As I reached the summit, I decided that cost be damned, my new Camalot was by far the best toy I'd ever purchased. The camming device had been a splurge just before I'd lost my last job; I really did have a serviceable one that I could have been using. However, after last year's attempt to take this particular route had gone badly, I decided that the purchase of a new Camalot was worth it if it avoided another trip to the ER - which was certainly more expensive, I rationalized.
I looked out over the area and smiled. This really was a good view. It had been recommended at one of the local sports shops last year, where I'd found a group of like-minded rock climbers posting on the bulletin board. It was a low tech means of finding people, but it had been pretty effective. I had now gone on numerous climbs with a combination of the five people, two of which were with me today. Although I wouldn't call them friends really - I'm picky with that term - we were all friendly with one another and certainly had this addiction in common.
"You got any plans after we get back tonight, Sarah?" Michele asked as she huffed beside me and I shook my head.
"Not much," I responded. I'm bad at small talk, but I do try on occasion. "My boyfriend is probably coming over." Eh. I didn't love the term boyfriend, but I couldn't very well go around calling Juice 'my man'. That sounded a bit dramatic, even if I liked it when Juice called me his woman.
"Boyfriend, Sarah?" Clay asked and I nodded but didn't respond. That's what I said, so I wasn't sure what he was questioning.
"Well, now that's a damn shame," came his response and I looked at him like he'd grown another head. The group had always teased each other about our climbs and gear, but we'd never really gotten too deep into discussions of our lives. This conversation was looking exactly like the kind of thing that was going to have me looking for new climbing partners.
Instead of answering him, I shrugged and began working on getting ready to head back down. If we did it properly, we'd be back to Charming by ten, which would give me time to shower before Juice came over. I smiled at the thought, remembering Juice's look when I'd said he could come if he wanted to. He'd looked at me in disbelief that I would question his desire to spend time with me. I don't know how this happened, but the man who'd pulled a gun on me when we first met was now treating me like I walked on water. I chuckled to myself. He and I were going to have to come up with a cover story for our first meeting. People tended to ask those questions, and I'd hate for them to get the wrong idea about his and my relationship if thing between us continued.
"Ready to roll?" I asked Michele and she nodded. Of the group, she and I probably matched in personality the best. She knew I wasn't big on people and seemed to generally be okay with it. Rather, she tended to like to just have another girl out there with her. As we gathered our things, I saw Clay give me a look but I didn't bother to try interpreting it. It was time to head home.
As the van pulled in to the lot of my apartment, I was turning on my phone. I heard Clay say "What the hell?" and looked up, confused. As I peered over his shoulder, I saw that there were three Sons, including Juice, waiting. They looked tense - the kind of tense that comes from being worried. On the thought, my phone started pinging like crazy. I'd missed fifteen texts and four calls while we were out today. Shit. Maybe I should have told Juice I'd be unreachable? I was about to say something to Clay when he turned the van around and headed right out of the parking lot, stepping on the gas.
"Clay, what are you doing?" Michele demanded and I looked at him like he was crazy. As he answered, I could hear the rumble of motorcycles getting closer. Clay must have heard it, too, because he sped up even more.
"Clay!" I yelled, not knowing what the fuck he was doing, but pretty sure that he was looking to get into a world of hurt for his impulsive action.
"There's a fucking biker gang waiting in your lot, Sarah! I'm taking you somewhere safe." Alright, fuck head was going to get me in deep shit and get himself killed. You don't run from a predator and if the Sons were anything, they were the human equivalent of predators.
"Stop the van, Clay. I know them." I demanded as the roar of motorcycles became almost deafening. Juice and his two brothers were now surrounding the van. Shit. Could this get any more dramatic and ridiculous?
"You what?" He asked and Michele gave me a look of shock.
"The one in the lead there is my boyfriend, you idiot!" I yelled and Clay slammed on the brakes. I grabbed my bag and huffed before sliding the side door open. "Leave, before this becomes an even bigger fucking mess." I said as I got out.
When I stepped out of the van, I saw that Juice's two brothers were behind and to the sides of the vehicle, their hands in their kuttes. They probably had their guns ready. Juice, on the other hand, was off his bike and striding toward me with a murderous expression. I raised my hands to him, trying to placate the anger I could see flowing across his entire body.
"It was a misunderstanding, Rocky. He thought he was protecting me." I said as Juice reached me and pulled me into him. I ran my hands up his back, trying to calm his raging breathing. "It was just a mistake. I'm fine. No one is taking me from you," I said, thinking that maybe that would help to get him to ease up.
"Get on the bike, Sarah." He demanded and I nodded. As I started to walk toward it, I heard Clay call out of his window.
"I'll call the cops for you, Sarah. Just hang on." On the words, Juice swung toward the van, looking like he was going to rip the door off its hinges to get to Clay.
"Clay! Don't be a moron. I'm not in any danger. You are if you don't shut the fuck up and go away!" I yelled before I jogged back to Juice, who'd pulled away from me to start toward Clay.
"Baby, can you take me home?" I asked, my hand on his bicep. He was breathing heavily, his face hard. "Please?" I asked and leaned up to kiss the corner of his mouth. He closed his eyes and gripped my waist then nodded. We turned to his bike and he handed me the helmet and got on. I followed, using his shoulder as a balance. In seconds, we were turned around to go back to my place. Juice stared Clay down as we passed the van, and I could see Michele watching with wide eyes as we passed. Fucking great. Now, I had to either lose my climbing partners, or figure out a way to get them and Juice all on the same let's-not-kill-each-other page.