Alicia here, with an excerpt from Joanna Wylde’s newest book in her Reapers Motorcyle Club series.
bestselling author Joanna Wylde returns to the “wild and raw”* world of the
Reapers MC with the story of Gage and Tinker…
lived by those words my whole life—assumed I’d die by them, too, and I never
had a problem with that. My Reaper brothers took my back and I took theirs and
it was enough. Then I met her. Tinker Garrett. She’s beautiful, she’s loyal,
and she works so damned hard it scares me sometimes . . . She deserves a good
man—one better than me. I can’t take her yet because the club still needs me.
There’s another woman, another job, another fight just ahead.
she’ll learn I’ve been lying to her all along. None of it’s real. Not my name,
not my job, not even the clothes I wear. She thinks I’m nice. She pretends
we’re just friends, that I’ve still got a soul . . . Mine’s been dead for
years. Now I’m on fire for this woman, and a man can only burn for so long before
he destroys everything around him.
coming for you, Tinker.
when I felt the AC kick back on. I’d been lying on my back on the (relatively)
cool tile floor behind the counter, staring up at the pressed-tin ceiling and
trying to remember why I hadn’t already moved back to Seattle.
the lush greenery covered everything with its shaded canopy. People didn’t
really need air-conditioning, but if they happened to have it and it broke,
there were lots of repair men available.
Not only that, my dad didn’t want to move, and I’d come to realize I couldn’t
leave him here alone. It wasn’t safe for him, not since Mom died.
blowing down from the ceiling vent across my sweaty body, reminding me that
while the world might not be crawling with perfect men, at least there were
still a few useful ones running around. Cooper Romero was a keeper, and it had
nothing to do with how sexy he was . . . although the fact that he was sex on a
stick—make that sex with a
stick—didn’t exactly diminish his appeal.
tar roof to show him the ancient AC, I’d expected him to make a run for it. Any
sensible man would. Instead, he’d spent the whole afternoon busting his ass to
save my chocolates—Oh God, I wish that
were code for something more exciting—officially qualifying him as a
superhero in my book.
do once I got all the sweets safely downstairs into the basement. There weren’t
any customers walking in off the street, and seeing as I couldn’t make or ship
candy in a 102-degree shop, I’d alternated between attempting to read a book,
looking over orders I couldn’t fulfill on my laptop, and bringing Cooper
glasses of iced tea. I’d been nervous around him at first, but you can only
stay nervous for so long when you’re sweating like a pig—there’s a certain
freedom in knowing you look like hell and there’s no saving your hair. I’d
thrown my arm across my eyes in a pathetic attempt to block out reality toward
the room, I could’ve cried with relief. He’d never had a chance to fill out the
application form, and I’d long since decided it didn’t matter. Unless he was an
ax murderer, I’d give him the apartment and the job.
to be honest.
announced, and I jerked, startled. Shit, had I fallen asleep? Opening my eyes,
I looked up to find him standing over me. Dear God in heaven—that was one hell
of a bare chest.
first walked in the shop, but everything under his shirt had been theoretical.
Now there was six-foot-plus of raw sex appeal right there, all sweaty and
sculpted and . . . well, let’s just say I’d be stopping off on the way home to
pick up some fresh batteries.
me—Cooper Romero was the hottest man I’d met in forever, and he’d just found me
lying on the floor in my own sweat and filth like a dog. Typical luck. I
scrambled to my feet, pretending I wasn’t totally embarrassed (I was) and not
in the least bit freaked out by how unspeakably attractive this guy was. Okay,
“attractive” wasn’t quite the right word, because it implied a certain level of
polish and class that just didn’t fit Cooper at all.
his butt if he asked. He stared down at me, his eyes carefully blank, making it
very clear he wasn’t asking. Story of my
fucking life. Sitting up, I pushed myself to my feet without bothering to
dust off. Lost cause at this point.
left,” he said slowly. “I managed to get it going, but fixing it right would
cost more than it’s worth and then some.”
summer,” I told him, wiping a finger under my eye. My perfectly applied,
vintage-style makeup had melted, leaving me with a clown face. Fortunately I’d
(mostly) given up on caring three hours ago, right around the time I’d
discovered the floor tiles were cooler than the rest of the room. “After that,
I’ll worry about the furnace and by next summer I might not even be here
“You selling out?”
that far ahead right now. Things are very iffy with my dad . . . I think he’s
loud made it too real, plus the last thing I needed were a bunch of rumors
flying around town. So far we’d kept dad’s situation mostly to family and
“Thank you so much for fixing that. I’m not even sure what I would’ve done—I
can’t afford to miss a week’s worth of orders. Not only would it put me behind,
it would burn my customers.”
God, he really was beautiful . . . Nothing like Brandon’s polished
sophistication. No, Cooper gave off more of a
warrior-tossing-you-over-his-fearless-steed kind of vibe. Yeah, like that would
end well, because my track record with men was so fucking perfect, right?
this hellhole of a shop and get a shower.
how much I appreciate it.”
at my feet thing was a subtle hint,” he said, and I realized he was teasing me.
Was he flirting? I couldn’t decide if that kicked ass or scared the shit out of
him, feeling suddenly awkward. “I’m going to grab some dinner down the street,
and then I could take you over and show you the apartment.”
face, and I realized he thought I was hitting on him.
wasn’t asking you out. Omigod, this is weird.”
who smells like old socks?” he asked lightly, raising his arm and giving a
sniff. He was joking, but the sweat wasn’t a turnoff. Nope. Not even a little
bit. “If that’s not enough for you, the roof tar on my ass should be a big
He started laughing. Not in a cruel way, but companionably, which I guess made
sense because both of us were disgusting as hell. Of course, now I wanted to
check out his ass, but I managed to keep my eyes on target (mostly) when I
control myself somehow. I do want to grab dinner, though, and we need to figure
out the apartment details.”
what it is,” he replied. “I’m in a hotel and it’s getting old. I’d love to move
in on Sunday, but I can’t go look at it right now—gotta get my ass cleaned up.
Meeting up with someone later.”
looked like Cooper didn’t spend Friday nights alone.
to show any disappointment. “Just text me when you’re ready, and I’ll get you
something, but a sudden pounding against the locked shop door caught us both
off guard. I spun around to find Talia Jackson glaring at me through the glass.
Talia and three of her skankier friends, including Sadie Baxter, a girl I used
to babysit when I was in college.
fuck are you doing?”
startled. Talia Jackson and her brother, Marsh, were two of the nastiest people
I’d ever met. Marsh was president of the local motorcycle gang, a group called
the Nighthawk Raiders motorcycle club. The club had been around most of my
life, but it was only in recent years that they’d turned really bad. I mean,
they were never the kinder, gentler sort of bikers, but I’d never been actively
afraid when I’d heard a motorcycle, either.
a little edgy.
something deep down inside of me died a little. Of course he’d go for someone
like Talia. She might have the heart of a deranged circus clown—you know, the
kind that survives by eating the souls of innocent children—but she was hot.
while I wasn’t into the whole slut-shaming thing (like I had room to judge
after the bachelorette party debacle . . . ugh), I wasn’t naive enough to think
he was attracted to her personality. Cooper Romero might have a sweet smile,
and he’d fixed my AC, but now I had proof positive that he’d never be into a
girl like me.
determined to take the high road, then I grabbed my keys so I could open the
door. She pushed inside with her posse, and I do mean pushed. Little bitch shoved me so hard I nearly knocked over the
display of antique Russian teacups my mother had lovingly collected. (So far as
I knew, she’d never sold a single one of them, but it’d made her happy.)
turned on me.
catching her arm and pulling her into his body. She squealed, going from
aggressive to flirty in an instant.
away. Cooper smiled down at her, a hint of something feral in his eyes. Yeah,
okay—whatever smile he’d been giving me, it hadn’t held any of that kind of
grab a shower,” he told her. “Wanna come with me?”
I need to get fixed up. I’ll see you at the bar, though, right?”
sexy, indulgent smile. “Can’t wait.”
to grab his ass for a quick squeeze. Then she turned and strutted back out
without a word to me, her gaggle of girls following like well-trained geese.
Sadie gave a little finger wave on the way. The door closed behind them with a
cheerful little jingle, and I wondered why the hell I even bothered with
drown him in Lake Washington. Problem solved.
high-strung,” Cooper said.
replied, hoping I didn’t sound as catty as I felt. Cooper didn’t seem to
showing me around,” Cooper continued, stepping over to stand in front of me,
hands shoved deep in his front pockets. “I should get going.”
What time do you think you’ll be in touch tomorrow?”
hearing from you.”
door, walking down the street without a second look back. I locked up behind
him, wondering why all the hottest guys were douchebags. Not that Cooper had
acted like a douche, but he had to be my age or older—late thirties—and Talia
was the same age as Sadie. She was also a raging bitch. There was only one
reason a man like him would date a girl like that, and it had nothing to do
with personality or character.
but obviously he was shallow. Suppose it was too much to hope for a man who
could fix an air conditioner and have a soul at the same time.
ready for Gage and Tinker’s story?
Fire releases on August 9th!
Horse & Marie for ONLY $3.99 (normally $7.99)
small publisher in 2013. This independent edition has been lightly edited, and
contains a bonus short, “Sticky Sweet” (originally published on the author’s
website) and a Q&A with the author.
Wylde is a New York Times bestselling author and creator of the Reapers
Motorcycle Club series. She currently lives in Idaho.