Here is Chapter 2 in my new ghost novella, The Biker Ghost Meets His Match, which launches Friday (June 23rd)
2 – The Joker
“Trust everyone, but always cut the cards”. — Benny Binion
Rufus entered his poker room in the teahouse at his usual time, eleven thirty. Five of the regulars sat around the table playing Texas Holdem. Ten others stood around chatting.
The Viking had a tall pile of chips lined up in front of him, and the pirate, with blood dripping from a knife wound on his cheek, was down to his last chip.
“What have I missed?” Rufus took his usual chair at the head of the table.
The game stopped abruptly. The pirate called Three Sheets gave him a mischievous look. “Have you not seen the posters, mate?”
Eric the Viking laughed. “Aye. The woman looks like trouble to me.”
“The kind of trouble I’d like to taste,” said the pirate.
“A woman? Posters? Taste?” Rufus looked around at his friends and fastened his eyes on Leroy, the former New York City cop, for an explanation.
“It seems a young lady has been taping boycott posters around the house.”
The door banged open and a woman strode into the room as if she owned it. Headless Joe, a man from eighteenth-century France who held his head in his arms, gasped and disappeared into the night, along with several of the others who spooked easily. His best friends stayed, but went invisible.
“I’m looking for Rufus,” she said.
Rufus’s jaw dropped. The woman was magnificent. The sheer wonder of her took his ghostly breath away. She stood about five foot six, and she had the kind of curves men dream of, even after they’re dead. Her breasts were huge—high and firm. Like headlights on a good car, they blinded him, but he swallowed and managed to look past them to check out the rest of her. She had raven-black hair that fell loose to her waist, hips a man could hold on to, and hard, denim-blue eyes. She wore tight jeans and a tank top that exposed a finely detailed dragon tattoo covering her right arm from the wrist to her shoulder, as well as her goddess-like breasts. On her neck was an orchid tattoo. The woman was a work of art.
But the look in her eyes telegraphed danger.
His eyes shot back to her breasts. He groaned. So hot and bothered was he that he forgot to vanish, and stood in front of her in his full, shimmering, ghostly specter. “You found me.”
At least he could still talk.
“Holy dragons, you are dead,” she said. Dead and hotter than hellfire. She laughed, because that’s what she did when she became nervous. The wraith shimmered with a silvery glow, but his form looked uber-human. So much so she wanted to touch him. All over. He was one hell of a bad boy, with hard muscles bulging beneath his clothes and a badass smile that warmed her inner fires. She wanted to run her hands through his thick mane of black hair and feel the bristle of his beard. His steely-gray eyes held a glint of vulnerability that pulled on her heart. He was a man—uh, ghost—with feelings. What kind of a hell-hole had she walked into?
“Last I checked, I was dead. Yeah.”
Detaching her mind from images of straddling him on a Harley she raised her chin. “I have a bone to pick with you.”
“You’re haunting my brother, Mad Dog.” Wait, did I say haunting? I don’t believe in ghosts. What the hell? Is he a hologram or a figment of my imagination?
He laughed, and his ghostly chortle rumbled through the house, making such an unearthly sound Charlie’s heart stopped for a second. What was she doing talking to a ghost? Seriously. How could she make him do anything? He was beyond this world. She folded her arms across her chest and glared at him.
“Mad Dog killed me.”
“Well, I know that. But can’t you let bygones be bygones?”
“He shot me between the eyes. See the hole.” He pointed to it. Not a pretty sight, but it worked well with his badass presence.
“Look, I know Mad Dog ain’t perfect.”
“He murdered me.”
“Yeah, yeah. I hear you, but you got to hear my side of the story.”
Rufus moved closer and looked down on her long eyelashes. He tried to focus on her eyes and not her magnificent, perky mangoes, but he was losing the battle. “Listen to me. Your brother did me in. I got a right to haunt him as long as I like.”
“Listen to me,” she said. “He’s gone straight. He’s off the booze and the drugs and he just got hitched. Yeah, it’s his third time, but Darlene, I swear, is the first nice girl he’s been with and I like her. She’s down to earth, and they have a chance at being happy.”
“And what about me? Don’t I deserve to be happy?” Haunting Mad Dog was his chief entertainment besides poker.
She scrunched up her face, but even twisted it looked hauntingly beautiful. “Can’t you go play in heaven?”
He groaned. “Hell, no. I deserve justice.” And more time on earth. “The cops didn’t lock up Mad Dog.”
“You had an ace up your sleeve.”
“Well, yeah. It was poker.”
“And you cheated him on a business deal.”
Rufus narrowed his eyes. “Listen, Babe, I don’t know if you can wrap your pretty little head around this, but drug deals aren’t always straight up.”
“I’m not stupid or naive. But you . . . you were as crooked as they come.”
“You deserved the bullet.”
“Deserved?” Okay, it no longer mattered how fuckin’ hot this bitch was, she had no right to say that. “No one deserves to die.”
She unfolded her arms, balled her fists and glared at him.
Definitely feisty. His inner engine roared. “You don’t have to like me.” Though a part of him wanted her to. “Just take down the fuckin’ signs and go away.”
She took in a big breath, which lifted her breasts and made him want to groan again. Glaring at him she blew it out slowly. “No.”
“Not until you promise to stop haunting Mad Dog.” Her cheeks pinked with rage. “And swear it on your biker jacket, cuz I don’t trust you.”
Laughter broke out all around them, though she could see no one but Rufus, and the house echoed with beyond-the-grave guffaws.
“Oh, to hell with all of you,” she said, and stomped out of the room.
Chapter 3 tomorrow:)