March 27, 2020
Since it's been over two years when I last did
March 23, 2018
Copyright Brooke Page
This is the beginning of RUSH, the first book from the Riptide Series. Subject to change upon release. Copyright Brooke Page.
“Once you sign this contract, there’s no turning back.”
The tapping of his pen on the table was in sync with my bouncing knee. I was anxious and beyond ready to seal the deal we’d finally worked out after four hours of negotiations. The distorted life I’d been a puppet in had crumbled beyond repair, and signing my life over was the only hope I had for redemption.
It was the only way I’d get my revenge. “I understand.”
The hard blue eyes sitting across the table stared at me intently. They held pity, but like everyone else, Maxim knew the demon inside of me. I’d grown up the quiet, mysterious one, hiding behind the monster who wanted to mold me into his successor.
But I never wanted to fit into his cookie cutter mold, and she didn’t want that either. She had faith I’d break the chains and become a better man.
A man that might be able to escape the hell hole she selfishly brought me into.
I didn’t see it that way, though. Protecting and saving her was my purpose, and I failed miserably. If only she knew how sorry I was. The constant ache deep in my soul was a painful reminder every damn day.
“When the job is done, you’ll need to relocate within a twelve-hour time period. Can you manage that?”
Nodding, I placed the tip of the pen to the paper, a tremor shaking through my hand. This wasn’t supposed to be a hard decision. They offered me nearly everything I wanted. Erasing my revolting past to give me a second chance.
I wanted the new name.
I needed the new beginning.
Because the minascule amount of good buried deep inside of me was clawing through the ugliness, desperate for a chance to rise above the pain and suffering I’d kept locked away.
“You can take some time to think about it, but I’m afraid this is going to be your best option.”
Closing my eyes, her pale, lifeless face flashed in my memory. Remembering the icy feeling when I touched her cheek, her dark hair stuck to her forehead from the salty water she’d been dumped in when I found her lying on the shore of the ocean. The glassed-over look in her lifeless eyes haunted my dreams, never fading when I woke.
The vision was what I needed to fuel my hatred. He was going to pay for taking her from this world before it was her time. If meeting my maker with blood on my hands was the price to pay, it would be worth it.
I’d avenge every damaged soul my father had stolen for his narcissistic empire.
My trembling hand turned into rage, scribbling my name across the dotted line. “I don’t need time to think about it.”
Maxim’s jaw tightened as he watched me toss the pen on the table. “Congratulations. Welcome to the good side.” Standing, he straightened his sport coat and left me under the single spotlight in the empty room.
The good side.
There was no good side.
At least not yet.
“Bar’s packed.” Colt anxiously raked his fingers through his short blond hair, scanning the plethora of young and hopeless scantily-dressed women.
Tucker rubbed his hands together, ready to put to use the skills I had taught him. Over the pumping music, he chanted, “I can’t wait!”
We’re hunters—young, attractive, desirable, and dangerous. Designed to persuade women into making choices that would destroy their lives.
“Don’t forget the stereotype,” I reminded, handing both Tucker and Colt a wad full of cash.
“Theoutcasts. I remember,” Tucker mumbled, taking the money. “We can play with them first, right?”
“Yes. Only if they’re willing,” I warned. “Don’t rape them.”
“Got it,” Colt said quietly. He’d been a nervous wreck all day, paranoid about tonight and if he would be able to catch girls. He wasgood looking, had a charming smile. No doubt ladies would be all over him, but we were specific about the girls we chose to come with us.
Tucker gave a wicked grin, his blue eyes sparkling deviously. He wagged the little bag filled with different narcotics in front of Colts face. “This will help them make up their minds.”
My eyes hardened. “Be careful with that.” I yanked the drugs from him, smacking it flat against his chest, causing anumph to escape his lips. “Don’t flaunt that shit.”
Tucker’s face fell, grabbing the bag from me and shoving my hand away from him.
“If you’re good, you don’t need the drugs. Come on,” I instructed, waving for them to follow me through the club. It was busy, filled with the last of the Spring Breakers. Girls would get wild tonight, knowing they were heading back to their miserable lives far away from the beach.
Hopefully their intuition would prod them to stay away from us, otherwise, their lives were about to get even more wretched then what they already were.
Tucker and Colt’s jobs were to find girls to work as prostitutes.
I had a different job. One I was willing to do in order to get back at my good for nothing father. If I caught the right girl, a Dove, I’d infiltrate his twisted business, putting his ass in a cell block where he couldn’t hurt anyone ever again.
The girl who became the Dove would endure some scars, but my hatred for my own blood overpowered my fear for the woman who would be sacrificed.
She would be sold to a Vulture, the sickest fuckers there are in this undergroundworld, until the FBI would intervene. It was worth the risk in my eyes. My hostility for my father was a constant knife digging into my back, slowly bleeding with an overwhelming rage of guilt.
The bouncer gave us a nod as we passed into the back bar, loud club music making my ears throb. “Go out back,” I yelled in Tucker’s ear. “That’s where they’ll be.”
Both of them followed me to the deck, sure enough, a girl was staring off into space by herself, smoking a cigarette with a pout to her lips. I tilted my head in her direction. Tucker nodded, passing by me to approach her. Colt watched, then spotted a few girls on the other side of the deck. One was shut out, a frown on her face. She clearly wasn’t comfortable with the group she was with.
His eyes passed from mine to the group of women, then he paced to them, introducing himself with charm and ease. He was good at talking. Getting a girl to become a prostitute? I wasn’t sold yet.
Finding a spot at the bar where I could keep an eye on both of them, I ordered a vodka and soda, keeping my eyes open for a Dove.
Hours passed, women came and left, and I kept my eye on the new bartender. She was small and mousy with blonde stringy hair, wearing glasses over her pale blue eyes and looking extremely out of place. The more outgoing, andvery attractive bartender was irritated with her, shooting nasty glances and barking orders in her direction. The girl was run down, it was obvious, and I wondered what her story was.
It was nearing one o’clock in the morning when I finally reached out to talk to her.
“You new here?” I asked, thankful the music on the back bar outside wasn’t anywhere as loud as it was inside of the club.
She didn’t smile, but only nodded, tucking her hair behind her ears.
“Not liking the job?”
She gave me a small grin. “Is it that obvious?”
I winked. “Only a little. When are you done?”
She glanced at the other bartender, who glared at her, making the girl shrivel even more than she already was. “I could probably leave now.”
Smirking, I waved the other bartender over. She reluctantly came at first, until she got a good look at me. Practically shoving the shy girl out of the way, she leaned over the bar, putting her cleavage on full display. I took a long glance, a slight grin spreading across my face so she knew I noticed. I didn’t want anything to do with this super bitch, but I wanted her to say yes to what I was about to ask.
“Your newbie needs a break.”
Ms. Tits rolled her eyes then touched my forearm. “I’m sorry, she’s terrible, and not very pretty. I’d be happy to get you whatever you want.”
I flashed my smile at her, leaning forward so our faces were inches apart. Reaching into my pocket, I pulled out a hundred-dollar bill and slid it between her boobs. “Why don’t you let her take off, then you and I can get to know each other on this side of the bar?”
Her eyes widened with lust, taking the money out of her tits and pulling her shirt down more for me to take a peek inside. I rose my brows, showing her my appreciation. She whipped her head toward the shy one. “Go the fuck home, Morgan.”
Morgan. I looked over bartender bitch’s shoulder, offering a friendly smile to Morgan.
With furrowed brows and slumped shoulders, she grabbed her things and left the bar. She was on the verge of tears, just how I needed her to be.
By the time Ms. Tits had brought me a drink, I’d already slipped away with Morgan.
Good thing I rotated bars as often as I could. Surely this bartender would be hard to shake if I came here on a regular basis.
“Hey, wait up,” I jogged after Morgan into the parking lot. “Hope that was okay.”
She hugged herself and kept her eyes on the ground. “Yeah. I’m not really good at being a bartender. I need money though.”
“Can’t your friends can help you find a different job where there isn’t a mega bitch as your boss.”
Morgan fidgeted. “I don’t really have many of those.”
My hands were in my pockets as I leaned my back against her car. “Friends are overrated, especially if you have a significant other.”
Her frown deepened and her eyes moistened. “Nope. Not anymore.”
My stomach twisted. She was making this too easy for me. Guilt ran through my bones, wondering if I really could do this. Morgan was most likely at her lowest point in life and on the verge of shattering. My stomach clenched knowing I could easilypursuade her decisions. Swallowing the lump in my throat, I remembered my hatred for Marcus.
“I’m Vance.” I held my hand out for her to take. She eyed it warily while biting her lip.
I chuckled. “I won’t bite. I figured introducing myself would be appropriate considering I followed you outside in the early hours of the morning.”
Her cheeks flushed, then her hand cautiously took mine, a weak gripwithin my strong hold.
“Nice to you meet you, Morgan.You new to the Shore?”
She let go of my hand and rubbed her biceps for warmth in the breezy air. “I’ve been here a few weeks. I needed a change of scenery.”
I stood taller, taking a step so we were standing only inches apart. “You’re ex is an idiot for letting you come here by yourself.”
She eyed me suspiciously. “How do you know I even have an ex?”
Removing my hands from my pockets, I inched closer to her. “You’re too pretty to have been single your whole life, and I’m sure whoever he was didn’t know how to treat you the way a woman deserves to be treated.”
She slowly tilted her head to look at me. Big, lost brown eyes stared into my sea green pupils as if I had all the answers in the world.
Forgoing every ethical nerve inside of me, I grabbed her chin, pulling her mouth to meet with mine. She cowered at first, then melted as if she hadn’t felt another person’s touch in a lifetime. Wrapping my arms around her waist, I held her close, diving my tongue into her mouth. She fisted my shirt, groaning softly with desire.
I could taste her need to be controlled and told what to do with her life. She was searching for more than just intimacy in her kiss, she needed someone to make decisions she didn’t know how to resolve.
She would be a perfect Dove.
“Want to get out of here?” I asked through heavy pants, planting my mouth on hers before she could respond.
Breaking away, she took a deep breath, closing her eyes and contemplating. Just as I was about to go in for another kiss, she stepped away. “Not tonight.”
My insides relaxed in relief. Offering a half smile, I let her go, putting my hands in my pockets before I usedphysical connection to make her change her mind. No doubt she was looking for an excuse to tell me no. “Does that mean another night?”
She blushed, running her hair through her fingers. “Maybe.”
I grinned and opened the car door for her, kissing her cheek in the process. I could have swayed her decision, but I felt like I might vomit going through the motions of capturing her.
Rolling down her window, she gave me a ghost of a smile. “I’ll see you around, Vance.”
Leaning down so I couldsee her through her window, I said, “You bet. Have a good night.”
Once she drove out of the parking lot, my knees buckled, my chest heaving as if the wind had been knocked out of me. My head pounded as shame swarmed through me. You almost ruined that girl’s life, even more than it already is. I coughed, dry heaving in the process. How the fuck was I going to go through with this? Would my animosity toward my fatherforce me to be that destructive?
Steadying myself against a nearby car, I took deep breaths, pulling out my wallet to get Maxim’s burner phone number. I couldn’t do this. I needed to tell him I wanted out before I went insane with guilt.
Behind the number was a picture of my mother. My breathing slowed to a steady rhythm as I examined the picture. She was beautiful with her sandy blonde hair, her smile bright as if she were proud of me.
Sadness filled me as I looked back at her. She wouldn’t be proud I was going through with Marcus’s human trafficking excursion.
But… she would be proud of me for avenging her death.
“Forgive me, Mom, but I have to do this,” I whispered into the breeze, stroking the photo with my thumb.
“You sure you’re okay with driving the next three hours?” Marcy, my best friend, asked. I’d sat co-pilot five of the fifteen hours we’d already driven. My eyes weren’t tired, and focusing on the open road helped my scattered thoughts become muted.
“Just take the early hours on the way back,” I smiled. My blue, troubled eyes were hidden by my sunglasses. I was only nineteen, but my life had been a cluster of disappointment and uncertainty.
“On the way back? I thought we weren’t coming back?” she teased.
I laughed under my breath.
“Colby would miss you too much,” she added, unscrewing the top to her bottle of pop. “I know you’ve been thinking about him the entire ride.”
“I have not,” I lied.
The glare she sent me while taking a swig of her drink was filled with empathy. “He really does love you, Lo.”
My eyes watered behind my sunglasses. Why was it so hard for me to believe he had the best intentions for me? Colby was a good guy. He gave mespace, but was always around at the same time. It hurt him when I didn’t respond to his invitation of co-habitating, and instead took off on an eighteen-hour road trip with his cousin, without him. He asked when I was coming back, and I still had yet to respond to the text message.
“I get that you’re afraid to have a relationship, I really do. He wants to take care of you though,” she added, knowing my parent was hardly qualified.
Finally, she accepted my silence and leaned her seat backward to fall asleep. Marcy knew I didn’t like to talk about Colby and his affection for me. I would open up to her once I had a few days of breathing in the salty air. It always seemed to calm my nerves.
YaYa helped, she was Marcy and Colby’s grandmother, but she felt like mine too. She was loving andgenerous, and devoted to her family. Qualities I wasn’t used to getting from the only adult in my life.
My phone chirped, notifying me of a text message. As if she realized I’d been comparing her to someone else.
Mom: Where are you?
Guilt rushed me for not telling her I was leaving town. Normally it was a few days before she sent me a message. This must havebeen record timing. Glancing between my phone and the road, I replied back.
Me: I’m going to Alabama with Marcy. Not sure when I’ll be home.
She began typing instantly. I rolled my eyes, tossing my phone between the seats before I could see her response. I already had an unclear head, and texting with my mother while driving wouldsure enough get me killed.
“Was that Colby?” Marcy yawned, resituating in her seat.
“No, he knows when to leave me alone.”
“Dearest Mom, then?” she asked, but already knew the answer.
“The one and only,” I sighed.
“You’re too good to that low-life.”
Marcy was right, but I was all my mom had. Inside I was desperate for her to change, but knew in my heart it would never happen.Eventually I’d tell her where the stash of cash was hidden in my room. She’d never survive if I left her without part of the little income I made at the Arcade and Go-Kart Fun Spot in our small town.
“Once I have enough money for college, I won’t have to worry about her.” It wasn’t a total lie. I wanted to go to school and make something of myself, but I didn’t have the heart to completely abandon my mother.
“There are loans for that.” Marcy didn’t believe my game plan.
“I don’t want to be owned by a bank my entire life.”
“If you go to college and get a good job, you can pay them off, but that would require leaving the lovely town of Harrison.”
“I’ve got time. Besides, I can’t leave your uncle hanging at the Arcade.”
Marcy snorted. “Ain’t that the truth. Your cut-off jean shorts and tanks are what keep the young kids entertained, not the quarter costing video games.”
I waved my hand at her in dismissal.
“Thosefourteen year old boys don’t know what to do with themselves when you bend over to get the baseballs and softballs from the batting cages.”
“What’smore gross is how they beat off the second they reach the bathroom. You know how disgusting those bathrooms are? I’d hate to see what it’d look like with a black light.”
I winced. “You can stop now.”
“Fine, but it’s the truth. They can’t get enough of the blondebomb shell with a booty.”
“Your butt is way nicer than mine,” I pointed out. It was the truth. She was part Hispanic and had curves to die for. Her dark brown hair looked dazzling with her tan complexion, her green eyes standing out perfectly with her full lips. She was who the boys at the Arcade really admired.
“I know,” she smiled, “hence why I don’t work there anymore.”
Shaking my head, I turned up the music and drove.
We arrived in record time, thanks to the lack of traffic. The end of May was the Shores’ calm after the spring break storm, and before the summer beach travelers invaded.
“YaYa!” Marcy shrieked as she ran to her grandmother. She stood barely five feet tall, dressed in slacks and a heavy sweater. I never understood how she didn’t sweat in the heat.
“Marcy,” YaYa cooed, wrapping her in a warm embrace.
Retrieving our bags from the trunk, I tried to not feel awkward. YaYa was amazing, but she still wasn’t my own blood. I yearned to have the same connection as Marcy and YaYa.
After Marcy let go, she came back to me, taking some of the luggage.
“My Lo Lo,” YaYa called to me, her wrists flicking for me to come and give her a hug.
Throwing my bag over my shoulder, I scurried to her, accepting her hug as a toddler does to her mother. She smelled like a mixbetween lavender and fresh sweet corn. I breathed her in, feeling safe and at home.
“Lauren, it’s been a while. What’s new in your life?” she asked, kissing me on the cheek, keeping an arm around me as we approached the steps. The woman was nearing eighty yearsold, but took the creaky wooden steps like a champ. Her home was small and on stilts so the water wouldn’t ruin everything when the storms and high tides came through.
“Same old thing,” I smiled, opening the door to the kitchen. Nothing had changed about YaYa’s house. Same seashell wallpaper along the back of the tiny kitchen, light blue walls painted in the living room with white wicker furniture. There were three bedrooms, one for YaYa and the other two were reserved for Marcy and Colby. When I strolled passed his room, I stopped for a moment, an ache filling me.
He’d held me many nights on top of the tan comforter of the twin bed. Stroking my hair and pressing his lips to my forehead, telling me life was easier here, and to not think about what was happening at home.
“You can stay in here if you want,” Marcy cooed, speeding past me to her room. “At least until Colby finds a way to come here and woo you.” She wiggled her brows at me before stepping into her room.
“Cortarhaciafuera!” YaYa scolded then gave me a grin, “Stay wherever you’d like. Don’t listen to Marcy. You niñas are too young to worry about boys.”
“I’ll stay with Marcy.” I didn’t need the reminder of Colby, and the fact I couldn’t be who he wanted me to be.
Finding the room, I let out a soft sigh of contentment. The bunks were still the same, a soft pale pink comforter on one, while the other was cream. There were crocheted blankets on the foot of each bed. YaYa made them herself, a blend of creams and greens. I always pondered ‘accidently’ packing one to take home. The walls were a seafoam, a series of starfish planted around the window that overlooked the strip of the touristy town. We could see the high-rise hotels that would hold the mounds of spring breakers looking for fun and temporary love. They were deserted this time of year. Marcy would be disappointed, but that wouldn’t stop her eyes from finding new prospects.
“You want the top as usual?” Marcy asked, beginning toun-pack her bags in the dresser.
“Sure.” The top bunk allowed snippets of the ocean to come into view at night. The stars always shined brighter against the reflection of the water.
“Hussle, niñas, I need help in the kitchen for dinner. I’m making your favorite.”
Marcy held her hand over her heart. We knew by the smell. Mexican-spiced beef brisket was in the oven. “Remind me why we live in Michigan?”
I snickered. “Because that’s where we’re anchored too.”
Marcy slammed her dresser drawer shut. “We’re adults now. I’m leaving whenever I feel like it.”
I smiled at her. “That’s the plan.”
“Why are we going for a walk on the beach? I’m tired,” Marcy whined as we crossed the street toward the tall, flowy grass separating the road from the sand.
“You didn’t have to come with me. I’ve been craving the feel of the sand between my toes.”
Marcy smiled thoughtfully. “Nothing beats the sand from the Gulf of Mexico.”
Nothing beats the sand in general. I thought to myself. Even at the local ‘beach’ by the tiny lake athome I found some solace.
The sun was low, and I couldn’t wait to see the clear ocean water against the sunset. Maybe we’d get lucky and see dolphins playing in the waves.
We set out through the narrow path of sand wedged between the tall grasses. It was high, up to our waists. I couldn’t resist taking off myflip flops. Something about the sand between my toes made my mood shift from anxious to calm. The wind brushed against my face, pulling my hair in its direction. The closer to the shore we got, the gustier it became.
Reaching the end of the path, we were greeted with the solitude of the open sand,sea shells skewed amongst the tan ripples. It was cool to my feet with the setting sun and ocean breeze.
“Never gets old,” Marcy sang, twirling in a circle as though she were a ballerina, then falling on her back into the sand. Laughing, I sat beside her, burying my handsunder the sand. It felt so good against my skin.
The waves were crashing against the shore, big, white caps bringing in new shells and stones, then swallowing them back into her depths. The sun made the blue of the ocean look purple, the sky becoming shades of pinks and oranges. It was hard to figure out where the land stopped and started. It was absolutelybeautiful, and made my heart beat steadily with comfort and ease.
Sitting up, Marcy followed my gaze to the ocean. “The water is raging.”
I glanced at her and smiled. “Amongst other things.”
“You mean thekite surfer?” she asked.
I laughed. “No, I meant the sunset.”
“I’m surprised there aren’t more of them out there. It’s windy enough.”
My eyes moved from the sun to thekite surfer, watching him twist in the wind, his kite blowing and dipping with his movements. Curiosity filled me as I watched. He looked fit in his black neoprene shirt, his swim trunks matching. I gasped when he flew high in the air, flipping in a complete circle. “That’s insane!”
Marcy smirked, fluffing her hair. “If he can handle those waves, maybe he can handle me.”
I rolled my eyes. “You don’t even know him. Forall you know he could be an asshole.”
“Or have a butter face,” she added.
I shook my head. “You’re crazy.”
“I wonder if those guys are with him?” She stood, dusting the sand from her legs and nodding in the direction of two guys in board shorts sitting closer to the water. “Let’s go say hi.”
That was Marcy, always keeping her eye open. She normally would wait for them to come to her, but I guess she was feeling aggressive.
Marcy loved having flings, and I always picked up the pieces when they didn’t work out. Secretly, she liked them to be short, hard, and devastating.
I was the opposite. I had my own forms of devastation, and adding heartbreak from a man wasn’t on my priority list.
Marcy smiled, putting on her charm as we approached them. I stood in her shadow, my eyes still on thewind surfer.
Soaring through the air and breaking through the waves seemed so natural to him. He was smooth as he weaved his body with the wind, controlling the massive black and white kite. His body was calm and collected in the angry sea, a talent most couldn’t grasp. I was hypnotized and entranced by him, and I hadn’t even spoken one word to him.
Marcy and the two other boys were chatting as he began gliding into the shore, the kite in the direction of the setting sun. He hopped off his board, letting go of the bar. My eyes widened in fear, thinking his kite would fly away, but then realized it was attached to his waist.
As I watched him come closer, I could see more of his features. His dark hair was wet and flipped to the side of his head. He didn’t have the traditional long surfer hair, but it wasn’t short either. He was tan, making me think he was native to the bright Alabama sun. His square jaw-line radiated masculinity, matching his broad shoulders and strong posture.
Then his eyes found mine, and I couldn’t look away. His mouth formed a thin line, his eyes squinting from the harsh breeze. The closer he came, the more my heart hammered. He was just as gorgeous out of the water as he was in it.
“Colt!” he shouted, frustration obvious in his tone.
One of the guys Marcy was talking to whipped his head toward the water, then ran the twenty feet to him. Thekite surfer wasn’t happy with Colt. I thought he was going to smack him upside the head. After Colt was done being scolded, he ran to where the kite landed, helping the surfer get it in order while he un-hitched himself from the cords, fumbling with all the parts that were attached to the kite and his waistband.
“Hey, what’s your name?” the guy who was still chatting with Marcy asked.
Peeling my attention from the kite surfer, it took me a moment to answer him. He was about our age, cute with brownspikey hair and blue eyes. His skin wasn’t tan like the other two.
“Hi, I’m Lauren.”
He looked me up and down, a mischievous grin on his face. “You going to come tonight?”
My brows pinched together. What was he talking about?
Marcy nudged my side. “Of course she is.”
“Come where?” I asked, my eyes finding the surfer again.
Marcy giggled and twirled a piece of her dark hair between her fingers. “I guess there’s a new club on the beach by the pavilion where we used to hang out. They invited us to come with them.”
“Tonight?” I inwardly frowned. I wasn’t in the mood to be out partying. It was our first night here. I came to the ocean for some peace and tranquility, and to hopefully figure out what the hell I was going to do with my life, not to meet and hook up with guys. I was hoping Marcy would give me at least a few days to settle and enjoy the Shore.
“A local band is playing. They mainly do covers.” Tucker took a step closer to me. “You should come. It’ll be fun.”
He wasn’t being very subtle with the flirting. Marcy nodded her head encouragingly, her eyes pleading with me to say yes. “Colt will be there, what about your other friend?”
Marcy caught my gaze, catching on to my interest. I guess I was obvious with my infatuation.
Tucker’s eyes flicked toward thekite surfer. “Yeah, that’s Vance. He’ll be there.”
“Oh, VanceEverrett? I didn’t even recognize him,” Marcy smiled, bringing her attention back to Tucker.
“The one and only,” Tucker said under his breath. He turned back to me. “So?”
“All right,” I conceded. “But not for long,” I whispered to Marcy.
She wiggled her eyebrows then glanced at Colt, who was still helping Vance with the giant kite. No doubt she was interested in him. He was tall, blond, and tan, totally her type. He most likely had blue eyes. Marcy had a thing for blond guys with blue eyes.
Colt looked up from the kite and winked at her, but soon went back to the kite after Vance had barked more orders at him.
Tucker stole my attention. “How long you here for?”
I shrugged my shoulders, not giving him an answer. I didn’t have a clue.
His smile turned into a smirk, his eyes becoming darker. I didn’t like the vibe he was sending me. Thankfully, Colt and Vance came over to change the mood.
Vance wasn’t exactly the mood changer I was looking for. “We need to go,” he was curt to Colt and Tucker.
Colt frowned at him then put his arm around Marcy’s shoulders. “Vance, this is Marcy and her friend—”
“Lauren,” Marcy answered quickly, realizing Colt didn’t remember. My eyes found the sand, then Vance and his beautiful sea green eyes. He was staring at me intently, and I couldn’t look away. I gulped, crossing and uncrossing my arms while fidgeting my feet. His gaze made me nervous yet fascinated at the same time.
Marcy nudged me again, her brows crinkled. I wasn’t one to be frazzled in front of attractive guys.
“I invited them to come to The Hangout with us tonight.”
Vance’s gaze transferredfrom me to Colt. Neither of them speaking for what felt like minutes. Tucker managed to fill the gap.
“I can walk you there now while Vance and Colt freshen up.”
“We’ll meet them there,” Vance barked, throwing the bag with his kite over his shoulder and slapping his board into Tucker’s stomach. Tucker let out anompf, leaning over his feet, nearly dropping the board in the process.
“We need to freshen up anyway,” Marcy mused. “See you in an hour or so?”
Colt gave her a wink and squeezed her closer to his side.
Vance cleared his throat, the signal for them to leave. Waving goodbye, they traveled down the beach along the water’s edge. Tucker carried Vance’s board, arguing with him. It was obvious Vance was their leader.
“Did you see how hot Colt was?!” Marcy squealed on the way back to YaYa’s.
“I had a feeling you’d be into him.”
Marcy wrapped her arms around my neck from behind. “And you were flustered by Vance Everett.”
“No I wasn’t,” I scoffed, shrugging her from my shoulders. “How do you know him, anyway?”
“Right. Which explains why you turned into a heroin addict needing a fix the second he checked you out. Everyone has a crush on Vance Everett. I’m surprised you’re just now noticing him. We’veran into him before. It’s just been a long time and I couldn’t tell it was him at first.”
Crossing my arms as though I were cold, I shook my head, trying to convince myself she was wrong. I’d have remembered him. I blamed my out-of-character actions on the atmosphere, the salty air and sun-kissed breeze messing with my senses. It had nothing to do with the fact that Vance wasthe most gorgeous guy I’d ever seen.
“Let me dress you up tonight.”
Stopping in my tracks, I gave Marcy a stern look. “No.”
“Come on!” she whined. “If you want to get Colby out of your head, you need to focus on someone else.”
Picking up my stride, I shook my head. “I need to focus on something, not one someone. I want to clear my head. Chasing a guy isn’t going to make my life less complicated.”
Marcy ran to catch up with me. “He’d be one hell of a distraction. I wouldn’t tell Colby.”
I rolled my eyes. “You know, Colby and I aren’t dating. We’ve yet to become a couple.”
Marcy snickered, “Right. You’ve just slept with him.”
My brows narrowed. “If you’re implying we’ve done the deed… you know that’s not true either.”
She wrapped her arm around my shoulder with a knowing grin. “I know. Fooling around doesn’t count, but it’s fun to tease you anyway.”
Trolling wasn’t something I was in the mood for tonight, but Maxim had sent me a message on my burner phone. He wanted to catch Marcus, my good-for-nothing father, and the filthy schemes he played, and I’d signed up to help. I wanted the son of a bitch to get slaughtered, too, I was tired of playing undercover asshole.
It’d been six months since I signed the paperwork to give my life over to the FBI, but it had felt like an eternity. Marcus wanted to expand his shady business, and I wasn’t going to let it happen.
But he was good at covering his tracks. Even I was going to have a hard time figuring out where the holes would be, but I was determined to bury that fucker for all of the pain and loss he’d caused throughout my lifetime.
“What did you think of those girls on the beach?” Colt asked, fixing his blond faux hawk, making the point perfect for the umpteenth time. Hisbutton down shirt was pressed and his cargo shorts held the necessary narcotics.
“The Hispanic girl is off limits,” I said curtly, leaning against the wall. I was exhausted from kite surfing and not in the mood to go hunting tonight.
Colt’s eyes flickered to mine through the mirror, his hands fluffing his collar now. “Does that mean I can make a move on her?”
“As long as she isn’t at the Nest tomorrow morning.” The Nest was where the prostitutes lived and trained to meet Marcus’s high demands.
Colt’s eyes lit up along with a wicked grin. “Good. I like the curvy ones.”
Marcus would have my ass if I brought him a Contreras. For whatever reason, she wasn’t allowed to be brought into his operation. Most likely because she was well known in the community. I knew some of her cousins because YaYa, her grandmother, had a huge family, but I’d never spent time with Marcy. Marcus was adamant I steered clear of YaYa Contreras’s blood. Most likely he was afraid of her, I knew I would never cross YaYa. She might be on the older side, but she had amean presence. Knitted brows and crossed arms seemed to be permanent fixtures on the woman, not to mention she’d start muttering in Spanish whenever I came around. She always seemed to have a wooden spoon or some form of utensil that could do damage.
Tucker slid in from the back porch smelling of fresh tobacco, making his way down the hall to the bathroom he and Colt shared.
Both of them looked a hell of a lot better than when I’d found them on the streets of New Orleans. That’s where I always found our trollers.
Tucker was twenty-one, scrawny, and looked on the verge of death when I ran across him and his guitar on a street corner. Colt hadn’t been on the streets as long, but his eyes were sunken in with dark circles from lack of sleep as he slapped a drum next to Tucker. I threw a hundred dollar bill in Tucker’s guitar case, causing both of them to stop playing and stare, jaws slacked at the money. Squatting down to meet them at eye level, I told them there was more where that came from. Both boys have been my responsibility ever since.
Because that was my job, find the fishermen, teach them how to bait, then show them how to do the dirty work. The entire conspiracy disgusted me, but I had no choice. I’d grown up around the business, my conscious knowing the way Marcus worked wasn’t ethical, yet remained faithful to him. Thankful for my entire life’s mistakes, I’d be able to shut down Marcus for good.
“The blonde was a sight for sore eyes. I think I’ll save her for myself,” Tucker said.
The blonde… She caught my eye as well. What was her name?
“Lauren? She was a cutie. Not as sexy as Marcy. Damn.” Colt smirked into the mirror at hisappearance,than winked at Tucker. “I want to hit that from behind. Wonder if she’s into spanking?”
Tucker grinned at Colt, fiddling with his spiky hair. “Twenty bucks says I nail Lauren before midnight.”
My eyes darkened as I watched them. This wasn’t a free fuck session. They needed to be careful where they put their cocks. “They’re off limits. You need to focus on finding other women.”
Tucker raised a brow. “On a Thursday night duringoff season? Place will be dead. It’s been way too long since my dick has gotten wet by a pussy I wanted. And you never said they were off-limits, only that we couldn’t bring them to the Nest.”
“She’s with Marcy. Therefore, she’s off-limits.” I pointed my finger at Colt. “Don’t do anything stupid with Marcy, either.”
Colt held his hands to his sides. “I just want to explore that fine, voluptuous body.”
I preferred how the blonde, Lauren, looked. Slender curves yet still held a womanly figure. She seemed innocent yet sexy. Maybe a touch young, but Marcus didn’t give a shit aboutage when it came to finding Doves. My stomach lurched. Finding a girl to use as bait for that might destroy her life, but would help me put Marcus away forever.
Standing behind Tucker, I crossed my arms, catching his eyes in the mirror. “Stay away from Lauren. Got it?”
Tucker stood tall, trying to size me up, but that was impossible. He was still skinny, and mysix-foot-one inch frame and kite surfing arms could do damage. I wasn’t scared of his attempts to be intimidating.
“Why do you get her, huh? I called dibs.”
“That’s not how this works,” I said flatly. “I call the shots, remember?”
Tucker puffed out an irritated sigh, nudging my shoulder as he scuttled passed me. “And what about the guy who calls the shots for you? When do we get to meet him?”
Turning and following him to the kitchen of the apartment they shared, I let out a deep breath. “You won’t ever meet him.”
Colt moved behind me. “Why don’t we get to meet him?” Both of the young guys I brought into this nightmare situation were looking upto me with child-like eyes. What had I done to these poor souls? I’d turned them from starving delinquents to thugs and women catchers.
“Because the owner of drugs, guns, and a human trafficking operation doesn’t let anyone see his face.”
I’d purposely kissed Marcus’s ass to get into the new trafficking side of the business. It wasn’t easy, but Marcus finally allowed me into the club, opening my eyes to more nightmares. I had yet to see the surplus of women for sale he’d been capturing. Guess I wasn’t allowed to until I brought in my first girl. The thought chilled me to the bones.
Colt turned pale while Tucker huffed. Colt had a conscious, Tucker… he might have been a lost causeto begin with.
“Human trafficking? All of the girls I’ve gotten to the Nest have come willingly. They want to be prostitutes. I thought trafficking was drug-induced and forced?”
I glared at him. “And the powder in your pocket doesn’t help them decide their fate?”
Colt fidgeted. “I’ve never had to use that stuff.”
It was there to entice the women. All trollers had Rohypnol for the timid, marijuana for the light-hearted, and an eight ball for the rowdy ones.
Tucker chuckled under his breath. “I use it every time. They never say no to any of my suggestions.”
Drugging the girls who came from out of town, with no family or self-esteem was their job, then convincing them the money and opportunities they could achieve by joining Marcus’s scheme was their last resort to life. Colt hadn’t brought as many girls in as Tucker, now I knew why.
Running my hands along the edge of the sink, I sighed. “Human Trafficking is the head honcho's goal.” Glancing between the two of them, I added, “If you can’t handle that, then I suggest you walk before leaving isn’t an option.”
Colt sat on the couch, scratching his head. His face was still pale, while Tucker only picked a piece of lint off of his cargo shorts. Colt might crack, and secretly, I hoped he would leave before I took down the entire operation. I likedhim, and had hopes he’d get his shit together and leave. Because if he didn’t, he’d be in a cell block in a month’s time.
“Maybe they decided to stay home,” I shouted over the loud bar music.
Marcy wrinkled her nose and snapped her wrist at me.
Letting out a breath, I sipped my lemonade. It wasn’t very packed with people, in fact, we were the only two college-aged kids sitting on the deck. The place was nice enough, lights strung outside from post to post, a DJ booth along with a stage and outdoor dancing area. Picnic tables were scattered outside too, with odd beach games around the property.
Just as I was about to stand up to use the restroom, Vance zoomed in with Tucker and Colt on his heels. I sunk back in my chair, turning away from him. He was just as beautiful in gray surf shorts and a charcoal t-shirt as he was in hiskite surfing suit, his black hair disheveled as if he’d been sitting out in the beach wind all day.
Marcy’s brows knitted in my direction, then her sultry smile formed. She saw them and waved her hands in their direction. Colt greeted her with a side hug, taking the seat next to her, Tucker grabbing the one next to me. My back was tense, knowing Vance was standing behind me.
“Ladies, you found it,” Colt greeted, putting his arm on the back of Marcy’s chair.
“Wasn’t too hard to find.” Marcy batted her eyelashes at Colt, getting his grin to widen.
“I’m glad you came,” Tucker said, gently nudging my bicep with his elbow.
Giving him a weak smile, I shrugged my shoulders. He laughed at my seemingly light-hearted expression, then waved the waitress over.
Once the server came, her friendliness turned seductive as she gazed over the top of my head. No doubt she was meeting eyes with Vance. “What can I get youfellas? The usual?”
Tucker waved his finger in the air. “Yes, and five shots of Patron.”
The server barely looked his way. “You want your usual, Vance?”
“Only four shots, no liquor for me tonight.” His voice was deep and dominant behind me, causing a chill to creep up my spine. How could I be getting turned on by the tone of a man’s voice?
Regaining my focus, I began to stutter. “No shots for me, I’m not old—”
“Of course she wants one!” Marcy interjected, smiling yet somehow shooting me a glare at the same time. I met her stare, annoyed she was about to get shit-faced when we weren’t even legal. These guys must have been regulars for the server to not ask for our IDs.
The server glanced between Marcy andI, then shrugged and left to get the drinks from the bar.
“So, ladies, what’s on the agenda for your vacation?” Colt asked.
“Oh, you know, work on the tan, girl time, living like every day is going to be our last.” Marcy grinned, toying with the straw in her water.
“Sounds like a busy list. How longy’all staying in the lovely state of Alabama?”
Marcy aimed a delicate finger at me. “Whenever she says it’s time to pack the car.”
All eyes were on me, including Vance’s, who happened to slide to the front of the table, his arms crossed as he looked down at me. Those beautiful eyes made completing a sentence a very hard task to accomplish.
Tucker laughed, putting his arm on the back of my chair. “When were you thinking, Lauren?” His smile was friendly, but the gleam in his eye made me uncomfortable.
Crossing my arms and rubbing my biceps I answered. “Maybe a few weeks. I’m not sure. Nothing is really pressing me to get back home.”
Chancing a look around the table, everyone was staring at me intently, including Vance, looming over me at the bar top table. Were they waiting for me to say more?
“I mean, if I have no reason to go home, why not stay in paradise?” I added, reaching for my lemonade. I hated being the center of attention.
“I’d agree, the most southern part of Alabama is pretty spectacular. I’d love to take you to some tourist attractions sometime,” Tucker smiled, leaning closer to me.
“I’ve seen most of them,” I answered quickly, finding myself cowering away from him. I didn’t realize how close I was getting to Vance while trying to move away fromTucker, until the scent of his sporty cologne entered my nostrils. I closed my eyes and inhaled a deep breath. It smelled so good, causing me to lose my train of thought.
“Lauren’s right, we’ve been coming here for Spring Break since we were in grade school.”
“I’m surprised you ladies are here in May. Not up for the Spring Break crowd?” Colt asked. “I mean, I assume you ladies are incollege, or have you graduated?”
“Still in college,” Marcy added. I wondered if she would tell him she was only taking a few online classes and living with her parents, versus a full load and living in campus dorms.
“Both of you?” Tucker asked, his arm dangerously close to my back. My body felt crooked from trying to gain my space from him.
“I’m not in college,” I answered truthfully. I wasn’t like Marcy; I couldn’t lie to save my life.
Tucker shrugged his shoulders. “That’s all right. I never bothered with college either.”
“What do you do then?” I blurted. None of them seemed to be boys who lived with their parents. They were well put together, too.
Vance answered. “They work for me. I own a surf shop on the west side of Orange Beach.”
How fitting, the kite surfer had his own business. It made sense, he seemed older and more mature than both Colt and Tucker.
“Oh, we should go check it out sometime when you’re working,” Marcy said, batting her eyes at Colt.
His smile lit up in response. “That would be great. You ever surf?”
Marcy shook her head. You’d never know she was terrified of the ocean. She didn’t like the life living under the sea.
“I’d love to give you a lesson while you’re here,”Colt offered.
Tucker nodded. “Yeah, Lauren, I can teach you, too.”
“I think Lauren is more interested inkite surfing.” Marcy glanced at me then to Vance.
Colt nodded toward Vance. “That’s Vance’s territory.”
I was afraid to look at him. I could feel his penetrating green eyes waiting for me to turn my head and face him. Damn it, Marcy!
“I could show her,” Tucker quickly jumped into the conversation. “It’s not that difficult.”
I heard Vance softly snort.
“Oh, right,” Colt smirked. “You cried like a baby when the wind took you twenty feet in the air.”
Tucker’s eyes narrowed at Colt. “No, I didn’t. My arm hit a piece of coral on the way down. Hurt like a bitch.”
Colt laughed. “Hurt so bad, it didn’t leave a mark.”
Tucker glared at Colt while everyone laughed. I, on the other hand, felt bad. I didn’t like when others were uncomfortable. Even if I wasn’t interested in winning his affection. No one deserved to feel like they were being bullied.
“You don’t have to teach me,” I said nonchalantly.
“No, he doesn’t.Vancy can,” Colt breathed, needing to take a deep breath from laughing at Tucker.
Biting my lip, I glanced at Vance. His face was expressionless as he watched me.
His look made me hold my breath. He was intimidating.
“Lauren and I will have to look at our schedule. We want to work on our tan lines,” Marcy flirted, her gaze fixed on Colt.
“Now that, I can help you with,” Tucker touched the middle of my back with his finger. I straightened like an arrow, leaning into the table.
Thankfully, the server was back with their drinks to change the subject.
“Here you all go! Corona’s with lime wedges for my favorite gentlemen and their guests.” The waitress gave Vance an extra-long smile while handing him the beer. “And five shots. Brought you one just in case, Vance.” She wiggled her brows at him, but his face remained stone cold, giving her a stiff nod. She wasn’t happy with his response. Her face contorted as if she swallowed something sour, then stormed back to the bar.
“Well ladies, after these shots, I’m afraid we need to move around a bit,” Vance gave both Tucker and Colt hard looks. “We have some work to do.”
Colt removed his hand from behind Marcy to grab the shot, causing her to pout her lips. She was looking forward to spending time with him. I was thankful. Maybe we would be out of here within a half hour.
“I think work can wait a little while,” Tucker sneered, meeting Vance’s stare. Keeping his arm resting on the back of my stool, he continued talking. “These ladies need some company.”
“One. Shot.” Vance’s voice was low, a warning for Tucker.
Tucker glared at him, then took the shot. Licking his lips, he stood from the bar stool along with Colt. Softening his expression from his interaction with Vance, he met my gaze. “I’ll be back. Don’t wander off without saying goodbye.”
My lip quivered as I tried to smile. Spending time with him wasn’t on my top ten list of things to do for the evening. Vance only offered a nod, then led both men across the bar and through a secluded door.
“What was that about?” Tucker complained the second we stepped foot into the back room. “No one in this bar is as qualified to bring back to the Nest, and you’re ruining our chances with those chicks!”
Shoving him against the wall, I got in his face, towering over his scrawny stature. I didn’t like to use my intimidation skills often, but when the hunting party started to step out of line, it was a must. “I told you—off-limits. I’ll deal with her.”
“You mean Lauren?” Colt sighed, scratching his head and glancing through the opened door. I followed his eyes, seeing he was still gazing at Marcy. Rolling my eyes, I paced to the door, slamming it shut.
“If you want a job, you need to lose interest in Marcy Contreras.” Stomping to the table where both guys sat and pouted, I fisted my hands on my hips. “If you two can’t hack being a part of this, then you both need to get out. Now. Because I’m not going to waste my time training your asses for the ultimate job.”
Both Colt and Tucker looked up at me, curious as to what the ultimate job was. I shook my head. They wouldn’t know until the time was right, and hopefully, that time would be a part of the big bust where Marcus would be thrown in jail.
Or shot in the head.
I’d be happy to do option two myself.
“So what now?” Colt asked quietly. “There aren’t any other girls here between the age of eighteen to thirty. You want us to go home?”
Pacing the small room with tile floors and gaudy starfish wallpaper, I tried to decide what to do with these two. My brain told me to send them to another bar, but I was interested in the blonde.
Lauren. Her demeanor tonight provedeven more she was the perfect candidate that Marcus needed. Timid, shy, not from around here, nothing urging her to go back home. I needed to speak with her more, find out just how alone she really was.
She smelled nice too—a citrus scent that tickled my nostrils. It drew me to stand behind her longer. She was uncomfortable when I lingered, so I forced myself to move, studying her mannerisms instead. Noticing she was self-conscious by how she cowered and fidgeted, avoiding eye-contact as if it were the plague, gave me even more intuition that she would be a perfect Dove.
Scratching my jaw, I nodded my head definitively. “Alright. You both can hang out at the bar, have a few drinks, maybe chat with the two girls some more. But nothing more than talking, got it?”
Colts eyes widened, while Tucker frowned. “What fun is just talking to a woman?”
Inwardly Ismiled, but glared at him. “Maybe they have friends. Maybe they know other hangouts. Just maybe, they can give you some information that will help you earn more cash.”
Tucker sipped his beer, then nodded. He understood and so did Colt. They had only been working with me for a few months, but neither of them wanted to go back to the streets of New Orleans.
“I’m going to make some calls. Go ahead on out there.” Both left while I reached for my phone. Calling Marcus always sucked, but the FBI liked to record my conversations with him on a weekly basis.
“You out finding Compost?” he answered.
I held in my anger at his nicknames for the women he recruited. Compost meant future prospects, prostitutes went by worms, while the birds were the clients. I hated his sick nicknames we used to speak in code.
“Not a lot of Compost here, but yes.”
His breath was heavy over the phone. I hated hearing it, knowing he was scheming in his head.
My eyes closed and my teeth ground together. He was antsy to start back up again. It was always the second phrase out of his mouth. Doves were the really unlucky ones. They went up for sale at the Cage, where the Vultures picked their prey.
Marcus had a sick and twisted food chain.
“Might have a lead.”
“Good. Call me tomorrow, or bring her to the Nest. I’ll need to approve.”
“Marcus, you know we need to research her before we bring her into anything. Forall we know she could have a rich daddy who will search for her until the ends of the earth.”
Marcus tsked over the phone. “Now, Vance, are you ever going to call me Dad again?”
I swallowed. “Only during family time.”
I sensed Marcus’s grimy smile through the phone. I could tell by the inhale of his breath. “So I need to have a barbeque?”
“I won’t hold my breath. I’ll call you tomorrow.”
“Looking forward to it. Go catch em’, son.”
I hung up the phone, disgusted with myself. How could I pull this off? Was the FBI even going to intervene if the poor girl got chosen? They hadn’t intervened a whole lot within the past six months. I understood they needed to have information to catch Marcus from all angles, but he had henchmen that could be taken down easily then work their way up to Marcus.
Sitting down and rubbing my eyes, I contemplated getting the fuck out of the Shore. But my hatred for my father was too strong. I needed to ride this train out, figure out where my options were, or how long this process could take. My heart was covered in darkness, and it wasn’t getting any lighter. By the time we caught Marcus, I could still be caught up in the evil. Capturing innocent women for the pleasure of sick fucks would alter my conscience between what was right and what was wrong.
A flash of blonde hair breezedby the doorway, bringing me back to the now. I needed to focus and get back in the game. Enough time had passed that the bar might be more crowded. Hopefully Colt came to his senses and found another girl to invest his time into. But even more importantly, I hoped Tucker found another girl to prey on besides Lauren.
Standing from my chair, I made my way back into the heart of the bar, searching through the sea of locals. It wasn’t as busy as usual, but it had picked up since we’d arrived.
I shook my head when I found Colt. As I predicted, he was dancing with Marcy, getting up close and personal. I held back my scowl. That kid will never make it in this business.
Moving my eyes to the back bar, I saw Tucker, sitting by himself. Relief swept through me, knowing he wasn’t with Lauren. I searched further, my brows furrowing when I couldn’t find her. Turning, I headedbackward to the deck facing the water. The cool breeze swept across my face once I passed through the threshold. Lights were strung along the railing, creating a soft glow toward the sand. Taking a deep breath, my heart found a moment of peace.
The ocean was my saving grace, it always had been. Gliding high in the air while on my surfboard was when my head was most clear. The wind controlled where Iwent, but protected me from all of my demons. Some people were terrified of being taken by the ocean, but not me.
The stars were bright tonight, casting over the waves. Instinctively, I headed to the stairwell, kicking off my flip flops once I hit the sand. The grittiness between my toes was cool to the touch, enveloping my feet with each step.
Then I saw her. Sitting and staring out at the water. Her blonde hair was flowing in the wind, her knees hugged tightly to her chest. She was curled up like a hermit crab, the perfect bait for the shark I was.
Clearing my throat, I asked, “Sick of being inside?”
She jumped as I approached, her head craning toward me. Letting out a breath of air, she smiled at me. It was contagious.
“Hi,” her quiet voice greeted. “Bars aren’t really my thing.”
“No?” I responded. I found myself taking a seat next to her, keeping a good foot or so between us. She remained tightly wound, her arms still hugging her legs to her chest. This girl wasn’t trusting. “I figured you weren’t into the party scene after you almost admitted to being underage.”
Her lashes touched her cheeks as she smiled. “Sometimes I don’t think before I speak.”
I rested my elbows on my knees, hoping my relaxed state would make her feel safe. Tonight wasn’t about making a move, at least not yet. “That’s not always a bad quality.”
“Might be my only good quality.”
I shrugged my shoulders. “I don’t know if I believe that.”
She bit her bottom lip, twiddling her fingers between each other. “You don’t really know me.”
Raising a brow, I asked, “May I try?”
Her chin rested on her bicep as she contemplated, then finally nodded.
Rubbing my hands together, I guessed, “Midwestern girl, yeah?”
Her lip quirked first, then a subtle nod.
“Happy house with mom and dad, maybe a sibling or two?” Her expression was somber. I knew I waswrong, but needed to feel out her reactions. “They’re a touch controlling? Don’t like the fact that their little girl is growing up and doing things on her own, for instance, traveling to a Southern hotspot where careless decisions are made. Am I right?”
Her eyes were hooded as she dipped her chin, hiding behind her bicep, holding her legs closer to her chest. She even began rocking.
“Not quite,” she whispered. “The only family I have is my mother.”
“Is she overprotective?”
Her eyes found the ocean, staring off before she shook her head. “She’s not one to hover.”
Her shoulders trembled as she balled herself together as tight as she could. Even her toes flexed into the sand. Guilt consumed me. I was doing this to her on purpose, seeing how sad she really was.
“Wow, I’m not usually this bad at predicting where people come from,” I chuckled in attempts to diffuse the tension.
Tilting her head toward me, she cracked a small smile. “If I come across as the spoiled rich girl who has a family who cares about her, that doesn’t say much about me.”
My brows knitted together. “That wasn’t what I meant.”
She arched one thin eyebrow. “No? It’s kind of what you implied.”
“I more meant, you seem poised. Like you have support and not a heap of problems.” So, I might have lied a little.
Lauren laughed under her breath. “Everyone has problems.” She uncoiled her arms, leaning her hands back in the sand and stretching out her long legs. I couldn’t help but notice how toned they were in the light of the moon and the faint glow from the bar behind us.
“Even you,” she challenged, re-directing my inappropriate daydream.
“Oh yeah? And how would you peg me?” I goaded.
She tapped her chin and scrunched her brows as if she were in deep thought, yet mischief sparked within her blue eyes. “You’re quiet, do what you feel is best no matter what anyone says, and beat to your own drum. Athletic, but didn’t like team sports because of the ego-driven superstars, so you stick to individual sports, like surfing and biking. You’d prefer to be alone, but people are attracted to your easy confidence.”
I had to use every ounce of muscle in my mouth to keep my jaw from dropping. This woman had great perception and could be an undercover agent.
Pulling her bottom lip between her teeth, she became anxious, worried she offended me.
Leaning back on both my hands, I stretched my legs alongsideof hers, my expressionless face turning into a grin. “Wow, you didn’t hold back.”
“I’m sorry,” she apologized instantly. “Remember, I speak before I think.”
Tipping my head back, I laughed out loud. She was too sweet for her own good. “Don’t apologize. You were partially right,” I lied.
She caught on, giving me a knowing grin. “Partially, huh? Exactly what parts were correct?”
I bobbed my head from side to side. “Quiet, yes. I’m not normally one to start the conversation.”
“You did five minutes ago.”
I paused, blinking at her. “I did.” Tilting my head down and pulling my brows in, I added, “Very uncharacteristic of me.”
She smiled down at her knees. Eye contact really wasn’t her thing.
“Loner, yes. People being attracted to my confidence? Not so sure about that one. Doing what I feel is best? Typically.” Guilt ate atme me as I lied. If I were doing what was truly best, I wouldn’t be contemplating putting this beautiful girl up as bait.
“You’re right about team sports, not really my thing. I do enjoy kite surfing, guess you could call that an individual sport.”
Her eyes lit up when I said kite surfing. “I watched you today. That looked insane.”
“Yeah, it’s pretty stellar.”
“I’m going to add true surfer-boy vocabulary to your description.” She covered her mouth this time as she snickered.
“Like, totally,” I teased.
She laughed harder, throwing her head back. The way her eyes crinkled and her smile broadened made my heart pump faster. She looked carefree and happy, living in the moment. Maybe I was completely wrong about her. Lauren was probably finding herself, needing time away from wherever she came from to figure out her life.
“How old are you?”
Her laugh slowed as she wiped her eyes. “Nineteen. How old are you?”
“I take it you’re done with college? Considering you own your own shop.”
I shook my head. “Nope. Never finished. Took a few classes out of high school, but it wasn’t for me.”
She looked at me curiously. “Yet you have your own store?”
I smiled at her. If she only knew the upper level was one of my father’s headquarters for deadly meetings. “I had an investor.”
She nodded. “I work at a local arcade and activities center.” She was embarrassed. I could tell by the way her voice quieted when she talked.
“Sounds fun, actually.”
She looked at me with raised brows and a half smile. “It’s not my long-term goal.”
“What is your long-term goal?”
The life from her eyes faded. “I’m not really sure.” Her face fell as she thought about her own words. She was clearly torn about her future.
“I kind of take care of my mom. I mean, she depends on me.”
“Is she sick?”
Lauren lookedtoward the moon. “Something like that.”
I couldn’t help but dive deeper. I didn’t like her vague answer. “Cancer?”
She sighed, brushing sand off her thighs. I watched intently, noticing her shorts were hiked damn near to her hips. Her skin looked smooth, and I wondered if she was as soft as she looked.
Her voice was barely a whisper. “She’s an addict.”
My jaw clenched at the word. It was a terrible disease that destroyed my life. Drugs, sex, power…
My eyes closed as I took a deep breath. This girl and I had a lot in common.
“My mom was an addict too.” My mouth snapped shut the moment I made the confession. Never, had Iever, talked to anyone about my mother.
Her eyes shot to mine, flickers of concern flashing in them. I couldn’t break away from her blue irises. There wasn’t any pity like I’d feared behind her gaze, only understandingand empathy.
“Sucks, doesn’t it?” She sighed, resituating her body so she was sitting up tall and crossing her legs. “You said was... does that mean…?”
“Yeah. She overdosed.” I ground my teeth, hating the fucker who shot her up with too big of a dose, doing it on purpose so he could watch his wife drown like the rest of the women he used for his fucked-up way of life.
“Every time I come home, I wonder if she’s going to be breathing while lying on the couch, or if our house will be burned to the ground.”
She said the words easily, but I could tell by the heaviness under her eyes the thought of finding her mother dead and her home gone was one of her ultimate fears.
I could confirm that fear. Discovering my own mother dead was indeed a nightmare no one should ever endure. The eerie feeling crept through my veins, haunting me with the memory of her washed up on the shore.
“I know the feeling. My mom was pretty good about not doing it in front of me at least. I didn’t catch on until I was older.” Marcus didn’t introduce and force her to do the drug until he was sick of her nagging him and threatening to leave with me.
Picking up sand with her hand and letting it fall through the creases between her fingers, she asked softly, “Do you miss her?”
My heart pounded. I’d do anything to feel the warmth of my mother’s smile one last time. She was the only good in my life for a longtime, until the drugs and addiction took over.
I stared at her until she met my eyes. “Every. Single. Day.”
Not blinking, she said, “I’m terrified I wouldn’t miss her.” Her eyes moistened, and she looked away, scraping her cheekbone with her thumb. “Wow, that must make me sound like a heartless bitch.”
I scooted closer to her. Baffled by the overwhelming need to comfort her, I went against my brain that said she was only a future prospect to help me put away my dad for good. Her crushed spirits were disheartening, bringing the painful ache I carried with me to the surface. “No, it doesn’t make you heartless.Hopefully you’ll never have to find out.”
She blew out air, both of us knowing it wasn’t a likely outcome. Addiction is a terrible sickness. I knew if I ever touched the stuff, I’d fail. The supposed good feelings narcotics brought would suck me in, pulling my soul to the depths of sinister defiance. This was why I was adamant to never try it. I didn’t want to be any more of a monster than I already was.
I had my own taste of addictions. Harmful and harmless.Kite surfing was one of them. The need to fly through the air consumed me like a drug. My hands needed to be calloused from the bar, my muscles craved the burn from fighting against the wind. It was a power control between me and Mother Nature. If I could master her strengths, then I was in control of my own destiny.
As for harmful addictions, my biggest was the need for revenge. I was addicted to taking down the monster who had created me.
Her chest rose as she shared such an intimate fear. Sucking in a gulp of air, she changed the subject. “Tell me a good memory you have of your mom.”
I racked my brain, digging through my memories before Marcus went crazy and turned my mother into a junkie. It wasn’t a long period, but I held my fondest memories of her close. “She introduced me to the ocean.”
Lauren smiled, helping to ease my comfort and allowing me to open up to her. “It was more than just looking for shells and building sandcastles. My mother showed me that the sea held true peace, along with its power and force. She was a bit of an earth child. Normal wasn’t her style. I think my mother would come back as a mermaid if she could.”
Lauren’s grin widened as she nudged my bicep with her elbow. The contact was friendly, and I couldn’t help but lean into her after the innocent gesture. Our arms were touching, and it felt nice. I hadn’t had a positive conversationabout my mother in quite some time.
“My mom made me strong, and the memory of her helps keep my head clear.” Forcing my expression to stay soft, I added, “I know what my purpose is in life.”
To fucking kill Marcus, and redeem every individual life he destroyed.
Lauren fidgeted. “I debate going to college to become a counselor, but then I shove that thought away.”
Her brows scrunched together. “Obviously, I haven’t been able to change my mother. If I can’t help her, who’s going to have faith in me to help them?”
Her head dipped low in shame, causing her hair to fan across her face with the calming breeze. I couldn’t help but tuck it behind her ear. I wanted to see her gorgeous skin against the moonlight. It was breathtaking, and she was as soft as I imagined. So much so that I couldn’t move my hand. Swallowing hard, I fought the foreign feelings that rose in my chest.
“There’s still time for your mom,” I murmured, rotating my hand to stroke her cheek.
Her mouth slightly opened as her eyes fluttered closed. She was affected by my touch. “Time will tell,” she muttered, releasing a slow breath.
I felt the warmth of her breath on my wrist, noticing her chest beginning to rise at a faster pace. My body slowly moved closer, pulled in by her natural beauty. She hardly had any makeup on, yet her lashes were thick and long as they brushed the tops of her cheeks. My thumb grazed higher, curious to feel the soft flutters when she slowly blinked.
Butterfly kisses. My eyes closed in memory of my mother. She had the longest eyelashes, and I remembered them tickling my cheeks whenever she held me close as a child. The softest touch gave me an incredible amount of comfort.
“Vance?” she whispered.
My name sounded perfect coming from her sweet mouth. Opening my eyes, I was captured by her gaze. She was staring at my parted lips with half-lidded eyes. Saying my name was an invitation, and I was dangerously close to tasting her. She licked her lips in anticipation, willing me to come closerfor a sample.
Leaning in, my nose brushed hers, my hand now cradling her warm face. A cool breeze fanned her hair in the opposite direction. It should have been a sign, Mother Nature pulling her from my damaged soul. Telling me I was no good for her, that I’d destroy her life and drown her with my own if she gave into the temptation.
I ignored it though, basking in how unbelievably alive I felt. My hand stroked her jaw, causing her to release another raspy breath. She melted, tilting her head at the perfect angle. A fraction, that was all I needed to move to mold my lips against hers.
“Vancy!” A belligerent voice shouted from behind us. Lauren jerked upright, coiling away from me with a shaky breath. Holding in a groan, I turned my head, knowing the asshole who interrupted us.
Tucker swayed down the steps toward us with a shit eating grin on his face. Colt and Marcy were wrapped in each other's arms behind him. “Let’s make a fire!” he shouted.
Clumsily, he forcefully squished himself between Lauren and me, completely oblivious that we were having a moment. “I’ve been waiting in the bar for you. Did you forget about me?”
Lauren had a timid smile, and I tried to hide my grin. She really wasn’t into him. “Sorry, lost track of time. The ocean does that to me.”
My blood raced to my heart. Me too, beautiful.
Marcy and Colt were in front of us now. Unraveling her arms from him, she yanked on Lauren’s arm, pulling her to her feet.
My eyes were glued to her, my pants stirring as I noticed her shorts were bunched, and the curve of her ass was peeking out for the slightest moment before she adjusted her clothes.
Tucker saw it too, and I caught his hand as it started to lift. Like a viper catchingit’s prey, I snagged his wrist, shooting him a glare when his head swayed in my direction.
“What the fuck, Vance?” he growled, attempting to yank away from my grasp.
Quickly standing, I pulled Tucker with me. In a lowvoice so no one could hear, I muttered, “Keep your hands to yourself, you drunk idiot. She’ll get you for sexual harassment. I won’t help you out of that one.”
Tucker glowered at me, nudging his body away from me. I let him go, following him closely as he sauntered after Lauren. Her arm was tangled with a stumbling, giggling Marcy. They must have bought a few rounds of shots to get that tipsy in the short amount of time.
Colt followed behind the girls, holding his arm out to stop Tucker from coming too close to Lauren. He knew how grabby Tucker could get, and by our exchange of glances, Colt understood Lauren was off-limits.
At least she was to them. Her personality was perfect to become a Dove, but could I live with myself if I threw her to that treacherous lifestyle, even if it would be for aminiscule amount of time to catch the monster?
Then there was the spark we shared. I was still on the fence whether or not I should invest my time in her. I’d never had a true friend. The small amount of time with her just now opened my eyes to the idea of not being a loner the rest of my life.
“Do I need to call you a cab?” I asked Tucker.
“No,” he snorted, straightening his shoulders.
“Then sober the fuck up and get your shit together.”
Tucker shot daggers out of his eyes atme, but quieted down. We walked in step with each other as we followed the girls and Colt.
“How far away is the firepit, Colt?” Marcy flirted. She clung to Lauren as if she couldn’t stand on her own. Maybe Colt had slipped something in her drink? Better not have. Even if he did it just to fuck her, that could be bad for his future.
“Not far. It’s pretty close to the shop.”
I stopped in my tracks. “Find a different pit.” My voice was stern, causing Colt and Tucker to stop and look back at me.
“There’s one by YaYa’s on the beach,” Marcy said, turning in the other direction.
Both girls passed by Colt and me as we stared at each other. We were pretty good about being on the same page, but he seemed confused.
“Vultures meet on Thursday nights,” I said under my breath so the girls wouldn’t hear.
Colt and Tucker both frowned. “The what?”
I sighed, knowing I’d already said too much. “We can’t bring girls anywhere near there tonight. Got it?”
They both nodded then turned to follow behind Marcy and Lauren.
Colt’s eyes fixated on Marcy, and she knew he was looking. She’d glance back at him and wink, adding an extra sway to her hips. Lauren would scowl at her every now and then when she’d stumble. Her annoyance with her drunken friend put a half smile on my face. I knew what it was like to babysit. Noticing Tucker miss his steps more often, I knew I’d be in the same boat soon.
“I need a lighter,” Marcy said as we reached the fire pit.
Tucker pulled one out of his pocket, lighting it and waving it in the air. I snatched it before helit us all on fire.
“There’s wood across the street by YaYa’s carport.” Her eyes became sultry as they found Colt. “Will you help me?”
Colt instantly veered toward her. I rubbed my face, knowing they’d take their sweet time.
Lauren took a seat in the sand close to the fire pit. She curled her body as close together as she could, wrapping her arms around her knees.
Tight, wound up, anxious, closed off… she’d be perfect.
“You cold, beautiful?” Tucker slurred, stumbling toward Lauren. Her eyes widened more and more with each step he took.
Just as I was about to grab his arm, he tripped over his feet, flopping down face first in the sand. Lauren gasped, covering her mouth with her hand. “Are you okay?”
He only responded with a groan.
Rolling my eyes, I leaned down, tapping him on the shoulder. “You alright, big guy?”
He muttered something as I rolled himto his side, then his jaw slacked, and a soft snore escaped his lips. I shook my head in disapproval.
“Is he going to be okay?” Lauren’s sweet voice graced my ears, and when I turned to the soft sound, she was crouched down beside me.
I was taken back by her proximity. Her scent surrounded me, and I had to close my eyes to gather my senses. Clearing my throat, I said, “Yeah, this isn’t the first time.”
Her wariness turned into a slight grin. She was trying not to laugh to be considerate, but she slipped when I smiled at her.
“Hejust, fell over,” she giggled.
I laughed with her as I stood. “He’ll be fine.”
Lauren stoodalong side me, putting her hands in her back pockets. She bit her lip, her eyes wandering to the shoreline.
“They might be a bit,” I said, breaking the silence between us.
Her lip quirked as her eyes found her feet. “You might be right.”
“Want to walk along the water?” I blurted without thinking.
Her brows pinched together as she looked at Tucker, passed out in the sand. “Should we leave him?”
“We won’t go far,” I promised.
After a moment of contemplating, she whispered, “Okay.”
I followed her lead. She took out her phone so the glow from her screen would face the sand. “Sorry if the light of my phone bothers you. I stepped on a hermit crab once. It felt awful.”
I smirked and pulled my phone out to help guide us as well. “Did it hurt you?”
“Only emotionally,” she said seriously.
I was puzzled. “Why? Didn’t it cut your foot?”
“Yeah, but I survived. The hermit crab didn’t.”
Holding in my laughter, I asked, “So you’re a crab killer?”
She smacked my shoulder, and I couldn’t hold my chuckle in any longer.
“I felt terrible during my whole vacation!” she exclaimed, holding in her own laughter.
“How old were you?”
“Maybe twelve. Marcy rolled her eyes at me, but Colby was sympathetic.”
My brows furrowed. “Who’s Colby?”
Her steps slowed down as her face tightened under the moonlight. “Marcy’s cousin.” She seemedshut off now, like something was bothering her. I didn’t want to pry. Whenever she became sad, my brain pushed me to bring her to Marcus, make her the Dove that would help feed my revenge.
“Well I’ll be sure to save any hermit crabs if you decide to get physical again.”
She shook her head, but I could tell she was smiling.
“There’s a surplus of them anyway. Colt thinks we should sell them at the shop.”
She began moving at her normal pace again. “You mean with all the crazy painted shells and cages?”
“Yeah, but my surf shop isn’t a tourist spot. It’s for actual surfers. We don’t sell souvenirs.”
“Do you not like being around the vacationers?” she inquired.
I shrugged my shoulders. I didn’t really like being around people in general. “The ocean is my life, it’s not a vacation for me.”
“Tourists must annoy you,” she said quietly.
“Only ones who don’t respect the ocean,” I answered truthfully. She glanced at me, and I couldn’t help but smile.
“I love the ocean.”
“Well, we have that in common. What else do you love?”
I smirked. “Figured that. It comes with the ocean. Anyone else?” My tongue caught in my throat, instantly regretting speaking before thinking.
Her lip quirk upward slightly. Cautiously, she tilted her head to meet my eyes. “Love? No.”
An unusual flutter simmered in my stomach, and I couldn’t contain the grin that spread across my face.
“Were you trying to figure out if I had a boyfriend?” We stopped at the water’s edge, our bodies instinctively turning to each other. She gazed up at me, her hooded eyes focused on my lips.
She sucked me into her again, but I needed to be stronger this time. If I weren’t going to use her to help take down my father, then I shouldn’t get involved with her at all. And I sure as hell shouldn’t touch her as if I had good intentions. I’d committed myself to a singlelife style. I couldn’t have any weaknesses, and becoming attached to Lauren would be a thorn in my side, and something my enemies would use against me.
But she was here, pulling on all my strings, causing a battle between my heart and my brain. My conscience urged me to take her, but my heart pulsed for me to keep my distance. Keeping my distance would be best for her, but damn it, those lips were like a magnet, inviting me to forgo all I had worked toward in the past six months. My hand moved to touch her cheek, itching to feel its softness again. She took a quick breath, leaning into my hand. She wanted our skin to touch just as badly.
Why would my touch affect her? My hands were destructive, destroying lives one guilty finger at a time.
Her eyes closed in anticipation, while I gazed at her beautiful features.One taste wouldn’t control me? I couldn’t possibly ruin her with indulging myself in a simple kiss, could I?
My thumb caressed her jaw. I could do this, I could kiss her and let her go. It would be simple. It’s not like I hadn’t been physical with women, then sent them off and on their way.
Tilting my head, I was going to give in and sample her. My chest rose as I inhaled her scent
Just one quick taste.
Before closing my eyes, I noticed a shadow lurking toward us. My hand slid across her cheek and curled around her neck, my other arm snaking around her waist once the shadow came closer into view.
I gulped as I pulled her into my chest, attempting to look unaffected by the way her hands felt as they wrapped around my waist. She was pressed against me in an intimate way, but my body was as stiff as a board. I held her in place, making it impossible for her to realize someone was about to walk past us.
The shadow was twenty feet away, trudging slowly with his arm around a girl’s waist to hold her upright. Her eyes were glassy as she leaned against his shoulder. She looked lifeless in his arms, and the man gave me a nod while I held Lauren.
I knew who he was. I saw him every Tuesday night above my shop. He was just like me, another trainer for the hunters who found women and dumped them to a different way of life, and for most, their biggest nightmares.
My arms wrapped around Lauren tighter. I couldn’t do this to her. I needed to find a new Dove.
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February 15, 2018
So here we are, a new year, new goals, and new realities. Let's do a recap of 2017. (Yes, I know, I should have done this in January, but time flies when you're having fun.)
I released an INSANE amount of Hot Shots. Way more then I ever though possible.
Craving the Cowboy
A Very Bad BOSS Christmas
I loved writing every single one of these books, and learned from each of them. Do I have a favorite? Not really, but they all hold their own unique story line. If you haven't read any of them yet, I'd move them up on your TBR list, but that's just my opinion!
As for this year, I'm taking a break on the Hot Shots. They helped me to learn my craft and how to write faster, but I miss the depth that a full length novel carries. I'm focusing on Riptide, a three part series that holds twists, turns, steam, and the holy crap Brooke Page what did you just do to me BOOM scene! When am I releasing? The goal is May, but life can get crazy for me and my day job this coming time, and my kids Spring schedule is insane. Whenever Riptide hits ereaders, it'll be worth the wait, I can gaurantee that.
May 11, 2017
So I know what you're all thinking. She said she was going to release more books, and that she had some high goals, but it's already May!
Don't fret, by the end of the Month, Craving the Cowboy will be my next available Hot Shot! I even have a treat for you... Here is a sneak peak of Craving the Cowboy:
Copyright Brooke Page
January 12, 2017
New Year New Me!
Okay, so I'm not that new, but I am entering the new year with high goals and a positive attitude!
My very first Hot Shots book will be released at the end of the month.
As if being dumped on my wedding day wasn't bad enough, my self-absorbed parents refused to cancel the reception, and demand I still attend with a smile on my face. Now I'm not only mortified from Malcolm's cold feet, I'm stuck in front of my peers, putting on a front as if I'm as strong as my parents desire for me to be.
Little did I know, the bartender my parents hired would be a steamy blast from the past, and Malcolm's most despised college acquaintance.
Pouring drinks never looked so sexy on Josh, especially when having a quick fling with him could help cure the sting of being ditched.
That is if the chemistry we shared in the past won't create another explosion...
The moment this book is released, I'll send it out with my newsletter! Not on the list? Join here!
December 6, 2016
So it has been a while, and I apologize. As we all know, life is crazy, and finding a moment to organize my scattered brain can be difficult!
Let's start with what I've been up to the past six months.
Summer flew by, as it normally does. We did a few vacations in the Upper Pennisula of Michigan, but mainly enjoyed the pool in the backyard and time with friends and family. Both my family and my husband's live very close, and we are fortunate enough to see them on a regular basis.
The Summer came and went, and school started, which meant back to work for me. It was a rough start to the school year, but I think I started getting into the swing of things. My only issue is I'm running out of time to write. I find myself breaking away at every possible chance, but that leaves little time to enjoy with my children AND my husband. He's too good to me, and encourages me to leave so I can work, but guilt always gets in the way. I needed to figure out how to balance writing, working, and being a mom and a good wife.
Then I got an email from my publisher, and maybe, just maybe (knock on wood) life might be falling into place.
For the next year, I will be participating in something called Hot Shots.
You're probably thinking, okay, elaborate a little more, Brooke. So I will.
Hot Shots are steamy quickies. Longer than a serial, but similar in length to a good size novella. When I say steamy, I mean hot. So hot that I didn't send my first draft to my mother. Am I ashamed? Not really. I'm a true believer that these types of books work wonders for a marriage. How so? You'll crave intimacy with your partner after reading a few steamy scenes, maybe even try a few of them. Spicing up the bedroom is a wonderful tool to keep the flame alive in your marriage.
Will I still be working on my more in-depth stories in between my Hot Shots books? Yes. The Riptide Series is a third of the way done, the first part is even in the editing process, but I'm unable to give an accurate time frame for when this will be released. I want it to be amazing, and the only way that will happen is if I take my time with it.
That's all for now. I hope you all have an amazing Christmas filled with loved ones.
June 20, 2016
Here we are, the very first day of summer! My writing has been a slow go. I know, I know, my writing is always a slow go! This will most likely be the case until my kids are older and don't require my attention. I'm okay with it though, I mean why else did I have children? Besides having excuses to go see "kid" movies.
I'm currently half way through a freelance project, then once that's done, I will officially start RIPTIDE. I can't wait to work on this three part series for you all. I can't give away much of the plot, because I'm weird about that, but I can tell you it will be a thriller/ suspense like Hide & Seek (or Obsession for ibooks readers)! Will it grave on the darker side? I haven't decided. It all depends on where the story goes in my head.
The money question... WHEN WILL THIS BOOK BE DONE!?!?
I'm not sure. I used to give dates, but they'd never be accurate, and I don't want to let anyone down, so for now, I'll update on my progress here or on my social media pages. I will tell you this, All three books will be available at the same time, either separately as an option or in a bundled pack. ON ALL PLATFORMS. I'm sorry, but KU just isn't for me or my books.
What's with Hide, Seek, and Obsession??
As for the crazy multiple names for Jamie's books, that will soon be clarified. By July, Hide and Seek will be titled OBSESSION Part One, Two, and Three, on all platforms with the same cover as ibooks. I know, this is so strange, but it involves my publisher. Forgive me for the confusion!
What books have I been reading?
I've skipped genres, straying from romance and suspense to action and adventure! I've been engrossed in the 5th Wave Series by Rick Yancy.
Holy crow, this book sucks you in so deep you'll feel like you're the alien! It's a wonderful blend of action, thriller, romance, and the writing is killer. I mean really, it's like Yancy's fingers are secretly leeches that latch onto your brain, causing you to swat at your children when they stick their cute little heads between you and the pages.
And yes, I've been reading paperbacks. Maybe one day I'll run across Yancey so I can gush over him and his mad plot line skills, and then shove his books in his direction hoping he'll autograph them.
Hey, it could happen!
I'm waiting until Thursday to purchase The Last Star, and gobble it up on my way the Cleveland Author Event.
Well that's all for now, this post is kind of short, but you all are probably thinking (YES! Maybe she won't be so wordy now that she has a real webpage!)