October 2010

Suicide Bridge – Friday Reads

It’s the end of October, and of course, what better time for a creepy story that leaves you chilled? But this one isn’t about the green monsters and ghosts that seek us, but the internal ghouls that can haunt us and the monsters within. Diane Nelson is the author of DRAGON ACADEMY, a fantastic story of a teenager whose summer job is to wrangle not horses – but dragons. Diane has an uncanny ability to make the fantastic very real – and her writing can be humorous or terribly creepy – like you’ll read below.

Happy Hallowe’en!


Suicide Bridge

Jon could barely see his hand in front of his face.  The air had weight, sound distorted and amplified, and the two men ghosted to the bridge unsure of their soundings, the craft undulating on the long rolls.  Both knew fear, for names had power and they knew not what they’d find under Suicide Bridge.

“Gimmee the oar, boy.”

Jon handed Marcus the rough-edged oar, spade end, striated and pitted and slimy from the incessant rain the last two weeks.  Wet that had kept them all stalking the banks of the Wye, though she seldom flooded unless on an unseemly tide that would gush up the gullet of the Bay, then spread like a brine curtain over the low-lying areas.

Marcus poked at the sludge they’d kicked up, the narrows shallow this far upriver, hardly enough tide left to even cover the muck.  He’d motored his skipjack from past the last landing, then killed it, afraid of hitting … something.

“Why are we here, Marcus?  She was last seen over by the Calder place.  This is miles from there.”

“Got me a feeling, Jon-boy, is all. Jes a feeling.”

Jon angled the tiller hard to port, ramming the bow onto a shallow bank overhung with new growth maple and oak, thick with brush.  He jumped onto the graveled bank, thankful it had a bottom.

“Tie ‘er off, boy.  That’s a good lad.”

Silently Jon complied, then stood in the indistinct haze, listening intently.  Traffic bound for the shore on distant route 50 thrummed in a steady beat.  The sun worshippers should have checked the weather station.  They were all likely to be disappointed this foul day.  Jon thought about the beach he’d never seen and never would. Once his part in this surfaced he’d be on the run, though where he’d head he couldn’t begin to imagine.

Then he thought about her and his groin tightened.  Marcus knew, he was sure of it, his eyes canny though he’d never say it, never say the damning words it’s your fault, boy, you did this.  Marcus kept his own counsel, he and the others, and they’d taken him in and made him one of their own.  If they could, they would make it right.

But right wasn’t something he knew anymore.  Right had been buried in her sweet embrace, lost in the tangle of her hair, a child rushing to the woman and he’d gone eager and lost to the pleasure, immune to the warnings.  He’d been in deep waters yet they smirked and gave him leave to be the man he fancied.  They were wrong.


She’d sat at the window in the boathouse, the rain sheeting on the wavy glass, lantern light reflecting off its surface in trembling patterns on the oak floor.

“You knew what you were doing, girl,” he’d spat out, “this is none of my affair. You do what you need to do.”  Not his words, he was sure of it.

“Jonny,” she’d gasped, “you can’t mean that.”

He didn’t, knew it in his gut but he hadn’t the means, hadn’t a clue how to handle this.  So he went for the kill, “I might’ve been the first but I wasn’t the last.  Don’t lay this on me.”

Stunned the girl curled into herself, clutching her bulging belly, silent sobs sending shudders along her thin shoulders.  Lank blonde hair covered a face blotched from endless rounds of misery.

Harshness came easy now so he’d twisted the dagger, enjoying the jolt in his belly.  “You think I don’t know about you … and him?”  He liked the cringe, it fit somehow, nestled there in her palms, stretching outward in supplication.  His aunt would use that word, the Methodist in her strong.  Too bad auntie hadn’t shared some of her wisdom with them.  But it was too late for that, too late for all of them.

The girl moaned, “What will I do?  It’s not like we could …”

Jon cut her off, “No, we can’t, ‘cause everyone knows and I ain’t running burdened down with the likes of you.”

“They’ll send me away, like they did you.”

He mumbled, “… for the best,” then spun on his heel and stomped into a drowning downpour, wrapped with a chill tight band around his heart.  He’d vowed never to say goodbye again though his life stretched into a thin line of words unspoken, neverending.


“Jon.  Jon-boy.”

Jon shook his head, spraying water droplets over his oilskins.  He rubbed angrily at the dark stubble on his chin, then shrugged, “I’m on it.”  He stepped lightly over the anchor rode and chain securing them to the spit of land and angled his way toward the pilings, thick with algae and unmentionable detritus.

“You look over that way, boy.  I’ll take the port side.”

“Yes sir. What’er we looking for, anyways?”

“You’ll know when you see it.”

Truth was … he didn’t want to know, the suspecting part was bad enough and he’d lived with that for more than two days as the frantic calls and moans of the women and their husband folk pulled them tight together, knowing in their hearts it wasn’t meant to end well.

“Marcus, it’s just a goddamn name.  Why here?”

“’Cause it’s gone down like that before, boy.  Just me and a few others remember.”

Jon sneered at his would-be uncle and tasted his first hint of wrong.  Shadows, swaying in a grey haze, dark on dark.

“Marcus?” Jon choked, then jumped as the older man lay a gnarled hand on his shoulder, pulling him away.

“Not for your eyes, boy.”

“But she was mine first.”

Marcus grimaced his assent, his grip strong.  “She belonged to both of us, boy.”  Releasing Jon, Marcus turned away, his shoulders slumped.

Jon moaned, “Not anymore,” as the oar splintered into shards of agony, bits of bone and brain imbedding into the slime.

Lowing his sing-song refrain of revenge and freedom, he murmured, “… mine, all mine.”


Sorry there’s no new Friday Read this week, it seems as though this week got away from me! Instead, here’s the first chapter to our latest book – ACROSS THE HALL. We’re so pleased with sales of this book in its first few days of life. If you’re going to read this, be forewarned, it’s a bit steamy. More good things to come for NM Facile, for sure…

Chapter 1 – Sylvia

It was too bright. Way, way too bright! I tried throwing the pillow over my head but that just caused the throbbing to start. Why did I let Kai-ying talk me into the shots? Damn evil little sprite and her “just one more and if you don’t meet someone we’ll go home.” I lost count of ‘one mores’ after four and that was on top of a couple mixed drinks. How the hell her little body could handle that much alcohol was beyond me. The morning sun filtered through the curtains and I had to get up and get the day started with the hangover from hell.
I laid in bed awhile longer thinking over the previous night. My happy go lucky best friend, Kai-ying had insisted that I go out with her and our third musketeer, Kerri. She claimed she had a good feeling that I was going to find my Mr. Right very soon and no one argues with Kai and her freaky future feelings. I went along even though I knew I was not going to find Mr. Right when I already lost him four years ago. Recently here had only been Mr. Never Calls Back and Mr. Please Be Gone By Morning.
Kerri’s boyfriend Reed sealed my fate when he bought a new game for the play station. Reed and Kai’s boyfriend Sloane wanted uninterrupted playing time, thus freeing Kai and Kerri for the evening. So the three of us dressed up and headed out to the bar.
I didn’t even know why I bothered trying to look good when I’m out with Kai and Kerri. All eyes are on them no matter how I look. Kai-ying Adams is every boy’s wet dream. She was a petite little Asian girl who was cute as a button. Kai was eye catching with her ever-changing streaks of color in her short black hair. Her love of bright colors often extended beyond clothes to the colored contacts she wore, often making her look like a Manga character. Her personality was as bright and bubbly as her appearance. She’s the complete opposite of Kerri.
Kerrington Shaw was the definition of elegant sophistication. She was tall with long black wavy hair and violet eyes. Her bone structure was perfect, her cheek bones, high and fine, with dainty brows and a straight slim nose. More than once she’d been told that she looks like a young Elizabeth Taylor. Like Kai, Kerri knew she was beautiful. She had been told it all her life. She used that beauty to her advantage, yet often forgot that sometimes one needs to be nice and not just beautiful. Kerri can indeed come off as a bit of a bitch but that just seems to add to her appeal.
Then there was me. I was nothing but your average, everyday girl. My Irish decent was clearly evident in my naturally curly light red hair and green eyes. Nothing could be done about my hair. If it wasn’t frizzy it was tangled in knots. My checks were dotted with freckles and my lips were puffier than I would have liked. I know celebrities pay big bucks to have lips like mine but to me they just seem too big for my face. Add all that with my small stature and I was really not much to look at.
It didn’t really matter to me that Kerri and Kai were so much more interesting than I was. I loved them like sisters and going out with them was always an adventure. We had this little ritual we did when we went out. It started with getting a mixed drink, scoping the place out, doing a shot together and then dancing. That little ritual was exactly how we started the night. When we weren’t dancing we spent most of the night at a back corner table with Kai and Kerri pointing out every guy in the place. Most nights none of them appealed to me but that night there was one that I couldn’t take my eyes off.
I first noticed him standing at the bar smoking. In general, I don’t like smokers but when they look like sex on fire I’ll make an exception. He was the epitome of the classic bad boy, all wrapped up in a leather jacket and dirty Levis. Not my normal type at all but maybe it was a good time for change. Of course being me I couldn’t just go up to him and guys like that don’t seek average girls like me out, so I sat and watched him. He spoke with the bartender for a bit before scanning the room. He took a long look at Kerri. I’m sure had she noticed she would have led him along only to tell him about Reed in the end, that was if Reed didn’t just show up. Reed is a big guy, intimidating to most until you get to know him. From all appearance he looks to be a big tough guy. He’s loud and crass and doesn’t like others looking at his Kerri. When you get to know him you know he’s nothing more than a giant teddy bear. Reed was always joking around and more often than not those jokes were aimed in my direction. He said it’s because he never had a little sister and if he did I would be exactly the one he would want.
Needless to say, it surprised the hell out of me when the bad boy from the bar came up to me and started dancing with me. He pulled me tight up to him and moved with me. I could smell the smoke and alcohol on him but I found it to be more of a turn on. The smooth leather of his black jacket was broken by little silver studs and rings. I could feel each little bump on his jacket the closer he danced to me. After a few songs he led me off the floor and back to the table Kai, Kerri and I had been at before. I probably would have gone home with him if it hadn’t been for Kerri. She decided that it was time to go and she was going to make sure I got home safely. I knew I spent some time talking to him but for the life of me I couldn’t remember his name in the morning. It was something like Bob or Brian or Bill. Hell, I couldn’t remember. I would have to call Kai and ask her.
I looked over at my alarm clock, it was just after ten. I had to get moving if I was going to be into work by noon. I wasn’t like Kai and Kerri, who came from wealthy families and didn’t have to work while in school. Even though my education was paid for I still had rent and life expenses to cover. My part time job at the campus book store barely helped keep me afloat but the schedule was flexible and close to the apartment which was great since my car finally died the past spring and I didn’t have enough to get a new one yet.
I got up and headed to the fridge for a pop and then the cupboard to grab the Tylenol. I twisted the lid to match up the little arrows but couldn’t seem to get the damn thing to pop off. I finally tried using my teeth which only sent fresh waves of pain coursing through my already sensitive head. Frustrated I threw the bottle at the wall and headed to the bathroom for a long hot shower.
The combination of the caffeine and the shower had me almost feeling human again as I headed out for work. I pulled the apartment door shut behind me and paused for a second to fish my sunglasses out of my purse. The large window over the stairs was letting way more light in than I could handle at that moment. I put them on and let my head fall back against my door, that’s when I noticed the door across the hall was propped open.
That place had been vacant since May. I knew from Kai that it had been rented in May but the new tenant wasn’t moving in until the end of summer. I had been wondering for the past week when my new neighbor would show up. I’m sure Kai would know all about the person by the end of the day. It had been killing her all summer not knowing anything about the renter of apartment 304. She knew everyone else in the building. Of course that wasn’t hard, there were only twelve apartments in our building and I was in 303, Reed and Kerri were in 203 and Sloane and Kai were in 201.
There was a moving truck in the parking lot. I gave it a fleeting glance and saw a shadow on the ground behind the truck. I would just have to meet my new neighbor later. I had to go the opposite direction to work.
Work sucked. I hated this time of year. All the lost freshmen stumbling around looking for their books just got old after awhile. By four o’clock my patience was long gone and my headache was back in full force. I stepped in the back room just to get off the sales floor and take a breath. I pulled out my cell and checked the missed calls. Three from Kai and one from a number I didn’t recognize. I skipped over Kai’s and went right for the mystery number. It was from a guy named Beau Dalton. Apparently Beau was the name of the man from the bar the night before. I was close. At least I had the B right. I hadn’t recalled giving him my number, but then I didn’t exactly remember his name either. He wanted to know if I was free for a late dinner. I called him back and we settled on eight and gave him directions to pick me up. I smiled inwardly as I realized I had something to talk about with Kai when I called her back. But that had to wait until after work. I took a deep breath and headed back into the chaos for a couple more hours.
I called Kai back on my way home. “Sylvia, you have to get back here. Your neighbor moved in across the hall today and Reed and Sloane met him and they said that…” she was talking so fast. I knew I wouldn’t be able to interrupt her until she had it all out so I let her continue. “He lives alone and he’s in med school and he was really nice. When you get here we need to go see him and say hi. It’s the neighborly thing to do, you know.”
“Sure, but aren’t we doing this to satisfy your curiosity?” I teased.
“That too. Aren’t you curious?”
“No. I have other things to keep my mind occupied. Beau called and asked me to dinner tonight.”
The squeal she let out was like an ice pick to my head. “Oh, Sylvia see I told you I had a good feeling it was time for you to meet someone. You will have to invite him to the picnic this Saturday. And…”
I cut her off. “Stop now. I just met him. And yes, I am going out with him tonight but that doesn’t mean he will be around by Saturday.” My track record with guys staying around longer than a week wasn’t good. There had only been three or four boys that I’d dated for longer than a month since high school. I broke it off with all of them. Mostly I settled for one night stands. If I didn’t get attached to anyone it wouldn’t hurt when they left. The quick turnover rate was starting to wear on me and lately I found myself watching my friends in loving relationships and wanting one for myself.
“I’ll come up to help you get ready. Then we can go see Quinn before he…”
“Quinn? Who is Quinn?” I felt the air rush out of me as pain over took my chest.
“Oh, that’s what Reed said the new guy’s name is.” I stood frozen. It couldn’t be. “We can stop and say hi…”
“Kai I have to go.” I hung up while she was still talking. The panic came back bringing a hallow feeling with it. It’s not him. It’s just a name. There are lots of people named Quinn. I’m being ridiculous to even entertain the idea that it’s him. I took a few deep breaths to calm myself down. Yet it still all came back.
“Sylvia it’s not working.” Quinn was looking over my shoulder. He couldn’t even look me in the eye.
“What’s not working?” My body went instantly cold with fear. I knew where he was going but I couldn’t believe it.
“Us. I thought it would, but this is not what I want. I’m ready for a change and I need to be free for that to happen.”
The pain was ripping into me. The lump in my throat had me choking on my words “but…but…I love you. You love me.” The tears were falling and I just wanted him to wrap me in his arms and tell me he didn’t mean it. “What about the last four years? Are you throwing that all away?”
Quinn pinched the bridge of his nose and closed his eyes. When he finally did look at me I could see the pain in his deep brown eyes too. “No, but it’s time to end it. I want to move on. I have plans for my life and you don’t fit into them anymore.” I tried to take his hand but he pulled away. “Sylvia I have to go.” He leaned over and kissed my forehead and turned to walk away. I tried to grab on to him but he just shrugged me off and kept on going. I just stood there numbly watching my love walk away as my world shattered.
I took another deep breath, I was past this. It was not Quinn. He was living the life he wanted. He was not here. With that thought I started back home. I turned my mind to tonight and Beau.
As I walked down the hall to my apartment I could hear the strains of the Stones coming from across the hall. My breath hitched and my heart ached in memory of Quinn listening to them. I repeated ‘it’s not him’ over and over until I had myself believing it. I couldn’t live through Quinn Lobato again.
“OH MY GOD! Syl, you seriously aren’t wearing that.” Kai was staring at me wide-eyed.
“I knew it would get a reaction out of you, but I didn’t think it was THAT bad. I mean you bought me the shirt.” I motioned to the length of my torso at the knotted-strap, black, silk cami.
“It’s not the shirt that’s the problem. It’s what you’re wearing with it.” I looked at my faded, skintight jean crops and down to the worn, black cowboy boots I’d bought at a thrift store on a whim while shopping with Sloane.
I shrugged. “Yeah, well you saw how he was dressed last night. Like he’s going to take me somewhere where I would need to be dressed in that.” I said pointing at the little silver dress Kai was holding up.
She looked at the dress and then back at me before letting out a heavy sigh. “You’re probably right. Well, you at least need to do something about that hair and put some makeup on.” She pushed past me and headed toward the bathroom. “Aren’t you coming? We have a lot of work to do to make up for that outfit.”
I rolled my eyes at her and turned to follow her down the hall.
“Okay I think that’s it,” Kai muttered as she stepped back to inspect the lip gloss she just finished putting on me. “Now let’s go over and meet your new neighbor.”
“Um. I don’t think I have enough time.” Please, please let it be about eight. I just couldn’t deal with that now. Not when just hearing the name Quinn could cause me a mini anxiety attack. I stood up and walked out of the bathroom and looked at the clock on my night stand. 7:35. This could be close.
“Sylvia, it isn’t even a quarter to eight. We’ll just stop over and say hi and you’ll be back here before Beau even gets to the parking lot.” Kai was giving me her big puppy eyes, this time she didn’t have any contacts in and the deep brown pools almost had me. I wasn’t going to let her puppy eyes fool me this time.
“No, Kai. What if he comes early and I’m walking out of some guy’s apartment?”
“How will he know it isn’t mine? Please, what if he’s hot? You could be living next door to an Italian super model and you want to wait to meet him later? What if he had a spell put on him to marry and live happily ever after with the next girl to knock on his door?”
“If that’s the case you go knock on his door now and I’ll just take Sloane while you’re off living in fairy tale land.” I smirked at her hoping this would put a stop to her nonsense.
She slapped at my arm, “I saw Sloane first so I have dibs. If you would have come out of your room that first week of school for times other than class, you would have seen him first and then you could have had him. But noooo, you were holed up in your room alone. Now you don’t get to complain because you didn’t find the best guys first.”
This had been a long running joke with the three of us — that if I had seen Sloane or Reed before her or Kerri I would be with one of them. I loved both Reed and Sloane, but in big brother kind of way, just like I felt about Jason, my best friend from home. While all three were good guys, none of them were right for me. None of them had brown eyes. No, that wasn’t it. I shook my head to lose that thought. None of them were what I was looking for. Yeah, a crooked smile and mahogany hair. Stop now! Even my own mind wouldn’t let it rest tonight.
I laughed at Kai and tried a new tactic. “Okay, let’s say I am the one he’s supposed to be with forever. What is he going to think when another guy comes to pick me up?” Ha! I had her there.
Kai-ying scrunched up her nose and stuck her tongue out at me. “Fine, but we ARE going to meet him tomorrow.” With that there was a knock at my door. “Wow, he’s like fifteen minutes early he must really want to see you.”
I gave her a dirty look as I opened the door. Standing there was a vision of hotness. He was all sandy blond hair hanging to his chin, sparkling green eyes and a dimple that all but made a girl week in the knees. Unfortunately it wasn’t the right hot guy standing on the other side of it. “Hey Sloane.” I opened the door wider for him to come in.
“I was just trying to get Sylvia here to go over and meet the new guy. But she’s being difficult,” Kai whined like a spoiled child.
Sloane gave me an apologetic smile and drawled out, “Sorry Syl, I’ll get her home so she quits bugging you about that. Let’s go, darlin’. Reed and Kerri are ready to watch that movie.”
“They can wait. I’m going to stay with Sylvia until Beau comes.”
“No, I don’t think I can let ya.” With that, Sloane picked her up and threw her over his shoulder. “Kerri said to get you out of here however I had to before he gets here. Night, Sylvia. Have a good time.” Sloane carried the protesting Kai out of the apartment and down the stairs.
They must have been to their door when Kai called out, “Call me when you get home!” Kai always wanted the details when I got home. She said she was living vicariously through me, since Sloane is the only boy she ever dated.
When she was ten, Kai’s parents took her to a carnival. There a palm reader told her she had a gift and with that gift she would know love at first sight. From then on, she ignored every boy that crossed her path because none of them were it. Then, her second day at the University of Minnesota, she was heading out of her dorm when the door opened and she looked up into shining green eyes. She stopped in front of him, and he looked at her surprised. “It’s about damn time.” She said with a smile on her face. Sloane didn’t even question her. He just flashed his dimple at her. They’ve been inseparable ever since.
I shut my door and paced nervously around the room. I stopped in front of a small decorative mirror and rechecked my hair. Kai had done wonders with it. This time she had it parted in the middle and left it to fall in tight waves down past my shoulders. Just as I was about to recheck my purse to see if I had everything I needed, there was a knock at the door.
Beau was leaning against the left side of the door frame when I opened the door. I grinned in appreciation at him. His shiny black hair hung straight down to his shoulders framing his face, drawing attention to his sapphire blue eyes. Those eyes swept over me like I was his next meal and he hadn’t eaten all day. Even though I felt myself blush from such a predatory gaze, I still felt a shiver of excitement race through me. He let out a low whistle. “Damn girl. Are you ready to go?”
“Yeah, I think so.” I followed him down the stairs and out the door, admiring the view in front of me. He was dressed casually, too — which proved me right in not wearing Kai’s dress. A faded black Jack Daniels t-shirt was stretched across his broad shoulders and clung around his biceps. He had on jeans even more worn than my own. The right back pocket was ripped away at the bottom and starting to fray, but it just drew me to his amazing ass. I caught myself admiring it and totally missed what he was saying to me.
“I’m sorry, what was that?” I looked up at him and blushed all over again when I saw his smug smile, as if he knew exactly what I was thinking.
“I said I brought my bike tonight since it’s such a nice night. Have you ever been on a motorcycle before?”
“Yeah, I’ve been on one. A friend had one and let me drive it a few times.” He looked at me with disbelief. “It was more of a dirt bike than a full on motorcycle. But they’re basically the same right?”
“Well then, do you want to drive?” I could hear in the tone of his voice that he didn’t really want me driving.
As if I’d give up the chance to wrap my arms around him anyway. “Actually I’d rather just climb on back and hold on tight.”
He smiled at me and stopped in front of a nice, big, black bike. I still can’t tell one type from another so I had no idea what kind it was. Beau handed me the only helmet. “You wear this. I only have the one.” I pulled it on. He brushed the hair from my eyes and put the shield down.
Once he was on the bike, he reached out for me. I took his hand and swung up behind him. He pulled my arms around him. “Hold on tight.” And I did. I was pressed up tight enough against him that my nipples reacted to feeling his taut back muscles moving with every turn. It was already an abnormally hot night and the thin layers of my silk shirt and his thin t-shirt did not help.
I was so distracted with the scenarios my imagination was playing out for me from the closeness of his body that I didn’t notice at first just how far we had gone. I started to look around but didn’t recognize where we were. I had been living in Twin Cities area for the better part of four years, and I’d visited often before that. I thought I had known the area fairly well but I knew I had never been in a neighborhood like this. This was one of those areas in a big city that parents warn you to lock your car doors and not stop for anything if you ever get lost in it. The houses were small, and most had unkempt yards with older vehicles on the streets out front. The stores were all small and lumped on top of one another, many in need of a paint job. The diverse population of residents seemed to all be outside either sitting on porches or standing around in clusters on the sidewalks.
I wondered if I should be worried. I decided I should just act like this was normal. I was with him. I was sure it couldn’t be that bad. He was probably just testing me, wanting a reaction from me.
We finally stopped outside of a, well, a fifties-style diner – and not one recreated for nostalgia. It was a dull silver color with spots of rust and several dents in the exterior. The paint around the windows was peeling and from the look of the shavings it had been painted several different shades in its lifetime.
After I took the helmet off, I looked at Beau curiously. He just shrugged. “They have the best strawberry milk shakes in town.” Yeah, probably made with the original shake machine.
The inside wasn’t as bad as I’d feared. It was old and needed a serious makeover, but it was clean and surprisingly busy for 8:30 on a Tuesday night. Beau led me past a counter with red and chrome swivel stools, over to booth towards the back. I slid on to the cracked, faded, vinyl bench expecting him to sit across from me. Instead he slid onto the same side, draping his arm across the back of the bench behind me. I peeked over at him to find him studying me. I just grinned back. “So I guess I should order a milk shake, huh?”
“It’ll be the best one you’ve ever had.” His eyes told me he wasn’t just talking about the milk shake.
I swallowed, wondering if I really was ready for this. “So what else is good here?” I grabbed the menus from behind the napkin holder and handed one to him. He laid it down on the table, not even looking at it.
I barely got a chance to look it over before a bored voice asked, “What can I get for ya?” Two red plastic glasses of water were set in front of us. I looked up, half expecting to see the waitress in a candy pink uniform with a bouffant hairdo, chewing gum. Instead, there was a tired-looking twenty-something wearing jeans and a t-shirt with “Mick’s” on the front. I assumed that was the name of the diner.
Beau ordered a burger and fries with a strawberry milk shake for each of us while I ordered the chicken fingers. The hand he was resting behind me began to play with my hair, combing through it, twisting it around his fingers. I started out with the basic getting to know you questions. “So are you from here?”
“No, I moved here a couple years ago. You?”
“No, I’m here for school. I grew up in a small town a few hours from here. I bet you never heard of it. Quarry Springs?” He shook his head slightly. “So where are you from then?” He had such sleepy eyes; the lids were only half open, barely showing the dark blue eyes behind them.
“Nowhere and everywhere. My mom and I moved around a lot when I was a kid. I came here to work for a friend.” He was looking around the restaurant now. I wanted his attention back on me.
“What do you do?” I figured he wasn’t a student. He looked older and a little rougher than most college students.
“I’m a tracker.” He was looking at me, trying to gauge my response. I wasn’t sure what a tracker was. “My friend Curtis owns a bail bond office and I find the ones who skip out on him.”
“Wow, I bet you have some great stories. How did you get into that?”
“I was living in Tulsa and Curtis came to town looking for a guy. We had known each other for awhile, so he stayed with me. I ended up helping him find the guy, so he offered me a job. It seems I have a natural ability to just know where someone will try to hide. So what about you? What are you planning to do after college?”
“I want to teach classical literature at a college level. I’m starting the masters program this fall.”
There was a pause in the conversation as the waitress brought over our milk shakes, placing a large glass in front of each of us. She also set down two silver mixing tumblers with the excess shake in them. Ordering milk shakes on a first date felt so innocent, when nothing about Beau seemed innocent. I took a long sip of mine. It was good.
Beau must have known that was what I was thinking because he chuckled, “Told you they have the best shakes.”
We talked more about his job. He told me that was why he was at the bar last night. The bartender was a friend of the guy he was looking for. When I asked if he’d found the guy yet, he said no. But it was just a matter of time. His eyes bored into me, causing me to shiver. It was like he was sending me a message. I played it off as being cold from the shake. He just had this aura about him, drawing me in, wanting to see how close I could get, and waiting to see what would happen next.
Our meal came, and we ate while I told him about college life. We talked about motorcycles, which I really didn’t know anything about. He suggested that I borrow my friend’s so we could take them out together sometime. He laughed when I told him that I would much rather ride holding on to him.
I was just taking the last sip of my milk shake when he asked if I was ready to go. He stood up and held his hand out to me, pulling me out of the booth. He wrapped his arm across my shoulder and we walked up to the counter where he paid for supper.
“So where to next?” I asked, hoping he had more plans.
“I thought we could go have a drink. Maybe play some pool.” We were already back at his bike and he handed me the helmet.
The bar we stopped at was in much the same condition as the diner. It was old and in need of repairs, one of the windows was even boarded up. I stood, looking it over, and Beau asked in a low voice, “You think you’re up for this place?”
“Yeah I think I can handle it.”
He sent me a lazy smirk “Hmm…we’ll see.”
I took a step towards the building and felt Beau place his hand at the lowest part of the small of my back and lead me to the door. His hand felt nice there. He opened the door and motioned me in first. It was about what I’d expected. It was dimly lit, with a scattering of tables around a few pool tables. There were a few booths along the far wall and an old bar taking up most of the near wall. There weren’t many people there. A couple of old guys on bar stools watched the TV above the bar. Another couple were already playing pool and a handful more were dispersed around the room in small groupings. There was an old jukebox against the back wall between a couple of the pool tables that was cranking out what I thought to be Hank Jr., but I wasn’t sure.
I stood there and looked around awkwardly, not quite knowing what to do. I was thankful when Beau handed me a $20 and said “I’ll go grab us a table. Why don’t you grab us a drink.”
“Sure, what do you want?”
“Whatever you’re having. I’m not picky when it comes to alcohol.” He flashed a little grin at my look of confusion. “Just grab us a beer. I’ll be over here.” He motioned toward the closest table.
I headed up to the bar, not really sure what to order. I was used to girly drinks, and I never really paid attention to what Reed and Sloane ordered. The two guys sitting up at the bar were staring at me, and the bartender seemed amused at my discomfort.
“Um, two Coronas with lime wedges?”
“Don’t have the lime wedge.” He answered in a gruff voice.
“Okay then…” Quick, what was a normal American beer? “Two Buds?” I said the first name that popped into my head. They had to have that, didn’t they?
He nodded his head and handed me two open bottles. I handed him the $20 and waited for the change, throwing a couple bucks back on the bar for a tip.
I headed back to Beau with what I hoped was a seductive sway to my hips. But since it was me, I ended up tripping, spilling half the beer on the floor and on him as he reached out to steady me. “Are you okay, doll?”
I felt my face flame up. “Um, yeah. Thanks. I kind of do that a lot,” I mumbled.
I followed Beau’s eyes as he looked around the room. “You play pool?” He asked, taking the beers from me.
“I’ve knocked around a few balls before.”
He quirked an eyebrow at me. “So, a buck a ball then?”
I laughed. “Like I’m gonna fall for that. I may not have much experience, but I’ve seen movies. I know how pool hustlers work. I’m sure you’re a very skilled player.” I added, raising my eyebrows up at him, giving him a very pointed look.
“I’ve knocked around a few balls before.” He threw my earlier statement back at me with a small smile. “Let me grab a couple more beers. I’ll be right back.”
“I’ll rack ’em.”
“I bet you will,” he said in a low voice as he brushed against me on his way to the bar.
I watched him walk away, giving a little sigh at the sight of such a perfect ass. I turned back to the table to get the balls in the plastic triangle. I knew there was a correct way to place them in there, but I wasn’t sure what it was. So I just alternated stripes and solids with the eight ball at the top. Beau came back over with a bucket of ice and four beers.
He just shrugged. “It’ll save time later. Why keep interrupting this shark game with extra trips to the bar? Besides, I don’t like wasting time.” He set it all down on the table and walked over to the balls, switching the eight ball so that it was in the middle. “You break.”
I leaned over the table getting into position to shoot, but he was standing just to the right behind me, watching me. He was so close it made me so nervous I didn’t hit the cue ball with near enough force to do more than bump a few out of the triangle. I blushed again at the pathetic attempt.
Beau just replaced the rack, gathered the few stray balls, and put them back in. He looked up at me with a grin. “Here, let’s try that again, only let me help you a little.”
“Sure.” I repositioned for my shot.
He came up behind me, placing his right hand on my hip, and moved me closer to him. His body was so hard and he smelled good. Not a cologne smell, more of a natural musky scent. He grabbed my hand, repositioning it so I was bridging the cue differently. He covered my hand on the rear of the cue and started moving the stick back and forth smoothly as he softly spoke into my ear, “You need to focus on one spot on the cue ball. Then with a hard firm stroke, strike the ball and follow through.” Then he backed away to let me shoot.
That try was much better. I got a clean break, pocketing two solids. “Looks like you’re stripes.” I took my second turn and this time hit the ball I was aiming at but knocked it wide of the pocket. “I guess I need another lesson.”
“I’m not so sure you do. I believe that you are baiting me.” He lined up what looked to be a fairly easy shot. “Eleven ball, side pocket.” He bent over and, in one smooth stroke, put the eleven ball in. He stood up, looking me over. “That was a very nice break and I don’t think you would have missed that second shot there if you were playing with your girlfriends.”
“Are you saying I’m distracted?”
He lined up the nine ball for the corner and put that one in. “No, I’m saying you’re better than you’re letting on. I’m on to you. You think I’m just going to let you run me over?”
I smirked back at him. “I think you are more than capable of handling yourself.”
Beau lined up and sunk a difficult shot on the twelve ball with the cue ball in a bad spot.
Finally, it was my turn again. I put my beer down and looked the table over. “I’m not calling a pocket. I’m not that experienced of a player.” I lined up a shot on the four ball.
Beau finished off that game in his next turn. We played a couple more, flirting more and more outrageously with each other. He helped me line up a few shots and would trail his tongue along the shell of my ear or along my neck. I really liked the roughness from the stubble along his jaw when he nuzzled into my neck a couple times. I was definitely feeling it between my legs when he teased like that.
“Okay, final game,” Beau announced. “How about some stakes? Every time I sink a ball I get to ask you one question and you have to answer it no matter what.”
“Only if I get to do the same for every one I sink.”
“Sure. Why not? My break right?” I nodded. “Rack ’em, baby.”
I leaned in low over the table while I racked them, knowing that the front of my shirt was giving him a good view.
“You trying to use some kind of special warfare there?”
I looked up at him blankly. I knew exactly what I was doing, but I wasn’t about to own up to it.
Beau lined up the cue ball and bent over low to get a better look as he lined up his break. He struck the cue ball firmly. It smacked into the other balls, spreading them apart wildly. But none went in. “I guess you’ll get first crack at me, doll.”
The balls were spread evenly over the table with several near the pockets. I lined up and sank an easy shot. “Hmmmm, what do I want to know?” I looked over at him, taking him all in with my eyes, biting my lip. “What did you plan on doing after this game?” While not an entirely safe or original question, it was the one top most in my mind.
“I have this vision of taking a beautiful woman home with me,” He purred.
I looked around the room to relieve some of the sexual tension. “Really? Which one?” As if there were any question to who he was referring to. I looked back at him giving him an evil smile.
He dropped his chin a little, staring back at me. “It’s still your shot.”
I pouted, taking my shot and missing. “Your turn.” I gave in and brushed my hand across his ass as he leaned over to shoot. My distraction didn’t work, as he easily sunk one.
Looking over his shoulder at me I gave him an innocent smile. He asked me, “Do you like what you see?”
I let my gaze linger over his lips before drifting lower. I took a deep breath, letting it out with a quiet, “Yeah, I do.”
He hummed low in his throat, turning back to the table. He sank the next one as well. “Are you enjoying yourself with your little innocent teasing?” He growled.
“I would be enjoying it a whole lot more if it were working.”
Beau dropped the cue on the table and moved dangerously close to me, pushing me back against the next table over. He leaned very close to my face. “Who said it wasn’t?” He pulled my hips up against him and I could feel just how hard I had made him. He was still looking into my eyes as he ground against me. I licked my lips in anticipation of the kiss I hoped was coming. “Let’s go,” he said, grabbing my hand roughly and pulling me towards the door.
I followed along the best I could, stumbling my way out the door.
Once outside, he spun into me, pushing me back up against the wall. Without a warning he crushed his lips to mine, kissing me hungrily. It was a rough kiss, he dominated my mouth. His tongue probed in me, hard and demanding. I kissed back willingly, giving him all I had. Just as I brought my arms around to grab that ass that had tempted me all night, he lightened the kiss and pulled away. “I think I should take you home.”
“I think you should.” I could not wait to get home.
On the ride back, I let my hands roam all over his body. I traced patterns over his hard chest, running my fingers from his pecs to his waist. I rubbed hard up the inside of his thighs from his knees to his waist. I loved having him stuck there in front of me, not being able to control my movements. A few blocks from my place, I started rubbing over his crotch, feeling the hardened length beneath his tight jeans. He sped up when I started to rub harder and I wiggled my hips against him and the seat of the bike, wanting to feel the friction.
We pulled into the lot and quickly hopped off the bike. I ripped the helmet off my head and he lunged down to me, capturing my mouth with his. His hands were on my back, pushing me into him. He pulled back. “You are such a little tease.”
“Come up with me and see if you still think that.” I knew I wanted him in my bed that night. It would be hard and rough, and I was looking forward to it. I pulled him with me into the building and practically ran up the stairs.
When we got to my door he had me pressed up against it before I could get my keys out. He began to kiss me with even more heat and passion. I gave just as much back, rubbing against him. He was so hard, pressed right against me. His hands slowly moved across my breasts and up to my cheek, then dropped down to pull me closer, as if that were even possible. He moaned into my mouth and broke away to move to my neck. I turned my head to the side, closing my eyes as he softly bit and nibbled along my neck and collar bone.
I looked back at him sharply when he suddenly stopped. He was looking over his shoulder, so I pushed up to my tip toes to look over his shoulder. I got a fleeting glimpse of a tall back topped by dark brown hair walking into the apartment across from me before the door shut.
I felt like I had been doused with a glass of ice water. I knew it couldn’t be Quinn, but seeing hair that color was enough to make me lose all feeling, turning me numb. I had flashes of the previous panic attack I’d had after I’d talked to Kai on the phone. Beau started to kiss me again, but I pulled away.
“Are you okay?” He asked. His hands were still on my hips.
“I have to stop. I’m sorry, I just can’t. Thanks for tonight. I just have to go. I have to get up early.” I was rattled, and I just needed him to leave so I could calm down.
“What’s wrong?” He looked around the hall to see if he could see what was bothering me. His eyes stopped on the new neighbor’s door and he glared. That glare was very unsettling.
“Nothing, really. I had a great time but I do have to get up early. Maybe we can do this again?” I’d had an exciting night and I definitely wanted to do it again. I hoped this little display hadn’t turned him off.
He started backing away from me. “Okay, sure. Some other time.”
“Good night, then.” I pulled out my keys and opened my door.
I leaned up against the other side of the door after shutting it, and slowly sank to the ground. I had so much racing through my mind. Beau had been totally hot, and my night with him had been good. I really wanted to see him again. I thought my bad boy may be just the thing for me to get over this. I resolved that tomorrow I was going to go with Kai and meet the new guy, just to put my mind to rest.

New Release: ACROSS THE HALL by NM Facile

It’s time for a little romance…

Yes, whether we’ll admit it or not, we all need some romance in our lives. With this in mind, we’re proud to present our newest member of the family, NM Facile. She’s a break-out romance writer, and if her next books are anything like this one, she’s bound to do well. At a time when we were looking for romance writers, NM came along and gave us this addictive story of a group of five college friends entering grad school. Each character is interesting, with their own flaws and the writing is light, fun and makes you want to keep reading, (and the love scenes certainly help!) We hope you’ll check out our newest writer by buying her book at half price here in our store – and help warm up some of those cold nights that are coming up…

Sylvia O’Mara has spent the last four years trying to get over her high school sweetheart, who after breaking off their relationship left town without any reasons. With the help of her friends she has moved on and started dating a mysterious bad boy. She isn’t happy, but she’s content; until she meets the new neighbor.

Quinn Lobato has recently moved to Minneapolis to finish college close to his parents. His mother found the perfect apartment for him close to campus and assured him it has everything he needs. Quinn has had his own hurtful past and is looking forward to starting med school and a new life.

Little do they know that what they each need is waiting just across the hall.

NM Facile is the youngest of a large Midwestern family. She grew up in a small town before going on to college at the University of South Dakota. Her works are contemporary romances that can deal with controversial social topics. When not writing, she spends her time with her husband, children and friends.

ISBN: 978-1-926760-47-6

List Price: $4.99