The Sturgis Diaries: The Second Year — Sneak Peek

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The Second Year: Running the Gauntlet

The blonde wood of the bar, the beams, and posts made the place distinctive. Groups of bikers crowded the tables, while a few stragglers hunched over the bar. He drew my gaze almost immediately. Making love to the jukebox, his hips swayed and thrust to the song. The dark stubble on his jaw stood in stark contrast to the sun-bleached hair shooting in all directions, looking like it wanted to escape his head. The leather vest barely covered his tanned muscles and dusky tattoos. Fucking sexy.

Want raced through my body and I ground my crotch against the corner of the square barstool, slowly climbing to sit. I barely looked away from him when I flashed my fake ID and ordered a beer. He raised his long arms in the air and snapped his fingers as the song changed to Jungle Boogie, swinging around and pinning me with his gaze, as though he knew I was there, watching him the whole time.

“What the fuck?” A burly man a few tables away stood and glared at the jukebox and the blond man sauntering away, into a back room. “What kind of pussy-ass music is that?” He plopped back into his seat, shaking his head. Other patrons laughed and nodded.

Sipping my beer, I studied the place. The open door led to a darker room. How could anyone see in there? The sound of balls breaking on a pool table burst through the opening, and I contemplated a plan to get back there without being obvious.

An older woman walked through the door toward the bar, carrying an empty pitcher. She walked along the bar, passing the bartender and numerous empty spots, until she got to me. Squeezing her short, rounded frame between me and the next occupant over, she slammed the clear pitcher onto the bar. Her hands tapped out the beat to the song as she waited for service. She turned to me and looked me up and down, as though she just noticed me.

“Hey there,” she said.

“Hey,” I replied, trying not to stare at the Batman tattoo peeking from between her breasts.

“You like that? I can make him fly.” Pressing her arms to her sides, her boobs squeezed together and the wings fluttered back and forth.

A grin split my face. “That is really cool. How long have you had that?”

She shrugged and her graying curls bobbed. “Probably since before you were born, sugar. You here alone?”

“For now.” I looked around and she laughed, slapping her ring-clad, red tipped fingers on the bar.

“Can I get another pitcher?” She yelled down the bar, standing on her tiptoes for better visibility. “Why don’t you come with me, honey? We’d love to add another girl to our party. I think the boys are sick to death of me.”

He was on the other side of that door and she could get me there. “Name’s Marla, by the way. And you are?”

“Cam,” I stretched out my hand.

She shook with a light grip. “Where ya from, Cam?” After paying for the beer, she picked up the pitcher and started to walk away, without even checking to see if I was behind her.

“L.A.” I scurried to keep up, the beer from my mug sloshing over the sides.  We passed into the darkened room. A few booths lined one wall, each lit from above with a hanging lamp. Several pool tables in the middle of the room also had individual lamps, giving the room the appearance from the outside of being unlit.

Marla stopped at one of the booths and placed the pitcher in the middle of the table. Seven men surrounded the table, spread out around the long, curved bench. He was there, waiting for me, and then I knew – she’d been sent to get me.

“This here’s Cam, from Californ-I-A. Cam, this is Bruce,” she waved toward the stout man at the edge of the bench, “and Gary, my old man,” she moved her hand to indicate the second guy in, next to Bruce. “And that there is Roger, but we call him Ratso.”

“Hey now,” Ratso protested. “You can’t just introduce me like that. You gotta give people time to decide if I deserve that name or not.”

“Why waste time?” Marla asked and bent over laughing. They all looked the same to me – older, heavy, and greasy – except for him. Introductions had stopped.

“Getting to know me is never a waste – ”

“And who’s the sexy wallflower?” I met his eyes.

“Woo hoo!” Marla sang as laughter overtook everyone but him. “I like a girl who knows what she wants and doesn’t mince words.”

He stood and reached across the table for my hand, his crisp, blue eyes locking with mine. “Eduard.”

“Eduard,” I repeated, tasting his name on my lips. “Very nice to meet you, Eduard.”

“Likewise.” He held my gaze and nodded.

“Oh fuck that shit,” Bruce laughed. “Just call him Eddie. Pretentious bastard, anyway.”

Eduard grinned, shooting me a wink.

The man to his right pushed at the other two beside him. “Let’s go play some pool, boys. Give Don Juan here some space.” The three shuffled out of the booth and Eduard motioned to the vacated space beside him.

“Have a seat, Cam.”

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