“How about we save the twenty questions for another time, and you let me take you home so I am not responsible for your untimely death by rabid raccoon?”

“I thought it was mosquitoes that would be my undoing.”

“That, too.” His stiffness slowly faded away with the change in conversation.

“All right,” I said. “Get me out of here, please.” I bent down and scratched my thighs. The mosquitoes had already done some damage.

“This way, then.” He gestured with a sweep of his arm, back to where he’d parked his bike.

The moon and the stars had just started to peek out from behind the clouds, finally shedding some much-needed light on the very dark night as we turned around and headed back to his bike.

“You are just going to take me home right?” I asked. After the events of the evening, I felt like I had to ask. Not that this guy would try anything with me, anyway. I was the girl he’d caught sleeping in his junkyard, after all.

When we reached his bike, he took the helmet off the seat and handed it to me. “If you just want to go home, it’s gonna really ruin my plans to dismember you and feed you to the town’s people at the county fair,” he joked.

“Just thought I’d clarify,” I muttered. Jake reached for the strap under my helmet, and I flinched. “I can do it.”

His eyes went wide. “Bee,” he said slowly, “where the fuck did you get all that?” He pointed to the bruise and the scrapes I had gotten on my chin when Owen had lunged for me at the door.

“Dodgeball.” It was none of his damn business. I must have been really tired by that point, because the most important thing about riding the bike seemed to have skipped past my thoughts altogether.

I’d have to hold onto him.

“Abby,” Jake said, softly this time. He moved himself in front of me and looked into my eyes. “Who did this?”

“It’s nothing. I’m fine,” I answered. I tried to sound casual. “That’s about as much as I want to tell you, and if you don’t want to give me a ride anymore, that’s okay.” I took the helmet off my head and placed it back on his seat. “I’ll take my chances with the mosquitoes.” I started walking.

Things had been getting too close for me, anyway.

“Hey, wise-asser,” he called out. “Get that wise-ass on the bike, and let’s go.” It was kind of a joke and kind of a demand, but I got the point. He wasn’t going to pry anymore, but that didn’t do anything to solve my other situation.

I pulled my sleeves down to cover my wrists and stared at Jake where he sat on the bike. He seemed to sense my hesitation. “You ever been on a bike before?” he asked.

I shook my head.

“Just get on behind me, one leg at a time, be careful not to have your legs touch the metal pipes at the bottom because they can burn.” Little did he know I’d prefer the burn from the pipes than the burn of his touch.

“Where do I put my arms and legs?” I asked.

“You wrap them around me,” he answered, like it was the simplest thing in the world to do. I suppose for most people, it was.

But, I wasn’t most people, and it wasn’t simple for me at all.

“Is there an alternative?” I asked.

“To what?” I was hoping he wasn’t going to have to make me explain it. I didn’t care if he thought I was odd. It was late. I was tired. And if Jake thinking I was a whack-job sped up this process, I really didn’t give a shit.

“To putting my arms and legs around you,” I answered. Jake looked like he was contemplating my question. He didn’t ask me the reason for it. He didn’t make fun of me for asking. He just looked like he was thinking, and that was all.

“When you get on, scoot as far back to this chrome piece as possible. He pointed to a chrome semi-circle attached to the back of the seat. Put your feet on the back of these stirrups here and hold your arms behind you, and grab on to the bottom of the seat. It may not be comfortable, but it’ll work.” Jake got off the bike. “If you get on first, it’ll be easier.” I did as he instructed, and I noticed that when he got back on he was riding close to the handlebars. There were a solid few inches of space separating us.

I sighed in relief.

“Thank you,” I said. He may have been judging me on the inside, but I was grateful he didn’t say anything to me about it. I didn’t need anything to piss me off further. The night was as over as I wanted it to be.

One good thing did come out of the night after all. It turned out that riding on a motorcycle was my new favorite thing.