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Odette -- My life has gone down the toilet. I accidentally got myself involved with a married man and had an… accident. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t love the cheating bastard, but I hate that I got played. Naturally I did what any self-respecting eighteen year old would do. I went to a karaoke bar and got wasted. Not my finest moment. So, when I land in the arms of a man I’ve fantasized over for the past two years, I’m not even surprised. My luck is just that bad.
Cyrus -- The first time I met Odette she was only sixteen and already more trouble than I knew what to do with. She’d been about to make a mistake with a prospect from her brother’s club when I intervened. The next time I see her, two years later, she’s singing like an angel, drunk off her ass. I have to get her out of that bar. Taking her home with me to our club doctor feels like the right thing to do. Deciding she’s mine to care for and protect might make me a possessive bastard, but I don’t like the word no so I’m not giving her the chance to object.
WARNING: Graphic violence and adult situations that may be triggers for some readers. Features a protective hero and a determined heroine. Eventual happy ending and NO cheating, as always.
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Cyrus (Iron Tzars MC 8)
All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2023 Marteeka Karland
“I can’t understand why this amuses you.” I was sitting with Blaze and Wylde in a bar a couple towns over from Evansville. It was karaoke night. Which was basically grown men and women, drunk off their ass, singing off-key and off-beat. Some people laughed, others whooped and clapped. I was at a complete loss as to what to do. Though, I now understood why people drank. If I did, I’d be drinking now. Heavily.
“It’s laughing with each other and thinking how bad that person was and that you can do better. Only to get up on stage and do just as bad or worse.” Wylde grinned at me as he explained. The bastard always loved explaining social nuances he knew I’d never get otherwise. It pissed me off sometimes because I knew he was having fun at my expense, but I was oddly grateful for the explanation. Not that I’d ever admit that. “Think of it as male bonding with both men and women.”
“Seems like it’s grown adults making fools of themselves.” I winced as someone made a particularly horrible noise from the stage.
“Exactly!” Wylde was excited, almost like a kid. This was one of his favorite things to do. He always wrangled someone to go with him so he could drink. Of all the men in Iron Tzars, Wylde puzzled me the most. He was ruthless when it came to hunting people he considered “bad guys,” but otherwise obeyed the law to the letter. I didn’t understand him. “But that’s not why we’re here.”
I pinched the bridge of my nose with my thumb and finger. I felt a nauseating headache coming on. “Then why the fuck are we here?”
“Just wait. Trust me when I tell you it will be worth the wait.” Wylde actually looked gleeful. What the fuck was he up to?
“He’s been talking about this for two weeks, Cyrus.” Blaze tossed back a couple peanuts from the bucket on our table. “I’m actually anxious to find out what all the fuss is over.” Blaze signaled our server that he and Wylde needed more beer. I took another cup of coffee.
“Well, he’s got ten more minutes, then I’m outta here. You guys can either come with me or find your own Goddamned way home.”
“I’d almost forgotten what an asshole you are, Cyrus.” Wylde didn’t look mad. Strangely, he looked amused.
“Never claimed to be anything but.”
Wylde just grinned and took another pull from his beer. “You, my friend, are getting ready to be knocked on your ass.”
With a roll of my eyes, I took a sip of the coffee in front of me. How was this even my life right now? Wylde had coerced me and Blaze into coming with him. Blaze was having a blast. Wylde too, obviously. This was a special kind of hell for me. I didn’t deal with crowds on the best of days, and drunken, singing crowds made me want to run from the room screaming with my hands over my ears.
Wylde actually looked like a kid who’d been let loose in a candy store with a hundred dollars. He was practically rubbing his hands together with glee.
“I’ve got a bad feeling about this,” Blaze said with a chuckle.
“Trust me.” Wylde grinned at the other man. “You’re gonna be glad you came.” Then he burst out laughing.
“You’re drunk.” I ground my teeth. This was yet another reason I hated coming to shit like this. The guys knew I didn’t drink and always wanted me to go because I was guaranteed to be the designated driver.
“Nah. Not this time. I’m just buzzed enough to really look forward to seeing your reaction to my little surprise.”
I turned to Blaze. “He knows I hate surprises.”
“Yep.” Though Blaze knew how fine the control on my temper was most days, he looked like he was loving the anticipation as much as Wylde was.
“I may end up killin’ you both.”
Blaze shrugged. “Some things are just worth it.”
Granted, I had trouble reading people. I never got other people’s emotions. Hell, I had trouble with my own emotions. Expressing myself was difficult on the best of days. I’d given up trying to figure out everyone else a long fucking time ago. Usually, Wylde was with me to translate when I didn’t get something so whatever he knew was getting ready to happen would likely knock me on my ass. As far as people went, Wylde and Blaze were probably the only two who understood me. They just used that knowledge to torment me sometimes. Said it was their way of showing they cared.
I stood and stalked to the bar as whatever poor bastard on stage tried to hit the high note in Bohemian Rhapsody. So help me God, if I made it out of this with my sanity intact, I was gonna kill Wylde tomorrow. I wanted him to be completely sober so he could fully appreciate the pain he was going to experience before he begged me for death.
Another cup of black coffee was set in front of me, the bartender gave me a slight nod as he winced at the same drunk singer on stage. I’d never fully appreciated the phrase “infernal caterwauling” before until tonight.
The song ended and there was a rousing round of applause. Probably because the song was over. “Thank fucking God,” I muttered into my cup as I took a sip. What I wouldn’t give to be called away on a mission. Or even to weapons testing for Shadow Demons. Mindless target practice wounded like heaven.
Then the next song started and I wanted to bang my head against the bar. Of course, that was before the singer opened her mouth to belt out the lyrics to a raucous country and rock hybrid.
She was fucking good, her voice a strong, sultry contralto with the perfect amount of rasp. I perked up, setting down my coffee and straining to see the small figure on stage. Me and everyone else. The bar, which had been moderately sedate, seemed to come alive and spark with excitement the second the music started.
The woman on stage engaged the crowd with her presence alone. Just looking at her, one would never tell she had such a big voice. Not only that, but her charisma was off the fucking charts. She had every fucking horny-ass motherfucker in the fucking bar moving toward her. Some were whooping and hollering, singing the song with her like it was some rock anthem at a stadium concert. Some swung women around on the dance floor, but every single one of them was homing in on her. And the little witch looked disturbingly familiar.
As she danced on stage and flirted with the audience, I became aware I’d left the bar and was moving toward her myself. I’d love to say I was caught up in the moment, in the music and the spontaneity of it all. I’d love to say that. But the fact was, it was the woman. Her beauty and sexuality. Her passion for life and people. And I knew the little witch! How the fuck had she ended up here?
Odette Muse was trouble with a capital T-R-O-U-B-L-E.