River Reapers MC Quarantine Chronicles: “A Sense of Purpose”

But I’m a romantic at heart; I want someone riding behind me. Or better yet, beside me, the way Cliff has Olivia. I look at them and the world makes more sense, in the way that the MC used to frame things for me.

They’re our future.

“A Sense of Purpose”
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.


I’m the only one in the club who isn’t attached in some way. I put my dark and silent phone to the side, our second Zoom meeting over. With everyone homebound, the rules for Church changed a little—enough for me to see the rules changed for me, too.

Pru is now with Beer Can.

It’s cool—we were never exclusive or anything like that. It was just for fun. But Beer Can, really? It’s like looking at Beauty and the Beast.

I know, I know. I’m bitter, and I sound it. I guess deep down I kind of hoped that my occasional nights with Pru might turn into something more. My everything is comprised of the MC and my family, and my work at the strip club, in no particular order. The lines between them are blurred. The MC gave me The Wet Mermaid. Before, I had the management experience but not the purpose, not the means. Now I have it all. But I’m a romantic at heart; I want someone riding behind me. Or better yet, beside me, the way Cliff has Olivia. I look at them and the world makes more sense, in the way that the MC used to frame things for me.

They’re our future.

I stand in the middle of the empty strip club, the stage and bar dark. I’ve been coming down here a few times a week, just to check in, make sure everything is okay. Everything is always just fine. Without this place, without my club, I’m at loose ends. I have no purpose. I drift through my house and the club house, untethered, unattached. I’m pushing fifty and I have no wife, no children of my own, no one to fill my days when I’m not needed. This pandemic has made it clear that I’m not needed.

Strip clubs, after all, are hardly essential businesses.

Arguably, anyway.

For me, The Wet Mermaid is essential. It’s a moot point now. Pushing my hand through dirty blond hair streaked with gray, I give the club one last looking over. Not a chair is out of place. For the first time in years, I’m caught up on sales and use tax filings. The stage gleams. I’m like a mother whose children have all flown the nest.

I need a purpose. At the least, I’ll take a hobby. I can’t remember the last time I had anything like that. Years and years ago, I played co-ed softball. It was just for fun, when I was young—really just a way to occupy myself, to stay out of trouble for my mother’s sake. Then I met Ravage and discovered riding, and I didn’t need to fill my time anymore. I just fell into place.

Rapping on the door yanks me out of my thoughts. “We’re closed,” I call out even as I make my way over. Through the glass I see her, her dark hair not dark enough to hide the bruise blooming around her eye. My eyes drop down to her fist, also bruised and a little bloody. A medical grade mask hides her mouth and nose.

“Be careful what you wish for,” I mutter, unlocking the door. “Are you okay?” I ask her.

She pushes past me, out of the sunlight and into the cool exterior of the strip club. Her wild eyes appraise the bar, settling back on me as if she already knows she’s safe here. “Pru told me to come here,” she says through the mask. “Is . . . Shannon around?”

I nod as understanding dawns. She’s another stray. This is usually Shannon’s territory. My gaze dwells on her mask. I didn’t wear one; I hadn’t planned on coming into contact with anyone. I came straight here and I planned on going straight home. I can’t exactly turn her away, though.

“She’s not,” I say. “I’m Mark. What’s your name?”

She hesitates. “I . . . Pru told me to ask for Shannon.”

I hold back a frown. I don’t know why Pru gave her this address instead of Shannon’s Haven, but she’s here now and that’s what I’ve got to focus on. I pull down a couple of chairs and seat myself, hoping she’ll feel more comfortable with me sitting. “Usually Shannon’s at the shelter—Shannon’s Haven,” I explain. “This is, uh . . .” I wave a hand around. “A strip club.”

“Pru works here,” she says, nodding. “I know. She says you can hook me up with a job here, too.”

“Me?” I peer at her a little more closely. Doesn’t she realize we’re in the middle of a pandemic? No one is working. The dark circles under her eyes tell the story of a woman who’s been living in hell for quite some time. When she runs a hand through her hair, I catch a wide shock of white buried underneath all that silky black.

“You’re Mark, right?” She lifts green eyes to mine, an emerald green that shocks me, freezing me in place.

I nod, because I can’t form words.

“Pru told me to ask for Shannon . . . and Mark.” She licks her lips. “I just didn’t know if I could trust you.”

I nod again. I’ve given jobs to more wary women than I can count. Even the men who work here—our bouncers—are refugees of some sort. The Wet Mermaid is a safe haven of its own accord.

She remains standing in front of me, this mystery women. My eyes drop to her knuckles again, and I jerk my chin toward them.

“I’m guessing he won’t be a problem anymore.”

“No,” she says. “He won’t.” She tilts her head, watching me, waiting.
I push my hand through my hair, thinking. “Well,” I say after a few moments, “we’re closed, for the time being.”

Her shoulders droop.

I stare at the mask.

“A nurse in the ER gave this to me.” She holds up her left hand, exposing splinted fingers to me. “I . . . He didn’t keep a TV or anything in the house. I kinda just got the crash course.”

“Okay,” I say, and words start falling from between my lips before I can think about what I’m saying. “You can stay here. I’ll go get your paperwork. We’ll furlough you so you can collect. I’ll check in and train you to be a cocktail server . . .”

“No,” she says, lifting those intense green eyes to mine. “I used to be a dancer—a competitive dancer. He took that away when we got married. I want to dance again. Give me the stage.”

The word “married” barely registers. Her determination, the resolve in her eyes, her knuckles—all of it enthralls me.

I’m a goner.


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River Reapers MC Quarantine Chronicles

Thank you so much for reading the River Reapers MC Quarantine Chronicles! “A Sense of Purpose” may be the last in this miniseries, but there are more RRMC stories coming your way.

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River Reapers MC Series

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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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