Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Wicked Dragon Writing Solutions #WDWS #editors


A couple months ago, my friend Jami had a course redirection in her professional life. In other words, she got laid off from her day job - she blogs about it HERE - and made the decision to add an editors red pen to her arsenal of writerly tricks. (And if you've read any of Jami's kick-a$$ urban fantasy novels, you'll know she's got quite an arsenal already.) Jami and her good friend Amber Kallyn put their heads together and came up with Wicked Dragon Writer Solutions, a joint editing service that you really need to find out more about...

Does Your Written Gem Need An Editor? How about Two?
#WDWS #editors 


You've finally typed the two most important words: "THE END", but your precious treasure of words needs one final polish before you usher it out on to the cruel world. 
Welcome to Wicked Dragon Writer Solutions, where you can get two editing beasts for one smoking price!

WD JPEG   

Amber and Jami have 13 hard-won years of word crafting experience, not just in publishing their own work, but in editing for other authors. While they've been doing this without gathering fees, they decided it was time to put their pens to work. They know how vital editors are to Creators of the Written Word, and what's better than one editor? How about two editors putting their eyes to the jewelers loop to examine your precious treasure? AND, you'll only be out the gold for the price of one.

Think of it as an Editorial BOGO (buy-one-get-one-free). 


 Feel free to head on over and check them out at Wicked Dragon Writer Solutions!

In celebration of their grand opening, if you book your adventure during the month of April, they are offering 10% off your hoard of gold. Just note code: WDWSOPEN when booking your spot!

 If you're anxious to start your epic journey, feel free to reach out to wickeddragonsolutions@gmail.com and we'll get you set for your editing adventure.  

Monday, March 30, 2015

Five Fave First Quarter Reads (#amreading)

For the second year in a row, I made a Pinterest page to keep track of the books I've read. (Jump HERE if you want to check it out.) I'm at 33 books so far, right about the same pace as last year, and if not for the books I was required to read for the RITA contest, the whole page would be covered in m/m romance.

So sue me. I'm having a phase.

Since it's almost the last day of March, it thought it would be fun to put together a post highlighting my five favorite reads of 2015 so far. These aren't book reviews - not even close - just reasons I think you should run right out and download any one of these. Or all of them. Whatever works for you.

In the interest of applying some kind of order, I'll start with a book I read in January and then make the list in relatively chronological order. Here goes...



This one is fierce and dirty and hot and naughty and has such a sweet ending you almost wonder if it belongs in the same book. But it absolutely does! The author recently re-released this under her own imprint. She says she cleaned up some of the writing, but otherwise it's the same as the book I read and loved. Such good stuff.



In late January I was looking for comps for my novel Aqua Follies and read through a handful of m/m romances set around 1950. This was my favorite from that group. The structure is a little complicated - two points of view, told in real time and in flashbacks - but it works. To say the author "captured the horrors of war" is an almost painful cliché, but she nailed it. The strength of the bond between Cal and Jim, and the challenges they face making a place together, was tremendously moving.



It's been a while - a long, long while - since I was in college, so you might think I wouldn't relate to the goings-on between a couple of university students. I did relate. In fact, I got hooked, and by the end I cared deeply about Tom, Reese and their friends. They don't have an easy time of it, but their story is so worth reading...as is the sequel, Nothing Like Paris. Fun stuff!



Okay, so I had a crush on this book well before I ever read it, just because I think the cover is so cool. I'd preordered it, so it showed up on my kindle at 9 pm the night before it's official release date. I figured I'd read a couple chapters before bed, except I read the whole thing instead, even though it meant I missed out on a bunch of sleep. So. Good. Jump HERE to read my review.

#5 Well crap, I'm a writer, not a mathematician. Here, in no particular order, are the books I couldn't decide between to come up with a real #5. 

Liberty & Other Stories by Alexis Hall - more amazing stuff from the world of Prosperity.

Restless Spirits by Jordan Hawk - Victorian paranormal fun!

Changing Plans by LA Witt - an enjoyable little Hawaiian vacation.

The Dark Angels: With Wings by Z Allora - yaoi-inspired crack. 

Magic Mansion by Jordan Castillo Price - reality TV + magic = entertainment!


Now, if you know me at all, you might wonder about what's missing. In February KJ Charles, one of my auto-buy authors, released Jackdaw, the third book in her Flight of Magpies series. It's not on my list because I haven't read it yet. I don't know when she's going to put out another Magpie book, and I'm saving this one for a day I really need to read something that'll make me happy. Because it will. 

So there. That's what I've been up to. What have you been reading?
Cheers!
Liv



Friday, March 27, 2015

Aloha, Baby (A Short Story Serial - Part 6)

Blue eyes, dimples, and a hot surfer's body means trouble, right? There's only one way for Katie to find out...













Part of my motivation for sharing this story comes from the fact that I'll be traveling to Honolulu myself in two short weeks.

pauses to hyperventilate

I might be a little bit excited. Or a lot. (!) At any rate, I worked things out so that you'll be reading the big finale as I'm heading to the airport, which means there are two installments after this one. Thank you SO much for coming along for the ride. If you'd like to catch up before reading this section, here are the links to  Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4 - Part 5 ...




Losing seventy pounds was sure something to celebrate, but at the same time it created problems Katie never expected to deal with. Like, what to do when the hot-bodied surfer, Jack, turned out to be the DJ at her roommate's favorite dance club. Katie was positive he had ‘Trouble’ stamped on his butt. Didn't he?


Last week Jack offered Katie a ride home from the club, and she agreed, though she might be a bit worried about his intentions.





Before long, the Shorebird closed its doors for the night. When Jack and I walked out of the DJ booth, the bartender was holding a bottle of scotch. He asked Jack if he’d like the regular. After glancing at me, Jack declined. I could feel the eyes of every employee following us as we walked out of the club.

With his hand at the small of my back, he led me to a black Camaro convertible parked in the building’s garage. Its worn leather interior was clean enough. The stereo looked like the newest thing in the car. While I waited, he unlatched the roof so we could ride with the top down.

He had a car phone locked in his glove box. It was a cream-colored rectangle about the size of a Princess phone. Placing it on a cradle between the two front bucket seats, he plugged the phone’s cord into the cigarette lighter. Almost immediately it rang.

“Dawg,” Jack said when he picked it up, dragging the ‘aw’ vowel out for several beats. “Yeah, man, I can set you up. Later. I’m busy right now.”

To give him some privacy, I looked out the window at a couple of the waitresses who’d come into the garage to get their cars.

“I got something to do. Look, I’ll call you back.” Another pause. “Ah, don’t be like that, man. I’ll call you.” He hung up, shaking his head. “Kalani’s got the munchies.”

I tipped my knees in his direction and shifted in my seat so I could watch him drive. We pulled out of the garage onto Kalakaua Avenue. The breeze from the moving car flipped my curled bangs around, lifting them and letting air get at the sweaty bits along my hairline. “How long have you lived here?”

“Since eighty-seven, courtesy of Uncle Sam. Finished my last tour right before the Gulf War and decided not to re-up.”

“Do you only work at the club?” I watched him while he answered. Up close I could see his skin was weathered and the planes in his face were hard. He’d be the kind of man who got better looking as he got older.

“There and at King’s Hawaiian, the bread company. I got a four-am-till-noon shift Monday to Thursday, packing and hauling bread to supermarkets. It’s good. Keeps me in shape and I have the afternoons free.”

“I love Hawaiian sweet bread.”

“Lucky you met me, then.” His tone of voice suggested there might be even more reasons I was lucky.

I laughed as the streetlights flashed by, trying to guess how badly a sweet roll would mess with my diet. “You work a lot.”

 “Don’t want to sit around bored.” He tilted his head as he pulled out into traffic, then he looked over at me and winked. “Since you’re pretty and I want to impress you, you should know I’ve applied to UH for next fall. Uncle Sam got me here, and now he’s going to pay for my college education.”

“Wow. What are you going to study?”

“Well, this is the place to study international business, you know, since we’re so close to Japan, China, and places like that. I might major in Public Policy with a focus on Asia.”

“Really?” I tried not to sound too surprised. International business was absolutely the last thing I’d expected to hear from a guy I’d thought of as a beach bum.

“Actually I’m making things up right now, ‘cause I figure you’re the type of girl who’ll give it up for a smart guy. If you were some other type of girl, I’d tell you how much weed I sell or how much money I make. You know, gotta fit the customer.”

I just stared at him, unsure of whether to laugh because he was joking or hop out and find a cab home. 

“Got ya, didn’t I?” He flashed his gleaming eyes in my direction. “Actually, I am going back to school and I might well study Public Policy.”

“That’d be cool.”

“And I hope maybe someday you’ll give it up.”

Damn, he was cute, but I wasn’t giving anything up yet. “I should probably get home now.”

“Nope. I’m in the mood for a detour.”

My heart raced. I didn’t want to find out the hard way that Mr. Trouble really was his name. “Where?”

“This’ll do.” We were on Kalakaua Avenue, heading towards Diamond Head right near Kuhio Beach. He pulled over into one of the parallel parking spots along the side of the road.

“I told you the ride was going to cost you, didn’t I?” His grin was all tease.

“No.” Something fluttered in my belly, oscillating between excitement and fear.

“C’mon. I want to put my feet in the water.”

I hesitated. “It’s pretty late.”


“So sleep in tomorrow morning, and anyway, it’s not late unless you get home after sunrise.”



And what happens after sunrise, young man? More importantly, what happens between now and then? You'll have to check back next week to find out...
Mahalo,
Liv



Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Filtering History

Yesterday KJ Charles did a guest post on Joyfully Jay's blog, wherein she warned against 'timewashing', or applying a contemporary mindset to characters in historical fiction. To a certain extent it's unavoidable, because modern readers don't really want to know the nitty gritty about sanitary, health, and hygiene practices from back in the day, but Ms. Charles argues that when it comes to sexism, racism, and gender/orientation issues, a writer needs to be a lot more careful.

I mean, if your hero is the only guy in his entire 19th century Southern American town who doesn't have a lick of racism in him, he might not be quite believable.


Right?


Timewashing. It's a cool word, and it got me thinking about another challenge for writers of historical fiction: The status quo rendering of history may not be accurate.


What do I mean by that?


Basically, if your understanding of history comes from a textbook, you might think every important thing was accomplished by a jowly white dude with a funky haircut and a badly fitting suit.


(Insert a mash-up of Winston Churchill and Walter Cronkite here.)


Or these guys. They fit the description.


Anyone who has read Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States knows what I'm talking about. There's what happened in the history books, and then there's what actually happened. You just have to dig a little to figure out what part women, people of color, and people with different orientations played.


Let's look at some examples. 


Have you ever heard of Edmonia Lewis? She's one of the 100 Greatest African Americans...


"Motto edmonia lewis original" by Henry Rocher - National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Motto_edmonia_lewis_original.jpg#/media/File:Motto_edmonia_lewis_original.jpg

Edmonia Lewis was a sculptor who studied at Oberlin College and in Rome. Among the highlights of her career, she sculpted a bust of Henry Longfellow, and her work was displayed at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition. Once, long ago, I studied Longfellow in school. 

I never heard of Edmonia Lewis until I started making this post.

Another example is given by the women who fought in the Civil War - as soldiers. 


Frances ClaytonMissouri Artillery and Cavalry units.

Something like 400 women fought in the Civil War. Motivated by the same things as their male counterparts - patriotism, mobility, money - they disguised themselves and did battle. Some were discovered when they were wounded or killed. Some were simply never discovered. You could argue the reason their contribution is overlooked is that their numbers were small and they made an effort to remain invisible. 

But maybe we overlook them because they don't fit the expected narrative for how that war was fought.

Shared tombstone of Charity Bryant and Sylvia Drake, a 19th century lesbian couple.

Here's another thing that might not fit the expected narrative: same-sex couples who lived together and were treated by their communities like they were married. Click on the tombstone picture or the link at the bottom of this post to read more about Miss Bryant and Miss Drake. Their story is a pretty compelling argument against the idea that same-sex marriage is a modern construct.

When I was doing research for my novel Aqua Follies, I read about MacIver Wells and John Chadwick, a gay couple who moved to Seattle from Canada in 1957 to open a gay bar. They had some trouble getting permission to stay, because "the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1952 specified that "aliens afflicted with psychopathic personality" should be excluded from the United States." (Gay Seattle, GL Atkins, 2003


Because gay men were included in the definition for "psychopathic personality".


The Immigration agent who interviewed Mac and John pointed out that they'd  lived together for years, they owned a house together, and they held joint bank accounts, however when they challenged him to prove they'd had sexual relations, he couldn't, so they were allowed to stay in Seattle. 

To me, one of the most interesting things about their story was that two men owned a house together and shared a bank account. They were living - and sharing - their lives, and only when they immigrated to the US did they run into any trouble with authorities. They had to know people, to have friends and family and community. Maybe, as appears to have been the case with Miss Bryant and Miss Drake, their immediate circle knew about their relationship in an abstract way, but didn't want to know the specifics.

And maybe I'm optimistic, but I think on the microscopic, everyday level, people are more accepting of each other's differences that we give them credit for. I certainly don't have the academic background to make big broad statements, but I have to wonder if the trauma associated with World War II led to the pervasive conformity seen in the 1950s (Hello, Senator McCarthy), and if that conformity filtered a great deal of what we otherwise might know of as history.

So women and people of color were taking part in word affairs and LGBTQ people didn't magically spring into existence sometime after Stonewall in 1969. There are more stories than what you find in a standard history textbook, and if you're going to write those stories, you need to both pay attention to historic ideas and attitudes, but also look for real-life examples of people who didn't fit into stereotypes. Any story will be much stronger if it's grounded in the truth.

If you would like to do some more reading, jump HERE for more about Edmonia Lewis, HERE for more about women who fought in the Civil War, and HERE for more about Miss Bryant and Miss Drake. And if you actually do know about history, let me know what you think about my theory that '50s conformity played a role in whitewashing (timewashing?) history.

Cheers,
Liv






Monday, March 23, 2015

A.O. Peart Cover Reveal - I just can't resist! (@Angela_Peart)

Cover Reveal



I'm not a real book blogger, you know? I don't have multiple posts every day, telling you about what's new and interesting. I do, however, have at least one guest every week. They're someone I know, mostly friends of mine or my friend's friends. Angela Peart's like my neighbor, so when I saw her cover reveal on the Book Enthusiast's site, I jumped at the chance to play hostess. And O.M.G but these McCoy Raven Brothers covers are COOL! Keep scrolling for blurbs and excerpts and pretty pictures (VERY pretty pictures!) and a giveaway at the bottom!


Hawthorne Bridge Across Willamette River by Portland Oregon Wate


Book Title: Resist Me (McCoy Raven Brothers, 1) Author: A.O. Peart Genre: Romantic Suspense Release Date: August 2014 Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions
Goodreads Button with Shadow



Hawthorne Bridge Across Willamette River by Portland Oregon Wate



Book Title: Reclaim Me (McCoy Raven Brothers, 2) Author: A.O. Peart Genre: Romantic Suspense Release Date: December 2014
Goodreads Button with Shadow



Book Blurb
Hawthorne Bridge Across Willamette River by Portland Oregon Wate

Resist Me - Standalone Book One in the McCoy Raven Brothers series

One fateful morning changes everything.

Lisbeth, the lone spectator of a shocking murder, believes the FBI witness protection program may be the only way for her to survive. But when a powerful explosion reduces the safe house to ashes, killing all of the FBI agents on duty, will she turn to a perfect stranger for help? 

Ethan, a former-Marine-turned-firefighter, has never really cared for any woman. He lives his life to the fullest, enjoying the bad boy stigma and cultivating a particular taste for dominant sex. Girls come and go, allowed to stay only long enough to satisfy Ethan’s wild appetite. 

 One morning at dawn, Ethan’s fire brigade is called to a fatal house explosion that levels the structure. When he pries open a trap door to the hidden panic room located under the house, he finds a gorgeous, though disheveled brunette. Lisbeth instantly turns Ethan’s world upside down, and he’s overcome by the burning desire to protect her, no matter the consequences.



 
Hawthorne Bridge Across Willamette River by Portland Oregon Wate 


Reclaim Me - Standalone Book Two in the McCoy Raven Brothers series


When the past comes charging back, the choice is never easy.

Abused as a child, Willow Conrad has managed to develop compassion for others early in life. She believes there is some good in every person, even in the “lost souls”. But when Seth, her boyfriend, loses his temper one last time, she is left badly beaten and broken inside.

Jack McCoy has finally grown up. He used to engage in street brawls to release his anger and reassure himself of his own worth. Serving in the Marine Corps and then becoming a firefighter has put his life back on track.

When Jack’s friend asks him to help Willow, he doesn’t hesitate, despite a reckless predicament he narrowly escaped that very evening. But when he stands face-to-face with Willow, he knows his past is back to haunt him.

Will they take the second chance and let not-so-forgotten feelings resurface and blossom, moving past what drove them apart before? Or will Jack relapse into his destructive ways and lose Willow forever?
 
All Books in the McCoy Raven Brothers series are standalone with no cliffhangers and feature a HEA. They can be read in any order.



All McCoys_black_and_white



excerpt
Hawthorne Bridge Across Willamette River by Portland Oregon Wate

Resist Me

I don’t know how long I stood like this, but when I looked around, Ethan was sitting on the log a few feet away, watching me with the tiniest smile on his lips. Did he understand what I was feeling? And for a flitting moment, I believed that we actually gazed into each other’s souls.

He slowly stood up, his eyes locked with mine. Taking a few slow steps, he came very close to me. There was something predatory in his stride, but that didn’t frighten me. Instead, it made me long for his touch. I didn’t move. Ethan’s hands gently ran over my arms. His smile disappeared, and his handsome, masculine features rearranged into an intense, possessive look. 

This alone—his expression and his caress—left me breathless, my heart pumping. I froze in anticipation. My lips parted. His right hand came to the back of my neck. His fingers wrapped in my hair, gently tugging my head back until my face upturned toward his. His other hand pressed on the small of my back, bringing our bodies dangerously close.

He kissed me, and I truly welcomed that kiss. No, I actually embraced it.

At first, it was tender, as if he wasn’t sure how I would respond. When I didn’t pull back, his lips skillfully explored mine. His tongue darted from between them, teasing me, testing my reaction. I parted my lips and let him in. He took my mouth with such hunger as if he wanted to kiss me forever.

His sharp intake of breath sent a wave of hot desire through me. I’ve never been kissed like this—so tenderly but intensely and adeptly at the same time. He tasted of mint toothpaste and smelled of a delicious mixture of soap, something musky, and something very male.

I moaned into his mouth. He inhaled again, and his tongue licked deep inside my mouth, sliding over mine, possessing me. This was the sweetest torment I’ve ever experienced. I was lost in this kiss; I was lost in this moment. The feel of serenity and peace I felt just seconds earlier was quickly replaced by sexual tension; by pure, shameless desire.

Ethan pulled away, panting slightly, his expression laced with longing and pain. It sobered me in an instant, and I stepped away from him. I hung my head, taking deep, calming breaths. This wasn’t the way. This shouldn’t have happened.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “I should’ve never done that. It won’t happen again.”

I looked at him. “It’s not entirely your fault. I wasn’t exactly fighting you off.”

He clenched his jaw and walked away. I touched my lips, swollen from his amazingly devouring mouth. There was no doubt in my mind that I wanted him, and that he wanted me too.

Oh, that immediately complicated my situation… our situation. Why did I let myself get lost in him? How could I forget the reason I was here with Ethan? Stupid, stupid, stupid me. I was mortified and mad with myself. Now what? Staying with Ethan in the cabin was going to be, mildly speaking, awkward.



Ethan_Meet the Raven

Hawthorne Bridge Across Willamette River by Portland Oregon Wate


Reclaim Me

 “Shhh. Go and stand on the stairs right below the landing.”

Without protest, she did exactly as she was told. Positioned to the left of the door, I waited, for more than one minute, keeping my body motionless but ready to spring, if necessary. I sensed Willow’s uneasiness. She had no idea what was going on or what to expect, based on my weird reaction. That must’ve been very confusing for her, but I couldn’t explain now. 

And then it happened as I predicted—the apartment door opened just a notch. My core muscles hardened and I kept as far to my left of the door as the adjacent wall allowed. That way, whoever was on the other side would see the area to my right—and their left—first, which gave me a couple of seconds’ advantage before they could notice me. 

With my left arm in front of me for protection and my right arm bent, drawn back for more impact and my fist ready, I was in the most optimal position to attack if necessary. But I couldn’t make any move before I knew for sure that the person on the other side of the door wasn’t Rita. 

The door creaked a little and opened wider, revealing a stocky, middle-aged guy in a dark hoodie. I stepped in front of him and, in one practiced motion, drew my right arm back farther, clenched my fist, and delivered a powerful upper cut. That should’ve caught him square in the jaw, but he was fast and blocked me with his forearm then countered with a precise punch toward my torso. 

Willow screamed. I blocked the punch, twisting at the hips to avoid most of the impact. That in turn drew my assailant forward, throwing him off balance. I took advantage of his momentary unsteadiness and rammed into him with my shoulder, using my body weight to its full advantage. I had at least thirty pounds on him, despite his stocky build, since he stood no more than five foot six. 

My shoulder connected with his ear, and I heard him grunt in pain. While he staggered backward, I had a chance to regain my own balance and adjust my stance. He moved with good speed, and by the time I was hurling another punch, he delivered a roundhouse kick, which I managed to avoid by mere inches. 

The guy was trained in martial arts, but that didn’t deter me. I spent most of my life learning and practicing various martial art techniques and I was just getting warmed up here. 

Another kick, this time a vicious front one, was flying my way, but I was ready. While I bent my knees and tightened my core muscles, I let his foot pass me then grabbed it and yanked forward. The last thing I noticed before he went down was the sheer surprise in his eyes. He clearly hadn’t expected such a dirty move. 

As soon as he hit the ground, I was on him, throwing a heavy punch to his jaw. His head snapped to the right, and he was out cold. Blood trickled from a cut on his lip and the spot where I hit him last was quickly turning red. 

My knuckles hurt like a son of a bitch. Hitting someone in the jaw was only painless in the movies. I shook my hand, wincing. Willow was right beside me. “Jack, are you okay? Who is this guy?” 

I looked at her, grimacing more from uncertainty than from pain. The last thing I needed was for her to see me fight again. That was exactly what broke us apart six years ago. “I’ll live,” I mumbled, worried what her next words might be. 

“You’d better.” Her eyes danced all over my face as if checking for injuries. She took my throbbing hand and gently enclosed it inside both of hers. “Let’s put some ice on this. It hurts, doesn’t it?” There was so much gentleness and concern in her voice that I forgot all about the pain and gaped at her in disbelief. 

“I called the cops already. Requested the same officers as before. I’ll look for Rita.” She got up and went inside the apartment. She turned the lights on and I heard her call out, “Rita, it’s me. Willow. Are you in here?” 

I was still stunned by her unexpected reaction, when the guy on the floor stirred. He was coming around. I rolled him onto his stomach and swiftly pulled his arms back. He groaned and started to thrash, attempting to throw me off. I grabbed him by the hair and slammed his forehead on the floor, twice—hard. He lay motionless, probably unconscious. 

I needed something to secure his wrists and ankles together. “Willow! Did you find Rita? I need you here!” 

She rushed out of the apartment. “She’s in there, tied up and gagged… and really pissed off,” Willow said breathlessly. “I need to get a knife to cut through that rope.” 

“Wait,” I stopped her. “Help me here first.” I pointed to the man. “Take off his boots.” 

“What?” she asked in disbelief. 

“Just do it.” 

“But … what do you want his boots for?” 

“Shoe laces. Pull them out, quick.” 

Comprehension replaced the look of incredulity on her face. A moment later she was tying both laces into one long piece, using a double fisherman’s knot. I stared in awe at her rapidly-moving fingers. “Where the hell did you learn that?” 

“Rock climbing.” 

She rock-climbed? That was freakin’ impressive. Willow offered the perfectly-joined laces to me. I coiled it around the man’s wrists and secured the ends in a knot that probably wasn’t as perfect as Willow’s, but would definitely do the job. 

“Okay, I’ll help with those ropes in a moment. Go check on Rita and find me something to tie his ankles. I don’t want to take any chances of him kicking one of us.” I stood up and dragged the guy inside. When his legs cleared the threshold, I closed and locked the door. 

A moment later, Willow returned with a solid-looking leather belt and a box cutter. “Will this work?” She gave me the belt. 

I examined it. The leather was thick and the buckle was well-made. I nodded. “Looks solid enough. Thanks.” I wrapped it twice around the man’s ankles and then secured the buckle. 

He came around and started to squirm. “What are you doing, asshole? Let me go,” he hissed. 

I ignored him. Willow stood silently, frowning. 

“Untie me!” 

“In your dreams. Lie still.” 

I stood up and motioned for Willow to come with me. The guy lifted his face off the floor and looked at her. “Ah, so you’re that little bitch who put Seth in jail. Whores like you should be beaten to death. That’s what you deserve, you fucking thief.” 

“Interesting,” I said, “So this is some kind of revenge for that snotface Seth?” 

I made a move toward him to shut him up, but Willow grabbed my arm. “Not this time, Jack. Seth’s friends deserve a proper welcome.” 

Before I even had a chance to ask what she meant Willow took a vase with a bouquet of wilted flowers from the small hallway table and dumped the decaying plants and dirty water over the guy’s head. She put the vase down and stood with her fists firmly planted on her hips, admiring her handiwork. 

The guy sputtered, gasping for air. Dark, slimy pieces of leaves and stems clung onto his face and hair. Baring his teeth, he unleashed an impressive spate of profanities and threats toward Willow, myself, and whoever else he could think of at that moment. 

Willow flashed a really nasty grin and, cocking her head said, her tone mocking, “Next time you want to come for a visit, let me know in advance so I can serve something fresher. This was all I had available. I hope you enjoyed it, nevertheless.” 

I gaped at her in disbelief. She was actually enjoying herself and didn’t appear at least frightened or ashamed by the man’s nasty comments. 

“Now, if you’ll please excuse us.” Willow turned on her heel and pulled me with her toward Rita’s bedroom. 

We ignored his shrieks and his feet and head banging furiously on the floor. He kept yelling about his bail money, and how he was going to make Willow pay him back. 

“That was classy.” I chuckled, referring to her putrid flower arrangement stunt. 

She winked at me. “Glad you liked it.” 

“Remind me not to ever piss you off.” 

“I’ll make a note of it.” 

Smart ass. I liked this new Willow more and more. 

We found Rita on the floor, tied to her bed with a thick rope. Willow had already pulled the gag out of her mouth. “Jack! Help me out, would ya? I need to break that fuckface’s legs and arms.”

“You’re not breaking anybody’s limbs, Rita. Now, tell me what exactly happened.” I said and then asked Willow, “Where is that box cutter?” 

Willow produced the blade and offered it to me. 

Rita yelled obscenities at the guy again. He lay on the floor right outside the bedroom, while shouting equally colorful atrocities back at Rita. 

“Be still, so I can cut that rope.” I kneeled down and began to slice through her bonds. 

“Son of a bitch! I’m gonna fucking kill ya!” Rita screamed, struggling against her restraints. “Fucking asshole, who’s laughing now?” 

“Rita, stop. Tell me what happened. Are you okay? Did he hurt you?” Willow helped Rita sit up, while I continued cutting the rope. 

“That prick over there attacked me when I was leaving the Black Pelican. With all the commotion … wait, do you know about the drive-by shooting?” 

 “Yes, we saw it on the news and immediately drove there to get you, but we couldn’t find you, and nobody knew where you were. I called and called but you didn’t answer,” Willow said in a rush.


Jack

Meet the Author

A.O. Peart writes romantic comedy, romantic suspense, paranormal, and urban fantasy novels.
Her Bestselling romantic suspense novel Resist Me has been listed as #1 in several Amazon categories and on Bestseller lists, including the Movers & Shakers. Books in her NA contemporary romantic comedy series Almost Bad Boys were also listed as Bestsellers on Amazon and were nominated by the Indie Romance Convention 2014 for four different categories, including The Best Indie Upcoming Series, while Angela was nominated as Best Indie Author of the Year 2014 http://indieromancecon.com/nominations/. Almost Matched was voted as #36 among "The 50 Best Self-Published Books Worth Reading 2014" http://www.indieauthorland.com/50-self-published-books-worth-reading-201314-40-31/ Angela lives in the Seattle area with her family and a chronically curious cat Cinnamon. 
You can often spot her in one of the countless Seattle Starbucks locations, feverishly typing on her computer and sipping coffee with cream—or rather cream with some coffee in it. Don’t be surprised when a paperback you ordered from her arrives “decorated” with coffee and chocolate stains (kidding!)



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