Read Dakota's Claim Online

Authors: Jenika Snow

Dakota's Claim (5 page)

“Sure.”
She smiled and climbed out of the car. Gabriel followed her up the steps to the
porch. She stopped by the front door and turned to face him. “Thank you again
for dinner and the movie. It was nice hanging out with a friend and getting my
mind off things.” She glanced down at her feet, and he could tell there was
something else on her mind, something that was connected specifically to why
she had made that comment. But Gabriel wasn’t going to pry, because if she had
wanted to tell him she would have, and not have been so cryptic.

“It
was a nice night, Tawny, and I’d like to do it again.” This feeling he had for
her, this attraction, couldn’t just be one way. Hell, he didn’t want to cross
any lines, but he needed to see if whatever she was dealing with right now was
the only reason making her stay back. “You want to talk about anything?” he
asked softly, hoping maybe she could see past his Brothers cut, and the
reputation he had with the club, and see him as someone she could talk to.

“Not
really. It’s just things that are confusing, well, things that I’ve made more
difficult than they really are.” She smiled and wrapped her coat around her
body more. It was cold outside, and their breath came out in white clouds.

Gabriel
reached out and pushed a piece of blonde hair that had come undone from her
ponytail behind her ear. She glanced at him with this strange expression on her
face, and then he moved closer and cupped the side of her face. He kissed her
softly, didn’t add a lot of pressure, and didn’t deepen it. He wasn’t trying to
be a prick, just show her that this had been a really great fucking night, and
that he wanted to touch her, to see if she felt anything more for him than she
realized. He cupped the back of her head, applied a little bit of pressure, and
when he stroked her lips with his tongue she pulled away, placing a finger on
her mouth.

“Gabriel—”

Her
words were cut off when the front door opened and there stood Dallas. He was
only wearing a pair of low hanging sweats, his body still ripped and powerful
like he was two decades younger, and this dark as hell scowl covering his face
and directed right at Gabriel. He took a step back, shoved his hands in his
jean pockets, and looked at Tawny again. She was staring at the ground, her
finger still on her lips, and her brows knitted as if she were confused or
thinking very hard.

“Come
on in, Tawny. It’s cold out here,” Dallas said, his arms still crossed, his
tattooed muscular flesh bunching, and looking like the frigid weather wasn’t
affecting him in the slightest. Hell, it was barely ten at night, yet the way
Dallas was staring Gabriel down, made him feel like he was sneaking Tawny back
into the house at two in the morning.

“Listen,
we’ll talk later okay?” Gabriel said, wishing that she would say something,
anything, because this silence from her, and the confused look on her face, was
not sitting well with him. He didn’t want their friendship—or whatever kind of
relationship they had seeing as they had known each other for years—ruined
because of one kiss.

You should have known, Gabriel.
She wasn’t ready for that kiss.

Tawny
lifted her head and smiled at him, but he could see that it was forced. “I’ll see
you later, and thank you again for the dinner and movie. I had a great time,”
she said softly, wrapped her arms around her waist, and turned. She stopped
before she went inside. “Drive safe, okay? Text me when you get home so I know
you made it there okay.”

When
he swallowed roughly and nodded, she smiled again, this time a little less
forced, and turned and moved past Dallas.

“Drive
safe, Gabriel,” Dallas said in a deep voice, and when Gabriel nodded the older
biker turned and shut the door.

Gabriel
turned his back toward the house, looked at the sky, and cursed internally.
What the fuck was wrong with him? He might know Tawny, but he didn’t really
know
her. It wasn’t like they talked
frequently, or even hung out. He wanted her because why? She was like him,
living in this MC world, knowing what it all entailed, and wanting something
stable in his life? She was a good girl, despite the bad boys she went out
with. He shouldn’t have kissed her, but couldn’t help it either. Something
inside of him had wanted to feel her lips on his, and so he had just done it.
Well, the need to touch her might have just put this big wedge between them.

****

Tawny
went into the kitchen and heard the front door closing. A few moments later the
sound of Gabriel’s SUV starting filled the kitchen, and she walked over to the
window and pushed the curtain aside to see him pulling out of the driveway and
disappearing down the street. Her heart was still pounding in her chest at the
fact he had kissed her. She had meant what she said when she told him she just
wanted to be friends, and that she wasn’t feeling that kind of emotion toward
him. But he
had
kissed her, and it
had been gentle and soft. He hadn’t pushed the kiss on her, hadn’t been
forceful either, but then he had dragged his tongue along her bottom lip, and
that had freaked her out and had her stopping it. She just wasn’t into Gabriel
like that. Yes, he was big and strong, in shape and was very attractive, but he
wasn’t Dakota.

Then you need to tell Dakota. You
need to sit down with him, lay it all out, and just hope that he doesn’t laugh
in your face and call you a silly little girl.

Of
course she didn’t actually think he’d say the latter to her, but being turned
down by him was certainly a big possibility, and that frightened her.

“So
is that what you’re going after now?” her dad said from the entryway of the
kitchen.

Tawny
turned and faced him. He walked in, went over to the cupboard, and grabbed a
bottle of scotch. She lifted an eyebrow when he took out two shot glasses.

“Seriously?”
she asked, a little surprised that he wanted to drink with her. The truth was
her dad liked to keep her and
Tarren
sheltered, even
though the MC life he led was less than that, and they had lived it head on.
She had seen enough sex, drugs, and drinking when she showed up at the club
that she could have made a movie of the debauchery. But the thing was, no
matter how much he tried to keep her away from it all, he also told her that
the only thing stronger than a family was the brotherhood.

“Yeah,
really,” Dallas said and gestured for her to take a seat at the table. When
they were seated beside each other, he poured them both a shot, and pushed a
glass to her. He tossed his shot back and went for another one. “I am trying to
let you live your life, but seeing you with Gabriel Silver kind of sent me over
the edge, Tawny.”

She
drank the scotch and breathed out as fire raced down her throat. Coughing and
then gagging slightly, she pushed the empty glass aside. “No more. God, that is
awful.”

Her
dad started chuckling. “Don’t tell your mother I gave you this shit. She’ll rip
me a new one.”

Tawny
nodded, stared at her hands that she had folded on the top of the table, and
knew she might as well set his mind at ease. “I’m not into Gabriel like that.
Tonight was just about friends going out.”

“Didn’t
look like that from where I was standing, especially on Gabriel’s side.” Her
dad leaned back, his tattooed skin flexing with his unrestrained power. Even in
his sixties her father was strong and powerful, just as much as the younger
generation of Grizzlies.

“Yeah,
well you know how those bikers are.” She grinned, and then her father started
chuckling.

“I
can’t argue that fact.” Dallas looked at the bottle on the table, and then
lifted his gaze to hers. “I want you to know that although I’ll never stop
being protective of you, or making sure that the guys you associate with will
treat you the way you deserve, I know you need room to grow. You’re an adult
now, and although I am your father and you’ll always be my baby girl, I know I
have to give you some slack.” He reached out and took her hand in his. “It’ll
be hard for me, I won’t lie because I’m a stubborn man, but you’re smart,
tough, and I know you can handle yourself. Hell, look at the fight you gave me
to work at the bar?” he grinned. “And you handle yourself well there, baby
girl.”

“Thank
you, Dad.” She smiled and placed her other hand on his. “But you also have
freaking Hulks watching over me whenever I work, Dad.”

He
chuckled and tightened his hand on hers. “Despite me being ‘okay’ with you
being at the bar, I am a father and need to know my daughter is protected from
all of those motherfuckers.”

The
crude language coming from her father didn’t faze her. That was just him, hell,
every Grizzly and Brother of Menace for that matter. Tawny wanted to tell him
about Dakota, about how she felt and that she wanted to talk to him about it,
but she knew that until she found out where Dakota stood in all of this, then
what would be the point in saying anything to anyone? Most likely he’d say that
things would never work out between them, and when he did then she could move
on, try to put Dakota out of her mind, and focus on something else.

Keep telling yourself that,
Tawny, because you know that Dakota is
the one
for
you, and no one else will ever make you feel the way you do when you think
about him.

****

Dakota
lifted the barbell, curled his arm inward and felt sweat slide down his temple.
He had been working out for the last hour, and had no intentions of stopping.
Being here was better than going out and finding out where Tawny was. He wasn’t
a creep or a damn stalker, but hell, he felt like one with Tawny.

Part
of the garage had been converted into a full workout gym, and right now the
only guys in here were him, Lincoln “Link”, Marcus, and Gabriel. The room
smelled of sweat and testosterone, and although that was a strange combination
to be able to scent, it filled the room. Dakota set the weight down, walked
over to the bench, and lay back on it. Link came up, and got on the other side
to spot him.

“Thanks,
man,” Dakota said to Kink’s youngest son. The other man was already in the
club. Most of the newer members were the sons of the original Brothers of
Menace River Run members. It was a giant family, not only by code and honor,
but also by blood, too.

For
the next twenty minutes Dakota pressed his body weight, wanted to do more, but
his body was already screaming out that it had had enough. Link took the
weight, and Dakota sat up, grabbed his towel, and dried off his face and chest.
He wore a pair of track shorts and sneakers and nothing else, just like the
majority of the crew in here. Gabriel was over by the punching bag, and Marcus
was holding it for him as the other man knocked the shit out of it.

“Man,
I think he’s still pissed at himself about last night.”

Dakota
looked over at Link. “What happened last night? He
get
into it with someone?” He wiped his face once more, grabbed his water bottle,
and took a long drink.

Link
moved over to the bench across from Dakota and sat down.
“Nah.
I overheard him talking to Marcus about last night. I guess he took out a
Grizzly girl, kissed her even though she was all about being just friends, and
then her old man came out and gave him the death glare.” Link picked up a
barbell and started doing some curls.

Dakota
straightened, feeling his blood pump at the very idea that Gabriel had gone out
with Tawny. He didn’t even know if that was the female he had been out with,
but it didn’t matter because his mind jumped right to fucking conclusions.

“You
okay, man?” Link asked, not stopping the curls he did, but watching him a
little curiously. “You look like you’re ready to beat some ass.”

Dakota
looked away, tightened his hold on the rag he held, and breathed out. “Who did
he take out?” He tried to keep his voice level, because he had no right getting
pissed at anyone that took Tawny out. He had no claim on her, hadn’t even told
her how he felt. Even in all the years since he had first realized that he
wanted her, seen her at the gatherings, the fucking Grizzly wedding even,
Dakota hadn’t said one damn word. He was a pussy that wanted a female who was
oblivious to his desire for her. He had no balls, no strength, and the fact he
was upset over something he didn’t even know for sure was fucked-up. But that
didn’t stop him or his feelings regarding Tawny.

Link
was obviously too busy doing curls to notice the way Dakota probably looked:
annoyed, pissed off, ready to tear someone’s head off.

“Tawny Stoker.”
Link looked up, his back
straightening and his gaze moving around the room. “Dude, what the hell has
gotten into you? You’re fucking growling like you’re an animal or some shit.”
Link set the weight down, smoothed his hands over his track shorts, and then
glanced behind him at where Dakota was clearly staring. When Link looked at him
again, his dark eyebrow was cocked up, and he smirked.
“Seriously?
You have a thing for Tawny Stoker?”

Dakota
wasn’t surprised that Link had picked up on that fact, especially not when he
was acting like some kind of jealous boyfriend. “Shut the hell up, Link.”
Dakota stood, rolled his head around his neck, cracked his knuckles, and told
himself to just forget about all of this. Clearly Tawny wasn’t into Gabriel, or
at least that was what Link had said.

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