HEY BEAUTIFUL SOUL
You requested it (if you're a Twitter'er you may have even cast your vote in the poll going down on my feed) and I'm here to deliver. THE COMPLETE CHAPTER ONE. in all it's first-chapter-glor-ray.
And the fabulous news is, if you dig it and want to know what happens next, you can grab the book for free this weekend! As a thank you to you guys for your crazy beautiful support for my book launch (and for totally blowing me away with your kind words) I'm having a special two-day promotion over on Amazon. So if you want to snag a copy of the book (or maybe send one to a friend) this would be a great time to go do that! :)
Honestly, I can't put into words how much I love you guys, how much you mean to me, how much your WORDS mean to me, and how touched I am by your messages and posts of support for my debut novel. So many of you have put a ton of work into posts for the blog tour, and I have just been completely blown away. It's such a beautiful, yet surreal feeling to see something you've silently worked on for so long spreading its wings for the first time, (no pun intended), and YOU made it happen. I could not have done this without you, and that is a fact.
On a side note, forgive my nasely voice. Here I sit at my desk in August of all months with a head cold and a fruit punch vitamin water. What the heck is up with that?
I hope you enjoy the first chapter - and if you've already read The Blood Race, please, please, please tell me what you think in the comments below! Oh, and leave a review on Amazon... seriously, that would be a HUGE help to me if you could pop over and leave a quick (nice! ^_^) review. I will love you forever. I already do. Because you guys are the best and I would be nowhere without you. <3
“You’re literally going eighty?” West almost choked.
“There’s no one out here.”
“We’re going to get pulled over.”
“We won’t if you just shut up and let me concentrate.”
I saw West fighting with the seatbelt in my peripheral vision, throwing glances over his shoulder like there was an ax murderer in the backseat.
“Relax,” I told him, leaning back in the seat. “I know what I’m doing.”
West shook his head and Ruger, in the backseat, blew out a laugh.
“Where did you say you were from again, West?” Ruger asked, leaning forward. “Phoenix?”
“Tucson,” West corrected, beginning to sound a little out of breath.
“That’s not quite under a rock,” Ruger submitted. “What gives?”
West shrugged. “I don’t know. Maybe I don’t drive like an animal?”
The girl seated beside Ruger in the backseat laughed. “Everyone drives like an animal here. You’ll get used to it.”
I gave my side-view mirror a quick glance. I could see the orange blaze that ran up and over the hood of Riley’s car, where there was an airbrushed painting of his girlfriend. Half of her face was normal—stunning, like it was in real life—while the opposing half was zombified, with the bone structure exposed.
Checking my mirror again, I cursed under my breath and leaned into the gas a little more. “He’s gaining.”
“What’s your speed?” Ruger peered impatiently over my shoulder. “Ninety?”
“Ninety-five,” I corrected, flexing my finger joints. “Just scratching the surface.”
I felt Ruger’s elbow on the back of my seat. “Are you ever going to let me try her out?”
I shook my head, watching the red needle steadily climb the speedometer.
“Oh, come on.”
I shrugged one shoulder. “You’re drunk all the time, Ruger. Do you know how much I paid for this?”
“I’m not drunk all the time—”
“An arm and a friggin’ leg,” I finished, ignoring his defense. “Did you literally not even notice that I’m missing limbs? Now quit leaning on my seat.”
“Ion, you suck.”
I checked the mirrors again.
Maybe it had been a stupid bet to make; I couldn’t decide. Standing in the parking lot of Club Scorpio earlier that night, watching Riley play with that stupid chain around his neck while he raved on about how fast the zombie-mobile could fly, it had been too irresistible of an idea to leave alone. So I’d thrown out the name of a local break where I knew Riley surfed. I’d seen him there on several occasions.
“Whoever pulls in last forks over two hundred. Deal?”
Riley had shrugged, twisting the chain. “Deal.”
I knew the only way I could win the bet was if I really focused, and that was hard with West riding shotgun.
“Zombie’s getting close,” the girl in the backseat announced, letting her window down. The air swept in like a hurricane.
Riley’s car shot ahead before I had a chance to react. I heard West curse and mutter something about how we were all going to die.
I stepped hard on the gas. “No one’s dying but Riley.”
West leaned back into the headrest. “Why the hell am I living with you guys?”
I heard Ruger laugh under his breath. “I was about to ask the same question.”
My focus shot to the speedometer again. One ten and I was still staring into taillights.
“Come on,” I muttered, resting my forearms on the steering wheel as I waited for the long familiar stretch I knew was coming up. I was counting down the seconds in my head, watching the lights edge tauntingly ahead.
“Dude, you’re losing him.”
“I’ll have him back after this stretch. Shut up.”
I wasn’t convinced, but I tried to sound the part. I started watching for my exit; the expressway lights were turning into star trails around us. West’s breathing was beginning to sound suspiciously pre–heart attack.
“I hope you brought cash.” I felt Ruger’s elbow again. “How much was this one?”
I would have reached back and smacked him had I not been so focused on the taillights in front of me.
I hated those taillights. I hated how I always seemed to be just a step behind Riley, whether in races or in life. I hated the feeling of inadequacy that was slowly rising in my chest. I was maxing out the engine of my beautiful car, and I could tell she didn’t appreciate it.
I squinted at the rear window of Riley’s car in front of me. I could vaguely see his silhouette. I tried to divert my thoughts, to concentrate. I was going as fast as the engine would allow, yet I could still feel her accelerating.
I glanced down at the speedometer, watching the needle waver slightly, then sink steadily back to a docile ninety. Eighty, seventy. Then back up to one ten.
“How fast are you going?” West was starting to panic.
I didn’t respond to his question. The sound of his voice faded and died along with everything else, abandoning my heartbeat to center stage. I snapped out of it just in time to make the exit—bulleting past Riley.
Ruger let out a low whistle. “That, gentlemen, is how it’s done.”
I lost my head for the rest of the ride. My concentration zeroed in on slowing us down enough to stop. My speedometer was at five miles per hour when I must have been going seventy. Thankfully I was the only one who noticed. Ruger was drunk and West had his head between his knees.
Silently coaching myself to relax, I cut sharply into the beach parking lot. I let out the breath I’d been holding as I shifted into park. I could feel my heartbeat warring inside my chest.
Riley pulled up alongside me, getting out after a long hesitation. I rolled my window down as soon as I had caught my breath.
“What the hell was that?” he said, throwing his arms vaguely in no particular direction. “How fast were you going?”
“I wasn’t paying attention,” I replied, steadying my voice. “But you owe me two hundred bucks.”
Riley stared me down with narrowed eyes, but after a moment he fished a couple hundred-dollar bills out of his pocket and threw them at me.
“Whatever.” He took a couple of steps backward. “That thing isn’t street legal, is it?”
“Didn’t your momma ever teach you to lose with dignity?”
“Did yours ever teach you to shut the hell up?”
Ruger laughed as I put the window up again. I could still feel Riley’s gaze burning holes in the back of my head when I pulled out of the sand-sprayed parking lot and onto the street.
“That was so sick,” Ruger drawled, elbowing my seat. “The look on his face.”
I didn’t reply, trying to focus as I navigated the narrow streets.
“How fast were you going anyway?” he asked. “I thought this thing maxed at one thirteen?”
“Then what the—”
“Riley must have let off by accident or something.” I cut Ruger off before he could finish, feeling a mild sweat beginning to prickle across my spine. “Illusionary speed.”
“Illusionary,” he reiterated, sounding skeptical. “Sure.”
My heart rate had calmed slightly when I pulled into the driveway of the house we were renting. Dawn was slowly making its entrance across the skyline, washing the city in a shade of indigo. It reminded me of how physically taxed I was—how attractive sleep sounded.
The trance was only momentary. The car jolted, yanking me back into the present and choreographing the disheartening sound of steel against steel.
“How could you miss that?” West hissed, tearing off his seatbelt.
I swore under my breath and got out to evaluate the damage. West followed suit.
I stared silently for a few moments before simply saying, “I didn’t see it.”
West turned and gaped at me. “You didn’t see it?”
“I was distracted.”
I had made a mental note when we’d first moved in to never cross the neurotic old guy who lived next door. I knew nothing about him beyond the fact that he kept an eye on us. Now I was standing there in the driveway, staring down at the ugly crater my Mustang had just punched into the rear bumper of his sandy-brown station wagon.
West exhaled in disgust, adjusting his glasses. “Well, have fun explaining that to the old man. You’re on your own.”
I swore and kicked my front tire. Visions of the red needle came darting back into my mind’s eye, the unnatural way it had danced over the various speeds, accelerating beyond what I knew the car was capable of. My roommates had vanished indoors, though I scarcely noticed that they had left. Ruger’s date paused on the porch steps.
“Hey,” she said quietly. “You okay, Ion?”
I gave a nod, refocusing.
“Yeah,” I said. “Yeah, I’m fine.”
There was a pause. I heard her soft footsteps a second later as she ascended the rest of the stairs, then the door sighing closed, leaving me standing alone in the driveway.
When I looked down at my hands, they were shaking.
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