Strip You Bare

By: Maisey Yates

“My brothers and I are the Deacons of Bourbon Street, just your friendly local motorcycle club. We’re the ones who own your former property. The ones who used to own the whole fucking Quarter.” He leaned forward, hands planted on his thighs, dark eyes burning into hers. “And we’re home now.”

Chapter 2

“You into frightening sweet little girls now, Ajax?”

Micah walked into the Priory, kicking a wooden chair to the side as he crossed the sticky tile floor. The evidence of last night’s Bourbon Street revelry was still thick on the sidewalks, and it wasn’t much better in here. Drinks that had seemed like a good idea until they’d resurfaced again twenty minutes later splattered across the cracked concrete. Confetti, vomit, and Mardi Gras beads everywhere you looked. Typical Thursday morning in NOLA.

The air smelled like day-old booze and cigarette smoke, and he hated that part of himself that still craved a drink and a cigarette when that smell hit his face.

His taste ran to more expensive alcohol these days. Quality over quantity. And he didn’t smoke at all. There was no point in San Francisco. No smoking allowed in restaurants, not in bars, not in office buildings. A man could barely smoke in his own car.

No point in going on a cigarette break to bond with potential investors. You were better off training for marathons and bringing in kale from your garden if you wanted to do that.

Micah did neither, thank you. But he’d also quit smoking.

Not picking up a cigarette again had become a personal challenge. New Orleans made him crave them. And New Orleans didn’t own him. Neither did Ajax.

But you would never know it by the way the prick acted.

Leon and Travis, more commonly known as Blue and Cash, were standing next to Ajax, who was never known as anything else. Though Micah had heard Ajax’s old lady call him by his legal name. But no one else could get away with that.

A smartass smile was fixed on Ajax’s lips. The kind that Micah always wanted to fuck up with his knuckles. But he wasn’t in the mood to die. So he’d give it a pass today. “What’s the problem now, Prince?” Ajax shifted his weight, gripped the back of the bar, and arched his brow. “Your bathwater too cold? Someone forget to leave a mint on your pillow?”

“I just had an encounter with Sarah Delacroix. I didn’t realize she was . . .”

“A woman? Because her name kind of gives it away.”

“Such a young woman.”

“That’s a problem?” Ajax asked.

“I’m not interested in intimidating people like her.”

“Prince, if you act any more like a little bitch I’m going to bend you over the bar and fuck your ass.”

From anyone else, that might have been shocking and offensive. But this was Ajax. It barely registered on Micah’s radar. “Not sure if Sophie would appreciate that.”

Sophie, Ajax’s old lady, who was behind the bar, looked up. “Hell, I’d watch.”

“Do you even have plans for this place?” Micah asked. “Or are you just being a dick for the sake of it?”

“Can’t it be both?”

Travis, who had been silent until now, shifted his stance. “It’s usually both.”

True to his character, Blue said nothing.

“My offer still stands, Prince,” Ajax said, steadfastly refusing to use the name that Micah had requested he use. Because, whatever his reasoning was, Ajax was a dick. “I’ll cut the tattoo right off your back if you want to go home. Otherwise, remember whose colors you wear, and do what you’re told.”

It wasn’t so much the fact that he knew Ajax was telling the truth that kept him standing there in the Priory. It was the fact that no matter how much he might resent it, he knew that he owed the Deacons. He knew he owed Priest. There was a reason he hadn’t gotten the tattoo removed, and it had more to do with the connection he still felt to the MC than it did to getting tail.

“As much as I know you hate to hear it, I’m not just going to bend over the bar for you. I want to know what you’re thinking here.”

“It’s simple. We own the property. The Delacroix think they own it. If nothing else, I want to know why that is. I want to know what the connection is. I want to know how New Orleans’s oldest, richest family ended up signing a piece of their estate to an outlaw motorcycle club.”

“Can’t pin Priest’s death on the Ministry so you’re looking a little higher? And stupider? And in the wrong tree?”

The expression on Blue’s face shifted slightly, his posture straightening. “Alice says the Ministry is good. So they’re good.”

“Says the guy who’s fucking their mechanic,” Micah said. “We know Gator took money from someone, and while he might not rep the Ministry at large, he also might. Blade would throw his brother under the bus to save his own ass, we all know that.”

“I hate to agree with Prince. But bias has to be looked at,” Travis said.

“He can call me that,” Micah said, gesturing to Ajax. “You can’t.”

“Why can’t I call you that?” Travis asked.

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