult, although barely, she shouldn’t have to do this.
Letting that thought fall into the trashcan with the cookies she dumped into it, she went to get ready for her busy day. She had lots of sitting alone on the deck and watching the motorcycles come and go planned. Maybe she would go into town and have her nails done to pass the time if Crazy George would let her out of his sight for an hour or two.
She hated summers here. At least in high school, she had an escape from this place and saw real people. People who lived regular lives and did things like go to work in offices. People who didn’t have clubs filled with drunken bikers as their norm.
Haven sighed and towel dried her hair as she stared at her ghost-like image in the foggy mirror. If only I could get out of here.