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Charlie: Northern Grizzlies (Book 4) by M. Merin (1)

May 2018

Connal

“Royce!” I yell, seeing the sprawl of papers all over my desk.

“Yeah,” He ducks his head in. “Ahh, sorry about that. Um, Janine needed to use the washroom.”

“Tell me you did not fuck that skank on my desk, asshole!” She’s a damn townie who isn’t even welcome at the MC’s parties anymore.

“No! Betsy said she thought Janine was trying to get one of us to knock her up, so I just let her blow me when I finished her car.” Royce looks pleased with himself for thinking up that solution.

“Let me be abso-fucking-lutely clear on this. You keep your dick secured in your pants in this…in my garage, and especially in my Goddamn office!” I am fuming. That’s all we need is for that woman to tell people she has to blow the mechanic. Shit.

“Alright! Chill, I won’t do it again.” He shrugs and turns to go.

“Go get the bleach and clean any and all surfaces she touched or breathed on, then find that fucking stack of applications. I need someone hired, yesterday!” I yell out to his back.

“Oh! I forgot,” Royce says, turning back to me. “Some old dude, Mike or Mack? He called earlier. Said he knew someone who had applied and he wanted to talk to you about it.”

I growl in frustration. Mack was in the MC way before my time. He lost a leg in an accident and now teaches an advanced certification auto and motorcycle mechanic course for a small school in Boise. Fuck, he wouldn’t just recommend anyone and at this point, we’re so behind I’ll hire anyone he tells me to.

Looking up his number, I’m reaching out to him minutes later.

“Hey, Mack! I heard you called; tell me you have someone for me!”

“Yeah, I called yesterday. Fucking took your sweet time,” He grumbles.

“I just got the message!” Royce is such an asshole, I think again. I’m knocking papers aside in the mess, looking for the applications to see who Mack has for me. “Look, I’m desperate here. Who you got for me?”

“Charlie Scott. Young kid, best I’ve seen come through here in a long while.”

“Charlie’s ok with the move? I don’t pay Boise rates,” I confirm.

“Yeah – Charlie knew I was from that way and just told me there hadn’t been any word from you, so I called to make sure you were still hiring and give you my two cents. The ASE exam is today, I don’t think passing that will be a problem. Not for Charlie.”

“Got it!” I yell, excited to finally find the Charles Scott application. “OK. Yeah, looks like what? Twenty years old? High marks all around, and been working at a local garage part-time for three years? I can start him with a month probation period, as soon as he can get here.”

“Um, well, actually,” I hold the phone away to stare at it, trying to figure out what the fuck his hemming and hawing is all about. “Yeah, nevermind. I’ll call Charlie with the good news, I’d guess a day or two to pack and get there? Can you send details, including a temp place to stay, to whatever email is in the application?”

“No lease or anything to worry about on that end?” I am juiced at having someone here in a couple days, but that seems quick to me.

“No, Charlie’s been living outback, above my garage; doubt there’s much to pack up. Uh, Charlie was in the foster system a while. Mainly raised by a grandfather, he was a mechanic and a drinking buddy of mine. He died about seven years ago.”

“Don’t care about that shit, just him getting here that fast would really help me out. Will start him out with tires and basic oil and filter changes until I get caught up with the bigger projects, then I’ll work on some bigger tickets alongside him.” I say, looking up as Royce ducks his head in; letting me know I have a delivery of parts to go check in.

“Glad this works, Connal. I appreciate it and am relieved to have Charlie with someone I trust.” He clicks off before I can remind him I’m hiring a mechanic not adopting a pet.

Jake

“Hey, Tall, Dark and Quiet, how you been?” Betsy wraps an arm around me in a half hug, before taking the seat next to me at the bar.

I nod at her, leaning away to get out of range of her perfume; that stuff always makes me sneeze. I turn back to the story Roy and Vice are telling. Vice is the shortest Brother here, not a lot taller than Betsy actually; but no Napoleon complex there. Roy’s his uncle and would have knocked that shit out of him years ago if that’d been the case.

Vice has had me working on the build-out for a new spa that’s going up down the road from Rusty’s Bar. Nice having the steady work this time of year. I never gave much thought to what I’d do after the Army, but while in, Connal became the only real friend I ever had and he told me to look him up when I got out. Now I’m working on Vice’s construction crew and doing runs for the MC.

Cash in my pocket, Brother’s by my side, meals, and a room; plus girls when we want them. Not a bad life. Just been getting restless. Again.

Probie comes around with fresh drinks for all of us. This kid doesn’t have a road name yet, but with the last name Madda; guessing it’ll be Madman or something like that.

Gunner strides into the clubhouse. Back from the latest run, he’ll be in and out though. Stopping to report in before getting home to Riley. Lucky motherfucker.

Didn’t think much of it when Jasper announced he was taking Emma as his Ol’ Lady. They were married then having kids before anyone could blink. Flint was next with Bree, minus the kids.

We started drifting a bit with Jas and Flint so eager to be with their Ol’ Ladies. Gunner shocked the shit out of all of us when he hooked up with Riley. Her family is majorly connected and although her Grandmother has a soft spot for Gunner, her parents are working to get the whole MC arrested and disbanded.

It was Riley though, who really brought us back together in a different, stronger way. Flint is older, but Jasper, Connal, Gunner, and Vice patched in about the same time; when I made my way here a few years later, I just hung out with that group, cause of Connal.

No one was pleased about Gunner’s match until he started bringing her around. You can’t not like Riley. She knows that I don’t talk much and she can sit calmly near me without fidgeting or babbling. That’s pretty fucking rare, especially for a teenager. Then she started having our group over for Monday night dinners, and man, can she cook. I’ve eaten at a lot of high-end joints, but nothing like what she does. So now, as long as we’re in town, Monday nights the nine of us are around their table.

As great as that’s been, it’s hard sometimes. It’s been making me want a serious relationship more and more. I know Connal feels the same, just feels like slim pickings around here most days.

“Jake, Vice, get back here.” Gunner calls from the hall leading back to Jas’ office.

He turns back, not waiting for us. We follow and close the office door, Flint and Jas are already seated and I can tell from their faces something went down on Gunner’s run.

“The State Police were waiting for us.” Gunner starts. “They moved too soon and picked up the diversion; The Russian let me know in time for me to get off the road with the package.”

I tilt my head to the side as Vice starts swearing and Gunner continues.

“I made the drop and took the long way back. Lawyer just let Jas know that that Russian’ll be released this afternoon. He’s gonna head to the cabin for a few days, bore the shit out of any tail he might have.”

“So where does that leave Jake, Royce, and Probie for their run next weekend?” Vice asks the question forming in my head.

“Lot of unknowns right now,” Jasper says. “I may move the timeline up a little. Jake, you three need to figure out alternate routes or consider riding in a couple cages set with traps. I don’t want any chatter about this over any line or in front of anyone who doesn’t have a patch, is that understood?”

After agreeing, Vice, Gunner, and I hit the bar.

“The Russian was clean right, Gunner?” Vice starts in. “Nothing recreational on him?”

“Didn’t pack his fucking bag, Vice.” Gunner growls back. He throws back the whiskey that Probie brings him and motions for another. “Fuck.”

“Hey, Betsy!” Vice calls. She looks up, pleased as always when he calls for her.

“Yeah, Baby?” She crosses to us quickly, sidling up to Vice.

“You know where the cabin is, right?” He asks, oblivious to the smile she gives him as she nods. “Good. Grab some petty cash, hit the grocery store for a few days’ worth of food and go keep Russian company? All right, Sweetie?”

She quickly tries to hide the hurt that flashes across her face, knowing he’s sending her off to be with someone else. I see her spending more time with Russian nowadays than she does with Vice, so it’s not like she’s getting a shit assignment. Fuck, it could have been Frank.

Betsy nods, grabs a few bottles from behind the bar and heads back towards her room.

“Damn Vice! That was fucking cold!” Once she’s out of sight, Roy leans over to slap his nephew upside the head.

“What?” Vice turns towards us with a confused look on his face. “Not gonna leave our Brother yanking his own dick for a week?!”

“You know that Girlie’s carried a torch for you for years,” Roy responds, getting in his face. “Don’t gotta return feelings you don’t have, but don’t be a dick about shit like that. I could have handled it quiet like, without getting her hopes up that you were gonna take her away.”

“Shit, Betsy knows I enjoy her; she knows I enjoy lots of girls,” Vice smirks back.

“Show respect, Vice,” I surprise myself by talking, the other three are staring at me with their mouths open.

“Yeah, Jake. I getcha.” Vice finally says, before heading out.

I’m surprised a moment later when it’s just Gunner and me left at the bar, thinking it’s odd he hasn’t headed home already.

“You doing alright, Jake?” He asks. I tilt my head and nod, trying to figure out where this is going.

“Riley was worried about you after the dinner the other night. I don’t know. I promised her I’d check in with you.” He looks as embarrassed as I feel right now.

“Might take a ride after this next run. Clear my head a bit,” I say. His hand clamps down on my shoulder, as he finishes up his drink.

“Let me know if I can do anything,” He grins at me, before tightening his grip. “Don’t you make my Sweetheart worry.”

I just nod again, my throat feeling oddly tight.

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