Moving to Love

When I wrote this book, Jeremiah and Joci had been rolling around in my head for some time. And they were persistent. And, a tad irritating because I’d wake in the middle of the night and think about them. So…, I relented and wrote their story. And, I’m glad I did. It’s a great story and I still have readers tell me it’s their go to reread. I can’t even tell you how great that feels.

So, today, I’m sharing the first chapter of Moving to Love. Enjoy!

Chapter 1
Times Like These

There were times like these when Joci wanted to burst out laughing; it felt so good. The wind in her face, running through her hair, the sun warming her skin, the roar all around her, seven hundred-plus pounds of pure unadulterated power between her legs—and she was controlling it all. Gliding through traffic with her son, Gunnar, just a few yards in front of her, feeling all the love and joy God made for her—just her. Yes, these were the times Joci enjoyed.

She smiled as they came up behind a car and floated over to the left lane to pass. As she watched, Gunnar, his dark hair pulled into a low ponytail, glided easily past the car, the two little kids in the back seat watched him and smiled at each other. You could tell they were thinking, Someday I’m going to do that. Then as Joci pulled up alongside to pass them, they smiled and pointed at her, one of them turning to the adult in the front seat and saying something, which caused the driver to look over at her as she passed him. He smiled at her, and Joci smiled back at the reaction; it happened often. She could almost hear the kids in the back: Look, Dad, a girl on a motorcycle.

She easily pulled in front of the car and continued down the highway to their destination. She loved this life, this group of people with whom she had this in common.  A few minutes later, Gunnar and Joci put on their turn signals to exit the highway and onto a frontage road, taking them to the parking lot of Rolling Thunder Motorcycles. They navigated past the last few shoppers straggling out at the end of the day.

Gunnar had worked at Rolling Thunder Motorcycles as a mechanic for the past year. He loved working here. He loved the people he worked with; the customers and their bikes; he loved building bikes. Lately, Dog had let him help in the design on some of the custom bikes for which they were known. And well-known they were becoming. Dog built some of the hottest bikes around. He had recently been featured in Rider magazine and showcased on several ‘biker’ shows. His reputation for building beautiful, custom, mechanically-sound bikes was becoming legend.

Joci and Gunnar parked their bikes among a row of other motorcycles and started toward the back doors to the shop.

“Mom, you’re going to love this place. I’m excited to introduce you to everyone and show you where I work. You’re going to love Dog.”

“I’m sure I will, honey. I’m sorry it took me this long to get here,” Joci said with a smile.

As they stepped through the back door, the smell of oil and warm engines hit Joci’s nostrils. A smile spread across her face as Gunnar turned and looked at her with a grin on his.

“Gunnar, what the fuck took so long?” a man walking around the corner from the front of the building said. He stopped short when he saw Joci walking in behind Gunnar. “Ah, sorry. I didn’t know you had someone with you.”

Gunnar burst out laughing at the look on his face.  “JT, this is my mom, Jocelyn James. Mom, JT—Dog’s son.”

Joci leaned forward with her hand outstretched to shake JT’s hand. JT briefly hesitated, then wrapped his large hand around her smaller one and pumped once. “Nice to meet you.”

Joci smirked. “Nice to meet you as well.”

JT glanced at Gunnar. “Ah…we’re sitting in the conference room upstairs. I just came down to get the article I found on the Internet this morning.”

Gunnar looked at his mom and jerked his head toward the door at the front of the garage as he said, “Conference room is this way, Mom.”

Joci nodded once and followed behind Gunnar as they made their way through the store and up the stairs. She noted that the store was neat and tidy. There were racks of clothing on one side of the store and parts, accessories, and motorcycles on the other. The store was well-lit and colorful. The logo painted on the wall, though, was boring. Rolling Thunder Motorcycles, Inc. was painted in silver lettering on a white wall with nothing else. No real logo other than the name.

Entering a room off to the right at the top of the stairs, Joci stopped in her tracks as she crossed the threshold. An incredibly handsome man sat at the conference table, which was a large, well-worn oak table littered with beer cans, papers, and miscellaneous food wrappers. About eight other people were either sitting at the table or standing around talking.

As she stood in the doorway, he looked up from his reading and stared at her.

“Dog, this is my mom, Joci. Mom, this is Jeremiah Sheppard, but everyone calls him Dog.”

Joci watched as Dog stood to his full height and rounded the table toward her. Well-built, broad shoulders supported the most beautiful head and face Joci had ever seen on a man. Long, blond hair with a few silver streaks and bright green eyes held her attention as he came to a stop in her space. He reached his hand out to shake hers, but Joci stood transfixed as she looked into his eyes.

“Nice to meet you, Joci. Gunnar has told me a lot about you. I appreciate your time helping us plan next year’s event.”

A blush raced toward Joci’s face as she realized he was standing before her with his hand out. Snapping her attention back to matters at hand, Joci’s lips trembled into a smile as she touched her palm to his and tightened her grip.

“It’s nice to meet you as well. Gunnar has spoken so highly of you, and I’m honored to be asked to help with your event.”

As their hands separated, Jeremiah looked over at Gunnar and smiled. Reaching over to pat him on the shoulder, Jeremiah said, “Thanks for coming back tonight and bringing your mom. Let’s take a seat.”

Joci and Gunnar took chairs to Jeremiah’s left as the other employees in the room were introduced to Joci. Deacon, the manager and Jeremiah’s right-hand man, sat across the table from Joci along with Ryder, Jeremiah’s son, and JT’s twin. Janice and Angel, who were clothing sales, and Ricky, who sold parts, rounded out the group. JT walked back into the room with his printed article as idle chitchat and banter flew around. Joci watched Gunnar with pride as he interacted with his fellow employees.

“Okay, listen up. We’re going to start out with what didn’t work on this year’s ride. Come up with solutions and move on to what worked well, then what we can do to make it better,” Dog said.

“Oh, I hope you weren’t waiting for me,” a blonde woman said as she sauntered into the room with exaggerated posture, forcing her large, mostly exposed breasts out for all the world to see.

“Sit the fuck down, LuAnn,” Ryder snarled.

LuAnn smirked as she continued into the room. She pulled a folding chair away from the wall and pushed her way between Deacon and Dog. As she sat, she leaned her shoulder into Dog’s shoulder and froze as her eyes caught Joci’s.

“Who are you?” LuAnn snapped.

“If you would have been here on time, you would have been introduced. This is my mom, Joci,” Gunnar scowled.

LuAnn ignored Gunnar’s comment and eyed Joci. Joci smiled and held her hand out to shake LuAnn’s. LuAnn reached out to shake Joci’s hand, barley touching her fingers in the limpest handshake Joci had ever felt.

“All right, what worked?” Jeremiah continued.

Discussion turned to the Veteran’s Ride held just two months before. Joci felt LuAnn’s stares throughout the meeting but continued doodling on the tablet she had brought with her, taking notes as something of interest caught her attention.

As they started discussing what should be changed, without thinking, Joci blurted out, “You need a logo.”

Jeremiah looked at her; everyone else stopped talking.

Taking a deep breath, she continued, “All you have is Rolling Thunder Motorcycles, Inc. painted on the wall. Your advertising and marketing are mostly word of mouth. What you’re doing here is great. You need to brand it. Make it yours. When people see your logo, they’ll know exactly who it is and what it means.”

Jeremiah nodded once, never taking his eyes from Joci’s. She felt her face flush at his scrutiny but couldn’t stop herself. Looking down at her tablet, she slowly turned it and slid it in front of Jeremiah. He looked at it for a long moment. Joci’s heart raced. Not only was he the most good-looking man she had ever laid eyes on, but she could tell the people in this room, Gunnar included, respected and liked this man. She didn’t want to overstep her bounds.

“What colors are you thinking?”

Joci’s eyes snapped to Jeremiah’s as he addressed her. “Black, orange, and yellow. Bold, hot, sexy.”

Joci looked down at the tablet she had placed in front of Jeremiah, her face now a bright crimson.

“That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard,” LuAnn sneered.

Joci jerked her head up to look at the angry snarl on LuAnn’s face. Stupid? Joci was far from stupid, and this was her business.

“I think it’s a perfect idea. I’ve been meaning to do something with branding the business, but I simply haven’t had the time. This is exactly what you just said: bold, hot, and sexy. I think it’s perfect.” Jeremiah smiled at Joci, and her heart started beating a wild tempo in her chest.

His smile was breathtaking. Beautiful, straight teeth surrounded by full, shapely lips. His green eyes shone with light flecks of emerald she hadn’t noticed before. All of these features alone would be any woman’s dream. Put together in this package, Jeremiah was…magnificent.

Joci swallowed and leaned back in her seat as Gunnar said, “Let’s see it.”

Jeremiah slid the tablet down the center of the table, and everyone leaned forward to take a look at Joci’s drawing. “Fuck. That’s cool!” JT stated as the others around the table stated their praise. Gunnar nudged his mom, the smile on his face speaking volumes.

LuAnn reached over and put her hand on Jeremiah’s arm and rubbed up and down a few times. “Do you think you need that?” she asked quietly. Joci was paying attention. She wondered if Dog and LuAnn were an item. Disappointing, because if there was one man Joci would finally be interested in, it would be Jeremiah.

Jeremiah pulled his arm away as he said, “Yes. We really need it.”

We, he said we. Did he mean he and LuAnn or the business? Joci’s mind raced as the meeting continued with a new level of excitement. As they were wrapping up the meeting, Jeremiah reiterated what they had discussed, made sure each person knew what he or she needed to do before the next meeting, and started bringing the meeting to a close.

“And finally, Joci. Can you have a color logo for the next meeting? Just let me know what it costs.”

“Yes, I can have a color logo. I’ll also have the digital files for you. You’ll want to add it to your website, invoices, labeling, letterhead, business cards, and actually anything you use for the business. Maybe have a painter come in and paint the walls downstairs.” She smiled and shrugged her shoulders.

Jeremiah laughed. “This is going to cost me big, I think.” He gathered his papers together, and everyone stood to leave. Jeremiah looked at Joci, “If you want to step down the hall to my office, I’ll get you a business card so you have my numbers in case you have questions.”

Joci nodded and stood. JT and Angel started throwing away the food wrappers and empty cans as the others walked out.

LuAnn stood and stretched as Jeremiah stood, thrusting her breasts in his direction. Jeremiah looked at Joci and nodded, “Follow me.”

Joci traipsed after Jeremiah down the short corridor to his office. He pulled open a desk drawer and took out a business card. Plain white card with silver lettering. Nothing else. B-O-R-I-N-G. This is going to be fun. Joci took the card from him and smiled as she looked at it.

“Would you have dinner with me?” Jeremiah asked.

Joci’s head snapped up as she met his stare. “I. I…um. I can’t. I’m sorry.”

With LuAnn hanging all over him and whispering in his ear, why was he asking her out? Joci had no intention of hooking up with another man like that.

“Are you seeing anyone?” He held his breath, his posture rigid.

“Ah, no. No boyfriend. I…just can’t.” Joci took a step back and started to turn to leave his office. “Call me if you have any questions, Joci. I’m excited to get this logo implemented. It’s something that’s been missing for a long time now.”

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