swirl romance

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 | SEAL's Captive | Book #1 BWWM Captive Series

seals captive dark romance books bwwm bad boy military romance us navy seal romance novelThe first installment of the BWWM Captive Series, SEAL's Captive was nothing like what I had expected. I first published this book under the title Bringing The Heat. The only issue? There was no heat. I got everything wrong and the book was a total flop.

I could have given up, but I didn't want to. I loved the story, and I knew with some more work, I could bring you a book that you would love just as much as I did. I made big changes. I consulted with a cover designer and told her that I wanted the best look for my readers. She came up with this cover you see here. But that wasn't enough...

I had to tweak to the story so I did. I made it hotter. I added in details and I opened the story up to further exploration in Book 2 and Book 3 of the trilogy.

This is the beginning of a story that's about both love and sisterhood. Three black women are connected by a father that they barely know and his death sends the heiresses spiraling into a dark world that they'd grown up knowing nothing about. In this extraordinary world, they find men capable of loving them more than they'd ever anticipated and from the darkness that they are thrust into, they find a beacon of light...

These stories aren't "too serious" either... I made them plenty steamy with hot new locations for hanky-panky that will have you heading out to experiment with hubby TONIGHT. Don't believe me? Check out this free sample and read the available books in the trilogy. You'll have a WILD time, I promise.

Romance Novel Excerpts: SEAL's Captive | Book #1 BWWM Captive Series

DADDY'S FUNERAL

Gigi barely knew her father. She knew that he was wealthy and that her mother had been knocked up at nineteen years old by a man a decade older than her.

 

Jerome Jackson had always been a mysterious absentee figure. To Gigi, he was daddy, the person who paid for her education, the person who sent her to horseback riding camp,  he'd sent her on trips to Mallorca and Bangkok, but he'd never been there.

 

Gigi could count on her hands the number of times she'd seen him in person.

 

Gigi stood next to her two half-sisters looking down at the body of the man she barely knew. Jerome Jackson — born June 11th, 1958, died February 14th, 2017.

 

Dinah was the one who had found him. As she told it, he’d been sitting in his study with his hand clasped around a glass of whiskey.

 

Gigi stood next to the sister that she barely knew and slipped her hand into hers. Dinah was crying, but neither Gigi nor their third sister Tyra could muster up tears yet. Neither of them knew Jerome quite the way that Dinah did. Dinah was the only one who had grown up with him.

 

The funeral would start in forty-five minutes. Strangers would fill this room and gawk at her father’s body. Most of them would probably know Jerome better than Gigi ever had. Her father, the stranger.

 

Even if he had been a stranger, Jerome had ensured Gigi had the best of the best. She’d attended the best private day schools in New York and then she’d been shipped off to a New England boarding school for high school. All on her father’s dime.

 

In her community, Gigi’s life had caused whispers. Despite her expensive education, she had grown up in a small two-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn. Her mother’s job as a public school teacher could never have afforded her all the luxuries she had growing up.

 

She’d only met and hung out with her sisters three times in the past. When Gigi was eighteen years old  — Tyra, sixteen, Dinah, fifteen — Jerome persuaded Gigi’s mother to let Gigi join him for a special summer vacation. He thought it was important for all his daughters to know each other. After much pleading, Gigi remembered her mother reluctantly allowing her to go.

 

She remembered being eighteen and standing in line at JFK, ready to meet her father in person for only the tenth time in her life. She remembered the image she had constructed of him from his letters alone and filled in by her active imagination. She remembered picturing her sisters in her head; she imagined they would all be perfect copies of her, the best friends she’d been searching for her whole life.

 

Gigi cracked a smile as she recalled that vacation. It had been far from perfect. Tyra and Dinah were nothing like her and they were used to being “only children”. Jerome hadn’t been the perfect father either on that vacation. Instead of spending time with them, he’d given them each a credit card and sent them off on their own. Gigi and her two sisters had an insane month in Paris together followed by a month in London. There had been laughter, shopping... and more fighting than ever.

 

Those were some of the best and worst memories Gigi had of Jerome. She reached out and touched his stiff hand in the coffin. Those tears finally found their way out of her eyes. Dinah squeezed her hand tightly and rested her head on Gigi’s shoulders.

 

“I don’t know if I can do this today,” Tyra whispered.

 

“Well. We have to.”

 

“I know,” Tyra replied, “But I think I’ll need a drink.”

 

“Don’t drink too much,” Gigi warned.

 

“Easy for you to say,” mumbled Tyra.

 

“I think I’ll have whatever you’re having.”

 

They walked into the other room. It felt strange having the funeral out of Jerome’s house, but that was what he requested. He'd been specific too. He wanted the viewing, the repast, and funeral in the foyer downstairs and then he’d be cremated later that week. Each of his daughters would get 1/3 of his ashes and 1/3 of his assets.

 

He might have been more absent than not, but he’d always provided financially, even in death.

 

Dinah had hired an event coordinator to manage the entire affair. They approached Jerome’s bar and each ordered a drink. Tyra ordered a stiff whiskey on the rocks (Jim Beam, just like her father drank).

 

Dinah ordered a glass of white wine. Gigi ordered cranberry juice with a splash of vodka in it. She wanted the presence of mind throughout this entire affair. She wanted to remember — even if remembering would hurt like hell.

 

She felt sad that Jerome had died but not from missing him. Heck, she’d grown used to missing him her own life. What really gnawed at Gigi’s heart was all the time she didn’t get to spend with her father. She realized all the things she didn’t know about him. She knew that he’d made millions of dollars in investment banking and investing in technology. She knew that he was a renowned womanizer who hadn’t just dated their mothers but a number of celebrities.

 

But Gigi didn’t know how he liked his coffee. She didn’t know what her father liked to do in his downtime. All she knew was that he’d worked, provided and then died. His personality would always be a mystery to her. His death was so painfully final. She downed as much of her drink as she could manage, her racing mind causing her to rethink her abstinence from alcohol.

 

“What happens next Dinah?” Tyra asked.

 

Dinah morosely took a sip of her wine before answering. By some cruel fate, the youngest of them had been completely responsible for putting all of this together. She was the only one of them who really knew Jerome. She’d grown up in this very mansion and ultimately, she’d been the one to find her father’s body. It was like Dinah was suffering just for being the only one of Jerome’s children he’d paid any mind.

 

“I meet with the estate lawyer and the accountant. You guys don’t have to stay here. Once you send me your banking information and addresses, I should be able to sort it all out.”

 

“Jesus,” Tyra mumbled.

 

“It’s a lot of money,” Gigi confirmed.

 

Dinah smiled, “I guess it is. I’m just so used to all this, you know?”

 

Tyra nodded, “Lucky you. I grew up in East L.A. Daddy provided for me but mama would have never let any of this get to my head.”

 

Dinah furrowed her brow a bit.

 

“Don’t mean any offense.”

 

“None taken. It’s just… Sometimes I wonder how daddy could have left y’all across the country. Why me?”

 

Gigi shrugged, “My mama had me at nineteen. It was a long time ago. Maybe with you he just wanted things to be different.”

 

“I guess. But it still bothers me. Doesn’t it bother you? That we didn’t grow up together?”

 

Tyra and Gigi exchanged glances. Yes, it did bother them. Of course, it did. Their father was internationally renowned and incredibly wealthy but for a reason, neither of them knew, he’d only picked the youngest of them to take care of properly.

 

To them, Jerome was a more of an idea than a person. Dinah was the only one of her sisters who had grown up with a real father.

 

“I guess it bothers me,” Tyra mumbled.

 

“Well, we have a chance to get to know each other now,” Gigi offered.

 

Dinah sighed, “But how? After this… you’ll head east and Tyra’s going to head west.”

 

“And then you’ll be the baddest bitch left in Costa Rica,” Tyra grinned.

 

The three of them laughed. It was the first time that the three of them had shared a proper laugh since they’d arrived at Jerome Jackson’s tropical mansion. This was the country that Dinah had grown up in while Gigi was away at boarding school and while Tyra had attended a private day school in California.

 

“Well, since we only have a few minutes, why don’t we just have another drink,” Dinah said.

 

They were starting to realize that like it or not, they would have an emotionally exhausting day. They ordered second rounds of their drinks as time ticked towards the start of the funeral service.

 

“Do you remember Paris?” Gigi asked.

 

Dinah cracked a smile.

 

“Yes, I remember Paris. It was insane… The drinks, the shopping…”

 

“The fighting…” Tyra finished.

 

“What did we even fight over?”

 

“Everything,” Gigi smiled.

 

“It all seems so silly and so far away,” Tyra replied.

 

Dinah nodded, “Daddy barely even spent any time with us that vacation. We had no clue about anything but we ran around the streets of Paris like little African princesses.”

 

Gigi had never really thought of herself as African, but Dinah wasn’t wrong to refer to them as such. Their father, Jerome Jackson was an African immigrant who changed his name when he was eighteen years old to the alliterative, Americanized name Jerome Jackson.

 

Gigi had no clue who her father had been before he’d changed his name. Growing up in Brooklyn, she was utterly cut off from her Nigerian heritage. She never even thought about it. As far as she was concerned she was just a regular African American girl. Tyra felt the same way.

 

“Have you been to Nigeria?” Tyra asked Dinah, letting Gigi know that they were probably thinking the same thing.

 

Dinah pushed the hair from her wig out of her face and she nodded.

 

“Yeah. I went last year to daddy’s mansion in Maitama. It’s beautiful out there.”

 

“I can’t believe I’ve never gone.”

 

Dinah shrugged, “Maybe we should go there sometime. After the funeral.”

 

“If I can get time off work,” Tyra answered.

 

Gigi wondered if Tyra was serious.

 

They would each be inheriting something to the tune of $42 million dollars each. They would co-own his mansion in Costa Rica, his apartment complex in Chicago and the mansion in Maitama.

 

For the rest of their lives, they could sit back and relax. With a team of investors to manage their portfolios, accountants, and lawyers, they would never have to work again. Gigi always knew her father had money, but she didn't realize it was this much until he'd passed.

 

Once learning about the inheritance, she struggled to imagine working again and heading back to the daily grind.

 

She’d struggled in her adulthood since graduating from college and she didn’t feel ashamed about putting an end to that struggle, whether or not she earned the money to do it. Tyra was different.

 

Maybe things are easier out in California, Gigi thought to herself.

 

They sat back and they reminisced about Paris. They reminisced about the boy that Gigi had fallen for in France — a black twenty-year-old Parisian named Christophe. They reminisced about the time Dinah drank so much they had to sneak her into the apartment through the back entrance. They reminisced about how Tyra had almost had them kicked out of a nightclub because she tried to fight a loud-mouthed bully on Dinah’s behalf.

 

As they reminisced, they did everything to try to forget the fact that their father’s body was dressed up in a custom Italian designer suit only a few feet away.

 

They tried to forget the fact that this might be the last time they all saw each other. They tried to forget about all their anxieties about growing older, about love, happiness and the lot of it.

 

“Are any of you married?” Dinah asked.

 

Gigi and Tyra both shook their heads.

 

“Nope.”

 

“Nah.”

 

“Do you ever want to be?” Dinah asked.

 

Tyra shrugged and Gigi nodded.

 

“I do. But I’ll need to meet the right guy. Maybe I’m getting too old though.”

 

“Nonsense!” Tyra said, “There’s no such thing as too old.”

 

Dinah replied, “Well, I don’t think I want to get married. I watched daddy go through three wives in my childhood. None of them could have kids and none of them lasted very long.”

 

They were silent again. Even if they tried, they couldn’t help but think of Jerome. The good, the bad, the ugly — they were forced to confront all of it now in his death.

 

“I never knew he was ever married.”

 

Gigi knew about her father's other children but she didn't know enough about him to know he'd had spouses.

 

“After I turned eighteen,” Dinah said, “But I still lived here after college and during vacations. So I got to see a lot of it. I wonder if any of them ever really loved him.”

 

“Are any of them coming today?” Gigi asked.

 

Dinah shook her head, “They all made excuses when I called.”

 

They were silent again as they were forced to confront another unpleasant truth. Jerome had a string of women on his arm but his actions had also made him many enemies throughout his life.

 

They talked until guests started to pull into the driveway. Black cars manned by mixed race Costa Ricans with thick dark curls and walnut brown skin pulled up and then all manner of Americans and Nigerians descended upon the Jackson mansion for Jerome’s funeral.

 

Gigi, Tyra, and Dinah waited by the door, playing the part of perfect daughters and loving sisters. They greeted everyone who came. A man gripped Gigi's hand with tears in his eyes and told her that her father was the most loving man he'd ever known. Gigi couldn't muster up tears in response, but it moved her to know that her father had impacted someone like that.

 

Maybe he wasn't all bad. Maybe he just couldn't do family the traditional way, she mused.

 

The house was filled with upwards of 100 guests who all fit into the viewing room. The priest arrived somewhere in the middle of the pack and Dinah pulled him aside to discuss the proceedings. Gigi took in the room before making her way to the reserved seats in the front.

 

The room smelled like new leather and designer perfumes. Gigi had never been surrounded by so much wealth in her life. The odd venue for the funeral bothered no one. The ultra-wealthy are accustomed to eccentricity.

 

Gigi's mind wandered as she waited for the priest to begin. She'd never understood what Dinah’s life had been like until now. In Paris, she remembered thinking Dinah was clueless, some barely-black Oreo who couldn't possibly understand what she'd been through. Now, she empathized with Dinah, for having to be enveloped in such a cold, stiff world.

 

The start time of the funeral drew near. Tyra joined Gigi in the front and their eyes moved over to Dinah as they waited for her to join them. The priest stood in the front of the room waiting to officiate and Dinah stood off to the side talking to a short, gently tanned latino man.

 

When Dinah finished speaking to him, she joined the duo.

 

“Who was that?” Gigi whispered to her.

 

“Luciano.”

 

“Who?”

 

Dinah whispered, “A friend of my father’s. He helped me get everything together today before you guys arrived.”

 

“Oh. I see.”

 

Before Gigi could ask any more questions, the funeral service started. The priest began to speak about her father’s life. Gigi started to learn things that she’d never known about Jerome. She learned about his childhood in Nigeria, where he'd been the smartest of his brothers who were now all dead.

 

His parents had pegged him out for success and he'd attended Oxford for two years before dropping out to begin his enterprises.

 

Enterprise was a good word for it, Dinah thought to herself. Neither her sisters nor the guests knew as much as she did about what her father had done to make his money. Except for Luciano, of course, the bearer of her father's secrets, the guests were ignorant.

 

When it came time for Jerome’s eulogy, Luciano was the one who stepped up to the podium to speak. Gigi drew her eyes to him, hopeful that she could gain some final lasting insight into the man her father was.

 

Luciano spoke with a thick Spanish accent, but he eulogized Jerome well. He spoke about their memories together in Costa Rica and all the times that Jerome bailed him out of trouble. He spoke to the heroic image of her father that Gigi had always carried with her (whether intentionally or not).

 

The image Gigi had of her father persisted as a Nigerian man that loved laughter, liquor, and making love with equal vigor. He had been boisterous, untamable and loyal to a fault once he decided you were worthy.

 

Gigi could feel tears spilling out of her eyes involuntarily. Dinah was weeping softly and Tyra sat up stone-faced. She never allowed her grief to be on display in the room full of people. Dinah and Gigi couldn’t help it. They all gripped each other’s palms as Luciano said his final words.

 

“…And I want to say a final goodbye to you, amigo. I promise that I will carry you in my heart forever and I will make sure that nothing happens to your beautiful daughters. Adios.”

 

Luciano left the podium and Gigi watched as a single tear streamed down his face. The room was filled with people who were either weeping or looking sullenly forward. The priest continued with the rest of the service and when the collection box was passed around, people dropped $100 bills into the box as if it were nothing.

 

Everything about that day had felt utterly surreal, including the ease with which a room full of people parted with what would total up to a year’s worth of her rent.

 

Gigi made mental notes of everything going on so she could remember to tell her mother. Her mother had declined the invitation, but Gigi promised her she'd spare no details about what happened.

 

Towards the end of the service, they sang and a friend of Dinah’s played the piano. And just like that, the funeral service was finished. The gangly events co-ordinator led the guests to the other room for a small wake while Gigi and her sisters said their final goodbyes to Jerome.

 

The end drew closer. Jerome's requests would be followed and carried out by his team of assistants. Their lives would change and three regular black women who barely knew each other would become heiresses overnight. Jerome would be cremated and the ashes would be split in three and shipped priority mail to Gigi and Tyra. This was it — their last time with their father.

 

Gigi’s chest balled up like a fist as she stood above her father’s body for the last time.

 

“Goodbye,” She whispered through her tears.

 

Tyra handed her a handkerchief which she used to dab beneath her eyes. Dinah planted a kiss on their father’s forehead and Tyra just stood there staring at him. Gigi thought her head seemed like it was swimming with thoughts. There was a lot to think about and a lot to mourn.

 

When the funeral home arrived and the coffin closed for the final time, Gigi felt the fist around her heart clench even tighter. They had to go back out there and face the folks who had all come expecting to see the three of them after the funeral.

 

“I’m starting to think the next part is what’s going to be the hardest,” Gigi said.

 

Dinah sighed, “You’re right. But… We can do it. I know we can.”

 

“At least we’ve got each other for this next bit.”

 

“Let’s go then.”

 

They pushed open the doors into the next room and walked out into the…

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Okay, I told you this book was going to get BUCK WILD and I will 100% deliver on that promise. All you have to do is click the link to keep reading: https://amzn.to/2rrCeRu 

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Do you want to check out the rest of the trilogy too? Bookmark this page and come back so you can read the next two books:
Book 2 | Ex Con's Captive: smarturl.it/exconscaptive

Book 3 | Hitman's Captive (available after Dec. 21st 2018): smarturl.it/HitmansCaptive

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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Dark Romance Books: Beauty & The Biker | Alpha Male MC Romance

alpha male bad boy bwwm romance novelY'all aren't ready. The BWWM romance novel I'll be publishing at the end of March is sizzling hot interracial romance deliciousness that you won't want to miss.

If you enjoy reading dark romance books with desirable alpha males, bad boys who make you swoon and strong black female heroes, you'll enjoy reading one of our top romance novels anticipated for the year.

Read the description below and then the first chapter FREE. 

Description:

Savage fighter. Ruthless leader. Icy blue eyes. 

My now ex-boyfriend lost me in a bet.

The winner? The ruthless leader of his rival motorcycle gang — Heath.

Heath is a cold-blooded killer, or so I’ve heard.

He expects total submission…

I don’t let anyone tell me what to do.

On the open road, I don’t have a choice.

I’m his. He won me fair and square.

And he won’t give me up without a fight.

Romance Novel Excerpt: Beauty & The Biker | Motorcycle Club Romance

Heath took me prisoner two days ago. Since then, I’d scoped out every opportunity to run. Clinging to him on the back of his Gold Wing, I scrutinized the landscape as we rushed past. Thick forests hung over the highway, shading us from the blazing heat of the sun beginning its descent in the sky. When all the bikes stopped and the men started their tune ups, I hung close to Heath’s bike. 

 

As he stooped down to check his tires, I checked on my cash.

 

I reached into my jeans and pulled out my wad of bills, mostly fives and ones. This was all the money I had but it would have to do. 

 

I counted it for the second time and prepared to run.

 

“Kaja, get over here,” he called and I rounded his shiny metal beast, my eyes darting furtively along the highway.

 

“Yes?” I folded my arms. 

 

My time approached.

 

“Hold this. I need to screw on the bolts,” he growled.

 

I stuck out my palm with a scowl on my face and he stuck the spanner in it with a bemused raised eyebrow.

 

“You don’t have to be so sour.”

 

“Whatever. I want to get out of here.”

 

He chuckled. 

 

“Bossy huh? We’ll see what you say when we get to Chicago and I off-load you onto the first toothless bastard I find.”

 

“Buzz off.”

 

He chuckled again and bent down to adjust his tires. 

 

“Spanner.”

 

I handed him the spanner. 

 

“Good.” 

 

He opened up the toolbox on the back of the bike and shoved it back in.

 

“Why the long face sunshine?”

 

“Don’t mock me,” I spat back, “I don’t have to put up with your bullshit.” 

 

“Suit yourself.”

 

“Ready to go you bastard?” Rhys approached and smacked Heath on the back, causing the two of them to erupt in guffaws. Heath’s laugh was a low chuckle while Rhys’ pierced the air with the same pitch as his Southern accent. Rhys ran his hands through his blond hair and stuck it in a loose ponytail.

 

“Damn straight,” Heath said, “Where’s Jacob and his girl?”

 

Don approached then zipping up his leather jacket and twirling his helmet in his hands.

 

“Those two love birds snuck off for a bit of nookie in the woods.”

 

Heath chuckled, “Joining ‘em this time?” 

 

Rhys snorted, “That slut? No thanks. She’s been passed around by every guy with a bike on the Eastern seaboard.”

 

Don chuckled and retorted, “Yeah right, you’re just pissed off she chose Jacob instead of you.”

 

“Fuck off,” Rhys snorted, putting his helmet on.

 

“Reckon I should go scare him out?” He touched the gun on his holster.

 

Heath shook his head, “Nah. They’ll be here soon.”

 

Don smirked, “Knowing Jacob, it should be about… 90 seconds.”

 

The men erupted into laughter again and I just stood there, glaring with my arms folded. I’d tried to go unnoticed but Rhys noticed my scowl and approached me pressing his fingers to my lips and flicking them.

 

“Why the long face? You ain’t find us funny?”

 

“No,” I spat back.

 

“Hey watch your mouth,” Rhys spat, “You’re nothing but a piece of meat and if you catch an attitude I’ve got no problem ditching your sorry ass on the side of the road.”

 

“Hey!” Heath interrupted, “Leave her alone.”

 

Rhys snickered.

 

“Whatever man, don’t defend her.”

 

Don grunted, “Don’t be a pussy Heath, he’s only joking. No one’s going to harm princess over here.”

 

The men laughed again, like I was some big joke. I kept my gaze steady, trying not to care. I wouldn’t be stuck with them much longer. Five minutes later, Angie and Jacob emerged from the woods holding hands and laughing.

 

“Not much stamina, Jacob?”

 

“Shut the fuck up,” Angie spat, “Watch your mouth Don or I’ll cut your tongue out?”

 

“Why so you can shove it up you —”

 

“Watch the way you talk to my lady buddy,” Jacob interrupted, stepping in front Angie.

 

“Geez, it’s just a joke.”

 

“Yeah well fuck off leprechaun.”

 

“Me ma’s Irish, that’s why I’ve got this red hair,” Don replied, doing his best imitation of an Irish accent and breaking the groups tension, sending everyone into fits of laughter.

 

“Let’s get out of here,” Angie said, “Princess looks like she’s going to shit bricks.”

 

She jutted her chin towards me, drawing even more attention than I wanted.

 

“I’m fine,” I spat.

 

Angie winked, her brilliant blue eyes twinkling with excitement. Her daisy dukes barely covered her thin, pale legs with blue veins trailing through them. Her long chocolate hair hung to the middle of her back and she fixed it into a ponytail before donning her helmet and hopping on her bike.

 

“Time to ride…”

 

I had no choice. I hopped on the back of Heath’s bike, clutching his torso as he revved the engine up.

 

“Don’t let go sweetheart,” he both commanded and taunted me.

 

I wouldn’t let go. With only twenty miles to the next fuel station, all I had to do was wait. Once we got there, I’d go to the gas station restroom and make my break for it. I knew these backroads well enough and this would be my last chance to escape before these hooligans dragged me God-knows-where.

 

We drove down the highway, wind whipping my dreads into the breeze and my breath fogging up the helmet. I clutched Heath tightly because I had no choice. I had no choice but to hold onto his body or go flying down the highway. 

 

The road stretched out for miles before it curved, deserted since rush hour had passed. We were deep in the New England boonies and wouldn’t hit traffic until New York. The Steel Dragons spoke about going around the city when they thought I wasn’t listening. I’d been preparing to take my last stand. 

 

However they managed city traffic wouldn’t be my problem. I needed patience. Heath’s gaze fixated on me whenever we’d stopped. I’d have trouble getting out of his sight at the gas station but he couldn’t follow me everywhere. I hadn’t said much, hoping they’d underestimate me. He kicked the stand up and I squeezed my arm around him tighter.

 

The bikes roared and they kicked up dust as they accelerated down the highway. Jacob and Angie rode side by side in the front, Rhys and Heath rode together behind them.

 

Holding down the flank were Don, and Clay. Don would be the hardest one to get something past. He was too sharp and he didn’t trust that I’d stay with the Dragons in the first place. He’d begged Heath not to bring me along but Don didn’t make the rules around here — Heath did. 

 

I breathed a sigh of relief when we pulled into the gas station as they’d planned. My heart skittered in my chest. I was too accustomed to fear to allow it to paralyze me. I got off the bike and took my helmet off.

 

“You stay here,” Heath growled as he walked to the pump.

 

“I-I need to go to the restroom.”

 

Heath looked me up and down.

 

“Fine. Be quick.”

 

He gestured for me to hand him the helmet so I did, relieved that I was now unencumbered. 

 

The gang stared at me as I entered the gas station. I could feel their eyes on my back and of course, Rhys dog whistled which earned him a warning punch from Heath. A tinny bell rang as I thrust the door open and as the door closed behind me. 

 

I stood alone with the attendant, tempted to ask him to call the police. If the police found me, they’d find out quick that I knew Trey Holt. They’d want me to talk and if I dared say one word my life would be on the line. No cops. I didn’t need them. The attendant at the desk eyed me and then eyed the gang, clad head to toe in black leather in stark contrast to my jeans and white tank top.

 

“You with them?”

 

“Y-yes,” I replied.

 

I was too scared to say much to anyone. The man snorted.

 

“You don’t look like the type.”

 

“C-can I use the bathroom?”

 

“You sure you okay ma’am?”

 

“Yes,” I replied, “I’m sure.”

 

“Okay, it’s back there behind the hot dogs.”

 

“Thanks,” I mumbled.

 

I’d been here before with Trey. A girl had been working that time but the gas station had no reason to change. I walked into the bathroom and closed the door, turning the lock and exhaling.

 

“Pull it together Kaja,” I muttered, wiping my sweaty palms on my jeans and looking up at the window, perched a few feet above me just as I remembered it.

 

I stood on the toilet, grunting as I shoved the small window open. I was small enough to fit and I’d considered running away the last time I’d come with Trey so I’d thought the plan through before. I grunted again as I thrust the entire window open. I reached up to the sill and grunted as I pulled myself up, shuffling my body through the window.

 

There was an eight foot drop from the window that landed on a patch of grass. Lucky freaking me. I tucked and rolled as I dropped. I stood to my feet and without looking back, I turned tail and ran.

 

The gas station was just outside of a small town with plenty of New England charm and an absence of any people. My feet pounded the pavement as I hurried towards the trees. My heart thumped in my chest and my stomach tightened. If I didn’t get away this time, Heath would be pissed and the rest of them would be pissed. I’d be stuck riding to California with a bunch of crazy assholes — who hated me.

 

I burst through the clearing and stopped to catch my breath, bending over my pressing my palms into my knees.

 

“THERE SHE IS!”

 

Shit. Angie ratted me out. So much for girl power…

 

I picked up the pace, adrenaline bursting through my chest and forcing my legs to carry me. At the other end of the clearing I’d have to cross the highway and then I could get to the strip mall. Once I got to the strip mall… Well someone in there had to have a phone. I could call Julie and she’d come get me. Wouldn’t she? I knew she was Trey’s sister but come on, Trey got me into this mess. It’s not like I wanted to be here in the first place.

 

I ran towards the light, through the trees, hopping over felled tree branches and avoiding deep murky puddles with rotting leaves. 

 

“Don’t you dare shoot her!” A voice called — this time Heath.

 

Yeah, I’m sure he wanted Don, Rhys or whoever had pulled the gun to keep their hands off his precious cargo.

 

“She’s heading to the mall, guys we have to split up!”

 

My chest tightened. They knew where I was going and they planned to stop me. I couldn’t stop running. I was less than 1/4 mile away from the entrance to the highway and if I was lucky, I could find someone passing by who would stop and pick me up. 

 

I heard the sound of motorcycles revving in the distance but I didn’t stop running until I exited the deep woods and stood at the edge of the highway on the other side of the guard rails. Traffic was far from heavy, but the roads weren’t deserted with a few family cars heading up to the Berkshires for the weekend. 

 

I climbed over the guard rail, listening for the choking and heaving of the motorcycle mufflers  and waiting for the right time to dash across the road. I stuck my thumb out as I waited, hoping for one of the two options to work out for me. 

 

My heart raced faster, my eyes snapped wider taking in every detail of the landscape from the tall evergreen trees to the leafy green maples to the dust kicked up by the Volvo rushing past. I stuck my arm out and waved but nobody stopped.

 

When I got a break in the road I started to sprint.

 

“Gotcha,” the voice came first them I felt the arms around me.

 

“AHHHHH!”

 

Heath. He’d caught up with me.

 

“Stop squirming and this will over soon.”

 

“LET. ME. GO.”

 

I shrieked.

 

I kicked back and struggled against him. Having height, weight and size as an advantaged meant I was powerless against him. It’s not like I couldn’t throw a punch mind you. With Trey, we’d had to defend ourselves a few times as we rode across the country from bar fights to fending off muggers. 

 

Heath stood a full foot taller than my 5’6” and he kept his body in immaculate physical condition. I screamed and kicked again but he pulled me deeper into the woods, back towards the gas station.

 

“Pull shit like that again and I’ll strip you down and leave you on the side of the road,” he growled.

 

“PUT ME DOWN! PUT ME DOWN! HEEELLLLPPPP!” I screamed.

 

“Shut up!” He growled.

 

“I’ll shut up when you put me down!”

 

“You tried to run. You lost the right to stand on your own two feet when you did that.”

 

Gasping for breath and desperate to stop his thick muscular arms from crushing me, I whimpered, “If you put me down I won’t run. I’ll go with you.”

 

He dropped me and I fell to the ground, screaming as my back hit.

 

“Get up,” he growled.

 

“OW!”

 

I sat up and glared at him as I got to my feet and dusted my hands off.

 

“That hurt.”

 

“Listen up missy.”

 

“What?”

 

“I won you fair and square… You aren’t going anywhere unless I tell you to.”

 

“It’s illegal to hold people captive you know.”

 

He chuckled, “Yeah, ‘cause I’m a real good guy right? Like Trey?”

 

“Don’t bring up Trey.”

 

Heath chuckled again, “I’ll bring up Trey if I want to princess. You’re mine.”

 

He snarled the word mine with such vitriol I flinched. 

 

“Y’know the way back is much faster running than walking.”

 

Heath chuckled, “Nice try. Make a run for it again and you’ll regret it.”

 

“Won’t be my only regrets,” I mumbled.

 

“Hush. Too much talking.”

 

The rest of the way back to the gas station we walked in silence. Heath walked behind me with his quiet long stride. When I burst through the trees fear gripped my chest again. 

 

“Keep moving. Say nothing.”

 

I nodded and kept going. Angie and Jacob straddled their bikes, visors turned up as they watched me.

 

“How far’d she get?” Angie asked with a wicked smile.

 

“Not very I bet,” Clay added.

 

The entire bunch of them laughed again and clinked their soda cans against each other before chugging them down and dropping the cans on the ground.

 

“Ready to ride outta here?” Don asked.

 

Heath grunted, “Yeah.”

 

“Get her on the back of your bike and make sure she doesn’t try anything else,” Rhys drawled with his thick Texas accent, “I’m sick of this. When you made that bet—” 

 

“Quiet,” Heath growled, “I don’t want a lecture.”

 

Angie nodded and gestured Rhys away from us.

 

“C’mon, leave him alone before he hits you again.”

 

Heath smirked at that. Angie got on her bike and led the charge, speeding out of the gas station with Jacob behind her.

 

“She gives too many orders for a woman,” Clay grumbled.

 

He and Don bumped fists and laughed, flicking down their visors and revving their engines into action. Heath turned around to face me before getting on.

 

“No more funny business.”

 

“Yeah. Whatever.”

 

“Listen,” he growled, “If your stupid boyfriend hadn’t bet you like a fuckin’ poker chip, you wouldn’t be here. So blame him.”

 

“He’s NOT my boyfriend!”

 

“Do I look like I give a rat’s ass? Boyfriend, ex-boyfriend, fuckin’ preacher, whoever the fuck he is, he owes me ten thousand dollars.”

 

“What if I could give you ten thousand dollars?”

 

He grunted and laughed.

 

“You don’t have ten grand. Put the helmet on and hold tight missy.”

 

He slammed his helmet on and flipped the visor down after handing me mine. I put it on. He was right. This was Trey’s fault. Trey had lost the right to call me his boyfriend the moment he’d traded me over to the leader of his rival gang. He’d apologized — of course, he always apologized — but that time I’d had enough of him..

 

Tensions had been flaring between me and Trey for a while. I’d been waiting for the chance and as I kicked and screamed slung over Heath Danger’s shoulder, there seemed to be no better time.

 

I straddled the bike, wrapping my arms around him. He adjusted my grasp and revved the bike up. The sound was like a drug to me. I squeezed tight as he started down the highway getting faster and faster until he caught up with the rest of the gang.

 

I grabbed onto his coat, my fingers cold without gloves. The scent of leather and dirt wafted in through the helmet. My faux leather jacket barely protected me from the elements. 60 mph. 70 mph. We were all headed west over 80, each of the dragons as fearless and furious as the wind.

 

Sunset approached and they’d have to stop again soon — this time for sleep. I hadn’t planned to be with them so long. My escape attempt failed and I feared what they’d do to me if I tried again. But if we stopped for the night, I’d have another chance. I clung to Heath until we stopped just after sunset.

 

“Let’s get some grub then we’ll head to the house,” Jacob said once the bikes had been parked.

 

“Did any of you stupid fucks tell Hannah about her?” Angie asked, jutting her chin towards me.

 

“I’ll deal with Hannah. Jake, keep your girl in line,” Heath growled.

 

“What the fuck did you say to me?” Angie asked, folding her arms. 

 

Jacob stepped between them.

 

“Hey, hey can you two cool it for a sec?”

 

Don grunted, “Keep her quiet. We’ll eat. Heath will deal with Han.”

 

Clay nodded, “Sounds good.”

 

We walked inside the Ponderosa and Heath chose our seats, ignoring the chipper hostesses direction.

 

They all ordered and as directed, I stayed quiet. I didn’t think they’d feed me but Heath got me my own steak dinner. I’d barely eaten all day so I didn’t mind staying silent while I wolfed down the entire steak, the mediocre mashed potatoes and the horrible coleslaw. 

 

Who knows when I’d get my next meal, especially if I managed to break away in the middle of the night. So far Heath hadn’t been cruel but I was still his prisoner.

 

Once I was done, Angie slammed down a little over a hundred on the table and tipped the waitress a fifty. The money they’d made for their last deal covered the gang as they traveled across the country to California to make another deal with Angie’s step-brother in L.A. 

 

I got back on the bike and we entered the small blue house with the white door one after the other after the men parked their bikes. Hannah wore nothing but a thin camisole with her nipples poking through and yoga pants. Her hair was a mess, she reeked of menthols and she kept itching her wrists as she told us which rooms we’d have.

 

“What’s her story?” Hannah asked about me.

 

“Mine,” was all Heath said. He didn’t answer any questions about me after that. I knew better than to open my mouth and speak when I hadn’t been spoken to.

 

He marched me upstairs and pointed towards an air mattress on the radiator.

 

“This is our room.”

 

“Our?!”

 

“Listen cupcake this ain’t the fucking Ritz Carlton.”

 

He prodded me until I entered the room. 

 

“Get on the mattress.”

 

“What?” 

 

I turned to face him, fists clenched, ready to fight him off if I had to.

 

“Get. On. The. Mattress.”

 

My chest heaved with my anxious breathing and I stood my ground.

 

“No.”

 

He grabbed me by the wrist and sat me down on the mattress. I squealed as my back sank into the rubber. He pulled a pair of handcuffs out of his jacket and handcuffed me to the radiator.

 

“That’s so you don’t try to make a run for it while we talk business.”

 

I shook my arm and rattled the handcuffs against the radiator. Heath smiled.

 

“No making a fool out of me tonight,” he growled, “Stay nice and quiet and we won’t have any trouble.” 

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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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