Straddling the Line
Sarah M. Anderson
All her life, Josey White Plume has sought one thing: to fit in with her Lakota family.She has no time for some sexy rich guy and his pursuit. But she can’t stop thinking about businessman Ben Bolton – can’t stop wanting him…Yet falling for a wealthy outsider will destroy everything she’s worked for – unless she can find a way to straddle the line between his world and hers.
“I don’t know how I can thank you.”
He could think of a couple of ideas—and that was just for starters. The stupid part of his brain tried to argue that he just needed a woman. That was all. But he was starting to think he didn’t need just any woman. He was starting to think he needed this woman.
“Let me take you to dinner—tonight.”
Oh, yeah, he wanted her. But he wanted her to want him back. Just him. Not his money, not his band, not his financial skills and most certainly not his ability to keep the family together.
Her mouth parted, and she lifted her chin toward him. One kiss—what could it hurt? Idiot, he thought to himself as he moved closer. Like there was a shot in hell he could stop at just one.
About the Author
Award-winning author SARAH M. ANDERSON may live east of the Mississippi River, but her heart lies out West on the Great Plains. With a lifelong love of horses and two history teachers for parents, she had plenty of encouragement to learn everything she could about the Wild West.
When she started writing, it wasn’t long before her characters found themselves out West. She loves to put people from two different worlds into new situations and see how their backgrounds and cultures take them someplace they never thought they’d go.
When not helping out at her son’s elementary school or walking her rescue dogs, Sarah spends her days having conversations with imaginary cowboys and American Indians, all of which is surprisingly well tolerated by her wonderful husband. Readers can find out more about Sarah’s love of cowboys and Indians at www.sarahmanderson.com.
Straddling the Line
Sarah M. Anderson
the best middle sister I could have hoped for.
Josey took a deep breath, squared her shoulders and opened the door to Crazy Horse Choppers. She did this all while managing to completely ignore the impending sense of doom in her stomach—a sense of doom that told her soliciting educational donations from a motorcycle shop, no matter how upscale, was a hysterically bad idea.
The waiting room smelled of expensive leather and motor oil. Two black leather chairs with chrome accents sat on either side of a coffee table that was a sheet of round glass precariously perched on a collection of motorcycle handlebars twisted to form a base. Josey knew money when she saw it, and that furniture said custom-made. One wall was covered with autographed photos of her prey, Robert Bolton, with every kind of celebrity and pseudo-celebrity. A wall of glass separated the room from the actual shop. Several large, scary-looking men were working—with the kinds of tools she needed—on the other side of the wall. Bad idea or no, she was desperate. A shop class wasn’t a class without shop tools.
That thought was cut short by a hard-looking woman—stringy hair that was supposed to be blond, tattoos practically coming out of her ears and more piercings than Josey could count—shouting, “Help you?” over thrashing music. Metallica, Josey thought.
The receptionist sat at a glossy black desk that looked to be granite. On the wall behind her hung a tasteful arrangement of black leather motorcycle jackets emblazoned with the Crazy Horse logo. The woman looked horribly out of place.
A second later, the music quieted—replaced with the high whine of shop tools cutting through metal. The receptionist winced. Josey immediately revised her opinion of the woman. If she had to listen to that whine all day, she’d resort to heavy metal to drown it out, too.
“Hello,” Josey said, sticking out her hand. The woman looked at Josey’s manicure and bangle bracelets and curled a lip. It was not a friendly gesture. Undaunted, Josey just smiled that much sweeter. “I’m Josette White Plume. I have a nine-thirty appointment with Robert Bolton.” After another beat, Josey pulled her hand back. She kept her chin up, though.
So what if the receptionist looked like she’d come to work directly from an all-nighter? Bikers were people, too. At least that’s what Josey was going to keep telling herself. A happy secretary was the difference between getting a purchase order pushed through in a week versus six months.
The receptionist—the name tag on her shirt said Cass—leaned over and flipped a switch on an intercom. “Your nine-thirty is here.”
“My what?” The voice that came over the other end was tinny, but deep—and distracted.
Didn’t Robert remember she was coming? She’d sent an email confirmation last night. The impending sense of doom grew. Josey swallowed, but managed to do so quietly.
Cass shot her a look that might be apologetic. “Your nine-thirty. More specifically, Bobby’s nine-thirty. But he’s in L.A.—or did you miss that?”
Wait—what? Who was in L.A.? Who was Cass talking to?
The doom in her stomach turned violent, hitting her with a wave of nausea. Dang, but she hated it when those stupid senses were on target.
She thought she’d been prepared. She’d spent weeks e-stalking Robert. She’d spent hours scrolling through his social networks, taking detailed notes on with whom he was meeting and why. She knew his favorite food (cheeseburgers from some dive in L.A.), where he bought his shirts (Diesel) and which actresses he’d been spotted kissing (too many to count). Her entire pitch—down to the close-cut, cap-sleeved, black wool banquette dress she was wearing—was built around the fact that Robert Bolton was a slick, ego-driven salesman who was making his family’s choppers a national name. Heck, she knew more about Robert Bolton than she knew about her own father.
But none of that mattered right now. She was completely, totally unprepared. More than anything in this world, Josey hated being unprepared. Failure to plan was planning to fail. Being unprepared was about the same thing.
She’d been unprepared for Matt’s rejection of her two years ago. She’d already been making plans, but in the end—because there was always an end—he’d chosen his family over her. She didn’t “fit,” Matt had claimed. And what he’d really meant was that, because she was a Lakota Indian, she didn’t fit in his world. And, as a white man, he had no interest in fitting in hers. Not permanently.
The voice on the other end of the intercom grumbled, “I’m aware Bobby’s in California. Is it a client or a supplier?”
“Then why the hell are you bothering me?” The intercom snapped off with an audible huff.
“Sorry,” Cass said, clearly not. “Can’t help you.”
The dismissal—blunt and heartless—took all of her nerves and grated on them. Josey would not be ignored. If there was one thing she’d learned from her mother, it was that a silent Lakota Indian woman was a forgotten Lakota Indian woman. Because that’s what she was—a Lakota woman.
She’d tried not being one, and that had just gotten her heart trampled on. After the affair with Matt had ended so spectacularly, she’d quit her job as a corporate fundraiser in New York and come home to her mother and her tribe. She’d somewhat foolishly thought they’d welcome her with open arms, but that hadn’t happened, either.
So here she was, doing her best to prove that she was a full member of the tribe by building a school in the middle of the rez. But schools were expensive to build, more expensive to equip. So what if Crazy Horse Choppers had a reputation for being less than warm and fuzzy toward charitable causes? So what if Robert Bolton wasn’t here? Someone was up there, and whoever it was would have to do. Screw being unprepared. Winging it had its advantages.
“Sure you can. You probably run this whole place, don’t you?”
Cass smiled—without making eye contact, but it was still a smile. “Damn straight I do. Those boys would be lost without me.”
Josey considered her line of attack. “You aren’t old enough to have school-aged children—” Cass’s head popped up, a pleased smirk on her face. She might be thirty-five or fifty-five—there was no telling with all those tattoos. But flattery could get a girl everywhere—if well done. And Josey could do it well. “I’m raising money for the vo-tech program at a new school, and I thought a chopper shop would be the perfect place to start.”
So that was a lie. This was a last-ditch attempt to get some equipment. She’d started out approaching big manufacturers and had slowly worked her way down the food chain to local auto repair shops, remodeling contractors and even shop teachers at wealthier schools. Nothing. Not a damn thing.
Josey had gotten a twenty-two-year-old internet billionaire to give a few computers, a television chef who was on a healthy food kick to pay for some kitchen equipment and a furniture place to give her last year’s model dining room tables and chairs to use for desks. She couldn’t pry a band saw out of anyone’s cold, dead hands. Against the vocal protests of a small group of school board members, led by Don Two Eagles, who wanted nothing to do with bikers in general and Boltons in particular, she’d decided to try Crazy Horse.
What did she have to lose? The school opened in five weeks.
“A school?” Doubt crept across Cass’s face. “I dunno …”
“If I could just talk to someone …”
Cass shot her a mean look. Right. She was someone, so Josey pulled out a brochure and launched into her pitch.
“I represent the Pine Ridge Charter School. We’re dedicated to the educational and emotional well-being of the underserved children of the Pine Ridge reservation—”