“I don’t like the idea of you going to Bike Week, Izzy,” Joe fumed, slamming his beer on the worktable and glaring at me.
“I’m not a fucking child anymore, Joe. You can’t tell me what to do.” I stared at him, holding his gaze. I’d always been the little sister, the one everyone wanted to protect. When I was a child, I’d found it flattering, but now? Now it was just a fucking pain in my ass.
“We’re not saying you’re a kid, babe. Too much bad shit happens during Bike Week. It’s not safe for you there. We’re just looking out for ya.” Michael leaned forward, running his fingers across the back of my hand.
“I can take care of myself. It’s just for the weekend. Flash will be with me. I’m not going alone.” I sat back, tilting my head to watch their reaction. I knew it wasn’t going to be pretty.
“Flash?” Joe asked with wide eyes. “I thought I told you to stay away from that dumbass prick.” He ran his hand down his face before squeezing the bridge of his nose. “It was bad enough you brought him to Thanksgiving dinner. I hate that asshole more than I ever did.”
“Fucking unbelievable, Izzy.” Michael shook his head.
“There’s nothing wrong with Flash. He’s harmless, but he’ll look out for me.”
Flash wasn’t a pussy, but he wasn’t a Gallo man either. I didn’t give a shit. He was a friend and we hung out when he came through town. We had never been a couple, but he knew how to please me in bed. I liked being with him. He was uncomplicated and not looking for a relationship. He breezed into my life from time to time and exited just as quickly.
“Izzy,” Joe warned. “He was a good kid, but now he’s prospecting to get into the Sun Devils MC. I know what shit goes down in a club. I’ve spent enough time at the Neon Cowboy to know what the life is all about. What the fuck do you think Tommy would say if he knew you were going there with Flash?”
I loved my brothers. I truly did. But for shit’s sake, they could be overbearing.
“I don’t know what he’d say because I haven’t seen him in over a year. I’m not Flash’s old lady or his whore. We’re going as friends. I’m going and you two can’t stop me. He’ll protect me.” I smiled, crossing my arms.
“Flash is a fucking pussy.” Michael hit the table with his fists. “Mia could protect you better than him. Jesus Christ, Izzy, why are you so damn hardheaded?”
“Didn’t you two teach me how to protect myself?” I glared at them.
“Yes,” they answered in unison.
“I can handle myself. I know how to kick ass and bring a man to his knees.” I tried to hide my smile. I knew the double meaning wouldn’t be lost on them. “I’ll be good.”
“It’s not your behavior we’re worried about, baby girl,” Joe growled, cracking his knuckles. “Michael and I can’t risk jail because we have to kick some fucker’s ass for touching you.”
“Speak for yourself, old man. You’re still pretty fucked up from the accident, but I’m always down to kick ass, brother.” Michael laughed. “Anthony is going to be fucking livid when he hears this shit.”
I smiled at them. “He already knows, so shut it. I love you both and appreciate everything you’ve done for me, but I’m an adult. Have a little faith in me for once. Who’s the first person you two run to when shit goes bad?” I arched my eyebrow and laughed. “Me. You’re always coming to me for help. I’ll be fine.” I waved my hands. “Don’t try and stop me. I promise to be safe and not go anywhere alone while I’m in Daytona. I’ll stay with Flash and won’t do anything stupid.” I stood, completely done with the conversation.
“You’ll call us every day,” Michael insisted, giving in. He knew he wasn’t going to win this battle.
“Text,” I replied. “I’ll text you every day while I’m gone, but that’s all you’re getting.” I headed toward the front desk to cash out my tips.
“Fine.” Michael sighed, shaking his head. “Don’t like this shit one bit.”
“Not my problem,” I called out from the front of the shop.
“Women are a fucking pain in the ass,” Joe said to Michael, and they both laughed. “And shut your fucking mouth. I’m healed from the bike accident, dumbass. I can kick your ass right now to prove it too.”
“I don’t hit the disabled.” Michael laughed.
My boys. Their banter and laughter made me smile as I grabbed my money and slammed the drawer closed. I had everything I wanted in the world: four fantastic brothers, one that was MIA—Tommy—a flourishing business, a growing clientele. And I was totally unattached.