Book Blitz & Excerpt: Unapologetically Me + Giveaway

Unapologetically Me

RELEASE BLITZ

Book Title: Unapologetically Me (Offbeat Shifters #3)

Author: Colette Davison

Publisher: Independently Published

Cover Artist: Colette Davison

Release Date:  March 23, 2021

Genre: Supernatural M/M romance

Tropes: shifters, mpreg setting but there isn’t pregnancy or childbirth in the books,

age-gap, pop-star, hidden disability, hidden relationship

Themes: Standing up for yourself and others, not letting opportunities pass you by,

importance of family, second chances

Heat Rating:  4 flames

Length: 68 000 words

Book 3 could be read as a standalone,

but has spoilers for the other two so is definitely better read as part of the series.

Add on Goodreads

 

Buy Links 

Universal link  |   Amazon US  |   Amazon UK 

 

unapologetically me

Austin Steele is my idol. He’s also the guy I can’t get enough of.

 

Blurb

Austin Steele is my idol. He’s also the guy I can’t get enough of.

Everyone thinks they know who I am—one of pop’s biggest divos. They don’t know me at all. Austin Steele makes me want to see the real me, only there’s some problems:

We’re both omegas, he’s nineteen years my senior, he’s nursing old wounds, and he wants to keep what’s happening between us a secret.

I thought a one-night stand was all I wanted. Now it’s becoming so much more. But how can we look to the future when we can’t let go of our pasts?

Unapologetically Me is the third book in Offbeat Shifters, an m/m paranormal romance series with a continuing storyline. This book includes a misunderstood and unapologetic Arctic fox shifter, a caring capuchin monkey shifter, and a HFN ending. While it’s set in an alternate universe where omegas give birth, there are no pregnancy or birth scenes in this book.

  

Excerpt 

“I can’t remember the last time I just hung out with someone before this week.” I laid my head on his shoulder. “That’s not true. It was right before my first album went viral.”

“That’s a long time.” Austin didn’t sound even remotely surprised.

“I guess you know how that feels, huh?”

“Yes.”

“The cupcakes will be cool enough to decorate.” I cleared my throat and stood.

We’d been having fun, and I didn’t want to drag the day down with drama about how lonely I was. Had been. Could I consign my loneliness to past tense now that I was spending time with Austin?

“I’ll help you make some icing if you want.”

“That might help,” Austin said around a chuckle.

I showed him the recipe I liked to use, loaded up a piping bag for him, and hand over hand showed him how to use it.

“You’ve gotta be gentle,” I said as I left him to it.

I carefully cut a hole out of the centre of each of my cupcakes, into which I pushed a fresh strawberry. Then I popped the top back on and began to ice them. I’d coloured my icing a soft shade of pink, much paler than the bright red of the strawberries. Using a controlled motion, I spiralled the icing onto the top of each cupcake.

“Bollocks!” Austin said.

I looked around to see that his hands were covered in icing, and the nozzle had shot off the piping bag onto one of his cupcakes. Icing dripped everywhere.

I couldn’t help but laugh. “You squeezed too hard, didn’t you?”

“It wasn’t coming out,” he grumbled.

He put the piping bag into a bowl, washed his hands, and grabbed a spoon. I watched for a moment as he dolloped icing onto the top of each cupcake. They looked anything but pretty. Still chuckling to myself, I finished mine off by sprinkling the tiny pieces of chopped strawberry over the icing.

“It’s obvious who’s won,” Austin said.

“No, it’s not. Don’t we have to do a taste test or something?”

“I guess so.”

“Get a couple of plates out.”

He complied. I cut one of his cupcakes in half and put a piece on each plate, then did the same with one of my own.

“Forks?”

“We could use our fingers?”

“I’m pretty sure that’s not how they do it on cooking shows.”

Austin smiled and grabbed a couple of forks. “We should taste the same one.” He handed me a fork. “Mine first.”

“Why?”

“So we’re saving the best until last? We’ll need to eat yours to get rid of the taste of mine.”

“They can’t be that bad.”

He raised his eyebrows. We both took a bite.

“Oh.” The cupcake was like a dry rock in my mouth.

“See what I mean?” Austin said around his own mouthful.

I grabbed some water to wash it down. “They’re not bad for a beginner. A little dry.”

“And heavy.”

“You might want to try adding a bit of milk when you’re mixing the ingredients. It helps to make the mixture light and fluffy.”

“What would help the taste?”

“Some vanilla-bean paste. It’s much better than vanilla extract,” I added, glancing at the small brown bottle of extract that Austin had bought but obviously not used in his own cakes.

Austin nodded thoughtfully before trying my cake. He closed his eyes and murmured his approval. “Now this is like an orgasm in my mouth.”

I snorted a laugh. “A what?”

“An orgasm in my mouth.” He devoured the rest of his half of the cupcake and then put his plate down. “You win.” He wrapped his arms around my waist.

“What do I win?”

“A kiss.” His lips and tongue tasted of strawberries and icing.

“Good prize.”

 

Check out the first two books in the Offbeat Shifters Series

Buy Links – Available in Kindle Unlimited

  Amazon US   |   Amazon UK 

 

Pre-Order Book 4 here

 

About the Author 

Colette’s personal love story began at university, where she met her future husband. An evening of flirting, in the shadow of Lancaster castle, eventually led to a fairytale wedding. She’s enjoying her own ‘happy ever after’ in the north of England with her husband, two beautiful children and her writing.

 

Social Media Links

Blog/Website  |   Facebook Page   |  Facebook Group: Colette’s Cosy Corner

BookBub   |   Twitter    |   Goodreads  |  Instagram: @colettedavison

  Mailing List  |   Newsletter Sign-Up

 

 

Giveaway 

Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway for a chance to win

a $40 Amazon Gift Card

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Hosted by Gay Book Promotions

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Spotlight & Excerpt: Kept From Cages, by Phil Williams

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kept-from-cages_williams

Kept From Cages
Series: Ikiri (#1)
by Phil Williams
Published: September 21, 2020
Genre: Supernatural Action-Thriller
Age Group: Adult
Pages: 261 (Print Length)

No one returns from Ikiri.

Reece’s gang of criminal jazz musicians have taken shelter in the wrong house. There’s a girl with red eyes bound to a chair. The locals call her a devil – but Reece sees a kid that needs protecting. He’s more right than he knows.

Chased by a shadowy swordsman and an unnatural beast, the gang flee across the Deep South with the kid in tow. She won’t say where she’s from or who exactly her scary father is, but she’s got powers they can’t understand. How much will Reece risk to save her?

On the other side of the world, Agent Sean Tasker’s asking similar questions. With an entire village massacred and no trace of the killers, he’s convinced Duvcorp’s esoteric experiments are responsible. His only ally is an unstable female assassin, and their only lead is Ikiri – a black-site in the Congo, which no one leaves alive. How far is Tasker prepared to go for answers?

Kept From Cages is the first part in an action-packed supernatural thriller duology, filled with eccentric characters and intricately woven mysteries. Start your journey to Ikiri today.

Goodreads / Amazon
Kept From Cages will be  99c/99p on US/UK Kindle from January 13th–19th.

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Excerpt:

“Don’t blame yourself,” Reece said, hefting Stomatt’s unconscious bulk up the dirt track. “None of us guessed he lost that much blood.”
“Even still,” Caleb replied, stooping to help. “Shoulda been me behind the wheel. Always shoulda been me behind the wheel.”
“He insisted, didn’t he? What were you gonna do, two maniacs shooting at us?”
“Insist back!” Caleb’s eyes shone in the dark. “Coulda said, ‘No, listen, Sto, I’m driving.’ Coulda got us clear with no hassle.”
“We got clear, and you did good.” Reece grinned. A grin that could charm the devil’s horns off his head, Leigh-Ann liked to say. Even in a thick boiler suit, torn and dirtied from a day’s fighting and fleeing, his hair dyed a murky green. They might be filthy and stinking and hurt in places they were yet to check, stranded on some unlit path to the middle of nowhere, but they were damn alive after taking on a billion-dollar company of thugs. Yeah, their car had flipped and they were still a long way from the safety of Stilt Town, let alone home, and Stomatt might be seriously injured – but they’d done what Reece said they would do and won. That’s what the smile said, and Caleb smiled back.
“Sure,” he said. “But we maybe shoulda switched driver. Made for the main roads after all?”
Reece checked the wood-panel house ahead again. A little further and they’d hit its two-step porch, knock and see who, exactly, lived in the empty fields halfway between Waco and Shreveport. Only an occasional tree on the black horizon told them they were anything short of stumbling through limbo itself. But lights shone yellow in the cross-barred windows, behind curtains – beacons to salvation.
“Reckon they cannibals?” Caleb said.
Reece traded his it’s-all-good smile for his that’d-be-a-laugh one. Even if this wasn’t the home of good honest farmhands, there wasn’t much the Cutjaw Kids couldn’t handle. They dragged Stomatt across a shingle drive, the scrape of boots on stone announcing their approach. Caleb grumbled, “Don’t like leaving Leigh-Ann alone back there neither.”
“She’s better than fine,” Reece said. “You wanna worry? Worry about how we’re gonna spend all that money once we get back to Cutjaw.”
The floorboards creaked as they climbed the steps. The only sound besides them breathing. All those lights on and nothing happening inside: no talking, no TV, no movement.
“Think they’re not in?” Caleb said.
“Find out, won’t we? Lower him here, easy.”
With Stomatt propped against the wall, Reece straightened out the boiler suit and patted down his legs, then twisted his gun belt round so the pistol was hidden to his rear. Caleb caught his eye like he wanted to suggest something worrisome, and Reece smiled it off before it was said. Because everyone liked Reece once he got talking. He rapped a knuckle on the door. “Excuse me, good people! I know it’s late but we’re in bad need of assistance.” No reply. “Had ourselves an accident back up the road. Damnedest thing, you wouldn’t believe – car on its roof, and we got a man down.”
Nothing. Caleb worried, “Think they heard us coming, hid away?”
“Why’d anyone hide from a couple harmless musicians?” Reece said. Caleb’s eye tracked down to the gun belt. Reece curled his nose: even if they did see La Belle Riposte holstered there, it was an instrument as exquisite as his trumpet. And they were in Texas – who didn’t have a gun? He knocked again. “Hate to be a burden, but my friend here lost a lot of blood – can’t even stand right now.” Still nothing. “We’re decent people, like yourselves – just trying to get back home.”
Caleb shifted. “We could try another one?”
“Another house?” Reece raised an eyebrow to indicate the hundred miles of nothing surrounding them. He called out, “We don’t need to stay long, just got to patch up my friend – get him some water, fresh bandages. I gotta insist on that much at least.” One last pause. “We’ll make our own entrance if we have to.”
“Better y’all go on your way!” a gruff voice finally answered – a big man.
“Gladly, with the barest assistance!” Reece answered amiably.
“Get on! What you’re looking for’s not here.”
“All the same, if you could open up, it’d save –”
The door swung in on a man with a double-barrelled shotgun. “I said –”
Reece spoke over him fast: “No need for that, sir, we didn’t come looking for trouble. Name’s Reece Coburn, horn-maestro, as reviewed in Two Shoots Magazine, and this here’s my associate Caleb ‘Low Bone’ Gray – heard of him?”
The man’s mouth hung open in surprise, his threat trapped there. He was large with over-indulgence, someone that could knock you down with a swat if it didn’t give him a heart attack. His ruddy face was partly hidden by a tangled beard, and he had on a faded check shirt, leather suspenders clipped to mud-caked jeans. Over his shoulder, in a doorway down the hall, was another man, as lean as the first was wide, snub-nosed, warty-faced, with shirt and jeans as tatty as a scarecrow’s. Unarmed and nervous.
“What?” The shotgun farmer recovered slowly from Reece’s friendliness, eyes darting to the green hair and back. “No, listen here – get on back down that road or I’ll –”
“We would kindly get on,” Reece said, “but see, Caleb and me with our tender frames, we’re not up to carrying this burden far.” Reece scuffed a foot to draw attention to Stomatt. The farmer looked at the bleached-blond oaf splattered black with dry blood.
“The hell –”
Reece stepped into the kitchen, pushed the shotgun down with one hand and drew his pistol with the other. Stunned the farmer with his speed, as his companion exclaimed, “Jesus!”
“Stay put, friend, and relax,” Reece said, grip tight on the shotgun. “I got no intention of hurting you, I mean it. Water, medicine, shelter, that’s all we want. Our priority’s keeping him alive. Anything else is a bonus we won’t assume.” Moving around the farmer, Reece sped on, “You can’t have heard of us – two parts of the Cutjaw Kids – otherwise you’d know we’re decent people, only ever hurt them that deserve it.” The slim man threw an instinctive glance back, into the next room. Blocking that doorway for a reason. Reece slowed down. “We interrupt something?”
The farmer went rigid on his shotgun, for a second seeming like he might pull the trigger just to shake Reece off. Reece warned him against it with a casual wave of the pistol.
“Caleb, you haul Sto in here?”
“I’ll try,” Caleb answered honestly, and gave the farmer an apologetic look as he started to manoeuvre Stomatt’s bulk through the doorway.
“Listen,” Reece said. “We got problems enough of our own not to interfere with yours. But I think you oughta let go of this gun now.”
The farmer didn’t shift. Caleb huffed upright from struggling with Stomatt. “Want I should cover him, Reece?”
“Wish you didn’t have to.”
“Go to hell,” the farmer said.
“That’ll be a yes.”
Caleb drew a pistol from inside his boiler suit. “Got him.”
The farmer gave him a sceptical glance. People tended to go one of two ways with Caleb; kind-faced, softly-spoken, hunched with self-consciousness, he struck people as either slow enough to take advantage of or too quietly calm to trust. After a moment, the farmer settled on the latter, and finally loosened his grip on the shotgun. Reece took it. “Now what’s the fuss?”
The slim one straightened up. “You ain’t coming through here, no way –”
The man flattened himself against a wall as Reece pushed past into the next room. The farmer called out, an explanation or a dismissal. Reece didn’t hear it. A woman on the far side of the room gasped, but she wasn’t his concern. Dead centre, with the other furniture cleared to the sides, was a girl no older than seven, sat on a wooden chair. Her arms, legs and chest were bound by thick leather belts. Her black hair hung in locks over hazel skin, the white of her eyes haloing big dark irises that fixed on Reece.
Reece glanced at the woman for an explanation; young but built big, in the same farming slacks as the men. Likely the farmer’s daughter. She cringed at the pistol, too scared to speak. Reece turned back to Slim, who raised his hands.
“Ain’t what it looks like! She’s the devil, I swear!”
“What is it, Reece?” Caleb asked.
“Like y’all ain’t involved?” the farmer snarled.
“What in hell kind of –” Reece spun back to the girl. “They hurt you? Jesus – what’d they do –”
He crouched, about to grab her bindings, when Slim pleaded, “No, don’t!” He flinched at Reece’s pistol but continued, “Look at her eyes!”
Holding his gun steady, Reece checked the girl again. Her gently dark skin was marred around the extremities: grubby at her neck, dark under the eyes and nose, scratched. She had on a white t-shirt and denim dungarees, all stained – fallen in mud a few times. Her gaze hadn’t left him since he entered. Eyes massive in her face. The irises, now he looked, were red as blood.
“You see it, don’t you?” Slim said.
“Don’t bother, Donny,” the farmer growled from the hallway. “Think they come rolling in here by chance? With all that thing’s been saying?”
“Dammit,” Caleb said, “let’s see.”
Reece frowned as Caleb pushed the farmer into the room. “That thing?”
“Ho-ly hell,” Caleb gasped, over the farmer’s shoulder.
“She ain’t right.” The farmer’s daughter found her voice, a squeak. Terrified as slim Donny, getting busted like this.
“We wanted to help her, man!” Donny insisted. “But she says things –”
“Get yourself up against that wall,” Reece said. “The pair of you. And you” – to the woman – “untie this goddamn child.”
“I ain’t staying.” Donny made a move. “Not if she’s loose.”
“Please,” the girl said, weakly. Donny winced. “Help me …”
Reece said, “None of y’all are leaving. Didn’t I ask you to untie her?”
“Don’t you dare,” the farmer rumbled, before his daughter could budge.
“You miss the part where we got guns on you?” Caleb asked. “Shit, I’ll do it –” He stepped forward and the farmer lunged for the gun. The pair of them twisted over it, the farmer’s weight bearing them to the ground. Donny sprang for the door and tripped, the stumble making Reece’s shot hit the wall where his head should’ve been. The farmer shouted murderously, grappling with Caleb, and the daughter screamed, as Donny dived out the room and Reece’s second shot hit the doorframe.
A third shot sounded, muffled by Caleb’s scuffle. The farmer’s angry shout spiked and Caleb yelled, “Get this fat bastard off me!” But Reece was running through the hallway, as Donny sprawled spider-like out across the drive. Reece aimed as he reached the door, but hit a patch of Stomatt’s blood and slid, landing on his rear. He scrambled upright and saw a last slither of Donny’s angular joints slipping into shadow. Man moved like a damn greyhound.
Caleb grunted around the farmer’s bulk and the daughter’s screams turned to fierce curses. Caleb insisted, “Ma’am, you saw him attack me! Woulda killed me!”
Reece trotted back to the living room to find the farmer inert on the carpet, blood pooling under his chest. His daughter was shuddering in a crouch as Caleb stood over her, gun at his side. “Stop screaming, please – I didn’t want to have to do it!”
And in the middle of the chaos sat the red-eyed girl, eyes locked on Reece again. Afraid. Reece holstered his gun and took a knee. “It’s gonna be alright, cher. We’ve got you.” The farmer’s daughter kept whimpering, no no no.
Rapid footsteps came over the entrance boards and both Reece and Caleb spun with pistols raised. It was Leigh-Ann, running in with a MAC-10 submachine gun and a deadly look on her face. Reece yelled, “Dammit Leigh there’s a kid in here!”
She shouted, “What in hell are y’all doing?”
The shrieked question stilled the room, even the farmer’s daughter going quiet. The trio of gun-toting criminals looked at each other, the dead farmer and tied-up girl. Reece stood, in silent admission that this had got well out of hand.
Leigh-Ann laughed. “Shit, boys, this your idea of getting help?”

 

phil-williamsAbout the Author

Phil Williams is an author of contemporary fantasy and dystopian fiction, including the Ordshaw urban fantasy thrillers and the post-apocalyptic Estalia series. He also writes reference books to help foreign learners master the nuances of English, two of which are regular best-sellers on Kindle. He lives with his wife by the coast in Sussex, UK, and spends a great deal of time walking his impossibly fluffy dog, Herbert.

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Book Blitz: Caffeine & Nicotine + Giveaway

Caffeine & Nicotine

 

Caffeine & Nicotine
by Eric Weule
Mystery/Supernatural

Date Published: 11/10/2020

Publisher: Darkstroke

Kelly Jenks knows the dead boy is going to show him something awful. Jonathan is seven. He never wears shoes, and his feet are always clean. He cruises between this world and the next in a 1967 Cougar XR7. Jonathan has a message for Kelly: There is a faceless man preying on the city’s homeless.

Jackie Carmichael hires Kelly to find an employee who has vanished. The case appears simple at first, but Kelly soon discovers that the missing girl is not who she seems. As Kelly attempts to separate the facts from the lies, Jonathan brings him another message: Jackie Carmichael is hiding something.

With the beaches, mansions, and dive bars of Orange County, CA as the backdrop, Caffeine & Nicotine is a dark and brutal look at what happens when the dead pass sentence.

Purchase Link

Universal Book Link

Caffeine & Nicotine Blitz

Excerpt:

Chapter One

 

Oliver Trunk: the proverbial rock in my shoe.

I had spent the last week looking under every overpass and dumpster I could think of. I talked to a bunch of people who said, “Yeah, I saw Oliver last night down at . . .” Insert the name of some bar, or strip club, or parking lot. I was a step behind from the word go. It was making me cranky.

Oliver thought of himself as an entrepreneur, which meant he dealt a little meth and coke, and beat the shit out of his girlfriend if she held back any of her tips. Oliver’s girlfriend was a stripper at a low-level club. In the beginning, Tina Mullins had thought he was charming and kind of cute in a white-trash, Joe Dirt, kind of way. Those days passed quickly, however. Oliver’s newest business plan was to pimp her out on her nights off from the club.

Which is where I came in. Find Mr. Trunk and serve him a restraining order.

***

I had put out a number of feelers with my fellow down and outs. A hundred bucks for the guy or gal who got me a current line on Trunk. Not where he was yesterday or last week, but where he was that very minute.

The winner was Judy, an old gal who sang the blues at some of the seedier joints in the city. Judy was in her sixties. She only wore blue jeans, green T-shirts, jean jackets, and cowboy boots. I’m not sure about her choice of underwear or bras, but I’d bet she doesn’t wear either of them. She sounded like Janis Joplin when she sang. I’d caught her show a few times. They were generally free, and there was plenty of booze in the places she played, so it was a win-win.

Judy called around midnight and said, “Kelly, you owe me a hundred.” She sounded like Bob Hoskins.

I was kind of inebriated when she called. I had been experimenting with perfecting a Pink Vodka Lemonade all night. It had taken a few rounds before I had an epiphany about adding a little Malibu to the cocktail. Damn, I nailed it after that.

My ability to walk and talk might have been affected.

Why tonight?” I felt like my enunciation was spot on.

What? Totally mumbling, Kelly.”

I enunciated harder with a softer word. “Where?”

Down at Spinnakers. I gotta go. We’re starting our next set.”

Keep him there.” It came out as “ee im air,” or something close to that.

Dude, I can’t understand you.”

I tried again. She hung up.

I weighed the pros and cons.

In true drunken fashion, the pros won out. I was over this rock in my shoe.

I made a pot of coffee with double the coffee. I hopped in the shower with water that was too hot. I was hoping the steam would do something. I’m not exactly sure what, but I was determined to erase the effects of the six Pink Vodka Lemonades I had ingested over the last three hours. I toweled off without falling over and counted it as a clear sign that I was no longer falling down drunk. I put on some cargo shorts and a T-shirt, then pulled on some ankle socks and a pair of Nikes. I filled two thermoses with coffee that was slightly thinner than tar. I added them to my trusty backpack, which contained all the tools of my trade: pack of cigarettes, lighter, .45 Beretta px4 Storm, couple Snickers bars, and a bottle of water.

Forty-five minutes after Judy hung up on me, I stepped out of my Airstream trailer and stumbled down the two steps. They’re tricky in the dark, even when I’m sober, so I didn’t count it against myself. My trailer is parked underneath a thirty-foot oak tree. Its trunk has a seven-foot radius. The tree is massive. I don’t know how old it is, or how it is still standing in the middle of the city, but it’s proof that the world isn’t completely screwed up. The leaves whispered in the late-night breeze blowing in from the Pacific: You can do this, Kelly.

My yard was surrounded by an eight-foot corrugated metal wall. I managed to get the latch open, and a five-foot section swung out and away from me. I stepped through the opening, promptly tripped on the bottom lip and went down face-first into the alley.

Fuck.” I laid there for a few moments with my face pressed against the cool asphalt. I weighed the pros and cons again. The pros still won, although the cons had more of a say this time. I took it as further evidence that I was sobering up rapidly. I regained my feet.

My Cougar was waiting for me in its parking spot. I popped the lock, climbed in, and started her up.

You got this, my magic car,” I whispered to her. She had never let me down in those types of moments. And there have been plenty. “OK, let’s go.” I dropped her into reverse, hit the gas, and ten minutes later, I was parked in the lot behind Spinnakers. I rubbed the steering wheel and told her I loved her. I fished out a thermos and took a long drink. The coffee bordered on undrinkable, but I choked it down. I lit a cigarette and put my right earbud in, started up the shuffle on my phone and waited.

***

The moon had taken the night off. I couldn’t see any stars because of the sodium-vapor lights in the parking lot. The handful of cars around me all looked black or white. A dirty white cinder block building squatted at the edge of the lot. The air was washed-out yellow. All in all, a very ugly place.

I was parked next to a ‘95 Mustang. It could have been brown, purple, green, or blue, but it just looked black. That production model of Mustang is probably one of the worst cars ever manufactured, along with its distant cousin, the Pinto. This particular automotive tragedy belonged to Mr. Trunk.

Trunk was the last one out of the bar. He had some assistance from a none too happy bouncer who went by the handle of Axe. The man was a monster. He was six nine, and easily three hundred pounds. He had a spiderweb tattooed on his shaved head. He only worked the Spinnaker on Monday and Tuesday. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday he worked up in LA. He lived local. We’ve had a few friendly conversations over the years. He’s a nice enough guy if you can look past his numerous assault charges and the one attempted murder. I can, so we’re good. I gave myself a mental head slap for not reaching out to him about Trunk.

I checked my phone. 2:13 A.M. Sarah McLachlan was singing in my ear about monsters.

Axe shoved him into the parking lot, and said, “Don’t come back.”

Fuck off, you overgrown piece of shit.”

Axe laughed, then went back into the bar. I imagine Zeus laughed the same way when mere mortals got snippy with him for bedding their wives.

Fucking dick,” Trunk yelled, as he weaved over to his Mustang. I was parked next to him. Driver side to driver side. I watched him dig his keys out of his jeans. He dropped them. He bent to pick them up. He fell over. Things were looking up. Trunk was more intoxicated than I was.

He staggered back up, swore, and laughed to himself. Then he crossed the remaining space to our cars. He was an average idiot in an average idiot’s body. Beating up women didn’t require much of a workout. His drug clientele were mostly strung out junkies or high school rich kids. Trunk was trying to restart the white leather high-top fashion craze. I didn’t see it catching on too soon, but stranger things have happened.

He ignored me as I sat in my car smoking a cigarette. As he struggled to get the key into the car door, I said, “What’s up, Oliver?”

He turned around, and said, “I don’t know you, longhair.” He turned back around and began fighting with the keyhole again.

I popped my door open and climbed out. “Longhair? You say it like it’s a bad thing.”

He turned back around. I hit him with a straight right to the nose. It wasn’t my best punch, but he was drunk, and it did the job. He dropped his keys. He fell back against his car. As he started to right himself, I kicked him in the balls. I connected a lot better that time. Might have popped one of them. He was on the ground, moaning. I gave him a nice solid kick to the face.

Done.

I threw my hands up in the air and spun a circle. And the crowd goes wild! I felt so much better. The rock was out of my shoe.

I dragged him over to the back of the Cougar. I popped the trunk, then piled him in. I might have hit his head on the bumper a couple of times in the process. These things happen. I pulled his arms behind him and wrapped duct tape around them. I taped his ankles together. I slapped a piece of duct tape across his nose and mouth. He wouldn’t be able to scream or breathe, so it was a classic two-for-one.

I shut the trunk, found his keys on the ground, and took a moment to unlock his car and put the key into the ignition. I shut the door. The car wouldn’t have lasted the night in this neighborhood, but I didn’t want the thieves to break anything when they stole the car. I climbed back into the Cougar and sat there for a minute. I lit a cigarette and drank some coffee. I replayed it in my head. The people that had come out between my arrival and Trunk coming out hadn’t paid any attention to me. They were all your standard Tuesday night drinkers. I thought I was clean. I never saw Judy. I finished the cigarette, pulled two pieces of gum out of my backpack and popped them in my mouth.

I felt fairly sober. I was probably walking the legal line as far as blood alcohol content was concerned, but I’d have much bigger problems if I got pulled over for something. I started the Cougar up, then pulled out of the lot, and headed out to the desert.

***

I got to my disposal site a couple minutes before four A.M.

I took my time. Speed limit all the way. Windows down. Wind throwing my hair all over the place. I sipped my second thermos of sludge, smoked, and listened to music that bounced all over the musical genre map. I like the drive out the 15 in the middle of the night. It’s peaceful. I like the way the sodium-vapor lights look from the freeway. Everything is still that washed-out yellow, but you can see the stars and the mountains looming up in front of you.

I jumped on the 395 for thirty minutes. The lights of passing cars filled the interior of the Cougar for brief moments. A glance in the rear view during these moments revealed what might have been a beautiful young woman. Her blond hair did not move in the wind. She was smiling. Then the interior would go dark, and she would be no more. The sound of happy laughter drifted beneath the road noise. And a smell like a field of wildflowers in full bloom lingered all around me.

I left the last high desert city behind. I turned onto a dirt road with no marker. I cruised slowly. I knew the spots that would give the Cougar and her low-slung body trouble. It took about five minutes to cover the mile from the highway to the gate.

My headlights lit up the iron bars. It was a fancy gate out in the middle of the desert. The designer probably envisioned it blocking the end of a Beverly Hills driveway. There were ornate spikes all along the curved top. Two silhouettes of horses rearing up on their hind legs. It might work in the Texas wastelands, but there weren’t any horses around these parts. Scorpions, tarantulas, and rattlesnakes, but no wild stallions running free.

The gate was mostly decorative. Three lines of barbed wire ran to the north and south. The property was five hundred acres of useless scrub brush and the aforementioned poisonous things. If somebody wanted to get to the house beyond the gate, they wouldn’t have to try very hard.

I came to a stop, leaned out the window and punched in the code. The gate rolled away to my left. I drove through and the gate closed behind me.

Fifty yards in was a one-story log cabin. It was one of those kits you can buy online. They ship the materials to the building site along with all the nuts and bolts. An enthusiastic person could probably put one together in a couple weeks. The owner of the property had paid ten guys from the Home Depot parking lot to throw this one up in a day.

I liked it. There was a cozy bed inside. I wanted nothing more than to go climb into that bed and sleep. I had one more thing to do before I could call it a day.

I drove past the cabin another hundred yards. The road ended in a wide spot where I could flip the Cougar around. I turned the car off and climbed out. Big stretch. My body ached from the drive. My brain felt mushy because of the alcohol still in my system and a lack of sleep.

I popped the trunk. I don’t know if he ever regained consciousness. Don’t know if he struggled as his lungs ran out of oxygen. Didn’t much matter either way. He was dead.

I pulled the body out of the trunk. It hit the ground hard. I grabbed the feet and dragged the body into the desert for a few feet. There was a lid somewhere. I just had to find it. I felt like I was in the right spot, but I didn’t see it.

I relented and pulled my phone out, used the flashlight and searched the ground. I was about ten feet too far north. I pulled the bone bag over to a brown plastic lid set into the ground. I took a moment to light a cigarette in preparation. I filled my lungs with smoke and held it in as I pulled the lid upward. The smell that drifted up out of the hole was still godawful. I worked as quickly as I could. I got the feet into the hole, then lifted the body by the shoulders until it just kind of slid in. A second later, I was rewarded with a thick splash.

Restraining order served.

About The Author


Eric Weule is the author of several novels. He lives in Southern California. Caffeine & Nicotine is a stand-alone novel, which features Kelly Jenks from The Interview.

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