The Price of Atonement   The Dutchmen MC book 4

The sun gleamed across the river as he walked from the compound to the marina. A plethora of different boats bobbed along the piers in their slips. Cruisers, bass, sport, pontoons, big, small in an array of colors. All of them needed maintenance, and most of the people who rented space here used the Dutchmen’s services for that. Boots took in the row of runabouts. These were part of the fleet the Dutchmen and the Dark Horses had used for running drugs down the Mississippi River. They’d been stripped of their hiding places and outfitted as day rentals.

Boots breathed in the air. Fuck, it was good to be free. Two years wasn’t really that long compared to his first incarceration, but those months had dragged on and on for him. The daily monotony was just as much a punishment as being in a cage and unable to move. He was so fucking ready to start over.

The smooth lug-lug-lug of a well-timed motorcycle came into his ears, and he turned to see Rail driving up on his big machine.

“Good night?” he queried after dismounting and taking off his helmet. He stuck out his hand in a morning greeting. “Bella treat you well?

Boots clasped it. “Yeah. Had seconds this morning. I doubt I’ll go for thirds. I needed last night, but you know I’m not into collecting pussy.”

Rail chuckled. “She likes to party, and she’s definitely into collecting dick. As long as she doesn’t turn into a problem, she’ll be allowed into the club. Come with me. The grill isn’t officially open at this hour, but we can go in and grab some coffee. I’ll tell you more of what we have going on here and what we need, yeah?”

Boots nodded and followed Rail to the outside patio part of the restaurant. A few people were in the kitchen, doing prep for the day. They wandered in and out, performing their tasks. None of them were bikers, but one of them sported a prospect patch. He looked like he should be in high school rather than in a biker club.

“Hey, Flipper, bring us a couple coffees,” Rail called out to the kid.

The young man grinned. “You bet.”

Rail and Boots sat at one of the worn wooden tables. The umbrellas were still down but would be spread open before the heat of the day started up. The season would change soon, as would the focus of the club’s new business.

“I need a reliable boat mechanic, and I know you’ve got the chops for it. Duke has a salvage business he hires out for odd jobs. All of us take turns playing bouncer at the bar. Prospects do the tending and grunt work mostly, but the kitchen staff is separate. Money is tight, but it’s growing and getting better. Camo does the books and says we’re in the black. Not far, but enough that we can breathe easy. Most of us are happy with the new way of living. It’s hard work with a schedule, but when you think about it, we worked hard with a schedule before. The biggest difference is not having to worry about staying alive or getting caught.”

Flipper appeared and placed two large mugs in front of the men. “Want something else?”

Rail took a huge sip of the dark brew. “Mama J been by yet?”

Flipper shook his head. “She texted to say she’s running late. Should be here soon.”

“Mama J?” Boots asked as he lifted his own mug. The coffee was strong and biting. Not like the weak-ass shit served at the prison.

Rail let out a short bark of laughter. “Used to be Nutter’s old lady. Ready to hear some real soap-opera shit?”

Boots raised his eyebrow in answer as he took another sip.

“They’ve been together a long-ass time, enough to make four babies. The problem is, Nutter made a bunch more with other women. That dumb fuck has two baby mamas, seven kids, and is still collecting pussy. He had a scare last year that he might have a third baby mama, but the DNA proved it was another man’s child.”

Boots frowned. “That’s still fucked up. He ever heard of condoms?”

Rail turned the mug’s handle away from him. “Told him that myself. Mama J has four kids by him and his club piece, Mimi, has three. Hasn’t stopped him from fucking any woman interested in taking his dick. The dumbass needs to skip the condoms and get a vasectomy.”

Boots winced at the thought of having that surgical procedure, but seven children by two women might convince him.

“Mama J took on a couple of Mimi’s kids to raise, thus her nickname. She got tired of her man spreading his joy and got shot of him. The club helps her and Opal out as much as we can. Part of that is selling her cookies and shit here at the grill. She’s a damn good cook.”

“Opal?”

Rail heaved a sigh, and his face darkened. “You might remember her as Peebles. She used to… be at the clubhouse.”

“Yeah, I remember her. Why Opal?”

“She got pregnant by Rebel. They tried to start a family, but Rebel couldn’t stay clean. Died from an overdose. Opal is reinventing herself and doesn’t want to be called Peebles anymore. Baby’s name is Pearl. They live with Mama J for now.”

“Fuck me, brother. That shit sounds more like a Netflix series than a soap opera.” Boots snorted and swallowed the last of his coffee. He regarded the empty cup. “Any chance that Flipper guy can bring us a refill?”

Rail was leaning around to bellow at the open kitchen door when Boots heard a female voice behind him.

“Good morning, Rail. I hope your day is a fine one so far. How’s Gretchen?”

Rail smiled. “Hey, Mama J. Gretchen is fine. This is Boots. He just moved here, and we’re trying to figure out where he should fit in.”

Boots turned around. He wasn’t sure what to expect, exactly. The moniker Mama J could mean a dumpy, plain woman with a severe hairstyle that needed washing a week ago. It could mean a bitter woman with a perpetual frown on her face, mad at the world for the injustices done to her. It could mean a woman so beat down with life, she was a washed-out version of herself.

He saw none of that.

She was pretty. Not in an exotic model kind of way, but pretty. She had even features that balanced, with a cute nose and full lips that were parted in a huge friendly smile. Her dark hair was tied back in a burst of riotous curls, and if she wore makeup, it was very little. She had an appeal about her. One that radiated goodness and comfort, like a good thick stew on a cold winter night, a warm quilt covering by the fireplace, and a nice body to hold.

This is a woman who epitomizes home, was the thought popped up in Boots’s head.

“Got your order in the back of the van.” She held up a square box. “I made some breakfast rings last night and brought you one, special.”

Her voice had that Midwestern lilt that reminded Boots of cornfields and long stretches of road where your mind could relax and just ride.

“Thanks, Mama J.” Rail took the box from her and opened it. Scents of butter, cinnamon, brown sugar, and yeasty bread wafted in the air, and Boots took a big sniff of the homey smell.

“Boots, this is Janice, otherwise known as Mama J. Mama J, this is Boots.”

She turned her smiling face to him, and Boots looked into the most vibrant pair of blue eyes he’d ever seen. The rest of her was not bad either. She was short and on the plump side, but she was well-proportioned. Her shoulders were broad enough to carry her heavy breasts. He could tell they were large, even though she had on a long printed T-shirt that modestly covered them. Her waist nipped in above a set of nice wide hips.

Boots wondered why the hell Nutter strayed when he had all that to come home to.

“Hi, Boots. Nice to meet’cha.” She stuck out her hand in a normal, friendly greeting.

He slowly took it and felt her palm grasp his. “Nice to meet you, too, Janice.”

“Oh, now, everyone calls me Mama J. You can, too, if you want.”

Boots thought about it for a nanosecond. Mama J was Nutter’s old lady, or ex-old lady. He didn’t want to know her as that woman. For some reason, it was vitally important that she had a different name. “I’ll stick with Janice, if you don’t mind.”

He still held her hand.

“Oh, okay. I don’t mind.” She let out a breathy laugh. “It’s been a long time since anyone called me anything else.”

“Glad to change it up.” Boots watched her face flush with color, and the corners of his mouth turned up. He was having fun.

Rail let out a tremendous groan as he took a huge bite of the treat. “Mmmmmm… oh, yeah. Mama J, this is fantastic. How hard would it be to add a few of these to the club’s next order?”

She pulled her hand from Boots’s and cleared her throat. “No trouble. The bakery usually takes six per day. I can make that many for you, too, but not every day. It’s getting harder and harder to keep up, even with those two giant ovens I have.”

“I want just one ring. For me.”

“So, you won’t take any back to Gretchen?”

“Maybe,” came Rail’s muffled voice around a mouthful of the sticky pastry.

Her laugh came out full this time, and Boots felt it in his gut.

“I’d better get these unloaded and get back home. A lot of work to do before the kids get home from school.” She turned with another smile and headed back to the ancient minivan parked not too far away.

Boots watched her walk away and almost swallowed his tongue. What an ass! Nice and big, round and juicy. The kind of ass that begged for grabbing. The kind of ass that would fill a man’s hands perfectly. The kind of ass that would cushion a man as he pounded in her pussy from behind. He shook his head and frowned at his thoughts. As Nutter’s old lady or ex-old lady, this woman was taboo, and he should not be thinking about her that way. He wasn’t patched over yet, and any hint of lust after another member’s woman, even if she was an ex, would likely keep that from happening.

“I’ll get Flipper to do that for you,” Rail called out after swallowing the mass in his mouth. He stood up and strode to the open kitchen door to yell inside.

Boots took the opportunity to steal a section of the ring. Damn, it was good! Rich and buttery with just the right amount of sweetness. Perfect.

Nutter was a fucking idiot.

ML Nystrom

Author  of MC and Contemporary Romance.