I’m re-releasing Loaded, and it’s coming Thursday!
(Update: It’s live!! Get it here!)
If you read this one before, it’s nearly the same book, though this one has a (new, longer) ending and a few minor tweaks throughout. But I got a new cover, and it’s about 5,000 words (two-ish chapters) longer overall, so I decided… what the hell, let’s give Alex and Tessa a proper sendoff.
Here’s Chapter One! If you want to make extra sure that you get this for 99¢ when it’s released, just sign up for my mailing list – I promise I’ll let you know as soon as it’s available.
“Come on,” the brunette says to her friend. “You wanna do a body shot?”
I grin and lean back in the leather booth. The music from the club below is pumping up through the floor, making the soles of my feet vibrate as the blonde pretends she’s not sure about doing shots off her friend in front of me.
She’s sure. She wants to. They always do.
“Go ahead,” I say. “Live a little. Bottle’s on the table.”
The brunette looks over at me, her plump red lips pursing, and lifts the Patrón off the table, along with a shot glass, then makes a show of pouring it out.
“Where should I put it?” she asks me, her voice low and slow. The glass hovers over her barely-covered cleavage, but then she moves it to one shoulder. “Here?”
“Lower,” I say.
She balances it on a collarbone, swishing her hair out of the way.
“Lower,” I say again, my eyes on her firm, round breasts, her nipples obvious through the tight dress she’s wearing.
“Here?” she asks, finally nestling the shot glass between them.
“Perfect,” I say, and my voice comes out a throaty growl.
The blonde looks at me again with that faux-shy blink, then puts her hands behind her back, presses her face between her friend’s tits, and does the shot with practiced ease.
“Mmm,” she says. She licks her lips slowly, looking at me from the corner of her eye. “That was delicious.”
The brunette is backed up against the table in front of me, and now the blonde presses herself into the other girl, biting her lip and looking her up and down.
“Can I get a taste of you?” she says, stroking the other girl’s hip.
“With him watching?” the brunette says, with the same pretend modesty.
The blonde kisses the brunette, open-mouthed, lots of tongue. She slides her hand down the brunette’s breast and tweaks her nipple.
I’m halfway hard already.
The brunette moans theatrically, and I grin. I know when a show’s being put on for my benefit.
“Do I get to have a little fun?” I ask, even though I already know the answer.
The brunette opens her mouth to answer me, but there’s a racket on the stairs to the VIP area and she turns her head.
Someone is bellowing over there. It sounds like a fucking animal’s gotten loose.
The blonde looks over, alarm on her face, and a drunk guy charges up the stairs and throws himself past the bouncers, practically roaring.
“Whore!” he shouts, pointing at her.
He’s a total meathead, almost steroid-level jacked. His face is bright red and the veins are popping out of his forehead, like a cartoon or some shit.
“You fucking slut, I knew I’d find you up here—”
“Dylan, please,” the blonde says, her hands out in front of her.
I’m already out of my seat and heading toward this asshole. My brass knuckles are heavy in my pocket but I’m not gonna need them.
Guys like this go down easy.
“Who the fuck are you?” he says, looking me up and down. “Fuck off, you cholo motherfuck—”
I hit him right in the nose, the crunch of cartilage satisfying under my knuckles.
He reels backward, stumbling. Blood spurts out and onto his ugly shirt, and for a second he just looks confused.
Then he looks mad again, and I swear to god his face turns purple.
I do my best not to smile, but I don’t think it works. This guy might go to a boxing gym once a week, but I grew up in the roughest neighborhood in East L.A.
He doesn’t stand a fucking chance.
“Motherfucker!” he shouts and charges toward me, coming in heavy with a wide right hook.
I dodge. When he swings past me he throws himself off balance, just enough for me to come in close and hit him as hard as I can in the solar plexus, right beneath his rib cage.
He goes over like a domino. The whole thing didn’t take thirty seconds.
I hope I haven’t killed him or something, but I’m not quite concerned enough to check. I look at the knuckles on my right hand, flexing them.
Bruised, but I missed his teeth. I’m not bleeding.
At last the guy heaves a breath. He sounds like a goddamn dying fish, and security closes in around him.
“Are you okay?” the blonde asks breathlessly.
Her fingertips brush the back of my knuckles as she presses her body against me.
Right, I think. The girls.
Nothing turns a woman on quite like beating up her ex. This kind of woman, at least.
“That’s why they call him the Scorpion,” the brunette says, keeping her voice low. She’s on my other side, and I can feel her heat on my body.
“He’s fast and lethal,” the brunette goes on, one pert nipple sliding along my bicep. I look down at them, and the erection I lost during the fight comes back in full force.
The blonde looks at me, and this time her uncertainty is real. She wasn’t sure I was the Scorpion, and she’s really not sure that her friend was supposed to say it out loud.
I’m dangerous, after all. Lethal.
“I’m fine,” I say.
I slide my hands down their bodies until I’ve got one cupping each ass, and I give them a slight squeeze.
“Now, where were we?”
A couple of the guys are looking my way, making sure that I’m good, but they see that I’ve got two girls, shrug, and look away again.
Just another night out.
The girls exchange glances, and then the brunette folds herself into my semi-private booth, tugging me and the blonde with her.
“I think we were here,” the blonde says.
I’ve got one kneeling on either side of me, and they kiss again. I reach up and pull their tops down, watching their tits bounce out as both girls giggle, the brunette tossing her hair and lifting her hand to the blonde’s nipple.
I lean back a little, grinning. This night’s going even better than I anticipated.
Then, out of nowhere: my fucking boss’s voice.
Goddamn it, I think, and close my eyes for a moment, hoping that maybe I’m hearing things.
When I open them both girls are bright red, tugging up their tops and staring at Manny.
He’s short, squat and has the worst fashion sense I’ve ever come across. Right now, he’s wearing socks, sandals, plaid shorts, and a Hawaiian shirt that couldn’t be louder if it had a megaphone.
Manny is also one of the most dangerous men in Los Angeles.
“Any chance this can wait?” I ask.
“Sorry,” he says, his gaze flicking to the girls and back to me. “I promise it’s important.”
The girls look at each other, slowly standing, wobbling on their high heels.
“Give me a few minutes,” I say, winking at them. “Don’t go anywhere, all right?”
“Hurry back,” the brunette purrs, giving me a sultry look before I follow Manny toward the office at the back of the club.
“How many kids you got now?” he asks, half-joking.
“Can’t get someone pregnant through the mouth,” I say.
He snorts, unlocking the office door. It’s a nice office, with a wide mahogany desk and a massive one-way mirror, the whole nightclub visible on the other side.
When he shuts the door, the music pumping behind us vanishes to a hum, and he gestures at a leather chair in front of the desk before collapsing into the matching one behind it.
“You should watch out,” he says. “They got DNA tests and everything these days.”
“I’ve seen Maury,” I say. “I’m not knocking anybody up.”
That gets a faint smile out of him, and then he’s all business.
“I need you to go to a wedding,” he says.
Not what I was expecting.
“A wedding?” I say, frowning.
I’m not really a wedding guy. I mean, I like open bars and horny girls as much as anyone, but I’ve got a bad habit of getting caught balls-deep in someone else’s girlfriend in the bathroom. That means I’ve also got a bad habit of giving out black eyes.
“They found the accountant’s daughter,” Manny says. “And she’s attending a wedding tomorrow night.”
Well, at least that’s good news. Sort of.
“Accountant still missing?”
Manny just nods, looking tired.
About a year ago, we hired a new accountant, a guy with less morals than money, to do the cartel’s books.
Fast forward, and we hear a rumor that he’s had a change of heart. He’s thinking about spilling everything to the feds, and that would be very, very bad for us. Naturally, we’d like to convince him otherwise.
Then he disappeared before we could find him, so we’re doing the next best thing: taking his daughter until he can be convinced to see reason.
“You need me to take her a message?” I ask.
“I need you to take her,” Manny says.
I stare at him for a couple of seconds.
“I know I promised you,” he says. He flattens his hands on the desk, and I think about how many guns are inside that thing. Seven or eight, easy.
“Isn’t this what we’ve got foot soldiers for?” I ask.
I thought I was done with this. I thought I’d been promoted out of just being muscle for the cartel, the guy who they call when they need damage dealt.
“You’re not wrong,” he says, lacing his fingers together. He’s got three massive rings on each hand, and they catch the dim light. I wonder how much blood and whose is still in the crevices on those monsters.
“This is a delicate situation, Alejandro,” he goes on, the only one besides my mom who ever calls me by my full name. “This girl’s our last resort. You know we don’t kidnap civilians, at least not in the States, but her dad’s left us no choice. I need someone I can trust doing this for me.”
Flattery will get you everywhere, I think.
“Besides, the wedding is at the Beverly Hills Resort,” he says.
My eyebrows go up, and I let out a low whistle. There’s expensive, and then there’s Beverly Hills Resort wedding expensive.
“I need to send someone who can blend in,” he says.
“You need someone who doesn’t look Mexican,” I counter.
Most of the guys are full-blooded Latino, but my dad was white, so I’ve got blue eyes and black hair. I can pass as a well-tanned Caucasian guy most of the time.
“I need someone who doesn’t talk like he drove there from Chavez Heights in his El Camino,” he says, calmly. “And I’ve heard that they’ll be serving some very good Scotch.”
I don’t like it. I’ve got one fucking rule — I don’t hurt women — and Manny fucking knows it. And yet here we are, and he’s telling me to kidnap this civilian girl.
I’m not surprised by that. If I’m surprised by anything, it’s that Manny likes me well enough to respect my rules until he really needs me to do something.
We both know I’m going to do it, because I don’t have a choice. But I can still push back some.
“What about Diego? He could pull it off.”
“Awaiting trial in Stockton.”
“You mean the guys who once robbed a liquor store but came back with tomato juice and margarita mix because they were too stupid to actually take anything alcoholic?”
Manny’s looking at me with sincere, practiced patience, and I know from experience that I’m testing it.
“All right,” I finally say, giving up since I know how this is going to end. “What do I do with the daughter? Hit her on the head and drag her out like a caveman?”
Manny reaches down and opens a desk drawer. I think he’s smiling a little, but he’s got the best poker face in California.
He places a vial of white powder next to a photograph on top of the desk, and I lean forward to look at it.
“That’s her,” he says. “Tessa Fulbright.”
I don’t say anything for a moment, because I’m just staring at this photo, caught totally off-guard.
Tessa Fulbright is smoking hot.
Like holy shit hot, walk-across-boiling-lava-for-a-chance-at-that hot, and she’s not even my type.
The picture was obviously taken from far away, because she’s crossing a street in black pants and a blazer. She’s looking to her left, her auburn hair drifting in front of her face, but I can still tell that she’s got killer green eyes and perfectly plump lips.
“That’s Ned’s daughter? The one who’s an architect?” I ask, mostly thinking about those lips wrapped around my dick while she looks up at me with those big green eyes.
I’ve met Ned, briefly. The girl clearly got her looks from her mother.
Manny just nods, then pushes the vial toward me.
“This’ll knock her out,” he says. “Just get some in her drink. She’ll think she’s too drunk, so you play the gentleman and assist her out of the wedding.”
I give Manny a long, hard look. Drugging a girl is even fucking worse than just kidnapping one.
“I don’t drug women,” I say.
“This is an emergency, Alejandro,” he says.
He leans forward over the desk, sincerity beaming from his gentle brown eyes.
“I swear I wouldn’t ask otherwise.”
I know perfectly well that it doesn’t make any sense to have some ridiculous sense of chivalry toward women in this business, but I do.
I have to draw the line somewhere, right?
“And I get her to the guy waiting in the SUV?” I say.
“Exactly,” he says. “Then you go back to the wedding and…”
He waves one heavily-ringed hand in the air, and we both know he means get your dick wet.
“Do as you like,” Manny says. “She won’t remember you when she wakes up in a safe house.”
I don’t like it. I don’t fucking like it at all, but I know what happens to people who refuse Manny’s orders. Let’s just say I’ve got more fingers than they do.
It doesn’t matter that she’s a woman, I think to myself. Why the fuck should it?
But I can’t shake the feeling.
“If Ned talks, we’re fucked,” Manny says. He’s right, and I know it.
“Just this once,” I say, reluctantly.
I reach out and take the vial, putting it in my pocket.
“Just this once,” he says solemnly.
That’s why this man is so dangerous: not only does he have an armory the size of a mansion, command a ruthless paramilitary organization, and have a shocking number of cops on his payroll, but he could sell ice to an Eskimo. He’s that convincing.
I look at Tessa’s picture again, trying to memorize every line of her face and every curve of her perfect body. I wonder what she’d look like naked, beneath me on a bed or even on top, riding my cock as her tits bounced.
God, what does she sound like when she comes, does she talk dirty or just moan—
“You’re good?” Manny asks, interrupting my thoughts.
“I’m good,” I say, standing.
For a moment, I want to ask if I can take the picture with me — for research — but I know I can’t be found with it.
“You’ve got a tuxedo fitting tomorrow at eight,” he says. “Get some rest before your big day.”
I nod, then walk to the door. As my hand touches the knob, Manny speaks up again.
“Alex,” he says. “Thanks for doing this. We’re really in a bind.”
I turn around and thump one fist against my left pec, just below my collarbone.
Manny does it back.
We’ve got the exact same tattoo in that spot. Everyone in La Carretera does.
I turn and head out the door.
The two girls are still standing by the booth, talking to each other, while the other guys ogle them but don’t approach. They know better.
Suddenly I don’t feel like it anymore, even though they’re right there, ready and waiting. It’s almost two in the morning, and this wedding is actually fucking important.
If the accountant goes to the feds, shit’s gonna get ugly, so I should get some sleep.
Tessa Fulbright and her sensible business outfit don’t have a goddamn thing to do with it.
I turn and take the back stairs down to the street, then drive home with the stereo blasting.