Hi everybody! This may be your first journey to my new website, and I know this is your first look at Trick! Welcome! Look around! See what all I have coming in the future!
I plan on posting to the blog at least once a week, so be sure and bookmark the website, I’ll be giving routine updates here.
Trick is a book I’ve been writing for the last month and a half, I’m over half-way done and should get it to the editor by the first of December. If you’ve read my Heaven Hill Series and Sketch – he’s the best of Liam and Tyler, with a mouth like Sketch. I love him, and I love Hadley, his lady, as well as Riley, the little girl he’s been assigned to.
Please, enjoy the first two chapters of Trick – just remember this is unedited and subject to change.
© Laramie Briscoe 2016
“You’re his last hope.”
Rebecca, the director of The Companion Program lays it on thick, and I’m doing my best to be open-minded, but what she’s told me is has me doubting my decisions. “He’s a felon?” I rub my forehead with the heel of my hand, hoping to relieve some of the pressure that’s built behind my eyes. This is a big decision.
“He’s been a felon before,” she clarifies. “This charge has escalated because of his past, but I assure you – he is a changed man.”
Am I crazy for even considering this? On one hand, I think so, on the other, I try to see the best in everyone and I know it’s possible to change. Look at what I’ve done for myself in the past two years. Who am I to judge? “What did he do?”
“It’s a vandalism charge. That’s all I’m allowed to say, but if he can’t be matched with a child to perform his community service hours, he’s going to go to jail. The time in jail will be exacerbated by his previous charges, and he’s trying to build a business, trying to re-build a life. I’ve gotten to know him,” the older woman gives me a sympathetic smile. “He’s not a bad man. Put himself in bad situations and reacted badly? Sure. But bottom line is if she was my child, I’d trust him with her.”
I look over at my daughter, Riley, and wonder if I’m doing the right thing. In my heart I know I am. She’s been devastated; we’ve been devastated since my husband walked out on us. He left what I thought was a good and solid marriage to move in with a woman who didn’t care he had a child. Children aren’t her thing. That’s left Riles without the guidance of a male figure and she’s been withdrawn since the separation began. It only got worse as the divorce dragged on. When it was final, we were appointed a court counselor, and the counselor suggested I contact The Companion Care program which leads me to where I am now.
“You swear you’d trust your child with him?”
“I would,” she tells me, reaching out to grip my hand. The contact is enough to startle me. For the months leading up to the separation, my husband and I never touched, and since then it’s been me and her. It’s foreign to feel someone else’s skin against mine now. Regardless of their gender or age. When you aren’t touched for long periods of time, it’s a shock to the system when it’s being reintroduced.
“Can I be there? I don’t want her to feel uncomfortable, and I’d like to know who he is myself. She and I have been a team for a while now, and I’d like for us to do this together.”
She balks for the first time and it gives me pause. I wonder why she’s giving me a look of warning. What’s she hiding?
“I’ll allow it, but I’m going to be honest with you,” she stops and sighs. “Patrick Tennyson is a gorgeous man. If I wasn’t happily married for the past twenty-five years, I would make a pass at him – age difference be damned.”
I laugh despite myself.
“The other two kids we’ve paired him with have been a problem because their mothers have made it difficult for Patrick.”
Oh, I understand now. I hold my hands up. “That won’t be a problem with me. I’m a single mom who works a full-time job, goes home does a part-time job, and takes care of her child. I’m not looking for a relationship now, or five years from now. I’m just trying to live my life and put food on our table.” As God as my witness those words are true. I’m still trying to get over the anger, despair, and grief I feel having lost my eight-year marriage. That’s not to say I’m not open to something happening for me in the future, but I’ll never chase it.
“Okay Hadley, we’ll set up the meeting, and we’ll expect good results.”
I stand, holding out my hand to the director. I can feel hope and optimism for the first time since my ex-husband left. Maybe this man can help me reach Riley, maybe he can help her understand not all mean leave, and maybe if she believes then so can I.
“How is this one going to be different than the rest?”
I kick my long legs out in front of me, trying not to make too much noise as the steel-toes of my boots meet the metal of the desk in front of me. Regardless of what other people think about me, I would prefer to blend into the background. I don’t really want to make a spectacle of myself. I’ve been told the way I carry myself doesn’t allow me to blend into the background, but I am who I am and I refuse to let people screw me around.
Matthew, my probation officer, God bless his soul is flipping through some paperwork. “They swear this woman isn’t interested in finding a man, and apparently the little girl needs someone who can help her. The name’s Riley.”
“What’s wrong with her?” I lean forward, keeping my arms tucked tightly across my chest, hands in my armpits. As a kid, I had a bad habit of talking with my hands. My dad didn’t like it, so I learned to keep them close to my body.
He’s going over the info sheet. “Looks like the dad slash husband walked out on them, and he isn’t interested in being a father to Riley anymore. She’s withdrawn and the mother is worried. Hadley, the mother has requested she be there for at least the first few sessions.”
Any mother who gave a damn about her kid would, but that makes me nervous. “I can’t fault her for wanting to be there, but damn what if she turns into another one? I can’t go to jail, the fucking shop is booked solid for the next three months. I’ve finally got all my shit figured out.”
“I know, and don’t think I’m not sympathetic to your plight, Patrick.”
“Oh kiss my ass, you know I hate when people call me by my given name.”
Matthew glares. “There does need to be some semblance of professionalism here, no matter how much I like you and feel as if you’re doing great things.”
Fuck me, I roll my neck, already feeling a tension headache starting to form. I’ve already wasted too much time today. “Just set it up and let me know what time I need to be there.”
It’s time to pay my debt to society. To try and right the wrongs I caused as an angry young adult who had nobody to shape me into the man I have become. The vandalism charge? That’s bullshit and another story for another day. I pull my phone out of the pocket of my well-worn jeans. Shit it’s already two pm. I’m gonna be at the shop late tonight.
“Tomorrow, nine am. They want to get this show on the road, and the quicker you start, the quicker your hours will accumulate.”
Whatever. “See ya in two weeks,” I tell him, referencing my next parole check in.
I have work to do, and it looks like I have a little girl to meet tomorrow. As I step out into the bright sunshine, I put on my aviators and hope like hell traffic isn’t bad as I make my way back across the bridge to my side of town. The side where I’m comfortable – where people have rough edges and good hearts. My edges have sometimes been razor sharp and it’s time to dull them – anger and resentment has gotten me nowhere but serving almost a thousand hours of community service.
Growing up sucks, especially when you realize all the bad shit you’ve done to yourself, to spite yourself. I’ve never shied away from taking responsibility and I’ll take this the way I have everything else, but damn if it’s not coming at the worst possible time for me personally.
I start my bike and ease into afternoon traffic. Time to get to work.
A loud noise wakes me from a sleep so deep I’m pretty fucking sure I was dead. It’s this annoying beep – constant and getting louder by the second. I reach out, slapping my hand against my cell phone, but it keeps going off. Why did I set the alarm? I wrack my brain, trying to figure out why in the hell I had to get up so early today. I was in the shop until almost four in the morning, but I made sure to set my alarm. Why? The reason is right on the edge of my periphery of a memory but it’s not clicking.
Suddenly I set up, knowing exactly where I should be today, what I should be doing. The sinking feeling is already taking up residence in my stomach.
“Son of a fucking bitch,” I grab the phone, squinting to see what time it is. Eight fifty-five. “Shit!”
It’s inevitable I’m going to be late as hell for my first day. What a way to make a good impression. Quickly I put on the nearest clothes, a jacket, run my hand through my short hair, and head out. Effort counts right? Because I’m about to put forth the most effort I ever have. This shit has to work.
My heart is breaking and my hope is dwindling as the seconds tick by, turning into minutes. The man is late, and I don’t want to be the person who tells my daughter she’s been abandoned again. She’d been more excited than I’d seen her in months, this morning as we’d left the house.
“Mom,” she turned to face me as I locked the door on our apartment. “Do you think he’ll like my outfit?”
She’d picked it out so painstakingly – it was her favorite. A plain white t-shirt, a black ruffled tutu that I’d made with the help of some Pinterest board, and her pink Converse. Her curls, always too big for her head, were held out of her face by the clip I’d barely been able to close, and the glasses she wore made her appear more studious than her years. My heart clenched as I thought of all the moments her dad was missing out on.
Biggest smile I can muster on my face, I look down at her. “Riles, you’re the most beautiful six-year-old in the world. Of course he’s gonna love it.”
“Let’s give him a few more minutes,” Rebecca crosses her legs, folding her hands on her lap.
The way she kicks her foot to a rhythm only she hears, says she’s just as worried he’s not going to show as I am.
I’m tempted to tell her no. I won’t put Riley through the embarrassment of being left again, and I can’t put myself through it either, but some force I can’t name stops me. Maybe I want to give this guy a chance, maybe I’m sick of breaking my daughter’s heart. There’s only so many times I can absorb the tears and carry the burden of her sadness.
“We’ll wait,” I fake an optimism I don’t believe, a happiness I’m not sure I can ever feel again.
Words fail both she and I as we sit at the table. I’m begging whatever God there is to not disappoint my baby girl again. I’m negotiating to make sure things go right for once. As I’m about to lose hope, the door to the room we’ve been sitting in opens and I can feel the presence before I see him.
It’s this shock. Like I turned a light switch off after running my feet over the carpet in the winter. You know, the one where you actually see the spark between your finger and the plastic? That spark passes through my body before I even see him.
As he makes his way over the threshold of the door, I suck in a breath, willing my lungs to let it out. Rebecca was right, he is gorgeous. Like climb him like a tree and devour the strong column of his throat, gorgeous. He’s tall. His shoulders wide, waist lean, hands have smidgens of grease on them. He’s blue collar, and for that I breathe a sigh of relief. Blonde hair is short and unkept – a little long on the top – sides shaved. It’s his face that’s so devastatingly handsome it makes me want to weep. High cheekbones, angular nose, and the beginnings a beard cover his cheeks, the hair light against the natural tan of his skin.
“About time you made it, Patrick,” Rebecca stands up, striding across the room with sure steps, her heels pounding against the hard floor.
“Becky,” he gives her a smile that I’m sure have made many panties drop. “We don’t do first names between us. I’m Trick, remember?”
“You’re late,” she fixes him with a glare and a disapproving purse of her lips.
“And I’ll stay to make up for it as long as,” his eyes find mine, and he raises his eyebrows. “What’s your name?”
“Hadley,” I supply, because I’d like to hear what it sounds like coming out of his mouth.
“Hadley,” he repeats and I think I may have died a little right in this chair. The sound is rough, sexy, and almost a growl, as rugged as the man himself looks. “Is okay with it.”
I agree because I know Riley’s going to be a tough nut to crack. She’s going to be pissed he’s late, and I want him to have a chance. I want him to break through her shell like I haven’t been able to. I’ll help him as long as he takes interest because I truly believe he’s the only one who can bring her back to me.
“We’ll stay as long as we can. We have some things to do today.”
“Good,” he smiles at both of us. “Can I meet her?”
Rebecca hits the intercom, asking them to bring Riley in and I shoot up a prayer. This has to work. If it doesn’t, I’m not sure what we’re going to do.
I run my hand through my hair, trying to tame it. The top seriously needs a cut, and I know I look like I just rolled out of bed. They probably think I tied one on and left a woman asleep on my pillow. Fuck. As I bring my hand down, I see smudges of grease still in the corners of my fingernails. So much for making a great first impression.
“Any tips you want to give me?” I look over at the mom, hoping she responds to my question. I’ve always liked kids, but haven’t really been around them before.
She shakes her head, her blonde hair falling in her face. “Sorry, I can’t make this easier on you. It’s her you’ve got to impress, not me.”
So it’s like that? I admit to myself I would have judged her had she not been such a mama bear to her daughter. “I can respect that.”
The pointed look directed my way lets me know I better respect it.
The door to the room opens and I turn around. There are moments in your life no one can prepare you for. Snippets of time that make or break the future. As I get a glimpse of the little girl standing in the doorway, I realize with startling clarity this is one of those moments.
“Riley, meet Patrick,” Becky puts her hand out, motioning for her to come further into the room, but Riley doesn’t take it.
She glances up, looking at me through glasses that appear to be too large for her face, because she’s so small. Her blue eyes are huge, and she reminds me of one of those cherubs on baby commercials. I offer her a smile, but she doesn’t smile back.
“Mom,” she looks behind me, her wide eyes on Hadley. “Why was he late?” Her voice is shaking, and I realize immediately the fear there. I’ve had that fear too many times in my life to count.
It’s the fear you’ve been forgotten and left alone.
Hadley opens her mouth to answer, but as she does, I go down on one knee. Hopefully being more on her level will help Riley be more receptive to me.
“I was late,” I admit, having a seat on the ground, sitting cross-legged. “See,” I hold out my hands so she can take in the grease stains. “I’m a mechanic and I was up late last night trying to get someone’s bike up and running. They had to get to work this morning.”
Riley steps closer, inspecting my hands. “But that meant you were late,” she accuses.
I could go into a whole explanation about how people pay me to make their experience better than my own, but at six I know she won’t understand.
“I know,” I clasp my hands in my lap. “And for that I’m very sorry. I can tell you I won’t be late again.”
She juts her lip out at me. “Don’t make promises you can’t keep.”
This kid is so damn smart, and she’s been hurt so deeply it makes my head ache. “I didn’t promise,” I point out. “I said I wouldn’t do it again.”
I reach out, flipping my hand over, palm side up, wondering if she’ll take the bait. Will she allow me to have some sort of physical connection to her.
“Why didn’t you promise?”
As someone who’s consistently been lied to their whole life, I recognize it in her wariness. “Promises are meant to be broken, right? Nobody ever keeps them.”
She’s quiet, taking in what I’ve said to her. “My mom does.”
“But she’s the only one isn’t she?”
Riley nods. “So let’s not bullshit each other,” I let it slip before I realize what I’ve done.
Riley giggles and I give her a grin. “Probably shouldn’t have cussed huh? Let’s not say things we don’t mean, I’ll be honest with you; you be honest with me?”
There’s a silence as she mulls it over. After what feels like a thousand hours she walks slowly over to me, and sits in front of me, her legs matching mine.
One word – four little letters – have never meant so much.
“Are you mad at me for being late?” I ask, because it’s important to start this off truthfully.
“Yes,” she whispers, almost as if she’s scared to be honest.
“I’m mad at myself for being late.”
The admission seems to make her eyes soften towards me, and I want to say more, but I’m unsure of what will make this better.
“Riles, we gotta go,” I hear Hadley say in the background, saving all of us from the awkward silence that’s starting to descend.
“Can we do this again tomorrow?” I ask, hoping they aren’t going to shut me down. I think the kid needs it, just as much as I do.
“You’ll have to be on time tomorrow,” Hadley tells me. “She has piano lessons and we can’t afford to miss them.”
I wonder if she chooses the word afford because of the cost, or if Riley wasn’t musically gifted and one missed session affects her in a bad way. As bad as I want to know, I decide to keep my mouth shut.
“Alright, can we meet here again tomorrow? Same time?”
Hadley looks at her daughter. The two of them have some sort of conversation with their eyes, and then Hadley nods. “We’ll be here, go grab your bag,” she motions with her head to her daughter.
After Riley is out of the room, she walks up to me, facing me down. Her head comes to my collar bone, but it doesn’t seem to bother her.
“Whatever you do, don’t disappoint her again. She’s had enough of it in her life already. I’m willing to give this another shot, but if you’re late tomorrow, you’re going to have to enjoy your time behind bars.”
I grab her shoulders and it’s like I’ve been struck by a bolt of lightning. My heart beats double-time, and I find myself at a loss for words. Weird snippets of a life I’ve never had flash before my eyes and my breath comes faster.
I look down at her, and notice her cheeks are flushed, her breathing is also accelerated.
It takes me a moment to grab hold of myself, but when I finally do, I push the words out from between my dry lips.
“I don’t make the same mistake twice. Not anymore.”
Her blue eyes, so much like her daughter’s flash. “See that you don’t.”
Trick is an Amazon Exclusive that releases on January 13, 2017
Amazon – http://kindlel.ink/trick
Amazon UK – http://kindlel.ink/trickUK
Amazon CA – http://kindlel.ink/trickCA
Amazon AU – http://kindlel.ink/trickAU