It’s too early in the morning for me to be getting the giggles, but I just re-read my title. Don’t get it? Say it out loud now. LOL! Get it? Okay, I’m over it. Or maybe I’ll wait until I have this little bit written then I’ll go back and laugh again.
I’m still finishing up Hook. But it’s coming very, very soon (October 16th!). I’m sharing a snippet from the opening. I love my bounty hunter openings. I always try to introduce the heroes as they’re right in the middle of the action, taking some skip down. Hope you enjoy meeting Hook!
Former Army Ranger, Dylan “Hook” Hoecker, has a new job along with a new prosthetic arm. Being a bounty hunter is the closest career field he could find as a civilian that gives him the adrenaline rush that is his addiction. So, when his first solo assignment is to keep an eye on a flight risk the boss bonded out of jail, he’s not thrilled. However, he soon discovers a fresh addiction—one mouthy, nerdy redhead, who resists his attempts to keep her out of trouble.
Felicity Gronkowski is grateful for the bone the head of Montana Bounty Hunters threw her. She didn’t have the money to pay for bail, but he has a soft spot for former soldiers, and she bartered to install a new computer system in his satellite office in Bear Lodge. Being on the outside of jail was her first imperative because she has to figure out who framed her for a series of high-end robberies while she worked installing home security systems. However, her bounty-hunting babysitter isn’t giving her any slack. Every time she thinks she’s given him the slip, he’s one step ahead of her. Either she must find the perfect method of distraction to escape him or she has to enlist his help.
Dylan “Hook” Hoecker had no problem keeping pace with Dagger and Cochise as they raced along the dark alleyway, following the skip they’d tracked to a gun shop in Libby. Scooter James had made the crew the moment Dagger entered the premise. Perhaps it was Dagger’s burly physique that had tipped him off, or maybe he was just nervous having three intense-looking dudes enter the store, but he’d run for the back exit.
No, Hook’s legs had never been an issue. He ran like the wind, easily leaping over a barrel Scooter dumped on its side, hoping to trip them. Beside him, Dagger cursed, and Hook couldn’t help smiling as the big guy went down. This skip was his. When he reached the end of the alley, Scooter veered left and ran through a stand of motorcycles, tipping over one, which sent the rest slowly falling like dominoes. Bikers sitting at outdoor café tables nearby rose and filled the street, shouting and moving toward their Harleys, forcing Cochise and Hook to push past them.
Cochise went down when one biker stuck out a foot, perhaps angry that their chase had scratched his ride.
Hook waved his prosthetic arm, which, sometimes, had even those who weren’t so tight with the law pausing and giving him a break. He didn’t mind one bit using his disability to give him an advantage. He shouted out a “Thanks, man,” when one biker rolled his bike forward to clear his path.
Now, it was just him following the slap of Scooter’s Adidas on the pavement. Hook paced himself, forcing himself to keep his breathing even so he’d outlast his target. He didn’t use every bit of his strength to close the gap, because he knew he’d need anything extra to take the fucker down once he began to slow.
In his mind, Hook thanked his physical therapist, who’d concentrated on helping him make the adjustment to his new circumstance, learning to use his prosthetic, but who also continued to meet him on the track three or four mornings a week to make sure he worked out the rest of his body to help, not only keep him toned for the work he did, but to keep his dark moods at bay. Raydeen Pickering was a hero in his mind, because she went the extra mile for every man and woman she accepted into her treatment program.
Ahead of him, Scooter ducked into another alley.
“He’s turned again,” he said, knowing the others could hear him through the radio in his earpiece. “Left, into an alley.”
“I’m behind you,” Cochise said. “Don’t let him out of your sight.”
“I’m cutting through another alley. Will try to get to the street before he does,” Dagger said in his ear.
Hook went left and entered an alley lit by a single golden bulb at the back door of a restaurant. He ran past rank-smelling trash bins and plastic bags but didn’t see his mark ahead. “Don’t see him,” he said, and then slowed and turned.
Something dark swung at his head, and he held up his right arm to deflect the blow from a two-by-four from a pallet, no doubt. But the board hit plastic and metal and bounced off. Hook swung under it with his left, catching Scooter in the chin. Their target dropped like a sack of rocks across a row of trash bags lined up on the dirty, smelly pavement.
Hook stood over Scooter, shaking his left hand because it hurt like hell. Then he noted that his prosthetic dangled kind of funny. He tried to open and close the claw, but apparently, Scooter’s blow had damaged the cable. “Fuck,” he said, and gave Scooter a light kick in the side. “Bastard.”
The sounds of two individuals converging on him from different directions forced him to contain his anger and tuck his prosthetic against his body to hide the damage. The last thing he ever wanted to have happen was for one of these guys to think he was less capable of mixing it up. For the most part, he thought of his arm as an advantage in a fight. Metal hit harder than flesh and bone, and, generally, it could sustain a punch much better, too.
Thankfully, he kept a spare in his vehicle. He just had to get there. But first things first.
Scooter moaned from the ground as Cochise then Dagger came to a halt beside him and stared downward.
“Like we tried to tell you before you ran like a scared rabbit,” Hook said to Scooter, “we’re fugitive recovery agents, and we’re taking you to jail.”
Scooter pushed up on an elbow. “What the hell is that smell?”
Dagger sniffed. “Don’t know, but now I’m hungry. Could be chili.”
“I think it’s stew,” Cochise dead-panned. “Benny’s Eats makes a mean beef stew.”
“Shit, it’s all the way up my shirt,” Scooter said as he sat, rubbing his jaw.
“Well, looks like you’ll have something to snack on during the drive back,” Dagger drawled.
Scooter let out a huff. “Goddamn. My car, man. I left it at the gun shop.”
“You’ll just have to pick it up from impound,” Dagger said, “if the judge is stupid enough to let someone bond you out again.”
Hook reached down his left hand to help Scooter to his feet.
Scooter frowned. “Damn, you wearing armor on your arm? My teeth about rattled out of my head when I hit you.” Then he glanced at Hook’s metal claw. “Well, shit. That explains a lot.”
Hook reached for his handcuffs from the pocket on the back of his web belt. When he pulled them forward, he realized he wasn’t going to be able to cuff him, not one-handed.
Cochise held out his hand. “Let me do the honors.”
Hook pressed his lips together and handed him his handcuffs. If he’d been on his own, he’d have managed, somehow, but he might have had to put Scooter back on the ground first. He hadn’t quite mastered the single-handed snap using his left hand. Everything was harder to master with his left. Maybe he should ask Raydeen to add handcuffing to the everyday tasks he worked on improving.
Once Cochise had Scooter restrained, he stood back and let Hook grip Scooter’s upper arm to take him back to their vehicles.
The walk back was interminable. They passed the bikers who shot them birds but otherwise stayed pretty mellow. Back at the gun shop, Lacey, Dagger’s partner, gave a wave to the shop owner and sauntered their way. She’d canvassed the businesses in Libby days ago, leaving cards. No doubt the middle-aged owner had been only too eager to snitch, because then she’d grace his shop again. Dressed in skin-tight jeans and a pink button-down blouse that she’d knotted at her midriff, Lacey looked like a sweet confection. All that was missing was the powdered sugar.
“Hey there, Scooter,” she said. Then she shook her head and held her nose. “Good Lord, he is not riding in our vehicle.”
Hook grunted. “You can ride with me. I’ll even let you drive.”
Lacey might have looked like a cupcake, but she was one sharp cookie. Her gaze went to the arm he’d tucked close to his body, and she gave him a broad smile. “Dagger, you don’t mind if I ride with Hook, do you? I’ve never had the chance to talk with him alone.”
Dagger narrowed his eyes.
Lacey gave him a blinding smile. “See you back in Bear Lodge! Only you’ll be way later than us,” she said, then held her nose again and gave him a wink.
Cochise chuckled. “Come on, Scooter. You’ve got a new date with a judge. Bet if you sweet talk your jailers, they’ll let you have a shower before they put you in your cell.”