“Yes,”she breathed. “I’ll go out with you on a real date.” His heart felt about ready to beat right out of his damn chest. He was asking her for a chance and she was agreeing to give him one.
“Really?” he asked, knowing his question might give her a chance to change her mind.
“Yes, really,” she agreed. “My only stipulation is that we do it when you’re able to get around better.”
Ryder knew that wouldn’t take him long. The last time he broke his leg was when he was in the Air Force. “Shouldn’t take me too long,” he boasted. “Last time I was getting around after only a week—I got pretty good at using my crutches. And that time, I also had a broken rib to deal with.”
“How many broken bones have you had?” she asked sitting down on the edge of the bed again.
“Five,” he admitted. “I broke both of my arms in a skiing accident when I was about twelve. That was a good time,” he grumbled. “My mother had to take care of me and God, it was embarrassing having her give me a bath.” He made a face and Tatum giggled. “Then when I was sixteen, I broke my collar bone. Talk about pain. That one hurt like a son-of-a-bitch.”
“How did you break your collar bone?” Tatum asked. It was nice that she seemed to take an interest in him. Most women only wanted one thing from him—a quick fuck. Well, that or to become his Ol’lady. Savage Hell had plenty of women who were looking to lock down their very own biker. That would mean that they could hang at the clubhouse whenever they wanted and not just by invitation. Most of the guys Ol’ladies hung around Savage Hell—especially on weekends or when they could find a babysitter. The only time they weren’t allowed in the clubhouse was during church and that was only because they weren’t invited to those private meetings.
“Playing football,” he said. “I was a quarterback on my high school team.”
“Of course you were,” she mumbled.
“Hey—what the hell does that mean?” he asked.
“Just that—is there anything you suck at, Ryder? I mean, you’re a pilot, you were a high school quarterback, and I’m betting you were good. You’re handsome and have a body that looks like you work out way more than the average guy. Does everything come easy to you?” she asked.
“No,” he breathed. She looked like she was going to protest and he held up his hand, stopping her. “I suck at relationships. I already admitted that I don’t date. I hook up with willing women from my club’s bar and when the fun is over, so is our time together. I don’t go on dates,” he said.
“But you asked me on a date,” she protested.
“Honestly, Honey, I think you’re the first woman I’ve asked on a date since high school.” Her gasp filled his bedroom and he smiled. “I guess you’re the first woman I’ve wanted to get to know since then,” he said, shrugging. “I don’t know—maybe I just want more now,” he admitted.
“More?” she asked.
“Sure—you know, settle down with a wife and kids at home—more,” he breathed. Seeing the guys around Savage Hell falling for women, settling down, and having a few brats made him long for things he never thought he would want. Every time one of Savage’s kids were at the bar, he damn near turned into his crazy Aunt Helena, pinching their chubby little cheeks, and talking to them in baby talk gibberish. The rest of the single guys had started giving him shit about it, but he just swept it under the rug, saying that the kid was too cute not to do those things. No one was buying it and neither was he. Ryder wanted to find what Savage had and it was high time he started looking harder for it. Maybe meeting Tatum had triggered him to take a chance for a change and go for what he had been wanting.
Tatum sat quietly on the edge of the bed and he worried that he had said too much. Maybe showing his hand this early in the game was a mistake but he wanted her to know what he was asking when he all but begged her to go on a date with him.
She cleared her throat, “So, broken bones four and five were your leg and your rib then?” she asked, changing the subject.
“Yep,” he said.
“How did they happen?” she questioned. He winced knowing that this story might hit a little close to home.
“I was supposed to be out on drills that morning but faked a stomach bug to get out of them. My commanding officer’s daughter was visiting the base and she asked me to spend the day with her,” he said. She was watching him and he hated admitting this next part. “She asked me to go for a drive and we parked for a little bit and well, you know—fooled around. She told me that she always wanted to date a guy in the Air Force and I, not so tactfully, explained that I didn’t want to date anyone. I told her I was just fine with having sex in the backseat of her car but dating her was crossing a line for me.”
“Oh,” Tatum breathed. “I bet that pissed her off. I mean, it had to hurt her feelings.”
“Yeah,” he said. “She was good and pissed—kicked me out of the car.”
“Good for her,” Tatum almost cheered and Ryder shot her a look. “Sorry, but you were an ass.” He wanted to tell her that he could still be an ass, that he was basically that same guy, and the only difference between him and past him was that he wanted to change. He wanted to try to be the guy who dated, the guy who got the girl and lived happily ever after. He just worried that same young asshole was so ingrained in him that he might never shake him loose.
“I got out of her car and was pulling on my clothes by the trunk. She got dressed and hopped into the driver’s seat and thought I had started walking. Instead, I was bent over, behind her car, putting on my boots.”
“No,” Tatum almost shouted. “Tell me that she didn’t run you over,” she said.
“I can’t tell you that, Honey,” he grumbled. “She ran me over and broke my right leg and a rib.”
“You have a type,” she said, giving in to her fits of giggles. “You have a thing for women who run you over with their cars. And here I thought I was the first woman to run you down and break your leg. My feelings are hurt.”
Ryder sat up and grumbled something about her being a crazy-ass woman and she tried to sober. “I do not have a thing for women who run me over. And, I don’t have a fucking type,” he griped. “I never saw her again. My commanding officer made sure of that and he also made my life hell for the next six months. As soon as I was better, he put my name on the training roster every damn day for six months—no breaks, no time off. It was miserable.” He couldn’t wait to graduate from basic training and move on, although his reputation followed him for a damn long time. He never was able to break away from the rumors that followed him about how he broke his leg and rib. Although, after time, the story had changed so much, no one was telling the right one.