Birthday: A River Reapers MC Short Story

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This short takes place toward the end of A Risky Prospect (River Reapers MC, Book 2), and contains some spoilers. Please read A Risky Prospect first!


Cliff

“Shit, fuck,” Lucy says, waddling into the kitchen with one hand on her belly and the other on her back. She isn’t due for another month, but she looks like she’s gonna pop any second. “Cliff!”

“What’s wrong?” I glance up from the parenting magazine I’ve been flipping through while waiting for her. “Isn’t your ultrasound at one? We’ve got time.”

“I know that,” she snaps. She pulls her long red hair up into a messy bun, reminding me a little of Olivia.

“Then what?” Maybe I should be alarmed, but ever since Olivia killed Greg and we got back together, I’ve been calm as fuck. The danger’s over. We can probably live the rest of our lives in peace.

Except my cousin glares down at me, her hands on her hips.

“What?” I repeat, feeling a little like squirming. “What did I do?”

“You forgot Olivia’s birthday!”

Shit, fuck indeed.

I blink up at her, head spinning. I don’t know how this happened. I can’t even blame it on the honeymoon phase I’ve been in. Olivia’s birthday should’ve been my first priority.

“Hey,” I accuse. “You forgot, too.”

“This isn’t about me!” Her hands fly as she tells me off. “You’re the boyfriend. It’s tomorrow, by the way.”

I open my mouth to argue but her glare deepens. By now I know better than to argue with pregnant Lucy. In her regular form she’s terrifying when she’s pissed. Between all the hormones and a bladder-crushing, rib-kicking Bunny, Lucy is on a whole new level of rampage.

“I know it’s tomorrow,” I mutter. “And you know, my birthday passed when we were in Lewisburg and neither one of you noticed.” I fake a pout.

“Wipe that off your face. You’re a guy. No one cares about your birthday.”

Feigning offense, I turn in my seat. “Gee thanks, Luce.”
“Olivia loves her birthday,” she continues. “I usually take her out drinking, and then she picks up some guy. But I can’t be a wingman like this!” Her lips tremble. “Cliff, you have to get her laid.”

“I think I can manage that.” I smirk.

“Not laid! I mean, she’ll love that, but you have to take her out. It’s got to be flashy. Olivia loves flashy. But not too flashy. Don’t propose,” she says, holding up a warning finger.

“I’m not gonna propose,” I mutter. “But what do you want me to do? If I go all out, she’ll freak out. You remember what happened when I asked her to move in with me.”

“Fuck,” she wails, and tears roll down her cheeks. “You’re right!”

“Don’t worry,” I soothe. I stand from the chair and take her into my arms. Her tears leave splotches on my gray T-shirt. “I’ll figure something out. It’ll be special but not too special.”

“Okay.” She sniffles. “We have to go. We’re gonna be late!” She pulls away, her face dry. Before I can say anything else, she’s out the door.

I stand in the kitchen, shaking my head. Pregnancy hormones are no joke. I know she’s serious about this, though. I just have no idea what I’m going to do.

#

By the time I drop Lucy back at her place and ride my motorcycle back to mine, I still don’t know. If I do anything overly romantic, Olivia will freak. I have to tread lightly.
I pace my small apartment, roaming from room to room as if something will give me a clue. Lucy says Olivia loves her birthday, but she hasn’t dropped so much as a hint. Then again, she’s had a lot going on, too. Between playing politics at her new job, nights bartending at The Wet Mermaid, and therapy, she’s barely had time for anything else. What she needs isn’t flashy.

A plan begins unfolding in my mind. It’s a risk, but if I can pull it off, it’ll be worth it. I start making calls. There’s no time to waste.

#

This year Olivia’s birthday falls on a Sunday, which is lucky for me. I pull into Lucy’s driveway in the morning, balancing the Screamin’ Eagle while I shut off the engine and shove the kickstand into place. The porch light is still on, which means Olivia hasn’t come out for her morning cigarette yet. I use my key and let myself in.

“Some fucking birthday,” Olivia says from the kitchen. “I can’t believe you guys forgot.” She stands with her back to me, her hands on her hips.

Lucy faces her and me. A ghost of a smile crosses her lips.
“We didn’t forget,” I say, closing the door behind me. I stroll down the hall and into the kitchen.

Olivia turns, her hands falling to her sides as she sees me. “What are you guys doing?”

“You,” I say, stepping closer to her and placing my hands on the small of her back, “and Lucy have somewhere to be.”

Her head tips back, her lips curling in curiosity. I lean down and place a quick kiss on them. Reaching into my cut, I pull out a small envelope and hand it to her.

Eyes dancing, she slides a finger under the flap and teases the envelope open. Slowly she slides out the printed card stock. “A massage? Really?” She stands on the balls of her feet and throws her arm around my neck.

“And a facial,” I say, meeting her halfway. I let her take my lips, smiling against her mouth as she peppers me with kisses.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you,” she says between each kiss.

“It’s a girls’ day. You two better get going,” I tell her.

“Wait, right now?” She shakes her head. “We have Church.”

“It’s been cancelled. Go get pampered.” I smack her ass lightly and she lets out a little gasp.

“You expect me to believe Ravage cancelled? Yeah, right.”

“You got me. I got him to postpone to tonight. So once you’re all rubbed and relaxed, you have to come by the club house.”

“I’d rather you rub and relax me,” she says, wiggling her eyebrows. Lucy groans.

I take the card from Olivia and turn it over. “Here’s your itinerary.”

“Facial, one-hour massage, Church. Got it,” she says, and kisses me again. “We’d better go, Luce. It’s gonna be tight.” She makes a face, but I can tell she’s pleased. She throws her arms around my neck again. “See you tonight,” she says into my ear, and I know she doesn’t mean Church. If the rest of my plan goes well, neither of us will be sitting at that table.

Olivia

I stretch across the couch in the recovery area, balancing my glass of water on my stomach. “That was amazing,” I exclaim, drawing out the last word. “I don’t want to move.”

Lucy lies on her side on the couch across from me, her water on the coffee table between us. “Me either. I’ve heard of pregnancy massages, but I thought it was just some exorbitant bullshit. I wish I’d done this sooner.”

“I wish I could sneak in a hot stones session. I bet those feel amazing.” I lie in my puddle of bliss for another few seconds, closing my eyes.

“Duty calls,” Lucy chides.

I crack an eye open. She stands over me, her hands on her hips. “Huh?”

“You’ve got Church.” She reaches for my glass of water.

I wrap my fingers tighter around it. “I thought you didn’t approve of my club activities.”

“Since when have you cared what I think? Now up, up. We can come back another time.”

“Yeah, right. Did you see the pricing?” Grimacing, I surrender my glass of water and haul myself up.

She gives me a look.

“What?”

“Nothing.” She lifts a shoulder, but a subtle smile plays on her lips.

“What?” I insist.

“I know you have your thing about relationships,” she says, “but you don’t have to be like me.”

“I’m not like you,” I say, pointing at her belly. “One hundred percent not pregnant over here.”

“Yeah, yeah.” She waves a hand. “I just mean, you don’t have to be allergic to commitment. Especially when you’ve found one of the rare good ones.”

“I thought you didn’t approve of Cliff and me, either.”

She shrugs again. “I mean, it’s a little awkward. But it’s nothing that you can’t work through. You’ve said so yourself: you’re not really family.”

“No, Luce. I didn’t mean it like that. You are my family.”

“And Cliff is mine. I see how much he . . . cares for you. Trust me when I say, women have no problem throwing themselves at him, and he has no problem taking them to his bed. Even as an eight-year-old, I picked up on that. But when it comes to you, he doesn’t see anyone else. He can’t. You’ve bewitched him.” She chuckles. “Just . . . think about it.”

“Think about what?” I ask stubbornly. I already know how good Cliff is for me. He’s proven his loyalty over and over again. But it isn’t loyalty I need.

“Just think about it,” she repeats, grabbing her keys from the coffee table. She tosses them to me, and I miss them. They clink against the marble floor.

Grumbling, I bend over and retrieve them. “All right, Miss Daisy. Let’s get you home.”

I wish I was going home, too.

“Actually,” she says, “we have one more stop to make.”

I cock my head at her. “Luce, I’m gonna be late.”

“Then take me with you. We’ll just stop on the way to the strip club.”

I scoff. “You’re just gonna hang out in the bar?”

“We’re getting ice cream, so I’ll be totally happy.” She bats big green eyes at me.

“I hope your kid gets those eyes and uses them against you,” I say, turning and walking out of the spa.

#

I lead Lucy through the club house, past the dark stages and desolate tables. “Park it here,” I tell her, sitting her at one of the few tables that have normal chairs. “Hopefully I won’t be long.”

“I’m fine here,” she says through a mouthful of ice cream.
“Where did you even get a spoon?”

“I keep one in my purse.” She dips it into the half gallon again. “Want some?”

“That is all you.” I turn in a slow circle, realizing I didn’t see any other bikes outside. “Where the hell is everyone?”

“You’re on time for once,” she jokes. “You’ve thrown off the whole universe.”

I take the seat across from her. “Give me that spoon.”

“Uh-uh.” She pops it into her mouth. Reaching into her purse, she pulls out another and passes it to me.

I take a bite of ice cream, my brow furrowing. I can’t believe all these guys are late. They must’ve gone out for a ride without me. Figures. Even though they say they’re all for having a woman in their club, I bet they do this shit all the time.

The roar of motorcycles approaches, confirming my theory.

“They’re dead men walking,” I mutter, shoving my spoon into the ice cream again. “It’s my birthday, for fuck’s sake. They couldn’t be sexist another day?”

Lucy gives me a quizzical look.

“They rode without me!”

The door opens and a dozen people pour in. Donny walks in with Esther, her arms wrapped around a cake box inside a paper bag. Ravage and Shannon enter behind them, carrying several gift bags. The entire club is here. Abraham even brought his boyfriend, Rui.

“They didn’t ride without you,” Lucy says. She grabs the ice cream lid and snaps it into place.

Someone turns on music. Cliff strolls in last, a bottle of tequila in each hand. But it isn’t the tequila that makes me smile.

“I guess I’m going for a ride after all.”

#

I hug Cliff’s back, my thighs wrapped around his. The Screamin’ Eagle vibrates beneath us, conspiring with the tequila thrumming through my veins. I grind against the seat.

“Hurry,” I call into his ear.

With a twist of the throttle, he zips us forward. The dark night envelopes me, the streetlights bringing back flashes of the party. The speech Shannon gave, speaking about me as if she was an adoring mother. The shots Esther kept feeding me. The rounds of pool that Beer Can let me win. The way Cliff watched it all from the sidelines, letting me enjoy myself without hovering.

Lucy’s words repeat in my head: He doesn’t see anyone else. He can’t.

We pull into the parking lot for his building, Cliff evading cracks and potholes that could tip us over. It’s a good thing I didn’t drive myself. Lucy insisted she had to live vicariously through me and kept bringing me shots, too. I can barely stand.

But I can definitely manage a bed.

Cliff swings off the Screamin’ Eagle and extends an arm to me. Placing my hand in his, I climb down. My feet never touch the ground. He lifts me into his arms, curling me protectively into his chest. Part of me wants to fight it, but it feels too natural. I like it when he takes care of me.

Besides, I don’t think I can walk straight.

I shift until we’re eye level. “Thank you,” I tell him. “I had a really good day.”

“Good.” He swallows, his eyes intent on mine.

I keep pushing him away, yet he knew my birthday and planned all this. I don’t even know his. “When is your birthday?”

“February eighteenth.”

“So just a few days after we . . .”

“Fucked in a stranger’s station wagon. Yep.” He gives me a smug look.

“Why didn’t you say anything?” I touch his face and he turns serious. “We could’ve done something.”

“We did. Besides, I had everything I could’ve asked for. I’d just gotten out, my cousin didn’t hate me like I thought she did, I met this stubborn, determined, beautiful woman who lit my bed on fire . . .” He winks. “You’ll never be able to top that birthday.”

But I will, or I’ll die trying.

I don’t say so, though. Instead I guide his lips to mine, my hand sliding down from his face, caressing his neck, his shoulder. Down, down I move, bringing my hand to rest at his hip. I skim his waistband, cupping his erection through his jeans.

“Let’s get upstairs,” he growls into my mouth.

“Do you think Lucy will be okay getting home?” I ask as he carries me inside.

“I had Esther drive her and Donny followed them.” He takes me up the stairs, my arms wrapped around his neck. As he climbs each step, his hard cock rubs against my thigh through his jeans.

Once inside, he sits on the couch and I straddle him. “Are we christening the couch tonight?” I ask, running my fingers through his hair.

In answer he slips his hands under my shirt, beneath my bra, cupping my breasts. I wrench my tank top up and he leans forward, sucking a nipple between his lips. I pop open the button of his jeans and wrap my hand around him. With my nipple still in his mouth, he lifts me up just enough so that I can kick off my boots and peel off my lace leggings. As I take them off, I hear a low rip.

He freezes, face comically apologetic with my tit in his mouth.

“They were cheap,” I say, tossing them to the floor. I move my panties to the side and rub his head against me. His eyelids flutter closed, the ripped clothing forgotten. At this rate, I’m going to need a whole new wardrobe.

His hands grip my hips, dark eyes only slits as he watches me. I run him up and down my center, shivering as I reach my clit. His head tips back, exposing his throat. Bending forward, I nip at the tender skin, sealing it with a kiss. He lets out a low groan.

“God, Olivia,” he whispers, sending delicious icy tingles down my spine. His fingers dance along my ribs.

“‘Olivia,’ what?” I tease, gripping him. I take his head slow inch by inch, grinding against his shaft.

Pleasure rumbles in his throat, his face slack with bliss. With great effort, he opens his eyes enough to peer down at me. “You gonna make me beg?”

I give him a coy shrug. “It’s my birthday.”

“Then I should be doing the teasing.” Without disconnecting us, he flips us around, laying me down the length of the couch. He positions his knees at the sides of my thighs, still just barely inside me. I start to pout, a reminder that it’s my birthday on my lips. Then he uses his fingers to spread me wide and rubs his thumb against my clit, and I forget about complaining.

Shifting, Cliff plants a foot on the floor, giving me more room on the couch. My legs fall open. He slides deeper into me, still massaging me. Impatient, I reach for him, my hands framing each side of his face. I bring his lips to mine, coaxing him closer to me.

“Please?”

“Who’s begging now?” With a smirk, he obliges, lowering himself onto me. He reaches underneath me, placing his palms flat on my back. In one swift thrust, he plunges all the way in, hitting that spot deep inside me. I cry out, clinging to his back, wrapping my legs around his waist. The angle changes and he withdraws, then slams into me again, his shaft grazing my clit on his way back in. I make another involuntary sound, nails digging into his back.

From the moment we first connected, sex with Cliff has been unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. It’s a vast, blinding starlight rush through veins, nerves, and synapses. I don’t believe in love or soulmates, but if I did, this is how it’d feel.

He rolls his hips, still buried inside me, and it’s enough. I spasm from my core outward, body going slack with surrender. A second later I feel his heat spill inside me. He grazes kisses along my collarbone and I keep shattering in his arms, arms that hold me together.

THE END


Read the River Reapers MC Series

Book 1: A Disturbing Prospect

Until now, Olivia has survived by sticking to two simple rules: love ’em then leave ’em, and live out loud. But her odds—which were pretty good—change when Cliff walks out of prison and into her life. With his long dark hair, gentle eyes, and secrets, she’s dying to unlock him.

Cliff is a survivor, too, and he needs Olivia’s help learning how to live again. But his past catches up with him when he joins the local biker club, the River Reapers. A lifetime membership comes with its own baggage.

Olivia should stay far, far away from him. She shouldn’t get skin to skin with him in the back of someone else’s car, but she does. She definitely shouldn’t get to know the man behind the mugshot, but for the first time in a long parade of one-night stands, she wants to. And she shouldn’t fall for him, but she does. Except their entwined pasts may doom their love before it even begins.

Read A Disturbing Prospect Now

Chapter 1
Kindle Unlimited
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Book 2: A Risky Prospect

Brash social worker Olivia has been through her own personal hell and come out the other side, tattered but determined to make things better in her corrupt town—no matter the cost. Her roommate’s current situation is the perfect place to start.

When ex-con Cliff’s wild ol’ lady Olivia comes to him and the River Reapers for help, he’s on board. His vigilante motorcycle club can get the job done, and it’ll help convince Olivia to take the next step in their relationship.

But when Olivia’s traumatic past walks through the club’s doors, there’s no stopping her from doing whatever it takes to settle her own score. Even if it means crossing a line that Cliff might not be able to pull her back from.

Read A Risky Prospect Now

Chapter 1
Kindle Unlimited
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Novella: Her Mercy

Twenty years ago, Mercy and Bree chose loyalty over love. Now they can do it all over—if he can find her.

War veteran Mercy has an ache in his bones that the MC he built with his best friend doesn’t quite soothe. When beautiful runaway Bree shows up at the club house, both his physical and emotional pain begin to lift.

Despite their substantial age gap, Bree and Mercy find the home they’ve always been looking for in each other. But Bree is buckling under the weight of her own secrets, and they were never far behind her to begin with. When they catch up to her, she runs. Again.

When he finally catches up with her twenty years later, he’s only got one shot to prove to her they belong together.

Her Mercy is a second chance romance that spans decades of heartache, and births the beginning of the River Reapers MC series.

This novella can be read as a standalone.

Read Her Mercy Now

Chapter 1
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Book 3: Coming Soon

Join the River Reapers MC email list to get the latest news! You’ll also receive a free novella. Click here!


Author: Elizabeth Barone

Elizabeth Barone is an American novelist who writes contemporary romance and suspense starring strong belles who chose a different path in life. Her debut novel Sade on the Wall was a quarterfinalist in the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest. She is the author of the South of Forever series and several other books. When not writing, Elizabeth is very busy getting her latest fix of Yankee Candle, spicy Doritos chips, or whatever TV show she’s currently binging. Elizabeth lives in northwestern Connecticut with her husband, a feisty little cat, and too many books.

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