Happy Wednesday, and thanks again to the lovely Angelica Dawson for organizing the MidWeekTeases 🙂
This week’s tease comes from my first baby, the crime thriller WILD HEARTED.
Luz awoke with a start, mind full of horrific images. Trembling human flesh, livid and moistened; her shaking hand inserting a long, metallic tool into a gaping hole, searching, poking while a stream of red-black blood poured hot and liquid between her clumsy fingers…
Her heart galloped in her chest as she stared at the ceiling, going through the pictures and sorting, tagging, rationalizing them.
It’s not a nightmare. It happened minutes ago, hours maybe. I don’t know.
Dim morning light crept in through the curtains, lighting the room. The digital clock on her bed table showed 9:27 am. Ah, so late. She’d slept like a hibernating bear.
The unusual hardness of a silver ring on her hand triggered a surge of gratitude and affection to her throat, and warm tears to her eyes.
She hadn’t decided whether she wanted to keep the ring yet, but if she did, she had to choose which memories to associate with it. The blood, the stress, the man’s fear—or the very moment he looked into her eyes and gave her his most precious belonging, expressing dedication and confidence.
Tomor’s ruffled sheets next to hers brought back the memory of her first night of sleep beside a man.
But he’s in no shape to move! Where has he gone?
She jumped out of bed and hurried into the living room. The bleached-haired guy lay asleep with his back to her on the couch, snoring, a leather jacket covering his torso.
Without a sound, she opened the door to the bathroom.
Tomor lay in the tub, pinkish water up to his shoulders and black locks floating around. The bandages hung loose and thin filets of blood seeped out from the three exposed bullet holes. He greeted her with a huge grin, visibly high on something. “Hi, sweetie!”
The guilty whiskey bottle lay on the floor beside the tub.
She gasped. “What’ve you done?”
He only laughed, glassy eyes darting behind long, wet hair stuck to his face.
“Don’t you know you can catch an infection, stupid?”
Tomor’s radiant black eyes sharpened. “Eh, be nice.”
“You can’t even shower after a surgery! Why didn’t you wake me first?”
He closed his eyes and rested his head on the back of the tub. His large chest tensed and heaved, creating quick, panicky waves in the water. He had to be in pain.
“All right, let’s get you out.” Trying to calm, she pulled out the plug at his feet and realized the terrible coldness of the water. How long had he laid in here?
Since he was too drunk to get up on his own, she grabbed his nearest arm with both hands and tried to pull him up. He was mostly dead weight and not really helping. After more fruitless efforts, she put a knee on the side of the tub for leverage and slipped her arms under his—when he mischievously grabbed her waist and threatened to pull her down to him.
Ah! Unbalanced, she made a small squeal while the bastard held her right above water surface, breath full of booze and raspy laughter.
With a scream of anger, she put her hands on the sides of the tub and pushed hard to free herself until he released her. She got away from the tub, and, finding only one way to deal with him, bent to his eye level. “Get a fucking grip on yourself!”
Tomor blinked. “Hey, watch your tongue.”
“Get out of the tub! If you don’t, I’ll have to wake your friend and get him in here.”
“He’s not a friend, he works for me.”
“Then I’ll have to get your employee to help me.”
“His name’s Larsen.”
“I love you, too, babe.” He held her stare for another beat, before reaching out a hand with a small smile.
“Jesus.” She grabbed it and pulled hard.
He made an effort and finally eased out of the tub. Water ran down his big, naked body, making puddles on the tiled floor. A large, black and blue bruise spread outward from the stitched bullet holes like cancer, and he shivered. He lifted his hands to his head and locked the fingers behind. “You’re free to do whatever you want to.”
“Get lost.” Avoiding his playful grin, she dried him with a towel, fastened it around his waist, and grabbed the first aid kit.
After disinfecting each hole and applying clean bandages, she repeated the procedure on the knife wound above his left nipple. It looked a bit out of place, raw and red on the mat of white scar tissue covering his muscular chest and arms. “What’s this?”
He peeked down and shrugged. “Someone disagreed with me.”
“Hmm…and what happened to him?”
“You don’t wanna know.”
“And the old ones?”
He made a broad smile and refused to answer. As he swayed a little, he put a hand on the wall to steady himself.
Luz studied him for a moment, and brushed strands of black hair away from his eyes. “Not sure I like this, what you do.”
“What I do?”
He grinned. “Never asked you to like it. Just like me, baby.”
“I find that sort of hard today.”
He smirked. “If you could get me hard, you’d make my day.”
“Oh, stop it. I’ve had enough of your shit.”
Sighing, he shrugged again. “It’s them or me.”
He took her warm hand and put it on his shivering chest. Closing his eyes and taking a deep breath, he guided her fingers around and helped her feel the raised scars on his skin.
Some were long and straight, others zigzagging. Some thin, barely visible white lines on the surface, while a few deep ones, stitched clumsily, left ugly chasms in his skin. This was his history, the book of his life, carved into his body. Each scar a chapter, each an intention to kill him, and ultimately a victory because he came out of it alive. How many times had he cheated death?
Shaking her head, she whispered, “As long as you only get the bad guys.”
“Oh, we have codes.” He smiled, opened his mischievous black eyes, and brought her hand up to his mouth to nibble on a finger. She tried to pull it back, but he held her hand tight with a loaded stare, kept his teeth closed on the finger, and rolled his hot, wet tongue around it before allowing her to slip it out.
Copyright (c) 2013 Lea Bronsen
Tomor—a gang leader accustomed to a hard life on the outskirts of society—is a shrewd, ruthless bastard with a price on his head. He lives a lonely life, and that suits him just fine… until the day a traitor in his ranks betrays him to the police. After a shootout that nearly kills him, Tomor is saved by a young woman who hides him from the cops. Though he should be more concerned with the traitor who set him up, he can’t get the gorgeous girl out of his head—or shake the feeling she can fill the emptiness that has become a way of life.
Luz has survived her boring, lonely existence thanks to her two best friends: photography and alcohol. But her world shifts on the night a breathless man approaches her, asking for help. From his wild hair to his stony expression, he reeks of trouble. And he sends a shiver up her spine—one that makes her burn with excitement for the first time in her life.
After a lifetime of lonely hell, Tomor and Luz might just be able to save each other… if Tomor’s past doesn’t kill them first.
Wild Hearted is available in paperback!
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