interracial romance books

BWWM Books | Mr. Too Big (BWWM Hitman Romance Novella)

mr. too big billionaire hitman romance novellaMr. Too Big, a steamy hitman novella came from an idea that I had while talking to my husband. Yes, it sounds corny but it's true, my HUSBAND inspired "Mr. Too Big". Infer what you will from that one! I couldn't wait to get the novel written and I actually had it done two weeks before I published it. I had no idea what to do with the book and my mind was RACING with questions...

Will my readers like this book?

Is this book good enough to publish?

Will the kinks in this book be "too raunchy" for Amazon?

I can tell you right now that the book is HOT. It's almost too raunchy for Amazon. Oops. I guess I couldn't help myself. The book was definitely good enough to publish and to this day, I get emails about Mr. Too Big from readers who were pleased to stumble across my steamy novella. Sometimes it's better to believe in yourself than to cloud your head with doubts...

I don't want to spoil too much of this story for you, but let's just say our hitman JAY will have you drooling. I know you need a new book boyfriend, so dive into the sample ASAP

BWWM Books Novella Sample: Mr. Too Big

Jay 

One more job, and then I was out. 

Isn't that what they always say in movies, right before the shit hits the fan?

I guess maybe it was only too appropriate, then. Because things were about to go down for me like they'd never gone down before. 

As I would soon find, I'd gotten far too big to try and pull out now... 

I sat across the street from a towering skyscraper in the middle of downtown, outside a small cafe. In another lifetime, I would have been sitting with a newspaper pressed against my nose, trying to look inconspicuous in order to hide what I was really up to. These days, though, a guy like me reading a newspaper would have stuck out like a sore thumb- six foot one, jacked and rugged, occupying his time with a relic of the previous century. 

So instead I sat stooped over an iPad, blending in a lot better that way, a set of shades concealing my persistent glances toward the building on the opposite side of the street. I kept pressing my earpiece closer and closer like there might be something going on that I was missing. I'd bugged my target's car, then watched as he and his bodyguards made their way out into the building in question. I knew there was nothing that I should be listening for, but I guess I was just a little bit on edge. 

This was the job to end all jobs. The payday that was going to get me out of this shit once and for all. And I was going to do everything in my power to ensure that it went off without a hitch. That any one of a million different things didn't manage to fuck it up for me. 

I'd been following my target around for weeks, hoping to gain some insight into his schedule. A mister Ray Philips, one of the most contemptible sons of bitches I'd ever been assigned to take out. Day trader. Arms dealer. A major player in the pharmaceutical industry, who'd made a fortune jacking up drug prices for those who were most vulnerable, and most unable to afford them. 

I'd never been proud of how I made my living. It wasn't that I'd chosen the life of the assassin, so much as it had chosen me. Having enlisted as a soldier and seen things that no man should see, and doing things that man should ever do in good conscience, I found myself unable to reshape myself into the mold of a healthy, everyday life. The violence was in my blood. My soul craved peace, and a reprieve from all the horrors I'd witnessed and been a part of. But I still needed to make money, and at the end of the day, I realized there was really only one thing I'd ever been good at. 

I worked for a man called Hillary. Marlon Hillary. A rich jackass in his own right, he'd kept me around as his gun for hire for the past five years. I took care of his enemies for him. The business rivals who posed too much of a threat. Those who were willing to get their hands even dirtier than he was, and who seemed as though they might serve as a problem for him in the long term. 

I harbored no delusions about what I did. I was a murderer, pure and simple. But at least in this position, I had some say over who bit the bullet. I could say no to a job if I had to if my conscience started objecting too loud, unlike in my previous line of work. 

I did have a moral code, even if it wasn't much of one. I'd always refused to take out the innocent. To hurt anyone who didn't have it coming, and then some. I'd turned down a few high profile clients who'd requested such services of me- asking me to kill men and women who, obnoxiously wealthy and corrupt or not, had done nothing worthy of the death sentence that had been asked of me to impose upon them. 

I'd lost a pretty penny that way over the years, believe you me. I could have been done and out of this game by now if I hadn't shown such restraint, but here I was, still in the game, and only just now on the threshold of getting out of it. 

I didn't even want to think about how much of my soul I would still have left by the time I finally did get things wrapped up...

Thankfully, this Ray Philips was like the best of both worlds to me. He was both rotten to the core and worth a fortune in my pocket- easily the largest bounty I had ever made an effort to claim. 

Then, at last, the moment I'd put the bullet through his temple and washed the blood from my hands, I had plans to pack up my fortune, buy a first class ticket to Belize, and leave this life forever, spending my remaining time on earth making my best effort to forget that any of it had ever happened. 

Not that I would forget. 

I could never forget all that I'd done. The sins these hands were responsible for. The lives they'd taken. But at least, for once, I could try to rest. I could lay my head down in contemplation, and try to figure things out for myself. What I was meant for. What I was put on this earth to do. If, indeed, I really had any business being on this forsaken rock at all. 

The only problem right now with my ingenious plan was that Ray Philips didn't seem to stick to any kind of reliable schedule that I could make out. All the days I'd been following him, I had hoped to take note of a recognizable pattern of some kind. Something that would make it easy for me to catch him when his guard was down, and when I stood the lowest possible risk of getting caught. 

But of course, I really should have learned by now, nothing was ever really that easy for me... 

Apparently, having his fingers in so many pies at once kept Philips as busy as a bee, flitting from one flower to the next, his movements erratic, unpredictable. He must have done enough coke to never have to spend ten consecutive minutes asleep at a time. 

And so, I decided, I was just going to have to take the plunge one way or another. 

I made up my mind that today would be the day. I was ending this, tonight, as soon as he was at home and, with any luck, asleep. 

And then I was out of this, at long, long last. 

I'd lapsed into a reverie in the heat of the early evening sun, and let my vision fall out of focus without meaning to. I jerked awake at the sound of static in my earbuds, then footsteps clacking across the sidewalk toward the Mercedes in which Philips had been driven here. 

“Okay, men. We're done here today. If Esposito doesn't want to listen to reason, I'll just take things into my own hands. I'm done playing games with such a goddamn child. Now, take me the fuck home, I need some rest. I haven't slept a fucking night clear through this entire goddamn week.” 

So much of the time I kept my cool so well. Now, though, I let myself get too excited. I leaped up from my chair without meaning to, keen to follow after my target, even though there was no imperative need to do so just now. I knew where he was going. I should have waited a while instead of trailing them too directly, but I wasn't thinking. 

Across the street, Philips didn't notice me. Nor did the large, thuggish bodyguard opening the back door to the Mercedes for him. The one at the driver's side did, however. 

Through two lanes of heavy evening traffic, my eyes met those of the driver through his shade, making my heart skip a beat. 

Damn it... Damn it... Damn it! I thought to myself, freaking the fuck out that my cover was about to be blown at best, and that at worst I was about to wind up with a bullet in my own head. 

I thought fast, though, trying to minimize the damage. 

I stretched, as though my eyes meeting those of Philips' brute had been nothing more than a coincidence. Then I took the last sip of my coffee, and laid some money on the table, as though I'd become totally oblivious of all that was ensuing on the other side of the street. I sorted out some change from my pocket and left a far too generous tip for the young woman who'd brought me my coffee- if this worked like I hoped it would, it might have just been her that ended up saving my life. 

Then, keeping up the charade, I set off down the street, away from the Mercedes, away from where my bike was parked nearby, striding as though I knew exactly where I was going, and why I was going there. I really had no clue, except that I needed to get as far away from Philips as I could, as fast as possible. 

I didn't dare look back over there again, back over to the building where Philips had been. I did, however, squint into the glass windows of the building I passed on my side. The knot in my stomach unclenched at the sight of the Mercedes pulling away, the bodyguard's suspicion of me evidently minimal enough for him to let me off the hook. 

I let out a sigh of relief and decided I would circle the block once for good measure. 

There was no rush to get to Philips this instant. I would wait until tonight when conditions were more favorable, and then I would end this, once and for all. 

I could almost taste the fresh air of freedom on my lips... 

_____

Midnight. 

I'd parked my bike in the woods outside Philips' mansion several hours ago, then hiked over to a spot overlooking his place. I'd watched his house through the scope of the rifle I carried with me until every light had gone out, and a vehicle had pulled away out the driveway- the vehicle, I hoped, of Tweedle-dee and Tweedle-dum, his bodyguards. 

I couldn't be certain that Philips was the only occupant in the place but now felt like as good a chance as any. At that moment, it honestly felt like my only chance. 

I crept down to the house like a phantom, switching instantly into combat mode. I'd learned to turn off all of my inhibitions, to cast aside all of my doubts whenever the moment of truth arrived. I was no longer a human being anymore. But a machine. My actions swift and decisive. My decisions, my responses, purely rational. Dedicated to getting a job done, and nothing more, nothing less. 

I pushed a fist through the glass panes of his front door, and made swift work of disabling his security alarm- I'd cracked the code the previous week while he was away one afternoon. I stepped through the door with soft, but speedy footsteps, and glided my way up the spiral staircase for the second floor, heading for his master bedroom. 

I was normally so good about all of this. So skilled at making an entry, and doing my job, and disappearing without a trace. As I made my way down the hallway, however, and the door to his room came closer and closer, and so did my freedom, I felt my blood pressure rising. It all seemed too good, too perfect to be true. 

And suddenly, I realized that it must be. 

Something wasn't right... 

I stopped, dead in my tracks. 

I didn't know what was off. But something was. There was just a sense of it. A feeling in the air, that I couldn't quite seem to put my finger on. 

And then I heard the sound of a footstep, trying to be lighter than it could manage to be from around a corner. 

I spun on my heel, whirring back around in the opposite direction. 

I saw the flash of light before I heard the sound. 

BAM! BAM!

I hurled myself down to the ground as the bullets missed me by nothing greater than a few millimeters. Once I was to safety, I didn't even think about it. I lifted my gun up to what I calculated to be the man's knees in the darkness, and I fired. 

“Jesus Christ! Motherfucker!” 

He shot at me again as he was falling, but only managed to hit a vase atop the stand beneath which I'd taken cover. He hit the ground like a timbered tree and was already rushing to point the barrel of the gun back up at me, but I was too fast for him. 

I pointed at his head and fired, and that was the end of him. 

He lay there, motionless in silent in the middle of the hall. I waited, for just a fraction of a second, long enough to be sure that he was as dead as a doornail. Then I sprang up, and rushed over to him, and saw that it was the man from the Mercedes. The one who'd locked eyes with me across the street.

Clearly, the place hadn't been left as unguarded as I'd hoped. 

I'd largely been suspecting that, though. 

I let out a light sigh, not wanting to let myself be too relaxed just yet. My gut told me that this was the only guard in the place, but I still had Philips left to go. And something told me he would be on a high alert after I and Tweedle-dee had just made enough noise out here in the hallway to summon up the living dead. 

I hastily weighed my options at that moment. 

Retreat? Fuck no. 

I was getting this job done, dead or alive. 

Wait? For what? For Philips to have more time to get his guard up? To call the authorities? Not that I imagined he would, given the many dirty dealings he was connected to in some way or another. Still, though, the principle was the same. The longer I let that son of a bitch stay alive, the longer he had to come up with a plan to stop me. 

Time was of the essence here, and whether I liked it or not, I was all out of time... 

I stepped up to his door, staring at it for a moment with dread, instead of the naive optimism I'd allowed myself to feel at the sight of it, only a few short moments ago. 

I lifted my hand to the knob, and almost made the mistake of stepping inside. But then I checked myself. I twisted the knob, just enough to get it started. Then I stepped off to the side so that I was no longer positioned directly within the doorway. I lingered for a moment, then pushed my foot against the door's lowest panel, kicking it open from off to the side, still standing next to the hinges. 

Immediately once the door was open, a mad volley of automatic gunfire exploded through the door, the bullets pelting wildly against the opposite wall, tearing the drywall to smithereens. 

I heard Philips yelling over the sound of the bullets, his battle cry the sad mimicry of a middle-aged man who's never been in combat but who's watched Rambo on TV at least a dozen times. 

He moved slowly out into the hall, still firing, too blinded by the pulse of the gun to see that he was hitting nothing whatsoever, save for his own house. 

I waited until my shot was clear, then I jerked my gun up, and aimed it right for the side of his head. He became aware of me just as I started pulling the trigger, and started turning in my direction.

BAM!

“FUCK!” 

The bullet raced clean through his head, but he was facing too me way too much as he fell, and the gun was still going off in his hands as he fell. Streams of bullets whipped and whizzed through the air in my direction, seeming to leave these white hotlines in their wake like miniature chemtrails, fading only very slowly from my field of vision. 

And then I felt something hit me, in spite of my very best efforts to avoid the barrage.

I yelled out in pain and was sure in that moment that this spelled the end of me. The impact had been against my head, and no sooner had I felt it than I watched my life flashing before my eyes. All the horror. All the carnage. All the mayhem, and all the heartbreak. 

No! No! Fuck! Fuck! Please, please, don't let this be the last thing that I see before I'm ushered in through the gates of hell! I'll have all eternity to look at all that... Just please, don't let this be the end!

I was lying on the ground by the time it dawned on me that I hadn't been mortally wounded. A scalding teardrop was rolling down along my cheek, thick and viscous. It seeped in between my lips, and I felt it on my tongue, and I realized that it was blood from my wound. 

I touched my cheek, and it stung but realized with relief that I'd only been grazed. 

I wasn't about to die. Not yet, anyway.

It took a while past the ringing in my ears to recognize the sound of voices ringing out in the background. I leaped back to my feet, instantly on my guard again, and the adrenaline of survival the only thing that was keeping my legs from collapsing. 

I held my gun pointing into the room but thankfully didn't fire. The afterimage of gunfire finally faded away from my field of vision, and I could see that there were two naked women, cowering in fear in the opposite corner of the room. 

I sighed and lowered my pistol. Then I looked down into Ray Philips' wide eyes, the gaping red hole in his temple a sure sign that it was over at last. I'd done my job. And I was finished. 

“You two could really do better,” I said to the two of them, with a last look inside the room. Then I pulled the door shut again behind me, and took off down the hall at top speeds. I should have felt victorious, elated, freed at last from the shackles of this line of work. 

Instead, though, I just felt sick. My blood pressure was high. My pulse was skyrocketing. I never felt great after a kill, but this was something different. I wondered whether it was the fact that I'd come so close to death, or maybe that I'd taken a life I hadn't intended to take when I'd signed up for this job. 

I didn't think it was either of those things, though. 

I think, somehow, my body was trying to warn me. I think it was a sense of foreboding, to let me know what I had no way of knowing yet, but that I probably should have anyway- by instinct, if by nothing else. 

That, quite simply, this wasn't really over. It was only just getting started... 

Right now, though, I ignored all of that. I rushed into the woods, and hopped onto my motorcycle, and took off down lightless back roads like a bat out of hell, increasingly on edge. I could hear the sound of sirens blaring like mad from the highway, and could see the red and blue lights flashing toward the crime scene as I made my escape- Philips might not dare have called the cops when he was alive, but I was sure the two women he'd probably paid to sleep with him would have. 

I told myself I didn't give a damn. That there was no way in hell I wasn't getting away with this. 

I just kept going and going, the momentum perversely soothing, as all the while the whole world seemed to be crashing in around me. 

_____

I started taking my clothes off the instant I stepped through the door of my apartment, and I was naked in the shower within a minute, the water cranked up to full heat, filling the bathroom with steam. 

I leaned forward against the far wall, panting so deep and so hard I thought I was hyperventilating. I didn't know what the fuck was wrong with me. As often as I'd done this, I'd never reacted to the way that I was now. Was it the girls maybe? Was it that glimpse of something I could never have in my life, making me feel so guilty, so paranoid? 

I still couldn't say for certain. 

I looked down at my feet, gasping, and watched the blood of Ray Philips and his bodyguard swirling down the drain amidst the scalding whirlpool of water. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. And then, without totally being aware of it, I noticed my hand finding its way between my legs, grabbing a nice, firm hold on my cock. 

I'd been hard ever since I put the bullet through the head of the bodyguard. 

It sounds terrible. I know it does. Like I get off on killing or something. But that's not it. 

Ever since I'd started doing this, I always got rock solid from the danger of a hit. I think it was something to do with survival, and biology, and all that shit. Like my body just knew, instinctively, that it was in danger. That its chance to reproduce was drawing to a close, and it demanded that I give it one last shot before I turn my back on life. 

I always had to cum after a kill. And right now I was aching for it like I'd never ached before. 

I wrapped my fist around my rock hard cock and started rapidly pumping myself beneath the shower, grunting as my hand slammed back into my balls, needing so badly to get this out of me, thinking that once I did it would finally be enough for me to be able to react. I jerked my growing inches of solid manhood with a vengeance. Like the job wasn't actually finished until I'd completed this crucial, cleansing ritual. I was pulsing so hard, and my tip was getting unbelievably swollen, and I wanted to get this heat out of me so fucking bad. 

But the pressure wasn't building. No matter how hard, how relentlessly I pumped myself, how desperately I needed to see this through to completion, my mind wasn't where it needed to be. I closed my eyes and tried to think. Tried to conjure up whatever it might take to get my rocks off, but couldn't figure out what the hell that might be. 

I tried picturing the two girls back at Philips' place- taking both of them at once- but of course, that only made matters worse. Then I tried thinking about Julia, my ex-fiance, who I'd dated all the way back before enlisting. Sometimes, she did the trick for me. That woman knew how to screw a man like it was nobody's business, and sometimes I could still taste her on me if I concentrated hard enough. Still feel the tight, rhythmic pulsing of her tight slit around my cock as she rode me. 

But then I would start thinking about everything she'd done to me. How badly she'd broken my heart, once I came back from combat so profoundly changed, so different, like she hadn't known what she was signing up for when I enlisted. 

This took me in the opposite direction. I started feeling bitter, and resentful, and about as far away from turned on as it was possible to be. 

And so I thought again. I shifted my focus. I tried to draw forth a name from depths of my mind. A name, and a face, of anyone who still filled me with any sort of tenderness. Instead so much pain. All the crushing heartbreak that had been inflicted on me by nearly everyone else in my life. 

And that was when someone strange came to mind. 

Keisha Hillary. 

It almost caught me off guard at first. 

I certainly hadn't been expecting it. 

Keisha, the daughter of my boss, Marlon Hillary. The two of us had only met a handful of times over the years that I'd ben in Marlon's employment. There had certainly never been anything between the two of us, as such- Marlon probably would have had me killed if he even caught me thinking about it. But the couple of times we had run into one another, there had been something unaccountably striking about her. 

Poise, and graciousness, and of course beauty. There was something mature about her, for a girl who was only twenty-one years old. A bit young for a blondish silver fox in his mid-forties? I'm not going to pretend otherwise. 

But on the occasions I'd seen her, I'd thought I saw some glint of those rich, mahogany eyes of hers. An expression of longing, unspoken, but very clear, and very present. I want you, she seemed to say, without speaking, and at that moment, beneath the boiling water, and with the last of Philips' blood draining away beneath my feet, something seemed to click. 

I wanted her. Badly. Like I'd never wanted a woman before in my life. 

I groaned and started slamming my hand against my body, pumping my shaft again at double the rate of before, jerking my fist along all those solid tumescent inches of mine. 

I pictured my tongue in her throat. My hands on her perfectly portioned breasts, squeezing them, pinching those dark, luscious nipples. I pictured her thighs, just the right amount of wide, and her tight, juicy ass, and imagined how wonderful it would feel, kneading those buttocks between my greedy fingertips. 

I savored the imagined touch of her rich, ebony skin, and the contrasting cool and heat of her body, and how hot and how tight she would feel around me if only I could be inside her. 

Finally, I pictured her down on her knees, and my cock in her throat and her tongue twisting around me, sucking me off with a kind of urgent desperation like I just couldn't cum for her soon enough. 

I started roaring and pounding myself, and I felt the pressure building, at last, building toward its sweet, inevitable, perfect crescendo. 

Then I let out a yell at the top of my lungs. Every muscle in my body seemed to spasm. Every part of me was seized by orgasm, gripped from head to toe, the bathroom seemed to spin around me, the steam making me lightheaded, and my heart thundering to escape from my chest. 

My cock spilled over, pulsing, leaping, pumping its hot cum everywhere. It plunged across my shifting hand, and hit the wall of the shower, and poured along down the drain. And all the while, as I just kept cumming and cumming, the whole of my being on fire with pleasure, was how fucking amazing my cum would look all over Keisha's skin, and dripping from her mouth, and spilling down so slowly between her perfect breasts. 

At long last, I felt the thrill of climax dissipating. I gasped, and shivered, and felt a devastating emptiness wash over me. All of the sudden, I was reminded of just how far I was from the girl I'd fantasized about. How ridiculous it was for me to imagine that kind of thing in the first place, knowing that a man like me could never settle down. Never have anything even remotely resembling what I craved to have with her. 

Best just to put her out of my head, and be grateful for what she'd done to me. 

Getting the toxins of murder out of my system, and allowing my heart to finally settle down to something even remotely resembling a normal rate of beating. 

I gave my shaft a last few deep, slow pumps, then practically slid along the tiles of the shower to the floor, exhausted, in so many more ways than I could count. 

“Fuck,” I gasped, tilting my head back, closing my eyes, and letting the steam from the water sweep me away. 

I tried my best to ward off my looming depression. To tell myself that I was all okay. So, I couldn't have what I really wanted. I could never have it. But I was out of this life now. I'd made enough on that hit to be finished with it. Gone for good. 

No looking back. 

That, as far as I was concerned, should have been enough.

What do you think about the sample? Pretty wild, huh? I won't deprive you any longer. You can read the full-length novella here: https://amzn.to/2ryTq85

If you'd prefer to read the Paperback version, you can find it here: https://amzn.to/2ryUetD

Dark Romance Books | Hitman's Captive | Book #3 BWWM Captive Series

hitman's captive jamila jasper interracial romance dark romance story bad boy bwwm romance novelsThe third and final installment in the BWWM Captive Series is finally here. We'll be closing out the novel with the final installment to this rockin' trilogy that follows the crazy stories of Gigi Jackson (Book 1, Seal's Captive) and Tyra Jackson (Book 2, Ex Con's Captive). These sisters have taken us around the world, okay?! In Book 1, we found ourselves in Costa Rica and in Book 2, we went all the way to Nairobi, Kenya with some part of the book in Uganda (Kampala) and Tanzania. 

It's been an incredible journey to Book 3 for me and I've spent many months tweaking the ending that I originally wanted to write a story that wasn't just about Dinah, but tied in the other three sisters so that you can all get final CLOSURE on the girls we have come to love throughout this year... 

What I can promise you in Dinah's book is that she's nothing like the reserved and shy Gigi or the loud-mouthed troublemaking Tyra. She's a breed of her own thanks to her upbringing by her CRAZY RICH father. This book explores what that life on the "dark economy" is like. 

Did you know that it's common for many rulers in ancient times to only surround themselves with female guards because they believed women are more trustworthy? There was no better woman for Jerome to trust than his own daughter so he turned her into the woman he needed her to be... a cold-blooded assassin. And yes, Jerome technically recruited "child soldiers" to protect his multi-million dollar fortune. This book delves into the depths of what this wealthy man left behind and how his daughter will manage to pick up the pieces of having grown up stronger than any woman she knows and struggling to let other people -- especially men -- into her life.

I don't want to spoil how the story ends for you, so without further ado, thank you for reading this far and I hope you enjoy the absolutely delicious teaser I'm posting below. Warning, you WILL be teased, so expect to end the sample wanting more (desperately).

Romance Novel Excerpts: Hitman's Captive | Book #3 BWWM Captive Series

 

CHAPTER ONE

“Miss Jackson, it’s handled.”

 

“What did they say?”

 

“They asked about the funeral.”

 

“There’s not going to be a funeral. My remains are…”

 

“I said they were lost at sea.”

 

“Good.” 

 

“With all due respect Miss Jackson, due to the short notice of your departure, I cannot guarantee that the truth will stay hidden from them at all.”

 

“I understand, Stephanie. But you know that I don’t have a choice here.”

 

“We always have a choice, Dinah.”

 

“Not me.”

 

“You’re Jerome’s daughter. I understand that. But your father is dead…”

 

“Exactly. And just like people came after Gigi and Tyra, they’ll come after me. You and I both know that I’ve done far worse than being Jerome’s daughter.”

 

“It’s not your fault.”

 

“I know. Consider this a semi-permanent retirement. When trouble has died down, I’ll consider coming back.”

 

“Elsa misses you.”

 

I leaned back in the red velvet seats on the jet, trying not to think of Elsa.

 

“Elsa is a dog. She doesn’t understand anything. She’s just happy as long as she gets her food every day.”

 

“You and I both know that’s not true.”

 

“Listen, Stephanie. We’re about to land. I’ll be back on the grid in twenty.”

 

“Is she beautiful?”

 

“Yes, the island looks the same. But somehow colder.”

 

Stephanie chuckled, “She looks colder every time.”

 

“When is the last time you’ve been back?”

 

“I don’t know. Years. Not since Wy—”

 

“You can say his name, Stephanie.”

 

“Not since Wyatt was around.”

 

“Yeah. Let’s hope he doesn’t think to look for me here.”

 

“He won’t. We took measures to ensure that he’ll never find you.”

 

“Promise me, Stephanie, you’ll make sure he doesn’t.”

 

“I will.”

 

“Good. I gotta go now.”

 

“Be safe, Dinah.”

 

“I will be. You know that.”

 

“Yes. But you have a funny habit of getting into trouble, don’t you?”

 

“I’m my father’s daughter. I can’t help that.” 

 

“Bye, Dinah.”

 

“If you don’t hear from me in three days, worry.”

 

Stephanie hung up and I wandered down the aisle of the jet, popping into the pilot’s cabin.

 

“Closing in, Jerry?”

 

“Yes. It’s tough landing her today. Snowstorm comin’ in tomorrow, I’m sure you heard.”

 

“I did.”

 

“You ready?”

 

“The house survived the winter of ’09 just fine.” 

 

“Good. Good.”

 

“I’m gonna miss you, Jerry.”

 

“Don’t believe that.”

 

“We’ve flown all over the world together.”

 

Jerry shrugged, “Coulda been any other lug Mr. Jackson hired.”

 

“But you’ve always been my pilot. Always.”

 

“You’ve grown up into a fine young lady.”

 

The plane approached the ground and I grew quiet as I watched Jerry take her in closer, flying the private plane smoothly to avoid bumps and discomfort. Our first flight together had been a nightmare compared to this one. With daddy dead, all of us would scatter to our little corner of the globe and hope that we could live without trouble for once.

 

“Thanks.”

 

“If you need me, call my place in Hafnarfjörður.”

 

“It’s only a three hour flight.”

 

“Exactly. I’ll miss ya kiddo. But it’s for the best.”

 

“I know. That’s what I told Stephanie.”

 

Jerry snorted at the mention of Stephanie’s name. 

 

“She still think you should stay in the tropics so they can hunt you down like deer?” He asked gruffly.

 

“She wants me to stay.”

 

“Not a chance. YOu’re too smart for that. And you’re right to come here. Nowhere is safer than Avalon.”

 

I didn’t respond and a few moments later, the plane landed on the strip, a mile away from the island’s main house. 

 

“Bundle up, missy.”

 

I wrapped my scarf around my face and pulled up the hood on my jacket so it warmed my ears. Jerry opened the plane doors and walked me down the stairs. He stared at me for a moment on the tarmac with tears in his eyes.

 

“Years. You’ll be here alone for years, Dinah. I just… I can’t imagine what your father would think.”

 

“He would understand. This is what he would have wanted.”

 

“I suppose you’re right. I suppose it’s safest.”

 

“If I’m with the rest of the world, they’ll track me down and when they’re done, they’ll kill all my sisters. I have no choice.”

 

“I know. I know.”

 

He hugged me and salty tears ran down his stubbly cheek onto my cheek as we pressed our faces together. I squeezed Jerry tightly, not wanting to let go. For a split second, I realized he was the last remaining parental figure that I had and I would have to say goodbye to him and to everything I knew. 

 

I finally pulled away, sniffling and disguising my own tears from him.

 

“Promise me you’ll stay in touch.”

 

“I will.”

 

“And stay out of trouble.”

 

“I will.”

 

“Sure you don’t want me to drive you to the house?”

 

“No. I can handle it.”

 

“Good.”

 

“Bye, Jerry.”

What happens next?! This month, you can find the extended version of this chapter as well as TEASER #2 on my Patreon. For as little as $1.49/month gain instant access to the rest of this sample, as well as 100+ posts with previous eBook samples, private blog posts, full-length short stories, and some full-length short audiobooks.

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Our Best Contemporary Romance Novels: Get Pucked (BWWM Hockey Romance)

Get Pucked BWWM Interracial Romance Novels Jamila JasperGet Pucked is an interracial hockey romance featuring a French Canadian alpha male main character who falls for forbidden fruit... the African American publicist who is supposed to keep him out of trouble. If you love romantic stories and want to check out one of our best contemporary romance novels for the year, similar to Harlequin Kimani romance, keep reading for the description and then a length free BWWM romance sample for all fans to enjoy 100% free.

If you enjoy romantic comedy novels, dark romance books and sports romance books with plot twists, steamy romance scenes between black women and white men. This is one of my top romance novels of the year and you can now find the book on Amazon and other sites like Kobo, Nook (Barnes & Noble), iBooks, and Google Play. 

Book Description: 

Amy

Luc is my client. He’s aggressive, unruly and dangerously off limits. 

He wants to have me in every position and toy with me until I scream.

I must resist him. I could lose my job… I could lose everything. 

If either of us screw up our next gig, our entire lives will be ruined.

He’s supposed to be well behaved. I’m supposed to keep him that way.

But how can you tame a man who’s as much of a beast in the bedroom as on the ice? 

Luc

She runs the show in her world and I run the show in mine.

I’m what anyone would consider an alpha. My publicists shake in their boots when I walk in the room.

Not her. 

She isn’t afraid of anything or anyone. Not even me. Not even my past.

Amy thinks I can change my life around, but I know the truth about guys like me.

We never change. At least I never will… Not for her, not for anyone.

Get ready to squirm in your seat as the curvy black girl falls into the arms of a powerful white alpha male. This standalone interracial romance novel is 50,000+ words long with NO cliffhanger and a guaranteed HEA.

Romance Novel Excerpt: Get Pucked (BWWM Hockey Romance)

 

 

Luc Alfredsson

I spent my entire life on ice. I eat sleep and breathe hockey. My nickname growing up was "Puck", for obvious reasons. When I was sixteen, I flew to Canada to pursue my dream: playing hockey until the day I die. 

 

I stared at Coach Gagnon, a big French-Canadian bastard who stood three feet away from me, screaming his head off in my face. 

"LUC, ARE YOU EVEN LISTENING TO ME?!" 

 

His thick Quebecois accent, pierced me out of my daydream. Coach Gagnon’s green eyes bored into my mine. I could see the reflection of my face in his eyes, staring back at me with that boyish smirk I couldn’t shake whenever someone started yelling at me. 

"Yeah," I shrugged, "I'm listening."

 

"What did I just say, then?”

 

Trick question. I hadn’t been listening and coach knew. I was a goner. 

"Uhhh... I'm in huge trouble?"

"Oui! You are in huge trouble you stupid bastard! Tabernac! How could you get on camera and say something like that for all the world to see?" 

I responded with a smirk, knowing it would piss off Félix and knowing that he'd kick my ass off the ice for doing so.

"GET OUT!" Félix roared.

 

I heard the others laughing, low rumbling chuckles common in the locker room. They watched with folded arms to see if I’d finally get what was coming to me. Coach was right, I had been an ass. But if he wanted to embarrass me in front of the whole team, I’d walk off the ice like a man with a smile on my face.

 

My smirk turned into a grin and I swung my gym bag over my shoulder.

"Fine. I'll leave." 

 

Dave Tanner stepped up, approaching Félix and resting a hand on his shoulder. He could always talk sense into the coach, or me.

"Coach, with all due respect, we need Luc on the ice today."

Félix's face glowed red hot. His bottle green eyes glimmered with rage and frustration. His face reddened because he knew Dave was right, he couldn’t bear to admit it. After what I’d done… After how I’d embarrassed him… It stung to let me waltz right back on the ice. But he needed me. Desperately. 

"Put your shit down Luc."

Dave nodded and I obliged, dropping my gym bag to the ground.

"He's right. We need you on the ice. We're playing Calgary in a month and I need you boys to whoop 'em."

Snickers and cheers of agreement erupted from the team. 

"Get dressed," Gagnon growled.

I nodded and stalked off to the locker room, victorious once more. I stripped down to my boxers and then suited up. Long sleeved warm-up tee, pants, pads, helmet and then my skates. Before I could lace my skates up, Dave opened the door to the locker room.

"Are you in here you big stupid bastard?"

“Here.”

“Trying to lose your contract, eh?“ Dave asked.

 

Dave always had my back when I messed up. He'd been that way since I was first drafted to the minors up in Toronto, all the way until now.

"No," I replied, "I can't stand when Coach gets like that."

"When he does what? His job?"
 

I glared at Dave.

 

"I don't need a lecture from you mom."

"Hey, don't take it out on me, eh?" 

 

He reached for my hand to help me off the bench.

"You're right. Maybe I should retire."

"Bullshit," Dave retorted, "You're one of the top shooters in the entire league. You have to play."

 

"With those fines... I don't know."

 

"You did earn those fines."

 

"It was a joke," I growled.

 

How was it my fault no one had a sense of humor these days? On my feet, I lumbered out of the locker room door towards the ice.

 

“A joke that went over poorly. Cough up the money and move on. You don’t have to make a big deal out of this.”

 

“Félix wants to.”

 

“Félix is pissed. He should be pissed. We’ve had media training. You should have known better.”

 

I grunted in response and changed the subject.

"Is Jane in today?" I asked.

"What do you care?" Dave asked, folding his arms.

"No reason."

"You aren't thinking of getting back together with her, are you?"

I scowled, "No."

"Good. You were a bastard to her Luc. You broke her heart."

I grunted. Broke her heart. Yeah right. Jane knew exactly what she was signing up for with me. My reputation is no secret and the incident only made things worse. The guys were already on the ice, sticks in hand, pucks slipping back and forth across the frigid terrain. Home.

 

Dave stepped onto the ice before I did and he was off. I might have been the best shooter on the team, but Dave was the fastest. He started off on the first part of our warmup, sprints. I followed him, racing as fast as I could, my lungs stinging with the sharp blasts of cold air familiar to the first five minutes of the workout.

My heart rate caught up with my legs. We skated forward, bursting across the ice at unthinkable speeds. The rush of adrenaline sent me flying faster. Then backward. We skated backward, our feet crisscrossing as we infused our brutish sport with real grace.

 

Pucks flew onto the ice and Félix stood outside, glaring at me as we started shooting. Stamkos, the goalie, stood impenetrable in front of the net. I grinned as I flew down the ice towards him, smacking the puck at full speed, knowing he couldn't catch my shot. He missed and I whooped, to his dismay. My shooting made John one of the best goalies in the entire league. He could stop a puck flying at his face at 90 mph. He was that good.
 

"Good shot," he called. 

 

John's thick German accent meant I could hardly understand a word he said, but his respect was visible in his eyes. Practice went on like that. Tough. Hard. My muscles ached from four straight hours of sprinting. Coach Gagnon was right though -- we had to whoop Calgary. My old buddies from the minors played on the team. Cal Sampson, an irritating Texan with a stick up his ass played for Calgary, as did my former roommate, Leo Lip-Twitch. He had a Polish last name I can't be assed to remember but we all called him lip twitch because when he was intensely focused, his lip twitched. 

Hey, I never said our nicknames were clever, did I?

On the ice, I came alive. My senses heightened and my body performed at its peak, executing all I'd trained it to do. It's hard to describe to a weak man what strength feels like, but it's like being high... all the time. Endorphins and adrenaline coursed through my veins as I dribbled the puck down the ice.

 

 

As I came close to scoring, our new recruit Henrik skated out of nowhere and flicked the puck out of my control.

"Bastard..." I growled.

 

He dribbled the puck back in the opposite direction as I chased him. For a new recruit, he was good, but the experience made me better. I caught up with him in a matter of seconds, but instead of pushing my stick out to grab the puck, I thrust it between his legs, causing him to fall over.
 

"Watch it," I growled, as he toppled over, losing his balance.

 

When Henrik returned to his feet, he glowered at me, hot rage surging through his pink face, his long blond hair covering his eyes through his helmet.

"Asshole," he grunted.

 

He lunged at me, but I was faster than him. I dodged his punch and landed another one on him. He grunted and hit me in the stomach. Where did that little punk learn how to hit like that? I grabbed his pads and pushed him against the wall, hitting him until I heard Gagnon's familiar shout.

"ENOUGH. LUC. OFF THE ICE. MAINTENANT!"
 

I eased off Henrik. His nose was only bleeding a little, but his face was redder. Like most young recruits, he wasn't afraid of fighting, but he didn't enjoy getting his ass handed to him.

 

Once I eased off him, Henrik skated to join the others, dribbling the puck he'd stolen from me playfully across the ice. Gagnon's face said everything once I was off the ice. I knew he was going to chew my ear out but this time, I was ready for him. Henrik knew the rules on the ice. He knew how our team played. He got what was coming to him for stepping out of line. 

 

After practice, Coach gathered us around.

"You boys did great. You, Dave, stay after practice."

"Me?" I asked.

"Did I stutter?" Gagnon replied, his French accent thickening with his frustration.

"Yes, sir." 

Gagnon sent the rest of the team off to get some rest, but he held me and Dave behind.

"It's clear we need to talk."
 

I glowered at him, "Henrik knows how we play. That little punk deserved it."

"Silence!"

 

I kept my mouth shut. Dave glared at me, encouraging me to stop being such a smart ass for once. 

 

"You need to make some changes Luc. I can handle you, but the boss doesn't like liabilities."
 

"It was one fight!" I protested, "That's what the game is about."

 

"Henrik is a new recruit but he is still your teammate. He is Swedish, just like you are you big lug. So show him some respect and keep your bloody hands off him. There's so much fire under your ass I could roast a fuckin' pig!" Gagnon spat.

 

He was practically foaming at the mouth and I struggled to keep my amusement under wraps. 

"Coach, I'll pay the fines. It'll be fine."
 

"Non!" Gagnon hissed, "It will not be fine. You fail to understand how serious this is Luc."

 

"With all due respect coach, why am I here?" Dave asked.
 

"Because you," Coach spat, "Are going to keep this crazy Swedish bastard in line."

 

Dave glared at me, "Got it. Do the impossible."

 

Gagnon chuckled. 

"That's not all. We're going to your publicist's office right now to discuss your next move."

Then I scowled.

"Coach, I'm tired. I killed it on the ice. All I want is to head home so my trainer can put my legs on ice and give me a killer massage."

Gagnon glared, murder in his eyes. 

 

"Luc, don't argue," Dave suggested.

"Fine," I growled, "Let's meet with the publicist." 

 

"Good," Coach said, "10 minutes, 42nd Street." 

 

It wasn't possible to get down to 42nd Street in 10 minutes but I got the message: hurry down there and try not to piss anyone else off. Coach left for his car and Dave and I walked back into the locker room to shower and change.

 

We showered in silence. I could tell Dave was pissed at me. 

 

"Hey man, I'm sorry you got roped into this," I said, hoping to make peace as I dragged a comb through my thick, shoulder length brown hair.

 

"You've got to stop messing around Luc."

"I know."

"What was that stunt with Henrik about, eh?"

"He's a punk."

 

"He's 19. He's just a kid. You should know better."

 

"Yeah, I keep getting that."

 

"Listen," Dave said, "I'm pissed at you but you can fix this okay? When you meet with Polly, she'll tell you what to do."

 

"Polly's an idiot."

"She's not an idiot. She's done PR for players up and down the coast."
 

"I said what I said."

"Hey, I'll have Ramon pull the car around," Dave said.

 

I nodded. Sure. My car was stuck on the Upper East Side since I hadn't expected to be allowed to stay for practice. I followed Dave and we stepped into his car to drive to my publicist's office. Traffic was thick and we were way off Gagnon's ten-minute deadline. He stood outside the office, waiting for us with a scowl on his face.

 

We walked inside and were instantly buzzed upstairs to Polly Patterson's fifth-floor office. 

 

Polly's desk was absolutely covered in papers. When we walked in, she scrambled to push them all into a pile before searching for her tortoiseshell reading glasses amongst the mess.

"Come in, come in. Félix, Luc... Dave..."

 

She offered each of us chairs.

 

"So... what are we here to discuss?" she asked, pursing her thin, pink lips into a faint half-smile.

"Why don't you tell us? I can't escape this media shit storm and I need a way out."

 

Gagnon cleared his throat, "What Luc is trying to say is, we need to find out how you're going to fix this."

"Ah. Right. Fix this."

 

Polly rifled through more papers on her desk, searching through them in vain.
 

"One moment, I have your case file right here..."

 

She shuffled more papers and a huge stack fell off her desk onto the floor.

"Shit!" she huffed.

 

Dave, ever the gentleman, got off his chair to help clean them up. I didn't. I kept staring straight ahead at Polly, wondering how the hell this woman could keep it together enough to do her job.

 

"Polly, stop searching," I barked.

 

She stopped. Dave and Félix both stared at me. Dave knew what was coming, but it was clear Félix didn't. He probably thought it was just me being me, doing something wild and crazy again without thinking it through.

 

I stood.

"Without looking, tell me exactly what the problem is with my public image right now?"

 

"Um... Um..." 

 

Polly looked terrified. I didn't care. I was angry. I forked over $40,000 a month to her firm to keep everything straight for me and she couldn't even get me a straight answer to the simplest question I could ask. My eyes narrowed, the way they did when I focused on getting the puck into the net.

"Let me tell you what's happening here Polly. I've paid this company a total of $1,000,000 over the years to keep my public image spotless. I make money on the ice, but I also make money through brand sponsorships. Everyone in this room knows I'm a notorious fuck up. Your job is to squelch those fuck ups."

 

"Y-y-es Mr. Alfredsson, I'm aware."

"Let me finish," I interrupted, "Your job is to squelch these fuck ups and last week, boy did I fuck up. Didn't I Dave?"

"Yes Luc, you did."

"I got on National Television and suggested that kids in America need more cigarettes. Yes, it was a spur of the moment joke that got out of hand but it was your job to stop it from getting out of hand."
 

Polly stared back at me with widened eyes as if she were about to cry. I hadn't even raised my voice yet. My nose wrinkled in disgust and I approached her desk, taking all the papers that were on it and sliding them off onto the ground.

"This is a mess," I growled, "A hot mess. I don't think you have what it takes to clean it up."

"I do!" she squeaked, "We strategized and came up with a plan."

"What kind of plan?" I asked, folding my arms.

 

Her lips trembled before she spoke.

 

"W-well, we thought you could make a charitable donation to a lung cancer fund."

Dave and Félix exchanged glances, accurately anticipating my anger. 

 

I roared, "I blew it on national television and the best you can do for me is tell me to make a quiet donation? Polly. Polly, I want you to look at me."
 

She avoided my gaze. I stalked up to the desk, balling my fists and resting them on her desk.

 

"Look at me," I growled.

 

Polly's lips quivered as she looked up at me.

"You can't fix this Polly. I want you to look me in the eyes and tell me the truth. You can't fix this."
 

She whimpered as if she knew what would happen once she admitted me.

"Admit it!" I roared.

 

"I can't fix this," she mumbled.

"Tabernac!" Gagnon muttered. Dave frowned, his arms folded.

"Luc, be reasonable," Dave suggested.

"No Dave, I won't be reasonable. Polly, you're fired. Dave, Félix, get me out of here before I wreck something." 

 

I pulled a photo off of Polly's wall and slammed it onto the ground. It shattered and she squealed.

"Luc!" Dave warned.

"I said get me out of here!"

 

They two men escorted me out. I was fuming. My fists clenched and my jaw tightened. I could feel heat pulsing in my chest, the same heat that flowed freely when I was about to deck some poor pathetic bastard on the ice. If I hadn't gotten out of there, who knows what I would have done.

We walked out onto the street, security hot on our tail from the mess I'd made in Polly's office.

"Did that go how you thought it would?" I asked Félix.

"Bastard," he muttered, walking off without response to his car.

 

Even Dave seemed fed up.

"Be honest Dave. If Polly had looked you in the eyes and said that to you, what would you have done?"

 

"Fired her," Dave grumbled.
 

"Exactly."

 

"You don't think Luc," Dave continued to grumble, "She's gone now but you still have a massive problem on your hands. Did you think about how you're going to fix it?"

"Not yet." 

"You'd better figure something out. We have a game and the press will be hot on your ass after the last time."

"Yeah, I know."

"Figure it out, Luc. Don't fuck up again."

 

Dave’s frustration with me showed. Practice had been a nightmare and the meeting with Polly had gone even worse. I had a media firestorm blazing a trail behind me and I’d just fired my publicist. By all accounts, a terrible move. I’d be lucky if Félix let me on the ice after what I’d just done.

Ramon pulled his car to the front of the building and we entered silently. Dave was right. I couldn't afford to screw up again. 

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Kendra Queen Novels (BWWM HISTORICAL ROMANCE)

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BWWM Books: Cocky Cowboy | Jamila Jasper

Howdy BWWM Books Lovers, hop in the saddle and let's skedaddle over to Omaha, Nebraska, the Western setting for my upcoming March release, what I expect to be one of my top romance novels of the year: COCKY COWBOY.

You've just become privy to a little secret and this is your first glimpse at not only the cover but a gripping free sample of the first chapter. Yeehaw! 

If you love interracial romance stories, or if you don't give a damn about color and you just want some hot cowboy action, this is the book for you. Check out the description and then check out this sample 100% free. When you're done reading the sample, share this page with your friends. 

If you share this with 100+ people (Facebook friends, Instagram followers, Twitter followers, ladies who lunch), email me jamilajasperromance@gmail.com for a FREEBIE! 

 

Description: 

This should have been easy.

Hiding out from my ex in Omaha while helping an old woman on her ranch.

One problem…

Her son Kurt O’Connor.

I should have known better than to get involved.

He’s tall, a pillar of muscle, icy blue eyes… and cocky as h*ll! 

He doesn’t just want my body. 

He wants all of me. 

I must resist.

This is a romance novel between a 45 + year old black woman and a hot alpha male! 

If you think you're in for a wild ride... You're 100% right! 

Cocky Cowboy by Jamila Jasper | Romance Novel Excerpt 

 

 

“I’m not a good man. I’ve killed once before and I’ll do it again in a heartbeat.” 

 

I sat, clutching my cup of coffee and staring wide-eyed at Sam O’Connor as she spoke. Her strawberry blonde hair sat in a loose French braid down her back. Her wrinkled face still carried a few scars and her earthy-brown eyes glowed with fierce intensity.  She shook her head.

 

“He said that to me,” she continued, “And he whacked me so hard I had a black eye for weeks.”

 

She chuckled, then gazed off almost wistfully.

 

“The day he died was the best day of my life,” she mused.

 

I drank the rest of my tea and set the mug down on the hand-carved dining table. 

 

“The boys,” she shrugged, “Well the boys missed their father of course. But I didn’t. Billy belonged six feet under. He’s just lucky I wasn’t the one to put him there.”

 

Helen smiled at me and nodded.

 

“Well, I’m so grateful you agreed to have me ma’am,” I said, pushing some of the hair from my blunt haircut behind my big ears that I inherited from my brown-skinned daddy.

 

Sam smiled weakly, “I’m just hoping you can help me. It’s like Billy’s ghost is haunting me, letting me know that I’ll never know peace, even now that he’s gone.”

 

Her eyes narrowed and she exhaled loudly.

 

“Enough about me. Helen tells me you’re a detective?”

 

“I was a detective. I quit and started working freelance five years ago.”

 

“That pays better?”

 

“Yes ma’am,” I replied, “Plus, my ex-husband was a cop. As we drifted apart, it made sense.”

 

“A cop huh? Did he hit you?”

 

Her forwardness surprised me, but it wasn’t a question I hadn’t heard before and it wasn’t a question I was afraid to answer.

 

“Yes ma’am.” 

 

She shook her head, “These men think as soon as they get a little bit of power they can treat women how they want. So long as you’re helping me out, you can stay here as long as you like.”

 

Helen nodded, “It will be a good long while before she’s ready to head back to the East Coast.”

 

I glanced at her and she nodded approvingly. This was the last thing I expected to be doing, hiding out in Omaha, Nebraska from the man I’d thought I would spend the rest of my life with. But in this room of just women, women who had all been through tough times at the hands of men, I didn’t feel alone.

 

Sam smiled, “I got sons about your age. Maybe a bit younger.”

 

“Two of ‘em,” Helen added, “How are the boys?”

 

Sam rolled her eyes, “Helpin’ me out and causin’ me mischief too.”

 

“Do any of them know what’s been going on?”

 

Sam shook her head, “No. If they know any more than I do, they haven’t let on.”

 

“I see.”

 

Helen grinned, pushing a few of her thin frayed dreadlocks out of her face.

 

“Nicki asks a lot of questions,” she said.

 

“It’s how I get closer to the truth.”

 

“We need some of the truth around here,” Sam replied, “Would you like something to eat dear? You’re awfully skinny. No good food out East?”

 

I grinned, “No thanks ma’am, I’m not hungry.”

 

Helen added, “Nicki used to be a vegan.”

 

“A vegan?” Sam raised her eyebrows as if she found the concept ridiculous.

 

“Not anymore,” I replied, “Anemia.”

 

“Well a good bit of meat never killed anybody. Out here, we slaughter all our own.”

 

“You got animals on the ranch?”

 

Sam nodded, “Yes ma’am. We got pigs, horses, cows, chickens… If you expect to stay ‘round here I’ll expect you to help. I’ll go easy on you. I don’t want to scare you off.”

 

“I’m a tough cookie. I can handle more than you think.”

 

“Well good ‘cause as I’m getting older the arthritis in my fingers acts up something crazy.”

 

She spread her fingers wide and then clenched them together in a delicate fist that hid all the bruises and calluses on her palms from decades of hand washing, roping cattle and tending the earth.

 

Helen touched Sam on the knee.

 

“I only got five minutes dear.”

 

Sam smiled, “When you gonna stop being such a rolling stone?”

 

Helen cracked her caramel colored skin into a smile, shaking her dreadlocks out of her face where they’d once again fallen. The silver and turquoise beads on her dreads clinked together, creating music with every movement of her head. 

 

“When life gives me a reason to settle down, I guess.”

 

At fifty, that had yet to happen. Helen lived out of her VW bus, traveling the country selling turquoise jewelry and tarot readings. Given her dreadlocks, her nose ring and her tattoos, she made a convincing fortune teller. I’d never asked her outright if it was all a con, but let’s just say I didn’t believe in her New Age woo-woo.

 

“You takin’ that rickety ole thing back over to Los Angeles?”

 

“Yes I am,” Helen smiled proudly. We all glanced at the VW bus that had taken me to Omaha parked out in the driveway. At some points on the highway, I wasn’t sure Helen was going to get me there in one piece. But now, she was heading out again, leaving me in a strange land with my suitcase of possessions, my modest savings and a house full of strangers.

 

Anything was better than staying in Boston. 

 

“Just make sure you drive safe,” Sam warned.

 

“I always do.” 

 

“And you stay away from that reefer,” Sam chastised.

 

Helen smiled and then winked at her old friend, promising nothing. 

 

“Take care of this one,” Helen told her, indifferent to my presence, “Make sure she don’t go back out there for a good long while.” 

 

Sam nodded, “Yes ma’am.”

 

“I’ll be fine Helen. I’m grown.”

 

Helen snorted, “You grown… I’ve known you since you were a child. You’ll always be Jamie’s little friend.”

 

Helen’s younger brother, now deceased, was the thread that had held us together. An old friendship from my childhood had been what ultimately rescued me from my husband’s mercy. Her rescuing had taken me further west than I’d ever been and further into the country than I was comfortable.

 

“I’d best be off,” Helen said when she was about to leave.

 

Helen had mastered goodbyes in a way I hadn’t. I teared up while hugging her but was sure not to let any tears fall. I was too old for crying. Too old to put up with a man beating me. Too old… That’s what everyone told me.

 

Sam was worse than I was, weeping about how she wasn’t sure she’d ever see Helen again. My guess was she didn’t get many visitors. We walked Helen out to her bus and she put on her Jimi Hendrix, blaring it from her tinny stereo as she pulled off. A dust cloud billowed into the unpaved road and like that her bus chugged off on the road to nowhere… 

 

Sam wiped her hands on her apron.

 

“That woman is something…”

 

“Yeah,” I muttered, “She’s something.”

 

“Braver than I ever was,” Sam continued, “That’s for damn sure.”

 

I didn’t respond to that one.

 

“I s’pose it’s time I give you a tour of the ranch. But I’ll let you get cleaned up and settle in first.”

 

“Thanks ma’am.”

 

“I got you a nice little suite upstairs. I designed it myself for guests. It’s got its own bathroom, own little balcony and everything.”

 

“I’m sure it will be lovely.”

 

“C’mon in then.”

 

Sam held the screen door open as I marched in beside her. Alone on the ranch with her and the sound of tractors outside, my isolation dawned on me. I hadn’t seen anything suspicious or felt any strange nagging at my gut, but even if I had, I’d now committed to spending at least six months out here. We creaked across the floorboards and up the stairs. Sam pointed to the two rooms at the end of the hall.

 

“That’s Kurt’s room and that’s Dierks’. Mine is downstairs. And yours is right through here…”

 

She pushed open the first door on the left which opened into a room far larger than I’d expected. Sam maintained the farmhouse decor, but a few modern touches like an air conditioning unit for the summer months, a memory foam mattress and a large shower made the space familiar. 

 

“It’s lovely,” I acknowledged, eyeing the well-curated decor of hens, roosters and other farm animals. 

 

The white sheets on the bed had tiny little cow patterns on them and the cozy comforter was ivory and real down. Sam opened up the old dresser, showing me where I could put my clothes.

 

“Now I’ll leave you to it for a minute. I’ll be up in twenty.”

 

“Thanks Mrs. O’Connor.”

 

She grimaced, “Please, Sam.”

 

“Sorry Sam.”

 

Her grimace turned into a smile and she walked out of the room, leaving me to my own thoughts for the first time since I’d entered her home. I peered out the window over the flat rolling fields. I’d expected Nebraska to be flat but the cornfields stretched out for miles and miles creating an almost impressive vista. 

 

The fact that I didn’t know a single soul in Nebraska except for Sam O’Connor was a relief to me. I was tired of answering questions about Dominic. I was tired of the judgmental stares or the whispers about the bruises on my arm. The rumors and the lies had chased me out west and now that I was here, I’d have a chance to start over. 

 

I turned over the events of the past month as well as my week long road trip with Helen. I unpacked my clothes in the drawer and hid my jewelry box under the mattress. I hung onto that box with all those memories of Dominic tucked inside, not because I wanted to remember him but because I’d let go of every other part of my identity. I needed something to remind me of who I was, at least who I’d been when I married him.

 

I unpacked and flopped back on the bed, running my hands through my new haircut, wondering where the heck I was going to find someone to do my hair in Omaha. 

 

A shout interrupted my ruminations. 

 

“BULLSHIT KURT AND YOU KNOW IT.”

 

A bass drawl boomed across the open fields. 

 

Kurt. If I remembered correctly, that was one of Sam’s sons. I glided towards the window and pulled the lace curtain aside just an inch so I could peer through the window without detection. No one had mentioned to me that Sam’s sons weren’t too fond of each other.

 

A deeper, quieter voice responded, “Stop making a damn racket. Ma will be out here with her shotgun again.”

 

The voices came into view. Sam’s “boys” were men, younger than me, but still men. From my estimation, they were both in their mid-thirties. They were young, but not young enough to be considered kids.

 

“I DON’T GIVE A DAMN. Y’HEAR THAT?”

 

“Listen, you need to calm down or I’ll sock you in the mouth.”

 

“I’D LIKE TO SEE YOU TRY YOU LYIN’ BASTARD.’”

 

The brown-haired one spat at his blonde brother. The blonde one rushed him and a knock at my door forced me to turn away from the fight which had now gone silent — at least from the second floor.

 

“Are you ready?” 

 

“Come in!”

 

Sam came in with a smile on her face and flour on her starched white apron.

 

“Baking downstairs. C’mon it’s time for me to show you the ranch.”

 

“Yes ma’am.” 

 

I glanced towards the window but I couldn’t make out where her sons had gone. As we walked through the fields, the pens and the barn, I caught no sight of Sam’s sons. But you bet your bottom dollar I still had questions about them.

 

“How old are your sons?”

 

“Kurt’s 35 and Dierks is 32.”

 

Mid-thirties just as I’d guessed.

 

“They work for you?”

 

“Yes ma’am. Kurt works with the horses and he traps furs. Dierks manages the farm hands.”

 

“Do you have many employees?”

 

Sam shook her head, “Not since the first frost. They’ll start up closer to the start of summer. Right now it’s just Jack.”

 

“How long has he been working for you?”

 

“Jack Wilson’s an old friend of Dierks. He’s a mean drunk but he shows up to work on time and he don’t ask for much money.”

 

Sam’s country accent made her more personable to me and she got real comfortable as we moved around the ranch and she explained what my morning duties would be. I listened to her while absorbing every detail of my environment. This was my new home. Most importantly, this was the site of my newest case. Sam had yet to explain what was happening precisely, but I’d gathered from Helen it was something bad and that I’d need to be alert.

 

“I’ll take you through the fields to meet the Brody family.”

 

“Neighbors?”

 

“Uh huh. Bitches too.”

 

I gasped and stifled a chuckle as I heard Sam cuss. She’d given off the impression that she was a good frontierswoman who minded her manners and kept her language polite. 

 

“What makes you say that?” I asked, both bemused and curious. 

 

Maybe one of those despised Brodys was what had been causing the trouble.

 

“When you meet ‘em, you’ll know.”

 

We eased through the cornfields and came to a small house. A man lay on the porch with a hat over his head. It was only when we approached the porch that I noticed this “man” was a woman wearing red lipstick. She was tan with freckles over her nose. Her hair was dyed black and she had a scowl on her pretty face.

 

“Good afternoon Mrs. O’Connor.”

 

“Hi Emma, is your mama home?”

 

If these people didn’t like each other, you couldn’t tell. Not yet at least. They hid their disdain beneath Midwestern politeness and broad smiles. 

 

“I’ll go get ‘er.”

 

Emma hopped to her feed, brushing her hands on her overalls and looking me up and down with a cheeky grin on her face.

 

“What’s her story?”

 

Sam glowered, “She’s a friend. She’ll be staying with me for a while.”

 

Emma snickered.

 

“Her? Out in Omaha? You warned her yet?”

 

I could tell Sam was getting all hot and bothered, but I could handle myself.

 

“I love Nebraska so far.”

 

“Yeah well, it’s a piece of shit.” 

 

Emma opened the door to her house and stepped inside, yelling up to her mother.

 

“MA! OLD SAM IS HERE! SHE’S GOT A BLACK CHICK WITH HER.”

 

I started to understand where Sam was coming from and why she might not have been fond of the Brody family. Stomping down the wooden steps alerted us that Emma’s ma was coming. The woman pushed past her daughter to stand with us on the porch. Emma stood next to her mother, slouching and slinging her hands into her pockets. She had stretched ears, thick Kohl black liner and a few nose and liprings. Not exactly the “cowgirl” you’d expect.

 

“Hi,” Emma’s mother introduced herself, “I’m Nancy.”

 

“Nicki. Pleased to meet you.”

 

Her palm lay limp in mind as I gave her a strong, confident handshake. I pulled my hand away and she wiped hers on her denim.

 

Nancy and her daughter had the same sharp blue eyes, but Nancy’s hair was a wheat blonde color, likely what Emma’s had been too. She dressed in simple jeans and a t-shirt with her blonde hair falling down to the middle of her back in gentle waves. A kerchief wrapped around her head kept her hair from falling into her face.

 

“Sam,” Nancy said, folding her arms, “Are you here to make accusations again?”

 

“No,” Sam replied, “Wanted to show Nicki a friendly face.”

 

Her sneering look told me that Nancy was who Sam really had problems with. The feeling appeared mutual. 

 

Nancy snorted, “What the heck are you doing out here in Omaha? You look like a real urban kind of girl.”

 

The way she said urban made my skin crawl, but I ignored it. I was too grown and experienced in life to let passive prejudice get under my skin.

 

“I’m helping Sam.”

 

“The problems at the ranch,” Sam continued, “She’ll be investigating. She’s a private eye.”

 

Nancy raised her brows and smirked in disbelief.

 

“Her?”

 

“Yes ma’am,” I interjected.

 

Nancy chuckled, “So you think she’ll help you find out who’s haunting the ranch? Well we all know it’s Billy darling.”

 

“Haunting?”

 

I narrowed my eyes. Sam had led me to believe this was a real mystery, not something paranormal. I’m a detective — a shrewd one at that — I believe in what I see right in front of me. I didn’t believe in hauntings of any kind.

 

“Yes,” Nancy continued, “Didn’t Sam tell you.”

 

I looked at Sam with confusion, wondering what was going on and wondering if I’d come out here for no reason.

 

“You and I both know it’s not a haunting,” Sam hissed, “There’s no such thing as ghosts.”

 

“It sure looks like a ghost,” Nancy retorted with a shrug.

 

“And acts like a ghost,” Emma added.

 

Sam’s face reddened and I could tell she needed a way out.

 

“I’m sure you’ll explain the whole thing later,” I offered.

 

Emma chuckled, “Well good luck.”

 

Sam’s face now shifted from red to purple and I thought she was going to smack Emma Brody right in her smug face.

 

Before Sam could say anything else, we heard gunshots. Loud ones.

 

“FUCK. YOU.” 

 

I recognized the voices from Sam’s fighting sons. The gunshots continued and Emma chuckled.

 

“He’s shootin’ at his damned brother again?”

 

Sam’s face went from pale to ghost-white.

 

“Want me to grab my gun and silence ‘em?” Emma asked, gesturing towards the O’Connor house with an imaginary shotgun.

 

“No,” Sam replied, “We’ll be leaving. I’ll deal with the boys myself.”

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