Authors: Meli Raine
Tags: #New Adult & College, #Suspense, #Contemporary, #Romance, #Mystery & Suspense, #Romantic Suspense
Copyright © 2015 by Meli Raine
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This book contains material protected under International and Federal Copyright Laws and Treaties. Any unauthorized reprint or use of this material is prohibited. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without express written permission from the author / publisher.
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ULIET HAD A HAPPY ENDING?
The son and stepdaughter of rival drug dealers, Chase Halloway and Allie Boden know the odds are stacked against them, but love doesn’t care about odds. Love only wants to find a way.
Chase Halloway knows he’ll take over his father’s motorcycle club when old Galt Halloway’s done, but he has dreams. Plans that have nothing to do with the drug ring his father’s so carefully built since Chase’s mom died years ago. Untamed and unmoored, when he sees Allie for the first time he realizes maybe the future doesn’t have to be so lonely...
Protected by Chase during a blow-out brawl in her stepfather’s bar, Allie can’t believe the tattooed, muscled man who has eyes only for her really wants her...forever. With a past marred by her mother’s death and a stepfather who won’t let her leave for sinister reasons she doesn’t understand, she wants to choose Chase and her own fate.
Drawn together by an attraction so strong they can’t find words for it, and unable to resist a physical temptation so strong they can’t deny it, can Chase and Allie’s love survive kidnapping, murder, false accusations and more?
series is a romantic suspense trilogy:
. Each is a full-length novel, and by the end of book three Chase and Allie get the happily ever after they so richly deserve.
Finding Allie (Breaking Away #1)
Chase Halloway’s father is the president of Atlas, the drug dealing motorcycle gang that terrorizes most of our desert town.
My stepfather turns out to be a rival drug dealer, and I’m pretty sure he killed my mom two years ago.
I’m not supposed to fall in love with Chase. He’s not supposed to know I even exist.
But when he finds me, he can’t let go.
And when I find myself in his arms?
I hold tight.
I have to.
Because if I don’t, I might just die.
With or without him.
Bob Seger’s “Turn the Page” floats over the music system. I open the tampon machine in the women’s bathroom. Yes, it’s stocked with plenty of tampons. But there’s something more important in there.
My moving money.
I’ve been saving for more than two years, since I turned sixteen and could get paid here at my stepdad’s bar. Even cleaning the floors and unloading deliveries a few hours a week meant I could build a savings.
My stepfather won’t give me an official paycheck. He pays me under the table, minus what he says I owe for room and board at home. Now I work the bar. I can’t serve drinks, but I can clean and organize and deliver fried bar food. And I get tips sometimes from the men.
I’m sweating along the hair line on the back of my neck. It prickles and drives me crazy. It’s hard to tell whether I’m sweating from the heat or from nerves.
I reach into the machine and pull out the tiny jewelry box my mom gave me when I turned nine. It has a little ballerina on top. She’s wearing a pink tutu and pink shoes, but she doesn’t dance when you turn the music crank. I broke that, on purpose, so it wouldn’t draw attention. It hurt me to break it, but I did it anyway.
Home is a dangerous place to store my stash. My stepdad, Jeff, insists I’m never leaving his house. I stare at every car, every bike, every truck that comes through here and wonder if they’re headed west, toward the ocean.
That’s my dream. The one that almost died when Mom did. Los Angeles is out there, waiting for me. I’ve been waiting for so long. The only thing that matters now is to find a way to get there. To find my place there. To be the real Allie. Everything here is just practice until real life begins.
Hearing Jeff’s voice on the phone, I quickly stuff my seven dollars of tip money into the ballerina box. I close and lock the tampon machine. A deep saxophone line from the song on the music speakers makes my heart clench a little. The sound is so soulful, so luxurious, like it must feel to have a man drag his hand across your arm. To cup the back of your neck. To trace a line along your jaw before pulling you in for a slow kiss.
What’s it like to feel that kind of yearning for someone? I close my eyes for just a second and swallow, hard. I know exactly what it feels like to yearn for something, but
I’m yearning for someone to need
I scramble out of the women’s room and grab a rack of clean glasses from the steaming dishwasher. The white mist that billows out of the cranky old machine feels like torture. More heat? I don’t need more.
I need a break.
It’s hot today. The sweat drips down my back in long, lazy trails. I load the rack of glasses onto the scarred (but clean) bar, and start drying them with a towel. The bar towels are a special weave, so lint doesn’t cake the glasses. I don’t want to get screamed at like I did the first shift I worked here. My stepdad can be a real stickler. Back then, I cried when he yelled at me.
Nowadays I just roll my eyes and do whatever he wants.
My stash is growing bigger every day.
I glance at the clock. Two more hours and I can go home. Home. It doesn’t feel like home anymore, since Mom died and my sister moved out of town, but what other word can I use? When you don’t have many options, you take what you can get.
I feel the rumble of the motorcycle engines before I can hear them. The glasses on the bar start to shake and I slip, dropping one. It falls on the polished wood bar with a thud. Thank God it doesn’t shatter.
And then I hear them. Tires scraping against gravel. Engines without mufflers. The air changes. I’m filled with worry, like someone’s injected it into me. I reach up to put my fingers against my throat. I don’t know why. I haven’t done that since I was a little kid, afraid of the dark.
Just plain afraid.
My stepfather comes running from the back office, his eyes wild and arms tight with tension. His face is twisted with something I’ve never seen before. For a second, it makes me want to smile. For once, he looks like
nervous about something.
“Allie, you stay calm. Keep washing glasses.” His dark eyes narrow and he goes back to being cool and collected. The deep grooves of wrinkles in his face settle back to normal. His eyes are thin and tight, brown underneath the loose skin.
He’s tall and wiry, fingers stained from chain smoking unfiltered Camels. He looks at least ten years older than he is. My mother’s death two years ago aged him. It aged me, too, but I wear it on the inside. He wears it on his face.
Jeff has two emotions. Angry and neutral. I’ve seen a lot of angry, but not much neutral.
He looks like he feels fear right now. That’s new.
I push my long, black hair behind one ear. I wish I had a scrunchie to pull it back in a ponytail. August in the dry, desert heat of inland Southern California means it’s always hot. Any other summer and I’d be getting ready to go back to school, but I graduated this year. Late summer stretches out like one hot, empty void.
Like the rest of a life I need to live but can’t.
The air conditioners have been groaning all day. The sound of the motorbikes drowns them out now.
They are in the parking lot. Two. Three. Four. I can’t keep track of how many bikes pull up. My heart races but I keep it together. The last time a motorcycle gang came in, the bar got trashed. They beat Jeff up and the sheriff came.
Jeff can’t afford to have that happen again.
Blood rushes through me, pulsing hard. My fear is loud and clear.
He also got angry. Very angry.
can’t afford to have that happen again.
Working at the bar is my only way to save money to move out of this town. I want to go live with my sister in Los Angeles. If the bar shuts down I don’t know what I’ll do. My hands polish the same shot glass over and over, like it’s a piece of silver.
My heart dances in my chest. I look down at my t-shirt and see drops of sweat trickling down from my neck.
The air is not
hot. I’m nervous. Terrified.
One of the bikers roars his engine outside. Another one does the same. Jeff comes back out with his cell phone in hand and starts talking angrily to someone on the phone. He is careful not to say anything loud enough for me to understand. I can’t hear a word. I can hear his fury, though.
I finish the shot glasses and load them on the shelf where they go. I’m shaking from the inside.
The main door opens a tiny sliver. Blinding sunlight pours in like it’s invading.
walks in through the door. The sunlight behind him is a halo, like he’s an angel. A rough one. The most amazing vision.
Thick, scuffed leather boots with hard wooden heels crack against the bare wood floor, one at a time. My eyes start with that first boot. Then I see another. He wears jeans, the kind that are used to being on a motorcycle rider’s body. His pants mold to thick, muscled legs.
He wears a red and blue patch with an insignia I can’t see. Sunlight bounces off a thick belt buckle.
My blood runs cold and I freeze in place, my legs turning to jelly. I lean against the counter for support. I’m glad it’s there. My fingers need something to grab. My world is disintegrating under me. Looking at him replaces the world.
He’s a member of a motorcycle club.
I gaze at the patch he’s wearing but I can’t see it very clearly. It has a blue figure with red crescents on both sides. A warm rush of blood fills my face. His thick leather jacket is dirty and well-worn, dark as my hair and creased with age. A light-blue T-shirt sticks to his belly, slick with sweat. I can see the ridges of his abs. My fingers want to reach out and trace the lines of his muscles. I clench my fists so I won’t give in to the impulse.
“Jeff here?” His first words sound like ragged smoke and sunshine. My eyes meet his and he stays serious. We look at each other and time stops. Just...stops. His eyes widen and his jaw tightens as he searches my body with a look that says something I don’t understand.
But he feels what I feel. I can tell.
Pinpricks of heat from something other than the summer weather shoot through me. He looks like he’s older than me, and he’s steady and commanding. His hair is thick, the color of sand, and it’s messy, like he just rolled out of bed. Wolfish eyes skim over me, but he’s not in a rush.
I can’t breathe. I can’t move. I can’t do anything when he’s looking at me like that.
Please keep looking at me like that.
“Cat got your tongue?” he asks, his lips curling up in a half smile. His cheek moves the lines around his eyes. Light brown eyes with yellow chips, like someone shattered a gemstone. His eyes are like a lion’s, the color of a mane.
His eyes are dangerous and predatory. I can’t look away.
“Uh, Jeff’s in the back,” I say as the door closes slowly behind him, blocking out most of the light. I’m amazed that my mouth works at all. My mind can’t think. My body sure can feel, though.
I pause. What if I said the wrong thing? Jeff might not want anyone to know he’s here.
Engines blare outside. There are even more out there now. How many could there be? The man’s eyes narrow. He’s studying me. I like it. I don’t think I’m supposed to like it.
I can’t help myself.
“What’s your name?” he asks, a low rumble in his voice making me shiver. I’m not cold.
“Allie.” I shift and jut out my chin to show him I’m not afraid of him. “What’s yours?”
His grin widens and now he takes one more step forward. I can smell him. His scent is sunshine and dust with enough musk to make me take another deep breath.
He smells so real.
“Chase.” His name rolls off his lips. “Nice to meet you, Allie.” He reaches one gloved hand out to shake, then stops.