A FATAL PROSPECT, Chapter 3

I knew it’d be a little awkward for everyone. I just didn’t think it’d be weird for me.

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!

Catch Up: Chapter 1 | Chapter 2

Cliff

“Whiskey and babies,” Stixx says, joining me. “Nothing about that can possibly go wrong.”

“We’ll just keep her away from the bar,” I quip. I give him a once over. His blond hair is pulled back into a half up, half down man bun. Beard wax holds his otherwise unruly beard in place. A black short-sleeved button-down leaves most of his tattoos exposed.

Nothing could cover all of the ink he has. Dude’s face is the only thing untouched. Right now, he isn’t even wearing his cut. He looks like a hipster.

“What’s with the getup?” I ask, instead of what I really want to know: What the fuck are you doing here? I hadn’t expected to see any of the guys here. It’s our clubhouse, of course, but it’s a baby shower. The only reason Ravage is here is because Shannon helped Olivia put it together.

His beard twitches as he lifts one corner of his mouth. “I’m toning it down.”

“Toning it down?” This from the man who gleefully burned down a house just a couple months ago—and not for the first time.

His eyes dart toward a booth in the corner. I follow his line of vision to where Lucy sits with her parents.

I glance from Lucy back to Stixx, then back to Lucy. “Huh?”

I’m the picture of eloquence right now.

“We’re just friends,” he assures me. “For now.”

“Friends?” I peer at him. I cannot remember a single time when Lucy and Stixx were even in the same room.

“We ran into each other at Big Y.”

I wait for more. He doesn’t give it to me. “And?” I prompt.

“She asked me if I’m a River Reaper.”

Again, I wait for him to continue. Several beats pass. His pale blue eyes dart back to Lucy. I clear my throat. “She recognized your cut?”

He nods. “We were in the wipes aisle.”

“You were buying wipes?”

His gaze slides back to me. “Dude, if you’re still using toilet paper, you’re not living.”

Stixx just gave me hygiene advice. Between the converted strip club and this doppelgänger, I’m starting to think I stepped into The Twilight Zone. “So what, you traded tips?”

“I have sensitive skin. Baby Leigh has sensitive skin. I told Lucy to try the water wipes.”

She did not mention this. I need a cigarette. “So now you’re friends.”

“For now. She invited me. I figured the cut and tattoos were too much.” He ducks his head. “I don’t know how to dress for her.”

The rest of his earlier statement hits me. I gape at him. “For now?”

“She’s nice. And she’s pretty.” He straightens and looks me in the eye. “But I know she’s your family. I wanted to make a good impression . . . on both of you.”

I glance around The Wet Mermaid at my two families and all of Lucy’s friends. I knew it’d be a little awkward for everyone. I just didn’t think it’d be weird for me.

“Do I have your blessing, if I pursue her?” Stixx asks.

“I don’t know, brother.” I run a hand through my still damp hair. “She’s been through a lot.”

He nods. “Bastard.”

I forgot the whole club knows Lucy’s history. It’s not just my history, it’s club history. My father Bastard was President until his brothers found out what he was doing to Lucy. “She needs a fresh start,” I say carefully.

“Baby daddy not in the picture?”

“Far from it.” My hand goes to the pocket in my cut where I keep my cigarettes. If this wasn’t a baby shower, I’d light up.

Stixx is my brother, but I don’t want him dating Lucy. I want to keep her as far from the club as possible. If I’d known Stixx has a thing for her, I never would’ve backed up Olivia on throwing this at the clubhouse. But Lucy is a grown woman, and I am not her keeper. She probably doesn’t even feel the same way he does.

“You don’t need my blessing,” I tell Stixx.

“But if I hurt her, you’ll kill me. I’ll hold myself to that.” With a quick bow of his head, he turns and heads toward Lucy’s table.

“Jesus Christ,” I mutter.

My aunt and uncle eye Stixx with open disdain, while Lucy beckons him to sit down. A smile tugs at my lips. Maybe it’ll happen, maybe it won’t, but it’ll be fun to watch her parents squirm for a little while.

A hand clasps my shoulder. The thick fingers, void of any tattoos and decorated only with a wedding band, give him away.

“Hey, Pres.” I pat his hand. “Any word?”

A few weeks ago, I made small talk before asking about Olivia’s parents, out of respect. Ravage isn’t an iPhone; you can’t push his button, tell him what you want, and then put him back in your pocket. But every time I cross another day off my calendar, my nerves coil tighter. Something is wrong. Either Mercy didn’t find Bree, or trouble found them.

“Not yet.” Ravage’s shoulders slump, only for a second. Then the hard muscle contracts back into place.

“Should we be worried?” I watch his face. No one knows Mercy better than he does.

He blinks, ice blue eyes distant. The black stubble on his face is flecked with more gray than the last time I saw him—just a few days ago. “I don’t know,” he says finally. He turns to me. “She never asks, you know.”

She doesn’t ask him about hers, and I never ask about mine.

Ruth’s death still weighs on me. I might never know why she stayed with Bastard for so long, when he clearly didn’t love her. Ravage might be able to give me those answers, but maybe the past is better left buried. Learning the truth won’t bring her back.

I glance over at the bar, where Olivia is showing Trish how to make the shower’s signature drink, a Rob Roy. Even though this isn’t the first time she’s had to show this to Trish, she doesn’t even look fazed. Her face is closed, disconnected, somewhere else.

I don’t know what Esther told her, but it can’t be good.

Biker 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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Photo by Sasha Freemind on Unsplash

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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