I had a new release this Monday—yeah, I'm still bouncing *blushes*, but I'm really proud of this book. Wick—the MC—really put me through the ringer trying to capture what is him. It wasn't easy either.
Which is kinda funny considering this is the 4th book that Wick's starred in...you'd think it would get easier...um no. lmao
So here is a teaser—a peekie boo *winks*—of Wicked Guidance.
Trouble has a way of finding Wick Templeton, even when he isn’t looking. This time trouble comes in the guise of a twelve-year old smart mouthed demon spawn who steals his wallet. The kid has a knack for pissing people off and making dangerous enemies.
Remind you of anyone?
Hopefully, someone’s got Wick's back, because he's got all he can handle keeping his four foot tall doppelganger alive.
Sometimes the only way for justice to prevail is to get a little Wicked…
Caution: This is the fourth in the series, and while you can read this by itself, Wick will find you and kick your butt if you don't read the awesomeness that is him in order.
Wick's breath came faster as his heartbeat sped up. Damn, he was almost there. His legs were going to kick his ass when this was over. That's if he could stand straight on them and not collapse from the exertion he punished them with.
Knowing this had to end soon or he might as well write his obituary, he pumped his arms and bobbed his head as he put one final oomph into his movements.
Pain ricocheted through his side when he took a left too fast for his feet to keep up, causing his shoulder to bump and scrape the corner of the brick building. He only faltered for a second, ignoring the red hot searing that quickly dulled to a minimal continuous throb. His mark mere yards in front of him, the distance between them shortened with each step Wick forced on his body. He'd already have the little fucker if he hadn't played dirty and used his shorter stature to his advantage.
For all the impossibility of it, Wick's legs moved of their own accord, everything in him switched to adrenaline autopilot as he closed in on his perp. When his mind registered he was almost arm’s length away, he switched to a quick sprint, the extra burst of speed allowing him to reach his arm out—stretch just beyond his previous limit—and wrap his fingers around the collar of his mark and yank back hard.
The perp gasped and coughed, fighting for his next breath.
The few moments reprieve gave Wick a chance to concentrate on his own breathing. He slowly worked it back to normal and in the process stabilized his heartbeat to under the "about to die of a heart attack" rhythm it hit during the chase. He decided at that precise moment that yes, he did need to go back to the gym with Marcus. If nothing else at least he'd get to see the man in short shorts all sweaty; that would be worth his hour of hell right there.
A shrieking voice penetrated his thoughts about one of his oldest friends.
"Get the fuck off me! I didn't do nothin'!" The perp twisted and turned, trying to pry free of Wick's grip.
"Yeah, I believe that." Wick humphed.
"Help! Help, this man is trying to kidnap me!"
That received a snort. "Oh, so if the big man talk doesn't work you fall back on the woe is me shit? Thanks to that chase you put up we're way off the main road and tucked into this alley. Unless you've got Celine Dion's pipes ain't no one gonna hear you." He shook the kid's collar another time to get his wandering attention. "Give me my damned wallet, you little fucking pipsqueak."
Even louder than before the boy bellowed, "No! Stop! Please! I don't want to have sex with you! I'm just a little boy!"
Wick rolled his eyes and tossed the kid up against the building. "Well, that's damn good to know, because you don't do a thing for me. Impressive attempt, but still no dice. The people that live in these apartments wouldn't fucking open their door to help you, much less call the cops. You need to start thieving in better neighborhoods if you want protection from your victims."
The boy practically vibrated in place, bouncing on the balls of his feet, aching to find an opening so he could take off again.
"Boy, so help you God, if you attempt to run, I will catch you again, and I won't be so nice the next time around." He held out his hand, palm up, and moved his fingers in a "gimme me" fashion. "My wallet."
"This is nice?"
Wick shrugged. "You caught me in a good mood. Amazing, isn't it?"
The boy grudgingly dug the thin folded leather out of his ratty jeans pocket and slapped it hard in Wick's hand.
Wick looked at those nasty stained jeans. "Do I have to delouse it?"
"You know what, go to hell, asshole!"
Wick cuffed him on the head with his empty hand. "Watch your damn language. Phone?"
The boy mumbled under his breath as he slid the slim phone out of the same pocket and slammed it on top of the wallet. "There. Jeez, steal a kid's lunch money, why don't you? It's not like you look hurting for the cash or anything." The kid pushed himself off the wall and turned to walk away.
Before his foot hit the ground, Wick planted a palm on the small chest and pushed him back against the wall. "You'll know when I'm done with you." He raised his hand to his right ear and tapped. It probably looked funny to the kid, but Wick actually activated a tiny electronic device in his ear, his hair long enough to conveniently hide it. Banyu, his resident genius geek techie, specially built it for their personal communication.
Evidently Wick's little stint undercover in a prison a couple months ago left Banyu feeling completely rattled. He'd quickly come up with this gadget, his updated version of a walkie talkie. The catch landed in the fact that it wasn't technically a phone, so no prank calling his friend's bar with it and ordering Chinese. But it made Banyu happy, so he gritted his teeth and wore it. It fit Wick's ear canal for maximum concealing properties but minimum discomfort and had a speaker that picked up all voices but focused on Wick's. He literally could whisper under his breath and Banyu would hear every syllable.
He didn't bother whispering today. "You there?"
The boy looked at him funny. "Yeah, I'm right here where you keep manhandling me, asshole."
"What happened?" Banyu's voice sounded worried.
"Some wannabe tried to relieve me of my possessions."
"What do you mean tried?"
"And he's still breathing? You're in a good mood today, aren't you?"
"The day's young and there are less obvious places to work my magic. We'll have to continue our discussion later."
"Or you could just agree that Daniel Craig is the better Bond. His gadgets are superior to all the others."
"You're not factoring in the different eras the movies were filmed and comparing on that note…or taking into consideration Sean Connery's fu—" He remembered the young kid standing in front of him and sighed. "Yeah, on that note, bye-bye."
He tapped the handy dandy earpiece again then eyed his current problem. "Tried infers that you attempted something and failed." He waved the wallet and phone in front of the brat before slipping them securely back in his pocket. "You attempted and failed."
The kid humphed at him. "You gonna call the cops?"
"Why? They can't protect you from me."
The thief's eyes widened for a brief second before he slumped his shoulders in defeat. "I'm real sorry, mister. I just was so hungry." He rubbed his hand over his stomach for good measure. "I've learned my lesson and won't do it again. Promise."
Wick scored him a ten for his acting chops. He stepped back and took in the whole picture the kid presented. His blond hair teased the line of medium brown due to its oily matted down appearance, and Wick was sure there was a pale complexion on that face somewhere—if he Brillo padded through the dirt to find it. The bright hazel eyes that shone through the mess held intelligence and fire, defiance at its best. The twerp's clothes matched the rest of him, filthy beyond any washing machine’s help, with holes in places that never qualified as cool. They hung loosely on his bony frame, as if at one time they fit properly but, with the boy's new restrictive diet, had become too big too fast for him.
If Wick had to take an educated guess, he'd place the boy between the ages of ten and maybe thirteen, even if his attitude and vocabulary screamed teenager. Wick didn't need an educated guess to figure out something was off with this boy, homelessness didn't appear to be his only—or main—problem.
"What do I call you?"
The brat looked both ways, as if weighing which path would get him away from Wick. "Why you want to know my name?"
Wick snorted again. "I don't give a damn what your name is. I just want to know what to call you, unless you're overly fond of the term nuisance or brat."
"You don't need to know nothing about me."
Anticipating his next move, when the twerp faked right to haul ass left, Wick grabbed the back of his neck. He applied just enough pressure to make the boy stand on tiptoe and squeak out the side of his mouth.
"Now now now…if you didn't want me to know anything about you, you shouldn't have put your greedy little paws in my pocket. Now you're stuck telling me all the crazy little deets of your life."
He moved his hand from the back of the brat's neck to his wrist and tugged him along, walking farther into the alley. "I'm hungry."
The boy's eyes grew in unison with his urge to fight Wick. "Fuck you. I'll make you sorry you ever chased me."
"Too late, kid, I already am. But I'm going to have a nice thick juicy ass burger while pondering my bad luck. Thought you might like one also…" He let go of the kid and shrugged. "But if you don't, that's more for me." He walked away, ducking under some cut fencing and into the back parking lot of a vacant building.
The almost silent footsteps behind him proof that the pest took the bait. He didn't say anything else or look back, just continued his afternoon stroll.
Wick gave the kid props, it couldn't have been easy to stick that tightly on Wick's tail. Of course, he wasn't trying to lose the kid, but he wasn't exactly trying to keep him either.
He quickly made short business of climbing and jumping over a specially designed eight foot privacy fence. He heard some scraping and struggling on the other side of the fence and smirked. The pest wouldn't be able to make it over that bad boy anytime soon.
Leaning against said fence, he propped his heel on it and pulled out his phone. In seconds, he slid his thumb over the face of it and had the code typed in, bringing up the keyboard so he could start a text message. "Need a hand over there?"
"Kiss my ass. If you can do it, I can do it."
Wick humphed. "I've had more practice in the whole fences aspect of life."
"So you'd think." Heavy breathing accompanied the words.
Words that made Wick wonder.
"You can always walk around and meet me. There's an opening a ways down. I promise I'll wait for you…maybe."
"Fuck…" A big intake of air followed the non-kid-friendly grunt. "You…"
A bang rattled the otherwise sturdy fence right before Wick saw small hands grasp the thankfully pointless top. Following that display of persistence came a kid flying through the air and hurrying to meet the ground.
"Damn, superboy! Tuck and roll, tuck and roll," Wick hollered as the kid landed on his side with a thick thud.
He hit send on his text message then quickly raised his phone and snapped a picture of one very pissed off looking kid. "That was awesome, all you need is the big S on your shirt and you'd be legit." Wick slid the phone back into his pocket then clapped as he pushed off the fence and continued walking.
He made it three steps before his legs were knocked out from under him. He started pinwheeling his arms as he fell backward.
"What the fu—" was all he uttered before his head met with the hard packed dirt and grass and bounced a couple of times for good measure.
Shaking off the fog that threatened to envelop him, Wick jumped wobbly to his feet, immediately taking a defensive stance and looking around for the threat. He used more focus than normal to maintain his balance thanks to the head banging issue. It became clear that the two of them were alone…and the brat stood about a dozen feet away laughing his ass off.
"Now we're even, asshole." The evil thing flicked him off and walked in the direction Wick had.
Wick's hand rested on the gun in his holster, the same gun that probably bruised him with that damn flip. He had a perfect shot at the unsuspecting evil demon spawn. Just one small squeeze of the trigger and he could go about his day like nothing ever happened. No witnesses. No messy cover-up required.
He sighed, withdrew his hand and readjusted his light jacket that hid the holster. "Hey, you sorry little son of a bitch." Wick jogged up to the brat and shoved him out of the way, taking the lead again. "Since when does cheap-shotting a man equate to even? You're the little ass that threw yourself over the damn fence like a pole vaulter."
"I didn't know you knew her."
Wick correctly guessed the brat's next move and dodged the push. "Huh? Knew who?"
"My mom…you're right." The mumblings were so soft, Wick focused in order to hear them.
Wick learned a long time ago that if you just gave a little nudge, a simple word or two, chances of someone talking raised significantly. It felt like he wanted to talk. Maybe he needed a reason to.
He fell in step with the kid and mimicked him as he started kicking the little pebbles out of the way. They walked the duration of the path this way, quietly kicking stones, matching strides with each other. It meant Wick had to shorten his step a bit, but that didn't cause a problem, neither did the silence. Wick was one of those that could hold his tongue for however long it took to get what he wanted.
In this case it only took as long as reaching the end of the path. Wick automatically turned left, unnoticeably pausing to allow the kid to register the direction change.
"Mom's dead. Dad too."
Wick nodded to no one in particular but still remained mute.
"I'm better off without them, they were shits anyway." A rather large stone soared in front of Wick with force.
"I bet they were." He answered the angry stone kicking comment with just enough disbelief to raise the kid's hackles but not enough to make a retort seem wasted.
"You think I'm joking? Think I'm one of those ungrateful brats that didn't get the Playstation game they wanted or was forced to eat their veggies? Let me tell you, they spent more time wasted than worrying about me. I wish they forced vegetables down my throat." He laughed one single sarcastic sounding snort. "We'd go days without so much as a piece of bread because they wanted another shot of whatever was in their needles. That one more shot…it could last days at a time, easy. I had a perfect attendance record at school, wanna know why?"
Wick stepped up on a rock roughly the size of a bowling ball and gracefully landed on the other side. "Education is the foundation of a good future?" He knew it wasn't the answer, but it was blasé enough to keep jabber jaw jabbering.
"Education means jack shit if you never live to use it." The boy jumped over the same rock. "I did it because of the free food. Yeah, most people go to school with the hopes of learning lots of useless crap so they can head to college and be a good upstanding citizen, make their parents proud. There was no making my parents proud. I just wanted to get away from them and have a hot meal."
The kid's voice deflated from its superior angry tone, but Wick pretended not to notice the difference.
"Well, that sucks…" Wick jumped over a chain-link fence one-handed. "Everyone knows school food is just one step up from dumpster diving." He looked back at the surprised face on the kid. "Need help with this one, superboy?" He nodded at the fence.
A slow smile formed on the kid's face as he also hopped over the much shorter fence, albeit using both hands. "Damn, you're older than you look, aintcha mister? Schools have improved their food since back when there were one room schoolhouses." He walked a couple feet in front of Wick then turned and gestured with his hand. "Well, lead the way, old man, I don't know where the hell we're going. Unless you've already forgotten."
Wick cuffed him on the back of the head. "Watch your damn language." He walked across the backyard and jumped the next fence without waiting up this time. "You know, back in my day we used to kill the runt of the pack, put it out of its misery. Remember to say your prayers before you eat."
"Is that before or after I cut your food into bite size pieces and pre-chew it for you?"
It took all the willpower Wick could muster to continue his forward progress and not turn around and shoot the demon spawn. He rubbed his arm against his body, feeling the gun there. So close yet so fucking far.
Oooooh...oh oh oh oh oh...don't forget to stop by Laura Harner's blog and Lee Brazil's blog too—they've got excerpts to share!
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Pulp Friction collection!