“Fuck me!” Thomson Day exclaimed. “I can’t believe I’m gonna be one of the Chosen.”
“You did outstanding so far, Tommy,” gang leader Grant Spiros said. “But it’s not over yet.”
Tommy grinned fiercely, his dark eyes shining with a surge of adrenalin in the fading light. “Bring it on,” the twenty-two-year-old replied with the brash self-assurance of youth. “I’ll do whatever it takes to earn my colors.”
“What did Vic tell you about the initiation?” Grant asked as the security light overhead warmed from a sullen orange glow to a harsh and pervasive yellow glare.
Tommy knew the casual question was a test. The Chosen were allowed to speak of the initiation ceremony with other members, but were forbidden to reveal the mysteries to outsiders. Not even Tommy’s older brother had breathed so much as a word of advice, though he’d been riding with the club for years. Tommy was able to look the chief of the Chosen in the eye and reply with complete candor.
“Vic told me that if I could handle whatever you guys could dish out tonight, I’d be one of Lucifer’s Chosen by dawn.”
Grant nodded. Tommy had done very well so far, demonstrating his mastery of his machine by doing several stunts on his motorcycle before showing his skills on maintenance of the bike. The young man was not only a skillful rider, but also a talented mechanic. He’d be a welcome asset to the gang, providing he passed the rest of the initiation.
Lucifer’s Chosen were more than just a bunch of guys who rode motorcycles together. They were a band of brothers, connected by souls rather than blood. Nothing else in their lives was as important as the bond they shared. On rare visits home, Tommy’s older brother had told him of the bond and much more about his comrades. It was not surprising that the hot-blooded, high-hearted young man would show up one day and ask to be dubbed one of these fabled knights of the road. To avoid any charges of favoritism, Tommy used his mother’s last name and his brother pretended not to recognize him so the young man could earn his place on his own merits.
“Let’s go on in,” Grant said. “It’s time you met the Chosen.”
The garage/clubhouse was everything Tommy had imagined, but most importantly, there were bikes everywhere: new bikes, old bikes, bikes in various states of repair and in every color but pink. The men that were working, or just lounging about, looked up curiously as Tommy and Grant entered.
“That’s Maddog Murphy,” Grant said as they passed a dark-haired man drawing a beer from a refrigerated keg.
A cigarette burned in the corner of Maddog’s full lips, veiling his face with smoke as he glanced at the newcomer. Tommy met the other man’s gaze and the term ‘bedroom eyes’ sprang to mind. Maddog’s heavy-lidded stare slowly surveyed Tommy’s frame from head to toe and back again before he turned and walked in the other direction.
“Dog’s not exactly the best welcoming committee,” Grant said as they moved on. “Of course you know Vic.” The leader stopped next to a big man with close-cropped hair sitting astride a Harley on its kickstand.
“How’d my boy do?” Vic asked, swinging a long leg over the saddle. His leather jeans creaked as he stood and the winged serpent tattooed across his broad chest rippled with the flex of well-developed muscles.
“Perfect scores,” Grant answered as he watched Vic give Tommy an exuberant bear hug.
“I knew that,” Vic grinned. “I just wanted to hear you say it.”
“Then you must be tickled pink,” Grant replied dryly. “Careful you don’t wet yourself.”
Vic laughed and went back to fiddling with his bike’s headlight, calling out his wish for good luck as Grant led Tommy away to a pool table on a raised platform. Three men with hair of varying shades of gold were gathered around the green felt surface.
“You can see why we need you, Tommy,” Grant joked. “The blond bimbos are taking over. That’s Blue Tanner,” Grant pointed to a man leaning on his pool cue.
Blue looked up at the sound of his nickname, his strawberry blond hair backlit by a jukebox that was a little piece of Vegas. The big man smiled in a friendly manner before returning his attention to the game.
“The one shooting is Rocky Doyle,” Grant said quietly as the darkly tanned, blond man lined up his shot on the three-ball. “And the one lurking behind him is Max Hurst.”
Tommy dragged his eyes from the surf god shooting pool as the man called Max moved into the light. A swift little shiver ran the length of the young man’s spine as though he’d been petting a friend’s guard dogs and a wolf had joined them. Max was half Marlboro Man, half Viking warrior; in short, Tommy’s idea of the perfect man. With shoulder-length, sun-bleached hair and a face that looked carved out of stone by the elements, Max could have modeled for the cover of a classy bodice-ripper, but the leather chaps over snug jeans gave a harder edge to his look. For the first time since coming here, Tommy was nervous.
“Is this everybody?” Grant asked the room in general.
“I think we’re enough to get the job done,” Vic wisecracked.
Grant gave the amber-eyed biker a warning look. “We might even have one too many.”
Vic mimed zipping his full lips, but directed a quick grin and a wink at the young man standing beside Grant. Maddog strolled over, tossing his cigarette butt into a sand bucket on the way. The pool players suspended their game and descended to the floor of the garage.
“You all know why we’re here tonight,” Grant began. “Vic has nominated young Tommy here as a Chosen candidate. He’s passed all the other tests; now it’s up to us to test his resolve.”
“I’m ready,” Tommy said. “I’m not afraid.”
Maddog smiled carnivorously and it spread like a contagious disease until all six men were grinning at Tommy. There was nothing overtly threatening in the way the bikers looked at the young man, but Tommy felt like a juicy steak thrown into the lions’ den.