First public sample for No Longer Afraid!
Some notes –
I don’t have a release date yet!
If you have not read Deuces Wild and the Roses books, your experience with this one will not be as robust.
My Patreon Peeps got to name the hero in this one!
The image attached is not the cover (or even a cover at all!) – you’ll see the cover next week (it’s actually in the trailer too)
Okay I think that’s all. Other than the usuals – this hasn’t been edited, is subject to change, etc etc.
Make sure to drop a comment here or on socials with your first impressions!
“If you scowl at me any harder, you might ruin that pretty face.”
I blinked, hard, and my hand instinctively moved to the Glock at my waist.
“Damn,” Onyx chuckled, “You shoot niggas just for talking to you?”
Just for noticing me when I didn’t want to be.
Usually, I was quite good at slipping into places undetected – Sketch’s studio here at the bar should’ve been prime. She kept it like a vignette, dark on the edges, light focused only where she needed it.
She looked up, frowning at Onyx, before she pulled an earbud out. “Are you talking to me?”
He shook his head. “Nah. Her.”
I blew out a sigh, stepping out of the shadows as Sketch peered around, her eyes going wide when she saw me.
“I’d need a much better reason than general idiocy to shoot you,” I told Onyx, crossing my arms. “Consider yourself lucky.”
He smirked. “Am I, though?”
I rolled my eyes, but didn’t answer.
But… yes, he was.
If I did shoot him, nobody except my president had the authority to address me about it, and I didn’t want Brandon on my damn neck about it.
I hated explaining myself.
As such, I stayed where I was and kept scowling, and let my gun stay holstered, for now.
Only for now.
My eyes drifted to that ring of thorns on his bicep – the perceived symbol of that offending duality that wouldn’t let me relax. He was immersed in ink, actually. Dozens of colorful pictures decorating the landscape of his deep caramel skin. They told the story of a life filled to the brim with experiences, with travel, of loss grieved and instigated.
Those thorns, though…
That was some other shit.
I sauntered across the room, feigning interest in the images Sketch had used to line the walls.
I could feel his eyes tracking me.
His eyes were always tracking me, whenever we were in the same space – and not because he was attracted to me. Maybe he was, but it was inconsequential.
He kept his eyes on me because he needed to.
Because he’d been… trained to.
Find the largest threat in the room, and don’t let it out of your sight.
“You’re not about to try to slit my throat or anything, are you?” he asked, as I purposely stepped beyond his peripheral.
“Wh—Hey!” Sketch sputtered, outraged, as he pushed up from his prone position in her tattoo chair, turning to lock eyes with me. “Can y’all cut the shit so I can work?”
Ignoring her, he locked eyes with me. “I’m not fond of this game.”
The gravity of his tone made me raise an eyebrow. “What makes you think I give a fuck what you’re fond of?”
He shrugged. “I doubt you do. But I do think you give a shit if I walk out of here and you never fucking see me again, which is what’s about to happen. Would Blue be good with that?”
I kept my expression stony.
“Right,” he nodded. “So you bring your ass back where I can see you while she’s doing this shit.”
“You watch your goddamn tone with me,” I snapped, stepping right in his face, staring him down.
Until he smirked.
“I accept those terms,” he replied, his words tinged with mischief in a way that made me roll my eyes as he relaxed again– once I’d stepped back into his sight line— letting Sketch go back to what she was doing.
She was almost done, thank God.