Read an Excerpt
Bright lightning lit the sky as thunder rolled and thrummed, signalling the approach of a storm. Jesse Chandler glanced up at the darkening clouds and picked up his pace. He didn’t want to add wet to his already shit day. He’d started out the morning by hitching a ride with a trucker. He’d done it before and had no problem. Today, though, there’d been something about the guy that raised his hackles. At a rest stop, Jesse had slipped away and started to walk. At the time, it’d been a good idea, or at least he’d thought so. Now, walking in the middle of nowhere, it didn’t feel good anymore. Finally, spying lights, he’d changed directions, hoping to find someplace he could hang out until the rain passed. He shifted his backpack higher as the first drop of moisture hit his nose. What started as a small trot became an all-out jog as he approached the place he’d seen from the highway. Truly, he didn’t care what it turned out to be. As long as he got safely out of the storm, anywhere was fine with him.
He ran, head down, past cars and motorcycles until he hit the front door. It flew open with a bang and he shook the moisture from his eyes and hair to find most of the people in the place staring at him. It was a bar, and judging from the amount of leather and tattoos, it was a biker bar. Fuck, he was dead. Turning, he closed the door and walked, head down, to the bar ignoring the looks from the patrons. Yeah, he knew he didn’t belong, but it was raining, and he was damned if he went back out just because he didn’t fit in. If he left every time he didn’t fit in someplace, he’d have died of pneumonia a long time ago. Jesse had never fit in anywhere.
He stepped up to sit on a stool and dug in his backpack for the few crumbled dollars he’d allow himself to spend. A cup of steaming hot coffee appeared on the bar and Jesse turned to find the scariest man he’d ever seen standing in front of him. The man was probably six-four, with broad shoulders and huge muscled arms, and there wasn’t an ounce of fat on him. He had short, thick, shaggy brown hair and tattoos. What caught and held Jesse’s gaze was the man’s face. It was a true work of art with high-carved cheekbones, an impressive aquiline nose, and full lips. When Jesse finally met his eyes, they were a cold grey and stared at him from under dark brows drawn together in a frown.
“Kid, do your parents know you’re out?” The man’s voice was a soft, deep bass rumble, but it carried easily over the loud music and voices.
“Mister, I don’t have any parents and if I did, it wouldn’t matter. I’m legal and there’s not a damn thing they could do about it.” Jesse answered, unable to pull his gaze from the man.
The man placed his hands on the bar and leant in. Dragon tattoos twined and snaked down both arms. “I’ll need to see I.D.”
Jesse looked in his backpack and dug around until he produced his wallet. It was old and worst-for-wear, but served its purpose. He pulled his card out and handed it over, trying not to stare. What was he going to tell the guy if he asked what his problem was? Any answer he came up with would probably get his ass kicked so he decided to smooth his money out on the bar instead.
“Jesse Chandler.” The man practically growled his name and Jesse shivered. What the fuck?
“That’s me,” he mumbled.
“Says you’re twenty-three.”
Jesse nodded. “Yep, third of January. Is there a problem?”
“No, not at all.” The guy handed the card back. “Do you want something else to drink?”