Straddling the Line - By Sarah M. Anderson Page 0,1

hell are you bothering me?” The intercom snapped off with an audible huff.

“Sorry,” Cass said, clearly not. “Can’t help you.”

The dismissal—blunt and heartless—took all of her nerves and grated on them. Josey would not be ignored. If there was one thing she’d learned from her mother, it was that a silent Lakota Indian woman was a forgotten Lakota Indian woman. Because that’s what she was—a Lakota woman.

She’d tried not being one, and that had just gotten her heart trampled on. After the affair with Matt had ended so spectacularly, she’d quit her job as a corporate fundraiser in New York and come home to her mother and her tribe. She’d somewhat foolishly thought they’d welcome her with open arms, but that hadn’t happened, either.

So here she was, doing her best to prove that she was a full member of the tribe by building a school in the middle of the rez. But schools were expensive to build, more expensive to equip. So what if Crazy Horse Choppers had a reputation for being less than warm and fuzzy toward charitable causes? So what if Robert Bolton wasn’t here? Someone was up there, and whoever it was would have to do. Screw being unprepared. Winging it had its advantages.

“Sure you can. You probably run this whole place, don’t you?”

Cass smiled—without making eye contact, but it was still a smile. “Damn straight I do. Those boys would be lost without me.”

Josey considered her line of attack. “You aren’t old enough to have school-aged children—” Cass’s head popped up, a pleased smirk on her face. She might be thirty-five or fifty-five—there was no telling with all those tattoos. But flattery could get a girl everywhere—if well done. And Josey could do it well. “I’m raising money for the vo-tech program at a new school, and I thought a chopper shop would be the perfect place to start.”

So that was a lie. This was a last-ditch attempt to get some equipment. She’d started out approaching big manufacturers and had slowly worked her way down the food chain to local auto repair shops, remodeling contractors and even shop teachers at wealthier schools. Nothing. Not a damn thing.

Josey had gotten a twenty-two-year-old internet billionaire to give a few computers, a television chef who was on a healthy food kick to pay for some kitchen equipment and a furniture place to give her last year’s model dining room tables and chairs to use for desks. She couldn’t pry a band saw out of anyone’s cold, dead hands. Against the vocal protests of a small group of school board members, led by Don Two Eagles, who wanted nothing to do with bikers in general and Boltons in particular, she’d decided to try Crazy Horse.

What did she have to lose? The school opened in five weeks.

“A school?” Doubt crept across Cass’s face. “I dunno…”

“If I could just talk to someone…”

Cass shot her a mean look. Right. She was someone, so Josey pulled out a brochure and launched into her pitch.

“I represent the Pine Ridge Charter School. We’re dedicated to the educational and emotional well-being of the underserved children of the Pine Ridge reservation—”

Cass held up her hands in surrender. “Okay, okay. I give.” She flipped on the intercom again.

“Damn it, what?” On the bright side, the man on the other end was no longer distracted. However, he sounded mad. That sense of doom came rushing back in.

“She won’t go.”

“Who the hell are you talking about?” Excellent, Josey thought. Shouting.

Cass looked Josey up and down. There was something sneaky in her eyes as she said, “The nine-thirty. Says she’s not going anywhere until she talks to someone.”

He cursed. Rudely.

Whoa. F-bombs at nine-thirty in the morning. What on earth was she getting herself into?

“What is your problem, Cassie? You suddenly incapable of throwing someone out the door?” The shout was so loud that it briefly drowned out the sounds of the shop.

Cassie grinned like she was up for a round or two. She winked at Josey and said, “Why don’t you come down here and throw her out yourself?”

“I do not have time for this. Get Billy to scare her off.”

“Out on a test drive. With your father. It’s all you today.” She gave Josey a thumbs-up, as if this were a positive development.

The intercom made a God-awful screeching noise before it went dead. “Ben’ll be right down,” Cass said, enjoying being a pain in the backside. She pointed to a door in the wall of glass.

Maybe Josey should bail. Don Two