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Deserter: Excerpt

Nobody made me feel like she did.

The bell rang and I sat back on my motorcycle, watching for her familiar dark hair as students began exiting the building.

I’d broken into the school office a few nights ago to look through her file.

Celia had undersold herself that night in the bar. She wasn’t just a great student; she was the goddamn valedictorian. So fucking smart that they’d let her skip a grade and graduate early.

It got my attention.

Why the fuck had she come after a nobody like me when she had her entire life going for her?

“If you’re sure you got this, I’m heading back to the clubhouse.” Bear revved the engine on his Harley and I waved him off before resuming my search for her.

I’d been showing up while my guys were busy sleeping off the night before. Nobody else needed to know what I was doing.

As usual, Celia was one of the last ones out the door. She was wearing another dress with bell sleeves. This one was cream with a pale pink sash and it showcased her curves like a fuckin’ dream. I couldn’t take my eyes off her tan skin, soft tits, and hips that were built for my hands.

Some prick in a letter jacket came up and slung his arm around her shoulders and she grinned as he said something in her ear. I gripped the handlebars and resisted the urge to break the kid’s face.

“She’s gotta get to the library, asshole,” I growled as if he could hear me. That was her routine—on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, Celia studied at the library. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, she hit up a record store that just so happened to be located next door to my tattoo parlor.

At least she had for the last week.

She shook her head and hitched her book bag up on her shoulder with a frown. The prick laughed and said something else and her head dropped.

I lit up a cigarette and watched as the group of guys the kid had walked out with made their way over to give him high-fives before heading my way.

I checked to make sure that Celia had gone on before asking, “Something funny?”

Their heads shot up and Letter Jacket took one look at my bike before smirking. “You here for your whore? I think I saw her go that way.”

I was off my bike and hauling him up by the collar of his jacket as he turned to point. “You don’t talk to her, you don’t fucking look at her. You so much as breathe in her direction, I will find you and castrate you in front of your buddies here. We clear?”

He nodded quickly and I dropped him onto the pavement before climbing back onto my bike. “The same goes for the rest of you fuckers too.”

My Softail Springer roared to life and I left them to piss their pants while I went in search of Celia. I kept her in my sights, but stayed where she couldn’t see me.

She disappeared into the library and I parked a few buildings down, ready to wait the two hours it normally took her to study. Celia’s mother would then pick her up and drive her over to Saint Mary’s for evening confession.

Every single night.

Ma had been sleeping with Angel for years behind my old man’s back and she’d only attended confession once a week and then quit altogether after losing the baby.

Celia’s ma must’ve felt that I’d damned her soul to Hell.

The door to the library opened and she reappeared, checking up and down the street before crossing. She’d never done this before. I blew out a ring of smoke and hopped off my bike to follow.

It had rained the night before, leaving behind cooler weather and humidity so thick you could cut it with a knife.

Celia dodged a puddle and checked her surroundings again before slipping past a rusted gate to the cemetery.

I waited until she sat down beneath a large oak tree before stepping out of the shadows. “Celia.”

She startled at the sound of my voice and looked up at me coldly. “Grey, what are you doing here?”

I glanced around at the sea of headstones and then back at her. “What the fuck are you doing here?”

“Didn’t know you owned this too, although it’s fitting.” Her chin jutted up defiantly and my jeans grew tighter.

She looked even better up close.

She was wearing a brown leather choker with yellow fringe that dangled down in between the swell of her tits and I suddenly couldn’t remember my own name, much less why

I’d decided to follow her here. She arched an eyebrow, clearly waiting for a response.

“You’re supposed to be studying at the library until five-thirty.”

“Are you following me now?” Her thumb absently stroked the necklace pulling my attention back down to her chest.

“Grey, answer me. You said, and I quote, ‘Get the fuck out of here, Celia.’ So, why are you here?”

I rubbed the back of my neck and paced across the damp grass. “Fuck, Celia, I don’t know. I just—why’d you have to go to the bar?”

I was losing control of the situation.

She retrieved a book from her bag and shrugged, refusing to look at me. “I don’t know. I thought I wanted to see you again.”

“And now?” I swallowed hard.

“I think I just want to be left alone. Like you said, I paid my father’s debt to your club.”

I knelt at her feet. “Shouldn’t have fucking said that, Celia.

You can’t disrespect me though. You may not agree with me, but next time, don’t fucking call me out in front of them.”


The way I was talking, she was liable to think that there was going to be a next time. That hadn’t been part of the plan.

None of this had been part of the plan.

The plan had been to fuck her the one time and send her back to Daddy. It had definitely not included killing a man and fucking her in the bathroom of the bar or trailing after her like some horny teenager.

Her eyes flashed with frustration before she bit out, “There won’t be a next time. I think you’ve done enough.”

I settled next to her against the tree trunk and stretched my legs out. “What are you reading?”

“Grey,” she warned.

“Jesus, Celia. I can’t fuck you again. Can I at least ask what you’re reading? Is that against the rules now?”

The corner of her lip began to turn up into a grin, but she caught it at the last second. “I didn’t think bikers followed rules.”

“We don’t… usually. Now, are you gonna tell me what the fuck you’re reading or not?”

She held up the worn textbook. “It’s on Greek mythology and astrology.”

I ran my fingers down the front cover, brushing against hers. “Is this for a class?” I didn’t know what the fuck they taught in school after tenth grade, but I wasn’t about to admit that to her.

Her teeth sank down onto her lower lip. “No, I just like it.”

“So, tell me about it.” She could’ve been reading the fucking periodic table and I would’ve asked for more details.

Her lips parted and she exhaled softly before glancing down at the book. “Oh, well what do you want to know?”

“I wanna know your favorite.” I didn’t know who the fuck this guy was that had suddenly taken over, but Celia was letting her guard down, so I kept it up. “C’mon, Princess.

Don’t leave me hanging.”

She nodded, suddenly serious. “Okay, there’s Icarus. He was the son of a famous craftsman in Greek mythology. His father actually designed the Labyrinth where they kept the Minotaur. It was a monster—half-man, half-bull.” Her eyes sparkled with amusement. “Can you imagine how terrifying that thing would’ve been?”

I nodded, incapable of speech.

“Anyway, so King Minos wanted to keep the Labyrinth a secret so he imprisoned Icarus and his father in a tower.

The father designed two sets of wings from feathers and wax. When it came time to make their escape, Icarus’s father warned him not to fly too low or the feathers would be soaked by the sea. He also warned him not to fly too high because the sun would cause the wax to melt.

“They soared toward freedom, but Icarus forgot his father’s warnings and flew too close to the sun. The wax melted and his wings fell apart. He fell from the sky and drowned in what is now called the Icarian Sea.” She raised her hand to imitate the flight pattern before crashing against my thigh.

“What do you think?”

I thought it was a fucking terrible story, but I liked the feel of her hand on my leg, so I settled for, “That’s it? No happy ending?”

She threw her head back and laughed. “You’re missing the point, Grey. Icarus knew that his path would lead to tragedy, yet he couldn’t resist chasing after it. The sun was Death itself kissing his shoulders, yet he only saw the beauty as he danced in the center of its flames.”

Holy shit, I wanted to fuck her right now.

It was a clear indicator that I was completely fucked in the head. Instead of acting on my urges, I cleared my throat.

“And that’s a star or some shit now too?”

“No, just mythology. I do know a couple about constellations. I think they might even reference them in this book.” She flipped through the pages and the breeze pulled her hair across her face. When I reached out to gently tuck it behind her ear, her shoulders rolled forward in a shiver.

“Are you cold?”

Celia kept her eyes on the book. “Uh, no. I’m okay. Here it is.” She tapped the page excitedly. “Virgo. This is the perfect time of year to see it too.”

I looked down at the picture. “It looks like a box with legs.”

“It’s a woman. The box is her torso and these are her arms and legs. See?”

I didn’t, but nodded anyway.

“Virgo or The Virgin. There are several myths associated with it, but my favorite is the story of Persephone. She was the daughter of Zeus and Demeter. Her mother, goddess of fertility of the earth, was very protective of Persephone and actually hid her away to keep her safe.

“Zeus, on the other hand, allowed Hades, god of the underworld, to abduct her. He knew that Demeter would never agree to the union, so Persephone was taken against her will to become Hades’ bride. In mythology, it’s referred to as The Rape of Persephone.”

I studied a picture on the page. It was two statues—one male and one female. He had the woman lifted up onto his hip and it was obvious she was struggling to get away.

“What happened after?”

She smiled and began gesturing with her hands while she talked. “Well, Persephone was not a willing captive; she refused to eat or even speak to her captor, Hades. He tried to give her the best of everything, but she wouldn’t budge.

“And when her mother found out what had happened, she went crazy with anger and refused to care for the earth. It caused a famine and Zeus was forced to give in to Demeter’s demands and help her get Persephone back.” Her hands dropped back down to her lap. “I’m probably boring you right now.”

I reached over and squeezed her thigh before growling, “Fucking finish the story, Celia.”

Her cheeks turned pink and she fought another smile. “Under the ancient law of Abode, if Persephone had accepted any food in the underworld, then she was no longer a captive, but a guest. That meant that she’d have to stay. Demeter sent a messenger to retrieve her daughter, but they were too late.

“Persephone had eaten pomegranate seeds, sealing her fate. Her mother was devastated and declared to Zeus that nothing would ever grow again if her daughter became death’s bride. So, he compromised. She spent part of the year in the underworld with her husband and the other part of the year, she returned to her mother. Demeter kept her word. When Persephone was with Hades, no crops would grow, but when she returned in the spring, everything began to bloom again.”

“Wait, so Hades just sat back and let Persephone’s ma and Zeus call the shots?”

Celia shrugged. “I mean, Zeus was the ruler of everything. I don’t think anyone went against him and lived to tell about it.”

My thumb traced small circles around her knee and she shivered again before tucking the book inside her bag. “I gotta go. My mother will be here soon.”

“Yeah, I’ve got some shit to take care of too.” I helped her to her feet and stepped back to let her pass. Instead, she surprised me by wrapping her arms around my waist in a hug.

“Bye, Grey.”

I kept my arms down by my sides and my face blank. “Bye, Celia. Record store tomorrow?”

She rested her chin on my chest and her full lips curved up in a smile. “Maybe.”

If it was anyone else, I would’ve demanded a straight answer, but I let her toy with me because I liked seeing her smile. I was also preoccupied with thoughts of fucking her against one of the headstones. My balls tightened at the image and I pushed her away before I could act on it.

“I’ve got business.” I stalked toward the gate when I thought of something. “Celia, what did Persephone want?”

She shifted the book bag on her shoulder and grinned. “Maybe someday I’ll tell you.”

She was a fucking knockout, I’d noticed that much the first night we met, but it was like it increased the more I was around her. Watching her face light up as she smiled or talked about the gods and their troubles, made me feel things that I hadn’t felt since Ma died or the first time I saw Mikey.

I didn’t like it.

It was a fucking complication that I didn’t need.

Deserter: Coming 5.16.19