You Can Take the Convict Out of Prison…

Cliff

Even though I’m taking it easy, wind whips my face as I cruise down 63, Olivia tucked against my back. Beer Can’s motorcycle lessons might’ve been rigorous, but it’s already second nature to me. Or maybe it’s just my blood, the tide finally coming in and reclaiming the shore.

Still, I’m not great with turns just yet, so I plan to just take her straight down and then back. I ease into a gas station, teeth gritted. If I dump us, I’ll never forgive myself. We make it in one piece, though, even if my turn was too wide. Beer Can promised I’ll get the hang of it, that I’ll be flying up and down the back roads with the rest of the club in no time. If I don’t, I guess they’ll realize their mistake and turn me out.

Balancing the Screamin’ Eagle between my legs, I shut the engine off. It continues to vibrate through me, my blood singing. This whole thing should be unnerving, but I’m thrilled. Every step into the club just draws me in deeper. But I’ve promised myself I’m not going to be like him. I’m already better.

Instead of climbing down, Olivia remains snuggled against my back. “That was nice,” she murmurs.

She’s so warm. The wisps of her spirit wrap around me, claiming me. This woman is going to completely undo me if I can’t have her. I want this moment to last, but she’ll think something’s up if I linger. I have to let it be exactly what it is: a ride. Nothing more, nothing less.

Untangling myself from her arms, I swing off. “Need anything?” I ask, nodding to the gas station.

She shakes her head dreamily. “I’m coming in with you, though. It’s cold.”

We walk inside together, my head still trying to catch up with my actual life. A big part of me is still inside, lying on my bunk staring at the ceiling between shifts. Not only has a motorcycle club taken me in, but they’ve also given me a beast of my own to ride. The Screamin’ Eagle is almost a decade old and club property, but it fits me like a glove. And the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen is riding home with me.

Well, not home home.

The gas station attendant perks up when he sees my girl. He’s cut but wiry. “Hi Olivia.” His eyes practically laser into her, ignoring me. I instantly don’t like him. His gaze is too intense, his eyes too vacant.

“Oh, hey Eli.” She smiles. “I didn’t know you live out here.” Leaning on the counter, she looks too damn familiar with him.

My fists clench inside their leather gloves.

“I just work here,” Eli says. “It’s still close enough to campus.”

My eyes hood in suspicion. If I remember correctly, Olivia’s school is in New Haven. It’s about thirty minutes from Naugy. And I don’t like the way he’s looking at her. “I need a pack of Marlboro Blacks.”

Eli sets his jaw, his sandy douchebag haircut flopping. “Yeah, in a minute,” he says, as if I’m a fly he’s trying to shoo out of the store.

I bow my head, eyes locked on his. Deliberately, I nuzzle my nose into Olivia’s hair, inhaling her scent. That dark jasmine envelopes me, damn near making me dizzy. I pull her closer into me. “Time’s up.”

Olivia cocks an eyebrow at me over her shoulder. “Cliff,” she says, almost amused, “this is Eli, from my photography class.”

The hot guy. Of course.

My lip curls into a sneer but my arms remain locked around her. If she wants this asshole, there’s nothing I can do about it—but right now, she’s out with me. “How nice,” I say. My stare never leaves his face. “Marlb Blacks. Now.”

He snuffles a laugh, eyes flicking from me to Olivia. “He your friend?”

“I’m not going to ask again.” The words are careful, measured. Dangerous. Blood pumps through me, and the familiar anticipatory thrill of a fight awakens me. I outweigh this guy by at least fifty pounds.

Olivia sighs and tips her head back, exposing her creamy, pale throat. I want to sink my teeth into her, to hear her gasp and scream as she comes. She rolls her eyes at me. “You can take the convict out of prison . . .” she intones, a smile tugging at the corners of her mouth. It’s even more thrilling, knowing that she’s amused. I could beat the guy to death and she’d still be laughing. At least, that’s how it feels.

Photography douche’s eyes snap to attention. “Prison, huh?” He smirks, crossing his arms. “Is it true what they say?”

Behind that jerk facade, though, he’s practically sweating bullets. “What?” I ask, my voice low. My fingers brush Olivia’s hips. “That we’re feral when we get out?”

Olivia peers over her shoulder, eyebrows lifted, lips parted. Her wide eyes are luminous and shimmering with lust as she arches into me.

It’s my turn to smirk.

Eli tosses a pack of cigarettes at me, his entire face sagging. Something clicks in his eyes over and over, like gears in a broken windup toy. I reach for my wallet, but he holds up a hand. “They’re on me.” Cold eyes tunnel into me.

I slap money down on the counter anyway, then wrap an arm around Olivia’s waist and lead her outside.

Olivia glances at the gas station over and over as I start the bike. I’m not a one kick wonder yet, so it always takes me time to get the thing going. Which is really useless in a time like this when I’d love to rip right out of here.

The Screamin’ Eagle roars to life. Olivia hugs me as we take off back into town. Since the passenger seat is several inches higher than mine, her lips easily brush my ear.

“What was that all about?” she asks over the engine.

My shoulders stiffen. “I don’t like that guy,” I call back.

I don’t hear her sigh so much as feel it. “He’s letting me borrow one of his cameras,” she says.

“There’s something wrong with him.”

I turn onto Meadow, the short street that’s one of many hills that populate Naugy, my teeth clenched. It’s steep, and going down was a lot easier. Riding this thing takes so much concentration. There’s a lot of respect and trust involved. It’s me and this machine, working in tandem.

As we near Lucy’s, Olivia wraps her arms even tighter around me. “Are you jealous?” she purrs into my ear.

There’s a hell of a lot of implication behind her words. It gives me a headache, trying to figure out where she’s heading—whether she’s angry or pleased. She is so much goddamn work.

I say nothing as we roll quietly onto Lucy’s street. I park the motorcycle, but neither of us move. The night presses onto us, winter’s last few ounces of strength. Soon the weather will be good and I won’t have to worry about killing myself on icy streets. Tonight the pavement was dry but tomorrow it’ll be back to bumming rides from Lucy. Despite what Beer Can says, I’m not comfortable enough to ice skate. Yet.

“You are,” Olivia says softly.

“What?” I shift in her embrace and look at her over my shoulder.

Solemn brown orbs measure me. “Jealous.” Her lips curve around the word.

I hold her gaze and drop my voice. “Maybe.”

Her grip on me tightens. “Take me home.” The heat smoldering in those words blasts into me.


A Disturbing Prospect
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Ex-con Cliff thought Olivia was the peace he needs, but she might be the hell he’s trying to escape.

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Biker Slang and Club Roles

Photo by Darren Bockman on Unsplash

Now that A Disturbing Prospect is live, I thought I’d run through some of the biker slang and club member titles that pop up throughout the book. While writing, I used this biker slang dictionary as a reference.

Cut: The leather jacket or vest that members of a club wear, usually with the club’s insignia embroidered onto the back, and various patches sewn on.

Enforcer: Sort of a bouncer for the club… or the guy who sorts things out when talking doesn’t work.

House Mouse: A woman who is unaffiliated with but hangs out with the club.

Holeshot: When someone in a motor vehicle rips up gravel. It’s also the fastest driver during a race. Not a biker term, but a reader asked about it, so I figured I’d include it. It also used to be my dad’s CB handle. (I might be aging myself by telling you that!)

Ol’ Lady / Ol’ Man: Girlfriend/boyfriend, usually serious.

One-kicker: In A Disturbing Prospect, Cliff mentions that he isn’t a one-kick wonder yet; this means that he can’t start his bike with just one kick of the starter.

One-percenter: A club that is involved with illegal activity.

M/C: Motorcycle club

Patch: This can refer to the patch on a biker’s cut, or the verb—as in, getting patched in, meaning being accepted as a member.

President: The member who oversees club activities, duties, and operations.

Prospect: A potential member.

Pussy Pad: The seat on the back of the bike, usually where a biker’s ol’ lady rides.

Rocker: A curved patch that is usually placed on the side or back of a cut. Usually designates the club’s name.

Sergeant at Arms: The member who handles club rules, patches, etc. Also sometimes weapons. (In some M/Cs, the SAA and Enforcer are interchangeable terms for the same role.)

Treasurer: The member who takes care of funds. Also organizes activities, fundraisers, and other club events.

Vice President: Second-in-command, usually coordinates Church and other events, and also takes over President roles in case that member can’t perform his duties.

There are other positions in an M/C, but I didn’t want to overwhelm my readers with a whole slew of characters. You’ll meet more of the members in the next book. 😉


A Disturbing Prospect
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Ex-con Cliff thought Olivia was the peace he needs, but she might be the hell he’s trying to escape.

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Now Available: A DISTURBING PROSPECT

The best way to conquer fear is to just do whatever it is that’s scaring you. At least, that’s what Nike says.

A Disturbing Prospect was haunting me. At one point, I was considering postponing it. Two things had me on the fence:

1) It’s my darkest novel yet. I’ve written some dark books, but nothing like this.

2) Originally, I’d planned on waiting to publish it. I wanted to have at least three books written in the series.

Then I decided, you know what? I’m Netflix. I write dark and light books. I don’t publish series straight through; I hop around. You have to wait for the new season of Jessica Jones, but you get Luke Cage in the meantime (and trust me, it’s not at all a bad deal).

So I did what Nike’s been telling me to do my whole life, and hit publish three weeks early—even before my cover reveal. Feast your eyes on this baby, then grab your copy!

A Disturbing Prospect

Cliff

Something inside me is stirring, like a sleeping beast in its lair. For twenty years I’ve been dead, but Olivia makes me feel alive. Wide awake and alert, ready for anything.

And I know Lucy, my cousin and only friend in the world, won’t have it.

She’d be completely right, of course. Olivia is family—Lucy’s little sister. Even if she’s adopted. Even if we didn’t grow up together. I share no memories with her but we share family. Her parents are my aunt and uncle, for fuck’s sake. It’s one place I can’t go—and it’s the one place I most want to be.

Olivia

Cliff has me doing all kinds of things I don’t normally—like thinking about him and sighing like a school girl. I need to get back in the game, keep moving. I can’t let him get to me like this.

This has never happened before. It’s stupid and it needs to stop. Yes, he’s sexy and he makes me laugh, but I can’t let myself get carried away. I can’t.

Even if he’s the only one who can help me—because he’s the only other person I know who’s taken a life.

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Do You Want to Go Down With Them?

Photo by Oliver Wendel on Unsplash

Olivia examines my vest. “That was fast.”

I slump onto a stool. “I need a drink. Anything.”

She frowns, but pours me a Jack and Coke. “Want to talk about it?”

Sipping my drink, I consider the idea. Confiding in her would be typical boyfriend/girlfriend behavior, though—strictly against our agreement. So many rules bind me now. And here I thought I’d gotten out of prison.

“Don’t worry,” she says. “Bartenders are like therapists without the pay. You talk, and I’ll keep the drinks coming.” She winks and lights a cigarette.

For the first time, I notice that everyone is smoking freely. I light one too. “We won’t get fined for this?”

Laughing, Olivia raises her cigarette in a salute. “All the time. Naugy makes a lot of money off us. We all chip in to cover it.”

I lean on the bar and drop my voice. “Do you have any idea what’s going on here?”

She shrugs. “Why would I? I’m just the bartender.” She takes a drag, then exhales into the smoky air. “Most guys would kill to wear that, you know.”

“They sell drugs, Olivia. This is just a front.” And fuck knows what else they do. I don’t say that, though. “This isn’t a good place for you.”

The relaxed woman in front of me morphs before my eyes. Her eyelids droop so that only slits of her pupils, irises, and whites are showing. Her lip curls. Nostrils flaring, she stabs the cigarette into the air in front of me. “You don’t get to tell me what to do.”

“Look, I’m not trying to be a dick, Livvie—”

“And you don’t get to call me that.” She sucks in a long drag. “The only way this is going to work, Cliff, is if you do you and I do me. We agreed: family reunions. That means you don’t stomp around acting like my fucking daddy.”

I rub my temples. “So you don’t mind working in a place that sells coke?”

The dirty look she tosses me is simultaneously condescending. “What the fuck do you think I do behind this bar? Pour beer for shit tips?”

Oh, Olivia. I look down at my drink, at the cigarette in my hands. I need something a lot stronger. It’s only my first shift and everything is spiraling out of what little equilibrium I had. “You’ll go down with them,” I say. “Do you want that?”

She rolls her eyes. “I want to pay off my student loans. The most I can possibly hope to make is $40,000 a year in this fucking state. I’ll be lucky if I can land a job with DCF. I don’t want to start off in debt right out of the gate.”

“What is it you’re going for?” I pictured her as doing something more adventurous, not sitting in a goddamn state office all day.

Stubbing out her cigarette, she settles those brown eyes on mine. “I want to be a social worker. I wanna help kids in the system.” The unsaid remainder of that sentence hangs between us: So they don’t end up like you.

“Don’t you think,” I say slowly, “that it’ll be a little hard to get a nice state job if you’re convicted of selling drugs?”

“Fuck you,” she lobs at me.

Grinning, I stand. “You already did.” I walk away, the whiskey soaking into me. Not in an out of control way. My veins swim, limbs relaxed. This head is clear.

The overhead speakers crackle, and the music switches from modern shit I’ve never heard to nineties grunge and metal. Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun” spins, the two girls on the pole whirling with it. I watch them for ten or so seconds before I move on.

This is my party. I might as well enjoy it.


A Disturbing Prospect
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Olivia’s straddling hell, and Cliff is searching for heaven, and when they collide, chaos rampages.

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5 Things You Need to Know About Esther

via Pinterest

Esther Figueroa is Olivia’s roommate in A Disturbing Prospect. Her introverted habits make her seem innocent, but there’s more to Esther than meets the eye. Here are five things you should know about her!

  1. Like Olivia, Esther is majoring in social work.
  2. Esther’s grandparents have custody of her younger siblings while she finishes  schools.
  3. Esther is one of the few characters who has a car.
  4. If there’s ever a movie for A Disturbing Prospect, my top pick for Esther would be Paula Patton.
  5. Esther’s favorite drink is moscato.

Esther is one of the characters in A Disturbing Prospect, my vigilante bikers romance, out January 29th. Get notified as soon as it’s available—join my email list!

My Revenge Story

Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

A long time ago, before I was born, two people I love very much were hurt by people who were supposed to take care of them. When I first found out about it, and every time I thought about it after, I wanted to scream. I wanted to throw up. I also wanted to make those responsible pay.

Life doesn’t work that way, though. Justice is just a façade. Children, women, and men are sexually assaulted all the time, and nothing happens to the people who hurt them. We’re not supposed to talk about it happening to others, and we’re definitely not supposed to talk about it happening to us.

So, in an effort to right some wrongs in the world, I did what I always do: I started writing.

I created Olivia and Cliff, two broken people who take things into their own hands. With a motorcycle club backing them, they set out on a journey to protect the innocent. Not on purpose, though—first they need to get a taste for vengeance.

Thus my vigilante bikers romance, A Disturbing Prospect, was born.

I still have more injustices to balance. A Disturbing Prospect is only the beginning. Join my email list to stay in the loop!

What’s the first thing you’d do if you became a vigilante? Tell me in the comments!

January 2018 Goals

My writing and personal goals for the month of January!
Photo by Cathryn Lavery on Unsplash

It’s been a while since I sat down to set formal goals for the month. I used to be really diligent about it. For the past year or so, I’ve had a general idea of what I wanted to accomplish, but didn’t keep track. I’ve decided to come back to that practice, starting now.

Writing down my goals keeps me focused. It also keeps me from piling too much on my plate, because I can look at what I’m currently working on and ask myself if I really have the room for it. I’ve gotten really good at saying no, but I’d like to keep that momentum going.

Considering my goals for 2018, this month I’d like to…

  • Buy an insurance plan. It looks like I’m going to be able to afford my university’s student plan, which covers me through August. I have angels in heaven and here on Earth, because originally this was going to be a long shot. Once I’m enrolled, I can see my rheumatologist about adjusting my treatment plan, I can have urology tests to see if I have interstitial cystitis, and I can finish my dental crown. Oh, and I can also afford my medication. One step at a time, though.
  • Publish A Disturbing Prospect. I’m not gonna lie—I’m nervous about this release. Every launch gets me anxiously excited, but A Disturbing Prospect is a lot darker than my previous books. I mean, it has a freakin’ trigger warning list. I wrote this book for revenge, though, for the real-life Lucys who never received justice. Also, I have a much lighter book releasing soon, probably in the spring, so that should balance things out.
  • Start writing something new. I can’t decide whether I want to re-write the sequel to A Disturbing Prospect, or write my second chances f/f book shop romance (which has a title but I’m not telling yet). I think I’ll decide by outlining both. I got an Amazon gift card for Christmas and used it to buy Romancing the Beat, which should help with that.
  • Survive Mod 3. The new semester starts January 8th. Because I’m in an accelerated online program, semesters are broken into two eight-week modules. This mod, I’m taking accounting and macroeconomics. Then I’m diving into business law and—dun dun DUN—algebra. Scary shit. So my goal is to not drop out this semester. 😂 You might think I’m kidding, but all four of these classes intimidate me (though I’m excited about business law). I’m also a perfectionist who doesn’t want to do anything unless I’m really good at it. I am a complicated creature.

That should do it.

What are your goals for January? Let me know in the comments!