Straddling the Line - By Sarah M. Anderson
Josey took a deep breath, squared her shoulders and opened the door to Crazy Horse Choppers. She did this all while managing to completely ignore the impending sense of doom in her stomach—a sense of doom that told her soliciting educational donations from a motorcycle shop, no matter how upscale, was a hysterically bad idea.
The waiting room smelled of expensive leather and motor oil. Two black leather chairs with chrome accents sat on either side of a coffee table that was a sheet of round glass precariously perched on a collection of motorcycle handlebars twisted to form a base. Josey knew money when she saw it, and that furniture said custom-made. One wall was covered with autographed photos of her prey, Robert Bolton, with every kind of celebrity and pseudo-celebrity. A wall of glass separated the room from the actual shop. Several large, scary-looking men were working—with the kinds of tools she needed—on the other side of the wall. Bad idea or no, she was desperate. A shop class wasn’t a class without shop tools.
That thought was cut short by a hard-looking woman—stringy hair that was supposed to be blond, tattoos practically coming out of her ears and more piercings than Josey could count—shouting, “Help you?” over thrashing music. Metallica, Josey thought.
The receptionist sat at a glossy black desk that looked to be granite. On the wall behind her hung a tasteful arrangement of black leather motorcycle jackets emblazoned with the Crazy Horse logo. The woman looked horribly out of place.
A second later, the music quieted—replaced with the high whine of shop tools cutting through metal. The receptionist winced. Josey immediately revised her opinion of the woman. If she had to listen to that whine all day, she’d resort to heavy metal to drown it out, too.
“Hello,” Josey said, sticking out her hand. The woman looked at Josey’s manicure and bangle bracelets and curled a lip. It was not a friendly gesture. Undaunted, Josey just smiled that much sweeter. “I’m Josette White Plume. I have a nine-thirty appointment with Robert Bolton.” After another beat, Josey pulled her hand back. She kept her chin up, though.
So what if the receptionist looked like she’d come to work directly from an all-nighter? Bikers were people, too. At least that’s what Josey was going to keep telling herself. A happy secretary was the difference between getting a purchase order pushed through in a week versus six months.
The receptionist—the name tag on her shirt said Cass—leaned over and flipped a switch on an intercom. “Your nine-thirty is here.”
“My what?” The voice that came over the other end was tinny, but deep—and distracted.
Didn’t Robert remember she was coming? She’d sent an email confirmation last night. The impending sense of doom grew. Josey swallowed, but managed to do so quietly.
Cass shot her a look that might be apologetic. “Your nine-thirty. More specifically, Bobby’s nine-thirty. But he’s in L.A.—or did you miss that?”
Wait—what? Who was in L.A.? Who was Cass talking to?
The doom in her stomach turned violent, hitting her with a wave of nausea. Dang, but she hated it when those stupid senses were on target.
She thought she’d been prepared. She’d spent weeks e-stalking Robert. She’d spent hours scrolling through his social networks, taking detailed notes on with whom he was meeting and why. She knew his favorite food (cheeseburgers from some dive in L.A.), where he bought his shirts (Diesel) and which actresses he’d been spotted kissing (too many to count). Her entire pitch—down to the close-cut, cap-sleeved, black wool banquette dress she was wearing—was built around the fact that Robert Bolton was a slick, ego-driven salesman who was making his family’s choppers a national name. Heck, she knew more about Robert Bolton than she knew about her own father.
But none of that mattered right now. She was completely, totally unprepared. More than anything in this world, Josey hated being unprepared. Failure to plan was planning to fail. Being unprepared was about the same thing.
She’d been unprepared for Matt’s rejection of her two years ago. She’d already been making plans, but in the end—because there was always an end—he’d chosen his family over her. She didn’t “fit,” Matt had claimed. And what he’d really meant was that, because she was a Lakota Indian, she didn’t fit in his world. And, as a white man, he had no interest in fitting in hers. Not permanently.
The voice on the other end of the intercom grumbled, “I’m aware Bobby’s in California. Is it a client or a supplier?”
“Then why the