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Chapter 1- Zepp


Velma’s was the only hole-in-the-wall bar in Dayton where there wasn't a cover and naked girls working poles. Christmas lights framed the windows year-round, and tonight they blinked on and off, almost in time with the twang of country music that seeped through the open windows.

Wolf parked his pickup at the back of the lot, cutting the headlights while he left the engine running. “I’ll just wait for you to give me the signal,” he said when Bellamy and I piled out.

The place was full of rundown beaters, cars with busted windows and rusted out roofs. But even pieces of shit could be sold for a good chunk of money.

Bellamy dropped his dad’s police bag beside the wheel of a rusted Hurst Old, kneeling to rummage through for the file. “This thing’s a piece of shit.”

The car was a wreck, but any idiot knew these things could go for an easy fifty-grand with some new interior and a paint job—which made us selling it for four a steal. “We’ll each get a grand a piece for it.”

“Yeah.” Bellamy worked to jimmy the lock, while I watched the entrance of the bar. The seconds ticked by without the pop of the lock. “Dammit,” Bellamy huffed. “It won’t catch. It’s jammed or something.”

I tugged at the door while he crammed the file farther under the rubber seal. “What the…”

The bang of a screen door broke up the rhythm of banjos and guitars. I popped up, staring over the dented roof of the Hurst, then gave Bellamy a shove. “Hurry up, man.”

My gaze narrowed on the silhouette slinking through the parked cars. Something about the sway of her hips seemed familiar. The curvy redhead stepped underneath the fluorescent glow of Velma’s sign, and I groaned. Monroe James went to my school. She lived two trailers down from my best friend, and the last thing we needed was a possible witness who knew our names when the guy reported his car stolen.

“Shit, man. Keep going. I’ve gotta go distract this chick.” I moved away from the car, striding over the gravel toward Monroe.

Her pace slowed. Through the dark, I could barely make out her narrowed gaze aimed at me.

I made a blatant show of looking over her long legs. And damn, that skirt was short. “Nice skirt,” I said.

“Eat shit.” She stepped around me without missing a beat.

I faltered. That was not how this shit went. Ever. I complimented a girl—she swooned. I spun around. I wanted to call her a bitch, but she was headed straight toward Bellamy. So I swallowed my pride for a second and started after her. “You should learn to take a compliment, you know?”

“You should learn to fuck off.”

My jaw clenched. She was a row over from the damned Hurst. God, I did not need to be dealing with this right now.

“You don’t have to play hard to get. I’ve heard you’re easy, Monroe.”

“I’ve heard you have herpes. I’m busy, so again, fuck off.”

I didn’t have time for this. I brushed past her. She could turn us in if she wanted. We’d sell the Hurst before the cops ever showed up at my house anyway. Lack of proof was a bitch. “Bell!” I shouted across the parked cars. “Hurry the hell up.”

Her steps over the gravel quickened, and she popped up right beside me. “Are you stealing that car?”

“What if I am?” I stopped a few feet in front of the Hurst.

And I knew that look, the way her gaze swept over me while she bit at her lip. Before tonight, I hadn’t said a word to Monroe, but that didn’t mean I hadn’t noticed the girl. Curves. Big tits. Tiny waist. Red hair. She was hot in that look-at-me-and-I'll-kill-you kind of way, which made her hard not to notice. This wasn’t the first time I had thought about sinking my dick into her.

“Well, that might change things.” Her finger trailed down my chest. “I do like a bad boy.” Most girls did. It was their kryptonite.

“Yeah?” I grabbed her, pinning her against the car. “You wanna be tainted by the bad boy, Monroe. That it?”

“You gotta be kidding me,” Bellamy grumbled. “Seriously, Zepp?”

She threaded her fingers through my belt loops and snapped my body tight to hers. I imagined grabbing her by the waist and throwing her face down onto the hood of the car, going at her until my dick was raw.

Her lips brushed my jaw. “Do you wanna fuck me, Zepp?”

“I wanna ruin you.”

Bellamy groaned in the background. “Great. I’m going to the truck. Let me know when you’re ready to work, dickhead.”

And now I was totally going to screw her against this car. “Are you a screamer, Monroe?”

Her fingers raked the back of my neck, and she pulled me close. I waited for her to go for my fly and pull me out, but instead, she rammed her knee into my groin. I doubled over, grabbing myself while I fought for a breath, but the pain only got worse. It felt like my nuts were in my throat. My legs buckled, and my knees hit the gravel.

I heard the jingle of keys before the car door opened and slammed shut. Not even two seconds later, the engine growled to life, shaking the ground.

“What the hell, man?” Bellamy shouted, running up behind me when the reverse lights came on. The tires spun, kicking gravel everywhere before she shot off, leaving nothing but a cloud of dust in the glow of the taillights.

“Did she just take the car?” Bellamy snatched the bag from the patch of grass.

Still clutching my nuts, I staggered to my feet. “What does it look like?”

“That was four grand!” Bellamy paced behind an old Cadillac, the flash of Velma’s neon sign bouncing off the back window. “Your dick just cost us four grand.”

Not only had Monroe stolen a car out from under me, but she had also just taken a blowtorch to my ego.

“Shut up, Bellamy.” I started toward Wolf’s pickup.

Wolf’s brow wrinkled when I opened the passenger door. He glanced back at Bellamy settling into the extended cab. “Am I high, or did Monroe James just steal that car?” He snorted. “I mean, tell me I smoked too much weed and I’m hallucinating.”

I swiped a hard hand over my face, then slumped down in the seat. “Just drive, would you, Wolf?”

“Holy shit.” He put the truck in reverse, while I stared through the dirty windshield. “She stole the car?”

“Because Zepp was trying to fuck her.”

I turned in my seat to glare at Bellamy. “Like you wouldn’t.”

“I would,” Wolf offered. “Always wondered if the whole red in the head, fire in the hole thing was true.” The neon lights bounced over the dashboard before the truck sputtered onto the highway.

We made it to the four-way stop before Bellamy exhaled in the back seat. “She cost us four grand. Four grand.”

Wolf shot a sadistic smile my way. “Wanna go set fire to her trailer?”

The guys gave me grief about Monroe getting one up on me the whole way back to Wolf’s. By the time he pulled up to his double-wide, I was fuming. I climbed out before the other guys did, slamming the door hard enough to rock the truck. I was almost to my motorcycle before I noticed the tarp-covered car parked in Monroe’s drive.

“Oh, you have to be kiddin’ me.” Halfway across the road, a smile spread over my face. I couldn’t believe the girl was that stupid.

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