RIDING THE NIGHT, the last book in the Wild Riders series, releases 3 weeks from today. How about I start giving you some sneak peeks into the story?
I thought I’d give you the entire first chapter over the next couple weeks to tempt you before release day. Let’s get started.
AJ and Pax work together as undercover operatives for a government agency of bad-boy bikers known as the Wild Riders. And though they play as hard as they work, both men are looking for the one woman who can tame them…
On vacation, AJ and Pax run into AJ’s high school sweetheart, Teresa. While they’re catching up at Teresa’s bar, a fight erupts between two biker gangs, leaving one man dead and Teresa’s brother wrongly accused of murder. With no proof and Teresa as the only eye witness, the trio points their Harleys toward the annual bike rally in South Dakota in hot pursuit of the real killer…
Her life in jeopardy, AJ and Pax become Teresa’s fierce protectors. But a past trauma keeps Teresa guarded, unable to trust them–until AJ and Pax uncover her secret and vow to do anything to help her heal. And in their arms she discovers a sensual desire that knows no boundaries, a passion strong enough to overcome her tragic past and awaken a force that brings both men to their knees.
Danger may temporarily bind the three together, but it’s their shared passion that will lead them to the ride of their lives: love.
Excerpt starts after the jump:
“We could be winding through the Smoky Mountains by now instead of sweating our asses off at a truck stop in the middle of nowherefuckingville, Missouri.”
AJ arched a brow at his best friend, Pax. “This is my hometown you’re insulting.”
Pax shrugged. “It’s still in the middle of fucking nowhere. And it’s August. And it’s goddamn hot here.”
AJ laughed “Quit whining. We were headed this direction anyway and I thought we’d stop by and see a few people.”
Pax sat on his Harley and took a swig of water, slanting AJ a dubious look. “And where did this sudden pang of homesickness come from? You’re about as dedicated to home as I am. Your parents don’t even live here anymore, do they?”
“No.” Thankfully. AJ could maybe tolerate his mother. Maybe. But he’d mostly given up on her after she married Dale, the man who thought AJ wasn’t good enough—for anything. And AJ had spent six years of his life proving Dale right. “My parents moved to New York to be near his family. But some of my friends might still be here.”
“You had friends?” Pax arched a brow.
“Smart ass. Yeah, I had a few. A long time ago.” People who cared about him no matter what, people he could count on. Like Joey. And Joey’s sister Teresa.
Though Teresa had been much more than a friend. But that wasn’t what had brought him back here. It had been ten years since he left. By now, Teresa was probably married and had three kids or something. She’d gotten over him. It wasn’t like she’d pine away for him or anything.
But he’d like to see Joey again. He and Joey used to be tight, had shared a lot of secrets—and a lot of trouble. They were close friends, kind of like AJ and Pax were now. AJ had never thought he’d make friends as an adult, had thought himself a badass loner who didn’t need anyone. It had surprised the hell out of him when he and Pax clicked when they joined the Wild Riders. But they’d both had major chips on their shoulders, and maybe they both had been licking teenage wounds, too. Close enough in age, they gravitated toward each other and formed a bond that ten years later hadn’t yet been broken.
They did everything together, even took off and vacationed together.
A vacation that had been a long time coming, and for AJ, vacation meant climbing on his Harley and riding. He had two weeks to do whatever the hell he wanted.
They’d taken off from Dallas—Wild Rider headquarters—after filing the paperwork on their last case with General Grange Lee, the man they reported to, the one who’d plucked all the Wild Riders from the dregs of their lives as troubled teens and turned them into decent human beings. If it hadn’t been for General Lee, AJ would probably be pacing the confines of a prison cell at twenty-nine instead of living the free life and riding his bike. He had a lot to be grateful for. Grange had taken a half dozen raw, angry, messed up teenage criminals and turned them into capable undercover agents who could slip into any street situation and get the job done. The Wild Riders blended well as a team, which was surprising considering their less than stellar backgrounds.
Grange had taught them combat the right way, which meant that every battle didn’t have to end with someone dead. He’d taught them how to handle weapons, and he’d worked their asses off, mentally and physically, turning boys into men. When they were finished, they’d become sanctioned agents working for the United States government. Not a bad gig for AJ, who hadn’t thought much of himself or his chances at the age of nineteen. He’d blown this small town, thinking he was on the losing end of his future, content to mix with the wrong crowd as long as the money was good and he got it in a hurry. He’d just wanted freedom and cold, hard cash; he thought they were his ticket to the big time.
He’d been wrong. And maybe he was back to show a few people how wrong they’d been about him. Of course Dale wasn’t around these parts anymore. Not that he cared what Dale thought. To his stepfather, no matter what AJ did, he’d never be good enough. And it wasn’t like he could tell his family what he did for a living anyway. That was confidential. But maybe he wanted to check on a few people and see how they were doing.
He leaned against the bike, sucked down the last drop of water and tossed it into the nearby trash can, surveying the few cars that traveled the twenty-five-mile-an-hour speed limit down the main street of town. It was after eight P.M. on a Friday. And for a small town, that meant people out and about here in the suburbs, less than an hour drive from St Louis. Attractive to those who liked the quiet life, but close enough for those who wanted to work in the city. As small towns went, it was big enough to have a movie theater, a bowling alley and a mall, but small enough that everyone pretty much knew everyone else. He’d liked growing up here—mostly.
And when he’d left, he’d vowed he’d never come back. He wasn’t sure what had led him this way when he and Pax decided to take a vacation.
“You ready to ride?” Pax asked. “I’m getting bored watching traffic go by. How about we hit a bar?”
AJ nodded. “I know just the place, if it’s still open. It used to cater to bikers.” They grabbed their helmets and climbed on their bikes, and AJ led the way out of the parking lot. They blended into traffic, two Harleys mixing in with minivans, SUVs and fuel-efficient commuter cars.
The town had grown in ten years, retail establishments popping up all over the formerly quiet side roads. AJ used to be able to count the retail as he rode by—the dry cleaner’s, hardware store and a single donut shop. Now there were strip malls filled with anything and everything from salons to the trendy coffee shops to big grocery stores. That signaled population growth, which AJ supposed was good for the people.
And speaking of people, there sure as hell seemed to be more of them now than there were ten years ago. Whereas before on a Friday night there might be five or six cars at the single stoplight on the main road in town, now he and Pax were shuffled behind a block of cars, sucking up exhaust while they waited through more stoplights than he could remember.
Progress. He wrinkled his nose at the changes in his hometown and goosed the throttle as they made it through the last stoplight on their way to the outskirts. Even here, new business had sprouted up. AJ doubted the bar still stood.
But as they rounded the bend in the road, he was surprised to see that not only was Greasy Rider still standing, it had grown. Where once had stood a one-room metal building with a tin roof, now there was a building three times its original size, in brick with a shingled roof and a neon sign.
And a full parking lot, loaded with bikes and cars.
They parked and Pax stepped over to AJ. “Pretty big place.”
“Bigger than it used to be. When I was here last, it was a hole-in-the-wall shack.”
Pax slapped him on the back. “Progress, my man. Everything either grows or dies.”
“I guess.” They headed toward the front door, where the sound of classic rock music blasted them as they opened it.
AJ blinked to adjust to the darkness in the bar. Smoke only added to his inability to see, along with the black leather uniform of the day.
This place was biker heaven, with wall-to-wall bikers lined up against the long bar, crowded around the half dozen pool tables and taking up seats in the TV area. Yeah, the bar had definitely expanded. Where the hell had all these bikers come from? When AJ had lived here, there were a handful of biker groups and gangs, and they’d all hung out at Greasy’s on the weekends. But even when they were all there, the one-room place hadn’t seemed congested.
He muscled his way past the crowd, thankful for a good working air conditioner.
“I’ll get us some beers,” Pax said. “Why don’t you put us down for some time on a pool table?”
AJ nodded and headed toward the tables, the least crowded part of the bar. At least it was cooler over there. He put his quarter up behind three others, so they’d have to wait to play. In the meantime, he grabbed a couple of stools and took a seat, waiting for Pax to find him with their beers.
And then he waited a little longer, but still no sign of Pax. Knowing his friend, he’d found some chick to hit on. It never took Pax long to locate the women. He either zeroed in on them right away, or his good looks would attract them like a magnet. And since they often shared women, that worked to AJ’s advantage, too, so it wasn’t like he minded. And he sure as hell wouldn’t mind a little female diversion tonight.
He stood and spotted Pax leaning against the bar, shook his head and smiled. Figured Pax would hit up a female bartender. By the end of the night they’d probably have free drinks and a bed partner. AJ headed over there and slid in between Pax and another guy, shoving his elbow in Pax’s ribs.
“I’m dying of thirst over there while you’re lining up a date,” AJ complained.
Pax turned to him and passed a bottle of beer his way. “Not my fault this beautiful lady struck up a conversation with me.”
AJ shook his head, grabbed the beer and turned to the bartender, prepared to work her just like Pax was doing.
The gut punch to his memories almost made him drop the bottle on the bar.
This was no stranger Pax had just hit on.
It was Teresa. Teresa Oliveri, the one person he’d really come here to see.
Stay tuned. More of Chapter One next week!