I was looking over what I've put up here and realized that it could take a bit of time to bring even one to a conclusion since they aren't short, any of them. I wanted to give readers a nice little romance without any fur or horns in it. Well, other than what's supposed to be there, I guess... I have a few like this, but they're mostly woven into longer epics and I didn't want to pull them out of context.
This is just a little tale and involves two people and the friend who helps out to make it happen for them, since she's the only one who can see it. It's really two stories, though one is 40 years in the past. Just so you know, this happens in the mid to late 1980s, mostly due to technology.
I think that I can do this in three chapters minimum, four more likely depending on the sticky bits of the love scenes, but not much more. I hope you find the characters easier to relate to than demons or werewolves. :)
He'd come home from work and showered, glad for the feeling that the water was washing the effects of the day's work off as well as keeping him clean. It had been a long day. A change into his leathers and he was out the door again. He pulled into the gas station and asked the young attendant to fill it with super, but retracted that when he saw the kid take the regular hose from the pump.
"Thanks, but I'll just do it myself, Chief." he said.
With a full tank now, he slapped the fuel filler shut and went inside to pay. Back at the bike, he turned the key, noted the neutral indicator, pulled the clutch and hit the starter. He still had his helmet on and no one saw his small grin at the growl coming from down there between his knees. He'd cut a lot of corners in his life to get this little red pony into it. After a long day putting up with everything that his life and his job could throw at him, this was the start of his therapy.
He pulled the clutch again and snicked the gear selector down into first gear. A quick check for drivers snoozing along in their metal cages, and he was off, looking for his favorite route.
Will had always wondered about this stretch of road. There were enough straights followed by winding and tight turns here to challenge the most frantic speed junkie. It hadn't been paved all that long ago judging by newness of the asphalt surface, and it was on the maps, but he never saw anybody out here. And not just bikes. He'd never, ever seen one other vehicle here.
He'd begun to think of it as his own private track, but he never discounted the possibility of meeting some sweet grandmother out here on her way to a church function or something. It might be his addiction, he thought, but a glimpse of one other vehicle, and he'd stay at the limit. He only rode deserted roads fast. And he never raced with anyone. If he'd wanted to do that, he would do it properly on a track. This was just a solitary thing to him.
The trees and small lakes flashed by as the engine sang its lovely song to him. It had been a rough week and he was trying to get some kinks out. Not from his body - doing this would make a few things hurt from the vibration and the taut suspension. And that's assuming of course, that he didn't do something stupid like go too deep into a corner and lose it. He had three short gentle bends coming up and pre-weighted his feet on the pegs and lightened his butt on the seat at the same time to flick through them.
A light squeeze on the front brakes and an easy drift to the right, and he was lined up. Down two gears with a blip of the throttle. Will slid his ass to the left off the seat just a bit, and stuck out his knee a little, preparing to alternate this position back and forth through the series. And ... left, right, left, then down hard onto the tank with his chest while he let it wind out.
The front end was getting light, so he slid forward a touch listening to his very favorite tune, and there was no radio. That transverse four's exhaust note was gorgeous - a snarl mixed with a howl, throaty at the lower end of the power band, but once it was on the cams, oh man... The back of his ass hit the rear of the notch on the seat, and screw Star Wars or any of the films or that genre, this was the only real, pure hyper-drive. Wail for me honey, he thought, I so need this today.
He glanced quickly at the tach. He was in fifth gear at this point, headed for the up-shift to sixth, but there was one bump coming up in the road. He didn't want to get past redline when it got light on the tires there. The lower front edge of his helmet hit the filler on the tank and he grunted - never could help that right here, and then he raised himself up off the tank as he hit sixth gear. Will never looked at the small speedo - who the hell has time? But he guessed that his little red pony would be kissing maybe 260 klicks or so here, judging by the way that the edge of his low curved windshield buffeted in the windstream.
He saw a black shape up ahead topped by red leathers. So somebody else knew about this place. The brake light came on, and even from here, Will saw the back end rise a bit as the front shocks compressed under heavy braking. But he was coming up on them quick now. It was time to get on the brakes himself.
There were three disc brakes, but he didn't use the rear disc much. Once the beefy dual fronts take hold and the center of gravity shifts forward, there's no braking authority out back there anyway. Mostly he just used it to hold him at an uphill stop, or to flash the brake light to wake up Henry Q. Henpecked if he was getting too close to Will while checking out the ladies on the sidewalk in town.
Right here and now, he heard and felt the hum of the front calipers on the big discs as he blipped the throttle and downshifted while squeezing the front brake lever at the same time. It had taken Will a while to learn that little move.
The anti-dive forks were doing their thing and didn't compress. The system knew the difference between a bump and braking, so he was happy. He stuck out his right knee, and tugged the bars left, countersteering to flick the beast down hard to the right. Will's knee puck kissed the pavement lightly, and he forgot about hauling ass out of the turn so he could figure out what this rider ahead of him was going to do - and also, there was something about that butt on the seat ahead of him.
Will saw the long black ponytail held with three ties and wondered as he let old Red beneath him wander sideways a bit. She slid that backside across the seat to prepare for the next right, and Will nudged his high beam button to let her know that she wasn't alone out of courtesy.
Her helmet came up a bit to check her mirrors, and then she was up and downshifting, taking her upper body weight onto her wrists as he was. She didn't downshift like Will did. He could hear her revs sailing skyward through each downshift from back here. That habit is hard on drive chains and sprockets, he thought, but it sounds cool. Well if ya got money, you can travel, he always said.
Maybe his sudden appearance had distracted her, but her line wasn't tight through the curve, and Will saw the daylight that he'd been looking for. He passed her on the inside, knee planted hard on the pavement, and just got a quick sideways glance over the side of his tank and past his left handlebar, since he was hanging off almost below it. Her dark eyes were like saucers in the clear visor. Well, she'd left him the opening...
He saw her in the mirror as she dropped onto her tank. Her front tire came off the asphalt a bit as she launched to catch him, but it was already too late for that. That was all he could see in the vibrating mirror. She did know how to ride well, he could see that, and he kind of hoped to get a chance to talk with her, though he had his doubts. This addiction was pretty much a solitary thing with Will. He wasn't into trying to impress anybody, but anyone he met usually was.
He noticed that his spidey-sense was tingling. Will somehow knew there was at least one cop up ahead, he almost always just knew. If they had a window open, they'd hear the howls of the headers. He sat up and tapped the top of his helmet a couple of times before he got onto the brakes and pulled to the right side of the lane.
Rocket Girl did her noisy downshift thing and appeared on his left to pace him just below the limit. She looked over at him with raised eyebrows, and he tapped his head again and pointed. There was a downhill left coming up, and just as they crested the rise, he saw the edge of the cruiser sticking out of the trees, parked on the wide shoulder there. He made a mental note that it was a great place for a speed trap. Then he saw that there was a second one there in front of it. Wow...
They motored by innocently, though there was no doubt in the faces that Will got a glimpse of. He didn't know if she had the same kind of sense that he seemed to have, but he kind of doubted it somehow. They rode like that for a couple of more klicks until the one cruiser that had pulled out to tail them turned off. A bit later they came to the end of the road. Will looked over, and raised his visor. But Rocket Girl just nodded her thanks curtly, turned left and was gone. Will shrugged and turned right, resuming his normal identity as just a guy who rode a crotch rocket painted in "arrest-me" red.
Will lived with a few friends and together they'd rented a huge house. There were odd invisible boundary lines all through it marking their personal spaces, but the rest was communal. It being Friday night, and with nothing social planned, they'd all sort of just cooked dinner.
Will was thankful many times over that his buddies were married. For one thing, while they could all cook, it just wasn't great stuff - unless the wives were involved since they had some minimum standards after all, and for another, though it did make for an odd structure, he really liked having the girls around. It really cheered the place up for him, and if he was the one cooking, it always helped to have a bit of feminine direction to stave off food poisoning.
They sat discussing things, and Paco told him that it was looking as though they had a new garage tenant. The thing was three spaces wide, and Paco kept his car in one, Jimmy just parked in the driveway as did Will with his truck, and Will used one space for his bike and tools. They thought to maybe offset a tiny bit of the huge rent. Paco was saying that his cousin might rent the open slot. That's all Will heard as he got up to make sure it was presentable in case anybody came by to look at it or something.
There wasn't much to clean, but he made the space spotless, and then thought he'd ride some more, not pushing anything hard, just riding. That changed slightly when he found himself at the top of that road again. He still wasn't flying, just motoring. Will had some engine work coming up that would be a little unpleasant at the beginning and the end, and he'd be stuck in his truck for a little while as the open heart surgery happened on the engine.
He thought about that until he saw the single headlight coming up quickly in his mirrors.
There she was again. Will stayed at his pace, and though it was quick, it was slower than they'd gone earlier. He figured that if she wanted to pass, she'd have plenty of room and time for it. But she just hung there on his ass, turn after turn. He signaled for the shoulder and headed there. She hesitated at this unexpected behavior, and as Will slowed, she flashed by him.
That was what he'd been after, and he rolled it on to catch her. He didn't want to race, he just wanted to see more of her style. He didn't push either, he just hung there. When they got to the end, Will pulled up beside her and gave her the sign, offering to go for coffee. He saw just the top half her thin smile in the helmet, but she shook her head, and again turned left. Will rode home thinking that he'd better get this work started if he was going to do it.
He'd noticed a clank in at least one main journal bearing. It only happened just when the bike was stone cold, and it was gone within 5 seconds after that. The dealer had told him it wasn't anything to worry about - they all did that. Maybe the dealer was counting on some engine work out of Will, he didn't know. But he didn't like the sound of it, and had somebody in his back pocket who would do the work as a favor, so he'd bought the replacements and a few other bits.
Getting the engine out was a chore, and his buddies were willing to stand and smile as he disconnected lines, hoses and cables and then busted his back working it out of the frame. They'd have helped if he'd asked, they said. When it came to the hard part, Will threw an old tire in the back of his truck to cradle the engine and pointed to the three cases of beer there as well, saying that one case was for the household. So that solved his labor shortage instantly.
With the engine loaded, he drove it and the beer to his friend's shop. Ricky and his boys were happy for the beer on a Friday night. Will had one while they talked and then drove home two hours later.
The next day, he had his carburetors in a lovely array of orderly bits on the workbench as Paco came out and asked if he had a spare rear race stand. He said that his cousin would like to borrow it for a day or two. Will said no, but offered his, since he wouldn't need it for a while, but that the width might need to be adjusted for the bike, and he'd help if necessary. Paco nodded and went back inside.
About an hour later, Will heard a bike come down their quiet street and was amazed to see Rocket Girl pull hesitantly into the long driveway. Paco walked out and they talked. Will had already pulled his bike off the race stand and had it on its sidestand in his stall.
She pulled into the garage and shut her bike off, asking Paco to hold the bike up as she got off to adjust the stand herself. That took a second, and then the back end of the bike was off the ground slightly and it was in no danger of falling.
Will casually looked at it from his stall, and saw the damage to the fiberglass. She'd laid it down someplace, and he could see her mangled sidestand tied up out of the way. A glance at her leathers showed him she was mostly all right, though he could see some scuffing along one side and the back, and she was limping a bit as she unstrapped a small bag from the seat. "Who are the other people who rent here?" she asked her cousin.
Paco knew Will was there, but didn't let on, "Oh, I'm in that slot, you're in this one and the other one belongs to some asshole. He owns the stand you're using. He shows up here and rides once in a while, but he's not very good at it. He mostly just drinks all our beer and then leaves the next day after he sleeps it off on the floor here."
None of that was true, and with a smirk, Will was thinking 'Thanks, pal' with all of his heart. Without friends, you're nothing, he thought.
Her eyes had adjusted to the light by then, and she caught sight of Will's engineless pony. "Puta -" she said under her breath, but caught herself and he was a bit glad she did. He'd heard the rest of the expression before. Will understood enough Spanish to start a bar fight in about any Hispanic bar anywhere, and he didn't want to hear his mother involved in any oath she was going to say. She walked around to the back of Will's bike, looking around a little for the missing engine.
"Oh no, Paco," she said, shaking her head, "I know this one, and he can ride. Were you joking about him being an asshole too?"
Her cousin laughed, "See for yourself, there he is there, as noisy as always. Rosa, meet Will. Will, my cousin Aurora. We call her Rosa."
Not that he was looking for any, but Will saw zero interest in those eyes. He offered his hand anyway. She ignored it and her sarcasm was clear when she said in a purposefully phony way, "Charmed, I'm sure, thanks for letting me use the stand." The cousins went inside, and Will went back to his carbs.
"Well that held no warmth," he told the little carburetor pieces in front of him, "or sincerity."
There were imperfections from the classic Latin beauty in her, but since she wasn't just a collection of parts, the overall impression on him was stunning. It didn't matter much, he thought, he had no need of a bitch like that anywhere near him if that was how she went around meeting people. "Good luck if you need anything else, honey," he smirked quietly.
After a minute, he overheard a few bits of the conversation from inside. Paco was chewing her out for her coldness, pointing out that Will was a good friend, and sure hadn't deserved her icy response. Half of the conversation was in Spanish, and although it was lively, it sure wasn't what he was interested in hearing, so not wanting to eavesdrop, he turned on the radio on the bench and got back to work.
About twenty minutes later, he looked up and found her in jeans and a loose T-shirt looking at him intently with those dark eyes. Since he was one of those people whose day isn't badly dented by one little thing, he set down what he was working on and offered his smile.
She stepped forward, this time offering her hand, "I'm here to apologize, Will. I was pissed off at dropping my baby there this morning, and I'm pretty stiff and sore. None of that is your fault, as my cousin has just pointed out loudly to me, and he's right. Can we just rewind and start over?" Her smile was genuine and dazzling.
"Sure," Will replied, wiping his hands with a rag to shake her hand, " I saw the damage. What happened?"
She shook her head, "I was out on that road where I saw you yesterday. Maybe I was thinking too hard. Actually, I was trying to figure out something I've seen you do before."
She shrugged, "Guess I just don't have it today."
"Concentration," she stated, "That wasn't the first time I've followed you." Aurora admitted, "though you weren't going your normal pace last night. I hate to admit it, but that's the closest I've come to catching you - and I knew you were leaving me room to pass. You do something when you downshift and brake - I can hear it, and see that your hand is busy with the brake, but I don't get it."
She shrugged, "I kind of lost it in that turn where you passed me the first time yesterday. You were flying like a Frisbee an inch off the ground, just like butter on a hot pan. Me? I downshifted too late, too hard and it upset things. The back tire let go and I just skittered off."
Will nodded as he thought about where she'd gone off, "Well, you picked a good place to dump it. There's not much to hit there. You hurt anything? I mean besides your bike. I can see you're limping."
She shrugged, "Just busted my fat ass, my bike and my pride." She looked annoyed with herself.
"Don't worry about it," he said, "I'd say your pride took the worst of it, the bike we can fix." He glanced down and then back up, "I've never seen a busted ass, but the mental picture isn't pretty. I'd help you figure out the braking-downshift thing, but..." He looked at his bike, "No wheels for me. The engine's in the shop for a bit. Getting main bearings and head porting."
"Uh, try not to take this the wrong way, but I'm starved. How about I take your wounded pride and busted ass for a sandwich down the road? I could use some intelligent company to trade deep, intellectual thoughts with - like riding, and once I get these carbs back together with the carb kits I bought, I'm all yours, if you want some help with your wheels later."
She nodded uncertainly, thinking for a minute, but then smiled, "Sure! I might not be able to get in though. I don't know if I can fold myself enough to sit in a car right now," she said as they walked.