River Reapers MC Halloween Special: Part II

We’re seen as bad and dirty because we prefer another way of life. We live for freedom and family, and not the cultish, biblical, nationalist bullshit so many people spout. It’s about the freedom of the road in front of you and the one at your back. It’s about the freedom to ride as a woman alongside men, as equals. They don’t like that I’m not a possession. They don’t like that I wear what I want and fuck who I want, just like my brothers do.

While you wait for the next book in the River Reapers MC series, here’s a special treat. This spooky short story can be read as a standalone whether you’re new to the MC or a longtime member (trigger- and spoiler-free)!


I’ve got one hour to get rid of a rat and get into costume, and my bike won’t start.

It’s my fault. I put it off too long. It’s just that this rat is my brother, someone like family even though I barely know him; being away for so long stripped me of that privilege. If we let him live, he’ll just cause more problems. It’d be stupid to let him hang around. One rat could bring down our entire club.

I’m not going anywhere if I can’t get my bike started, though. And if I’m late to this party, nothing will make it up to Olivia. She’s stressed the fuck out, scared that she’ll fail Shannon and Ravage. My job is to wear the dumb costume and host by her side, pretending we’re the cool couple who opens up our home to a town that doesn’t trust us on a good day. Shannon’s Haven is one of the positive things our club does that people actually see, and it’s what keeps the town from driving us out. It’s what keeps the police from raiding us. Because of all the people Shannon saves, we’re untouchable.

Another motorcycle pulls into the gas station, and I exhale in relief when I recognize the rider.

“You good, brother?” Donny calls out as he swings off his bike.

“Won’t start.” I throw up my hands. “Battery’s good and I just filled the fucking tank. I’m late,” I add.

“You take care of Ravage’s rat problem?” he asks, inspecting the bike.

“Not yet.”

“Better get on that.” He flips the kill switch back to off. “There ya go. Must’ve bumped it.”

I whistle. “I’m a fucking wreck.”

“If this is you on Halloween, I gotta see what you’ll be like on your wedding day.”

I look away. “It’ll never happen, brother.”

“Oh, I got a good feeling it will.” He claps me on the shoulder. “As long as you take care of that rat.”

“Why’s it gotta be me?” I ask him. “That’s usually your department.”

He chuckles. “Not in this case. That fucker’s chewed through everything in the dry storage, and he’s evaded all my traps.” His dark eyes meet mine. “Mercy said he heard you made friends with the rats in Lewisburg seg.” He holds a straight face for a moment, then busts out laughing.

“Fuck you,” I say, but I laugh too, only for a second. “It just seems cruel, to kill a guy who’s just trying to eat.”

“That guy bites one of the kids tonight, you’ll be singing a different tune.”

“My buddy doesn’t bite. I’ve hand-fed him cheese, for fuck’s sake.”

“That’s exactly why you gotta be the one to take him out. Fucker don’t trust no one else.” He pats me on the back again. “Clock’s ticking.” Turning, he goes into the gas station.

I ride over to the Mermaid and slip in among the chaos of a dozen club girls setting up. From somewhere I hear Pru delegating Olivia’s orders, and I grin with pride. Despite what Olivia thinks, my girl is running this; Shannon will be more than proud when she and Ravage walk in tonight, fresh from their mini getaway.

I close myself in the storage room, flipping on the light and standing still. A few seconds of silence pass, then I hear the telltale squeaking. A fat rat streaks out from the shadows, standing on his hind legs, nose sniffing the air.

This rat does not have any disease. He’s the cutest, friendliest little dude I’ve ever met. Maybe that makes me dirty and weird, the guy who makes friends with the lowest of the low. But it wasn’t that long ago that guys like him and me were equals, scraping by with whatever crumbs we could find, hiding in the shadows and biding our time. If I could, I’d take him home with me, but I’m pretty sure my landlord wouldn’t see him as a pet.

“Hey, buddy.” I hold out a hunk of cheese in my hand and, like usual, he comes right up to me. While he nibbles away, I scoop him into a rescue box and secure him. He scrabbles around inside, his squeaks accusing. “I know it, man.”

Swinging open the door, I pass him to the wildlife removal agent that I had meet me here. He’s a friend of Mark’s, so this’ll never get back to OSHA.

“I’m so sorry,” I tell the rat.

“Oh, don’t worry,” the agent tells me. “We relocate all our catches, unless there’s a reason not to.”

He carries the box to his van and I wish the little guy good luck. Then I go change, before I’m really late.


I stand in the guest bedroom, staring into the framed mirror leaning against the wall. Even this spare room has Shannon all over it, cozy and dreamy with just the right touch of gloom. I’m so out of place in this costume.

I should’ve added this to the list. I don’t know what Lucy was thinking, giving us these relics from her years with her baby daddy. She probably thought it was hilarious, and normally I would, too, but tonight’s not the night. We’re trying to show the town we are the good guys, even if our methods are a little—okay, a lot—questionable. This just feels like we’re rubbing it all in everyone’s faces.

The whole town knows what Cliff did. It’s why our business slowed when he got out—and our clientele is always down for a drink and lap dance. It’s why people give us dirty looks when they see us in public. The benefit rides we do every month help, but only so much. That’s why the Halloween bash is so important. It’s a yearly way for us to change how the town sees us. They can’t hate the club that shelters half the town’s women when their own men drink too much.

People hate us because we’re up front about who we are; all of us have committed crimes. The only difference is, none of our men have ever beaten a woman. The only woman we’ve ever touched was Esther’s mother, and she had it coming. We’re seen as bad and dirty because we prefer another way of life. We live for freedom and family, and not the cultish, biblical, nationalist bullshit so many people spout. It’s about the freedom of the road in front of you and the one at your back. It’s about the freedom to ride as a woman alongside men, as equals. They don’t like that I’m not a possession. They don’t like that I wear what I want and fuck who I want, just like my brothers do.

And they definitely don’t like what Cliff did to his own father.

They didn’t like what Bastard was doing to Lucy, either, but every one of them looked the other way.

Taking a deep breath, I smooth my sexy police uniform. At least the handcuffs will be fun, later—if Cliff actually shows up.

He’s vowed never to wear orange again, and I’d hope that means not even for me—on Halloween or any other circumstances. He’ll probably just come in his standard hoodie and T-shirt, proudly wearing his cut over all of it. Even though I don’t blame him, I’m a little bummed that we won’t be in matching costumes. I know it’s one of those dumb, sickeningly cute things that dumb, sickeningly stupid people do, but just for once I want to be those people so deliriously in love, they dress up together. We have so few normal things. I’ll never admit it out loud, but I secretly enjoy when we do them.

“Let it go,” I tell myself. “It ain’t happening.”

I slip on my thigh-high boots just as the doorbell rings. I hear Esther open the front door below, letting in the first wave of ticket holders. Their gasps of delight at the fog machine and spooky music drift up to me, and I smile. If nothing else, I did a damn good job of arranging all of Ravage’s Halloween decorations. It’s not what it usually looks like, but that’s because I’m not Shannon. I’m me.

And I did it my way.

Joining everyone downstairs, I realize I am a little worried Cliff didn’t show. It’s not like him, and the last time he disappeared, I let Stixx set a building on fire when we found him. I get a little crazy when my baby’s in trouble. He, on the other hand, becomes totally unhinged if anyone even breathes wrong in my direction. I’ve seen him go from sweet and sensitive to protectively violent in zero seconds flat. I’ve never seen him blow me off. Even when we were broken up, he showed up for me.

I’m torn between concern and scorn when the door opens and he steps inside, his face blank while I take in what he’s wearing. He’s dressed in an orange jumpsuit, with “inmate” stamped across his back. With his long black hair down and the scar on his face, I can see the angry, lonely man he must’ve been when he was inside. He had every right to be. It destroys me a little every time I think about him ever being unloved and secluded, this sweet man who’s helped me shower when I was too shellshocked to move, and cuddles our tiny niece while singing to her—after changing her diaper, and no one even asked.

I’m supposed to say something, to lighten the moment somehow, but I’m struck speechless by how much it must’ve taken him to put on his “costume.” Even if he doesn’t talk about it, I know that being in prison for two decades did a number on him. He pretends he’s okay just so that Lucy, I, and everyone else don’t worry about him. I also know when he doesn’t sleep at night because he’s dreaming of Lewisburg again.

So I don’t crack a joke. I just close the distance between us, throw my arms around his neck, and pour everything I’m feeling into the kiss I breathe into his lips. “Thank you,” I whisper in his ear. “You didn’t have to do this.”

His palms cup my ass. “You have handcuffs,” he says with a grin, appreciating my sexy cop costume. “I definitely had to do this.”

“Get a room,” Esther says with a wink. A second later, Donny grabs her ass, and it looks like a pair of Converses are making out, because each of them is wearing a giant shoe.

The girls—vampire Cierra, witchy Abril, and the cutest ghost ever, Ximena—pretend to be disgusted, but they wear matching smiles. It’s so good to see them happy.

Lucy and Stixx shuffle in, with Bunny in the costume I ordered her months ago. I told them they had to match her, and holy shit, they actually did it. She’s wearing tiny boxing gloves and a matching red headband and shorts, with a white onesie. A spot of red still stains one of her legs. Stixx is dressed as her coach, and Lucy is a ring girl.

“I didn’t think you’d actually go for it!” I laugh. “I fucking love you guys.”

No one else in our club is sharing a theme. Beer Can is a dwarf from Lord of the Rings. Mark has a pair of vampire fangs in one of his pockets. Skid is dressed as one of the Men in Black. Vaughn and Cami came separately, but they’re both Boba Fett. Abraham must’ve lost a bet with Vaughn, because he’s wearing a rainbow tutu and a scowl.

Bree and Mercy come late, but their cheeks are flushed and she’s wearing the same witch costume she’s been rocking since I was a kid. Occasionally he steals her hat and pretends he’s her wizard.

Dozens of people come through the house, and between the ticket sales and baskets raffle, I’m pretty sure we’ve made at least what Shannon pulls in every year. I sneak into the kitchen for a celebratory drink, finally feeling like I can let loose.

The back door opens and Shannon steps inside. “Honey, we’re home.” She engulfs me in a hug, her witch costume almost identical to my mom’s.

They’re so similar, yet one stayed and the other left. “Thank you for doing this.”

“Any time. Did you have fun?”

“Yes,” she says, her eyes misting a little. “It was good to spend some time together. I missed him, crazy as that sounds.”

“I know what you mean,” I say, peering through the passthrough at all of my family together.

Ravage steps in through the back door, and I hug him hello. His face is painted as a skull.

“Seriously?” I tease. “How’s this any different from every other day? You did a good job, though.”

“You did good, kid,” he says, one arm still around me. “I knew everything would be safe in your hands. Both of your hands,” he adds as Cliff ducks into the kitchen.

Ravage steps away and Cliff’s arms take his place. It’s almost as if I’ve been passed from father to groom. Ravage and Shannon stand arm in arm, smiling over at us. A dreadful sort of deja vu locks my limbs for a moment, and then the Halloween playlist changes tracks and the ghoulish laughter grounds me in the moment. I have the whole night to look forward to, hours in Cliff’s arms, surrounded by the kids’ laughter and the wash of voices as everyone talks at once. I lean back into him, content.

I ignore the way everyone is looking back at me, because if I look too closely, I’d realize none of this is real.

The End

More books in the River Reapers MC are coming…

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Book 1 | Book 2 | Novella | Book 3

River Reapers MC Halloween Special: Part I

While you wait for the next book in the River Reapers MC series, here’s a special treat. This spooky short story can be read as a standalone whether you’re new to the MC or a longtime member (trigger- and spoiler-free)!

Before You Read…

Guess everyone’s costumes! Just save the image, then draw to match each character to a costume. Then tag me on Instagram with your guesses!

Part I


“We’re throwing a Halloween party, and Olivia’s organizing,” Ravage, the President of the River Reapers MC says, casting me the quickest of glances. “We’ve also got a bit of a rat problem—”

“Back up a sec.” He’s not getting off that easy. It’s bad enough I have to clean up after their drunk asses as their bartender. It’s bad enough they pranked the shit out of me as their Prospect. These pains in my ass want me to plan their Halloween bash? The one that requires tickets, because so many people come, from all over?

“It’s not a big deal.” Ravage leans back in his chair at the head of the table, stretching lazily like he didn’t just hand me his baby.

This is the party. He and Shannon host a haunted house at their place every year, with music, food, and booze back at The Wet Mermaid, the MC’s strip club. It goes well into two in the morning, sometimes later, depending on how the police department feels about us at the time. All the proceeds from the ticket sales and raffles go to Shannon’s Haven, a shelter for survivors of rape and domestic violence. This is the fundraiser that sponsors everything Shannon does for another year. And Ravage is just giving it to me?

I’m one of Shannon’s strays, in a way. I washed up here every time my mother Bree disappeared, because before DCF got their hands on me, I belonged to the club. They were my family. Because of Ravage’s record, they weren’t allowed to foster or adopt me, so I was ripped from their leather-clad arms and placed with even worse people. As soon as I turned eighteen, I came back to the Mermaid for a job, and I’ve been family again ever since.

Now I’m one of the River Reapers, for real. Me—the little girl without a family. Now I’ve got more family than I can handle. Just like a standard suburban family, they drive me crazy.

I’d do anything for them, anyway.

“Is this one of those things where you surprise me with a little responsibility now because later you’re gonna drop the whole thing in my lap?” I slide a smirk over to Cliff. He knows exactly what I’m talking about, even if neither of us knows exactly where our complicated relationship stands.

“Sure seems like it,” Cliff agrees.

That’s just how Ravage rolls. He has his secret, all-knowing, father-knows-best agenda, and nine times out of ten, the fucker’s right. That’s what makes it infuriating. He knows what the ten of us sitting with him at this table are capable of before we even do. I always think he’s insane, and he always proves me wrong. Like the time he taught seven-year-old me how to shoot a gun. Way fucked up, but it saved my life later.

I know he loves me like I was his own daughter, but sometimes it’s so creepy, the way he just knows things. I bet the fucker even knows when he’s gonna die, and everything he’s doing is just to prepare us for that day.

Which is why I narrow my eyes at him.

“You love Halloween, and there’s no way Shannon just agreed to put all of her funding in my hands.”

“Actually, it was her idea.” His ice blue eyes are firm. “She wants to go away for a few days, and I want you to run everything so smoothly, she doesn’t feel guilty.”

In that case, I can do this. Shannon’s been like a mother to me over the years, in ways I never even realized. The least I can do is take over so she can take a break.

“Then I only have one question,” I say, lifting my chin.


“Can we still do the haunted house at your place?”


I stretch fake spider webbing across the front bushes, my memories as real as the October chill in the air. Growing up, I wasn’t allowed around the club. My mother made sure that I was kept in the dark. Halloween was the only exception, and that was only because Bastard took me to the haunted house and straight back home. I gotta give Ruth props, because I had no fucking clue my old man was the President of a biker club. He came home for dinner every night just like all my friends’ dads. Until I found Ruth in the tub, I had no idea we weren’t like every other family.

A lot of the time, I’m angry. I try to hide it, but it comes out anyway. I’m Frankenstein, a big dumb brute barely holding it together.

I stick the little plastic spiders into place, envisioning the yard lit up by strobe lights like it used to be. This is the house that goes overboard every year, the house everyone wants to see. Shannon’s decor is already dreamy boho goth, so all it needs on the inside is a few fake spiderwebs and some mood music. Halloween is when it’s cool to show off the animal skulls she collects.

Olivia pokes her head out the front door. “You almost done with that? I’ve got another job for you.”

“All done.”

She steps onto the porch and I join her, wrapping an arm around her to keep away the chill. For a brief moment, her warmth seeps into me, and I close my eyes. Peace is so fleeting for us. Even before we met, our lives were a mess of chaos and hurt. She’s the home I’ve been aching for, but she has yet to invite me in. Not all the way, anyway. After all she’s been through, she guards her heart, and I can’t blame her. It’s my job to prove to her that she can trust me, time after time.

“What do you need?” I kiss the top of her head, breathing her in. Just her nearness sets my senses on fire, my hands longing to touch her.

But she pulls away, stopping me with a serious face. “I need you to get our costumes.”

I blink. “Costumes?”

“We’re the hosts. We have to dress up.”

“I’d rather get us undressed.” I settle my hands on her hips, drawing her back in.

“Yeah well, no one’s getting any ’til I’ve outdone every party Ravage and Shannon have ever thrown.”

“Tall order.” I stroke her cheek. “You’re doing great, you know.”

“I’ll do even better if you get us some cool matching costumes.”

I chuckle. “The day before Halloween? No problem.”

“That’s the spirit.” She unties her nest of curls and shakes them out, wafting the warm, slightly spicy scent of her shampoo my way.

“Anything I should avoid?”

She drops her hair, smirking. “Hmm. No bikers.”

I laugh. “Can’t make it easy for me, huh?”

“No photographers.”

“Is that even a costume?”

“Definitely no rockstars.”

I sober. She’s listing all the real-life monsters we’ve buried. “Probably no football players, then.”

“Definitely not. I’ll wear anything else. I’ll even go as a half-naked maid.”

“You promise?” I’m not usually a fantasy guy, but the thought of Olivia half naked in any form gets me instantly hard.

She gives my ass a swat. “Only if you go get those costumes.”

“I’m on it.”

Before I go, I pull her in for a kiss. I don’t give a fuck how much a hurry she’s in. Every moment could be our last. Too many people want us dead. There’s always time for kisses.

“Be safe,” she murmurs just as our lips touch. I nuzzle across hers, savoring the slow sweet burn. Darting my tongue against her lower lip, I tease her open. The inside of her mouth is hot and sweet, and the glide of our tongues is too quick. I capture her face in my hands for just a moment longer, feel her body slow and melt into me, tell her I love her with my tongue instead of the words she won’t let me speak.

Then, just as she surrenders, I break away with a wink.

“No one’s getting lucky ’til I get costumes,” I remind her. Her eyes flash, her face so comically disappointed, I chuckle. I kiss her hand, then hop off the porch. Just before I turn the engine of my motorcycle, I hear her mutter a single word.



Every single store is sold out of costumes. I knew it’d be slim pickings, but they’re all cleaned out. There’s no time to order anything, either, so I’m screwed. I might as well not even go back to the house, not empty-handed.

There’s only one person who might be able to help me with this. Before I can call her, my phone buzzes with an incoming text.

<< Ravage: Don’t forget to take care of our rat problem. >>

Fuck. I tip my head back. I didn’t forget—no way I could. I just wish I didn’t have to be the one to handle it.

<< Ravage: I mean it. There’s a rat in the clubhouse and I’m counting on you to get rid of him, son. This could earn you a new patch. >>

This is exactly “one of those things” Olivia was talking about in Church. Sometimes Ravage drops little jobs on us, all while making this face like he knows something the rest of us don’t. He’s never had me do anything like this, though.

But he left this to me, right after putting Olivia on party duty, and if I want to stay in this club, I better make it happen. It’ll never leave the table. It won’t violate my parole. It shouldn’t bother me. But it’s brutal and cold, and despite the time I did in max, it’s not my style.

<< Ravage: Take care of it before the party tomorrow night. >>

Every kill is a stain on my soul, a soul I wasn’t even sure I possessed until I met Olivia. When I stood outside that motel and she offered me a cigarette, she lit up the parts of me that were dark for two decades, maybe longer. I want to give her a good, clean life, but there’s no such thing in this life we lead.

If nothing else, I can at least give her a costume.

I call my cousin Lucy. I’m ten years older than her but she’s the one always saving my ass. She picks up right away.

“You must be psychic,” she says, breathless.

My pitch for last-minute help dies on my lips. “Huh?”

“I need you to get over here, right now.”

I don’t think. I don’t ask questions. I just go.


I fall back onto Shannon’s chaise lounge, enveloped by the emerald velvet and pile of throw pillows. The house is decorated, her cats are fed, and everything at Shannon’s Haven is running right on schedule. Tomorrow there’ll be late-afternoon trick-or-treating for the kids, then the haunted house will kick off the party over at the Mermaid.

Esther tosses the last goody bag into the box and stretches out on the floor. “You did it, girl.”

“Thanks to you.” No way I could’ve put together two dozen goody bags and care packages, while decorating and making sure the menu’s all set. Not by myself. I’m never alone, though, not with Esther. She comes with an army of little sisters eager to help, because even teenagers love free candy.

“Any time. I’m really excited about this party. I always heard about it, but thought it’d be all bad stuff, like drugs and violence.”

“That’s the afterparty,” I say, kidding. Biker family parties are just like any other family gathering. There’s booze and weed, of course, but no one would even think of lighting up in front of the little ones. The liquor is kept out of reach and the party stays family-friendly ’til the babies are all in bed.

I missed a lot of Halloweens after I went into the system, but I remember slow dancing on a slightly drunk Beer Can’s feet, eating plates of food made by Mark’s flavor of the week, and going home with my own care package for Bree. In each box, there’s a new set of clothes for each mother and child, plus all the fixings for a spaghetti night, and some necessities like deodorant and toothpaste. This year, I had Esther add one more thing: a fall wreath made by her little sisters. Bree and I never had decorations. I figure the wreaths will brighten up everyone’s doors, even if only a little.

Esther’s fourteen-year-old sister, Cierra, unplugs the hot glue gun she’s been in charge of for the past few hours. “Can we go to the movies now?”

“You good here?” Esther asks me.

I nod, too tired to speak.

“All right, we’re out, then.” She collects Cierra, Abril, and little Ximena, and then the house is silent.

The quiet hits me hard. Somewhere, a grandfather clock ticks, but other than that, there isn’t a sound. With Esther and the girls gone and nothing left to do, I’m trapped by all of my insecurities. Esther says Shannon would be proud, but I can’t help but feel like I’ll never measure up. Shannon gives without even a second thought. She makes so many lives better, never once complaining. I don’t know how she does it without collapsing. If anyone deserves a to get away, it’s her. I picture her and Ravage strolling down the Maine beach, and smile.

My smile drops when I think of the way Ravage looked at me. He had that gleam in his eye, that calculating one that tells me someday I’ll be running Shannon’s Haven, whether I think I’ve got it in me or not. His faith in me scares me more than anything else, because I can’t bear the thought of letting down the two people who’ve looked out for me my whole life every time Bree couldn’t. Shannon gave me a job as a bartender when I wasn’t even old enough to drink or confident enough to hold a man’s stare. She taught me how to be boldly me, just by showing me how to mix drinks I’d never heard of and banter with customers I’d never met.

Ravage is always saying things like “This club is your birthright,” because Cliff and I are second generation; we were supposed to be River Reapers but then we got taken away by two sides of the same system. I owe Ravage and Shannon everything, but I’ve always had my own plans, and I don’t know how those fit into who they want me to be.

After coming up in the system, I swore I’d become the kind of social worker I needed as a kid. I can’t take care of my clients and run Shannon’s Haven at the same time. If that’s truly what Ravage wants, I’ll let someone down no matter which way I go.

I’m good at my job, even if I break the rules at times; I’m good at my job because I’m willing to bend them. The one time I asked for help, my social worker was too busy to do even the bare minimum for me. The system needs people like me, foster kid alumni who wanna be the change or whatever. No one else cares enough.

But no one else cares enough about rape and domestic violence survivors, either. It’s the broken people who save other broken people. The problem is, I can’t save everyone, no matter how hard I try.

“It’s me,” Cliff calls as he steps inside.

I sit up, letting my worries fall away for a moment. Just hearing his voice eases the tension in me. Cliff is a constant reminder that I am enough. I know he loves me, even if it terrifies me to hear him say it. Hopefully he knows how I feel about him.

He bends to kiss me hello, and I rise onto my knees, stretching out the kiss. When he breaks away, I sigh happily.

“Did you get the costumes?” I ask, peeking at the big paper bag he holds in one hand.

It’s then that I notice the blood staining his hands and face.

“What happened?” I ask, standing.

In our world, there’s always blood. Every life we save is paid for with another life. Each monster we remove deserved it, but the lines in Cliff’s face tell the story of the toll it takes. It weighs heavier on his soul than it does mine. Looking at the stains on his skin, I know exactly why they called him Red Dog in prison. He’s a terrifying sight with his towering frame, broad shoulders, and dark hair, blood dried into his beard and under his fingernails. His name might be Clifford, and he might be a gentle giant with me, but he’s no docile puppy.

He glances down at his hands. “It’s not real,” he says quickly. “Lucy was doing this Halloween photo shoot with Bunny and it got out of hand.”

I sag back into the chaise, relieved. There’ll be no bodies to bury tonight. He sits beside me, pulling up a video. I watch my adoptive sister scrub her baby, covered in fake blood, in the sink. “I swear I didn’t mean to Carrie prom my baby,” she says in the video, and I snort softly.

“Lucy and Pinterest fail, in the same sentence? My eyes must be lying.” I fight another wave of yawns. “Please tell me you got costumes,” I murmur.

“I did,” he says, “but you’re not gonna like them.”

Cracking an eye open, I take in what he’s holding up. He’s right.

To be continued…

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Catch Up on the River Reapers MC Series

Book 1 | Book 2 | Novella | Book 3

The Real Story That Inspired Bryce’s Story in A FATAL PROSPECT

TW: Sexual assault of a minor.

In 2016, players from a high school basketball team sexually assaulted one of their teammates while at a conference. Three players were found guilty, only one of which was actually found guilty of rape. They all basically got away with a slap on the wrist.

This was about a year before I wrote A Disturbing Prospect.

This story haunted me. Based on news articles and tweets, it sounded like the school—or at least staff involved with the team—tried covering the whole thing up. The coach rushed the survivor to the hospital for emergency surgery, but didn’t report the incident. The superintendent cancelled the remainder of the basketball season, but didn’t publicly address why. According to the Times Free Press, “the judge initially refused to disclose the verdict or to allow reporters to cover the trial, claiming that it could harm the now-guilty defendants, who were juveniles at the time of their arrest.”

Our society is too often more concerned about protecting rapists instead of supporting victims. Even if a rapist is found guilty and convicted, the sentencing is often the bare minimum, with an emphasis on the negative effect it’d have on them, rather than the lifelong trauma they brought onto their victim.

This boils my blood. Here we had a young athlete, who had just as promising a future as the boys who held him down and sodomized him with a pool stick. He should’ve been supported and protected.

When I wrote A Disturbing Prospect, I knew where I wanted to take the series, but I wasn’t sure if my readers would be into a book/series like it. I wrote it as a book that could stand on its own if my readers weren’t feeling it, but could easily be built on if I got the green light. I knew exactly where I wanted to go with this series, if they let me. As soon as I realized my readers not only loved it but also wanted more ASAP, I started writing A Risky Prospect.

I wanted to incorporate a story like what happened to the teen in Tennessee because I wanted to bring awareness to how rape affects boys and men, and how rampant sexual assault is in sports. I created the character Bryce to represent all of the boys who’ve survived sexual violence in silence.

I needed to know what happened to the basketball player. He was never named and I wanted to give him the help and support he deserved.

Originally, Bryce’s story was part of A Risky Prospect. I wrote about 20,000 words of that first draft before I realized I needed to tell Olivia’s story first, to establish why she wanted to help Bryce so badly. I moved Esther’s story to A Risky Prospect because it tied in well with Olivia’s. Both of them grew up with absentee mothers who were neglectful at best. (Bree’s story is told in Her Mercy to explain why she wasn’t able to be present for Olivia; she’s a victim, too.) Those relationships played a huge part in the violence they both suffered.

Once I established those storylines, I was able to move Bryce’s front and center in A Fatal Prospect. I wanted to write this storyline as realistically as possible, while also giving Bryce the support he deserved.

From a young age, I learned that I couldn’t trust authority figures to protect or even support me. I drew on these experiences and the news to flesh out how the school, town, and police department handled what was done to Bryce. Then I let the River Reapers take over his case.

Since outlaws inherently don’t trust authorities, either, it was actually easy to write from the club’s point of view. Olivia, Cliff, and the MC make an effort to work with police, but there’s a lot of mistrust there and the police can’t legally take the case any further without the proper physical evidence. The club knows they want to support survivors like Olivia, Esther, and Bryce, and this is a sort of test run for them so they can eventually branch out and protect survivors as a service.

They’re completely new at this and they have to make mistakes before they can finesse their system. Unfortunately, their internal issues and historic rivalries don’t give them the time they need to reach any level of efficiency. The shit hits the fan and the club is thrown into reactive mode.

Bryce represents the innocence that is stolen when a person rapes someone. He’s a boy and, according to society, supposed to be strong—especially since he’s a football player. Pink is a soft color, and I gave him pink hair to remind readers that he’s still a victim, and all victims deserve justice.

Read the River Reapers MC Series

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While reading A Fatal Prospect, there might be some terms you aren’t familiar with, or places you need a refresher for. I’ve put together a glossary of biker slang and club roles, as well as terms special to the River Reapers MC, plus locations.

Looking for the character guide? Click here!

Bastard Brothers MC: The half of the club that split in ’97. This story is told in the FREE standalone novella Her Mercy.

Cara’s: A diner on 63 that Donny and Esther work at. Many of the River Reapers frequent Cara’s.

Colors: A logo of sorts that adorns the back of MC members’ cuts. Usually embroidered onto the leather. The River Reapers colors is the Sludge Specter—a sludge-covered reaper that is a nod to the polluted Naugatuck River.

Cut: The leather jacket or vest that members of a club wear, usually with the club’s insignia embroidered onto the back, and various patches sewn on.

Enforcer: Sort of a bouncer for the club… or the guy who sorts things out when talking doesn’t work.

Hangaround: A non-member who hangs out with the MC, often at The Wet Mermaid. Usually other motorcycle enthusiasts and even non-rival bikers.

House Mouse: A woman who is unaffiliated with but hangs out with the club.

Holeshot: When someone in a motor vehicle rips up gravel. It’s also the fastest driver during a race. Not a biker term, but a reader asked about it, so I figured I’d include it. It also used to be my dad’s CB handle.

Ol’ Lady / Ol’ Man: Girlfriend/boyfriend, usually serious.

One-kicker: In A Disturbing Prospect, Cliff mentions that he isn’t a one-kick wonder yet; this means that he can’t start his bike with just one kick of the starter.

One-percenter: A club that is involved with illegal activity.

Lewisburg: The prison that both Cliff and Mercy served time in.

MC: Motorcycle club

Naugatuck, CT: The dying industrial town where the series takes place. Also a real town near where I grew up. Sometimes referred to as “Naugy.”

Naugatuck River: A river that cuts through Naugatuck and Waterbury. Known nationally in real life for its chemical pollution. More recently, there was an oil spill. Some say the river is cursed.

Patch: This can refer to the patch on a biker’s cut, or the verb—as in, getting patched in, meaning being accepted as a member.

President: The member who oversees club activities, duties, and operations.

Prospect: A potential member.

Pussy Pad: The seat on the back of the bike, usually where a biker’s ol’ lady rides.

River Reapers MC: A fictional motorcycle club named for the Naugatuck River.

Rocker: A curved patch that is usually placed on the side or back of a cut. Usually designates the club’s name.

Sergeant-at-Arms: The member who handles club rules, patches, etc. Also sometimes weapons. (In some MCs, the SAA and Enforcer are interchangeable terms for the same role.)

Shannon’s Haven: A shelter for women who are survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, run by Shannon. Most of the women are employed by the Mermaid.

Sludge Specter: A patch awarded only to members willing to do anything for the MC, who have actually gone above and beyond member duties. Also refers to the MC’s colors.

“Take them to the river”: A River Reapers phrase referring to killing someone—usually determined by a club vote. Example: When the original members voted to kill Bastard for molesting Lucy, they voted whether to take him to the river. Bodies are often buried on the Naugatuck River front, making it a more literal phrase.

Treasurer: The member who takes care of funds. Also organizes activities, fundraisers, and other club events.

Vice President: Second-in-command, usually coordinates Church and other events, and also takes over President roles in case that member can’t perform his duties.

The Wet Mermaid: The strip club owned by the River Reapers. The business is under Treasurer Mark’s name. Sometimes referred to as “the Mermaid.”

Catch Up on the River Reapers MC Series

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A FATAL PROSPECT Character Guide

As the River Reapers MC series grows, I thought it’d be handy if you had a reference sheet for who’s who. The following is an appendix of all the characters and their relationships as of the beginning of A Fatal Prospect. This book is the third in the series and continues Cliff and Olivia’s story.

  • Abraham: Non-officer member of the River Reapers MC. He is a barber and is in a serious relationship with his boyfriend Rui.
  • Bastard: Cliff’s deceased father, and the former President of the River Reapers MC. Lucy’s uncle.
  • Beer Can: The Sergeant-at-Arms for the River Reapers MC. He works at The Wet Mermaid (strip club) as a bouncer.
  • Bree: Olivia’s mother, whereabouts unknown.
  • Bryce: Survivor of a brutal sexual assault who goes to the club for help. Ex-football player for Naugatuck High School.
  • Cliff: The hero of our story. Ex-con and fully patched member of the River Reapers MC. He is a machine tools worker in a machine shop. Lucy’s cousin. Olivia’s ol’ man.
  • Donny: A non-officer member in 1997. The current Enforcer for the River Reapers MC and Esther’s ol’ man.
  • Esther: Olivia’s best friend, Donny’s ol’ lady, and older sister and legal guardian of Cierra, Abril, and Ximena.
    • Cierra: Esther’s fourteen-year-old little sister.
    • Abril: Esther’s eleven-year-old little sister.
    • Ximena: Esther’s five-year-old little sister. AKA Jimmy. Pronounced She-may-na, anglocized “Jimena.”
  • Gavin: Enforcer in 1997.
  • Lucy : Cliff’s cousin and Olivia’s adoptive sister. She teaches first grade.
    • Leigh: Lucy’s infant daughter, nicknamed “Bunny” by Olivia.
  • Mark: The Treasurer for the River Reapers MC. He works at The Wet Mermaid (strip club) as a general manager.
  • Nora & Collin: Lucy’s parents, Olivia’s adoptive parents, and Cliff’s aunt and uncle.
  • Malcolm: Non-officer member of the River Reapers MC in 1997.
  • Mercy: The previous Vice President of the River Reapers MC, and Bastard’s ex-best friend. Currently serving time in maximum security at Lewisburg. Considers Ravage his best friend.
  • Olivia: The heroine of our story. Lucy’s adopted sister. Cliff’s ol’ lady. Bree’s daughter. She is a social worker, bartender at The Wet Mermaid, and the first fully patched female member of RRMC.
  • Ravage: The current President of the River Reapers MC. Mercy’s best friend. Was the Sergeant-at-Arms in 1997.
  • Rui: Abraham’s boyfriend and an ER APRN at Waterbury Hospital.
  • Ruth: Cliff’s deceased mother, and Lucy’s aunt. No affiliation with the MC, other than Bastard’s ol’ lady.
  • Shannon: Ravage’s ol’ lady. She runs a non-profit for sexual assault survivors.
  • Skid: A Prospect in 1997. The current Vice President of the River Reapers MC. Half of his body is covered in road rash due to a motorcycle accident, hence his nickname.
  • Zed: Non-officer member of the River Reapers MC in 1997.

Please note that I excluded a few characters and details from this list in order to keep the book spoiler-free. Did I miss a character or a (spoiler-free) connection? Please email me and let me know!

Is there a glossary or guide you’d like to see for the River Reapers series? Leave a comment and let me know!

Catch Up on the River Reapers MC Series

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Where did the River Reapers MC name come from?

I grew up in Waterbury, a small city nestled in the Naugatuck Valley of Connecticut. One of our landmarks here is the Naugatuck River, infamous for nothing good.

In 1955, the river flooded, killing 47 people and resulting in millions of dollars of damage. My great-grandmother—my Biz Noni—used to tell me stories from that time, about how people stood on top of houses and factories while waiting for help. Thankfully my family’s home was safe, being on the top of a hill. But South Main Street—which is on lower ground and runs right along the river—completely flooded over. If you look closely, you can still see watermarks on some buildings.

These days we have flood control structures throughout the area, so it’s hard to imagine losing everything to nature’s wrath. But now we have a problem that is much more sinister.

Along the river are many factories. Some of those factories illegally dump their sewage and waste into the river. Growing up in the South End of Waterbury (which was built around the river), I can remember many, many days when the air smelled of sewage. We always joked that we knew we were home when the smell hit.

The river cleanup has been an ongoing process, mostly because people keep dumping into it. It seems like there is never, ever justice, and so the river is known for being dirty. We also used to joke that you should never fish in that river, and there were even rumors of mutants.

Of course, there aren’t any mutants, but that stuck with me. When I started fleshing out the River Reapers MC series, I needed a name for my club. Immediately the image of the Sludge Specter popped into my head. It’s a sludge-covered reaper that haunts the river, its eyes glowing with a thirst for revenge.

It’s also the patch that very few RRMC members earn when they prove they’ll do anything for the club—anything.

I decided to set the series in Naugatuck, another small city. Its city line hugs the end of the South End neighborhood. Like Waterbury, Naugatuck used to be a thriving industrial hub. Naugy just did a better job of reinventing itself. You can walk along Church Street, which is a super cute “main street” type stretch that hugs the Green and is lined with some great shops that took over vintage buildings.

There are some MCs in Naugy, but they aren’t quite as notorious as the ones in Waterbury, so it made sense to set my story there. (The first rule of writing MC romance is to never write about real life MCs, especially not one-percenters.) It also amused me greatly to stick a strip club in a town that would probably never approve one in real life.

Even though I grew up right next door to Naugy, I wasn’t too familiar with the area and had to do a lot of research, which I’ll talk about in another post, if you want me to.

And so the River Reapers MC was born, burying bodies along the Naugatuck River since sometime in the mid-Nineties. 😏

Binge the River Reapers MC Series

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Photo by fotografierende on Unsplash

“Of All the Lives I’ve Taken” | Deleted Scene from A FATAL PROSPECT

I’m no stranger to chasing after Olivia. It’s an art form we’ve perfected. I’d do anything for her. I think I’ve proved that. But I can’t imagine what could’ve happened that she can’t talk to me about. Not after everything we’ve been through.

Or maybe it isn’t enough.

No matter how many times I chase her, she keeps running. Maybe it’s time to accept that she doesn’t want to be with me.

Sometimes I get carried away and add too many scenes, scenes that I love but they don’t move the plot forward and therefore, they must go. Chop, chop!

The following is a deleted scene from A Fatal Prospect. It was originally Chapters 9 and 10, which got replaced with a scene between Olivia and Vaughn.

The following contains a sweet interaction between Cliff and Olivia, some more time with Lucy, and (CW) accidental killing of an animal.

This scene may contain spoilers from the previous books in the series. Read at your own risk!


I collapse onto the futon acting as my living room couch, booted feet hanging over one end. Between work at the factory, shifts at The Wet Mermaid, and hanging out with Bunny so Lucy can catch some Zs, I’m beat. My eyes close and my jaw goes slack.

My phone rings.

Groaning, I tug it out of the pocket of my cut. Olivia’s face flashes on the screen. “You’re lucky you’re you,” I greet her.

“I have never felt lucky for being me.”

“If you weren’t you, I’d have hit the red button. Congratulations.” I remain on my back. “What’s up?”

“What’s up?” she echoes. “It’s Friday. Take me out.”

I sit up. “Like on a date?”

“Think of it as a celebratory ending to the week.”

“So a date.” I grin. “Where do you want to go?”

“Anywhere that isn’t work and doesn’t make me look weird for dressing up.”

“Definitely a date.” I stand from the futon. “How about that comedy club?”

“Are we comedy club people?”

“We could be.”

“Let’s give it a shot.”

“I’ll pick you up in an hour,” I tell her.

“What if we just meet there?”

I suppress a laugh. “You asked me to take you out. Take being the operative word.”

A pause stretches between us. I can’t really argue with her, because I wouldn’t want to ride on the back of someone else’s motorcycle, either. If someone told me back in January that I’d be saving up for my own motorcycle, I’d have laughed at them.

“I can meet you at Lucy’s and we can take her car,” I offer.

“But it’s a beautiful night to ride!” she exclaims through a giggle. An actual giggle.

“It’s always a beautiful night to ride.”

“I kind of want a cheeseburger.”

“I want a burger!” Lucy calls.

I chuckle. “Who knew a date could be so complicated? Tell you what, I’ll pick up burgers, we’ll eat with Lucy, and then we’ll go see a movie.”

“It’s a date,” Olivia says, and hangs up.


“Is Cliff bringing burgers?” Lucy asks from my side. We sit on her couch, where she eavesdropped on my entire conversation with Cliff and inserted herself into my almost date.

I side-eye her. “You’re a cock block.”

She mock gasps, placing the free hand that isn’t holding Bunny on her chest. “Me?”

“Whatever,” I say, springing from the couch and sticking my tongue out at her. “I’m getting ready.”

In the shower, I exfoliate and shave, getting every inch deliciously smooth. Burger-thieving sisters or not, there will be making out in the movie theater. I sing while I scrub down and while I dry off, and also while I run cream through my curls. Maybe it’s because this week I didn’t have to take anybody’s kids away, but I’m ridiculously happy. I’m so happy, I’m dressed and ready before Cliff arrives.

I pull on my boots and jog back down the stairs, still singing. It’s one of those electropop songs that always gets stuck in my head. “I’m going out for a cigarette,” I sing out to Lucy.

She does a double take from the couch. “What is happening here?”

I shrug and open the door, then step outside. Something squishes and crunches under my foot. A soft chirp follows. I freeze.

“No,” I gasp. “No, no, no.”

The chirping from over my head swirls around me, a crescendo punctuated by each beat of my heart.


I lift my boot, still whispering no under my breath. A tiny bird twitches on the front doormat. I stare down at it, my brain scrambling to arrange the downy white tufts and brown feathers and the still moving yellow beak, the squelch of intestines bursting from one side, the tiny legs sticking up into the air.

“No, no, no!” Tears blur my vision, a lump clogging my throat. There’s no undo button, no going back in time. I knew the birds were there, I knew there were babies. I should have been more careful.

I blink and it’s winter and Dio lies in a broken heap on my bed. A peep is a meow and there’s no going back. I fall to my knees and scoop up what’s left, tears dragging mascara down to my chin.

“No.” I sob, cradling the little bird in my hands. I know I’m not supposed to touch them, but I can’t remember if it’s because the parents will kill it or I’ll risk some disease. The tweeting over my head continues, the birds in the nest above me oblivious. Or maybe they saw it all and they’re grieving, outraged at this giant, this murderer, this killer.

The door opens and Lucy sticks her head out. “What—?” Her eyes drop down to my hands, and her hands flutter to her mouth, covering her expression.

“I didn’t see it,” I cry.

Her hands drop to her sides. “It’s okay. You didn’t mean to.”

“I didn’t look.” I look down at my hands then out at the road. I don’t want to look. I shouldn’t look. But I didn’t look, and here I am.

“Stay here,” she commands. Where would I go, anyway? I hope she’s calling a vet. She has to call a vet. The beak is still and the broken creature in my hands is going cold.

It’s too late.

Lucy returns, her gloved hands reaching for the bird and bagging it before I can move. I remain kneeling, my palms up toward the sky. Feathers stick to my fingers. She disappears again, and when she comes back, her hands are empty, the gloves gone.

“Let’s wash your hands.” She guides me to my feet and steers me inside, plunging my hands under warm water and squirting soap into my palms. I rub them together, mechanical function taking over. I wash them again, but the weight of that tiny baby is still there.

“It’s okay,” she repeats, rubbing my back. “Livvie?”

“I didn’t look.” I dry my hands on a towel, my gaze dropping to my feet. I check the soles of my boots. They’re clean. It’s as if nothing happened.

“We’ll just be more careful now,” she says.

I catch my reflection in the mirror, taking in the dried line of mascara and the pale tint of my skin. A motorcycle engine purrs nearer, reminding me that I need to get myself together.

“Olivia?” Lucy asks, her tone taking on a worried edge.

I turn the water back on and dip my hands underneath the stream, bowing my head. I scrub the makeup off until my skin is bare and red.

“Burger delivery,” Cliff calls from the living room.

“Olivia?” Lucy asks again.

I try to find words, to crack a joke, but it’s too soon. I take a shaky breath.

“You okay?” she asks, still rubbing my back.

Of all the lives I’ve taken, this one bears the most weight.


I head into the kitchen, dropping the bag of burgers and fries on the table. “Olivia? Luce?” I call out. Dio hops up onto the table with a meow. “Hey buddy.” I give his head a rub. “Where is everyone?”

From behind the closed bathroom door, a faucet starts running. Otherwise, Lucy’s condo is completely still. Shrugging, I grab some plates and sit down. I don’t need to be told to dig in, not when it comes to G’s. Or any takeout, really. I glance down at what is sure to be a dad bod if I don’t reign it in a little.

“It’s not my fault,” I tell Dio, shooing him off the table. “I had to eat slop for twenty years.” I plate everyone’s orders and sit back, staring at my food. “Well, this is awkward.”

Dio meows in agreement.

The bathroom door opens and Lucy steps out, closing it behind her. “Oh. Hey!” She drops into a seat and grabs a fry from the plate in front of her. Her face is unreadable.

“Where’s Olivia?” I ask cautiously. Maybe a date was a bad idea. Olivia and I have never been conventional, and every time I try to do some kind of normal boyfriend/girlfriend thing with her, I only end up scaring her away.

My cousin looks up from her food. “Olivia?” she asks, blinking.

Shit. I lean back in my seat. “Did she, ah, leave?” I swear I saw her Street Glide in the driveway. I frown.

“No!” Lucy throws on a smile. “She’s just doing her makeup.”

I tilt my head. “Makeup?” I can’t help the smile that takes over my face.

Lucy’s eyes drop back down to her still untouched burger. “You know, just girl things . . .”

My eyes narrow in suspicion. “Everything okay?”

She opens her mouth, but whatever she’s about to say is interrupted by a wail from the baby monitor. “Be right back,” she promises, casting a worried glance at the bathroom door. Then she disappears.

I look down at Dio, who sits next to my chair, his nose up in the air sniffing the bacon. “I really wish you could talk, dude.”

He stands up on his hind legs, nose wiggling.

With a shrug, I take a bite of my burger, careful to save a few bits of bacon for the cat. Through the baby monitor, I hear Lucy soothing Bunny. The bathroom door remains closed.

I stand, slipping Dio a bite of bacon as I make my way to the bathroom. I hesitate at the door. It might really just be makeup—girl stuff. If I’ve learned anything about Olivia in the past seven months, it’s that nothing is simple about the woman I love. I raise a fist to knock, then lower it.

Dio meows at my feet, giving me away. Traitor.

I knock lightly. “Hey. Everything okay?”

The faucet stops running. There’s a muffled clatter of plastic hitting porcelain. “Damn it,” Olivia mutters.

I knock again. “You in there?”

Everything goes still.

I step back from the door, running a hand over my beard. I should probably just eat my burger. If something is wrong, what kind of boyfriend would I be if I just ignored it?

Dio meows again, lowering himself to his belly. He reaches a paw under the door, swiping. His next meow is loud, plaintive.

We’re both being shut out.

“Burgers!” Lucy calls out from behind me.

I pivot, lifting my boot to avoid the cat’s tail. My cousin drops into her chair, lifting her burger while wearing a forced smile.

“I’m just gonna head out.” I walk away from the door, planting a kiss on Lucy’s head as I pass.

Her eyes dart between me and the door. She lowers her burger. “Just give her a minute,” she whispers. “Please?”

Sighing, I return to my seat. “What happened?”

She nibbles on her lower lip. “I’m not really sure,” she hedges.

I blurt out the burning question. “Is it because I let you in on our date?”

Her lips tighten.

“Luce,” I plead.

“I don’t think so.” She sets her burger down. “I think she’s just going through a lot, and isn’t exactly coping with everything.”

“What happened?” I ask again.

The bathroom door opens and Olivia steps out, Dio winding between her legs. Lucy and I turn in our seats. The whole room holds its breath. Olivia steps past Dio and veers around the table, heading toward the front door.

“Food’s getting cold,” Lucy tries.

“I’m going for a ride,” Olivia says. She opens the door and then slips out. The door closes behind her.

I fix my cousin with a frown.

“Let’s just eat,” she says, picking up a fry.

Outside, the Street Glide roars to life. I drum my fingers on the table. I’m no stranger to chasing after Olivia. It’s an art form we’ve perfected. I’d do anything for her. I think I’ve proved that. But I can’t imagine what could’ve happened that she can’t talk to me about. Not after everything we’ve been through.

Or maybe it isn’t enough.

No matter how many times I chase her, she keeps running. Maybe it’s time to accept that she doesn’t want to be with me.

I sigh, leaning back in my seat.

“Cliff,” Lucy begins.

I hold up a hand. “Let’s . . . just eat.”

The rumble of the engine cuts out abruptly. I pick up my burger, resolving to just let her go. There’s nothing else I can do. Not when she’s shutting me out. I’ve never felt about anyone the way I feel about Olivia. Sooner or later, it’s going to be my undoing. Probably sooner.

I can’t make her love me back.

The front door opens and Olivia steps inside. Dio bounds up to her. She scoops him up and he rubs his cheek against hers. “You’ve got bacon breath.” She carries him into the kitchen and sets him down by his bowl. “Who gave this demon bacon?”

I try not to look guilty, but Lucy gives me away.

“I was upstairs with the baby.”

Olivia shakes her head at me, but a smile tugs the corners of her mouth up. She takes the seat next to me and steals a fry from my plate, dipping it into ketchup. I watch her out of the corner of my eye, noting the way her eyes don’t quite light up.

“So what movie are we gonna see?” she asks, nudging her onion rings toward me.

I wish I’d never let Mercy go, but I can’t bring him and Bree back. All I can do is wait and see if the shadows in Olivia’s eyes recede.

A Fatal Prospect
River Reapers MC, Book 3

Available April 28th

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Listen to the Playlist That Inspired A FATAL PROSPECT

I killed everything we were
Baby, murder was the case
-“27 Hours,” BANKS

How can I describe A Fatal Prospect‘s playlist? It’s yearning and suspenseful, angry and desperate, heartbreaking and uplifting—just like the book.

Some of my favorite songs from this playlist are: “In Too Deep,” by The Sweeplings; “City on Fire” by Tyler Hilton; “Heartbeat” by VÉRITÉ.

Have a listen, then tell me which songs you love the most!

And don’t forget to pre-order A Fatal Prospect for only $2.99! The price goes up after release day, so snag that discount now.

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A Fatal Prospect Available April 28th

Cliff has finally won Olivia’s commitment, but she won’t give him the two things he yearns for the most: her heart and a family. After all the trauma she’s been through, she’s scared to give away her heart, even if her heart has other plans. The war on the horizon strikes before they have a chance to work it out.

When a teen football player is unspeakably violated, only Olivia, Cliff, and the rest of the River Reapers MC can avenge him. A rival motorcycle club from the past is also looking for revenge just as Olivia realizes her true feelings for Cliff. When someone betrays them, they’ll pay the ultimate price, in both blood and love.

A Fatal Prospect is the third book in the River Reapers MC series, a dark romance with a body count.

Pre-order now for only $2.99! Regular price $4.99.

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“Better Than Her Hating Herself” | Alternate Scene from A RISKY PROSPECT

While writing A Risky Prospect, I knew how I wanted to handle the scene. I just wasn’t sure if I should. To help me decide, I wrote an alternate version.

Spoiler Alert: This alternate scene contains spoilers from A Risky Prospect. Read at your own risk!

I stare after Olivia, frowning. The two shot glasses remain upside down on the bar, the remnants of tequila splattered across the wood. I’ve never known her to leave a mess behind, never mind run out without even grabbing someone to stand in for her. I’m even more shocked that she didn’t let Mark know personally.

What really trips me up, though, is the look on her face when she looked at her phone. I know technology has advanced a lot in the past twenty years, influencing the way people do almost everything, but I also know that if DCF needed her for something, they would’ve called. Not texted.

I tap a finger on the bar, torn. Do I follow her, or do I go get my brothers first?

“You’re late,” Beer Can says from beside me.

“We’ve got a problem,” I reply.

I explain as quickly as I can, then run after her, promising Beer Can I’ll text as soon as I know where she is. Just as I step outside, she flies out of the parking lot. I’ve heard the phrase “like a bat out of hell” a million times, but the people who spoke it never met Olivia.

Her hair flies out behind her, black coils highlighted by the glow from the street light. It’s an alive thing, a harbinger of revenge. She’s the embodiment of the Sludge Specter insignia on my cut and the hoodie she was wearing behind the bar. My hoodie. I watch her disappear, my bones growing colder. I feel sick to my stomach.

Something bad is going down.

I jump onto the Screamin’ Eagle, damn near flooding the thing in my rush to get it started. Thankfully I get it on the first kick, a small flash of luck in this cold, dark night.

It’ll probably never happen again.

I take off in the same direction she went, adrenaline flooding my system, flushing out the heaviness and ache in my limbs. Every muscle is coiled, my body warm as it gears up to fight.

Though light traffic crawls the streets, Olivia is nowhere in sight. It doesn’t matter, because I already know where she’s going. I head to the Mallane Lane address Vinny texted me weeks ago, my fist gripping the throttle, my head a scramble.

What will I find when I get there?

I pull up in front of the teal house. In the dim light, it looks more like mud. A single light floods one window. There isn’t even a porch light on. A Thunderbird sits in the garage, but Olivia’s Street Glide is absent.

I roll past, frowning. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe she really did have a work emergency. Everything else was all in my head, some sick need to concoct excuses to be near her.

Whether she wants me or not, she’s got her hooks in me, ensuring I’ll never let her go. The only way I’ll ever get her out of my system is if I get as far from her as possible. That’ll never happen. She’s poison floating in my veins, a toxic potion for which there is no antidote. Loving her is going to kill me, and I’m not so sure that’s a bad thing.

Clenching the throttle, I pull away from the teal house. Even as it fades from my mirror, adrenaline keeps pumping through me. I pull over several blocks away. If she’s handling a work emergency, she’ll answer her phone, exasperated. If she isn’t, well, I still have to figure out where she is.

With the bike rumbling between my thighs, I call her. I turn up the volume on the phone so I can hear each ring over the engine, can count how many pass. Either I’m wasting time or I’m getting fired.

Her voicemail picks up: “It’s Olivia. You know what to do.”

I end the call, torn. If she’s dealing with a work thing, she might not be able to pick up. I just can’t think of where else she might have gone, if she really is after Greg.

The phone rings in my hand. My heart stops, relief flooding me only for a second. It’s Vinny, not Olivia.

“Yeah?” I brace myself for the warning.

“You at Greg’s?” he asks, breathless.

“I rode by. What’s up?”

“I peeked at some court documents. I’ve been checking every so often, see if anything else involving our buddy pops up.”

“Okay,” I press. With no direction, the adrenaline turns to nausea.

“His wife filed for divorce,” Vinny says.


“This morning.”

My heart stops again, this time kickstarting with a fresh wave of adrenaline. This time, it’s accompanied by fear. “I’m circling back. Meet me there.” I hang up, wishing I’d thought to grab my piece.

I turn the Screamin’ Eagle around and blip the throttle, riding in the direction I came from. My pulse races with the single thought looping through my head: I hope I’m not too late, not too late, too late.

I roll to a stop in front of the teal house, right behind the Street Glide. The front door stands open, darkness spilling from the house into the street. It’s a quiet neighborhood, the kind where parents let their kids play in the street without worrying about them getting hit. The kind of street where people don’t shrug when they hear a gunshot—they call the police.

I shut off my bike and kick the stand into place. Then, without glancing around, I stroll up the front walk and onto the porch.

I creep inside, eyes straining to make out anything in the dark. The porch serves as a sort of mudroom, opening into a living room. At least, I think it’s a living room. I make out the silhouette of a couch, walk into a coffee table. Its edge bites into my shin, the whole thing sliding back, its feet scuffing against the floor with a whine like a long, drawn out Fuuuuuck.

Which is exactly what I think, standing here in the dark, ears strained for any sign that he knows I’m here. Then again, if I wanted to be stealthy, I should’ve left the bike around the corner.

Fuck it.

“Olivia?” I shout.

A thud responds.

“Olivia?” I glance around, still not accustomed to the dark, completely unfamiliar with the layout. Another thud answers, a strange game of Marco Polo. Pulse throbbing in my throat, I move in the direction I think it came from—toward a set of stairs. The toe of my boot nudges the bottom step. I climb them two at a time.

When I get what I think is halfway up, the sound of thrashing crashes into my ears, a frenzied cacophony of elbows and feet hitting the floor—the symphony of a struggle. I fly up the remaining steps, not even thinking anymore, just moving. I burst into a spare room. Instead of a bed, there’s a desk and a dresser, closet doors standing open, half of the clothing removed. I take this all in even as my focus zeroes in on the floor, on Olivia, pinned under Greg. His fingers wrap around her neck, all of his weight forced on her throat.

“Was it like this?” he asks, over and over.

Her face is a mottled shade of purple and blue. She scratches at his hands, even as the rest of her flops underneath him.

I take two steps and hook my arm around his neck, yanking him back. He drags her with him, and she goes limp, eyes rolling in the back of her head. “Let her go!” I roar in his ear. He releases her, his gurgling nearly drowning out the thud as she hits the floor. She doesn’t move.

“Olivia!” I call, tightening my hold on him. She remains still. “Olivia!” I scream again. I shake him, punctuating each syllable. His eyes bulge, his flesh speckled with purple as I squeeze the air from him.

Her hand twitches.

“Olivia,” I beg. “Come on, babe.”

She sucks in air, head tipping back as she gulps, filling her lungs. I sigh in relief, some of the anger fading from my marrow.

“That’s it. Can you sit up?”

“Asshole,” she croaks, and I grin.

Greg thrashes, twisting out of my grip. He slips away and crouches, a barking cough exploding from his lungs.

“Slippery motherfucker,” I mutter. He lunges at me, catching me off guard and knocking me back. Most other men know when to stay down when fighting me. Not this one. There’s a strain in his eyes, his manic need to control Olivia overpowering all sense.

Because that’s what rape is about, when you boil it down: power.

His knuckles catch my cheekbone, blood spurting from a small cut in near slow motion. My shoulder blades press into the hardwood floor as his weight settles on me. He draws his fist back for another blow.

I was so busy worrying about Olivia, I didn’t even notice him slipping out of my grasp. He caught me by surprise again by recovering so quickly. It’s easy to forget what adrenaline can do, the strength that desire for control breeds.

All of this flies through my head in sync with his fist reconnecting with my face. Another catches me in the ribs. I grunt but keep still, drawing calm in with every breath. Anger won’t get me out of this hold.

“Don’t!” Olivia screams.

I crane my neck to see behind Greg. She kneels on the floor, her gun trained on Greg. Two bright red handprints encircle her neck, some of the bruise already turning purple. The sight sends an upsurge of anger through me, those red handprints encroaching my vision until they’re all I see.

I shove Greg off me, sending him careening into the dresser. This time, I don’t give him a chance to recover. I’m on him, gripping his head with one hand. I glance at the corner of the dresser, so like the coffee table downstairs that I smashed my shin into. I pull his head back, then slam it into the corner.

He cries out, hands flailing, fingers gripping my cut. They squeak against the leather.

I do it again.

His mouth opens, pleading eyes hooked on mine. But I still see those handprints, still see her marbled skin, her mouth wide and gasping but getting no air. It’s too easy to fall back in time, to imagine younger versions of them in a similar pose, my girl begging no.

So I do it again, and again, more times than I can count, but not enough, never enough for what he did to her. What he almost did tonight. His lips move in a “No” and I smile, because isn’t that what she told him? I smile and I smile and I smile.

Then I let him go. He crumples to the floor in a heap.

“Fuck,” Olivia explodes. “Is he dead?”

She rushes over and checks his pulse, her finger smearing the blood running down his neck.

I step back, chest heaving. I can’t catch my breath. I need a cigarette. My limbs shake as the adrenaline leaves my system. I lower myself to the floor, feeling utterly drained.

I should be panicking. I just killed a veteran—again. That’s a ticket straight back to the pen. I tip my head back. In a moment, I’ll make a few calls, get a cleanup crew going. Right now, I need my head and body to sync up.

“You fucking killed him,” Olivia scolds.

I look at her, gauging how angry she is. “Sorry,” I offer.

“That was my kill, Cliff. Fuck!” She turns, pacing the room, one hand curled into a fist, the other still clenched around her gun.

I wonder if she’s going to shoot me. I’m not sure which would be worse: Olivia blowing my brains out, or going back to the pen. At least I know she’s safe. What’s another federal offense?

“I’m sorry,” I say again. I gather my strength back and climb to my feet. My stomach growls, the sound cutting through the room.

She wheels on me. “So that’s it, huh? Let’s just go grab dinner. No big deal, right?” She scowls.

Part of her will always hate me for this, for taking her kill. But what was I supposed to do?

The same beast lives inside me, the one that can’t be controlled. I try to explain, to tell her how even now, all I can see are the handprints on her throat. Just like part of me will always see my father on Lucy.

Instead, I let her hate me. It’s better than her hating herself.

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“I Watch Her Take Her Power Back” | Bonus Scene from A RISKY PROSPECT

In this bonus scene, we see the pivotal scene in A Risky Prospect from Cliff’s POV.

Spoiler Alert: This bonus scene contains spoilers from A Risky Prospect. Read at your own risk!

A work emergency—I don’t buy it. I give Olivia a head start, then I follow her. I keep several cars between us, just in case she really is going to work. I don’t want her to think I’m some kind of lovesick stalker, like Eli. But when she turns onto her street, I know for sure.

This has nothing to do with work.

I hang back, shutting off my headlight, and watch her go inside. Barely two minutes pass and she’s already mounting her bike again. Nothing is different—that I can see, anyway. Still, my gut tells me something is wrong.

So I follow her again.

She takes Spring Street, then turns onto Mallane Lane. I continue by. I don’t need to alarm her. She’s too focused, body bent forward, shoulders hunched.

Who lives on Mallane?

I circle back down Spring Street, taking a left onto Springdale Avenue. It’s the only other way to access Mallane. By the time I turn onto the road, her Street Glide is already cooling down in front of a teal house.

My pulse jumps in my throat.

I consider calling Ravage or even Donny, but there’s a slim chance this could be a client’s house. Even if it isn’t, I don’t want to step all over her toes again. That’s how we ended up here, this place where we don’t talk and I follow her like some kind of creep.

I thumb the throttle, two seconds away from leaving Mallane. This isn’t healthy. Olivia’s a grown woman. She can take care of herself. Bright white light flashes through a window—a strobe light. I frown. Nothing is adding up.

Something crashes on the second floor, shattering as it hits hard wood. It’s then I know. I have to get inside.

I shut off the bike and vault over it, barely registering whether I’ve moved the kickstand into place. My bike, the street, everything fades away, my focus solely on the house. I lunge up the steps, yank open the screen door. The front door is unlocked. I push it open and race inside, careening through a dark living room. The dim light from the street highlights a framed photo: Greg with his wild red hair, and a happy blonde bride.

This must be Greg’s house.

“Was it like this?” Olivia screams from upstairs.

I fly up the steps, hands tingling, fingers twitching for something to latch onto. I’m going to kill him, if she doesn’t first.

I hit the landing and turn toward the sound of her voice. Bright light spills from a bedroom into the hall, a beacon guiding me to her. I take a step toward the door. The blood pounding through my veins pulses even in my eyes. My vision becomes a tunnel of red.

Something thumps—a boot against a footboard, a desperate thrashing.

“Was it like this?” Olivia screams again, pain and fury breaking her voice.

My heart rockets into my throat. He’s got her, and he’ll kill her if I don’t get there now. I close the distance to the door and stop dead in the hall when I see her in the bedroom.

Olivia straddles Greg on the bed, their clothing littering the floor in a trail behind them. Her hands wrap around her neck, all of her weight pressed into his throat. He jerks underneath her, but she’s got him in the most vulnerable position a man can ever be in.

I stare as his face turns purple.

“Was it like this?” she shrieks again, tears running down her cheeks. She lets out a howl of pain, a growl of vengeance—a battle cry. Even as I gape in shock, my chest aches for her.

I’ll never know what it’s like to have survived what she survived, but I do know what it’s like to reach your limit, when you’ve had enough. When the phoenix of your broken soul rises, morphing into a beast whose thirst must be slaked. The evil of a man like Greg awakens that beast, and it won’t be stopped until its thirst is slaked.

So I watch her take her power back.

A part of me will always be shocked, knowing that the same hands that caressed me could do this. The rest of me will always be in awe.

Get More

The Next Book is on the way!

Get the official newsletter to stay in the loop. You’ll also immediately receive the standalone spinoff novella, Her Mercy.

Click here!

River Reapers MC Series

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Read for FREE with Kindle Unlimited | Order a Signed Paperback

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Photo by Maan Limburg on Unsplash