Her Rough Mountain Outlaw
Mailing List Sneak Peek
I’m going too fast.
I knew I was, but that didn’t mean I was going to slow down. That didn’t mean I could slow down. Going slower, being safe? Well, that wasn’t a luxury I had at the moment. Not when he was after me, like I knew damn well he was.
The rain streaked across the windshield, blurring my vision like the wipers weren’t even there. Lighting zigzagged across the sky, crackling through the jagged branches of the trees and briefly illuminating the dark, winding mountain road.
You’re going too fast.
But I couldn’t stop. Who knew what Darrel was capable of? Who knew what his scummy, corrupt friends were up to? Hell, he could’ve had my phone traced, or a tracker in the damn car for all I knew. He was a cop, after all.
The wind switched directions suddenly, and I shivered as the wet rain blew in across the back of my neck. The back driver’s side window was missing. Well, not missing, I knew where it was -- lying shattered in my driveway and across half off the neighborhood as I’d sped off. The window, one of my tail lights, and probably some of my bumper.
Yeah, being a cop hadn’t stopped Darrel from shooting at me as I’d driven away -- for the last damn time.
The bruises from the last time my ex-husband had laid hands on me were faded and gone, but inside, they were still fresh. They still hurt, especially after he’d shown up like that as I was trying to pack the last of our stuff. Luckily, this last time, Brooke was already gone when I went to get the last of our stuff at our house.
This last time, I’d already had the foresight to hide my daughter away from the monster her father was. She and Kennedy, my younger sister, were at the Homestead Motel up in Loggersville. Out of the way, practically off the map, and checked in under a fake name. Basically, out of reach of Darrel and the rest of the crooked cops he called friends.
But then Darrel had shown up. Drink, angry, pretty much par for the course with that jackass. I don’t know what he’d come looking for, but when he realized I was leaving-leaving -- for good -- he’d flown into a rage.
The gun I’d yanked out of the bedside table and pointed at his chest wasn’t loaded, but he didn’t know that. It’d kept him back until I’d dragged the last suitcase out to the car and gotten in. But driving away, I’d screamed when he’d pulled out his damn service gun and unloaded at me.
And now, there I was, two hours of hard driving later, winding around the base of Blackthorn Mountain.
I only sort of knew the place through my friend Larkin. A while back, one of my jobs had been bartending at Centerfolds, this grimy, dive of a strip club back in Salt Creek. Larkin and I had bonded over the fact that we both worked in a strip joint but kept our clothes on. She’d been the cocktail waitress, me the bartender trying to juggle three jobs, a kid, and a barely-there, drunk, abusive not-quiet-ex-back-then husband.
Larkin had taken off one night with this big mysterious stranger back here to Blackthorn. We’d caught up a little bit recently over email, and it turns out, she’d found her happy ever after here on Blackthorn, and Axe -- that rough, wild, biker outlaw type she’d run away with that night -- had turned out to be her prince charming. They were married now, and recent parents to two freaking adorable twin girls.
We’d only really ever been work friends, but at that point, with Darrel having ruined any other relationship in my life, Larkin was the closest thing to a friend I had. So it’d been her I reached out to when I knew things were going to hit a breaking point with Darrel, and it’d been Larkin who’d told me to come stay with her and Axe until I could figure out my next move.
The plan had been to go grab Brooke at the motel that wasn’t really that far from Blackthorn Mountain anyways, and then come back here to lie low for a while. That was also why I was taking dark, dangerous backroads. The highways were out, since I knew that Darrel and his pals would be looking for me there. They might even have roadblocks set up.
So, the mountain road it was.
The adrenaline still roared through me from the escape -- from pointing a gun at Darrel, from him shooting at me. I shook with it, my hands white-knuckling the steering wheel as I tried to steady my breaths. Brooke was safe, that’s all that mattered. Brooke was out of harm's way, and away from the man who was regretfully her father. Plus she was with my baby sister -- my baby sister with the concealed carry permit. Oh, Brooke was safe with her, alright.
Darrel had never been what you might call a “nice” man, but he’d at least been normal, once. Back then, I was young, I was impressionable, and I went off and married the first man who’d said the L word.
…You know, like a complete sucker.
Hitting me had been one thing. But when he’d started threatening to smack Brooke around, I’d had enough. He’d finally signed the divorce papers six months ago, but if anything, he’d just gotten worse since then. Driving past the house late at night, or flat out just letting himself in. And the guy was a cop, which made him untouchable.
I’d had enough. And finally, we were going to get the hell out of that place and away from him for good. Where that was exactly was another question. But one thing at a time.
Thunder boomed, and I gasped, my pulse jumping as I tried to peer through the driving rain. Lighting shattered the sky again, and I swallowed, tightening my grip on the wheel as I yanked it back and forth, navigating the tiny, winding mountain road.
Just get to Brooke. Get to--
Lightning crashed again, and this time, I screamed.
The deer was twenty feet from me when it appeared, and the scream shattered through me as I yanked the wheel, hard. There was the sound of screeching tires on the road, and it was almost like everything was slow motion as I watched the deer bolt, jumping away before the car could hit it.
And that’s when the whole world went upside down.
Primal fear exploded through me as the car twisted, the whole thing flipping over on its axis as it swung wildly. There was the sound of tearing metal and shattering glass as I went crashing through the guardrail, and I know the car flipped once more before suddenly, I hit something hard, and everything went still.
Blackness faded in and out of my vision, my eyes blurring at the edges. There was this dull ringing sound in my ears, and I blinked as something wet -- maybe rain, maybe blood -- trickled down the side of my face.
My eyes drooped, but I forced them open, forcing myself to stay awake.
Don’t sleep. You can’t sleep right now.
Sleep meant fading out, and fading out meant maybe not getting back up, and I knew that.
Brooke needs me. Brooke needs me to stay awake. Brooke needs her mom.
My vision swam again, and I started to droop again when suddenly, the window next to me shattered.
I wanted to yank my head to the side and scream, but no sound came to my lips, and even moving was slow. But suddenly, hands were reaching through the shattered window -- big, strong looking hands. Hands covered in tattoos. The hands yanked at the door handle, opening it and then wrenching the door open with this hideous metallic screech.
I turned then, and when I looked up, my heart jumped into my throat.
Holy shit, he’s got beautiful eyes.
Blue like diamonds -- fierce and powerful, and blazing into mine. He reached back, yanking something out of his belt, and this time, my breath caught in a half-scream.
My whole body flinched as he jabbed it towards, me, but when the blade slit through the seatbelt, I blinked in shock. He shoved the knife away again, and this time, those big hands slid under me. This time, huge, muscled arms rippled as he yanked me out of the car and cradled me into his hard, chiseled body.
“I gotcha, angel.”
The voice was deep and growly -- both booming and quiet at the same time. And warm. God, his voice was like a blanket, and just as soothing as those huge arms of his pulled me close.
God he’s handsome.
“I got you now, girl,” he growled fiercely, storming back up the embankment I’d crashed down and back up onto the rain-slicked road. Muscles rippled against me, and I glanced down to see that those arms were covered in tattoos.
I turned my head again, still half out of it. And this time, my eyes focused on his face.
“Can you ride?”
I blinked up through the rain at this rough, dangerous-looking, gorgeous man, and I felt something flutter inside of me.
Uh, yes please?
My face flushed furiously at the filthy thought, and I swear, even given the circumstance, I could see a flicker of him knowing what I was thinking in those eyes of his. He nodded with his perfect chin, and I turned, blushing again as I saw the motorcycle sitting next to the hole my car had punched in the guardrail.
“Uh, yeah. Yes.” I mumbled, swallowing thickly, my head still swimming.
“Good, you’re coming with me.”
I was vaguely aware of him swinging me up onto the motorcycle, my legs spreading around still-warm metal. He climbed on behind me, and my pulse thundered through me as I felt his huge body press tight to mine. Those big warm arms circled me, holding me against his muscled torso as he cranked the bike on, kicked back the stand, and revved the engine.
And just like that, we were off. Just like that, I was roaring off down a dark mountain road with the hottest biker I’d ever seen.
Wind streamed through my hair, rain streaked across my face, and my hands clung to those big muscled arms as we drove off into the night.