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About the author:
Whenever she’s not writing or reading, you will find her trying my hand at landscape photography, dabbling in abstract painting, and spending time with her husband, Scott, and their four legged child, Sasha.
Here is a short sample from the book:
I am not a fan of extreme heat, humidity, or sweat. And yet here I am on a record breaking hot Mid-May Michigan afternoon sunbathing in my backyard. Not because I want to, but because even though it’s eighty nine degrees of miserable outside, it’s one hundred and eleven degrees of hell inside my house.
The old house I share with my roommates, Miranda and Mike, isn’t equipped with central air. And even if it was, we couldn’t afford to run it. So I figure if I’m going to be sweating profusely, I might as well get a tan while I’m doing it.
The only respite I receive from the sweltering heat comes from the overgrown blades of grass that tickle and cool the soles of my feet.
Our lawn desperately needs to be mowed, but it’s not my turn. I’ve mowed it two weeks in a row. I’m always picking up the slack of my roommates. If not for me we’d be living in squalor. I don’t know if it’s because they don’t mind the filth or if they’re just that lazy. But I refuse to mow this lawn one more time out of turn.
I hear my favorite sound and turn to watch Rooter pull up to his garage on his motorcycle.
I live for the sound of Rooter’s Harley when he comes home. He’s lived next to me for a little over a year and we’ve never met. We’ve exchanged a few nods in passing, but nothing more. I can’t muster the courage to introduce myself.
The fact that he’s a one percenter might have something to do with that. He’s a member of the Double H Motorcycle Club, formerly known as Halsey Hellions. Locals claim the Mayor and the Chief of Police are on their payroll; that the club owns this town.
I snooped around and found out Rooter is the club President’s son. According to the patch on his vest he is the Sergeant at Arms. The SAA is third in the MC hierarchy, under the President and V.P. Word on the street is he’s a “vicious motherfucker.” There’s a story he nearly beat a man to death with his bare hands.
When I look at Rooter, I see the tough exterior, but I also see something… gentle. It’s been said that it’s what a man does when he’s alone that determines his true character. Rooter plays ball with his pit bull, Dopey, works out and runs on a regular basis, and has a carefree, childlike laughter. He smiles often; and in his smile I see innocence.
It’s his smile that draws me to him.
I wonder what it would feel like to be the reason for his smile.
I yearn to be the reason for his smile.
Rooter opens his back door and lets Dopey out. The dog dashes to the giant red maple tree to pee and then lunges at him almost knocking him down. Rooter laughs, picks up the dog’s ball and throws it. For the millionth time I wonder what his real name is.
“Goddamn it, Sophie!”
My reverie is broken by my undesirable roommate, Mike. He’s so freaking annoying. I snap my head in his direction. “What?”
Mike is a for real dickhead. I’ve known him most of my life. Miranda has been my best friend since I was five and he’s her older brother. Once upon a time he and I were good friends, but I can’t stand him anymore.
I’ve asked Miranda repeatedly to kick him out, but she refuses. She claims he can’t make it on his own; that he’s unstable from the death of their parents, both of whom passed away last year. I don’t buy it. I think now he’s just an asshole; a shame because he used to be a nice guy.
“I was supposed to be at work a half hour ago!” Mike complains.
I roll my eyes. “Then it sounds like you’re late.”
“No shit!” He waves his hand at me. “You knew I had to work tonight!”
“What’s your point?” I hold out my arms to inspect the color. I burn easily, but because I want to get a tan I didn’t bother to apply sunblock.
“Did it occur to you to wake me up?”
He’s right, I knew, and I could’ve woken him up, but his work schedule isn’t my concern. Nothing about him concerns me. “Um, last time I checked, I’m not an alarm clock, or your mother.”
Shit. I shouldn’t have said that last part about his mother. That was cruel.
Mike’s face turns a deep shade of red and the vein in his forehead protrudes. “Worthless, fucking cunt!”
He goes in and slams the door. He’s hated me ever since I shot him down when he told me he had feelings for me. Almost a year has passed, and the time has done nothing to soften his attitude toward me.
I turn back in my chair to find Rooter glaring at our back door before turning his attention to me. I’m mortified and my heart pounds wildly. This is not the first impression I was hoping to make. Of all the ways I’d hoped to get his attention, this is not one of them. I raise my hand to wave because I don’t know what else to do.
Rooter carries himself with confidence, head held high, and shoulders back as he strides toward our fence. “Everything okay?” He asks.
“Yeah, he’s just a dick.”
I figure now is a good time to introduce myself. I take a deep breath and get up from the lawn chair to meet him at the fence. The sweeping motion of Rooter’s eyes as he looks me up and down reminds me I’m wearing my neon yellow string bikini. I try to appear confident though I’m not. It takes all my strength to keep steady on my feet.
“So I’ve gathered.”
I extend my hand and hope he doesn’t notice it’s shaking. “I’m Sophie, sorry about that.”
Up close, Rooter appears even more youthful than I’d thought. A complete contradiction to the serious expression he wears. His face is smooth and flawless, unlike most of his biker friends. His complexion is dark, not necessarily from a tan, indicating a possible Latino heritage and he has a chiseled, square jaw. He’s taller than I realized, which compared to my considerable height is a good thing. I’d put him at six three, possibly taller. He’s strikingly muscular, though not bulky and his dark brown hair is cropped close, though not quite buzzed. A trail of tribal tattoos cover his right arm; disappearing underneath the short sleeve of his black t-shirt.
“No worries,” he says and takes my hand for a quick shake. His hand is rough and sturdy as it clasps mine. “I’m Rooter.”
Damn. I was hoping for his real name.
I hear Mike’s repugnant voice again. “Where the fuck are my black jeans?”
I turn to my back door to face the bane of my existence once more. When he sees I’m conversing with the badass one percenter who lives next to us, he turns pale white. He looks to Rooter, then back to me and softens his expression.
“Why would I know where your jeans are?” I ask with my hand on my hip.
“Because you did laundry after me and I had left them in the dryer.”
I shift my weight from my left leg to my right and cross my arms. “Well, they weren’t in the dryer when I used it.”
“Then where are they?”
I huff, tired of this conversation. “I don’t know, Mike. I don’t keep track of your shit.”
“Bitch,” he mutters under his breath, goes back in and slams the door.
I turn back to Rooter. His jaw is clenched. It’s sexy.
“Are you sure everything is okay?” He asks without taking his eyes from my back door.
I wave my hand casually. “He’s just a blowhard.”
Rooter turns his gaze to me. His right hand is balled into a tight fist. “Seems he could use a lesson in manners.”
Rooter, a badass biker, teaching anyone manners seems ironic. I roll my eyes and nod in agreement.
“Look, Sophie,” I like how it sounds when he says my name, “you don’t know me, but if he ever gets out of hand,” he motions to his house, “I’m right here, just let me know.”
A smile crosses my lips. I didn’t expect that. “Thanks, I appreciate it.”
“I’m serious.” He looks me square in the eyes. “I take that shit seriously.” His phone rings which seems to irk him with the way he snatches it from his back pocket. When he looks at the screen his expression conveys it’s an important phone call.
“It was nice meeting you, Rooter,” I say and back away, excusing myself so he can answer the call.
“You, too, Sophie.” He looks me up and down again. “Remember what I said.” He smirks before answering the phone and walking away.
He smiled at me!
Oh my God.
He smiled at me!
I’ll never be the same.
And I’m not. A few days have passed and I haven’t run into Rooter once. I’m like an adrenaline junkie looking for her next fix; constantly looking out the window for him or listening for the roar of his Harley. His schedule isn’t at all conducive to mine. He works days and I have class every weekday except Wednesday and wait tables at the Grand four nights a week.
It’s not until a few days later, on Saturday, that I see him again. I’m getting into my car, headed to work when he and one of his biker friends pull into his driveway. I’ve seen his friend before. He comes around a lot. According to his patch, his name is Bear. He’s scary looking; hulk-ish, with a beard and he never smiles. Not even when he laughs.
Rooter waves. “Hey, Sophie.”
I wave back. “Hey, Rooter.”
No smile. Damn.
After a long, hard shift I pull into the driveway a little before one in the morning. Saturday’s are always busy, but tonight was one for the books. The local DA rented the private room for a party with his hoity toity friends. Of course, I was assigned to it. I’m always assigned to the jerks. Randy, my boss, says it’s because I’m pretty and it helps keep them in line.
I’m not that pretty. I’m too tall, with a lanky, athletic build. My hair is straight and so dark it’s almost black. I have a baby face complete with dimples and blue eyes. I’m twenty one, but look fifteen. Not exactly a guy’s dream come true.
The DA and his friends were complete chauvinistic jerks. They treated me like a lesser life form simply because of my sex and profession.
The highlight of the evening was when one of the men tripped me—I’m not convinced it wasn’t on purpose—causing me to spill water on the DA, who ripped me a new one. I spent more than half my shift serving them and the bastards didn’t even leave a tip. Water incident aside, I killed myself making sure everything was perfect. Their meals were cooked to order, and they never had to wait on a drink. The DA left a note telling me what a shitty waitress I am and that I need to work on my dismal personality.
Saturday’s are when I make the majority of my money for the week. Saturdays pay my rent. This one is going to severely cripple my bank account.
Rooter’s unexpected voice scares the shit out of me. I screech and nearly climb the tree when he says my name. I turn and find him sitting in his screened in porch. He’s always there when I get home from work, but this is the first time he’s ever acknowledged me upon arrival. He chuckles and apologizes for scaring me. With a laugh like that, I forgive him at once.
“Hey, Rooter.” I wave.
Rooter points at my house. “Your friend, Mike, has been on-a-tear tonight.”
“He’s not my friend,” I point out. I want it to be perfectly clear I’m not romantically linked to that jerk.
I peer at the house. Mike probably got drunk and took some Xanax. It’s been his thing lately and every time he does it, he turns into a gigantic asshole.
“You might not want to go in there,” Rooter warns.
I listen for a ruckus. There’s nothing.
He continues. “They’ve been quiet for the past five minutes, but it’s been like that all night. He screams, she screams back then it gets quiet again.”
I rest my head on the roof of my car. I have nowhere to go at this hour. I’m drained and all I want is to pass out in my bed. I don’t have the patience to deal with this shit.
No choice but to face it. Might as well get it over with. I stand tall and straighten my shoulders. “Thanks for the heads up.”
“If you have any trouble, I’ll be here.”
“I appreciate it,” I say and lumber toward the house.
When I open the front door the smell of marijuana and stale alcohol assault my nostrils. The only light in the living room comes from our twenty year old television. Mike is on the couch playing video games. Not surprising. It’s all he does when he’s not working. Hell, I’m surprised he manages to hold down a job. He’s not the most motivated person in the world these days.
It’s a shame. Back in high school, Mike was the most popular guy, and was voted most outgoing. He didn’t know a stranger. He was the quarterback and captain of the football team, an avid runner, and very into fitness. Laughter followed him everywhere he went. With shaggy dark blonde hair, gentle dark blue eyes, and a bright smile, Mike was every girl’s dream. Although I wasn’t romantically interested in him, even I found him attractive. He’s still attractive. He’s not as active as he once was, but he still works out and lifts weights, which has bulked him up considerably. It’s his ugly attitude and new found drug addiction I find repulsive.
“I’ve been waiting for you,” he slurs, angrily.
“I’m tired, and really not in the mood.” I roll my eyes and march past him toward the staircase.
“Bitch, I’m talking to you!”
“Sleep it off,” I snipe and start up the stairs.
When I hear footsteps coming after me I run. I make it to my room just in time to slam the door shut and lock it. I push my desk chair under the door knob for added security.
“Move out,” he screams and pounds on my door.
“Leave me alone!” I scream back.
This isn’t the first time he has yelled at me to move out, but it’s the first time he chased me down to confront me.
“Mike!” Miranda yells. “Go to bed, dammit!”
“I’m not putting up with her shit anymore. She has to move out.”
“If anyone should leave it’s you,” she says. “So shut the hell up and go to bed!”
I hear a thump, followed by Miranda’s cry. Mike’s an asshole, for sure, but it’s the first time he’s ever laid a hand on one of us. I start to open the door but think twice about it. I can’t help her if he beats the shit out of both of us.
“Miranda,” I shout and lean on the door. “Are you okay?”
“Shut up, bitch,” Mike growls. “You’re next.”
“I’m calling the police,” I say and dig through my purse for my phone.
Both of them yell at me not to make the call.
Fear creeps up my spine as Mike kicks and punches my door. “Bitch, open this door or I’ll bust it down.”
I dial 911. He continues to scream obscenities and pound on my door while I tell the operator what is happening. The operator stays on the line with me until the police arrive. The moment they put Mike in cuffs he starts crying and says he’s sorry.
I file a report and the police take Mike into custody for the night. At Miranda’s urging, I don’t press charges. Rooter watches from his front porch as Mike is taken away in the squad car.
Once the cops leave with Mike, Miranda and I sit on the sofa in the living room. I glance at the old fashioned wooden clock on the wall. It’s two thirty. I rub my face, exasperated.
“This can’t continue, Miranda.”
Her shoulders are hunched and her elbows rest on her knees. “I know.”
“I don’t think you do,” I counter. “He’s been like this for almost a year. Now it’s turned physical. I won’t live like this.”
“He’s had issues ever since mom died. You know that.”
I roll my eyes. Here come the usual excuses. “Maybe so, but it doesn’t give him a license to attack us.”
She cocks her head. Her eyes are sad and tired. “What do you want me to do? Put him out on the street?”
Brother or not I can’t understand why she puts up with him. “Yes. That’s what I want. He’s a grown man who knows right from wrong. He needs to be held accountable for his actions.”
“I can’t throw him out with nowhere to go.”
I take a deep breath and sit up straight. “It’s either him or me.”
Her eyes go wide, full of shock and fear. “You can’t leave,” she begs. “You’re the only one I can count on. I can’t afford this house on my own.”
She says on her own because Mike rarely makes rent.
The house is her childhood home. Her mom left it to her when she died. Her parent’s had taken out a second mortgage on it before her dad passed. The small inheritance her mom left behind, after burial fees, wasn’t enough to cover the entire loan. Miranda was left with a seven hundred dollar a month mortgage payment. She was a full-time college student who worked part-time when it happened. Now she works full-time and takes classes over the internet.
“It’s him or me,” I reiterate with crossed arms.
I’m putting on a good show, but I won’t leave. I can’t. I’m a full-time college student working part-time. I can’t afford my own place. I have no parents and I’ve never met my only brother. All of my friends are in the same predicament as me. I have nowhere else to go.
“I think going to jail will scare him straight,” she rationalizes.
For both our sakes, I hope she’s right, though I seriously doubt it.
Later that morning I sit on the sofa and drum my fingers anxiously on the end table while watching a lame B movie when Miranda walks in with Mike.
He looks at me with a contrite expression as he stands before me. “I’m really sorry, Soph,” he says.
I don’t buy it. “The only thing you’re sorry about is going to jail.”
“That isn’t true,” he pleads. “I had way too much to drink, which I’m quitting by the way. No more alcohol or pills.” He crosses his heart. “I promise. I really am sorry.”
Bullshit. “For your sake, I hope you quit the drugs and drinking. You’re ruining your life. But as for your apology, I don’t believe a word of it.”
I snatch my soda from the table and go to my room. Not five minutes later, the doorbell rings, followed by a loud commotion in the living room. I rush down the stairs, taking them two at a time.
Miranda stands in the far left corner screaming. Blood is smeared on Mike’s cheek as Rooter pins him to the wooden floor.