Piney actually is at the bar, I note with some relief, taking up a stool next to a monstrously tall bearded man, talking animatedly. It was lucky that I had nothing to lose because I never would have been able to walk up to them and interrupt their pow-wow otherwise.
But I was already in this deep, so why not? I channel my inner-Gemma, walking up to them fearlessly, laying my hand on the older man's beefy arm, causing the younger one's eyes to go round.
"Piney?" He turns towards me and the first prick of real fear invades my little TM induced bubble of well-being. This is a gnarly man, capable of chewing up and spitting out someone much more substantial than I. He nods, confirming his identity, but doesn't speak, frightening me even further in his stoicism but I straighten my back and grin up at him, every tiny inch of me exuding confidence as I introduce myself to yet another person. "I'm Charlie. Rumor has it that you're a man who knows his tequila?" Piney finally grins at me, setting me at ease before turning to the other guy. "Get lost, Opie." Opie? Wow. "Sure thing, Pop." Still looking mildly shocked, he makes himself scarce and his newly-vacated seat is patted welcomingly for me. I climb up and watch Piney take a hit from his Oxygen tank before, unbelievably, pulling out a joint. I laugh. I can't help it. "Prospect!" He bellows, and a young-looking guy behind the bar snaps to attention. "Two shot glasses. And some tequila-leave the bottle." My kind of man. This demand is met with such speed and precision it's almost scary, and I can't help but feel impressed. Piney sets up our shots before toasting- "To beautiful women." I laugh again, and it feels good to do so. "To handsome gentlemen." And we knock the shot back. Then two, then three. Between my earlier activities and my speedy shots, not to mention the second-hand pot buzz, the room is beginning to spin a little bit when Piney speaks up and changes my pleasant perspective very suddenly.
"You know, other than the tank, my equipment all works, honey."
"What?" I genuinely have no idea where he's going with this. What equipment, his o2 mask? "What do you say I show you one of the bedrooms this fine establishment has to offer?" He propositions, shocking me so badly that all I can do is sort of sputter at him in a completely undignified manor. I'm unable to speak which is probably just as well for me. Juice swoops in right at this moment, clapping the old man on his shoulder with manic false enthusiasm. "Yo, man, Church." Piney looks put out but leaves his stool to make it across the room, following Clay and Jax into a set of massive double doors while Juice hangs back.
Church? Had it really only been an hour since I'd come inside? It was going to be a long, long night. "Look, Charlie," Juice begins haltingly. "He didn't mean anything by it. He thought you were a sweetbutt-I'll talk to him." I disregard most of this statement in favor of repeating stupidly, "Sweetbutt?"
"They're like hangarounds." Hangawhat? "Only for, uh...bedroom needs." It takes just a second for this to click into place for me.
"HE THOUGHT I WAS A HOOKER?" I ask loudly, tequila assisting me in my loud and obnoxiousness. Juice cringes (understandably) before frantically looking around, making sure none of the girls heard my outburst, which of course they had, effectively ruining his chance of getting laid for roughly the next year or so. Whoops. I felt bad about this, but not really. "Sorry."
"JUICE," A Scot I had yet to meet roars. "Git yer porta-reekin' arse in 'ere!" Juice begins to move in double-time, calling to me over his shoulder. "Stay put, Charlie. Prospect, get her some coffee." I've mentioned how touchy bikers were, but I was also learning that they could be overly-familiar if they took a shine to you. Bossy bunch of people. Still, I stayed where I was accepting the coffee black which was how it was given to me. It tasted like shit and would do absolutely nothing to sober me up, but I didn't care as long as it was hot. The other girls in the clubhouse quickly dispersed to parts unknown and I sat there at the bar self-conscious as even the Prospect abandons me for the meeting, aware all over again of how out of my element I was.