By four in the afternoon, the Epitaph’s 4th of July party was in full swing. The entire club, driven out of the clubhouse by the heat, were in various stages of undress, drinking, laughing, and having the occasional fight. The women had worked tirelessly to put on a huge spread and the smoke from three grills filled the air as the prospects worked like beer-fueled machines to meet the orders for burgers, grilled steaks, and sausages. From his corner on the porch, Clive could see everything that was going on. There was plenty to see and yet his eyes kept being drawn to one specific couple – Trent and Marly.
The fact they were the only openly gay couple in the club was irrelevant. Trent, as his sergeant at arms was physically the biggest man in the motorcycle club. Clive and Marly were the only two members who knew he hid the spirit of an alpha wolf under his leather jacket. Marly, an omega wolf, was a lot smaller, prettier and always looked out of place among the burly men and painted women, but Clive had seen him take on a man with a knife and knock him out in five seconds flat.
Shifters. Clive took another swig of his beer as his mind wandered to the shifter he’d loved and lost. It’d been on the 4th of July twenty-one years earlier that Jules walked out of his life and into the arms of his true mate. After five long and happy years together both men had cried, but after Jules explained about fated mates and how important they were to shifters, Clive wasn’t going to begrudge his lover the chance for a long lifetime of happiness. Clive had immediately signed up for the marines and after two tours, took up an enforcer position with the Epitaphs. It’d been ten years since Clive had been made president of the club, but as he sat watching Trent and Marly, he got a sour taste in his mouth and his heart ached. He was deathly tired of going to bed alone. He wanted what they shared and as he was over forty, he despaired of it ever happening.
Sick of his own musing, Clive stood, expertly throwing his empty bottle into one of the bins set around the compound for that purpose. Trent’s eyes immediately met his. “Everything okay, boss?”
“Yep.” Clive yawned and stretched, wincing as his back clicked. “I’m going to head out for a while, get some wind on my face. Make sure this lot keep their trouble confined to the compound and take the keys off the drunks.”
“You’ll be back in time for the fireworks, won’t you?” Marly’s eyes shone with excitement and Clive was reminded of how young he was.
“Sure, kid.” Clive grinned as Marly scowled at his use of the word ‘kid’. “I’ll be back before dark.”
Needing time alone, Clive ignored the hopeful glances from Bobby and the two prospects he was hanging with as he headed to his bike. It’d been six months since Bobby’s repeated attacks on Marly and Clive still hadn’t forgiven him. He’d thought for a while Bobby might try and make a name for himself with the Black Skulls, the only other MC in town, especially when Marly was admitted to the Epitaphs. But the man had been more annoyingly servile ever since. Clive had no time for ass-lickers – well, not Bobby’s kind anyway.
Straddling his bike, Clive sighed with relief as his machine turned over with his first kick. This time of the year, the sun didn’t set until almost nine at night. A four hour bike ride would be plenty of time to clear the depressing thoughts in his head and get him back in time for food and the fireworks.
Roaring out of the compound, Clive gave a passing thought to heading into a gay bar and seeing if he could get some action, but he dismissed that idea almost as soon as it was formed. It was too early in the day and although he was over forty, Clive had no wish to be lumped in with the other old men who looked for a quick thrill before they went home for an early dinner and bed. The open road was calling him, and Clive was going to answer. With the bike throbbing between his thighs, and the wind caressing his face, it was almost better than sex. Almost.
Officer Royden “Roy” Carmichael scowled at his watch face and tapped the glass. Nope. The damn thing was still working yet it was only showing two minutes more than the last time he looked which felt like an hour before. He was sitting in his cruiser on the 91 just outside of Winter Garden and had been for most of the afternoon. Traffic was non-existent. Families who were heading to the lakes were already enjoying their barbecue and fun times, while he was left sweating up a storm in a cramped vehicle that was not designed for his six foot seven inch frame.
The joys of being on the day shift. Roy preferred working nights, especially in summer. During winter he was like his bear spirit and preferred being curled around a hot body in front of a roaring fire. Summer was a time for lounging in the sun, swimming, and generally having fun. Not sitting in a patrol car staring at an empty expanse of road.
Why did I take this job again? At the time Roy took the position, only six weeks before, he thought it was better than being bored. Having lived well over a hundred years, law enforcement was his niche. Originally recruited for his size back when law enforcement was in its infancy, he’d worked in a variety of positions, even being a PI during the nineteen fifties. Tugging at his shirt that was sticking to his chest, he grimaced. This was not one of his more glamorous assignments.
He’d run out of snacks too and for a bear shifter that was never a good situation to be in. Leaning back as much as he could in the seat provided, Roy tried to stretch his legs and when that didn’t work, he closed his eyes. There were forty minutes left on his shift and while he doubted anyone would miss him if he snuck off early, Roy had more integrity than that. It would be just his luck there would be a major pile up nearby and he’d be reprimanded for leaving his post. Yawning, he ran his mind over the various dinner options open to him. He’d been to the new fish restaurant three times in the last week. Taco’s, he wondered, although his next meal would probably be determined by what was open on a national holiday. Perhaps he could take a run out to the lakes and have a swim. It was possible a friendly member of the public might want to share their barbecue and possibly a cold beverage or two.
Quietly immersed in a fantasy involving hot bodies and cold beer, Roy frowned as the sound of a motorbike tickled his ear. After seeing no traffic in the last hour, the fact someone was on the road at all was remarkable. But the sound was getting louder far faster than someone doing the speed limit. Glancing at his watch again, thirty minutes to the end of his shift, Roy sat up and started the car. Minutes later a massive Harley sped past, the rider’s back offering a quick glimpse of a biker patch as he disappeared down the straight.
“Oh, this will be fun.” Roy rubbed his hands together before putting the car in gear, gravel spitting up from the tires as he peeled onto the road. Roy didn’t have an opinion one way or the other about bikers. He had a gleaming Harley of his own in his rented garage. Normally, he would have left the rider alone. But he was hot, sticky, and bored out of his skull. A ticket wouldn’t be worth the paper work but giving a suitable warning would eat up the time until the end of his shift. Flicking the switch to activate his lights and siren, Roy gave chase.