Racers Ch. 05byMygypsy©
I've managed to make this chapter longer for those following this story.
It was a pleasantly warm evening as Mace, Cheandra, Tristis and Zack headed off to Galaxy's End on their bikes with Cheandra riding behind Tristis. The bar was relatively busy when they arrived and seated themselves at their preferred table, Tristis headed to the bar and ordered drinks for the group before returning to sit down and look around the barroom.
"Looking for the blonde?" Mace asked.
"Her name's Shari" Tristis said. "What did you think of her family?" He directed the question at Cheandra. Family connections were often very important for team members, family connected the riders to their communities and provided help for the more mundane tasks around the team compounds.
"Was I supposed to do more than make sure we had a decent lunch even though I was out all morning?" Cheandra asked dryly.
Tristis looked away disappointed, he had hoped that Cheandra would consider his request to let Shari move in with him. Stifling his disappointment he smiled as a waitress carried a jug of beer and a tray of glasses towards their table.
"Think we can finish this jug before Ryker and Burtie get here?" Mace asked as the waitress placed the jug of beer on the table and began to pass out glasses.
"Don't see why we can't." Zack said as he poured himself a glass of beer.
Cheandra took a long drink of the beer that Mace had poured for her and lent back in her chair with a contented sigh.
"No hard feelings about me being on for this next run I hope." Zack said quietly.
Cheandra forced down a sense of irritation and glanced at Zack. "How about we forget about that?"
Zack gave an eager knod and glanced around the room looking for another topic of conversation, the arrival of another team of riders caught his attention.
"Mace, do you know that team?" Zack asked curiously.
"Skeeter Squad." Mace said quietly.
Cheandra turned her head to look, it was the team Mace and her had been in four years previously before Ryker had invited them to join his team after the annual competitions. She watched as the team made their way to the bar, there were the three men and one woman who had been in the team with her and Mace, as well as two riders, a couple, she knew by sight and one woman she didn't know at all.
"Wonder what they are doing in town." Tristis said thoughtfully.
A tall, solidly built handsome blonde rider separated himself from the group and headed towards their table carrying his drink, some kind of spirit in a small shot glass.
"Mace you sly old dog! Chea, wow babe! Your all grown up now. And might I add beautifully at that?"
"Brayton. What are you doing in these parts?" Mace asked as he got up to shake the other man's hand.
"You best head back to your team Brayton, that young brunette is glaring over here. Don't want to upset her." Cheandra said.
"Not jealous are you?" Brayton smirked.
Cheandra looked him up and down dryly and shook her head.
"Way I remember it, nothing worth getting jealous over."
Brayton glared at her for a moment before nodding towards Mace, turning on his heel and walking back to the bar.
"Nice way to treat an old friend." Mace said.
Cheandra gave a faint laugh knowing that despite the past friendship between Mace and Brayton, his attention towards her would not go down well with any of her team. She looked up with interest as Clover and Dion entered the bar, she watched the door hopefully for several moments but they were alone.
"Looks like everyone' starting to turn up." Zack said as another team wondered in.
"Here's the boss." Tristis said lightly and Cheandra glanced up to see Ryker and Burtie walk in talking with Chevron, Niah, Shad, Drac and Fargo.
Cheandra felt a pang of disappointment as Ryker and Burtie headed over to join them while Chevron, Niah, Shad, Drac and Fargo joined Clover and Dion at the bar.
Ryker sat down and looked at the empty jug in the middle of the table, he shook his head with a grin.
"Looks like you's are at least one drink up on me already." He said with a chuckle.
"I'll go order another jug and couple of glasses." Cheandra said as she got to her feet, then headed towards the bar, she slipped into the free space between Clover and Drac to order the drink.
"All the team's out tonight." Chevron remarked from the other side of Drac.
Cheandra looked towards him and nodded when he met her gaze, she gave a slight smile then turned her attention to the barmaid who spoke to her.
"Maybe later you can escape the watchdog for a while." Chevron commented softly as she turned to head back towards the table.
Cheandra paused to glance at him and gave a slight shrug of her shoulders before continuing on her way back to the table.
"I see your one time lover is here tonight." Ryker said as she sat down.
Cheandra looked at him startled, wondering if he had caught the byplay between her and Chevron before remembering that Brayton was in the Galaxy's End.
"Yeah, Bray came over to say hallo when he first got here." Cheandra said coolly.
"You mean Cheandra and Brayton . . ." Tristis said startled and let what he had been about to say trail off.
"Didn't you know Cheandra was Brayton's woman for a little while not long before her and Mace joined our team?" Ryker asked Tristis.
Tristis glanced towards Cheandra then at Mace and shook his head.
"I thought Chea had always been Mace's woman." Zack burst out.
Ryker glanced between Mace and Cheandra, after last night he was sure there was something wrong between them but everything seemed fine on the surface, maybe Mace didn't mind Cheandra having another man now and then.
Heck, Ryker thought. If Cheandra were his woman he sure wouldn't let her go looking else where.
Cheandra exchanged a wry look with Mace and looked away with a half smile, her gaze wondered around the room out of habit. There now was quite a few different teams sitting at various tables enjoying a few drinks, she noticed that the Pumas were seated not far from them and every so often Chevron glanced her way, she turned her attention back to her team mates to find Ryker watching her closely.
"Any idea of how long Brayton has been in town?" Ryker asked.
"First time I saw him tonight." Mace said.
"How about I just go over there and ask him?" Cheandra asked as she made as if to get up.
"Stay with your team." Ryker growled with a glance towards Mace to see how her remark affected the older man.
"Shari just walked in." Tristis said, "She's with her brothers." A trace of disappointment sounded in his voice.
Cheandra turned her head to look where Tristis was looking and saw Shari with two men who had a strong family resemblance to her.
"Why not ask them all over here?" Cheandra said.
Tristis grinned at her and got to his feet, she watched as he walked over to the trio and spoke to them, he shook hands with both men and shortly all four came over to the table.
Ryker got to his feet and went over to the bar to order more beer and glasses, he returned followed by the barmaid carrying the beer and glasses.
Cheandra got to her feet and headed towards the toilets. When she came out of the cubicle Clover was waiting at the washbasin.
"How about we start up a friendly game of cards?" Clover asked.
Cheandra paused for a moment as she considered the idea then shook her head regretfully. "Got some team business going on at the moment."
Clover knodded and followed Cheandra back out to the bar.
Cheandra returned to her seat and looked at Shari's brothers with interest, she sipped her fresh drink as she listened to the conversation flowing around the table and noticed that Shari looked somewhat anxious as she glanced between her brothers and Tristis. Growing bored she looked around the room and found Brayton watching her, he raised his glass in salute before taking a mouthful, Cheandra smiled faintly before looking away.
"Going to see who's out the back bar." Cheandra said as she got to her feet carrying her drink and heading out to the backroom by herself.
Brayton was standing in the doorway watching her when she turned to head back to the table, he smiled and took several steps towards her as she eyed him warily.
"How about we go for a ride for old times sake?" Brayton asked with one of his sexy smiles.
Cheandra felt the well remembered tightening in her stomache as she looked at his handsome face, she shook her and gestured towards the bar.
"What about your girl out there."
"She's not you Chea. None of them have been you." Brayton said softly as he walked towards her slowly.
"No Brayton. Everything I felt for you you killed, as surely as . . ." Cheandra's voice trailed off and she shook her head as if troubled by her thoughts. She walked around him and headed back to where her team sat and reclaimed her seat.
"No one interesting out the back?" Zack asked but Cheandra was watching Brayton intently as he walked back over to where his team sat and she didn't realise that Zack had spoken to her.
Mace's voice broke into her thoughts and she looked at him inquiringly, she realised that Tristis, Shari and her brothers had left while she had been preoccupied.
"We're going to the bar down the west end of town. Do you want to come along?" Mace asked yet again.
"I'm going to stay here a while longer." Cheandra decided.
Both Mace and Ryker looked over towards Brayton, they had both seen him follow her from the room before and then he had came back into the room only moments behind her when she had returned. A sound of irritation came from Ryker and Cheandra glanced his way, the urge to disturb him as much as his presence always disturbed her coiled in her stomach and nudged the back of her mind.
"It would be no trouble for one of us to drop you back at the compound." Ryker said.
"Are you telling me to go back to the compound?" There was a hard edge to Cheandra's voice.
"Not here, not now." Mace murmured softly and Cheandra looked at him.
He was right she realised, a public bar was not the place for another clash with Ryker.
Cheandra sighed softly and gave a faint knod.
"Some one give me a lift back to the compound?" Cheandra gave in to common sense.
"Want me to stay with you when I drop you off?" Mace asked concerned.
Cheandra shook her head as she looked down at her hand that held her drink, she really wasn't in the mood for company and just wanted to be alone. She put her drink down and pushed it away towards the middle of the table before looking at Mace.
"I'm ready to go when you are."
"Meet you over there." Mace directed his comment towards the other men.
As Mace walked beside Cheandra across the barroom he put his arm across her shoulders and cupped the point of her shoulder in his hand and gave it a slight squeeze in a gesture of comfort before letting his arm drop back to his side.
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Cheandra was silent as she poured hot strong coffee for the other team members, today was delivery day for a package to a large company nearly three hours away from their home compound, just an average length run but Cheandra felt an uneasy roiling in her stomach. She looked at Zack where he sat blowing across the top of his cup to cool his drink, fighting down the urge to demand she be allowed to do the run she turned away and placed the coffee pot on the stove to keep hot before turning back to glower at the others angrily.
Ryker glanced towards Cheandra but avoided her eyes, he could almost feel the anger coming off her in waves but said nothing, and he didn't want to get into an argument with her over his decision to have Zack run the package today. He looked across at Mace who was calmly eating the breakfast Cheandra had cooked and then glanced at the watch on his wrist.
"Ok, lets get our armour on." Ryker announced as he put his half empty mug aside.
Tristis, Burtie and Zack pushed their chairs out from the table and reached for their protective armour. Heavy reinforced pads were strapped on to protect arms, shoulders, torso's and legs. Ryker was busy strapping on his own protective armour, only Mace who would follow behind at a more sedate pace did not put on the heavy protection.
"I should be doing the run today!" Cheandra was finally unable to contain her frustration.
Zack looked towards her uneasily and hesitated doing up the straps that held the thick pads around his ribs, he looked towards Ryker for instructions.
Ryker slammed his fists on the tabletop and got to his feet angrily, he glanced at Zack and gave him a faint knod.
"Your on today." Ryker said firmly then looked at Cheandra. "When I get back we are going to settle for once and for all who is the leader of this team and who decides who rides and who doesn't."
"Why wait? You've got me replaced!" Cheandra said angrily with a gesture towards Zack.
"Mace, control your woman. I am not dealing with her shit at this moment! There are more important things then her over inflated ego and her temper tantrums." Ryker warned in a savage growl.
"YOU'RE not dealing with MY shit?" Cheandra yelled in angry disbelief.
"I don't care whose house it is. Shut the fuck up." White lines appeared between his nostrils and the deep grooves at the corners of his mouth as he controlled his fury and kept his voice normal.
"Calm down an . . " Mace began as he got to his feet hurriedly.
"Keep out of this." Cheandra said as she turned her head and glared at him before looking back at Ryker. " Don't ever tell me to shut up in my own house and if you were not such a stupid bastard you'd have realised a long time back that Mace is not my man so there aint no way he can control me. So fuck you!" Cheandra said in a tightly controlled voice before turning on her heel and storming from the room in a controlled fury.
Ryker watched her leave the room, his blood roaring in his ears in his anger. He heard the front door slam and moved to the window so he could watch her storm out to her bike and leave in a shower of flying gravel. His eyes narrowed at he thought about her parting shots, he turned his head to look at Mace thoughtfully.
"Boss?" Tristis asked quietly.
"Come on, we got a job to do. Every one knows their piece so lets get to it." Ryker ordered briskly .
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Cheandra rode around undecided on where to go for a while before heading towards the Pumas den, finding most of their bikes parked in the shade she looked for Chevron's bike before turning her bike off and putting the stand down. She tucked her helmet under her arm and walked to the door, she stood there uneasily for several minutes before finally knocking. The door was answered by Niah who was laughing and talking to someone behind her, her laughter died as she saw Cheandra, Niah studied Cheandra for several seconds before half turning away from her.
"Chev, visitor." Niah called in a cautious tone.
Cheandra could hear footsteps approaching the doorway and then she could see Chevron behind Niah, Niah stepped back and then disappeared from sight, Cheandra could hear her walking away.
"If I invite you in will Ryker and the team turn up on my doorstep?" Chevron asked.
"They're busy. Out of town busy." Cheandra said.
Chevron studied her for several moments, he knew by her answer that the team was doing a delivery run and yet she was here.
"Come in." Chevron finally invited her.
Cheandra walked through the door he opened for her and followed him into the main room, everyone in the room stopped what they were doing to look at her, gradually they resumed what they were doing. Chevron motioned for her to follow him and headed for his room, Cheandra hesitated in the doorway of his room looking around unsure of exactly why she had came to the house in the first place.
Chevron pulled his boots off and made himself comfortable sitting up against the headboard of his bed, he motioned towards a large comfortable looking armchair on the side of the room closest to the door facing the bed.
"If you don't want to stretch out with me make yourself comfortable there." He invited.
Cheandra moved to the chair and sat down on the edge of the seat somewhat uncertainly, she perched there uncomfortably for a few minutes.
"I might be interested moving to another team." Cheandra stated.
"So there's a reason your not Racer today?" Chevron asked.
Cheandra gave a faint knod and moved back into a more comfortable position in the seat of the chair.
"Ryker and I don't get on to well, we haven't for a while now." She admitted.
"Ryker pissed off because your warming Mace's bed instead of his?" Chevron asked as he ran his eyes over her boldly.
"Are you joking? Ryker has never been interested, and Mace. . I had no family, my Marm died when I was small and I never knew who my Da was. Mace, well Mace sponsored me into the Skeeter's when I started to show how good I am on a bike." Cheandra explained.
Chevron sat watching her silently for several minutes, he'd often wondered at the seemingly offhand bond between Cheandra and Mace. And as for Ryker, Chevron was no fool, he had recognised Ryker's interest in Cheandra on several occasions when the other man had thought himself unobserved. Finally Chevron knodded as he steepled his fingers in front of his chest and lowered his chin to rest on his fingertips.
"Why come here today?" Chevron asked.
"I came here because I wanted to be here, in here, with you." Cheandra finally said.
"Lay down beside me while I have a sleep." Chevron said and patted the bed beside him.
Cheandra watched him silently for a few moments before she pulled her boots off and moved to the bed, she stretched out beside him on her back and lay motionless as he moved to lay down beside her.
"Roll onto your side with your back to me." Chevron instructed.
Cheandra did as she was told, she tensed when he rolled onto his side and cuddled against his chest in spoon fashion, one arm around her waist.
"Close your eyes and have a bit of a sleep." Chevron's deep voice said near her ear.