Adrenaline addicted veteran, Vivian Chastain, confronts the man who has been following her for days, only to find he has a message of dire consequence for her. Spurred into action by his news, she barrels head on into a tumultuous and violent series of events. Stoic and stubborn, Vivian lands in the hospital, fighting for her life.
During Vivian’s lengthy recovery, her partner is released from jail and the two reconnect, stoking up the flames of their toxic union all while Vivian dives into a blossoming relationship with a new love interest who offers fulfillment and love, if only Vivian can figure out how to allow it all in.
Still on the mend, she learns that the coast is not clear as former threats return and continue to endanger her. While she cannot rest easy; friends, her work crew, and customers at the night club where she tends bar provide her with much needed fun, comradery, and support.
Vivian wrestles with her temper, her penchant for physical violence, and her overwhelming emotional baggage. Struggles from within and without threaten her existence, and in the moment when death is just a breath away, Vivian’s brother shows up and changes everything.
Warnings: This book contains sexually explicit content which is only suitable for mature readers, graphic violence, self-harm, references to PTSD, domestic abuse, animal abuse, homophobic slurs, sexual assault (reference to past), death of a secondary character
Liz is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card with this tour:
“Excuse me,” I said as I squeezed past another cluster of women who were dancing and laughing animatedly. I hugged my tip bucket close to my chest so I didn’t accidently graze any of them. They shifted to make room for me to pass, and one of them growled playfully. The growl was followed by someone grabbing my ass firmly. I didn’t turn or even acknowledge the grope. Outside of work I would have shut that shit down, but here there was a certain amount of physicality to the job, albeit usually consensual. I knew damn well that later that night I’d strip off my beater and have women doing body shots off me, for a sizeable tip, of course, so I let it go and continued making my way through the crowd to my station at the front bar.
Tick, the DJ, transitioned to “Candy Shop” by 50 Cent. The crowd funneled out of the front bar to the dance floor in the back, which gave me a quick break in the rush to relieve the bartender going off shift, count out my drawer, and set up the station the way I liked it.
Jen, my barback, bounced up next to me with a big grin on her face. The unmistakable smell of weed wafted off her and I chuckled. She swung her long wallet chain around her finger and bumped hips with me.
“Coyote Ugly, baby!” she said over the music. I nodded and gave her a big grin. Coyote Ugly nights were always raucous fun, which meant big tips. We counted on tips to survive, so Sunday night shifts were not to be missed. Jen slid an American Spirit cigarette behind her ear and winked a twinkling, bloodshot hazel eye at me. A customer stepped up to my station. I gave Jen a pat on the back and stepped up to the bar to get to work.
The night built up in intensity as the crowd grew thick and the music got louder. Things peaked when Sheila, our boss, strutted along the top of the bar in heels, a fedora, thong and bra. She used Everclear to set the bar trough on fire, which whipped the women into a frenzy.
Once Sheila’s performance was over, I helped her down and she waded into the crowd, hugging friends and talking to customers. Sly hands slipped dollar bills into her thong and bra as she passed by.
Despite being a chilly February night, it was hot and humid inside the club because of the crush of dancing bodies. Sweating, I shed my beater so I was down to my sports bra. Removing my shirt was always lucrative because it drew more customers to my side of the bar.
A woman in a silver sequined cocktail dress, hair and makeup on point, stepped up to my station and tried to talk to me over the noise. I leaned across the bar toward her and cupped my hand to my ear to signal that I hadn’t heard her. She smiled and drew in a breath. Before she could speak, the smile turned to a grimace and her hand shot out, clamping down on my wrist. Her manicured nails dug so deeply into my flesh her nails snapped and broke through my skin. My arm flared with pain, but I didn’t pull away because I knew something was wrong. Her eyes bulged and she froze, mouth agape. Concerned, I reached out and placed my other hand on her shoulder.
“Are you okay?”
Her hand went limp on my arm and she dropped to the floor like a sack of rocks, knocking two other people down with her. There was a moment of relief as her nails slid out of my arm, but the relief was quickly followed by the stinging sensation of open wounds and blood ran down my hand. I leaned over the bar and peered down at the woman. She was seizing violently. The people around her all stepped back, cleared a small circle around her. I sprang over the bar and began pushing people farther away from her.
“Buck!” I shouted over the music. “Buck!” I got up on my toes and looked toward Buck’s lectern. She was craning her neck in my direction and I waved her over urgently. Buck immediately began making her way through the crush of the crowd. People responded quickly when they saw her security uniform and shuffled out of the way.
Liz transplanted to California from New York over thirty years ago, and now lives in the East Bay. She enjoys exploring nature with her wife and son.
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