Sadie sat peeling potatoes. Some things, like cooking, didn’t change. Nor did the amount of work needed to keep people fed. Nanny had her working the day after the Vortex gang got home. What did amaze Sadie was the amount of land planted and the number of children. Some families had four or six children. They were everywhere. Some took care of the littler ones and others did chores. Plus, there was schooling at least once a day for those old enough. She took the peeled potatoes over to a woman and then went outside to feed the peels to the chickens.
Ken walked up to Sadie as she finished tossing the last bit from the bucket onto the compost pile. “What do you think of my home?”
“Different. Why me?”
“Besides the fact that you’re breeding?”
“Yeah.” Sadie sat the bucket down on the porch and stood enjoying the sun.
“Easy. You’re feisty. You don’t back down, and there’s a brain in there.” He pointed at her head. “I like that.”
“I still don’t get it. Why don’t you marry some girl from around here?” Sadie gestured towards the fields where people were weeding and planting.
“Genetic diversity. Plus, everyone here knows everything I’ve done wrong since I was in diapers.”
Sadie thought for a moment. Inbreeding wasn’t a problem yet where she’d come from, but finding a partner was getting dicey. “So, the big mean ass biker comes home every spring with a new woman on the back of their bikes and plays farmer the rest of the year?”
“Yes. Didn’t start out that way, but it’s what works.”
“What do you mean?”
“First year, we barely kept our families together. People came here wanting food and shelter. We learned real fast, that being nice got you killed or starving. Plus, we needed things. So, we went out trading. Only real time to do that is in the winter.”
“So, you’re saintly knights that had to become mean ass bikers to survive. Do you rape all your new partners into submission?” Sadie realized she’d overstepped her bounds by the look on Ken’s face. His hand was up and across her face in a fast stinging slap before she could even begin to apologize. Just as the bucket in her hand flew at Ken a second afterwards. He dodged the bucket and grabbed her by the hair. Sadie was pulled along to the room they shared last night. He threw her on the bed, and then closed the door behind him.
“You go too far!”
“So, you didn’t rape anyone? I was never asked, nor paid for your pleasure. In fact, I pretty well understood that if I didn’t comply, I’d be dead. Plus, most people ‘know’ that if you cross the Vortex gang, you end up dead!”
Ken growled, and tried to get himself under control. This was not going like he thought it would. “Yes. We are mean on the road. We have to be, otherwise, we’d be dead. Yes, we have a reputation.” He stopped for a moment, thinking. “Most places we go have sluts. You didn’t protest too much, so I figured you were okay with sex. You are damn good in bed. Fun.”
“I wasn’t no virgin, but to be honest, I didn’t say a word, because I was scared to death that you’d kill me.”
Ken was silent for a moment. He knew the gang’s reputation. He’d help make it. He also began to realize that maybe they’d gone a little past right, and into wrong. “So, you think I’m an asshole.”
“Do you like me even a little?”
Sadie was quiet for a moment. “Not sure. I’ve spent most of my time with you being afraid I’d get killed for sassing off to you, even when I couldn’t help myself.” She rubbed the side of her face where his hand print was still red.
Ken smiled. “You are feisty, and that’s what kept me coming back. It sure wasn’t the beer.”
Sadie laughed in spite of herself. “Cooking isn’t the best either.”
“No, there, you are wrong. That venison stew you make is damn good.” Ken looked at her, and tried to add things up in his head. “So, you’ll go home once the baby is weaned?”
“Maybe. I’ve only been here a day.”
“Will you give me another chance?”
“Like I got a choice?”
“No, you do have a choice. If you want, say the word, and I’ll walk out that door, and not be bothering you.”
Sadie looked at him in disbelief. “You? Go a night without blowing your wad?”
“Yes. Do it every spring. You think I’ve got girlfriends around here?”
Sadie blinked. “Ummm, yeah, I though you had a fuck toy or two.”
“Remember what I said about being related to most people around here? That genetics thing?”
“I don’t have a partner. I’ve been looking for one, and part of our trips out are to find partners.”
“Well, you suck at courting.”
“Yeah, I guess I do.” He walked out of the room, leaving the door wide open.
When Sadie went back to the kitchen, no one said a thing. No one treated her differently, although she had expected to be shunned. The only thing that had changed, was that Ken was absent. That night, she slept alone. At first, it was nice to stretch out and relax. As the night wore on, it felt empty and the room was huge with shadows flickering across the windows. Sadie curled up into a ball and went to sleep.