Chapter 8 - Red

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Red steeled his nerves as he parked his bike, counting Danzigs in his head to keep focus. He imagined himself as a warrior marching toward an unknown enemy, which honestly wasn't far from the truth. But he felt good, and looked good too. He'd put on a plain black long sleeved shirt under his cut, one of his nicer pairs of jeans, and traded his dirty old moto boots for the pair he'd just bought. Right before he reached the office door he ran a hand over his goatee to smooth it down. The darn thing could get unruly under pressure.

When he stepped into the office, Rogue was waiting for him at the counter. She had an energy about her, like she was barely holding herself in. Red approached the counter.
"Good afternoon, Rogue."
"Red." She nodded.
"Have you considered our offer?"
"We have," she paused, readjusting her stance and pulling herself a little taller. "As the Vice President of the Banshees, I speak on behalf of the club: we will not be accepting your offer."
Red's expression didn't change, he had been expecting that answer from the second he made the proposal. But something in him turned. His eyes flashed darkly at Rogue and a small sinister smile twisted his mouth.
"Suit yourself. We'll see how long you power hungry sweet-butts last."
As soon as the words left his mouth Red wished they hadn't. Shock at his own rudeness showed on his face seconds before Rogue's palm connected with his cheek. Red's expression went stone cold. He took a step back, turned and walked out the office door without a word. He'd gone no more than ten steps when Rogue's voice called after him.
"Red, wait! Red!"
He stopped but didn't turn, and she skidded to a halt in front of him, hands in the air.
"Im sorry." She looked concerned, genuinely sorry. Red didn't know what to think or do, he'd never been slapped by a woman before. He allowed himself to look at her then, really look at her. A soft dusting of freckles - nothing like his - covered her fine nose and delicate cheekbones, her lips were plump and dark like raspberries. And her eyes - his mother had been right. As he watched, they changed from a deep forest green to golden yellow.
"I'm sorry." She repeated, shaking Red from his reverie. He shrugged.
"Doesn't matter. You didn't mean it. And I deserved it."
She looked away, then back up at him.
"Would you let me buy you a coffee as an apology gift?"
Red laughed at the irony of their situation, but Rogue took it as rejection. She began to turn away but Red caught her wrist.
"Whoa, I didn't mean it like that." He smiled softly at her then reluctantly let her arm go. "Let's go to Analog. They make the best steeped tea. You buy, I'll drive."
Rogue smiled at him shyly and they walked to Red's bike together. He tossed her the spare helmet and fired up the bike. Rogue paused just before clipping the helmet straps.
"My name is Elodie." She said quietly, then climbed on behind Red. They took off down the street and even the roar of Red's Harley wasn't enough to cover the sound of her name ringing in his ears.

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