The following chapter is a one-off crossover scene that takes place in Babylon, Texas, featuring characters from The Babylon MC Series, as well as characters from standalone novel A Girl Like Lilac.
By Victoria L. James.
𝙋𝙧𝙚𝙨𝙞𝙙𝙚𝙣𝙩 𝙤𝙛 𝙏𝙝𝙚 𝙃𝙤𝙪𝙣𝙙𝙨 𝙤𝙛 𝘽𝙖𝙗𝙮𝙡𝙤𝙣 𝙈𝘾
“Ayda!” I called from the bathroom as I wrapped a towel around my waist and brushed back the wet tendrils of my hair. “Ayda!”
I tried calling her a few more times, but she either couldn’t hear me, was ignoring my ass, or she’d passed out after our mid-afternoon rendezvous. Look at me speaking French. And they say I’m all brawn and no brains.
The steam started to fade away on the mirror, and the tattooed patch of my club across my chest caught my eye in my reflection. I was proud of that patch, despite the pain that skull and those two hounds had caused me in recent years. Pain was a price worth paying when it secured the safety of your family. My brothers may not have been born from the same blood, but we sure as shit had the same heart.
I only wished two of my men were still around to see me today, here, looking stronger than ever. Happier than ever because of…
“What the hell do you keep yelling like a damn animal for?” Ayda asked, completely exasperated as she flung open the bathroom door, freezing the second she saw me. Whatever anger she thought she was going to bring into this room disappeared the very moment she saw my wet body standing there in nothing more than a towel. For all her sass, Ayda was a sucker for me and I knew it. We both knew it. I used it to my advantage every chance I got.
Her eyes dropped down over my skin, studying every inch like she’d never seen it before, which amazed me considering how much I made sure she knew she owned my body completely.
I watched her mouth fall open before she blinked herself back into the here and now, looked up at me and swallowed carefully.
“What’s up, Drew?”
“See something you like?”
Her body fell against the doorframe, her feet crossing over one another as she melted into it and returned my sarcastic glare with one of her own. “I’ve seen better.”
“You’re a liar and a thief, Hanagan.” I raised my arm and pointed right at her. “A liar. And a thief.”
“A thief?” She raised a brow.
“Yeah, a thief. You waltzed into this club in your tight, ass-hugging jeans, said a few sweet things and stole my weak and vulnerable heart.”
“My man, such a dramatic.”
I wiggled my eyebrows and gestured for her to come to me. So we’d already had sex once this afternoon, what did that matter? It wasn’t often we got to spend so much time together without drama following us around. I was going to take this peaceful day, hold it tight, and make sure we got as many seconds of happiness out of it as we possibly could.
She rolled her eyes, but that was about the extent of her fight before she pushed herself off the doorframe and came toward me. I was just about to accept her into my arms, press her against my wet body and demand that she take off her clothes when my name rang out around the halls of The Hut.
“Drew!” three different voices cried at once.
Groaning, I placed my hands on my hips and waited for the three clowns to show up. Right on cue, Deeks, Kenny, and Slater were standing in the doorway looking right at me wearing almost nothing, and my blonde-haired beauty in those tight jeans and one of my hoodies.
“Are you ever dressed these days?” Deeks asked, mocking me.
“Count yourself lucky you didn’t show up thirty seconds later. This towel was about to be dropped to the floor, and Ayda’s tits were— OUCH!” The back of Ayda’s hand swung across my chest and her eyes were now glaring at me in warning. “Never mind,” I winced, rubbing my left pec while the three men in front of us laughed.
“What’s wrong, guys?” Ayda asked, turning away from me.
“Nothing to worry about,” Slater said, holding his hand up in the air. “There’s just some guy out in the yard.”
“What guy?” I scowled, rubbing away the sting of my woman’s nails.
Kenny shrugged, his zig zagged eyebrows shooting up. “Dunno. He’s British, though. Seems harmless enough. We thought you’d better check it out.”
British? I thought of Dad and his British connections immediately, wondering what trouble he’d brought to my doorstep.
It didn’t take me long to dress into jeans and a T-shirt, sweep my damp hair back, throw my cut over my shoulders and march out of The Hut on high alert… even though my instincts told me there was nothing to worry about. My brothers would have warned me if I was about to step out of the shower and into the fire. Ayda followed close behind us. Of course she did. This was Ayda. The girl could no more stay out of a battle these days than I could. Lord forgive me for what I’d done to her once innocent soul.
I stepped out into the harsh springtime sun, immediately scrunching my eyes together to fight off the invasion of bright light. That’s when I saw him for the first time.
There, in the middle of my yard, stood a man I’d never seen before. His pumped body didn’t match the look of pure innocence he wore. He was built like a machine made to destroy, topped off with the face of a saint.
As soon as he saw me, he ran a hand through the black lengths of his hair with one hand and pushed up the bridge of his black-rimmed glasses with the other.
“Can I help you?” I asked in the calmest, lowest voice I could muster up as I walked toward him, my swagger slow and controlled.
“Hey,” he said brightly, but somewhat panicked. The T-shirt he was wearing clung to his every muscle, including pecs that could put mine to shame. I immediately wanted to send Ayda back inside like an insecure little fuck, just so she didn’t see this guy. Whoever he was, he was out of breath, his chest bouncing as though he was recovering from a run. The guy held out his hand, leaving it hanging in the air, his eyes connecting with mine with a confidence that was rare. “Hunter. Toby Hunter.”
I glanced down at his outstretched hand, a brow rising as I studied it for a second before looking up at him.
If he was here to kill me or cause my club harm, he was going to do it in the friendliest way possible. Ken Doll, the assassin. It had a nice ring to it.
And yet I found myself reaching out to shake his hand anyway.
“Tucker,” I answered robotically, feeling the firmness of his grip. “Drew Tucker.”
“You’re the guy in charge around here?”
“Depends why you’re asking, Hunter, Toby Hunter.”
He laughed softly and rolled his eyes. “Right, yeah. That would help, wouldn’t it? Shit, I’m sorry to bother you, Drew, man,” he let out in a rush of breath. “As you can tell from the accent, I’m not from around here, exactly.”
“No shit,” I mumbled.
“I’m on holiday—sorry, vacation. Me, the wife, and two kids are driving through America, trying to go off the beaten path so my wife can take photographs people will eventually buy from her. She’s awesome with a camera and a foreign land. I promised her I’d take her to see things she’d never seen before, but I guess we got a little lost on the road today. A lot lost, actually. My wife, Lilac, was trying to calm me down by telling me some crazy shit stories she made up because I was getting stressed. I guess she did a good job because I got so lost in her being, well, her… I didn’t see the gas light come on. Next thing I know, the car’s chugging, spitting and sputtering all over the place, and then it just…”
“Stopped?” I finished for him, feeling my smirk setting into place as I watched Toby lose his way. He'd spoken less than a hundred words to me and I already liked him. Maybe it was the familiar accent that reminded me of my own family roots. Maybe it was the kind eyes that assured me he wasn’t a bad dude. Or maybe it was the way in which he talked about his wife… like she was magic.
I understood that emotion more than anyone.
“Next thing, I’ve got one kid saying she’s too hot, another kid crying their eyes out, and the wife is just staring at me with these doe eyes that ruin me.” His glance drifted to Ayda who had stepped up to stand beside me. The angel to my demon. “Know what I’m saying?” he said, returning his gaze to mine with a smile.
“Mmhmm.” I nodded.
“I just got out of the car, told them I’d be back as quick as possible, and I ran down this long road looking for gas and answers. Mate, your roads go on forever though.”
My own muted laugh pressed against my lips, wanting to be set free.
“Welcome to Texas,” I told him.
Toby suddenly seemed to register the cut I was wearing, his eyes falling down to the well-worn and over-attacked President’s badge on my chest. He took a moment to stare at it, without shame or embarrassment, but he never faltered. He didn’t cower, pale, or even look confused once he realized what he was seeing.
“Motorcycle club? Nice. You’re the president?”
“For my sins.”
“Is it like the movies make it out to be?” he asked, looking up sharply, his eyes locked on mine.
“Not even close.”
“Nothing ever is, right?”
“You should see how wrong they get prison life.” I don’t know why I threw it out there. I wasn’t trying to be an asshole and scare him or tell him my life story, so maybe that little slip was just a part of my inbuilt asshole gene that fell out.
But this Hunter guy looked smug again, his eyes flashing with something I didn’t recognize before he dropped his chin to his chest, scratched the back of his neck, and let out a quiet chuckle—like he’d just heard a joke I hadn’t been privy to.
“Yeah, I imagine prison being pretty rough.” He nodded, pushing his hands down into his trouser pockets before looking up again. “Listen, I don’t want to impose, but I saw the trucks in your yard, the cars, and I could smell the oil in the air. I figured if anyone would be able to help me around here, it would be you.”
“I can help you, brother,” Deeks said, stepping around me to walk over to Toby. Slapping a hand on his shoulder, Deeks gave it a squeeze and offered the tourist a smile. “We’re more than happy to offer our services, ain’t that right, Drew?”
Five pairs of eyes were suddenly on me, waiting for me to give the go ahead.
Like my word even mattered around here anymore.
The gentle tap of Ayda’s fingers against my thigh was both a question and an instruction. It only took one look into her eyes for me to roll my own and look back at Deeks and Hunter.
“Sure thing. My guys will take you for gas, Hunter, Toby Hunter.”
Toby let out a breath of relief, his shoulders relaxing instantly, his gratitude obvious in the way his eyes shined back at Ayda and me. “Thank you, Tucker, Drew Tucker. Thank you so much. I really appreciate—”
I held up my hand, effectively cutting him off. “I have one condition.”
“Drew?” Ayda asked, worry lacing her tone.
“Anything,” Toby said at the same time. “What is it?”
“You let us bring your rental back here to check it out before you set off anywhere.”
He scowled at me, the words taking a moment to sink in before he pushed his shoulders back and inhaled sharply. Unable to say anything, he waited for me to go on, and while he waited, I bathed in the glory of Ayda’s growing smile beside me.
I still loved to surprise her.
“Sounds like you’ve got a good wife in that car, not to mention two kids who probably need a break from the hot sun, a cold drink, and something to eat. We’ve got a full hut here and nothing but time to kill. And despite how we look on the outside, I promise,
inside we’re not that bad.”
Toby Hunter just smiled at me like one good man to another. “That, I can tell.”
A novel crossover featuring the following characters:
Drew Tucker—Babylon MC Series
Toby Hunter—A Girl Like Lilac