Here’s a sneak peek at the first chapter…
The princess’s eyes are wide, blue pools of terror.
“Help me, prince!” she screams in desperation. “Help me, before it’s too late!”
“Here I come!” I bellow, barreling toward the tiny figure. Her small pink mouth is bowed in an exaggerated O of fear. “Don’t worry, princess! I’ll save you!”
I make a big fuckin’ display of jumping over the lava pit that only the “princess” can see. The evil dragon has created it to keep her imprisoned against her will. I clear the pit with feet to spare, and land safely on the other side. The princess flings her arms around my neck as I scoop her up, then jump back over the invisible lava, carrying her to safety.
Heaving a deep sigh of relief, the princess snuggles into my chest. “Thank you, thank you, handsome prince!” she cries. “But, wait! What if the dragon comes after us?”
“That dragon will be shakin’ in his boots, when he realizes it was me who saved you,” I growl. Giving her a squeeze, I bend down and deposit my pint-sized royal package on the ground in front of me. “He’s not about to bother you again, I guarantee it.”
Princess Mariana opens her mouth to reply to me. But just then, a giant monster of a dog bounds around the corner of the house. He’s more than twice her size, and before I have time to grab her back up, he’s pounced and she’s on the ground.
The princess shrieks with laughter, wriggling around in her pink dress. Her crown tumbles off into the grass beside them as dog and girl wrestle.
“Well, shit,” I drawl. “Looks like the dragon got you anyway.”
Mariana’s mom, Jenna, appears on the deck. A smirk is on her face as she looks down at the scene. “Angel, mind your language around the children, please,” my sister murmurs. “Good lord, Mariana,” she clucks. “I thought I asked you to try to stay clean until the party.”
I reach down and drag Rhino, the family Saint Bernard, off of my six year-old niece. “But Mom,” she complains as she scrambles to her feet. “It wasn’t my fault! I was being clean! Right, Uncle Angel?”
“She was,” I affirm. “She even managed to keep the lava off of her dress.”
“Yeah!” Mariana insists. “It’s Rhino’s fault I got dirty!”
“Rhino saw you two roughhousing, and couldn’t contain himself,” Jenna says drily. She’s doing her best to sound like she’s mad, but the corners of her mouth are twitching. “Honestly, Angel. You’re to blame, too.”
I let go of the dog, and he lumbers off to go find more mischief to get into. “You asked me to keep an eye on her,” I retort, glancing down at Mariana. “Sorry, but my options were kinda limited, seein’ as she ain’t quite old enough yet to do an oil change on my Harley.”
That gets a laugh out of my sister. “Point taken.”
Mariana looks up at me with earnest, indignant eyes. “I am so old enough to help you do an oil change!” she exclaims. “You let Noah help you!”
“Mariana, leave your uncle alone, now,” Jenna admonishes. “You go upstairs and take off that princess dress right now, before you get it all ripped up.”
Mariana starts to whine, but one “mom look” from Jenna shuts her right up. With a dramatic sigh, she tromps up the deck stairs and goes into the house.
“And take off your shoes inside!” Jenna calls after her.
“She’s got a point about the oil change,” I consider, frowning.
Jenna turns back to me, and shakes her head in mock embarrassment. “You know I could use this entire scene to blackmail you, right?” she grins.
I shrug. “None of the Lords would ever believe it. You ain’t got a leg to stand on.”
Jenna snorts. “Yeah,” she retorts with an evil smirk. “But you never know — maybe I have proof.” She pulls out her cell phone and waves it at me. “I wonder what footage of the President of the Lords of Carnage MC playing princess with a six year-old would be worth?” She muses in a taunting voice. I open my mouth to respond, but she’s already down the deck stairs and pushing past me. “Now come on,” she says as she heads toward the garage. “I need some help setting up the tables.”
Shit. Knowing my sister, she probably did film the whole fuckin’ thing.
Muttering to myself, I follow her out to the garage, where a bunch of long folding tables are stacked up against one wall. Today’s the twelfth birthday party for Noah, Jenna and Ghost’s oldest kid. Besides being my sister, Jenna also happens to be married to the Sergeant at Arms of my club. Ghost has also been my best friend since we were kids. Their son Noah is the result of a one-night stand the two of them had one summer, the year after Jenna graduated high school. Jenna left town not long after that, and she only found out she was pregnant weeks later.
Ghost didn’t even know he was a father until nearly five years afterwards, when Jenna showed back up here in Tanner Springs, broke and unemployed. Jenna didn’t tell him about Noah being his at first. It didn’t come out until after the two of them had hooked up again, and things started to get serious. The way Jenna tells the story, she was too terrified to tell him. She was afraid that once Ghost found out she’d kept such a big secret from him all those years, he’d be too mad to stay with her.
And he was mad, for sure. But not mad enough to ignore that he’d always carried a torch for her, and that he wasn’t gonna let her get away from him a second time, no matter what.
Yeah, I’m not gonna lie. It was a little weird finding out my sister was fucking my best friend. But that was a long time ago now, and I’ve gotten used to it. Besides, the two of them are as solid as they come. All you gotta do is look in either of their eyes to realize it.
I eye the all the folding tables stacked against the garage wall, and tell Jenna I can set them up myself. Gratefully, she goes back inside to deal with other party-related shit. I spend the next twenty minutes unfolding and arranging the tables they’ve rented around their large back yard. Then I start in on placing folding chairs around the tables. I’m just finishing up when a familiar panel van pulls into the driveway and parks.
The driver’s side door opens and Ghost climbs out. A second later, Beast, my vice-president, hops out of the passenger side. The two of them have been out on a liquor run for the party. They immediately open up the back and start hauling cases of whiskey and beer and bags of ice into the garage. I can see they’ve bought enough alcohol to get a goddamn army drunk — which is more or less what is gonna happen. Most of the Lords of Carnage and their families are gonna be here today, so running out of booze is not an option.
“‘Bout time the two of you got back,” I say, wiping my forehead against the heat. “Some of that beer better be cold.”
“What do you think we are, a bunch’a fuckin’ animals?” Beast grins. He rips open a case and tosses me one.
“No comment,” I say, catching the icy can easily. I pull open the tab and take a long drink. “Damn, that tastes good,” I growl.
Jenna must have heard the van pull up from inside, because she comes out of the sliding screen door onto the deck. “Not a moment too soon,” she grins when she sees the two men. “Hey, Beast.”
“Hey there,” he nods. “Where’s the birthday boy?”
“He just got back home from playing down the street,” she replies, coming down the stairs. She saunters over to Ghost, who catches her around the waist. “He’s in the shower. Be down in a few.”
“Everything under control?” Ghost asks, pulling her in for a kiss.
“Yeah. Angel set all this up,” Jenna tells him, sweeping her arm around the yard. “People will start arriving in a few minutes. I’ll have plenty of help getting tablecloths and plates and things set out, once Jewel and some of the other women get here. And some of the older kids have promised to do babysitting duty for the younger ones. Thorn and Isabel are bringing over the birthday cake.” She takes a deep breath and sighs happily. “So, I guess we’re good to go!”
“Good deal,” Beast rumbles. “Let’s get this party started.” He heads back toward the garage, and a couple seconds later, booming music begins to blast from the stereo system Ghost installed when they first moved in a couple months ago.
“Oh, boy,” Jenna murmurs, mock-rolling her eyes.
“Guess we’re about to find out our neighbors’ tolerance for noise,” Ghost grins.
Want more? Angel is coming to Amazon on August 8! Click here to join my mailing list and get an email when he’s live!