Cover & Excerpt
The Bang Shift Book Two
After finally getting out of her disastrous relationship, Maya Carmichael has sworn off all bad boys. Sure they’re hot. The attitude? No thanks. But when her car is vandalized while on a night out with her roommate, she realizes her ex is truly sadistic. Her friend insists they lay low for a few days while the cops do their thing. Unfortunately her temporary haven will throw her in the path of another bad boy. Oh, she’s heard stories about her roommate’s brother, Hunter, and he’s just the type she wants to avoid. Until she sees him … and all good intentions fly out of her busted windshield.
Hunter Anderson might be the easygoing jokester within the Bang Shift crew—the small Arkansas town’s mechanics and the government’s secret mercenaries—but underneath his lighthearted exterior lurks demons of a past he’d love nothing more than to forget. Working on cars and taking the occasional contracted mission help, but he fears nothing will stop his past from coming back to haunt him. No one has tried penetrating the façade to get to the real person below. No one, until Maya.
The attraction is undeniable, but there’s more to Hunter than he can ever let on, and for Maya, this hot distraction makes it easy to forget the real danger she’s in. It has nothing to do with losing her heart to him.
When really it has everything to do with just that.
Genre: Romantic SuspensePurchase link(s): Amazon iTunes Kobo B&N
Content/Theme(s): Mob, Mercenaries, FBI, Contemporary
Release Date: March 24, 2015
Excerpt & More
“Can’t believe you dragged me out here,” Maya Carmichael muttered as she tugged on her too-short dress.
Heather slapped her hand away from the lacy hem, almost spilling her precariously handled drink in the process. “Stop. You look hot.”
“Watch it,” Maya said at the same time, dodging away from the amber liquid spilling from Heather’s glass.
“Oops.” Heather giggled as she righted her beverage. She sipped her new cocktail and waved her other hand toward the crowd. “This is what college students do. They party. Get with the program, girl.”
Maya glanced around the room, feeling too exposed in the crowd. No one was paying them any attention, but still, she felt eyes on her. She always did.
For the last six months anyway.
“Chill out. If you don’t quit glaring at everybody, no guy is going to come near us,” Heather said, narrowing her gaze. She almost sounded sober.
Maya knew better. They’d been here three hours already and she’d lost count of how many drinks her roommate and best friend had devoured. Besides, men flocked to her, regardless of any expression Maya was sporting. Hell, her friend could be covered in garbage and dudes would just flick the maggots away to get closer.
“Easy for you to say. You don’t have a crazy ex stalking you.” And that was the crux of the matter. Maya wondered if she’d ever feel easy again. She’d been so naive coming out here, thinking her parents cruel for being so overprotective. Now she missed the days of being excited about new experiences. Before she experienced Jake.
“Jake isn’t stalking you.” Heather rolled her eyes. “And I told you he was creepy. Didn’t I tell you he was freakin’ weird?”
“Yes,” she said dryly. “You told me.” Not that it had done any good. Maya had lived a sheltered life, and Jake was the quintessential bad boy she’d always wanted. He was tall, built, and inked. He rode a motorcycle, which ticked one of her extra-special bad-boy boxes, and lived by his own rules. She’d been drawn to him the second she’d laid eyes on his tight backside in leathers. But he’d been nothing like the bad boy of her fantasies. He’d been pushy at best and an out-right jerk at worst. She’d been stupid enough to think the attitude came with the overall package, even felt protected when he was being possessive, cherished when he was demanding. Now, she understood him for what he was: a Grade-A asshole. He’d shown her that bad boys were to be avoided.
“No men. I’m done with them.”
A horrified look crossed Heather’s face. Maya barked out a laugh, even though she wanted her friend to take her seriously. “I mean it,” she finally said, wiping the tears from her eyes, still chuckling a little.
“You’re barely twenty-one.”
“And you are too young to swear off men,” she said, without acknowledging the age correction.
“Okay, not forever, but for now there’s nothing wrong with … you know … redirecting my focus.” She shrugged.
Heather curled her lip before downing the rest of her drink. “You need to get laid.”
“It’s like you’re not even listening to me,” she said, exasperated.
“Oh, I’m listening. I’m just choosing to fix this instead.”
“I don’t need fixing.”
“I didn’t say you. I said this. Big diff.”
There wasn’t, but Maya was too exhausted to point that out. “I’m gonna go.” She would try this conversation again when it wasn’t a Friday night and her friend wasn’t busy getting trashed. It was a talk better suited to Starbucks, not Starlight.
“No,” Heather said, her face falling. “Stay. Just for one more hour.”
“There you are,” a familiar voice said from beside her. At least this one was charming.
“Psych major,” she said, turning toward the last man she’d danced with, and smiled.
“Psych Mike does have a nice ring to it.” She giggled.
He playfully groaned. “No. Just, no.” She laughed harder. It was the alcohol helping her loosen up, but it wouldn’t change things. Tomorrow when she was sober and aware of Jake again, she’d revert into her shell.
Jake. She shivered. Just the thought of him had her skin crawling. She glanced around the room, feeling the hairs on her arm rise.
“What’s wrong?” Mike asked.
“Oh, nothing.” She swallowed as she looked at him again. “Heather and I were just leaving.” She quickly rummaged in her wallet, but he stilled her, slipping his hand over hers.
“I took care of it already.”
“Huh?” She looked up.
“Your tab. Brad and I took care of it.”
“Oh, um, thanks.” Yeah, she knew that was a rookie response. Damn Jake and his obsessiveness. She didn’t even know how to act normal around men anymore.
“You ready?” Heather asked as she walked up beside her.
“Hope to see you here again next week,” Mike said as Maya was being turned from him. She didn’t reply.
“He’s cute,” Heather whispered, as much as one could in a room filled with loud music, as they made their way to the door.
“Yeah.” Didn’t matter. She still felt off. Hopefully the break she was giving herself would help reset her man-clock and she could put all that Jake business behind her once and for all.
Since the club wouldn’t be closing for another hour, the parking lot was still filled with cars. It had almost been filled to capacity when the two of them got there, so they’d had to park in the back. Thankfully it was fully lit and they’d found a spot near a streetlight. Yes, she’d had a sheltered life growing up, but she wasn’t completely stupid.
“Jeez, it’s gotten cold,” Heather said when they were halfway to Maya’s car. Hers was the newer of the two, so they’d always taken it when hitting the town. And by newer, Maya meant not a piece of shit. Heather’s car was beat up and usually got stuck in third gear. There was a trick to it, but Maya didn’t like the uncertainty. She kept telling her friend one day it’d finally crap out, but Heather insisted her brother would be able to get it running again if that ever happened.
“It’s fifty degrees. Hardly freezing.”
“I know. Just wasn’t this cold when we—oh my god.”
They both froze, staring at Maya’s car.
Her mangled, beat-the-hell-up car.
Windows busted out. Glass everywhere.
“Whore” spray-painted across the crunched hood.
“My car,” she breathed, stumbling closer to it. What the hell happened to her car?
“Is that…? Eww…” Heather leaned away from the hood, but Maya bent down to get a closer look.
“A condom. Really?” And not just any condom. A used one. “What the hell?” Her car was totaled. “Who would do—”
Ice ran through her at the first name that popped into her head.
“It could’ve been anybody,” Heather said, shaking her head and obviously reading Maya’s thoughts.
“He’s the only one with a grudge,” Maya said, backing away.
“Even Jake isn’t this big of a dipshit.”
Maya blinked, feeling her eyes getting wet, and stared at her friend. “That’s just it. I think he is.”
She looked at her car again and wanted to bawl. What was she supposed to do now?
Heather rubbed her head and looked around the car. “What’s this?” She leaned into the broken window.
“Don’t.” Maya leapt toward her and pulled her away. “Don’t get too close to it. In fact, we … we should go back inside.”
“That wasn’t in there before.” Heather said, pointing toward the spot Maya had pulled her from.
She looked closer. It was a piece of paper. A sudden surge of adrenaline rushed through her.
“It looks like a note.”
Yes, it did.
As if she were moving without conscious effort, Maya reached in to get the piece of paper.
And read it.
“No,” she breathed, crumbling it in her hands.
“What?” Heather asked, grabbing her arms and forcing her to focus.
“Jake,” she breathed. “I think … I think he’s much worse than I thought.”
“Um, no really?” Heather asked sarcastically. “Look at your car.”
Oh, god this was bad. This was very, very bad. She had to get out of here. What if he were still around, watching, waiting? “I gotta go.” She turned to leave.
“Where?” Heather asked, grabbing Maya’s arm.
“I don’t know, but I can’t stay at the dorm. Neither can you. He knows our room number. We have to … have to stay somewhere else until he’s arrested. You have any family around here?” Her thoughts were racing as she tried to come up with a plan.
Heather shook her head frantically. “You know I don’t. I’m from Arkansas. All I have left is my brother, and he’s back home, six hours away.”
“Mine is in North Carolina, but I can’t go back home with this. You know how big of a fight I had to put up to get my parents to agree to an out-of-state school.” She bit her lip and looked around. “I’ll just have to report this and see if we can be assigned another dorm.” Yeah, that would work. Her parents wouldn’t have to know. Before she changed her mind, Maya called 9-1-1 and reported the damage to her car. It didn’t take long for the operator to take down the information and ensure her a police unit had been dispatched. When she ended the call, she saw Heather tapping on her own phone beside a nearby tree.
“What are you doing?”
“Calling my brother.”
“What?” Maya screeched, grabbing the phone. “It’s after midnight.” Heather rarely talked about her brother, Hunter...
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