Posts Tagged ‘motorcycle’

I’m not sure how it happened, but somehow, I got roped into helping at the high school Spring Dance.

My best friend Holly is actually the one who roped me into it, since she was in charge. Her oldest child is a senior and Holly is president of the PTSA, so she needed the help. It didn’t seem fair since neither of my kids were going, but that was because Savannah is still in junior high, and, as a sophomore, Josh had no interest in Senior Prom. Still, when your best friend needs you, you help out.

Holly doesn’t know I can read minds, but she believes I have premonitions, which is what I tell everyone to explain my ability. Because of that, Holly thought I would be the perfect person to watch over the dance in a security capacity to make sure nothing bad happened. Considering all the school shootings, I couldn’t blame her for wanting the event to be safe, and who better to do that than someone who had premonitions? (her words… not mine)

Naturally, I said yes, but only on the condition that I was there in an official capacity. She agreed, and provided me with a black t-shirt that had SECURITY in white capital letters across the front, along with a school pass in a lanyard. That way, I could tell the kids what to do and get away with it. I’d be sure to wear my black jeans, along with a belt that held my stun flashlight. She had another t-shirt made for the gym teacher, who would be my partner, and we were all set.

That night, I arrived at the school wearing my official lanyard, along with the black security t-shirt, jeans, and boots. My stun flashlight in a case on my belt was a nice touch, and I’d pulled my long blond hair into a ponytail and wore my black cap with ‘security’ written across the top that I’d used before when I’d helped Uncle Joey. All in all, I looked pretty bad-ass.

I walked into the gym, which had been decorated like a woodsy forest, with fake trees, grass, and dangling vines and flowers, and, I had to admit, I was impressed. Holly was already there and hurried to my side. “Shelby! I’m so glad you’re here.”

“Hey, no problem. This looks great.”

“Isn’t it cute?”

“Sure is.”

She took me to her PTSA office and unlocked the door so I could leave my jacket and my purse inside. Back in the gym, she took a deep breath, hoping her news wouldn’t upset me. “Um… it looks like Coach Monson has come down with a bad case of stomach flu, or food poisoning, so he’s not going to make it. I’ve asked a couple of the other teachers to take his place, but so far, I haven’t had any luck.”

“Oh… that’s too bad, but I should be okay.”

She nodded, but she was thinking that, even though I looked official, the kids might not take me seriously. Sure, I had ‘security’ in bold letters across my shirt, but I wasn’t big enough to haul someone out of the gym on my own. But maybe I could ask someone for a favor? She wouldn’t mind seeing the hot hitman again, and he would certainly intimidate anyone who got out of line.

“You want me to ask Ramos?”

Her eyes widened. “Uh… yeah, I was just thinking that. Do you think he’d come?”

“I can’t ask Ramos. I owe him too much already. Besides, he’s probably busy.”

“You don’t know that for sure. Even if he could only come for a couple of hours, it would be worth it. We probably don’t need him until things get going, around eight or so. You could at least ask him, right?”

I shook my head. “Only if you have something to offer him. He won’t do it for free.”

“Even for you?”

“Oh… he’d do it for me, but then I’d owe him, and I’d have to do whatever he wanted… you know? I’m not sure that’s a good idea.”

She blinked, immediately thinking that he’d want a night of hot love-making, and her eyes widened. “Oh! Wow! I see.” She was thinking that it might be worth it… unless Chris found out… then it would be bad. But a night with Ramos? It made her hot all over just thinking about it.

“Holly! I’m not doing that!”

“Oh… good. I mean… of course you’re not.” Her brow wrinkled. “Wait. Did I say that out loud?”

I shook my head. “You didn’t need to. It was written all over your face.”

“Sure. Got it.” The lights dimmed and a few of the kids from the dance committee began to drift inside. “I’ve got to go, but please think about asking him? I don’t want anything to go wrong tonight.” She handed me a small bag. “Here’s the other t-shirt. I’ll check in with you later.”

She hurried off, leaving me holding the bag – in more ways than one. Still, I was not going to ask Ramos. No way.

Half an hour later, I was having second thoughts. None of the kids seemed the least bit intimidated by me. A couple of the boys even raised their glasses of punch to me, thinking I had no idea they’d added vodka to them. I marched over and demanded that they hand over the flask they’d brought, but neither of them had it anymore. I picked up that it was being passed around, and they didn’t know where it was by now.

I spent the next half hour trying to track it down, but there were just too many students, and I had left my post at the doors for too long. Holly found me and asked me to patrol the hall outside the gym for troublemakers. I found a couple of boys trying to break into someone’s locker and told them to knock it off. One of them told me it was his locker and he needed something from it. Dismissing me, they went back to jiggling it open.

Since they were lying, it made me mad, so I stepped closer and pulled out my stun flashlight. “Move away, or you’ll get a taste of this.” I held the flashlight up and pushed the button. Instead of the zap I’d been going for, the light switched on. Crap. “I mean this.” I hit the other button and got the buzzing zap I’d wanted, but they weren’t impressed.

One of them held up his hands. “Oooo, I’m so scared.”

The other kid hit his friend and turned to me. “Don’t listen to him. We’re going.” He pulled his friend past me and back toward the dance, thinking that they’d come back later after I’d left.

The kid being pulled away called over his shoulder. “You know you can’t touch me with that thing… unless you want to get sued.”

I sighed. He was probably right. Kids didn’t seem to respect adults much. What was up with that? Or was it just me? Being the security person was a terrible idea. Defeated, I meandered back to my place at the doors. Was it even worth trying to do this job, or should I just let everything go and only act if someone’s life was in danger?

If Ramos were here, it would probably be different.

The next few minutes brought a new wave of kids into the dance. Most just wanted to have a good time, but I managed to catch a few stray thoughts of trouble… mostly pranks, but I didn’t like it. At least everyone had to pass through security, so I didn’t have to worry about guns or knives, but what the heck?

Holly came back to my side. “How’re you doing? Everything okay?” She was thinking that I might need some help with the crowd. “I called the coach, but he’s still too sick to come. Are you sure you can’t call Ramos?”

“Fine. I’ll call him, but that doesn’t mean he’ll come.” I pulled out my phone and pushed his number.

“Thank you.” She was thinking that the doors to the boy’s and girl’s locker rooms were locked, but someone needed to check them, along with the bathrooms and the halls again.

Ramos picked up. “Babe. What’s up?”

I sighed. “Um… I might need your help.” I explained where I was and how the coach was sick so I was going it alone. “But if you’re busy… it’s no big deal. But just so you know, my friend Holly really wants to see you again.”

Holly smacked me, but it was worth it.

He snickered. “Yeah… hang on.” I waited a few seconds until he came back on the line. “I’ll be there in ten minutes.”

“Great. I’ll meet you in the parking lot with Holly. She’ll make sure you can get in, but you should probably leave your gun at home.” That was mostly for Holly’s sake so she’d know what she was getting into. Ramos snickered again and disconnected the call.

“He’s on his way.”


Ten minutes later, Ramos arrived on his Harley. Holly nearly fainted, but managed to stay on her feet long enough to get him through security. I handed him the security t-shirt and the lanyard that went with it. He shrugged off his black motorcycle jacket and both Holly and I froze in anticipation. But instead of taking off his t-shirt, he just pulled the new one over it. I think Holly sighed, or maybe it was both of us. Either way, we managed to breathe again and took him down the hall to the gym.

Close to the gym, Holly unlocked the door to the PTSA room so he could stash his jacket there beside my purse, and we hurried into the dance. It only took a few minutes for our eyes to adjust, but we got started right away, and I found it was a whole different story with Ramos by my side. He hardly had to say a word to intimidate anyone, and the rest of the evening went by with only a few minor incidents.

The dance ended at eleven, but by then, most of the students had cleared out anyway. Holly hurried over to thank us before we left. In the process, she managed to give Ramos a big hug that lasted a little longer than was necessary. Naturally, I couldn’t blame her, and since Ramos didn’t seem to mind, I managed to keep a straight face.

After we gathered our things from her office, we walked out together, stopping at Ramos’s bike.

I turned to face him. “Thanks for your help. It made a big difference.”

“You’re welcome. It was… interesting.”

I smiled. “That’s putting it mildly. I guess I owe you… again.”

“Yes. You do. It’s turning into a long list. I’ll have to figure out where to start, or you’ll never get to the end of it.”

I chuckled. “You mean there’s an end?”

“Not if I can help it. But there is something you can do for me right now.”

“What’s that?”

“All you have to do is stand still and don’t move.”

Alarm tightened my chest. “That’s all?”


I couldn’t pick up what he planned. Still, it was a simple request. What could happen? “Okay.”

He leaned in close and I caught his woodsy, masculine scent that made me a little dizzy. Barely holding back a smile, he lingered close for a few seconds before brushing my cheek with a kiss. His mouth moved toward my ear and he spoke in a low tone. “Goodnight Shelby.”

Chills ran down my spine. He straightened and slipped on his jacket. Before he could put on his helmet, my wits returned. “So does that count? Toward the list?”

He arched his brow. “Babe… that’s just the tip of the iceberg… but if it will make you feel better, sure.”

“Great. See you Monday.” As he drove off, I sent him a wave, happy to start witling down the list. But on second thought, did I really want to do that? Maybe not, but since it was such a long list already, I’d have the rest of my life to get to the end of it.

With that happy thought, I headed home, ready to tell my kids they were only allowed to go to a school dance if I was there working security. Since they’d hate that, maybe I’d be off the hook, and never have to do security at a school dance again.

The other day, I overheard Uncle Joey asking Ramos to pick up a package from a woman who did odd jobs for him. Since Ramos was going on his motorcycle, I jumped at the chance to tag along.

“Mind if I come with you?”

Before Ramos answered, I picked up from Uncle Joey that Celeste enjoyed these little visits from Ramos, and, if I went along, she might not be as happy to do Uncle Joey’s bidding.

Before I could back out, Ramos smiled at me. “That’s a great idea.” He was thinking that Celeste was a little overbearing, and having me along might keep her from drooling all over him.

I wasn’t sure I liked coming between Ramos and Uncle Joey, but if it meant going on a bike ride, I had to side with Ramos every time. I gave Uncle Joey a sheepish shrug, and hurried out the door behind Ramos.

Uncle Joey shook his head, knowing he’d lost that battle before it had even begun.

After donning my motorcycle helmet, I climbed on the bike behind Ramos, and we roared out of the parking garage. I picked up that Ramos enjoyed having me along. Not only was I good on the bike, but there was something about my arms around him that made the day seem a little brighter.

That brought a big smile to my face, and I gave him an extra squeeze to let him know I enjoyed it too.

Fifteen minutes later, we pulled in front of a quaint house in a nice neighborhood. Celeste came to the door and opened it with a smile. Her long, dark hair flowed around her shoulders, and the skimpy top she wore barely covered her assets. Her smile dropped and her eyes narrowed to find me standing beside Ramos.

Yikes. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea. I gave her my best smile. “Hi. I’m Shelby Nichols. I’m Mr. Manetto’s niece, and he wanted me to meet you.”

“He did?”

“Yeah. In case I run errands for him in the future, he wanted Ramos to show me the ropes. Have you got the package?”

“Uh… sure. Come in.” She started to open the door wider to invite us in, but a low growl came from behind her and she stopped. “As you can tell, I have a dog. He’s a sweetie, but he’s a little wary of strangers. I think I’d better put him on a leash.”

She was thinking that she wanted to sic him on Ramos since he’d brought me along with him, but if I was Manetto’s niece, she didn’t dare. Still… it pissed her off. I was ruining the best part of her day.

She slipped inside, and we waited on the porch while she tried to calm the dog. He kept repeating, stranger, bad, and I thought he might be picking up some of Celeste’s animosity toward Ramos.

“I don’t think the dog likes you,” I whispered to Ramos. “Have you ever met him before?”

He shook his head. “No, he’s usually outside in the back yard.”

“Well, if she invites us in, you might want to stay out here on the porch, just to be on the safe side.”

Celeste opened the door wide. “I think we’re good. You can come in now.”

Ramos didn’t want to look cowardly, so naturally, he followed me inside. Sitting at attention beside Celeste, was a large black-and-rust Rottweiler.

“This is Rusty,” Celeste said. “He’s my buddy, aren’t you, Rusty?”

He barked yup, and she rubbed his head.

“Hey Rusty. I’m Shelby.” I held out my hand for him to smell. He sniffed me before turning his attention to Ramos. “And this is Ramos. I guess you two haven’t met yet.”

“No,” Ramos said. After my warning, he was reluctant to let the dog sniff his hand, but he held it out anyway, and tried to project friendly thoughts. Rusty sniffed his hand, then opened his mouth and began to lick Ramos’s hand and arm, like he was getting ready to take a bite. Ramos moved his hand to pet the dog’s head, but Rusty growled and bared his teeth.

Celeste gave Rusty’s leash a little jerk, and Ramos backed away.

“Sorry about that,” she said. “He’s not usually like this.” But deep down, she wasn’t sorry at all. “I’ll be right back with the package.”

To my surprise, she left Rusty there and hurried into a back room.

Rusty’s demeanor changed from friendly acceptance to total attack mode in the blink of an eye. He focused his complete attention on Ramos, making both of us uneasy.

“Just don’t make any sudden moves and we’ll be fine.”

Ramos raised a brow, thinking, no kidding.

Celeste returned with the package and handed it to me. “There you go.” Noticing our frozen stances, she took hold of Rusty’s leash.

“Uh… thanks.” I gave her a big smile. “It was nice to meet you. Bye Rusty.”

We both backed to the door, and Ramos hurried out without a backward glance, thinking that, from now on, I would always be coming with him if he had to pick anything up from Celeste.

“As long as we take the bike, I’m good with that.”

Ramos shook his head, deciding to put me to the test. “What if it’s raining and we have to bring the car?”

I twisted my lips. “If we can’t wait until it stops raining, I’ll still come. I mean… it’s the least I can do to pay you back for all those times you’ve helped me out.” I shrugged. “In fact, I kind of like saving you from something once in a while, so this is perfect.”

He snorted, thinking I was stretching it, but he couldn’t deny that saving him from Rusty was well worth it. “Ready to ride?”

“You know it.”

As most of you know, I have my own consulting business, but now I can officially add that I’m a bona fide Private Investigator. My license came in the mail and I got it framed and everything. Since I don’t have my own business office, I thought it would look nice on the wall of my office at Thrasher Development.

Uncle Joey had given me my own office space, but I’d never used it for my consulting business. By hanging my license on the wall, I hoped that would change. I was testing out my theory by bringing my best friend, Holly with me to pose as a client.

Of course, Holly wasn’t really a client, but they didn’t need to know that. Besides, we were going out to lunch, and she wanted to see my office, so this was a good excuse. Although, from her mind, I knew she mostly wanted to run into Ramos again. She’d seen him once, but that was a while ago, and she really wanted to see him again, just to make sure he was real.

It made perfect sense to me, and I hoped Ramos would be there to fulfil her dream. After parking in the garage, I knew a perfect way to find out, and took her to the corner by the elevators where he normally parked his bike. We found it sitting there in all it’s glory, and her excitement was so intense that even my heart skipped a beat.

On the elevator ride up to the twenty-sixth floor, Holly touched up her lipstick, and smoothed down her hair, just to make sure she looked her best. I would have given her a hard time, but I knew the feeling and fluffed my hair up as well.

The doors swooshed open and we stepped out, both of us looking as good as we possibly could. I led her to the double doors with ‘Thrasher Development’ above them and pulled them open with a flourish.

“Ta-da. Here we are.” Inside, we found Jackie sitting at her desk, and I introduced Holly as my best friend.

“It’s nice to meet you,” Jackie said. She glanced my way wondering why I’d brought Holly here. Didn’t I want to keep my association with Joe on the down-low? Of course, if she was my best friend, she probably knew a lot more than she should.

“Likewise,” Holly said. “I’ve heard so much about you that it’s nice to finally meet you in person.”

Oops. “Holly’s here to help me hang my private investigator’s license in my office. We’re going out to lunch to celebrate.”

“Oh,” Jackie said. “I didn’t know you’d gotten your license. That’s quite an accomplishment.”

“Thanks.” I turned to Holly. “My office is this way.”

She nodded, but wasn’t paying much attention to me, mostly because she was hoping to catch a glimpse of Ramos. I glanced Jackie’s way. “Is Ramos here?”

“Yeah. He’s with Joe in his office.”

“Okay, great. Don’t let him leave without saying hi to me, all right?”

Jackie narrowed her eyes, knowing something was up. “Sure.”

“Thanks.” I tugged on Holly’s arm to get her moving to my office. Opening the door, the lights switched on automatically and Holly followed me inside.

“This is nice,” she said, glancing around. She was thinking that the office wasn’t anything special until she caught sight of the painting. “Wow. That’s beautiful.”

“Isn’t it? Uncle Joey gave it to me. I love all the complementary colors and patterns.”

“Yeah, it’s amazing.” She turned to me. “Where do you want to hang your license?”

We discussed the best places to put it before deciding on the right one. Holly is a lot taller than me, so she held it in place while I backed away to look at it. “Yeah. That’s it. Don’t move while I find a pencil to mark the spot.”

I hurried to my desk and rummaged through my drawer. Before I found one, the office door opened and Ramos stepped inside. He looked sexy as hell, with his hair slightly curling around his ears and his barely-there beard that darkened his jaw. He even wore his regular black clothes and leather motorcycle jacket.

Have you ever built something up so much that when it actually happens, it’s a little disappointing? This would never happen with Ramos.

In fact, Holly was so stunned, that she lost her grip on the frame and it fell to the ground. Luckily, it didn’t break, but she was totally embarrassed. “Oh shit.” Her eyes widened and her face turned red.

“Sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you.” Ramos sounded more amused than sorry, but hurried to her side to pick it up. He looked it over and realized it was my PI license. His gaze caught mine and he smiled. “You got it. Nice.”

“Yeah. Thanks.”

Holly had frozen in place with a funny look on her face. He turned his attention to her and she started. “Hi. I’m Holly. I’m… we’re… trying to hang that on the wall.” She pointed to the spot near her head. “Right there, I think.”

“Would you like some help?” Ramos stepped close to her and held the frame where she pointed. “Is that the right place?”

Holly caught a whiff of his clean, woodsy scent and swallowed. “Uh… maybe this way a little?” She took hold of the opposite edge of the frame and guided it toward her a pinch. “What do you think, Shelby?” She prayed that I’d take my time to answer, and I couldn’t stop the smile that broke out over my face.

“Uh… let me see.” I backed up and peered at them for a moment. “I think it needs to go lower a couple of inches, and a bit more to the left.”

They followed my instructions, but it wasn’t quite right, so I had them move it a few more times until I was satisfied. “There. That’s perfect. Now hold it still while I get a pencil to mark it.”

Again, I rummaged through my drawer for a few seconds before pulling out a pencil. Taking it over, I stepped between them to mark the top of the frame. “Okay you can take it down now.” Ramos took possession of the frame while I measured about an inch and a half lower and made the mark.

Holly picked up the nail and small hammer I’d brought and came over to do the honors. While she pounded the nail in, Ramos caught my gaze, wondering what I was up to. Had he met her before? Was she the friend I’d wanted him to meet a while ago?

I nodded and he shook his head thinking that I’d certainly taken my time with the frame. He knew I’d done it on purpose. Still, he hadn’t minded, but I should know that I couldn’t get away with it. I owed him now and he looked forward to collecting.

I raised my brow in response and he grinned.

“There,” Holly said. “Let’s hang it up and see how it looks.”

Ramos brought the frame to her and they hung it up together. Holly glanced back at me. “How’s that?”

“Perfect. Thanks so much for your help. Both of you.”

They stepped away to examine it. Then Ramos turned to face us. “I’ve got to go, but it was nice to see you again Holly.”

Her mouth dropped open that he remembered they’d met before today. “Yeah… you too.”

We said our goodbyes and he left. Holly let out a breath and fell into my chair. “That was… nice. He’s…” She shook her head. “Anyways… at least now I can die happy.”

A laugh popped out of me. “Shall we go to lunch?”


We stepped into the parking garage in time to see Ramos roar up the ramp on his motorcycle.

Holly glanced my way. “So… do you ever ride with him?”

My lips twisted into a smile. “Yup.”

She shook her head thinking holy hell, and for a moment, she wished she was me. Then she remembered all the trouble I got into and some of the times I’d nearly died, and thought better of it. Maybe just hearing about it was enough? “Nice. You have to tell me all about it.”

“Good, because I have a story I’ve been dying to tell you.”

The only thing I don’t like about winter is that it’s too cold to go for a motorcycle ride.

But the days are getting longer and the temperatures are rising. Maybe that’s why I like spring so much. This last week was unusually warm, with the temps climbing up into the sixties. So naturally, I decided to be prepared yesterday when I went to Thrasher Development for a meeting with Uncle Joey. I made sure I had my leather jacket, along with some warm, black leather gloves in the back seat of my car. I even threw a scarf in there… just in case.

At the end of my meeting, I walked out to find Ramos leaving to run an errand for Uncle Joey. I ran to stop him, and breathlessly asked if he was taking the bike.

“Uh… it’s a little cold for that,” he said.

“It’s in the sixties… I just checked the weather app on my phone. That’s not too cold. I could go with you.”

His brows rose and he was thinking that I had no idea how cold I could get, but he could tell that I was desperate, and he kind of liked it. “Okay. But only if you brought something warm to wear.”

“You know I did.”

He shook his head. “All right. I need to get my gloves and coat. I’ll meet you in the garage.”

Barely containing my excitement, I hurried to my car to grab my things. I slipped on my leather jacket, wrapped the scarf around my neck a few times, and slipped on my gloves. Ramos came out of the elevator and stepped toward his motorcycle. Instead of his leather jacket, he wore a black parka. He also wore a pair of outer pants over his jeans, and he carried a pair a black leather gloves that fit halfway up his forearms.

As he pulled the cover off his motorcycle, I joined him, and he glanced at me with a critical eye. “I thought you had something warm to wear.”

“I do. See? I brought my jacket and gloves, and a scarf.”

He shook his head. “I don’t think that’s enough.”

“Sure it is. It’s sixty-four degrees outside. I’ll be fine.”

He sighed. “Okay… but it’s not my fault if you get cold.”

“I’ll be riding behind you. It will keep me warm enough.” I almost said, I’m always hotter when I’m with you, but I kept that part to myself.

He popped the trunk of his car, and handed me my helmet before grabbing his own. Ready to go, he rolled the bike out of the space and started it up. Extending his arm toward me, I took hold of it, and swung my leg over the back to settle into the seat behind him. He made sure my feet were on the pegs, and my arms arounds his waist, before pulling out of the parking garage.

Just like always, a little thrill shot through me, and I couldn’t help the big smile that crossed my face. We pulled onto the street, and Ramos expertly maneuvered through traffic until we made it out of the busy city. He turned onto a frontage road and we stayed on it for several miles with only a few traffic signals to stop our progress.

That’s when I realized I had no idea where we were going, or how long it would take. Still… it hardly mattered since I was right where I wanted to be. Pretty soon, my nose started running, and I had to keep sniffing since I couldn’t wipe it. Not long after that, I noticed my toes were going numb. But that was nothing compared to my knees.

I took turns holding one hand over my kneecap while holding Ramos with the other. I did this several times, but it didn’t seem to help. How far were we going anyway? Pretty soon my eyes were watering from the cold, along with my nose, but under the full-sized helmet, I couldn’t wipe them. If we didn’t stop soon, I’d be a freezing cold mess.

Luckily, Ramos slowed and pulled onto a different road that led to a private airfield. It was another ten minutes to the airfield office, and I had begun to shiver. We finally came to a stop in front of the building, and Ramos helped me off the bike. I staggered a little and had to grab his arm to stand.

After he dismounted, he pulled off his helmet and glanced my way. “You okay?”

I nodded, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to pull my helmet off since I wasn’t sure how presentable I’d be.

“Let’s go in and warm up.”

I nodded again, and waited until he turned his back before I pulled off my helmet, and wiped my nose. I grabbed a tissue out of my purse and cleaned up my face, hoping I didn’t look too bad. Ramos held the door open for me and I could barely get my legs to move. I’d never been so stiff in my life.

Inside, Ramos greeted the manager who seemed surprised we’d ridden in on the bike. “Come on into the break room,” he said. “And have a cup of coffee. Looks like you need some warming up.”

He was looking at me when he spoke, thinking that, without the helmet covering my face, I would have frostbite for sure. I shuffled into the break room while Ramos took care of the business part of our visit. After pulling off my gloves, I poured a hot drink into the first mug I found, and wrapped my hands around it, reveling in the warmth.

Soon, Ramos joined me, pouring a cup and taking a few swallows. “Are you going to drink that?”

“Yes… I’m just getting my fingers warm first.”

He smirked. “Colder than you thought huh?”

“Yeah. I thought it was warm enough outside… guess I was wrong.”

“Yeah… it’s easy to underestimate.”

“What about you?” I asked. “Are you okay?”

“Sure.” He took my hands in his, surprising me at their warmth.

It gave me an idea. “Hey… do you mind putting your hands on my knees?”

His brows rose with surprise, but he did as I asked. “Holy hell. They feel like ice.”

I closed my eyes. “Oh… that feels so good. Thanks.” He held my knees for a few more minutes before the manager came in. The manager thought we looked funny sitting there with Ramos’s hands on my knees, but I didn’t care. I stifled a groan when Ramos let go to take the folder from the manager.

After sliding it into his messenger bag, Ramos glanced at me, hoping I was ready to go. Besides needing to get back, he was getting hot sitting there in his warm clothes. With a shake of my head, I finished off my drink, feeling marginally better. Standing, my frozen legs even held me up, and I could almost walk normally.

The ride back was a test of endurance. Ramos had offered me the use of his outer pants, but I’d refused, knowing he would take most of the brunt of the breeze. I tried tucking my knees in closer to his body, and that helped, but they were still nearly frozen solid by the time we got back.

After I staggered off the bike, Ramos shook his head, feeling sorry for me. He slipped our helmets into the trunk of his car, and glanced my way. “I tried to warn you.”

“I know. It’s not your fault.”

“Go home and get warm.” I nodded, but before I could move, he pulled me into a hug. His warmth felt amazing, and I couldn’t get over how he wasn’t freezing like me.

He let me go and I smiled up at him. “Thanks. I feel better now.”

“Good. Maybe we’d better wait until it’s a little warmer next time.”

“Yeah… you’re right.” I picked up that he regretted taking me, and he hoped it hadn’t put me off going on motorcycle rides with him. I chuckled. “Oh… you don’t need to worry about that. Sure, it was freezing cold, but I still enjoyed it.” He sent me that sexy smile of his that turned my insides to mush and I grinned back. “See you later.”

After I got home, it took two hours before my knees warmed up.

Still… I would do it again… only I’d be sure to wear warmer clothes… and snow pants on my legs.

But… with spring just around the corner, next time I wouldn’t have to.

As most of you know, I have my own consulting agency, but I get most of my income by working for a mob boss. Uncle Joey and I have recently become more than employer/employee since he told the whole Manetto family that I was his niece. I’ve been calling him “Uncle” from the beginning, so it only made sense to continue the charade.

Now when he introduces me to his business associates, he always tells them I’m his niece, and they always look at me differently. I used to think it was bad to be his niece, given the mob boss aspect. But there are times when it’s pretty awesome. In fact, I probably enjoy it way too much – but I try not to think about that part.

We recently met with a used car dealer who runs a gambling business on the side that he didn’t want Uncle Joey to know about. The main reason for that was because he used Uncle Joey’s name, claiming Uncle Joey ran the business. Saying that gave him an edge, and made it lots easier for him to collect the gambling debts his customers accumulated. Of course, Kurt couldn’t keep that secret from me and my mind reading ability.

So yesterday, Uncle Joey asked me to pay a visit to his gambling establishment.

I usually don’t jump at the chance to work for Uncle Joey, but playing poker is fun for me because I always win. Being a mind reader has some really great benefits, and that’s just one I can’t resist.

Of course, it didn’t hurt that I was going with Ramos. He’s Uncle Joey’s hitman and let’s just say… he’s every woman’s dream; tall, dark and handsome with a little sexy danger thrown in for good measure – only he’s real. And he rides a Harley… what more can I say?

I met him in the parking garage at Thrasher Development. Since we were going on his motorcycle, I wore my black jeans, boots, and black motorcycle jacket. He waited by his bike, and my temperature rose just to see him standing there, decked out in black, and his lips tilted into a lopsided, sexy grin.

“You ready?” he asked, admiring my outfit.

“You know it.” I slipped on the helmet he handed me, and got on the bike behind him. The thrill of motoring up the drive out of the parking garage sent butterflies through my stomach, and I clutched him tightly around his waist. Yup. No matter what else happened tonight, this more than made up for it.

We arrived at the bar. After paying the requisite fee, we were allowed into the basement where the gambling took place. That’s when I got a little nervous, since I’d basically forgotten how to play Texas Hold’em. I didn’t play much on account that nobody liked playing with me since I always won.

Ramos picked up on my nervousness, but I just shrugged and told him that I’d forgotten how to play, but I’d pick it up pretty quick. By then we were sitting at one of the five poker tables and, hearing that, the other four players glanced at me with happy smiles on their faces.

After a few rounds, those smiles were long gone. I won’t bore you with the details, but I cleaned them out. By then, a crowd had gathered to watch me play, and a few brave souls had taken the loser’s places, eager to prove their worth.

The tension in the place rose with each game I won, and one of the players, who’d lost ten grand, began to get angry. After I cleaned him out, he jumped to his feet, shoving his chair back in his rush. “You’re cheating,” he said, pulling a knife from his pocket. The blade flicked open and he held it toward me, his hand shaking with menace.

Before he had a chance to follow up on his threat, Ramos stepped beside me. “What did you say?” His voice was low and held a challenge that wasn’t lost on my accuser, who took a step back and lowered his weapon.

“I’m just… there’s no way she can be that good,” he said, trying to explain. “Something’s going on, and I want my money back. This place is rigged.”

The manager in charge came to our table, and told my accuser to calm down. After glancing at Ramos, he decided the accuser was the least dangerous of the two, and gave him the line that the business was run by the Manetto Organization. “Dude, do you want to piss off a mob boss? Maybe you’d better think about that before you make accusations you’ll regret.”

I’d heard enough and stood, sending them both a disgusted frown. “Stop lying. I know for a fact that my Uncle… Joey Manetto… has nothing to do with this place. In fact, he sent me here to find out what’s going on.”

At their shocked expressions, I continued. “So I think it’s time we cleared this matter up.” I pointed at the manager. “You. Call your boss and tell him he needs to get down here right away to straighten out a disagreement.”

I glanced around the room at all the patrons, who had frozen at the mention of Uncle Joey. “If the rest of you want to get out of here alive, I suggest you leave now.”

Most everyone grabbed their chips and scrambled up the stairs, dropping a few in their haste to leave. The guy who’d accused me of cheating stood his ground. He didn’t want to leave without the money he’d lost.

“I don’t cheat,” I said, glaring at him. “So either scram, or answer to my uncle. He’ll be here soon to deal with Kurt Johnson and these bozos.” I gestured at the rest of the workers.

The guy let out a disgruntled breath, then hurried up the stairs. Under Ramos’s prodding stare, the manager made the call to Kurt who replied that he would be there in half an hour. The manager then left, taking the rest of the dealers with him and leaving us there alone.

“Do you think he’ll come?” I asked Ramos.

“I have no idea,” he answered. “But if he doesn’t, I know where he lives.”

“Okay… good.”

A few minutes later, footsteps came down the the stairs and Kurt appeared, his face a mask of confusion. Not one soul was left in the bar upstairs or in the gambling room down here, and he could hardly believe his eyes.

“Hello Kurt,” I said. “Looks like you have a problem.”

As the truth dawned on him, he turned white as a sheet and swore under his breath. Panic set in and he turned to run. Of course, he didn’t get far before Ramos intercepted him. Ramos grabbed his shirt and jerked him around before shoving him against the wall. “You’ve made a grave mistake,” he said. “And now you’re going to pay the consequences.”

I picked up Ramos’s desire to kill the guy, and alarm shot through me. “Uh… Ramos… don’t kill him… uh… yet.” Ramos worked hard not to smile, but he glanced my way, thinking I was doing exactly what he’d wanted. He turned back to Kurt. “It looks like you get to live a little longer.”

“I’m… I’m… I didn’t think… I’m sorry… I’ll do whatever you want. Whatever you want… it’s yours… just don’t kill me. Please.”

Ramos let him go, but locked gazes with him. “Shelby?” He didn’t look at me, but wanted Kurt to think I was in charge. Since I had no idea what to say, I listened to his thoughts and basically repeated everything he was thinking.

“Fine. As much as you don’t deserve it, I’ll talk to my Uncle and see if he’ll spare you life. Maybe you can make a deal with him?”

“Of course, anything. Whatever you want.”

“Okay. We’ll expect to see you at Thrasher Development at nine tomorrow morning. As of right now, this bar and your little… enterprise is done.”

“Sure, whatever you say.”

“Oh… and I need these cashed out.” I picked up all my chips and followed him to the till. Kurt practically threw money at me without counting it up, hoping that would make his life a little easier.

After tucking the bills into my purse, I smiled. “See you tomorrow… right?”

“Yes, yes. I’ll be there.”

Ramos followed me out, and we climbed on the bike and drove out of the now-empty parking lot. He was thinking that I’d taken to bossing Kurt around like a pro. Who would have thought? He could just see me taking over Uncle Joey’s organization someday, with him as my right hand man. It would be fun.

I entertained that thought for a few minutes, just for the pure indulgence of it. As soon as we pulled into the parking garage and I took off my helmet, I handed it to him with a smile. “That’s not going to happen.”

He grinned. “Yeah… maybe not now, but you never know.”

I punched his arm. There was no way that would ever happen. I was feeling way too guilty as it was for scaring Kurt so bad. On the other hand, it had felt pretty good to catch a liar, and I could do that any day.

So tomorrow… I think I’ll see if Dimples needs help… just to balance it out a bit, and keep me on the right side of things… just in case.






Not long ago, I tried to drive Ramos’s Harley. It was in a parking lot, but I had a crazy person behind me at the time, and I almost crashed into the back of a building. Luckily I was able to turn the bike, but I ended up underneath it because it was too heavy for me to hold up. The only good thing about it was that I just got a few bruises on my ankle. The bike didn’t fair so well, and Ramos had to take it into the shop and get it fixed.

After that, he suggested I learn how to drive a motorcycle in case that ever happened again, and he would teach me. How could I pass that up?

To be honest, I like riding behind Ramos better than almost anything, so driving a motorcycle myself kind of defeats that purpose. Still, I told him that was a good idea, even though I doubted it would ever happen.

Then just this morning after we’d finished up a meeting at Thrasher Development, Ramos and I left the office at the same time. In the parking garage, I glanced toward Ramos’s normal parking place and found a different bike parked there.

“Where’s the Harley?” I asked.

“At home,” he answered. “I just got this one restored and wanted to ride it today.” He wandered over to it, and ran his hand over the polished chrome with a soft caress. “This bike is a vintage classic. It’s a 1959 Bonneville Triumph. I found it when I was in Mexico, and managed to bring it home.”

“Wow. That’s great. It looks like an awesome bike,” I said, even though I had no idea what a vintage classic meant, except that it was probably worth a lot of money.

“Hey, this would be the perfect bike for you to learn on. It’s not as big as the Harley, so you’d probably be able to handle it. Want to try it out?”

“You mean…all by myself?”

“Sure. Now that school’s out, we could go to an empty school parking lot, and you could try her out.”

“Uh…are you sure? I mean, it’s a vintage classic, right?”

“You’ll be fine.”

“Okay.” Just the thought of trying to drive that bike sent shards of ice down my spine, but how could I say no to Ramos?

“Good.” He popped the trunk to his car and produced both our helmets and handed the smaller one to me.

As I strapped it on, I wished I would have been more prepared and worn different clothes. Since it was summer, I’d worn a pink tank top under a white linen shirt and my denim capri pants with sparkles on the back pockets. On my feet, I’d slipped on my denim sandals that totally matched. At least they were flat, and the top of my foot was covered, so that would help with the shifting part.

I climbed on behind Ramos, and slipped my arms around him, willing to try anything for a ride with him, and hoped for the best.

This bike was smaller, but I fit behind Ramos just fine. He took us to the nearest high school parking lot and pulled inside. We both got off, and he began to explain how to shift the gears to me, most of which I already knew from riding with him.

He took me through the brake lever and the shift lever, along with how to pull the handle to give it some gas. By the time he was done, I had a pretty good idea how to drive it, but that didn’t stop my stomach from fluttering with trepidation.

“Ready to try it out?” he asked.

“Uh…I guess.”

He took in my widened eyes and pale face, and his lips tilted up in a smile. “Want me to ride behind you until you get the hang of it?”

I let out a relieved breath. “You can do that?” At his nod, I continued. “I would feel lots better if you did.”

“Okay, get on.”

I straddled the bike and scooted forward so there was plenty of room for Ramos behind me. He helped me get it started, and told me how to shift into first, and let out the clutch while giving it some gas.

I did everything like he said, and we inched forward before it sputtered out and died. He told me I needed to give it a little more gas and try again. This time, I managed to do it right, and we started off across the parking lot at a slow pace.

He continued to tell me when to shift, and I got all the way up to third gear before we began to run out of space and had to turn around. I turned slowly, grateful that Ramos could keep the bike from tipping over, and then began to head back.

After a couple of times, I was getting the hang of it, and Ramos settled back into the seat, leaving me to use the handle bars by myself. We turned around to head back to the other side of the parking lot, and all that open space beckoned me, so I gave it a little extra gas and went a little faster than before.

Ramos grabbed me around the waist, and I laughed as we picked up speed. I even managed to get all the way to fourth gear. Since we were nearing the end of the parking lot, I let go of the gas to pull on the brake lever, causing us to slow more abruptly than I wanted.

The momentum caused Ramos to plow into my back, pushing me forward. That’s when I panicked and pulled on the brake, causing us both to fly forward even more. Ramos expertly reached around me, and took control of the bike. With relief, I pulled my fingers away and leaned back against him until we came to a complete stop.

He put his feet on the ground so the bike didn’t tip over, and swung his leg off the bike, leaving me on it alone. “What did you think?” he asked.

“It was great…until the end. I guess I lost it a little.”

He smiled. “You did great. Want to try it on your own?”

My eyes widened. “Uh…nope…not really. But I think I got the basics, so this was a good start. Besides, I don’t want to risk wrecking this classic bike, you know?”

He chuckled, knowing I was scared out of my mind, but he also thought it had been worth it to have his arms around me for a change. “Yeah. I appreciate that. Ready to head back?”

Now that it was over, I wasn’t sure I wanted it to end, but changing places with Ramos made it a lot easier. “Yes.”

Soon, I was back where I felt most comfortable. Still, there was a moment with Ramos’s arms around me that I’d felt a real thrill. It was great fun, and I wouldn’t mind feeling that again sometime. But, for now, riding behind him was even better.

So that was my first bike driving lesson. I thought it went pretty well, and if I ever get the chance again, I’ll take it…as long as Ramos is sitting behind me.

All of you know how much I love going on motorcycle rides. But after yesterday, I’ve decided that it’s mostly because of the person taking me on the ride.

Yesterday, I got a call from my friend, Holly. She told me that her husband got her a scooter for her birthday. I think it’s a Vespa. Anyway… I hurried over to see it and maybe take a ride. It was so cute … kind of a lime green color. And the thing I liked most, was that it didn’t have any gears you had to shift, and it was small enough for me to handle.

As you know, on a motorcycle, you have to do that whole gear shift thing on the handlebar and with your foot, which can be a little intimidating… at least for me. Plus, the motorcycle that I usually ride is pretty big. If I tried to take that out by myself, I’m not sure I’d be strong enough to hold it upright. Still, I’m sure they have smaller motorcycles that I could try, right? Plus it might be a good thing to learn how to ride one just in case… you know… something happened.

With that in mind, I totally jumped at the chance to try out Holly’s Vespa, just to get a feel for it in a non-threatening way. If I liked it… who knew? Maybe I’d want to get one, or try out a smaller-size motorcycle?

She drove it around first and showed me how it worked, driving it up and down the street a few times. Then it was my turn. The handlebars have a brake lever and the one on the right side is the one you pull toward you to make it go.

It seemed simple enough, and it kind of reminded me of the wave-runner I took out at the lake a few years ago. I had my two kids on it behind me, and we started out pretty slow. Then the need for speed hit me, and I twisted the handle. We took off and it was great fun, until the kids lost their grip and flew off behind me. Luckily they both had on life jackets, but I didn’t realize they were slowly losing their grip because of the speed, or I would have slowed down…

Anyway, I tested the brakes and then twisted the handle and started off. I was going pretty slow, but I veered to the left where there’s a two-foot drop-off from Holly’s driveway to the neighbor’s driveway. I was holding onto the handlebar so tight, that I forgot that I needed to let go in order to stop.

I managed to turn the wheel in time to avoid going off the edge, but it was close, and I heard some yelling going on behind me. By then, I had come to the end of the driveway. Luckily, I shifted my hand on the handle. With a deep breath of relief, I slowed in time to look both ways before pulling out and turning up the street.

I made it to the top of the street and decided to go around the block, since I wasn’t sure I could turn it around. By the time I’d made it back around the street, I was starting to get the hang of it. I’d even managed not to tip over or anything. But my legs were a little shaky from all the excitement.

With relief, I turned into the driveway and pulled to a stop in front of everyone almost like a pro. I even remembered to put my feet on the ground so the scooter wouldn’t tip over.

Holly smiled, but it didn’t quite reach her eyes. She reached for the handlebar, thinking how grateful she was that I’d make it back alive, and that I’d almost killed her brand-new scooter. She also wasn’t sure she’d ever let me ride it again.

It kind of hurt my feelings. Sure I’d sort of messed up at the beginning, but I’d made it all the way around the block just fine. Still, I knew it would take a lot more practice for me to feel totally comfortable riding around on it.

That’s when I realized that maybe having a motorcycle of my own wouldn’t be such a good idea after all. I really liked riding on the back much better than driving it myself anyway. Especially when I could wrap my arms around the one person who liked to take me on those rides… yeah… I think it’s safer for everyone if I stick to that plan from now on.



There are times when I can’t help being a little bit bad. Like the other day. First of all, it was a beautiful autumn day with the bright blue sky and orange & yellow leaves falling to the earth like feathers. The air had a chill to it, but the sun was still warm enough to take most of the chill away. I was leaving Thrasher Development and something just pulled me over to the corner of the parking garage where Ramos kept his motorcycle. I stopped and stared at it, feeling a rush of longing to go for a ride.

With a sigh, I turned to leave and found Ramos standing behind me with a lopsided grin on his face. “Babe,” he said. “Looks like you’re drooling just a little. Want to go for a ride?”

My breath caught and, even though I knew I shouldn’t, I nodded my head, grinning like a fool. See what I mean about being a little bit bad? I didn’t have any control when it came to Ramos and going for a ride on his motorcycle. What was worse, Ramos knew it. “I have to take a message to someone for Manetto,” he said. “But it shouldn’t take long.”


He popped the trunk of his car and got out the gear I’d need, and I quickly put on the helmet and leather jacket. Before I knew it, I was on the bike behind him with my arms wrapped around his waist. As we pulled out of the garage a thrill went down my spine and my stomach churned with butterflies. We didn’t go far before stopping, and I was a little disappointed. But I shouldn’t have worried. After Ramos delivered his message, we got back on the bike and he said over his shoulder. “We’ll take the long way back.”

“Woohoo!” I shouted, and felt his stomach muscles wiggle with laughter. We left the city behind and took a loop around the University past some big homes with huge trees lining the residential streets. The leaves kicked up as we drove through them and rained down from above as well. It was a timeless moment, and I enjoyed every minute of it. Then we hit the main road and traveled back to the city.

Parking in the garage, I got off the bike like an expert, and stowed the helmet and jacket back in Ramos’ trunk. “That was awesome!” I said, grinning widely. “Thanks.”

“Sure,” he said, thinking it was the best part of his day.

“Me too,” I agreed. “So tell me… if you were going to a Halloween party, what would you dress up as? I think I’d want to go as a biker chick.”

“Babe,” he said. “I’d just go as a hit-man, then I could wear whatever I wanted.”

We both laughed and I was still chuckling in the car on my way home. Then it hit me that not too many people could say that, and here I was, a normal soccer-mom housewife…who’d just taken a ride with a real live hit-man. See what I mean about taking a ride on the wild side?