Memories crawl up, clogging my throat with a thick, fuzzy burn. Even though there are no hands chaining my neck, for a moment, I struggle to draw air. I shove it all back down into its box. “Why are you telling me this?”

The following is an excerpt from the forthcoming novel, A Fatal Prospect, and may not reflect the final product. This excerpt contains spoilers from the series; please read A Disturbing Prospect and A Risky Prospect first!

Read Chapter 1 »

Trigger Warning: Mention of sexual assault of a minor. Reader discretion advised.


“What’s going on?” I stand in the hall with Esther, peering into the office where Cierra and her friend sit.

“I’m so sorry to do this here,” she says, “since it’s Lucy’s day and all, but they just told us this morning.”

“Told you what?” Music pours into the hall, and I hover between playing host and hearing out my best friend.

She drops her voice, and I have to lean in close to hear her whispering.

“Cierra told Bryce that you can help with his situation. She doesn’t know exactly what you and the club did for us, but she’s smart enough to know Toci and Josué didn’t just take off,” she says, referring to her sexually abusive parents.

The hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

“Bryce is her friend, in there?” I nod toward the office, where dark haired Cierra touches her forehead to the boy’s.

“He’s on the football team at their high school. There was an incident in February . . .”

His cotton candy pink hair looks too soft and fluffy for a football player, but I bite my tongue. “What incident?”

“Some of the football players went to the National Conference in February. It’s a clinic where they improve their skills. Alumni from the high school mentor their team’s current players. Technically it was a school field trip, but only specific athletes went. Not the whole team.”

I shrug. Football is boring. Lately it’s all Cliff can talk about. Every damn week, he can’t wait to see his Raiders play. Blah, blah, fucking blah.

“It was chaperoned,” she adds.

“Okay,” I prompt, twirling a finger in the air.

“Some of the mentors assaulted Bryce.”

“You mean like a hazing thing?” Men. I roll my eyes. They can’t do anything without violence. Every year there’s a story about some college frat who got his ass beat in some caveman ritual.

“No.” She swallows. “Bryce said they held him down on a pool table and . . . raped him with cue sticks.”

My entire body stiffens. I want a shot from the bar more than anything now, but I stay composed. “What did the school do?”

She shakes her head, her lips pressed into a tight line.

“No one reported it?”

“Bryce went to the chaperones, but they told him they couldn’t do anything since they didn’t see it happen. None of the other teammates saw anything—supposedly.” Her nostrils flare.

My stomach clenches. “Wasn’t there . . . damage?”

“They took him to the hospital out there. They didn’t even call his mom. He called her himself. He had to have surgery. Every student had to bring in a form giving the coach and chaperones permission to make medical decisions during the trip—as a precaution. It’s not unheard of.” Her teeth sink into her lower lip. “It was bad, Olivia. He was really hurt.”

Memories crawl up, clogging my throat with a thick, fuzzy burn. Even though there are no hands chaining my neck, for a moment, I struggle to draw air. I shove it all back down into its box. “Why are you telling me this?”

“His mom went to the coach when he got home, who gave her the same bullshit line: Didn’t see anything. She went to the principal, who took the coach’s side. She filed a police report, and the police said the hospital’s medical report wasn’t enough because no one would talk.” She sucks in a shaky breath, tears slipping down her cheeks. “Bryce finished out the year from home, and came back after summer break, but the boys who did this to him have been stalking him around town to keep him quiet.”

“Why are you telling me this?” I ask again. My throat is so dry. I glance into the office, at the teenagers huddled together.

“The club can help Bryce the way you helped us.” Her brown eyes search mine. “Right?”

I jolt upright. “Are you asking me to have my club make a bunch of eighteen- and nineteen-year-olds disappear?”

“I’m asking you, Cliff, and Donny to ask your club to look into it. Maybe you guys can put some pressure on the police department. Just look at him.”

I do. Through the doorway, his blue eyes meet mine, pleading.

“He’s all alone, Olivia. All his friends and teammates ditched him. Cierra met him through cheerleading. I think she’s his only friend. He could use friends like you and the River Reapers.”

I close my eyes. My club barely made it through what we did for Esther, and then what I did for myself. Esther’s parents and my ex had it coming. I wouldn’t change a thing. We’re supposed to be on the straight and narrow now, though—or at least as legit as a club can be, selling guns and drugs.

“Livvie, I know this is hard for you. You’re the only one who can help him. You and the club. Please? For me?” She pauses, letting the music fill in the silence between us. “For Cierra?” she tries. “For Bunny?”

My eyes snap open. Someday too soon, my niece is going to be a student at that same high school. I can’t make the whole world safer, but I can at least try to help this boy. I can make sure this never happens again.

“We’ll take it to the table,” I tell her. “But no promises.” I return to the party, my blood boiling even as I try not to think of what they did to that sweet pink-haired boy.

Read Chapter 3 »

Romance with a Body Count

A Fatal Prospect
River Reapers MC, Book 3

Available April 28th, 2021

Cover Reveal April 14th

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Author: Elizabeth Barone

Elizabeth Barone is an American novelist who writes contemporary romance and suspense starring strong belles who chose a different path in life. Her debut novel Sade on the Wall was a quarterfinalist in the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest. She is the author of the South of Forever series and several other books. When not writing, Elizabeth is very busy getting her latest fix of Yankee Candle, spicy Doritos chips, or whatever TV show she’s currently binging. Elizabeth lives in northwestern Connecticut with her husband, a feisty little cat, and too many books.

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