The Biker Wore Red (Chapter 1, page 1 of 8)

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Chapter 1

The biker wore red. The red leather chaps were fastened over Wrangler jeans; the red leather jacket boasted an array of bold silver zippers and snaps snazzy enough to earn the envy of Michael Jackson fans everywhere. He fell short of fashion plate perfection, though. The steel-toed boots were biker-black standard issue, and both the boots and the Raiders baseball cap pressed down firmly over his wild locks had seen better days.

Between his legs roared the engine of a Harley Easy Rider. At the head of a pack of more than a dozen bikers, he was at home no matter what part of the country they traveled through. Today, he called Arizona home.

The mirrored lenses of his shades reflected a neon sign ahead announcing the Last Chance Grill and Gas. Red glanced at his odometer. Seventy-four miles out of Tucson, and within spitting distance of the Edmond city limits, according to the sign staked out just feet from the turn into the grill. 'City.' That was a stretch. The green sign set the population at 834. Red assumed that included the dog and cat population, if Eli's description held up to close scrutiny.

He signaled a left turn and pulled into the Last Chance parking lot. The pack riding behind him followed his lead and formed a two-by-two wave of chrome and rubber as they poured into the empty lot after him.

*** Niki looked up from the paperback novel pressed open on the counter as the roar of motorcycles announced her first customers all day. It wasn't unusual to see bikers, but this bunch was different, straight out of a Mad Max movie. An ox of a man wearing red leathers and a lanky biker with long, stringy black hair headed her way; the rest dismounted and stood around, smoking cigarettes and checking their bikes for road wear and bug debris.

The door opened, letting in a gust of hot air followed by the two bikers she had spotted heading her way. Niki was trying to determine if the taller of the two was a man or a woman. As they approached the counter, scruffy razor stubble and unabashed crotch scratching cleared up the gender question for her.

"You be Nikita Travis?"

The gruff voice seemed to come from nowhere, but since she had been busily admiring the collection of jewelry and piercings decorating the taller man's head, she assumed the speaker was his companion.

"I'm Nikita. Why?"

"Eli sent us."

Eli? Her Eli? She pictured a fourteen-year-old, sandy-blonde youngster who preferred studying bugs or stars to human companionship. Her junior by eighteen months, they were worlds apart in personality, but had been as close as any brother and sister could be when it came to supporting each other in the months after their mother had walked out, leaving them to care for their old man.

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