It’s 1972, and San Francisco is a global mecca for hippies and radicals. In Book Two of The Jessie Morgan Series, 21-year-old Jess can’t wait to join her friend Donna there. Driving her VW down the Pacific Coast, she’s more than ready for the city’s open Bohemian vibe, bongo-mad street life, perpetual protests, and cutting-edge counterculture. Among the characters she meets are Cat, a tall, fun-loving Sicilian, and Carl, a Harley-riding enigma with bushy red hair. As Jessie gleefully spreads her wings in the City by the Bay, she leaves her stormy past behind. Or does she? This novel is recommended for mature readers due to 1970s-era sex, drugs, and profanity.
Chapter 23 “I rode from North Carolina,” Carl told her, shifting in his swing to face her. North Carolina. Like Twisty. Weird. It seemed unlikely to meet someone from there, out here in California. Then again, stranger things had happened. At first, Carl had given her the creeps. Maybe it was the way he’d been hanging around in front of her place, taking photos with that long lens. Jess had told herself to stop being paranoid. God, she hated how paranoid she was. He was interesting, in an edgy way. “You’re a biker?” Under those bristly eyebrows, one of his deep-set eyes was olive green and the other was sapphire. It was disconcerting. Jess didn’t know which eye to look at. “No,” he said, “I just ride.” “You mean you’re not in a club?” “I mean, I just ride,” he said in a tone that made it clear he was finished with that topic. Was he cranky? How strange. “What’s it like, travelling on a motorcycle?” “It’s bitchin. I’ll take you riding, if you want.” “I’d love that.” Jess needed something new, different. Something to look forward to. She stole a glance at Carl. A tall, hefty redhead, he had more freckles than she’d ever seen. His wild, citrus-orange bush of hair stuck out from under a ragged green bandana, and his long beard was auburn with a white patch in the middle. He wore jeans and a wrinkled T-shirt, and his beefy, freckled arms were blanketed with wiry, flame-colored hair. Sitting next to him, Jess felt small, feminine. It was a good feeling, especially after being such a blimp lately. “I want to photograph you,” he said. “OK.” Why the hell not? He put his telephoto away and attached a 50 mm lens to the Nikon. Jess was surprised how close he was as the shutter clicked away. Blushing, she began to swing again, arcing as high as she could. A scruffy guy in olive camouflage pants and an army jacket came up and sat on a swing, mumbling to himself. He sounded angry, but Jess couldn’t understand what he was saying. Another crazy Vietnam vet, she figured. If she’d been alone, she’d have left. “How’s it going?” Carl asked him. The guy shrugged, ducking his tired-looking face down to stare at his army boots. His skinny fingers combed through a long, unkempt beard. Jess thought it was nice of Carl to talk to him. These guys were scary. “Vietnam?” “Oh yeah.” “May I take some photos of you?” Jess couldn’t believe it. She wouldn’t have had the nerve to ask him. The guy lit a wrinkled roll-your-own and stared at Carl’s Nikon. She was sure he was going to grab it and smash it. Or grab it and run. “OK,” he finally said, “but it’ll cost ya.” “How much?” Carl was unflappable. “Ten bucks.” “OK.” Jess was trying not to let her mouth hang open, she was so amazed. Carl dug a ten-dollar bill out of his jeans pocket and handed it over. Then he sat on the dirt in front of the guy, clicking away. “Name’s Chester,” the guy said, turning toward her. “Hi,” she said, smiling as she swung, “I’m Jess.” “I’m Carl.” He leaned to the right, going for a different angle. He engaged Chester, distracting him. Jess watched Carl in action. He knew what he was doing...
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