myself to go to that well of temptation again — I turn away and head to the other end of the bar, where I chop limes and don a bitchy expression that I hope will keep him away.

Why do men like him always end up going for me?

And why do they always turn out exactly like I expect? Great for one night, but anything more than that and they leave me wanting to pull my hair out in frustration.

The guy in leather takes the hint, his glasses, and rejoins his friends at their table. And I keep my focus on chopping limes while my brain scrambles for something else to do next to keep me busy and away from Mr. Smokey-voiced biker, because it’s a slow night in my bar, the Timberline Tavern, and those four bikers are my only customers at the moment. It’s just me, my waitress and best friend, Kendra, the bouncer, Teddy, and the back-of-house cook, Emilio.

What can I do next to avoid those bikers? And that one biker in particular?

Unfortunately, my question answers itself. There’s a heavy thud as the front door to my bar opens and, before I can even look to see who is arriving, Kendra comes scurrying toward me with a frightened look on her face.

“Switchblade is here,” she says.

I nod. “Go check on Emilio in the kitchen. See if he needs help with anything.”

“Thanks, Vi,” she says, with a grateful sigh. “I owe you. He’s just been getting worse and worse each day. I swear I saw him outside my house last Tuesday.”

“Serious? Outside your home?”

“Yeah. I’m freaked. What’s it going to take to get him to stop?”

“I don’t know. But I’ll think of something. Get back in that kitchen. Take your time,” I say, and then, feeling my stomach rumble, I add, “Maybe make me a sandwich.”

She laughs, puts her hand on my shoulder. “You’re the only person I’d ever let tell me that.”

“Not even Teddy?” I say, winking.

“Not until he actually makes a move and asks me out,” she says. Then looks back over her shoulder. There are four more bikers posting up at an empty table. They’re members of the local MC — the Death’s Disciples — and I can already feel a headache coming on. There’s Switchblade, their enforcer, their president, Roger ‘Dread’ Deacon, and two others that go by the names Knuckles and White Skull. Though I have no intention of getting close enough to them to actually read the road names on their rockers. “Anyway, I have to go. Be safe.”

“I’ll be fine,” I say to her back as she hurries away toward the kitchen.

I turn my attention back to my limes. I’ve made a mountain of them and have no plans on stopping. At least, not until my customers from hell go away.

“Hey. Bartender, get your ass over here,” Dread shouts the second his fat ass plops itself into a chair.

Setting down my lime-cutting knife, I scurry over to their table. I can feel eight sets of eyes — the four Death’s Disciples and the four newcomers — on me every step of the way. It’s not a pleasant feeling.

“Can I get you guys something?”

Switchblade looks me up and down like a butcher surveying a hog he can’t wait to string up and dissect. “Where’s your waitress?”

“She’s in the kitchen.” I answer, curtly.

“Get her out here. Now.”

I smile at him, sweetly. “You know, you are the last person I expected to have a problem with a woman being in the kitchen. Are you secretly a feminist, Switchblade?”

“I don’t give a fuck about that shit. Where’s Kendra?” He growls.

I keep my smile and turn my attention away from Switchblade and to his president, Dread. Despite his nickname — which is well-earned, from all the rumors I’ve heard since I moved to Carbon Ridge four years ago — Dread is one of the more reasonable members of the Death’s Disciples MC. Which, admittedly, is not a very high bar.

“Dread, how about a round on the house for you and your boys?”

He nods, once, slow, his chin sinking into the fat around his neck and forming two more chins. “Fine. Whiskey. And if it’s some of that bottom shelf shit, you won’t like what happens.”

“Sure thing,” I say, still smiling, and I hustle back to the bar. I spend a second looking over my bottles, trying to find one that’ll meet his requirements without hitting me too hard in the wallet; Carbon Ridge is a small town in Colorado, close to Aspen and, until ski season starts up and tourists start coming in, business is slow. And it’s been real quiet lately because ski season is still a month or two away.

“You have a problem with those dickheads over there?”

I turn. It’s the same stranger as before. With another handful of cash and a semi-concerned look on his face. He’s easier on the eyes now that his expression has softened a bit. I look from his chest to the road name on his patch.

“No, Crash. I mean, I have a problem with them, yes, but it’s nothing I can’t handle. Don’t worry about it.”

“I ain’t worried. And I ain’t getting involved, either. But if they’re going to keep you busy, then how about you make this next round a double?”

I roll my eyes. “Glad to see chivalry isn’t dead.”

I pour him a round of doubles, then snatch up four glasses and a bottle of some good-quality whiskey, and head over to the Death’s Disciples. Four glasses go down on their table, I fill each to the brim — cringing as I do, because I can feel my pockets getting lighter with each glass — and pray that the free booze is enough to keep these meat heads out of my hair for a

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