Betad by kitchmill. Who needs to finish her fic. (Go bug her) Mistakes are my own.
Preread by Hoodie. Who needs to write whatever, just something so I can read it. (Go bug her, too. Thanks.)
Thank you to everyone who helped decide on a title. Lay especially for coming up with thee title. I usually have title and summary before I've written much. However, this time I had 16 complete prewritten chaps. Around 25k words first. It's not yet finished but I'll be posting a chap a week until I reach chap 17 and get blocked or until it's complete. Either way, I'll give you what I got.
Dragging Pegs — Leaning so far into a curve that the foot pegs drag on the road surface — not done on purpose
Every year like clockwork the bittersweet end of August rolled around, bringing with it the start of a new school year and the steady rumble of motorcycles as they passed back and forth through town.
One by one, RVs, cars, and bikes alike lined up outside the entrance to the county fairgrounds, patiently waiting for the gates to open so they could finally set up to party. And party they did. All. Week. Long.
I wasn't complaining. Not one bit. With all the ruckus came fun and excitement. But more importantly, it brought in cash.
Over the course of the next seven days, small fortunes would be thrown at local businesses, some making in one week what they normally would in a year. It breathed energy into a tired place. Fueled the schools' dwindling music and arts programs. Damn near every sport and extracurricular activity that wasn't High School Varsity depended on it to survive these days.
So no, I wasn't complaining. Not about the noise. Not about losing a few peaceful nights of sleep. And definitely not about the fact my son Brady would get to play another season of the sport he loved more than his PlayStation 4. The only thing you'd hear me complaining about was the heat.
I was over it. Over summer. Had been for some time. There was a limit to the number of camping trips and mosquito bites I was willing to withstand. It was too hot to go on living, let alone be outside on a day like today, all sticky and sitting in a puddle of my own sweat. I was done with sweating.
There were moments, much like this one, where I'd questioned whether my eight-year-old son's happiness was worth all the suffering I went through. But deep down I knew it was. He was always worth it.
"The humidity's enough to kill ya," Angela said, sitting down beside me and handing over a cold bottle of water. She was nice that way. As was her husband Ben and their son Embry. Him and my boy were best friends, which meant we had to be, too.
"Thanks. I'll pay you back."
Angela shook her head, waving me off as she took a drink. I didn't have the strength to argue with her. Instead I used what energy I had to tie my long brown hair up on top of my head and roll the cool bottle down the back of my neck.
Angela and I were complete opposites but we made a good team. This was our second year working the Little Wolves booth together. Our mission was to sell raffle tickets and loads of them. Those new uniforms weren't going to pay for themselves. They never did. There was no denying that.
The prize for the winning raffle wasn't much, considering. Just some scratchy Little Wolves T-shirt from Newton's Embroidery. Mike Newton was the owner, as well as the father of Garrett Newton who the kids referred to by his locally famous last name. In addition, Mike was the kids' coach and a shameless flirt. The second and much less impressive prize was free admission to the last football game of the season. Because what weirdo wouldn't want to spend their Saturday afternoon watching kids run around when they weren't parentally obligated to?
"It's hotter than Satan's butt crack out here. What time is it? Is it two yet? What's the temperature?" Angela spouted off question after question, simultaneously looking up the answers on her phone while I got up to sell off a few more tickets.
Plopping back down in my seat, I opened my water and looked out over the growing number of tipsy people as I drank.
There were an alarming amount of leather vests and combat boots. The sight alone practically threw me into premature hot flashes. The only black leather I would have touching me in this heat were the straps of my sandals. And even those were pushing it.
I was this close slipping them off and swapping out the ribbed Tiny Wolves tank for a damp bandana wrap. But this was for a school function. The length of my cutoffs alone was gonna get me hell at the next PTA meeting.
"If Tanya catches wind of you wearing those she's gonna eat you alive. You know that, right?" Claire's mom, Alice, chimed in from behind Angela and me.
I shrugged. If Tanya was anything like her kid she wouldn't be catching a damn thing.
Hopping out of her seat, Angela greeted her replacement. "You're here early. Bless you."
The two embraced then Angela hugged my neck from behind, promising to see us later before sprinting out of the booth as if her ass were lit by Beelzebub himself.
Alice took her seat with an exasperated huff.
"At least I won't be suffering Tanya the Tyrant's wrath alone." I gestured to Alice's outfit. Last I checked, strapless maxis weren't on the approved dress code. "You're not wearing a stitch of Little Wolves attire."
Alice shook her head, fingering the charm on her necklace. "See? It's a wolf. My Claire got it for me for my birthday last month. Isn't it cute? She's such a sweet kid."
She really was, especially when running around with a football in her freshly manicured hands.
It was an anomaly, really. Claire was the first and only girl in the county's history to try out for the football team. It made the paper and everything. As a former homecoming queen and confessed attentionaholic, Alice was equally as mortified as she was proud.
"So how are we doing so far? Have we met the tyrant's midday quota?" Alice asked, peeking over her sunglasses.
Handing her a few rolls of tickets, I peeked back over mine and gave her a smug smile. "Surpassed it, actually."
"Yeah, the clubs have been real generous this year. That or they have a wager going on who can donate the most money. Either way we're benefiting from it."
Our heads snapped toward the intruding male voice. I pushed my sunglasses back up my nose, my eyes rolling to the back of my head as I turned around in my seat.
"Hey, Mike." Alice sounded about as enthused as I was to see him. "I thought you weren't supposed to be here 'til five."
"I wasn't. Jessica showed up this weekend for Garrett, so I figured I'd stop by and see if there's anything I can do."
Jessica Newton had up and left Mike and Garrett two years ago. Last I'd heard she was living in Vegas with some Black Jack dealer. Mike was graceful enough to let her see her kid whenever she randomly decided to pop back into town.
"You guys got enough tickets there?"
"We'll get by." Alice assured him.
Silence set in so Mike started drumming on something behind us. I hated when he did that.
I closed my eyes to try and center myself, opening them back up to catch a group of guys staring at the booth from across the crowd.
"So, I drew up a few more plays …" Mike's voice drifted in and out while I pretended to be interested in what he was saying, attention remaining on the group of guys.
One in particular.
Given the distance, fine details were hard to make out but I could tell he was the "handsome" one, but in that rugged sort of way. Like James Dean with a pack of cigarettes rolled up in his sleeve and a five o'clock shadow. If possible, his dark hair was wilder with no products containing the sides. The gray T-shirt he had on was well worn with a tear at the collar. His shoulders filled it out nicely, rounding down to a pair of strong arms that were littered with colorful tattoos.
My gaze roamed back up to his face, my stomach dropping when he smirked. I glanced away without returning the smile.
"Who were you looking at?" Alice asked with a knowing smirk on her face.
See, smirks were no good. Smirks got you into trouble. As did dimples. I was a sucker for a good dimple.
"Okay. Okay. But seriously, which one is he? Point him out to me."
"Come on, come on, come on."
Customers started lining up. I rose from my seat to get away from Alice and greet them. When the last person in line approached I nearly choked on my tongue.
Long fingers lifted black Oakleys to nest in a mess of brown hair. Green eyes sparkled in the sunlight, fine laugh lines framing them. That smirk of his wasn't so easy to ignore up close and personal. Especially when I didn't have the option to look away.
Yeah, handsomely rugged didn't even begin to cover it.
Hoodie and I have both written new OS' for the Babies at the Border cause and compilation. Look the group up on fb and request to join for summaries and banners for all the submissions. Please consider a donation whether it's monetary or something new you've written but haven't posted. Either will get you a copy of the compilation of all new stories or possible continuations of stories you know and love. But mostly, take satisfaction in knowing that you'd be helping those poor little babies at the border who are being treated so horribly. I can't imagine the pain and suffering these families are going through. Not to mention the long term effects this kind of mistreatment will have on everyone. Especially those susceptible babes. It's unacceptable and makes me sick.
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