Monday, August 25, 2014

Final Tectonic TEASER!! Complete Prologue

Final teaser for Tectonic before it releases in 3 days!  Pretty excited about this one.  Shane has been a favorite of mine for a while.  Now he gets his own story.  Pre-order links at the bottom!


Huntington Beach, California

Shane had arrived in sunny California just hours ago from New York. It might not have even been that long, he couldn't be sure.

After Blake Diedrich had left his office, he'd booked a flight for that afternoon.

Shane had actually been hoping that Blake would really beat the complete and utter shit out of him so he'd finally feel punished enough.

You're a good man, Brookings,” Blake had said before leaving him alone to sit in his own misery.

Yeah, that hadn't been what Shane wanted to hear. Sure, he wanted to be a good man. What man didn't? But he had no idea that being a good man meant that he was going to suffer like this.

This would never have happened to the old Shane, the pre-Lenny-evisceration Shane. No, that Shane would have taken Lucy, made her his, and never let her see Blake's face again.

But the Lucy he loved would never have let old Shane even get close to her.

He ran both hands back over his hair and down his neck, squeezing it tiredly before letting his hands drop into his lap again. The orange glow of the sunset out the front of his windshield tried to warm the ice field that had taken up residence in his chest, but it was useless.

He was cold.

His phone buzzed on the seat beside him in the Land Rover. He ignored the message, but shoved the phone in his pocket, opened the door, and stepped out onto the pavement.

He didn't care who it was. It wasn't going to be Lucy, he knew that much, and there was no one else he wanted to talk to.

Shoving his hands in his pockets, he ambled down the beach. He reached a good stopping point and sat down in the sand, drawing his knees up and resting his forearms on them.

It was weird, the sensation of his heart breaking. Slow and complicated. Little pieces pulling away from bigger pieces. Tiny shards getting ground into fine powder and forgotten, while much larger chunks lodged into vital organs. Then there was the oppressive melancholy coupled with bouts of self-hatred.

It was awful.

It sucked.

And Shane was wondering why people did this to themselves. Books, movies, and songs were filled with the human race's dedication to self-induced emotional harm.

People were stupid, he surmised darkly.

He'd come back to California because New York was too cold. And with the enormous glacier that had taken up residence inside him, he needed some sunshine. He'd try to focus on work and hopefully, with time, the pain would lessen and he could move forward with his life.

A lone surfer silhouetted against the sunset caught his gaze, and he watched as she leaned back in a perfect soul arch. It was breathtaking and he was temporarily distracted from his inner musings.

She was strong, her technique flawless. He found himself wishing he'd stopped at home to grab his board; it was the perfect conditions for catching a wave. She obviously knew that, no one else was out there. She didn't have to share with anyone.

Shane let his eyes wander over the empty beach and spotted her things nearby. She wasn't with anyone else. Brave chick, surfing at nearly dark, all alone.

Crazy girl.

His phone buzzed in his pocket again and he finally took it out to see who it was.

Steve: you back yet?

Shane: yeah. Just got in.

Steve: sweet! Guys are meeting at Pauly's, you in?

Shane watched the surfer chick drag her board out of the water towards her towel and bag. She twisted her long hair around her hands, wringing the water out. He was too far away to distinguish the color. As she started to peel off her wet suit, he was a little disappointed she was finished with her run. He could have watched her all night; her style had a relaxing effect on him. Took his mind off of himself.

Shane: yeah. Who's DD?

Steve: Kip volunteered. Are you looking to get hammered?

The girl had slipped a shirt and some shorts on over her bikini, shouldered her bag, slung the board under her arm, and was trudging to a dark green Jeep Wrangler parked at the other end of the parking lot from his Land Rover. He had noticed her strength during her ride, but it was just as obvious now as she easily slid the surfboard onto the roof's rack and strapped it down securely.

Shane: maybe a little bit

Steve: right on

The Jeep peeled out and she was gone.

A few hours later

Shane had driven over to Kip's so he wouldn't have to come back to Pauly's the next day for his car. The guys were so glad to have him back in Cali, they started the party early, and Shane was on a pretty good buzz by the time Kip drove their lively bunch into the already crammed parking lot.

A forest green Jeep Wrangler caught Shane's eye, but he didn't announce it to the group. If he saw her inside, maybe he'd ask her if she competed and then ask if she was sponsored. And if she weren't, he'd hand her his card. 'Cause he was smooth like that.

Pauly's was packed. The music was loud and the lights had that slightly dim effect that bars use to make the patrons feel like they're separate from the rest of the world. Shane and his group found a booth in the back with a couple of girls in it. Steve immediately began the sweet-talking and soon, both groups had merged.

Shane continued drinking.

He hadn't really planned on getting drunk, but he hadn't really planned on not getting drunk, either. And Steve was footing the bill, so why not?

He was laughing hard at something Bo had said about Brady when he decided he should probably try to take a leak real quick.

He maneuvered out of the booth, having been delightfully corralled in there with a blonde on one side and her blonde friend on the other. Blondes. The world really couldn't have enough. They pouted at him as he pushed their pawing hands away from him.

“I'll be right back, ladies.” He gave them a sloppy grin and Adam slapped him on the back as he stood up.

“So good to have you back, dude. We can't pick up tail like this on our own.”

Shane laughed as he agreed, trying to step away from the table carefully. It was kind of true, wherever Shane went, he drew the attention of attractive females everywhere. His friends loved it.

He pushed towards the bathroom and stumbled into a tiny, dark-haired young woman who was going the same direction. He caught her around her hips to keep her from falling down, and couldn't help but notice how firm those hips were. Or how amazing her long hair smelled—like salt water and tequila.

He should have noticed that he was still holding on to her, but he didn't until she spun in his arms and gave him a warning glare.

“Sorry,” he said with a smile, but he still didn't let her go. They were clearly heading in the same direction and his feet kept propelling them forward. When they got to the bathroom where the men's door was to his left and the women's to his right, he finally released his grip on her. Giving her a wide grin, he backed into the bathroom at the same time as she rolled her eyes and went into the other one.

He finished his business, washed his hands, and opened the door, only to find the same girl exiting the bathroom across from him. She caught his stare and paused. His eyes went down to her wedge sandals, up her tanned legs to her cut-off jean shorts to her sheer white top that covered a blue bikini top, then to her ice-blue eyes with dark eyebrows cocked at him in question.

She looked young, couldn't have been more than twenty-four, he decided.

“Hey, what a coincidence,” he smiled crookedly, “it's the crazy girl from the beach.”

Her eyes shifted as she examined him carefully. “Is that your line, or...?”

Shane barked out a laugh and she smiled slightly. “No, I was at the beach earlier and saw you on the water.” Her eyes traveled the length of him as he continued, “You have incredible technique. I was impressed.”

“Yeah?” She put her hands on her hips and arched her eyebrows in disbelief. “Then why did you refer to me as 'Crazy Girl' just now?”

Shane took a step closer, entering her personal space and barely stopping himself from touching her. “'Cause you were out there all alone. Doesn't mean I wasn't impressed.” He allowed his eyes to wander to her lips, which were full and curved up slightly in a smirk. She was actually smirking at him. He went back to her eyes, the palest blue he'd ever seen with silver streaking out from the center like fireworks.

Her mouth tugged on the side as she tried to fight the fact that she wanted to turn that smirk into a genuine smile. He grinned, making it harder for her. Then she rolled her eyes and turned to walk away.

Shane followed her as a song from one of his favorite bands started to play. It was loud, fast-paced and fun. He grabbed her by the elbow, pressing close to her side as they moved through the crowded bar.

“Dance with me?” he asked into her ear.

She looked back up at him, narrowing her eyes slightly. He slid his hand from her elbow to her lower back and then hooked it around her waist just as they came to the dance floor. She didn't resist and he pulled her into the throbbing crowd, their bodies getting pushed even closer together. She seemed game, and Shane had definitely had more beers than he had previously thought because he was feeling good.

The blondes back at the table had asked him to dance dozens of times, but he had been focused on drinking and laughing, not looking for anything more than that. His loss of Lucy was still fresh and he didn't want to fall back into old habits of rebounding repeatedly.

He had no problem talking to girls. Even flirting a little. The attention was nice.

But that's where it stopped, because anything beyond that and he started to compare her to the girl with the chocolate eyes and the honeysuckle skin. And that wasn't fair to them.

So what was his sudden interest in this girl?

He had no idea. Only that she was there and the dark hair and petite body made him feel close to something he'd recently lost.

Like maybe he could have one more taste.

The song caused her to gravitate closer to his body and he took advantage, letting his hands touch her hips, arms, shoulders, pulling her hair away from her neck when she turned her back to him. Her muscles were lean and flexed smoothly under skin. He could see up close the strength that had been evident on the beach earlier.

And he couldn't stop touching her.

He kept it PG, for the most part, but if his fingers even accidentally grazed a part of her that she wasn't comfortable with, she would increase the distance between them. He didn't want that. So he focused as hard as his intoxicated brain would allow him to stick to the appropriate zones.

The first song bled into another and they kept dancing. She wasn't trying to leave and neither was he. It was so easy in this moment to pretend that she was somebody else. To let his fantasy take over in his weakened state.

Her back was to him again and he slipped an arm around her front, flattening his hand to her stomach and pushing her back against his front. She fell into him willingly and he dipped his head to her neck, using his other hand to push her hair out of the way.

He closed his eyes and let himself believe that it was Lucy. She was here. She'd come back to him. His lips pressed down onto the soft skin of her neck and her arm came back, curving around his head and pulling him closer. He worked his mouth up her neck towards her ear, and too late realized she was turning in his arms to face him.

Cool blue eyes locked with his. He must have looked confused—he felt confused. It had felt so real. So very real. But those blue eyes, soft and compassionate, were not what he was expecting.

She wasn't Lucy.

And he only had to look as far as her eyes to see it.

Placing her hands on his shoulders, she pushed up on her tiptoes to speak in his ear. “Thanks for the dance!”

Her smile was sweet when she pulled away. She must have sensed that something wasn't right, but instead of getting upset or taking it personally, she graciously gave him an out. Her back turned and she was almost enveloped in the crowd again, but he grasped her hand at the last second, pulling her back around. She tripped a little on her heels and he caught her, pulling her tight to his front. Letting out a laugh at her fall, she looked up at him quizzically, happy smile still in place.

“I want to see you again.” He was shouting. Of course he was shouting, the music was frickin' loud.

She smiled, her hands flat against his chest as he held her tight to him. Her dark hair was thick and slightly damp at the ends from their dancing, the salt water and tequila smell even stronger.

“Chances are you won't remember me tomorrow.” Her voice was light and teasing, but he tensed his grip around her as he frowned. Her hands came up to frame his face and she looked at him sweetly. “I'm sure I'll see you again.”

But the way she said it sounded more like something to placate him, and he didn't want that.

Too late, she was backing away from him again.

“At least tell me your name!” he called to her back, his hand still holding her arm as she tried to pull into the crowd.

Her pretty smile flashed at him over her shoulder. “I already did!” Then she was gone.

Shane stood there for a few minutes, trying to decide if she was lying about giving him her name or if he was more far gone than he thought. Steve bumped into him from behind, breaking him out of his confused thoughts.

“Who was the babe?” Steve shouted, handing Shane a shot.

“I don't know.” Shane shook his head, he really didn't know. He looked at the shot in his hand. “What's this?”

“Tequila!” Steve hollered jovially. “From your girl's friends.” He pointed to the bar and Shane followed his line of sight.

At the bar was a small group of girls, Crazy Girl just joining them. Her friends greeted her and pointed right at Shane and Steve. He waited for her to look at him, and she did. He lifted the shot in thanks and she shook her head, smiling hugely. He downed the shot and took a step in that direction, intent on getting her name again.

She was tucking her purse under an arm and turning to the door when he finally got to her. He brushed her shoulder to get her attention; she looked back at him, not surprised at all that he was pursuing her.

“Tell me your name,” he tried again, not fully convinced that she had given it to him in the first place.

“I did.” She laughed and stayed true to her course, following her friends out the door. He chased her, not completely understanding why, but his body seemed to know what it was doing even if his head wasn't in the game yet.

“Tell me again,” he said when they got outside to the parking lot.

Crazy Girl dug through her purse before handing her keys to her friend standing beside her. The friend was muttering something and laughing but Shane could only focus on one girl at a time so he ignored the much taller chick who was obviously the designated driver.

Crazy Girl said something to the Amazon and then stepped towards Shane. He blinked hard as he felt that shot of tequila taking effect. He was going to puke later for sure. Blue eyes examined him carefully before soft fingers found his jaw and stroked slowly down to his chin.

“It's not time yet. I'll find you when it is,” she said mysteriously. He squinted at her, trying to form coherent enough thoughts that he could turn into words, but it was taking a long time and she was walking away again.

Yep, she was crazy. Completely nutso bonkers.

Shane finally gave up right as Steve joined him outside. “Did you get a number, dude?” he asked, waving to the girls as they drove past them.

“I didn't even get a name,” Shane grunted with a frown.

“Damn.” Steve shook his head and patted Shane on the back. “Well, the blondes are still around if you need a palate cleanse.”

Shane grimaced. Now he just wanted to go home and sleep next to his toilet. He didn't care anymore about the rest of the night. It was as if Crazy Girl had stripped him of his desire to keep up his carefree charade.

“Nah, I think I'm about ready to call it a night. Don't bother Kip, I'll just get a cab.” Shane pulled out his phone, but Steve covered the screen with his hand.

“Just wait here a minute, I'll get the guys. I'm ready to head out myself.” Shane heard the pity in his friend's voice but he didn't care. He knew he probably looked like shit. He felt like shit.

He sat down on the curb by the main entrance as Steve went back inside to gather up the rest of the group. For all of Steve's flaws, he was a decent guy at the core.

It wasn't long before Kip pulled up outside of Shane's house and his friends yelled obnoxious goodbyes out the windows as he tried to unlock his door. He was trying not to laugh at them while at the same time trying not to puke in his neighbor's begonias. It was quite taxing.

Finally getting his door open, he staggered inside and slid the lock closed again behind him. He rested against the door heavily.

“Why wouldn't you give me your name, Crazy Girl? How can I sponsor your kick-ass skills when I don't have a name?” he asked into his empty house. He sighed tiredly and walked carefully to the bathroom down the hall.

He stood in the doorway for several long seconds, looking at his toilet in annoyance. He hated throwing up, he really didn't want to. Maybe he wouldn't have to. That last shot of tequila had been a bad idea. He clenched his jaw and resolved to not get sick.

Taking a few more steps over to his room, he crawled across the bedspread slowly and rested his head on the pillows. He rolled over, mindful of his pissed-off stomach. One foot dropped to the floor, to keep the room from spinning, and he folded both arms over his face as he closed his eyes.

“I make the worst decisions,” he said heavily before he passed out.