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“I don’t want to say that it serves you right but it did. You just used her for sex and then told her to get lost,” Tatum accused.

“Well, when you put it like that, yeah—it makes me sound like an ass. I thought she knew that score but I was wrong. Lesson learned—a very painful lesson,” he grumbled.

“Is that the score with us?” she asked.

“You know it’s not, Tatum,” he said. “I told you that I want to take you out on a real date. I want to get to know you.”

“Good to know,” she breathed. Tatum stood from her side of the bed again. “And, if things don’t work out, I’ll just run you over with my car again,” she teased.

* * *

Two weeks passedand every time Ryder told Tatum that he was ready to go on their date, she came up with some excuse of being too busy. She started a new job at a little clothing boutique, downtown on Bridge Street, and he barely saw her. They were roommates and that was about all they were, even though he spent just about every waking hour trying to figure out how to change that.

He was getting around pretty well but he was still grounded and he hated not being able to fly. His clients would stick around and be there when he was ready to head back to work but sitting around his house was getting old. Plus, he hadn’t been back to Savage Hell since Tatum ran him over with her car and he was itching to get back to his club and his buddies. His doctor told him that he could drive his truck as long as he was off the painkillers and he tossed them down the toilet after the first week. His pain was manageable with the over the counter stuff.

Tatum headed to work earlier than usual and he decided to take a quick bath and then head into the bar. He wanted to check in with Savage and he was usually in the bar in the morning to do inventory. He just hoped that he didn’t run into Hart. From the few text messages that he got from some of the guys, Hart was still pissed that Tatum was living with him, but that was Hart’s own damn fault. If he had helped his sister when she asked him to, they wouldn’t be dealing with any of this shit. Honestly, Ryder was happy that Hart acted like an ass and told his sister to figure her shit out. He was pretty happy with their living arrangements.

A few times, Tatum had mentioned that she was looking for another place to rent, but that would mean that she’d have to have another roommate to be able to afford the place. He told her that he wasn’t in any rush to have her leave but she didn’t seem to believe him. Hell, he’d even milked the whole pain factor for longer than he had to, hoping she’d believe he needed her. He did need her, just not the way she was thinking.

Every day he spent around her was sheer agony. Knowing that she had never been with another man-made him just about crazy. His inner caveman raged to life every time he thought about taking her, making her his, and keeping her as his own. But she wasn’t willing to even give him a date, so how would he make that happen? He couldn’t and coming up with another plan was his only hope. Unfortunately, Ryder was out of ideas, and every day that passed, he worried that she was going to make good on her promise and find another place to live. Then where would he be? Back to square one—lonely and wanting things he’d never dreamed of having in his life.

By the time he finally hobbled into Savage Hell, it was lunchtime and he had to admit, spending the afternoon with his club sounded like a fucking great idea.

“Hey man,” Savage said. His club’s Prez was standing behind the bar and God, it was good to see him. “Long time, no see,” he said.

“Yeah, well, I’ve been laid up,” Ryder said, holding out one of his crutches as if trying to prove his point. “Getting run over by a hot brunette in a sports car really took it out of me,” he teased.

“Yeah—I bet,” Savage said. “How are things with the hot brunette?” he asked.

“Slow,” Ryder admitted. Savage laughed and poured him a beer, sliding it across the bar to him. Ryder sat up on the barstool and leaned his crutches against the bar. “Thanks, man,” he said.

“So, not making leeway with Hart’s sister?” Savage asked.

“No,” he grumbled. “It’s complicated.” Even though Savage was one of the few people that Ryder trusted with his life, he wouldn’t share the details of what was happening between him and Tatum—which right now was nothing. He hadn’t even kissed her since their first night at his place when she made him dinner and then ran off to her room to lock herself away. He’d tried to touch her, kiss her, hold her but every time he did, she pushed him further away.

“It always is, man,” Savage joked. “What do you plan on doing about her?” he asked.

“No clue,” Ryder admitted. He drank down half his beer and sat back on the stool. “She agreed to go on a date with me but it’s been two weeks and I’m starting to think she changed her mind.” That thought had crossed his mind a few times and he wished she’d give in and go out with him just once.

“Sounds like my sister’s just come to her good senses and is trying to turn you down easy, Ryd.” He turned to find Hart standing behind him and Savage sent him an apologetic look.

“Sorry, man,” Savage mock whispered. “I’ll leave you two to talk and put in an order for you, Ryder. You want the usual?” he asked. A burger and fries sounded like heaven about now. Tatum was an awesome cook but he missed his greasy, unhealthy burgers from Savage Hell.

“Yeah—thanks, man,” he said. Savage disappeared back to the kitchen and Hart sat down on the stool next to Ryder.

“You feeling better, Ryd?” Hart asked.

“Getting there,” Ryder said.

“How’s my sister?” Hart questioned.

“You know you can call her and ask her that, right?” Ryder said.

“She won’t answer my calls,” Hart said. “I’ve tried every day since she ran you down in the parking lot. My sister has a stubborn streak a mile long and when she decides that she’s mad, it takes her a damn long time to get over it.”

“I’m learning a lot about your sister’s stubborn streak,” Ryder mumbled. Hart laughed but Ryder found the whole thing a lot less funny.

“Well, I won’t pretend to feel bad for you, man. I warned you to stay away from my sister. She’s not like us, Ryd. She’s been through so much but she’s also naïve. That’s partly my fault—I’ve sheltered her from the rest of the world. She had to take care of our dying mother—that was something I couldn’t protect her from, unfortunately,” Hart said.

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