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Second Chances (Steel Bandits MC Book 1) by JC Belanger (1)

Chapter One


Today has been a long and trying day. But then again, most days that I make this trip are hard on me. No one knows the secret that I carry with me on a daily basis. One that tears me up inside and makes it hard to breathe sometimes when I let myself think about it. So, I’ve got the radio turned up as I try to make my mind completely blank from the visit I’m driving home from.

As I drive down the desolate highway, I see a man sitting on the side of the road beside his motorcycle. He looks stressed with a touch of irritation, and I am torn about what to do. Do I pull over, call for help, or just keep going? My friends, and family, have warned me many times about my habit of stopping to help others. They keep telling me that I could be killed or worse, I personally think they need to work on their priorities. I know that I would want someone to help me, just like I know there’s an element of danger to stopping and helping someone you don’t know. So here I go, I pull over in front of this gorgeous man and open my door. As I get out, he stares at me with a smirk on his face that makes me want to jump his sexy body.

“Everything ok? Do you need me to call someone for you?” I ask, hesitantly, walking closer to the gorgeous stranger.

“No, I am good, just taking a break and enjoying all the traffic flying by me,” he remarks sarcastically as he remains sitting on the ground.

I notice that his front tire looks bent and flat, “I can call for a tow if you like. But out here it will probably take three to four hours for them to arrive. Or, I can see if my brother can come out. He shouldn’t be too busy today as it’s a party night for his club.”

At this he stands up to his full height in an attempt to try to intimidate me, and asks what club he belongs to? I don’t know what to make of his expression. He is on a bike so that should mean he is not going to be judgy right? I take a second to study him before replying “The Steel Bandits.”

“Peaches,” he says with a smirk “please call them. I would love to have them come get my ride.”

“My name is not Peaches,” I huff as I pull out my phone. Calling my brother I wait for him to answer, but he doesn’t so I call Toad.

“Hey Toad! I tried to call Scott, but he didn’t answer. I am out on Highway twenty and found a lost soul who needs his bike towed. Any chance y’all could come get it?” I ask as I continue to watch the stranger that stands before me. It’s like I’m drawn to him in a way that I’ve never experienced before.

Toad sighs like I’m bothering him and says that someone can be there, but it will be and hour. I thank him and turn to the hottie before me. “Someone is coming and should be here in an hour or so.”

I turn to head back to my car before I can say something stupid like asking him if I can drop him off somewhere. His laugh stops me in my tracks and I turn to face him. My hands immediately go to my hips as I try to figure out what he finds so funny. I’m at a loss as to what to think about this situation I find myself in.

“Running away so fast peaches?” he asks with a taunting quality to his deep voice.

“I told you my name is not peaches. Why do you call me that?” I question him, not caring that I’m probably giving him something to laugh about later on when I’ve left him.

He laughs again and points to my t-shirt that I didn’t even realize is covered with peaches. I smirk back at him. “Ok fine! My name is Anna. What do they call you stud?”

He lets out a bark of laughter, “Stud? Not been called that one before. They usually just call me Taz.”

Crap, that sounds like a club name. He is not wearing any colors, but if he is passing through then he wouldn’t show his colors. He is so good looking with his long black hair pulled into a ponytail. He looks like a muscled surfer. I want to lick him and call him mine. Where did that come from? I ask myself. The last thing I need to even think about is a man. Even a tall drink of water like him.

“What club are you with?” I ask, suddenly needing to know if he’s a friend of my brother’s club or someone that I should really be afraid of right now.

“I’m transferring to a club near here,” he says with a sly look, not answering my question.

Oh no, this is not even what I want to hear. I know the club party tonight is to welcome a transfer from a chapter in Cali. I laugh to myself, California surfer dude was right. “So, you are moving to our town? I guess I could give you a ride to the clubhouse if you don’t want to hang around here. Just let me call Toad back and let him know.”

“Peaches, that would be awesome but let me clear it with Prez not Toad. I don’t want to get my ass kicked my first night here,” he laughs, continuing to let me know that he has a playful side as he takes a few steps toward me.

He calls Prez and lets him know what is going on. I know I’m about to get yelled at for stopping to help a strange man, even if it turns out to be a brother because Prez and Scott hate this habit of mine. Looking up I see that Taz is walking my way with his phone in his hand.

“Prez wants to speak with you for a minute,” he says, answering my question before I have a chance to even ask it.

“Hey Prez. How are you this fine day, Axel?” I ask, trying to smooth things over.

“Girly you are in big trouble when you get here! We have had this talk so many times. You are lucky he’s a brother and not a rival that would hurt you to get to us. Get Taz and get your ass here now! Your brother and I will be waiting,” he says, his gruff voice letting me know that he’s upset with me but I’m not going to necessarily get the ass chewing I have in the past.

“Yes Prez,” I sigh. I am not in the club, an old lady, or even a club girl but they try to control my life every day. I understand that my brother being a part of the club can make me a target, but they take the protection thing to a whole new level. One that I’m getting tired of.

“Let’s go,” I tell Taz heading to my car. He gets a few items from his saddle bags and struts toward where I parked my car on the side of the road.

“Not a fan of cages, but this is a sweet lil’ ride,” he says, opening the door and opening the passenger side door.

“My brother Scott got it for me as a graduation gift,” I tell him before opening the door to get in. “It’s a 2014 Dodge Charger. I wanted to paint it pink, but he said, ‘there was no way in hell I’m riding in a Pepto-mobile.’ So, we agreed on powder blue.”

“I have to agree with him, Peaches. It would be hard to get into a car that only Barbie would drive,” he laughs as he folds his large body into the passenger side of my car.

We make small talk as we drive the thirty minutes to the clubhouse. Pulling in, I see that we have a welcoming committee that does not look so welcoming to me. I am sure that they are happy to see Taz, but Scott and Prez look like they want to kill me. I should be used to this look on their faces, but it still makes me mad to see that they don’t think that I can’t take care of myself.

Prez walks over to the car and opens my door before I even have a chance to shut the engine off. Reaching in he, grabs my hand to help me out while shaking his head. It’s like I’m a child that he has to admonish on a constant basis for not doing what I’m told. Maybe if they would lighten up a little, I wouldn’t find it so hard to follow their ‘rules’ for me. Right now, it seems that I don’t have any freedom at all. Everywhere I go, I see one of them following me.

“Anna, what are we gonna do with you girl? This time you got lucky. Next time, we could be getting a call about you lying on the side of the road. What is it gonna take to get this through your head?” Prez grumbles as he wraps his large arm around my shoulders and holds me close like a father would.

“What the hell were you even doing way out there?” Scott interrupts, finally putting his two-cents into the conversation. “You didn’t even let me know that you were leaving.”

“I don’t have to tell you anything brother dearest. I am a big girl,” I answer, sliding out from under the heavy weight of Axel’s arm.

“Hi, I am Taz, I appreciate you allowing Peaches to give me a ride here. My bike hit a piece of metal some truck lost. If it weren’t for Peaches I would be sitting there forever,” Taz says, finally speaking up for the first time since we got here. I cast him a thankful glance as he takes the heat off of me for a few minutes at least.

“Her name is not fucking Peaches!” Scott growls at him coming to stand in front of me like he’s going to fight to the death for the honor of protecting me.

I just roll my eyes and let these grown up children posture for position. I swear they think I’m a freaking chew toy sometimes. Wouldn’t it just be easier for one of them to piss on me to mark their territory. Or, in Scott’s case make sure that no one touches me or comes within a hundred feet of where I’m at. It drives me up a wall and one of these days I’m going to explode.

Axel walks over to Taz and gives him the typical man hug before leading him inside the clubhouse. I attempt to get back into my car and head home, but a hand on my door stops me short. Looking up I see my big brother standing there and stopping my attempt of an escape. He’s looking at me with a hint of anger and uncertainty flashing in his eyes. I do feel a little guilty about the reason I can’t tell him

“Where do you think you are sneaking off to sis?” he asks, leaning over the door frame so I can’t just slam it in his face like I’ve been known to do a time or two.

“Scott, I don’t have time for this. I have things I need to do and places I need to be,” I tell him, not bothering to hide the exasperation that laces my voice.

“Well maybe you should have done them instead of sneaking out of town. You have been hiding something from me for months. Hell, you even disappeared for almost year with only a note saying you were ok and would be back when you could. During that time, you only called me three times! Three fucking times Anna. This isn’t like you and I will find out what is going on,” he says, letting me know that my actions over the past year have truly hurt him. But, if he knew my secret, he’d be even more hurt and probably sitting in a damn jail cell right now.

“I wish you wouldn’t Scott. If I wanted, you to know I would have told you. And besides, you don’t tell me everything either,” I huff at him like a toddler getting ready to throw a tantrum in my desperation to keep him from finding out the one thing that could destroy our relationship.

The door to the clubhouse swings open and Prez yells. “Voodoo get your ass in here brother.” Scott turns to me and sighs, “Anna, I will let it go today, but I don’t make any other promises. You have got to tell me what is going on with you. I can’t help you if I don’t know what’s going on. One of these days you’re going to find yourself in trouble and I won’t be able to stop it. Please give it some thought,” he says, pleading with me before he turns away and walks into the clubhouse to be with his family.