Rhythm of the Road - Autumn Jones Lake

Chapter One

Certain people who come into your life change you in ways you can’t fathom at the time.

For me, one of those people is Shelby Morgan.

Whether she’s changed me for the good or bad remains to be seen.

Haven’t laid eyes on her since earlier this summer.

But not a day’s gone by when she hasn’t been on my mind.

Then, there are other people in your life. The ones who are hell-bent on annoying the shit out of you. That honor goes to my Lost Kings MC brother and road captain at the moment.

“Oooh, Shelby, I loooove you.” Jigsaw hugs himself and kisses the air in front of him, earning laughs from the rest of the guys.

“Shut the fuck up.” I cross my arms over my chest and stare at the road straight ahead, determined not to punch Jiggy this afternoon. No matter how much he’s begging for it.

Where the fuck are they?

I pull out my phone. No text from Murphy. No response to the last text I sent Shelby either. Not that I’m worried or anything.

“You want to head up without ’em?” Jigsaw gestures toward the road. “I’ll tell Murphy you got tired of waiting.”

“We all ride together.” Exasperation colors my refusal. The bond of brotherhood is the whole point of both charters riding to the country music festival together. Taking off on my own sends the wrong message.

The rhythmic thrum of a half-dozen Harleys punctures the suburban quiet. I lift my head and slip my phone in my pocket. Finally.

We have plenty of time to kill before Shelby goes onstage but I’m still itching to get on the road.

A few minutes later, Murphy and Dex thunder into the parking lot with several other brothers and the club’s plain, black cargo van trailing behind them. They execute a lazy but loud circle around the building. Murphy pulls in near us and shuts down his bike. A few seconds later, he swaggers his big, ginger ass my way.

“What’s up, brother?” he greets, tapping my knuckles and lifting his chin. He shakes a few hands and accepts quick back slaps from everyone else before returning to me.

His wife, Heidi, bounces over and gives me a quick hug. “Are you excited to see Shelby?”

I’m not touching her question. “How you been, little hammer?”

Her lips curve into a sly smile at the new nickname she earned by being a badass ol’ lady. “Behaving myself.”

“I doubt that.” I reach into my back pocket and pull out an envelope. “This is from Z and me.”

She tilts her head and slowly takes it.

Murphy raises an eyebrow while he waits for her to take a peek inside.

“Oh my God!” Heidi squeals and flails her hands in the air. The envelope floats to the ground and I lean down to grab it.

“Will you add it to your vest?” I ask. She’s not wearing her ‘Property of Murphy’ patch tonight—a civilian event like the outdoor music festival we’re attending just isn’t the place for it.

“You bet I will.” She grins at the small rectangular patch embroidered with three symbols: a four-leaf clover, a crown, and a hammer. “Murphy’s queen carries a hammer.”

“Yup. Swings it well, too.” I hand the envelope to her again. “You missed one.”

“Rooster?” She pulls out my patch of a rooster wearing a crown. The king of cocky bastards. “You’re giving me your patch?”

“I know you’re an upstate old lady and the officers there already gave you their patches a long time ago.” I glance at Murphy. “But the loyalty you’ve shown the club and the way you’re always there for your man—the world should know I’ll have your back if they fuck with you.”

“Rooster, that’s so sweet.” She reaches up on tiptoes and gives me another quick hug. “Thank you.”

Murphy holds out his hand. “Thanks, brother.”

“Thanks for making the rest of us look like assholes,” Jigsaw says, joining us to inspect Heidi’s new patches.

“You don’t need my help to do that.”

Heidi frets for so long about where to put the patches so she doesn’t lose them tonight, I almost regret not giving them to her later. Murphy ends up stashing them in the pocket inside his cut.

“I wish Z was coming with us too,” she says.

“I don’t think he’s a country music fan.”

“He was an admirer of fine ladies in denim cut-offs,” Ravage says, joining our group. “Until he settled down with Lilly.”

Heidi rolls her eyes at him. “I’m pretty sure Lilly will wear whatever he wants.”

“More hotties for us!” Ravage and Jigsaw high-five each other.

Murphy and I