“You on the rag?”
“I loathe that term, but yes, it’s my time of the month.”
“Baby, that doesn’t have to stop us.” He laughed, relieved. He thought for a second she might actually be sick. He finished undressing only to hear the bathroom door slam shut. Ice gave a wicked grin he was happy she couldn’t see. He wasn’t smiling twenty minutes later when she still hadn’t come out.
He was getting back out of bed when she came out of the bathroom. She had changed into a two-piece pajama set which was pink with too much material.
Ice watched as she turned off the bedroom light without a word and climbed into bed. Expecting her to give him the cold shoulder, he was taken aback to see her sitting up and staring at him.
“I’m ready to listen to your explanation about Snake and Raft.”
Ice gritted his teeth, wishing for once she would do what he expected her to. He pushed his pillow up against the headboard then sat back and reached over to turn the table lamp on.
“If we’re going to talk, we’re going to do it with the light on, not in the dark.”
“Fine,” she snapped. “Well?”
“Check the attitude, Grace.” He stared at her coldly until her face lost the stubborn expression. “I placed my men here to make sure you’re safe. If you run into any trouble, I’m over a three-hour ride away. If your car breaks down or someone gives you a hard time, one of my men will be here to deal with it when I’m not.”
“I can handle any situation on my own. If my car breaks down, I do have several friends from the college I could call for a ride. If anyone gives me a hard time, I can call the police. What I don’t need is your protection.”
“Like you didn’t need us tonight? If not for us, you would still be out looking for Bear.”
“Maybe, but I would have eventually caught him. Even if I didn’t, I could have handled it.”
“You don’t have to anymore.”
“What does that mean?”
“It means you’re my old lady now, and I handle shit like that for you.”
“Your old lady?” From her furious expression, he didn’t think she was getting what he was saying.
“Yeah, old lady, my woman. You know, girlfriend,” he explained.
“Oh, my God.” She ran her hands through her hair. “I’m a biker’s old lady.”
Ice laughed at her. “Yeah. When I refer to you as my old lady, my men know you’re important to me.”
“Oh.” This time she was mollified by his explanation.
“That’s okay, then.” She scooted closer to him, laying her head on his shoulder, brushing her hand gently across his chest. This time, it was Ice who was appeased.
“Ice, I don’t want your men watching me. I take my safety seriously.”
“Why didn’t you call me when you couldn’t find Bear?”
“Why didn’t you call me? You had been looking for over an hour before Raft and Snake showed themselves. Why didn’t you call me?”
Grace seemed confused by his question. “I didn’t think of it, honestly, because I’m used to handling things on my own. That’s what adults do.”
“No, most women in relationships call their partners to ask for help or tell them what’s going on and give them the chance to help, but you didn’t do that.”
“I didn’t think of it that way. The next time something happens, I’ll at least call you to tell you, all right?”
“That’s my baby. But I’m still keeping my men here,” he stated firmly, seeing her anger begin to rise again. “You’re my woman, and this is going to be the way it is. My woman does not get upset. My woman does not get hurt. And my woman does not almost get hit by a car.
“My club has enemies. I don’t broadcast that you’re my woman, but it would be easy for my movements to be tracked, and they would find out. My woman will not be in danger because of my club. So as long as you’re my woman, there will be two men sitting in front of your door when I’m not here. If you keep arguing with me, I’ll spank your bottom until it’s red. They will still be sitting in front of your door when I leave in the morning.”
“I don’t believe in domestic discipline,” Grace said angrily.
“What the fuck does…? You mean me spanking you?”
“Yes! That’s what that term refers to,” she said haughtily.
“Fuck, that’s one term you use I actually like. Domestic discipline… domestic discipline.” He let the words roll off his tongue.
“Oh, be quiet.” She moved away from him, giving him her back.
Ice reached out and turned off the lamp. Then he adjusted his pillow before staring up at the ceiling in the dark, letting the tension leave his body. His baby scooted toward him, still with her back turned until she was touching him. He had noticed that, whenever he slept with her, she liked to feel his body touching hers. Ice thought it gave her a sense of security to know he was lying next to her. He wondered how she slept the nights he didn’t come to town.