The first book in an all-new dark romance duet is coming tomorrow from author Monica James, and I have a sneak peek for you.
I swallow down the memory that plagues me every time I close my fucking eyes. If I’m going to survive this, then I need to learn how to survive with my eyes opened and closed. It’s the only way I won’t end up back inside.
The cool breeze has me drawing the hood over my shaved head ’cause the dark storm clouds ahead look angry as shit. Moments later, the heavens open and dump angel piss all over me. I pick up the pace to a steady run when I see the red flashing neon sign of Hudson’s Motel a few blocks ahead.
Even though the name has changed, it’s still the same run-down dump it was twelve years ago. No amount of paint can polish this turd. But this turd will be my home until I can put my plan into motion.
So home sweet fucking home.
The bell above the door sounds sick as I shove open the woodgrain, happy to get inside and out of this biblical weather. Behind the white reception desk sits a middle-aged woman flicking through a magazine while smoking a thin cigar.
Her blue eyes flick up and meet mine. “Hey, sugar. You’re all wet. Did you walk here in the rain?”
Nodding, I slip the hood off my head and wipe a hand over the short dark bristles on my skull.
Reaching into my back pocket, I pull out a hundred-dollar bill. The skull tattoo on the back of my hand catches her attention. “How many nights can I stay here with this?”
Her red fingernails are like talons as she draws the tattered money toward her. She fingers the note and looks at me carefully. “You just get out?”
I nod once again.
She must be able to smell the felon all over me. “For you, sugar, this will buy you a week.”
“No problem.” She reaches into her low-cut neckline and produces a creased white business card. “If you’re needing anything, give me a call.”
She leans across the counter, holding the card between two fingers. I accept it and read the name.
“I appreciate it,” I say, holding up the card.
“Oh, sugar,” she purrs. “With pretty eyes like yours, don’t hesitate to call me. Day or night.” She winks her ridiculously long fake eyelashes, which look like caterpillars have mutated on her eyelid.
“Thank you. I’ve never seen someone with two different eye colors before. It’s as if heaven and hell are fighting their own personal battle, wanting to conquer the other side,” she reveals, appearing in awe of my genetic anomaly.
Her gaze darts from my left eye, which is a bright blue, to my right, which on any given day can appear green or amber. Her attention swings back to my left—the blue always seems to win.
“Which side is winning out?” she asks as I slip my hood back over my head.
“Ask me that next week.”
She smirks, licking her red painted lips before shuffling through her drawer which holds a stack of white key cards. “I’ll sign you in. What’s your name?”
Shuffling my boots, I give her the name I’ve been known by since that night. But this name can also be comparable to who I’ve become. “Bullseye. But call me Bull.”
“Don’t say much, do you?”
I nod curtly because she’s right. I don’t fill the void with nonsense. I speak only when necessary.
“I’ll make sure you’ll have no problems. We don’t want problems.” She slides the key across the surface, not asking about my nickname.
“Neither do I.” I reach for the key card, but Venus slaps her hand over mine. My hand instantly curls into a fist, and my entire body goes into fight mode, but I take a small breath, reining in my need to inflict pain.
“Ice machine is just around the corner, and all rooms are nonsmoking.” One wouldn’t dare pollute this upstanding establishment.
She lets me go and smiles. “Enjoy your stay. You’re in room fourteen. You need me, you’ve got my number.”
Instantly, I draw my hand back and unclench it slowly. Venus seems unmoved by my weird behavior.
With the key card in hand, I thank Venus before walking out the door. The moment I’m outside, I take two deep breaths to subdue the roaring demons within. Being touched is my hard limit. Don’t touch me, and we won’t have a problem.
I don’t like people being all up in my grill. After being inside for so long, you forget the touch of another human and you learn to live with it. And after a while, I began to like it. I liked the solitude because touch connects you with another, and that’s something I’m not interested in.
Getting my shit together, I stroll down the covered concrete walkway. My room is the second to last door on the left. I swipe the card over the sensor and wait for it to beep, permitting me entry. When I open the door, the four in my room number creaks and suddenly falls, swinging from side to side and hanging upside down. Its derelict condition reveals what I’m in for once I step inside.
Without further delay, I enter my room, and it’s exactly what I expected—a small, simply furnished room with a private bathroom.
Closing and locking the door behind me, I kick off my boots and turn on the wall heater. The red carpet is filthy, and the cigarette burns hint that those before me didn’t give a shit about the no smoking rule.
I walk across the room and into the bathroom. Flicking on the dim light, I see I have a shower/bath combo, a sink, a mirror, and a toilet. Some cheap toiletries are neatly arranged on the cracked marbled counter. Looking at the small shower, I realize I’ll enjoy this the most. Being able to take a warm shower without having to look over your shoulder, worried you’ll get knifed or fucked for your bar of soap, will be nice.
Stripping off, I hang up my clothes on the silver hook and turn the water to hot. The bathroom instantly fills with steam. Not caring that the temperature burns my skin, I step under the spray, the constant chill from my bones slowly disappearing as I turn my body from side to side.
Being robbed of the simple pleasures in life may seem unfair, but I deserve it. I deserve it all.
When I think about how I robbed someone of simple, everyday luxuries, I suddenly feel underserving of this small piece of happiness. I don’t deserve happiness. I gave up that right when I made the biggest mistake of my life.
Squeezing my eyes shut, I breathe through the memories as I turn the faucet to cold. Bracing my palms on the tiled wall, I drop my head between my splayed arms. The silver chain dangles like a pendulum around my neck. I pray the cold water will wash away my sins, but it never does. It just highlights that no matter whether I’m free or behind bars, I’ll forever be imprisoned to the past and what I have to do to feed the demons inside me.
I’ll forever be imprisoned to the day I picked up a gun and shot a man in cold blood. However, the only regret I have…is that I got caught.