Chapter One of Reagan - Blog Exclusive
Hello my darlings! It's Monday, and I'm so excited because Reagan is live and out in the world.
Of all of the women I've ever written, I think I identify with Reagan Baine more than any other. She's tough because she's had to be. She's always surrounded by men, so she's had to "man up" her entire life. She's got scars, literal and figurative, that will never go away. But she has a fierce love for her family that overshadows everything she does in life.
Granted, I'm not a badass bounty hunter with the military. Sure, I didn't have to kill my first boyfriend because he was a serial killer half-breed psycho. But you know...other stuff.
Below I'm giving you, dear reader, an exclusive peek at the entire first chapter of Reagan. If you love it, and I hope you do, you can click pretty much anywhere to pick up your very own copy today!
I was sitting at my friend Mike’s kitchen table in only my bra and jeans while he quickly, and not all that gently, plucked shrapnel from my back with a pair of tweezers. Not one of my better nights.
“Reagan, how nice to see you again.”
“Hi, Crystal,” I mumbled into my arms, which I was using to support my head as Mike’s wife walked into the room.
“We really have to stop meeting like this,” she said. I could tell from her tone that she was smiling.
A normal woman may have been pissed to walk in and find a half-naked woman seated at her kitchen table. Fortunately for me, Crystal wasn’t normal. I suppose when you’re married to the only person with medical training for fifty miles you become used to situations like these.
Okay, that’s not fair. There were people with medical training, but since I wasn’t into my doctors wearing feathers and slaughtering chickens to save my soul while I bled to death in the dirt, Mike was my go-to man.
“So,” Mike said loudly as if I could have forgotten he was there. “You never did tell me what happened.”
He was right; I hadn’t told him. Not because I didn’t trust him. I would and had trusted the man with my life. It was just so damned embarrassing.
“I’m waiting,” he said as he continued pulling shards of metal and glass from my back. “This is safety glass.” He sounded incredulous as I heard a large chunk of it hit the table.
“Fine,” I huffed dramatically. “I was getting out of the jeep, and a grenade pulled loose of my belt. I couldn’t find the pin in the sand and looking for it took so long I couldn’t get completely clear of the car before it blew up. Okay?”
Crystal started laughing hysterically, but Mike was silent. I was sure he was giving her a look over my head, and I was equally certain she didn’t care. Truth is, it was kind of funny—only because no one died. It was the first time I’d blown up a car by accident, but honestly, it had been bound to happen. I had no luck whatsoever. Not with anything.
“Was anyone else around?” That was Mike, ever the worried doctor.
“No, sir. It was just me out in the middle of the desert. I walked quite a ways before I finally found someone willing to drive me here. And they weren’t too keen on it, either. They tried to insist I go to the base with them. I promised you’d take good care of me and they dropped me off.”
“That would explain why some of this has started to heal over. I’ll have to reopen some of your scabs to get this clean.”
“Okay.” I’d figured that would happen.
“You don’t seem too concerned.”
“I’m lucky to be alive, Mike. Don’t think I don’t know that. Getting cut up is better than being in pieces in the desert. I’m a big girl, and I can handle myself.”
Unless there’s a stray grenade on my person anyway.
“You don’t look all that big to me,” a man said from near the door.
“Yeah, I think I’d call you petite,” a second man added from the same area.
I tried to turn my head in their direction, but Mike grunted his disapproval at my movement so I stayed still.
“Hi, guys,” Crystal said excitedly. “This is our—”
“Squatter,” Mike interrupted.
“Hey!” I shrieked with a small laugh that turned into a hiss at the movement of my back. “Can we go with friend?”
“Sure, this is our friend Reagan Baine. Reagan, this is Ash and Cyrus,” Mike gruffed.
I was at a severe disadvantage at this point. I was half-naked, probably bleeding from my back, and they got to stand there and watch. Again I say, not one of my better nights.
“Nice to meet you,” one of them said.
“You, too.” I wasn’t pleased to find that my voice sounded as defeated as I felt. “Please excuse my…lack of shirt.”
“I don’t mind,” the other guy said solemnly.
“Smooth, Cyrus.” The one who must have been Ash laughed. “I’m sure he didn’t mean it how it sounded.”
“I never do,” Cyrus sighed. “It’s amazing I can even walk with the amount of time my foot spends in my mouth. I apologize.”
“Don’t worry about it. I’m sure I look…appealing. How could you help yourself?”
I hoped the sarcasm was obvious. Cyrus certainly had my sympathy, seeing as how I had the same problem. Though more often than saying the wrong thing, I just say too much, and it gets me in trouble. The sensor between my brain and my mouth vacations about six hours a day and the hours are never in a row so there’s no predicting when it’ll happen.
“So what are you guys doing here?” Crystal asked. She sat next to me at the table the aroma of her coffee smelled like heaven in a mug, and I wanted some so badly. But Mike wasn’t going to let me move until he had my back clean, and there was no way to tell how much longer that would take.
“We’re actually here for Reagan.”
“For me? Ow!” I’d turned to look at them just as Mike decided to rip open a section of my back with some sharp object. I felt the blood run down the side of my spine, and my stomach rolled.
“Hold still,” Mike growled at me.
“Did I mention ‘ow’?” I snapped, but I moved back to where I’d been. “And you two, what do you mean you’re here for me?”
“We were told to come here, get you and bring you to the base. So here we are.”
“Which one are you?” It was probably rude, but I didn’t care. I was too confused to worry about niceties.
“I’m Ash,” he said bemusedly. “And before you ask I don’t know why. All I know is the captain told us to ‘go get Reagan Baine from Michael Trancher’s house’. So here we are, and here you are. So when you’re finished, we should get going.”
“I’ll go call the captain and let him know she’s hurt. Maybe, he’ll want to wait until morning,” Cyrus said.
“Doubt it,” Ash and I muttered in unison. I’d have grinned at him if I could see him.
I didn’t know why I was being called to the base, but I knew my father, Captain Arnold Baine, wouldn’t care if I was hurt. When he said jump, you said how high, sir.
“How did he know I was here? I haven’t changed my living status with anyone. As far as he should be concerned, I still live on North Base.”
Talking was becoming harder as Mike worked on the pieces of debris deeper in my skin. I was sweating from trying not to scream. If it had been just Mike and me, it wouldn’t have embarrassed me at all to cuss and yell at the top of my lungs. But they had company, or rather I guess I did, and it wasn’t polite or brave to show pain in front of guests.
“No one cares if you scream, Reagan,” Crystal whispered in my ear as if she’d read my mind. And hell, maybe she had. I always suspected my good friend was more than she appeared to be.
I often wondered if Crystal was a full-blown witch. She always seemed to just know things about me. If I was running late, no matter what time I got back to their house, she would have hot food sitting on the table and waiting for me. Little things like that. And she was forever answering questions I hadn’t asked. It never scared me. In fact, it was comforting.
She patted my arm softly, and I heard her sigh, which made me smile. So much of Crystal reminded me of my mom. She knew better than to argue with my stubbornness, but she always took care of me as much as I’d let her.
“Damn!” one of the guys exclaimed right before a searing pain ripped through my spine.
I couldn’t hold it in anymore. I screamed and screamed until I thought I might pass out. It felt as if my back had burst into flames, but having been on fire before I knew this pain was even worse.
There were suddenly hands on my shoulders and my arms holding me down though I hadn’t thought I’d moved at all. As soon as I heard Mike suck in air behind me, I knew the worst was yet to come.
I braced myself the best I could, but not knowing exactly what was going to happen didn’t help. Ash and Cyrus were holding me down and through a curtain of my black hair I could see one of them on my right. Before I could ask what was about to happen, he gripped my hands in his and smiled softly then Mike stabbed me and the world went black around the edges.
“It’s almost over,” the other man said behind my left ear. “You’re amazing.”
It really was the most inopportune time for my pussy to get wet. They were so close, and the one on my right was practically breathing on my face, his strong thigh bumping my leg under the table. My mortification at the situation helped take my mind off of the excruciating pain long enough for it to end and ease to just regular hurt.
“You did great,” Mike exclaimed proudly. “You can move just as soon as I get the bad cuts stitched up.”
Hearing that we were done had a calming effect on me. Now that he was done digging around in my back with a pitchfork or whatever he’d been doing behind me, I felt like I could run a marathon.
Okay, maybe not a marathon, but I felt pretty damn good. The guys moved away, and I found myself saddened by the loss of their touch. I hadn’t had a chance to even glance at them, but if my back held up, I wasn’t against fucking their brains out.
It wasn’t like me to be attracted to strangers. Especially, men whose faces I hadn’t seen yet. But their touch and their voices had made my body react in a way it hadn’t in a long time. It was a nice feeling.
“Crystal, are you burning something in here?” I didn’t smell anything, but the thoughts surging through my brain had to be drug induced. I thought maybe she had some sage and hallucinogens on fire somewhere, and I was getting high off the fumes.
“No, darling, your thoughts are your own.”
“That’s it,” I hissed in a low tone, so hopefully only she could hear me. “Tonight, we’re going to talk, and you’re going to tell me exactly why you can hear my thoughts.”
“Tonight, you have to go to the base, sweetie.” She kissed my head as she stood up. “But when you come back, we’ll talk. I promise.”
I grunted in pain as Mike poured what smelled like rubbing alcohol on my back. He’d known better than to warn me, but the shock of it would have brought me to my feet if four strong hands hadn’t gripped my arms and shoulders again, holding me in my seat as they had before.
“If you’re a good girl, I’ll let you keep one of the pieces of metal I pulled out of your back,” Mike chuckled as he dumped more of the alcohol over my open wounds. I don’t cry easily, but there were tears stinging my eyes now. Between the smell and the pain, I was amazed I hadn’t passed out yet.
Only the fact that it was almost over kept me quiet. Someone started blowing on my back, and the combination of the cool breath mixed with the alcohol on my scalding-hot wounds actually felt kind of nice.
It stopped quickly, and I fought the urge to whine about it. I hadn’t dated in a while, but I had to believe whining wasn’t a quality men look for in women.
“All right, are you ready for the sewing?” Mike asked. It was the closest he’d ever come to warning me before he did something painful. After he’d pulled whatever that last chunk was from my skin, I doubted I’d even feel the stitches going in.
He started, and I’d been right. I barely felt uncomfortable as he drew the needle through my back. After a few minutes, I was tempted to ask how many he’d done, but I didn’t. It was always best to wait until the doctor was completely done before letting him tell you how hurt you’d actually been.
“So, you two really have no idea why I’ve been summoned to the base?”
“How can you talk while he does that?”
“Cyrus, right?” He made a noise of affirmation so I continued. “First of all, I can talk through anything.”
“Ain’t that the truth,” Mike grumbled under his breath.
“Hush,” I snapped. “Second, this isn’t even bad. He’s had to do way worse than stitch me up.”
“I’d love to hear about that sometime.” Ash laughed. “That thing Mike pulled out of you was huge.”
“And I’m the one who says the wrong thing all the time,” Cyrus whispered in my ear.
It was a struggle not to giggle. I was really beginning to like these boys. It was incredibly strange given the situation. But hell, I’d been in weirder places with much stranger men.
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