As for the girls themselves, well, yeah, they’d be warm enough. But he wasn’t looking to get laid today. And frankly, if he had been, none of the club girls would have called to him. They were all nice enough – good lookers, willing, fun – but he’d never been one for casual sex. He was too jealous, Punk always told him. Too possessive and too demanding. Slater didn’t think that was true. He just liked things to be straightforward and casual sex with girls who were vying for the attention of the rest of the club…didn’t feel straightforward.
Punk had no such reservations. He peeled away from Slater as they entered, making a beeline for Taylor, one of the newest girls. She was a classic blonde bombshell, the kind of curvy, giggly girl Punk always found irresistible. A safe bet, a woman like that. The only kind of safe bet Punk ever made.
Like a good prospect, Slater took up position behind the bar, serving drinks to the fully-patched in brothers who drifted his way. Nobody had asked him to do it, but he always made a point of not waiting to be asked. He’d come to the MC later than most and at his age, he was long past the point where he accepted being ordered around by anyone. So he acted before the orders came, when he could.
He poured himself a bourbon on the rocks and scanned the clubhouse. Roxy and Elena were nowhere to be seen, but Nash was sat on one of the couches by the pool tables, next to Rattler, Wild Blood’s Sergeant at Arms. The two men looked deep in earnest conversation, Rattler nodding as Nash gestured. They tended to rub each other up the wrong way most of the time. Rattler was part of the old guard, from before Nash had joined the club and become President. Wild Blood had a rough past and Nash had cleaned it up. Rattler didn’t particularly approve, from what Slater gathered. The sight of them talking so intimately put him on high alert.
Rattler would make a decent VP. He wasn’t exactly Mr. Congeniality, but Nash needed someone who would push back against him from time-to-time. Slater made a mental note to ask Punk if he had any money on Rattler.
Brothers and women drifted to and from the bar, and Slater served them all on auto-pilot, feeling numb at the core and wishing he could leave. Funerals, after a point, all became the same, and the public mourning made him uncomfortable. It felt…showy, after a while, like everyone was competing to be the most mournful.
The sound of a bottle slamming on the counter jerked him from his reverie, and he looked up to see Tanner reaching for a bowl of hushpuppies. Glancing past Tanner, Slater saw his Old Lady, Beth, huddled in a corner with Tanner’s sister. Melissa had one arm around Beth’s waist and Beth rested her head on Melissa’s shoulder. They both looked drawn, but Beth looked straight-up fragile, like a quick summer storm would wash her away.
“She okay?” Slater asked, nodding to Beth. Maybe this was too much for her, too many people, too much emotion. Her background was a strange one and Slater wouldn’t have blamed her if this was overwhelming.
Tanner glanced back at Beth, face contorted with worry. “She liked Judge a lot. And – I dunno.” He shrugged, looking lost. “We haven’t heard from her sister in a while. Her folks don’t contact her much anyway, but Hannah’s different. It’s not like her to fall off the radar.”
Punk slid onto the barstool next to Tanner’s, catching the last of his words. “Her folks are God-freaks though, right? they’re probably keeping Hannah under lock and key so Beth can’t corrupt her pure, virginal soul.”
Slater glared at Punk, too late to silence him. Tanner gripped his beer bottle so hard his knuckles turned white, and for a second Slater really thought he might lamp Punk with it. But then he relaxed his grip and picked up another hushpuppy.
“Shut the fuck up, man,” Tanner said with more misery than heat. “I don’t want to kick your ass today.”