Ren - Shades of Grey Ch. 06byMygypsy©
Hi to all my readers.
I am sorry that this chapter has taken so long to
be posted but between family crisis' and real life priorities my writing has had to take a back seat.
Just to clarify a comment I made in an end note on the last chapter of this story, readers comments have not upset me it is just readers cant see inside my head and see future chapters as I can and I was wondering if I had gotten defensive on Ren's behalf.
Thanks to all those who comment. Feed back is invaluable. I will try to get future installmants on line as I can while dealing with real life issues.
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Ren woke and groaned as he rolled over, his ribs were sore and his face felt as if someone had stomped on it the previous day. Reluctantly he got out of bed knowing that until he got moving he would continue to feel stiff and sore. The first item on his order of the day was a hot shower and he headed to the small bathroom attached to his hotel room. The stream of water was only moderately hot but it still felt like heaven on his battered body as he stood beneath its spray.
When he walked out of the bathroom fifteen minutes later with only a towel wrapped around his waist he felt much better and set about getting into some clothes. Fully dressed he headed out the door and knocked on the door to the next room to see if Brad was up and about. A few minutes later Brad opened the door; he was clad only in a pair of jeans that sat low on his hips with the stud undone.
"I see your in the land of the living still," Brad muttered as he turned and headed back into his room.
"Hit one of the pubs last night?" Ren asked as he followed Brad into the room.
"Yeah, had a few beers with Rory and 'Tanaya. Rory's not a bad bloke when you get to talk to him." Brad commented as he reached for a shirt. A wet towel lay across the foot of his bed and Ren couldn't help noticing that the bed was a mass of tangled sheets and there was also the sound of the shower running.
"Meet up with Tessa did you?" Ren asked with a grin.
"She aint the only female in town." Brad said as he sat down and pulled his boots on.
Ren glanced towards the bathroom curiously as he heard the water stop running, a few moments later a red haired woman walked out wearing only a towel wrapped around her body.
"Hallo there, I'm Cheryl. Now I know you're in town I'm surprised you weren't at the pub with Jody." Cheryl remarked as she glanced at Ren.
"I'll wait outside." Ren told Brad and headed outside.
Cheryl watched him go and glanced at Brad, "Did I say the wrong thing? Your mate doesn't seem like his normal friendly self." She commented as she let the towel drop and reached for her clothes that were on the floor beside the bed.
"It's a long story." Brad said with a shrug. He watched Cheryl dress and grinned to himself as he felt his body react to the sight of her naked body. "What are you doing tonight?" he found himself asking.
"As good as last night was, I want to be able to walk normally tomorrow. And, big fellow that you are, I am mighty sore today as it is." Cheryl said with a rueful smile.
"No problem," Brad said taking the rejection easily.
Cheryl smiled as she walked over and reached up to plant a soft kiss on his mouth. "You're a genuinely nice guy," she told him quietly.
Brad patted her affectionately on the rear as he turned her towards the door, "Let's get going, I'm hungry." He told her.
Ren was leaning against the seat of his bike when Brad and Cheryl came out of the room, he turned and pulled his helmet and gloves on without waiting any longer.
"Looks like your friend is mighty hungry either that or he can't wait to see Jody." Cheryl commented as Brad put his helmet on.
Brad shrugged as he reached for his gloves, he watched as Cheryl turned and walked towards her car where it was parked not too far away.
"Come on, I'm ready for a good feed!" Ren called to his friend before starting his bike. He turned his bike out of the parking lot and onto the main road into town, looking for somewhere that sold cooked breakfast as he went.
Brad parked his bike beside Ren's and followed him into the café as he took off his helmet. Ren was already at a table having ordered his food when Brad stepped up to the front counter and ordered. "I'll have scrambled eggs, toast and a pot of coffee thanks."
"Take a seat and I'll bring it over when it's ready." The waitress said with a friendly smile.
"Thanks." Brad said before walking over to join Ren at his table. "I don't know about you but I could drink a gallon of coffee this morning." He remarked to Ren.
Ren gave a soft snort of amusement and leant back in his chair as he turned his head to watch the early shoppers heading into a supermarket across the street. "Had a few brews last night did you?"
"A few but not enough to go over the limit. It's more the staying awake until nearly three this morning." Brad said with a satisfied grin.
"It's always feast or famine with you." Ren said with a chuckle.
"Yeah, maybe I should get myself a woman and settle down." Brad laughed then turned his head to watch as the waitress bought over a tray with two mugs, a jug of milk and two pots of coffee.
"There you go, you both look like you could do with a coffee while you wait." She said with a friendly smile as she placed a steaming mug in front of each man then put the milk and coffee pots in the middle of the table.
"That smells like the real deal." Ren remarked as he inhaled deeply.
"Freshly ground beans, and brewed fresh." The waitress said before hurrying back behind the counter to serve another customer.
"Ahhh, heaven." Brad groaned in appreciation as he sipped the steaming brew.
Ren grinned to himself as he added milk and sugar before sampling the coffee. When the food arrived both men began to eat hungrily and barely took any notice of when Jody walked into the café.
"Hallo Gabe," Jody said when she saw him.
Ren looked up and Jody caught sight of his battered face. "Hi Jody."
"What happened to you? Or should I ask who happened to you?" She asked in surprise.
"It's nothing." Ren dismissed her concern. "Are you working today?"
"I don't start until two this afternoon," Jody said as she pulled a chair out from the table and sat down with the two men. "Hi Brad."
"Hi Jody, how's it going?" Brad replied.
"Good. Gabe, would you like to come by home for a few hours?" Jody asked as she turned her attention back to Ren.
"How about I turn up in about half an hour?" Ren asked as he looked at her.
Sensing something serious was afoot Jody nodded and got to her feet. "I'll catch you later then."
"I'll see you shortly." Ren confirmed and watched as she walked from the café.
"You sound serious." Brad commented.
Ren didn't reply as he continued to finish his food, he pushed his empty plate aside and reached for his pot of coffee to refill his mug.
It was close to half an hour before Ren finished his coffee, paid for his meal and walked outside to his bike. He was still pulling his gloves on when Brad walked to his bike.
"I'll be down at the pub around lunch time if you're finished by then." Brad told him.
"Okay." Was all Ren said before starting his bike and heading towards Jody's house.
Jody smiled nervously when Ren knocked on the door and she opened it, "Come on in." She invited as she moved to one side.
"Thanks," Ren said as he moved past her and into the lounge room. "Is Tessa home or are we alone?" he asked as he turned to face her.
"Tessa is at work." Jody replied and made her way to a chair to sit down facing Ren. "You were in a fight." It was a statement of fact not a question.
"Yeah, I gave the guy that had belted his girlfriend around a taste of what it felt like." Ren said evenly.
"Do you honestly think it done any good?" Jody demanded.
"It made me feel a hell of a lot better." Ren admitted.
"Why? Because it felt good to hit him or because she meant that much to you?" Jody asked suddenly.
Ren didn't reply as he stood rubbing his hands together slowly to ease the soreness in his knuckles; finally he lifted his head to look at Jody levelly.
"I think I'd best sit down so we can have a talk." Ren said and Jody realised he had been waiting for her to invite him to sit down.
"I get the feeling I am not going to like what you have to say." Jody said as she indicated the lounge behind him.
"I doubt it." Ren agreed as he sat down. He looked at his hands for several moments before looking up to meet her eyes. "You know I wanted some breathing space last time I was here..."
"Yes," Jody acknowledged.
"Since then I realised... it wouldn't be fair to let you hang around waiting for me." Ren paused for a moment as he looked down at his hands. "As much as I like you and respect you, I've realised that my feelings for... this other woman are much stronger than I first realised, and I can't be sure how long it'll take me to sort myself out. And if I'll even want a relationship no matter how casual when I'm through." Ren said gently as he could.
"So you don't want me waiting around for you." Jody said flatly.
"Jody, you're worth more than that. It's because I think so much of you I came to tell you that if you get a chance with someone else, take it. You deserve some one who is totally into you. At this stage I can't say I'll ever be seriously interested in anyone else." Ren said somewhat bluntly.
"So I'd be okay for a casual root, but don't expect anything more?" Jody asked tightly.
"You're purposely twisting what I am saying," Ren said "you're not okay as a casual fuck. You're way to good for me to treat you like that."
"Why aren't you with her?" Jody demanded suddenly.
"Because she doesn't want me. She doesn't want any man." Ren said levelly.
"You can't have her and you don't want me?" Jody said almost to herself.
"I think you deserve better than being second choice." Ren told her.
Jody nodded silently, the sheen of tears in her eyes. "I suppose I should thank you for being up front with me. You could have strung me along but you didn't."
"I respect you too much to do that." Ren told her.
"She doesn't know what she's giving up." Jody said softly.
Ren didn't answer her remark and waited for her to decide it was time for him to leave.
"Just because we're not... don't be a stranger if you're in town okay?" Jody said quietly.
"You can be sure I'll call by the pub and say hallo," Ren promised her then added, "I had better be going." Ren said getting to his feet.
"Okay," Jody said as she stood up, she hesitated a moment then walked up to Ren and slid her arms up his chest and pulled his head down to hers as she gave him a lingering kiss on the lips. "Just so you know what you're giving up." She whispered quietly when he turned away.
Ren heard her comment, knew he was meant to but he didn't react as he headed for the front door. He knew he was doing the right thing by Jody but he still felt like a heel.
Jody watched as Ren walked to his bike and pulled his helmet and gloves on before settling astride the big bike. She returned his wave and watched as he kicked the bike to life and headed away from the house.
"Who ever she is Gabe, she's a fool." Jody said softly and turned away as her tears began to fall.
* * * * *
Ren rode around town until he found Brad's bike parked outside a leatherwork shop. Leaving his bike not far from the shop he headed inside to see what was attracting Brad's attention inside the shop.
"Finished all ready?" Brad asked as Ren walked up beside him.
"Yeah," Ren replied. "What have you found? New tools or some good grade leather?"
"I'm just looking at some finished pieces of work. Whoever done them has an interesting technique of embossing the designs into the leather." Brad said as he showed Ren a decorated leather wallet.
"You'd know better than me," Ren said as he looked at the wallet a moment before handing it back. "Do you want to stick around all day or move on?"
"You're not staying around to see Jody after work?" Brad asked as he looked at Ren with surprise.
"I'm not seeing her any more," Ren admitted.
Brad remained silent as he looked at the wallet he held then placed it back in the display stand. "Why don't we go see if we can stir up a bit of action in the next town over or something?" He finally asked when Ren remained silent.
"Why not." Ren agreed as the bell over the store door jingled and they both glanced at the entrance to see who had entered the store.
"Fucking hell." Brad growled when he saw Rory and 'Tanaya head towards the counter.
"Thought you said Rory was an okay bloke." Ren muttered.
"He is but she's trouble with a capital t. She came onto nearly every man but him last night at the pub." Brad said darkly.
"What? And left out you?" Ren asked with a grin knowing it was probably true.
Brad grunted but didn't reply as he made his way towards the door.
"Hey there Brad," Rory called as he spotted him.
"Hi, last night seems to have agreed with you." Brad remarked when he saw the grin on Rory's face.
Rory glanced at 'Tanaya and back at Brad, he was well aware of the tension between them. "Yes, last night was pretty good. Best part started after we left the pub." Rory said with a masculine chuckle of appreciation.
Brad glanced at 'Tanaya who was watching him, she blew him a kiss and he turned away angrily, muttering inaudibly.
Ren watched the interplay with interest, when he glanced towards Rory Ren couldn't help noticing that Rory was watching them with amusement.
"You looking at the leather work as well? They got the good stuff out the back." Rory said as he looked at the goods on display.
"You've seen it all?" Brad asked with interest.
"I check out everything that comes in with each shipment. I've picked up several nice pieces in the last few months." Rory told him.
'Tanaya made her way around the display to look Ren up and down openly, she smiled at him as she placed a hand on the point of his left shoulder. "You're not a dumb blonde I hope," 'Tanaya murmured in a sexy voice as she ran her hand down his jacket sleeve.
"It depends who you ask." Ren told her.
"Well at least you're not unfriendly like your mate there." 'Tanaya remarked as she moved towards Brad.
"Come on 'Tanaya, not everyone enjoys your games," Rory told her lightly.
'Tanaya pouted but walked back to Rory instead of teasing Brad further.
"You looking for something special in leather?" Brad asked.
"I'm after a pair of saddlebags to go on my bike but I want the paintwork pattern from my bike on the leather as well. So far I haven't been able to find a leather worker who is willing to do one-off pieces for individual customers." Rory explained.
"I'm going over to the tattoo parlour." 'Tanaya told Rory as she headed towards the door and out onto the street.
"I do leather work now and then, mind if I have a look at the paintjob on your bike?" Brad asked.
"Sure thing. It's out the front." Rory said as he led the way out to his bike.
Brad and Ren stood by the bike as Rory proudly showed off the intricate design painted on the petrol tank of his bike. Brad squatted on his heels as he studied the design and finally gave a nod before standing up and walking around to the other side of the bike to look at the design on that side.
"If I got some Polaroids of the design I'm sure I could do a pair of bags for the bike. I think I could even get stain to colour the leather similar to the design." Brad said after careful consideration.
"You reckon?" Rory asked hopefully.
"I'd be willing to give it a try." Brad said.
Ren left the two men to hash out the details of the bargain and climbed onto his bike, he was just about to kick it to life when 'Tanaya walked across the road and stood straddling the front wheel of his bike.
"Why don't you and your friend head back to our place with us?" Tanaya invited in a husky voice.
"I'm sorry but I'm just not interested." Ren told her evenly.
'Tanaya smiled and glanced across at Brad where he was still talking to Rory. "You may not be but perhaps your friend will be." She said with a quick glance at Ren.
"What does your man think about you playing the field?" Ren asked curiously.
"He knows I do and he doesn't mind. Sometimes he even joins in the fun." 'Tanaya said with a grin.
Ren shrugged and sat back on his bike and watched as 'Tanaya strolled towards Brad and Rory with measured swaying steps. Giving a faint shrug Ren started his bike and headed towards the hotel, another few hours' sleep suddenly appealed to him.
He bought himself a local newspaper at a small shop on the way and when he reached the hotel he settled back to read the paper and doze the day away.
It was late evening when Ren ventured out of the hotel room and glanced around for Brad's bike. Seeing it not too far away he knocked on the door of the room Brad was using and when he heard the distracted answer from inside he tried the door and found it unlocked.
"Working on a design for some leatherwork?" Ren asked taking in the sight of pieces of paper scattered across the bed and the pencil Brad held.
"Yeah. Hey when will we be heading back to Albury? I sure could use a decent table to work at instead of on this bed." Brad commented as he looked up.
"You sure you want to go just yet? Seems to me like 'Tanaya has some definite ideas of what you could use a bed for." Ren grinned.
"I don't think she would be up for the games I have in mind for her." Brad said darkly.
"And here I was thinking you thought she was nothing but trouble." Ren laughed.
"The trouble is she's already attached to a guy. If I have anything to do with a woman she has to be single and unattached." Brad said dryly.
"Sky wasn't unattached." Ren pointed out suddenly serious.
Brad looked at his friend cautiously but made no comment as he looked away again. "So we hanging around or heading back to the restaurant?" Brad asked after a few minutes silence.
"We might as well head back, " Ren said then added as an after thought. "Unless there's a reason you want to stay around."
Brad put the pencil down and began collecting the pieces of paper carefully. "Let's go then."
Both men were ready to leave with in half an hour and were quick to get on their bikes and head off.
* * * * *
Three weeks later...
Brad was busily working on finishing the intricate stitching that held the leather saddle bag together when he heard his mobile phone beep it's notice he had received a text message. Knowing it was not from Rory who the bags were for, or from 'Tanaya who had become a regular visitor despite his protests he ignored the phone until he had completed the stitching.
Putting the completed bag aside Brad stood up and stretched to ease his cramped muscles, he had spent the last three and a half hours concentrating on finishing the job. He was still admiring the completed work when he took his phone out and opened the message.
"Holy bloody hell!" Brad exclaimed as he reread the message to make sure he had read it correctly, "Hey Ren! You'd better come read this," he called as he turned and went looking for Ren, the leatherwork forgotten.
Ren was in the restaurant kitchen when Brad found him. Ren looked up inquiringly, Brad never came into the restaurant kitchen.
"I need to talk to you in the flat." Brad said then turned and headed back into the flat.
"What's the problem?" Ren asked as he walked into the flat shutting the connecting door behind him.
"Hey! Where were you's? I came in and couldn't find either of you." 'Tanaya said as she walked into the room.
"Read that!" Brad said handing his phone to Ren before walking over to 'Tanaya. "Would you mind disappearing for a while? We got something important going on." Brad said to her.