Eighteen-year-old Tienne Desrochers grew up in the rough world of the Noir et Bleu. Bikers. Outlaws. But after her dad's murder, Tienne decides she's had enough. She refuses to end up like her junkie mom. So she grabs her younger brother and leaves it all behind...including her boyfriend, Aiden Gyllenhall.
More comfortable in the middle of a bar fight than at a country club, living with her wealthy aunt and uncle is an adjustment, to say the least. No swearing. Designer shoes that pinch. And pretty, preppy boys like Leland Crofton instead of super-sexy, tattooed Aiden. But even the upper class can't escape the rancid touch of underworld violence. And this time, Tienne won't just learn who she really is-she'll learn how to fight for what's hers.
|Publisher:||Entangled Publishing, LLC|
|File size:||2 MB|
About the Author
D.R. Graham currently lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada with her husband. She worked as a social worker with at-risk youth prior to becoming a youth and family therapist in private practice. She writes novels that deal with issues relevant to young and new adults in love, transition, or crisis.
One Percenter is the first book in the Noir et Bleu Motorcycle Club series. For more on the series, visit www.drgrahambooks.com.
Read an Excerpt
By D. R. Graham, Heather Howland, Vanessa Mitchell
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2015 D. R. Graham
All rights reserved.
Both sides of my family and their friends file down the aisle of the church in solemn silence. To my left, dark suits, expensive shoes, and conservative dresses. To my right, ripped denim, leather vests, and skanky skirts. Twenty uniformed cops watch from along the back wall with their arms folded across their chests.
My push-up bra is creating way too much cleavage for a real church, but the Noir et Bleu Motorcycle Club tank top is a necessary show of respect. If God is somewhere up there in the rafters, He's probably disappointed with my trashy funeral attire. There's no sign of Him. Maybe He's too scared to be here.
One of my dad's old helmets rests on a chair next to me at the altar. Uncle Ronnie set it there to remind everyone who my father was. As if anyone could forget. My mom is sprawled across the pew in the front row to my right. Her blond hair matted, her makeup smeared, she leans on Uncle Terry's leg as if she's the one who's dead. It's pathetic. The judgmental whispers from the left side of the church make a tingly feeling creep up my throat. I swallow hard and close my eyes. Too bad that doesn't make the mortification disappear.
The eulogy clenched in my hand is soggy from sweat. I place the curled paper on my lap and wipe my palms on my cut-off jean shorts. Shit. It's too hot in here. If they don't get this over with soon I'm going to pass out and end up a worse mess than my mom.
Leland walks in. Now I can't breathe. The sun silhouettes his face, but the tailored suit and his perfect posture confirm it's him. To avoid eye contact between us, I focus on Auntie Elizabeth sitting in the front pew to my left, as far away from my mom as possible. She's crying into Uncle Blaine's linen handkerchief. He smiles at me and mouths, Are you doing okay?
I force myself to nod, even though I'm not doing okay. I stare up at the ceiling to prevent tears from escaping.
The minister sneaks out of a side door and slides onto a wooden bench behind me. My hands shake, partly because his arrival means the service will start soon, and partly because if he sits there during my speech, my ass in my short shorts will be in his direct view the entire time.
My brother's boyfriend, Sam, sits in the third row sobbing. His parents and sister are several rows behind him, but nobody comforts him. I catch Auntie Elizabeth's attention and point at Sam. She leans back and waves him forward to join them.
The door at the back opens and the Gyllenhalls enter.
Aiden stares at me as he walks down the aisle. My entire body trembles, and I can't swallow. The black jeans, motorcycle boots, and white dress shirt under a leather vest are his version of dress clothes, and he's even more striking than I remember. His sleeve cuffs are rolled up and his collar button is undone, which gives me a glimpse of a new tattoo on his neck.
He steps aside to let his dad and uncle file into the reserved pew directly behind my mom. Then he continues toward me. The church appears to spin around him as he walks. The faces and stained glass windows circle in a blur of color as if we're inside a kaleidoscope. He takes the two steps up onto the red-carpeted altar, reaches out, and squeezes my hand tightly. His skin on mine makes the spinning stop. My eyes close as he leans down. "Sorry, Ti," he whispers. His right palm slides up to my neck and his lips graze my cheek.
The tears I've been fighting win the battle and drip over my eyelashes.CHAPTER 2
Four months earlier
A band of four geeky misfits plays barely tolerable Top 40 covers on a stage that could accommodate a symphony. Weird. A country club like this should have enough money to hire musicians with some talent. I roll my eyes at Cooper and jerk a "what gives" thumb at the band. He laughs and shakes his head, maybe because he agrees that the band sucks, or maybe because he can't believe I would notice the one slight flaw in this fairy tale place. As part of the fairy tale, Auntie Elizabeth gave us both Cinderella makeovers for tonight. Cooper looks really handsome in the suit jacket and silk tie that he picked out himself. I'm not sure where he gets his sense of style. It certainly wasn't from either of our parents.
According to the embroidered crest on the napkins, the country club was established in 1937, but the facilities are state of the art — indoor-outdoor pools and tennis courts, a fully equipped fitness center with yoga and spin studios, a formal dining restaurant, and a juice bar café for breakfast and lunch. It's essentially a two hundred acre, five-star resort and spa plopped down in the middle of a neighborhood of mansions. It takes my breath away just to be here.
Balancing a plate in her hand, Auntie Elizabeth joins me in the corner of the ballroom where I'm semi-hiding. Her black dress has an understated elegance that suits her.
"What's with the shitty band?" I ask.
"Shh. The lead singer is the vice-president of the club's son. They might go on a break soon — if we're lucky." She pops a sausage roll in her mouth, chews demurely, and then takes a sip of wine. "Don't let Blaine hear you swearing around here."
"You said shitty."
I laugh, wondering how we came from the same family tree. "Sorry."
She holds her hand in front of my face. "Gum."
I tilt my head forward and let my gum drop into her palm. I'm pretty sure spitting it into her bare hand is less classy than chewing it, but whatever.
"It's probably going to take a while for you to get used to how everything is done with these people."
"Don't say shitty and don't chew gum. I got it."
She smiles at my weak attempt at humor and links her elbow with mine. "You've been hiding back here long enough. Let me introduce you to some of the girls your age."
"Uh." I glance around the royal caliber ballroom with its tuxedoed waiters and highly polished crowd of socialites. I don't belong and I'd rather not prance around meeting people who are definitely going to sense that. "It's okay. I'm good here."
"Come on." She drags me across the dance floor to the other side of the ballroom where people are mingling near the windows that overlook the golf course. I'm having a little trouble keeping up because I'm wearing four-inch heels that match the ice-blue strapless cocktail dress she bought me for my introduction to the country club set. Suffocating and treacherous are not my idea of a party outfit, but my old clothes wouldn't have quite cut it. Aiden on my arm wouldn't have quite cut it here, either.
Elizabeth stops in front of a group of girls who all dwarf me and appear perfectly comfortable in their high society clothes. They're about my age and the way they laugh and hug each other makes me think they've known each other since they had silver spoons in their mouths. I wonder how long it will take for them to figure out I was fed with a cheap PBA-laden plastic spoon available at all Dollar stores.
Elizabeth rests her hand on the arm of the tallest girl. "Cara, I would like to introduce you to my niece, Tienne. She's just moved in with us."
Cara smiles and extends her hand to shake mine. "I love your dress. Is that a Lionetta?"
Clueless, I look at Elizabeth who nods that it is. "Tienne is going to be working as an assistant at my design firm while she waits to be accepted into school."
"That's great." Cara sounds genuinely excited. "I'm doing an internship in the same building as your aunt's firm. We can do lunch."
Elizabeth smiles as if she's proud of her matchmaking skills. "I'll leave you girls to get acquainted." She squeezes my sweaty hand, turns, and heads back across the dance floor.
I shift my weight, twitchy at the thought of socializing with these girls. I subdue the urge to flee and force a smile. "Sorry about the forced introduction. My aunt's a little overly enthusiastic."
"No need to apologize." Cara lifts her foot to adjust the ankle strap on her pumps, and her long brown curls cascade over one shoulder like she's in a shampoo commercial. She points at the girls beside her. "This is Reese Birming, Haley Cooke, and I'm Cara Livingstone."
Reese wears her shiny black hair in razor sharp angles that accentuate her bony features. Her skin is olive brown and it almost shimmers when she moves. I didn't know girls could actually look like that without Photoshop. She catches me staring and doesn't appear flattered. Blushing, I blink and shift my attention to Haley. She resembles a doll. Her ginger hair doesn't move when she turns her head, and her glassy green eyes never seem to blink. Her skin is pale as porcelain and it looks like someone painted her cheeks rosy and added five freckles on each side. They're perfect.
This isn't going to go well. All the binding party dresses and pinchy shoes in the world aren't going to hide who I really am, or fool girls like this into believing that I belong here. I can't even think of anything to say.
Fortunately, Cara carries the conversation seamlessly past my lack of small-talk skills by asking, "What are you planning on studying? Interior design?" She seems genuinely interested. The other two are waiting attentively for my answer, too.
"No. Performing arts. I want to be an actor." I brace myself for their reaction, since I don't fit the image of a typical theater person. But they don't laugh like I expect.
"Are you in any shows?" Haley asks.
I tuck my hair behind my ear and shift my weight again. "I'm auditioning for one in a couple of weeks."
"Let us know when tickets go on sale. We'll come watch."
"Um." I study each of them, wondering if they're being fake friendly. It seems like just friendly-friendly, unless they're better bullshitters than every other person I know. That's unlikely, since I grew up with professional bullshitters, but I can't tell. "Okay."
"Your brother is adorable," Reese says. "How old is he?"
"Sixteen." I glance at the lobster and caviar stocked buffet table where he is mingling with a group of teens. He fits in here perfectly.
"Ooh. A bit too baby-faced for me." She chuckles and nudges Cara with her elbow, "but Cara likes her boys young."
Cooper isn't any of their types, or more accurately, none of them is his type. I laugh at the irony, but I don't want them to ask what's so funny, so I stifle it and take a sip of my punch.
Cara checks Cooper out. "Mmm. He is my type if he were a few years older, but I'm going after Leland this year."
Reese sits back on the edge of the windowsill and glances at a group of guys by the bar. They are all under twenty-five and dressed in tailored suits. They seem like dull, pretentious corporate types, but at least gossiping about boys will distract the girls from asking me personal questions. "I wouldn't waste your time on Leland," Reese says. "He told my brother that he'll never date a girl from the country club."
"Is he looking over here?" Cara whispers.
"Yes. Don't look now."
The only one who looks our way is tall and has dark wavy hair. He's cute in a clean- cut way — squeaky-clean-cut. Someone should tell him he'd be sexier with a couple of tattoos or a scruffy beard. He smiles and lifts his eyebrow slightly before rejoining the conversation with his friends.
"Tienne," Reese hisses as if she's scolding me. "I said not to look."
"Sorry." I finish my punch and get rid of my glass on a table nearby as they exchange country club gossip. More of the clean-cuts in suits shoot casual glances our way as if we're the topic of their conversation. I guess they're typical guys despite the atypical attire. Maybe everything about the two worlds is the same beneath the surface.
I stare at my fresh manicure. The country club spa didn't have my preferred black or blue polish, so I let the aesthetician choose. She went with a pale, rose-petal pink, and I have to admit it does look pretty.
"Where did you go to high school?" Reese asks, interrupting my admiration of my nails.
"Um." Shit. I can't tell them I graduated from James Owens. Its claim to fame is stabbings in the hallway, epic brawls in the stands at the football games, and the lowest graduating rate in the city. "I went to public school."
Haley is the only one who has a slight reaction to the mention of public school. The expression flickered across her face for less than a second, so I can't tell if it was judgy or just surprised. "Which one?"
Okay. The temperature in the room skyrockets and the sweat dribbling from my armpits threatens to ruin the damn Lionetta. Exit strategy time. "It was a really small school. On the other side of the city. You probably wouldn't have heard of it." I extend my arm to shake hands with each of them. "Nice meeting you all. If you'll excuse me, I need to use the restroom."
"Let's catch up for lunch on Monday," Cara says. Her smile is as sweet as my favorite Barbie doll when I was little.
I say something noncommittal about her invitation, but try to imitate her pleasant smile before I leave. It's possible that I look more like Chucky than Barbie.
I can feel their stares. Is it completely demented that I would be more comfortable in the middle of a bar fight with beer bottles flying past my head than at a country club dance worried what the popular girls are saying behind my back as I walk away? This is so not my scene.
The restroom has marble counter tops, dark cherry wood cubicle doors, and I bet the gleaming toilets have never had someone's head passed out in the bowl. If Aiden were here he would point out that classing up the bathroom doesn't make your shit smell any less. That might be true, but this place sure is chic. And there is free moisturizer, little individual-sized mouthwashes, and real cotton towels. Maybe I could get used to this part.
After freshening up and giving myself a lecture that sounds more like a death threat than a pep talk, I head back into the trenches and make a beeline for Cooper. He's talking to a thin guy with super-styled light brown hair. He looks about sixteen, same as Cooper. "Hey."
"Hey. Sam, this is my sister, Tienne." Sam extends his hand and smiles in an easygoing way that makes me instantly like him. "Tienne, this is Sam Livingstone."
"Relax," Sam says and wiggles my hand to make my entire arm loosen up. "The trick to fitting in is to look comfortable."
"That's easy to say for someone who is the heir to Livingstone Enterprises."
Sam laughs. "Is that what my sister told you?"
"No. That was my attempt at trying to sound like I know what I'm talking about. You're an heir to something, right?"
"To the financially floundering Livingstone Funeral Services franchise." He points at me in a mock cautionary way. "Keep that to yourself. If Cara finds out that I told you, I'll be in need of those services."
I like his charisma; definitely a good match for Cooper. "Your coffin should be complimentary at least," I joke.
"You would think, but not even family members get a discount in a Livingstone franchise anymore." He looks down at my dress as if he's checking me out, but just says, "Nice Lionetta."
"Thanks." I raise my eyebrows in a question at Cooper and he smiles, which I take as a hint. "I'm going to leave you two boys alone. Nice meeting you, Sam."
As I walk away, my tiny crystal-encrusted purse vibrates. I lean against the posh wallpaper and pull my phone out. It's a text from Aiden, thank God. I need a dose of something familiar to boost my self-esteem.
How's the high life?
Apparently shit is a swear word and chewing gum is a crime
Meet me outside in 15
I check the time. Although it feels like we've been here all night, it's only been an hour. Elizabeth will be disappointed if I bail this early.
I can't leave
Just want to give u something. Will only take a minute
I could use the break. Nobody will notice.
My aunt walks over to me. "What are you grinning about?" she asks as she tickles my waist.
"Nothing. Are you having fun?"
"I must be." She tips her glass and gulps back half of her wine. "My face hurts from smiling so much. Are you having fun?"
Fun? No. This doesn't meet any of my criteria for fun. Necessary for Cooper's sake, yes. Tolerable, barely. "Sure. Thanks for inviting us."
Excerpted from One Percenter by D. R. Graham, Heather Howland, Vanessa Mitchell. Copyright © 2015 D. R. Graham. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
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