"Hmmm . . . " I said, tapping my chin and taking my time with it. "It’s cute but I’m not sure if it fits with your usual style."
Jax gave me a wink. "Thing is—I’m adaptable. Rock ‘N’ Roll sex symbol. Cowboy sex symbol. Biker sex symbol. It’s all the same to me."
I laughed and Jax revved the bike a few times, the roar sending a thrill down my spine. I ran my hand along the shiny black machine rumbling between his legs. "Okay, Mr. Sex Symbol, where’d this come from?"
"Been hauling it around in the trailer attached to the roadie bus." He revved it again and I admired the powerful roar of its engine emanating from its sleek design. "This is my vintage Vincent Black Shadow. It's pretty old but it's a classic. You're lucky today because sometimes it has trouble starting. It must be behaving extra well just for you." Jax gave me a wink.
"Looks like a high-speed Fortress of Solitude," I said with a nod.
He grinned. "I do usually ride by myself, but today's going to be different."
"Because today you're coming with me." He patted the cushion behind him in a welcoming manner.
"Really?" I hopped on, excitedly draping my arms around his neck and kissing his cheek. "I've always wanted to ride one!"
"Your first time?" He twisted his head back to face me. "I'm shocked. Given your taste for trouble, I figured you'd ridden before."
"I've just never had the chance." I wrapped my arms around his waist and squeezed firmly.
"Until now." He reached into a side compartment and pulled out a helmet. "Here, put this on."
I reluctantly took the unwieldy helmet. "You get the cool cowboy hat and I get the frumpy helmet?"
"I don't want you bumping that pretty head of yours," he said, sliding his hands over the arm I still had wrapped around him.
His warm touch reminded me of what he did for me after I’d been sore from making buttons for the band. "But you already made me bump my head. On the fridge shelf before you gave me that massage," I said, pinching his sides playfully.
He reacted only slightly to the pinching then pulled my free hand up to his mouth and kissed it. "Ah, you're right. Sorry about that."
"Besides, what's the point of riding on your motorcycle if I can't feel the wind in my hair?" I dropped the helmet in his lap. "I know you want me to be safe, but you know I’m not going to put that on."
He laughed and returned the helmet back to the side compartment. "Promise me you'll hold on tight then."
"Now that, I can do." I embraced him with both my arms and hugged his body close to mine as he revved the engine.
We pulled away from the hotel, the vibrations of the bike beneath me making me giddy, and before long we hit the highway.
The speed immediately sent a surge of adrenaline through my body and I could see why Jax loved riding. Jax masterfully swerved and wove around the slower cars, not letting anything slow us down. I gripped him tighter, running my hands across his ridged abs, slightly disappointed there had to be a layer of clothing separating us. As the wind blew through my hair, I briefly closed my eyes, and I could feel my heart racing from the thrill. The rush from the combination of being on the bike, clinging ahold of Jax, and the overall sensation of the new experience was exhilarating. But I wanted more.
Seeing a long stretch of open road before us, I shouted to him, "Push it faster!"
Jax turned his head and shouted back, "Give me your hand."
I tentatively let one hand go and reached forward. He wrapped my hand around the throttle and the vibration sent tingles shooting up my arm. I rested my chin on his firm shoulder to get a good view of the highway, which shimmered in the distance.
"Now, slowly twist it."
With his steady hand over mine, I twisted the throttle and the bike thrusted forward. I screamed with excitement at the top of my lungs. Even though having control over this dangerous machine filled me with a sense of wild abandon, I still squeezed my other arm around Jax's waist for safety.
After a few more exhilarating miles down the highway, I gave control of the throttle back to Jax. As fun as it was, my arm was tired and numb from the rumbling of the machine.
Jax took us down the highway a few more miles before he turned onto a dirt road in the middle of the desert. He parked close to a set of small wooden buildings that looked deserted. We got off the bike and my legs felt all wobbly, like I just spent hours on an elliptical machine, but Jax steadied me.
"Where are we?" I asked. Aside from the cluster of deserted-looking buildings, there was nothing for miles except cacti, shrubs, wildflowers, and tumbleweeds. I was still pumped from the ride, but the more I looked around, the more this desolate spot spooked me. "Did you bring me to a ghost town?"
"Don't tell me you're afraid of a few ghosts now." Jax grabbed my hand, which was still tingling from holding the throttle, and we headed toward the buildings.
"I don't think my pepper spray is going to work on them."
"Yeah, you're right, that probably won't work. Don't worry though, Chewie trained me in hand-to-ghost combat."
"Hand-to-ghost combat? Is there anything you can't fight?"
He looked into my eyes and his smile made my heart flutter. "Maybe." He squeezed my hand. "Come on, I want to show you something."
We approached the largest of the buildings, a big wooden structure with red paint long since faded away into an almost translucent pink. When we were only a few feet away, a resounding crash clanged from inside of the building. Startled, I clutched onto Jax’s arm.
A man with a weathered face wearing a red checkered shirt and brown cowboy hat appeared from the building leading an all-white horse that looked like a unicorn missing her horn.
"Surprise," Jax said turning to me and gesturing to what I now realized was an old stable. "It’s a Wild West horseback ride."
"Horseback riding?" I asked, eyes wide. "Now you’re just messing with me. First you’ve got a cowboy hat and now we’re going horseback riding? Are you the same Jax that rocks out on stage in front of millions of fans?"
He grinned and shrugged. "It's not too different from riding a motorcycle. Riding a horse offers more freedom to explore the wilderness and the unknown. You know, get in touch with nature. I figured you'd like it too."
"I do. I mean, I really like the gesture," I said with a nervous smile, "but . . ."