Friday, 19 December 2014

A sneaky peek at Chapter 1 of 'Retribution' - Book 2 in The Lone Riders MC Series...


Due for release March 31st, check out chapter one of 'Retribution' - book #2 in The Lone Riders MC series... 





One


The wind whistled around Mia’s face and she pulled her scarf further up over her chin. It didn’t do a great deal to shield her from the biting cold, but it helped. A little bit.
Sitting down on a bench overlooking an angry North Sea, she clasped her hands together between her knees, staring out at the waves as they whipped high into the darkening sky. The sound they made verged on terrifying, if you closed your eyes and listened. Like a low, deep, tortured moan that reached its crescendo as the water hit the shore with a brutal flourish.
Standing up, she dug her hands into the pockets of her jacket, her eyes still staring straight ahead. There was a part of her that found the sight of that cold, dark sea and those crashing waves inviting – peaceful, even, in a warped, twisted kind of way. But maybe that was the kind of peace she was looking for. The kind she needed.
Closing her eyes she took a long, deep breath, exhaling slowly, scrunching her fists up inside her pockets, her finger nails digging into the palms of her hands. But the pain was nothing. She’d felt worse. She’d let worse be inflicted upon her.
Pulling her right hand out of her pocket she looked down at the fresh bruising on her knuckles. It was harder to make out in the fading light and she drew her hand closer, narrowing her eyes as she stared at the colors that were slowly starting to show themselves – the dark gray, the deep orange; the almost blue-tinged edges that were beginning to form. Who knew bruises could be so beautiful? She’d just never realized…
Balling her hand back into a fist she cocked her head as she watched the nature of those bruises change; how they stretched, the colours merging in a whole different way. It was mesmerizing to watch. Until the loud crashing of another wave on to the deserted beach below shook her out of her almost trance-like state, and she quickly shoved her hand back into her pocket, wincing slightly as her bruised knuckles hit the keys lying in there.
She should be getting back. She had nowhere else to go anyway. Even grabbing this fleeting moment of freedom had been dangerous, so she couldn’t stay here. Not for much longer. She should never have left in the first place.
Turning and walking back over to the bike she stopped for a second, pulling her hand back out of her pocket, letting her fingers run slowly over the cool chrome and black leather. It seemed such an easy option, to climb on to that bike and just ride. To get as far away from here as she could. Such an easy option…

***

Charlie Hart sat back in his chair, flinging his feet up on to the desk, a heavy sigh racking his whole body.
‘Can I have a word, boss?’
Charlie looked at the tall, well-built man standing in the doorway, his short, dark-brown hair covered by a red and white bandana, his rough face sporting heavy stubble. ‘What do you want, Lennie?’
‘You seen Mia?’
‘No. She isn’t here,’ Charlie sighed, sitting up and pushing both hands through his graying hair. ‘I haven’t seen her all night.’ He stood up, digging his hands into his pockets as he walked over to Lennie. ‘Mia’s a big girl now. She can look after herself. She doesn’t need you checking up on her twenty-four-seven.’ The dried blood on Lennie’s left hand didn’t escape Charlie’s notice. ‘So why don’t you back off for a little while, huh? Give her some space.’
Lennie fixed Charlie with a look the older man had no problem matching.
‘Go home.’ Charlie had handled men like Lennie Rose before. He knew them well; the way they worked. ‘Did you hear me, Lennie? I said, go home.’
‘Yeah. Yeah, I heard you.’
‘Then get out of here. Go on.’
Lennie reluctantly turned and left. Charlie watched him go, stepping out into the corridor, waiting until he heard the roar of Lennie’s bike leaving the compound before he gave the signal – a short, sharp whistle.
Mia emerged from the shadows, two large wooden cupboards affording her the cover she’d needed until Lennie had gone.
‘This still going on?’ Charlie asked, sitting on the edge of the oversized desk that dominated the whole room, his eyes fixed on Mia as she moved closer.
‘What can I do, Charlie? I’ve fought back, tried to understand what’s happening, tried to help him… He wasn’t always this way, and you know that. But after his brother was killed…’
‘You’re making excuses for him?’
‘No.’
‘That’s what it sounds like to me. Dale’s death was completely unrelated to this club. He wasn’t a member of the Lone Riders, didn’t play any part here. I don’t think he even set one foot inside this clubhouse. His death was a mindless, tragic accident that nobody could have predicted. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and Lennie’s anger at what happened was totally understandable, given the circumstances. But to keep hold of that anger for as long as he has; to continue to take it out on the people close to him…’
‘I can’t walk away, though. Can I? Because, if I do, if I leave him, he’ll find me.’
‘He doesn’t deserve you.’
‘But he’s got me. Whether I like it or not. And he’s still here… For Christ’s sake, Charlie, you made him your V.P.!’
‘I’m keeping him close, Mia, that’s all. Trying to make sure he channels all of that anger he still has inside of him in the right way.’
‘There’s a right way? You really think that? Charlie, this has gone beyond him grieving now. It’s been years since Dale’s death, and nobody expects Lennie to forget his brother, least of all me. But he’s turned into someone I don’t recognize any more. And I loved him once, I really did. I loved him, you know that. But what’s happening now – it has to stop.’
Mia was right, Charlie knew that. It had to stop because, if it didn’t, who knew the danger Mia could really be in? But he also knew he should have done something a lot sooner. He’d sat back and let too much happen for far too long. ‘What do you want me to do, Mia?’
‘Get rid of him! He’s dangerous. If he can do what he’s done to me, what the hell is he capable of with others? We can’t help him, Charlie. We’ve tried, and it isn’t working. And I can’t take it any more. I can’t.’
Charlie folded his arms, bowing his head.
Mia narrowed her eyes as she looked at him. ‘You know exactly what he’s capable of, don’t you? And you also know that’s something you can use to this club’s advantage.’
Charlie looked up, his arms still folded, his expression calm. Stoic, even. But the guilt that continued to eat away at him – that was never going to go away. ‘I can’t just banish him, sweetheart.’
Mia couldn’t stop the slightly hysterical laugh from escaping. ‘Under what kind of biker code are we operating now, huh? You know, this club, this chapter, especially, was supposed to be one of the safest now. One of the most settled, most organized out of all of them. There’s no threat here, not any more. Not like there used to be. None of that underlying tension others have experienced. You have the dream chapter, Charlie. And after everything it’s been through in the past…’ Mia stopped talking, remembering just what this club had been responsible for, in the past; how it had affected her. It had caused the deaths of her parents. Caught in the crossfire of a bitter feud between the Lone Riders Newcastle chapter and a rival MC from London, they’d both been killed outright, dead at the scene. She’d been just days old. But as much as the club had been responsible for the loss of her parents, it had also been responsible for making sure she was looked after. And she’d been lucky in that respect, adopted by another club member and his old lady. Two wonderful people who’d turned out to be the best mum and dad Mia could have asked for, and she’d loved them, so much. They were the only parents she’d ever known, her birth parents having been taken from her before she’d even had a chance to know who they were. But now her adoptive mum and dad were dead, too. Both of them tragically killed within months of each other by something the club couldn’t control – cancer. And with no siblings, no aunts or uncles to fall back on, the only family Mia had now was the club. It had been her safety for so long, but meeting Lennie Rose had changed that. Marrying him had been the mistake that made sure that safety had lessened with each day that passed, and she’d just sat back and let it happen. She’d been weak. And now the last remnants of anything resembling a family were slowly slipping from her grasp.
‘I can’t just banish him, Mia,’ Charlie repeated, his voice as calm as his expression.
‘But you were quite happy to see your own daughter banished from Paradise, weren’t you? Quite happy to see her leave somewhere she was happy, leave behind people she loved.’
‘Lexi left Paradise for her own safety. And that’s why I’m sending you over there for yours.’
Mia frowned. ‘You’re banishing me?’
‘It’s not like that,’ Charlie sighed, pushing a hand through his hair again as he stood up, walking over to the filing cabinet in the corner of the room. ‘But you can’t stay here, Mia. And believe me, sweetheart, I really don’t want to send you away, but you have very little choice now. Our options are limited.’ He opened the top drawer, flicking through the papers stacked in there until he found the small manilla envelope he was looking for. ‘Lennie won’t let you go, that’s obvious. The state of mind he’s in now, he isn’t going to just let you walk away.’
Mia leaned back against the table, her head down, an almost defeated tone to her voice. ‘I didn’t do anything wrong, Charlie. I mean, it wasn’t like I even…’ She stopped talking again, closing her eyes for a second or two, aware of Charlie back beside her now.
‘Like you even what, Mia?’ Charlie asked, placing a hand on her shoulder, giving it a light squeeze. ‘You didn’t even fuck around behind his back? Like Lexi did with Jesse?’
Mia looked up, her expression almost apologetic. ‘Charlie, I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said that.’
‘You didn’t say anything, sweetheart. I did.’
‘It’s what I meant.’ She threw her head back, letting out a long, frustrated sigh that seemed to come from deep within her. ‘How the hell did I let this happen? All I did was try to protect myself…’
Charlie looked at her, this beautiful young woman with the tortured heart and a life he knew he had a duty to protect. She’d been a part of this club since the day she was born. He was responsible for making sure she stayed safe. And he’d failed to do that.
‘You weren’t to know, Mia. That Lennie would turn into the man he’s become. None of us could have known.’
‘So I run and hide, is that it? I mean, how do I know he won’t find me, in Paradise? How do I know someone won’t tell him I’m there, or that he won’t just keep digging until he finds out where I am? I don’t want to spend the rest of my life hiding, Charlie.’
‘I’ll make sure he doesn’t find you.’
‘And how are you gonna do that, huh? You know what he’s capable of, how he can manipulate people…’ Because he’d manipulated her, hadn’t he? To the point where she didn’t know who she was sometimes. He’d suck the life out of her, drain her of any human emotion until she was nothing but an empty shell. And then the fear would return, and the anger. And the sheer, terrifying knowledge that she was powerless to do anything about it. Because if she tried, he’d kill her. He’d threatened as much, and she believed every stomach-turning word.
‘It’s the safest place for you to be right now,’ Charlie said, his voice quiet, almost soothing. ‘Coby and Lexi, they’ll look after you.’
‘I don’t need looking after, Charlie.’
‘I know. I know you don’t.’ He sighed, turning to face her, his expression still stoic as he took in her bruised cheek, the red marks on her neck. And just seeing those caused that guilt to flood through him again.
‘He doesn’t even care that the whole world can see what he’s done.’ Mia’s voice was steady. Monotone. Because, in all honesty, she felt nothing now. She was done here.
‘This should tide you over, for a little while.’ Charlie handed her the envelope. ‘Just until you find your feet. I know it can be difficult, starting again in a strange place. You’ll need time to settle in. But Lexi, she… Well, you should talk to her.’
Mia took the envelope, shoving it straight into her pocket. ‘When do I leave?’
  © Michelle Betham 2015


'Revolution' - Book #1 in The Lone Riders MC Series - is available to download now, from Amazon. And if you've got Kindle Unlimited, you can read it for FREE!


  

You can also now pre-order 'Retribution' - official release date March 31st.




Thursday, 18 December 2014

A final catch-up before Christmas...

I haven't written a new blog post for - well, what seems like an eternity, again! But, there is a reason for that. I've been busy finishing my next book for HarperImpulse, and despite being given an extension on my deadline until after Christmas, I kind of wanted to get it sent over to my editor before that. Because, in reality, I'd finished that book about three weeks ago, but seeing as I'm really quite anal when it comes to my books, I had to make sure I'd gone through the thing at least half a dozen times before I felt ready to send it to my publisher. But there comes a time when you have to let go, leave it alone, know you've done the very best you can with it, and remember that this one is going to get a professional edit and therefore doesn't really need me to obsess over it until January. Which is what I would have done if I'd held on to it until then. So it's in the hands of my editor now. And even though I'm missing those characters in that book just a little bit right now, I think I've just got to forget about them for a while, and move on to the next book. Because as far as taking a break from the writing goes, I haven't got all that much time to kick back and relax too much. I've got 'Retribution' - Book Two in The Lone Riders MC Series - to finish, because that's due for release early next year, and then I have another book for HarperImpulse to write, and then I've got to get started on 'Resurrection' - Book Three in the The Lone Riders MC Series. And all of that has to be done in the next few months. Which is why social media/blogging/life in general is taking a back seat for a while. I need the writing time!! But it's not a chore to me - writing. To be honest, I have so many ideas buzzing round in my head right now that if I'm not writing, I'm not comfortable. I'm not happy. Probably sounds a bit unhealthy to some people, but I guess that's just me. I'm doing something I love, and I just want to continue doing that. 

Anyway, despite the fact I've been stuck behind this desk for what feels like an eternity lately, I have actually ventured downstairs now and again and tried to partake in a little bit of real-life!! We've put the Christmas decorations up, bought and wrapped presents, watched the final ever 'Sons of Anarchy'... oh yes. It had to happen. That day finally came when another of my favourite shows ended for good. And whilst it didn't have quite the same effect as the final 'Breaking Bad' (that just left me feeling empty for days afterwards), watching that finale - that final ride - it still hit hard. I just think I've been way too busy to let it actually sink in, that it's really over. But I loved that show, so much. And I'll still always be a Chibs girl... 

We're over three-quarters done with '24' now, though - a few episodes away from finishing season 7. And I think Jack Bauer is half the reason I'm not throwing myself on the floor in a distraught mess (like I was - almost - doing when 'Breaking Bad' ended) because 'Sons of Anarchy' has finished. Getting into another box-set is the only way to ease the pain of finishing one you were totally in love with. And it works. God bless Netflix...

So, it's almost Christmas - although, I still feel like it's kind of crept up on me this year, due to the fact I've had my head down writing for so long lately - and a brand new year looms, which always means you tend to look back at the past year. And of course I've been doing that. In 2014 I lost over two stone in weight, went on the radio and appeared in the local press to publicise my 'Striker' trilogy of books; I also released two more self-published books - 'Unbreakable'  and 'Revolution' - meaning that, in total, I released five novels in 2014. 

Yesterday I finished reading through the manuscript of my 12th book - which will be my next release through HarperImpulse. That's the one that's in the hands of my editor now. But before that's published - because I don't think it's going to be released until later in 2015 - I'll be getting my 13th book out there; the sequel to 'Revolution', Book 1 in The Lone Riders MC Series. I'm cracking on with 'Retribution' as we speak, trying to get that finished and released before the Spring, and I'm really happy to be back with my biker boys. 

Although, because I've spent the past couple of months with a whole different set of characters, it's taking a little bit of time to get to know The Lone Riders again. But I'm getting there. And I'll hopefully get a lot of work done on this book before I take a short break for Christmas. I have realised, over this past year, though, that I can write a lot faster than I used to be able to. Which is just as well, considering the amount of ideas for new books I've got. I need to write fast to get them all done! But, on the flip side of all that, it's meant I've distanced myself from social media quite a bit, because, at times, it can be nothing but a huge distraction. I know there's still an element of promotion to be done on my part - I'm not Jackie Collins, therefore my books don't sell themselves. However, I think I've probably exhausted the likes of Twitter/Facebook/Google+. I feel like I'm just preaching to the converted on those platforms now. There needs to be a new strategy for me as far as promotion is concerned, and that's something I'll have to work on as 2015 gets started. Because I want my journey as an author to continue, not stagnate. 




Anyway, I'm almost rambling now. But I just felt as though I needed to get something blogged before I throw myself into this next WIP, and get my biker boys back in the game. I wrote 'Revolution' in just over 6 weeks - can I do the same with 'Retribution'? Guess we'll just have to wait and see...

And to all those people out there who're still sticking by me, supporting me, buying my books and letting me know how much they're enjoying them, thank you. You all mean the world to me, because without you guys, all of this is pointless. I hope you all have an amazing Christmas, and that 2015 brings you everything you wish for. 

See you on the other side!!