You did it! We hit the magic number of adds on Goodreads, so now you get to read the first chapter from UNAFRAID. I can’t believe it’s just 4 days until release, I can’t wait.
Enjoy, and I hope you like it!
Friday night in Beachwood Bay, which means there’s only one place to go:
Jimmy’s. By eight, the bar is already packed, full of tourists and locals all
wanting a cheap beer and some loud music to get their weekend started right.
I ask Garrett, slamming down another order. He’s behind the bar, pouring beers
as fast as he can to keep up. “I’ve had three tourists ask to meet Jimmy, and
it’s too much hassle to explain the whole thing.”
gives that lazy shrug. He’s dressed in his usual uniform of a plaid shirt,
jeans, and two-day stubble; he’s the boss now, so he gets to wear what he
wants, while I’m stuck in my black Jimmy’s tank and cutoffs.
quicker,” I suggest, flicking back a sweaty strand of hair, dyed a dark brown
this month. “I’m still waiting on those cocktails for the sorority girls in the
skintight cutoffs giggling in the booth. “Nah, you go ahead, I’ve got them.”
my tray with waters and cutlery. I look up in time to catch a sheepish look
flit across his face.
Or, any other night.” Garrett mumbles.
cry, swatting him with my dish-towel. “You can’t keep doing this.”
all.” He points out, with a grin.
like a big brother to me, and with my real brother, Emerson, off in the city,
he’s the only family here I’ve got. “I’m serious,” I warn him, “they keep
quitting when you break their hearts, and then there’s no one left to help me
Garrett can’t keep it zipped. At this rate, we’ll be blacklisted by every
waitress in the state before fall.
helping out at the bar is just a favor. A short-term, stopgap kind of thing until
I figure out what I’m going to do with my life. But it’s been a year since I
graduated high school, and I’m still here: serving burgers to the folks who
wouldn’t look twice at me in the street, like somehow being a waitress is part
of the plan, and not just treading water as time slips on by.
back to the bar after taking another round of orders. “Mail came for you, I
left it in the office.”
in the crowd. The envelope is propped on the messy desk with my name printed in
neat black type.
The letter is slim, weighing next to nothing, and before I can get caught up in
wondering whether that’s good news or bad, I rip it open and pull out the
single sheet of paper.
you for your interest in our company. We regret to inform you…
angrily swipe them away, crumpling the letter into a ball and hurling it to the
ground before I can read another word.
months now, sending out my portfolio to every designer and clothing line I can
find. I’m not crazy, I know the best I can hope for is a basic assistant
gig––fetching coffees and running fabric samples––but that’s just fine with me.
Anything to get my foot in the door, and start working my way up to one day
designing my own line. But every single application comes back with the same,
impersonal letter. Sure, they’re polite, but after reading the first dozen, I
got the message written between the lines: you’re not good enough. You don’t
have the skills, or the qualifications, or the fancy fashion school credentials
to even get a foot in the door.
jump. I turn to find him in the doorway, watching me with a concerned look on
“It’s nothing,” I tell him.
be if you could stop being such a broken man-whore and keep a damn waitress in
see the flicker of hurt on his face. It’s too late to take it back, so I just
add the guilt to the whole mess of emotions I’m carrying, heavy and sharp like
a steel knife blade in my gut.
out, glad for the distraction.
sexy. c u later?
these past couple of weeks. We met in a bar a couple of towns over. One drink
led to another until we closed out the night in the backseat of his beat-up old
Chevy. It’s turned into a regular late night thing, my one good distraction to
take my mind off another long night of nothing here at the bar.
text back, and a moment later, his reply flashes up.
hard 4 u.
his dirty talk have done the trick; now my latest rejection letter is just
another in the stack, one more thing to forget about and move on from.
one in control. All those fancy fashion lines may not want me, but I can get
Trey panting with nothing but a wink and a flash of red lace from under my tank
top. Out there in the world, I may be nothing, but put me in a room full of
guys with one thing on their minds, and they’ll want me.
out to the bar, adding a swing to my hips and some strut to my stride in my
chunky lace-up boots. Garrett gives me another look of concern so I just flash
him a fake smile and keep moving, loading up my tray with waters and going to
bus some empty tables in back.
got this, Brit. You’ll be just fine.
couple, and their daughter, a pretty blonde about my age. I grab a stack of
menus, about to go over to welcome them, when the door swings open again.
wait until I finished my shift. He’s dressed up, I notice: a button-down shirt,
good jeans, cleanly shaven. The last few times we met, it was a late-night
thing: sweaty and disheveled after a long day at work. We both know I’m a sure
thing either way, but it’s nice he made the effort for me. Guys never do.
He doesn’t even look in my direction. Instead, he walks straight over to the
far table, and the family who just walked in. He slides in next to the blonde
girl and drapes an arm around her shoulder.
a kiss on her lips. She reaches up to touch his cheek, and that’s when I see
it: the ring on her engagement finger, bright and sparkling, and full of
joking with the girl’s parents. They’re all having a ball of a time, as if ten
hours ago he wasn’t grunting in my ear, cursing under his breath as he groped
at every inch of flesh on my body.
surprised anymore, how this goes. How it always goes. But after that letter
from the design company, this is like a ton of salt dumped on the wound. All my
rejection comes boiling up again, sharp and bitter with regret.
reconsider. “Hi y’all, welcome to Jimmy’s.” I say flatly. I look to Trey for
some kind of reaction: shock maybe, or fear. But instead, he has the nerve to
smile at me and wink, like we’re in this together.
got some specials here tonight,” I continue, my voice sharp and metallic.
“Let’s hear ‘em.”
my vision – and good judgment – I can see he’s just a beefed up jock with a bad
goatee. Jesus, why did I even waste my time on him?
there was nothing better to do. The voice in my head answers for me. Because he helped you forget, just for
a little while, what a dead-end your life has become.
could strip the skin off his bones with just one look.
I announce. “It comes with a side of whiskey dick.”
at me while the rest of the table blinks in confusion. “Brit—” he warns in a
menacing voice, but I’m not done yet.
continue, “You won’t have to wait long for that. Trust me, it comes real
step back, quicker.
you?” I quote his text, fury pumping in my bloodstream. “Funny how you didn’t
mention your fiancée.”
upend it all over his head. The mess of cheese and guacamole and beans smears
down his face and drips, slowly to the floor.
me in shock.
fuck?!” Trey finally finds his voice, wiping at the mess on his shirt. “You
all innocent confusion.
else. Better get tested, sweetheart. I sure as hell will. Y’all have a nice night.”