Home > The Grave Robber (Charley Davidson #13.8)

The Grave Robber (Charley Davidson #13.8)
Author: Darynda Jones


Chapter One

My body is less like a temple

and more like a bar and grill.




I needed to get drunk. Or laid. Fortunately, I was in the right place for either if I played my cards right. Unfortunately, I hadn’t shaved in three days. Was the scruffy biker look still a thing? I had my eye on a saucy redhead, a server in the bar I’d ridden twenty hours to get to. I never dreamed I’d drive two days to drink in a bar I’d never seen, in a state I could barely find on a map, but I realized rather quickly why my high-school buddy had set up shop in northern Idaho. The lush countryside and abundance of lakes proved intoxicating. Much like the beer I currently nursed, thanks to a dispute that involved a gas pump, a broken card reader, and an irate blonde.

I shook out of my thoughts with gritted teeth and studied my friend’s grunge-worthy establishment. Exposed metal rafters, corrugated walls, and neon signs were the foundation of Jason’s decor. But the coolest thing about Cruisers was a road that cut through the building, created by two large garage doors at either end. It allowed bikers to ride through and show off their pride and joys while other patrons cheered them on. The tradition created a type of subculture among the local riders and enhanced the spirit of camaraderie and brotherhood—something I understood very well.

After the most recent celebration died down, the patrons applauding a vintage Indian Chief that gave the air a smoky hue as it passed through, I refocused on the guy I hadn’t seen in more years than I cared to admit. Jason Vigil. Tall, slim, and athletic, with dark hair and an easy smile. The scrapper hadn’t changed at all. And he’d done well—not that I was surprised. But to have the bar filled to near-capacity at four in the afternoon on a weekday attested to the popularity of the place. And its owner.

While employees hustled to get ready for the evening rush, including the redhead, another biker revved his engine, and the scent of gasoline set me on edge yet again.

“I’m not kidding,” I said to Jason, veering back onto the same highway I’d been trying to exit for half an hour. “She went ballistic for no reason. How the fuck was I supposed to know she’d been waiting for that pump? And was it really worth all that?”

I tipped an icy bottle of Corona to my lips and drained the last drop as Jason fought a grin. He gestured to another of his servers, summoning a curvy brunette to our table.

“Hey, handsome,” she said to me, but the constant glances she’d been throwing Jason’s way for the last half hour, ones full of adoration and those little cartoon hearts, told me exactly where her interests lay. And she planned on keeping them there.

Jason frowned regardless. “This is Eric.”

“I figured.” She flashed me a flirtatious smile. It was hard to blame her. The girl lived off tips. And the heated glare I received from Jason as a result was well worth the C-note I’d drop on the table before leaving. “Eric Constantine Vause,” she said, giving me a thorough once-over. “That’s probably the coolest name in recorded history.”

I couldn’t have stopped the arrogant grin that took over my face if I’d tried. “I like to think so. I take it Jason told you about his slightly younger, much better-looking partner in crime?”

Jason cleared his throat a little too loudly.

She laughed and picked up the empty bottles. “I’m Betty. Two more?”

I nodded, and she took off toward the bar, swaying her hips for Jason’s benefit and gifting me another chance to study a kid sitting alone on a stool. One who looked like he’d only recently given up training wheels yet was currently downing his third shot of whiskey despite that fact.

He raised his hand for another.

I shook my head, checked my watch, and went back to drawing on a napkin. Not the way I usually expressed my creativity, but desperate times and all that. “Anyway,” I said, the agitation fizzling, “someone should check the water here. Chick was unstable as fuck.”

Jason finally caved and let a shit-eating grin spread across his face. “She was beautiful, I take it?”

I stopped drawing and gaped at him for a solid thirty seconds before tossing my pen onto the table and leaning back in my chair. “Fuck off,” I said under my breath, dangerously close to sounding like an impetuous child. She was beautiful. Breathtaking. But that had nothing to do with the current situation.

Jason took the beers from Betty with a nod of thanks and placed both on the table in front of me. “I’m sorry, man. I wouldn’t have invited you if I’d known this would happen.”


“No, really. This trip was supposed to be relaxing. A chance to get away from it all.”

I wrapped my fingers loosely around the neck of one of the beers and took a long draw, feeling like shit for whining about something so meaningless when I should be catching up with my oldest and dearest. “It is. It will be. I just need to chill.”

I honestly couldn’t figure out why the incident bothered me so much. Maybe because I could already see the headline. Video Goes Viral When Undermedicated Woman Loses Her Shit at Gas Station.

All because I’d pulled into a nearby convenience store to top off before hooking up with Jason. The pumps were all taken, save one. I’d eased into the spot and turned off my engine, only to have a woman driving a black Chevy short bed at the next pump get out of her truck and start screaming at me. Apparently, the card reader at her pump wasn’t working, and she’d been waiting for the one I’d pulled into.

No clue how I was supposed to know that.

I ignored her, filled my tank in under a minute, then straddled my Harley again before giving her my full attention.

She stood glaring at me as a soft breeze filtered sunlight through her silky blond hair. Hair that brushed her face like it craved the touch. When I continued to stare—partly in belligerence and partly in awe—she went off again, shouting at me about fucking manners and fucking motorcycles and fucking morons from New Mexico. She’d probably recorded my plate to report me to the gas pump police. So, I started my engine and revved it to drown out her curse words. I have sensitive ears.

My actions only fueled her rage. Every time she opened her mouth—the pretty one with lips like overripe peaches—I revved the engine again, not even trying to hide the smirk I wore as I adjusted the strap on my helmet with my free hand.

If not for the tears shimmering in her eyes, threatening to spill over remarkably dark lashes and slide down smooth, flushed cheeks, I wouldn’t have given up the game so soon. But she was clearly disturbed, so I put the bike in gear and started to drive off.

The massive red truck behind me, waiting for the spot I was about to vacate, gave me pause. She was seconds away from losing the pump again, and despite her mental state—or maybe because of it—I didn’t want to see that happen. I hooked a thumb over my shoulder, indicating the dually, then pointed an index finger, half-shrouded by a black leather glove, toward her pickup.

She caught on quickly. Her eyes widened with realization, and she hurried back to her single cab. As she eased it forward, I backed away from the pump, blocking the red truck’s entrance until she’d staked a solid claim.

The bird I got from the other driver for that maneuver sat better with me than the tears I’d gotten from the woman, so I left the station baffled, agitated, and oddly satisfied.

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