Travis hung his head and returned downstairs. He thought about watching TV, but nothing was on. He went out on the front porch and sat in his rocking chair again. As he rocked back and forth, he imagined the thrill of going on an adventure, but that only reminded him how bored he still was. He wanted real excitement, and he wanted it now!
That’s when he heard the distant rumbling of powerful engines. At first, they were far away, and the sound only made him curious. But they got closer and became louder and louder. The things that made the noise were coming this way. Travis sat up, alarmed. Angie came out on the porch and stood at the top of the steps. Surprisingly, Chris also showed up, very nervous, Travis could feel it. Chris had become so protective of the secrecy of his product in the basement that the family rarely saw him anymore. He was mean, too. Angie remained cautiously calm, so Travis moved closer to her.
“What is that noise?” asked Chris, his gaze darting fearfully from Angie to the road. Travis could barely hear him.
“I think we’re going to have a visitor,” shouted Angie. “I almost forgot.”
“Forgot what?” Travis practically screamed as he covered his ears. This was louder than the stupid fire alarm at school!
A moment later, Jon and Kelly joined them. Jon stood off by himself levitating the tennis ball. Kelly went to the end of the driveway and looked up the road. She ran back.
She yelled excitedly, “Bikers! Like fifty of them!”
She’d no sooner said it when a long line of motorcycles rolled down the street into the cul-de-sac. The noise was deafening and powerful. Travis swallowed hard.
Angie turned to her husband. “I can’t believe she came.”
“Who?” asked Chris. “They better stay out of the basement.”
Angie shook her head at his narrow train of thought. “I finally get to meet her.”
Dozens of bikers made the loop around the cul-de-sac, then found places to park on the road, the driveway, and all over the yard of the vacant house next door. Luckily, most of the bikers eventually put their powerful machines into a sputtering idle. Even so, one of them gunned an engine now and then. The sudden, ear-splitting blasts made Travis jump halfway out of his skin.
Travis shivered and grabbed the back of his neck—ghost fingers! In his mind bikers were dangerous. These bikers didn’t act threatening, but their mirror shades, Nazi-looking helmets and dark leather jackets were disturbing.
One of the riders, a husky woman with broad shoulders, parked her bike in the driveway behind the minivan and turned off the motor. She stepped off the bike, removed her helmet, and adjusted a rag tied over her head as she strutted toward the house. She wore a black leather jacket and faded blue jeans.
A huge, bearded man on the lead bike called out to her, “Later, Matilda!”
The woman turned and waved. “See ya, Jake! You blokes take care!”
Travis saw a picture of an evil-looking devil on the back of her jacket with the words Satan’s Sidekicks printed underneath. A second later the bike noise blasted the air again as the powerful machines roared back up the street. Travis kept his hands over his ears until the last one was gone, and it was quiet again. For a while, the silence made his ears ring.
It’s a good thing we don’t have neighbors, thought Kelly to Travis. They’re so loud!
Right now, Travis didn’t care about neighbors. He was too worried about this stranger named Matilda. Who was she? Why was she here? Maybe being bored wasn’t so bad after all.
The woman turned and faced them again. “G’day, Angie,” she said in a thick Australian accent. “It’s been a while.”
“A lifetime,” said Angie coldly. “You made it.”
“Looks like it.”
“You’re early. We didn’t expect to see you for another month. This is my husband, Chris McCormick.”
Matilda offered to shake his hand, but Chris stood there stupidly. Angie nudged him. “Shake hands.”
Chris reached out and took Matilda’s hand. She squeezed hard. He tried to pull away, but she wouldn’t let go. It wasn’t until he grimaced in pain that she released him. Chris rubbed his throbbing hand. “That hurt. You stay out of my basement. You stay away from my product!” He turned and retreated into the house.
Matilda was baffled by his behavior, but Travis knew she felt good, probably because she was stronger than Chris.
Travis also sensed the woman was trying to conceal a deep sense of hurt, but mostly from herself. As hard-nosed as she seemed on the outside, he could tell she had delicate feelings. She might have been fooling everyone else, but she wasn’t fooling him.
Matilda’s gaze went from face to face as if sizing them up for a fight. She settled on Travis, who stayed practically glued to Angie’s side. Angie was utterly calm; he could feel it. But this biker lady had him shaking.
“Hello, li’l mate,” she said warmly. “How’s it going?”
Weird, thought Kelly to her little brother. She seems friendly.
Travis nodded slightly.
“It’s okay, Travis,” said Angie. “Everyone, I’d like you to meet Matilda Price. My birth mother.”
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