River Reapers MC Quarantine Chronicles: “One Way or Another”

I’m not afraid of anything. I’m Abraham, member of the River Reapers MC. I haven’t earned my Sludge Specter patch yet, but I’ve proven my worth through the years. I’m the only one who voted nay who stayed. That should count for something.

“One Way or Another”
A River Reapers MC Short Story

Author’s Note: Have you been wondering how the River Reapers would handle social distancing? I have! So I wrote a few very short stories, just for fun, just for you and me. The following is unedited, so please excuse any typos or errors. Please also be aware that it may contain spoilers for the series.


“Abso-fucking-lutely not,” I tell him, with an adamant shake of my head. “You’re not going.”

Rui tilts his head, giving me his look. The look—the one that says “Silly boy.” Usually it’s accompanied by a smirk, but this time, there’s a hint of annoyance. “My shift starts in twenty minutes,” he says with a placating smile. “I’ve got to go, Abe.”

I consider my options. I could lift him over my shoulder, handcuff his ass to the bed, and be done with it. I could sweet talk him into staying, using kisses and nuzzles to melt away his decision. Or I could tell him exactly how I feel—expressing feelings, with my words.

I don’t do that shit, though. I never have. I learned early on that feeling anything could get someone like me killed, or at least beat up in every schoolyard, bathroom, cafeteria . . . Name it, I’ve had my ass handed to me in that spot. Then I discovered lifting, protein, good hair products, and the art of keeping my feelings to myself, and everything changed.

Things with Rui are different, though. Things are finally good for me—for the most part. I’m with a man who loves me, and my MC accepts that. At least, on the surface. Not a single one of them have ever said or done anything to make me think otherwise, but I know they don’t approve of me. It’s all because of that God damn vote.

If I’d known that a nay from decades ago would haunt my ass into the future, I’d have just voted yea. At the time, though, I truly believed that Mercy and Ravage were making a run for President and VP. We all believed that, because it was easier to swallow than the truth.

Kind of like right now.

“Baby, please don’t make this any harder than it is,” Rui says. He straightens his N95 mask, which obscures most of his face from me, except for his gentle brown eyes. Those eyes plead with me to understand.

I can’t.

“You’re being reckless,” I say, my volume increasing. I’ve never been able to control how loud I am, especially when I’m emotional. There are too many emotions boiling over right now.

“I’m going where I’m needed,” he soothes.

“You’re going to get sick.” I slash a hand through the air. “Don’t you watch the news?” I flick a glance toward the TV, which I haven’t turned off since this whole thing started.

Rui sighs. “Are you afraid something is going to happen to me?”

I burn at the word “afraid.” I’m not afraid of anything. I’m Abraham, member of the River Reapers MC. I haven’t earned my Sludge Specter patch yet, but I’ve proven my worth through the years. I’m the only one who voted nay who stayed. That should count for something.

“Baby,” Rui croons. “The hospital still has plenty of PPE. We’re not short. We’re testing everyone who comes into the ED. Our caseload is low, compared to the rest of the state. I’m in the safest place.”

“The safest place is here,” I said, “or on the maternity floor, or anywhere else. Not the fucking ICU, Rui. Why would you volunteer to go straight into the shit?”

“Because I’m a nurse,” he says, his soft tone only amplifying my gruff shouts. “I don’t want to look back and say I played it safe. I want to tell our kids—maybe even our grandkids—that I did something, that I mattered.”

“Kids?” I repeat.

“Kids.” His eyes crinkle, and I figure he’s smiling.

I’m not.

“I don’t want kids, Rui. I want us both to be safe. I want us to matter more to you than what people think.”

He blinks. “It’s not about what people think. It’s about what I think of myself. I can’t sleep at night, knowing every day at work I’m spared. It’s not fair.”

“You’re per diem,” I insist. “You’re not obligated to do anything.”

He sighs. “Abe, we’ve been going around and around this for days. Maybe you’re worried that you don’t matter, but this isn’t about you. This is about the difference I can make. Now let me go. I’ve got a twelve-hour shift ahead of me, and this mask is already making me tired.”

I realize I’m standing in front of the door, my limbs spread like tentacles. All of the tension drains from my body. “I just don’t want anything to happen to you,” I whisper. “Without you, I don’t even know if I’m real.”

“You’re real,” he assures me. He steps into me, and my arms wind around him of their own accord.

“I think the quarantine is getting to me.”

“I think you’re scared and you just don’t want to admit it.” He moves my hair out of my face and, standing on the balls of his feet, presses a kiss to my collarbone. “I’m scared too, Abe. But I’m not going to just freeze. This is my way of fighting back.”

I nod, tell him I understand. I just wish I had a way to fight back. I let him go, watching him walk out of our apartment and hoping he hasn’t made a deadly mistake. He’s probably right, that my own insecurities are getting to me.

I love my club.

Even though they all hate me, even though they don’t bother to hide their suspicions. One vote and all trust is lost. I made a mistake. It’s time to prove to my brothers that I can be trusted, that even though I loved Bastard, I was wrong about him. Once this pandemic is done and over with, we can finally move on—one way or another.

I grin into the gloom.

I will fix this.


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River Reapers MC Quarantine Chronicles

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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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