Want to read the first chapter of Ryker?
Ryker releases NEXT WEEK!! To get you excited, I decided to share the first chapter of the book! Check it out below. There is still time to pre-order him before he is live. Click here to snag your copy!
“Ariel!” I ran through the halls of my best friend’s home, trying to figure out where the fuck she’d gone. “Ariel! Where the hell are you!?” “I’m telling you, dude. I’ve got no idea what happened. I put her down last night, and when I woke up this morning—” I whipped around, fisting his shirt. I brought my best friend of many, many years straight to my face. I snarled at him. Gnashed my teeth together. I forced him to stare at the scar ripping its way down my face to remind him of who I was. Who I’d become over the years of our friendship. “Ryker. Man. It’s me. Lyle.” “Where. The fuck. Is my daughter?” I glowered. “I’ve already put a call in with the police. My guess is she just ran away after your last argument with her. She was pretty upset about it. I tried calming her down, but—” “Why the fuck didn’t you hear her leave, then!?” “The police are already out there looking for her. An Amber alert has been put out. She couldn't have gotten far, Ryker. You know, with that limp.” My eye twitched. That fucking limp. The limp my father had given my sweet, precious little girl. I shoved Lyle away and ran my hands through my hair. I raced back down the hallway, whipping my way around the corner. Ever since shit had popped off with the crew, I hid her with Lyle. My best friend. Her “Uncle Lyle.” He was more family to her than anyone that really was blood-related to me. Especially after the shit my father put me through. Put us through. Put Mom through. “They’ll find her, Ryker. Just like they did the last time,” Lyle said. I winced at his words. The last time. Holy fucking hell, what a shit father I’d become. I raked my hand through my hair. Tears rushed my vision as quickly as I blinked them back. So many fights with my daughter. My precious, beautiful, vulnerable daughter. I’d done the best I could over the years. I’d tried my hardest to step into the role she needed me to play. But sixteen-year-old boys weren’t suited to be fathers. Just like her deadbeat mother hadn’t been suited to be a mom. “When did you call the police?” I asked. I slowly turned around as I stared my best friend down. “I called them before I called you. I found her room empty around seven this morning and blew them up until I got units out here,” Lyle said. “What did they say?” “Not much. They confirmed I put her down. They checked out her room. Looked at the locks on the house. Nothing was broken. Nothing was picked. Nothing looked as if someone had forced their way into the house. And now, they’ve got units combing the streets. Checking up with her school. Checking the places where they found her last.” “Have they called Carlie’s parents?” I asked. “They were headed over there now just as you pulled up,” he said. “Good. That’s good. Maybe she went there.” Then, he put a hand on my shoulder. “Don’t worry, Ryker. Ariel’s got your disposition. She’s a hot head like her father, but she always cools down.” I stood there on the porch, unable to get my feet underneath me as the guys called my name. “Ryker?” “Can you hear me, Ryker?” And every time I heard that name, it made me want to chuckle. Mom had been a massive fan of X-men. Why she named me after a villain, I’d never know. My theory, though, was that she enjoyed bad boys. Someone she could fix. Charity projects that changed because she was “important enough to them.” I mean, why the hell else could she have possibly loved my sperm donor? The scar on my face burned. As I replayed that phone call around and around in my head, its heat grew. It raked down my face, from the right side of my forehead to the left side of my jaw. Cutting my face into two pseudo-triangles with muted, dead eyes. One of my father’s beatings left me with that scar. He came at me with a crowbar and dug it straight into my face. And why did he do that? Well, because I got a C-minus in mathematics. That was why he took a damn crowbar to my fucking face. I teetered on my feet. I fell against the clubhouse wall as it grew harder to breathe. I closed my eyes, ripping myself back to that moment. That moment, two weeks ago, when Lyle and I thought Ariel had run away. Simply rushed off in the middle of the night to a friend’s house. Or to the library. Or to her school just up the road. Ariel had always been prone to running away. The first time she did it, she was only seven years old. We got into an argument over what to have for dinner that night. And after yelling at me that she wouldn't eat what I’d cooked, she slammed her way out the door. I’d barely gotten the damn front door open before I saw her darting up the road. Rushing for her best friend’s house. And after watching her stumble up their porch steps, I closed the door. Giving her the space she needed while she cried in someone else’s arms. The second time? Just before her eighth birthday. She sat down with me one evening and wanted to know about her mother. Out of the blue, without warning. She asked me what her name was. What she looked like. What she enjoyed, what her hobbies were, and what she liked doing on the weekends with her friends. And it wasn’t as if I didn’t want to talk about her mother. I just didn’t know anything about her. Ariel’s mother had been nothing but a one-night stand. Another girl in a string of girls all throughout high school that kept my cock company on random Friday nights when my father chased me out of the house with a wooden spoon lifted over his head. Or a belt. Or his own fucking fists. She’d gotten upset with me. Accused me of stealing her away from her mother. Yelled at me that her mommy could love her better than I ever could. And when she stormed out of our house again, my heart shattered into a million pieces. My daughter wanted her mother. And I couldn't give her the one thing she wanted for her birthday last year. She turned nine a couple months ago. Only this time, she wanted a phone call from her mother. To hear her voice. To hear this imaginary woman in her life tell her she loved her. And again, I came up short. Because I had no fucking clue what the girl’s last name was. Much less where she was. Or what she was doing now. Hell, I barely remembered what the woman looked like most of the time. In every single way a father could, I’d failed my daughter. I tried. Over the years, I really tried. When she got dropped off on my parent’s doorstep that fateful night, I stepped up to the plate as best as I could. With my father cursing me out and telling me what a worthless piece of shit I’d become, I dropped out of high school and scrounged around for dead-end jobs. I bought Ariel the clothes she needed. I padded her down while she slept in bed with me. I used my own damn t-shirts as diapers until I could afford to buy her diapers of her own. And all the while, my father made our lives a living nightmare. I fought for my family. I fought for this helpless little girl that got dumped on my doorstep. Mom helped as much as she could. You know, when she wasn’t providing a buffer between us and Dad’s drunken rages. Every time I could, I took Ariel to work with me. And when I couldn't, I snuck her over to Lyle’s house. That fucking boy had stepped up for me more than my own family did sometimes. Babysitting in exchange for doing his household chores while I spent my weekends and weeknights in rundown places that paid under the table for all sorts of jobs. Security. Bodyguarding. Working the doors of nightclubs. Serving alcohol to underaged kids in illegal establishments. Hell, I wasn’t too sure I’d helped criminals traffic in other humans over the years. I’d been a shit student in school and had no dreams to pursue a G.E.D., much less a college degree. So, I took what I could. If someone was paying and I wasn’t burying a body or killing someone, I took the job. Then, one night, my own damn mother was a job. I remember that night as if it happened yesterday. It was the day I packed up my shit and ripped Ariel away from that life. Away from that house. Away from Mom and Dad. Well, their bodies, at least. I’d been working as an under-the-table clean-up crew for a very unsavory character in town. I wasn’t killing, and I wasn’t burying bodies. But I was cleaning up after his fucking nonsense. It paid good money, though. I worked nights and no weekends. So, I had Ariel all to myself during the day and Lyle had it easy once she started sleeping through the night. I got called into work for time and a half pay on a Sunday night and the job was simple. Go to the address, clean it up, and get out of there in a hurry. The second that man handed me my mother’s address; my stomach fell to the floor. The second we pulled into the driveway; bile crept up the back of my throat. I walked into the house and found my parents lying there. Each with a bullet between their eyes. Steeping in a pool of their own blood with their eyes hanging wide open. I’d never get that snapshot out of my memory for as long as I lived. To be honest, I didn’t know what happened. I didn’t bother asking. Hell, I didn’t bother looking much into my employers. After Dad chased Ariel and myself out of the house with his yelling, abuse, and anger, I didn’t look back. When Mom told me, she wasn’t coming with us, I didn’t look back. If that was the choice she wanted to make, I couldn't stop her. Even though I would’ve taken care of her. Even though I would’ve gotten us set up somewhere. All she had to do was watch her own damn granddaughter while I found a job that supported the three of us. And she wanted to stay with that abusive dickhole instead. She’d chosen her grave. And there was nothing I could do about that. Maybe that was what made me a shit father. Maybe I was too emotionally removed from everything. Maybe I was exactly like the men I’d worked for in the past. Psychotic. Removed. Detached. Maybe I really was a sociopath, roaming this earth while trying to keep myself concealed. Because most of the time, my smiles weren’t genuine. Most of the time, my words of encouragement were empty. Most of the time, I enjoyed killing people a little too much. Maybe that was why Ariel hated me. Because she saw all of this within me and couldn't stand to look at me herself. “Ryker!” Knox’s voice ripped me from my trance. I looked over at him and saw the rest of the guys staring. They gasped as I curled my toes into the porch wood below me, trying to root myself in the present. And as something warm and wet trickled down my face, I realized why they were staring at me. I brought my hand up to my face and wiped away tears. Fucking tears. Salted like the ocean. Burning like the hole in my heart. Percolating like the coffee I smelled filtering through the walls of the clubhouse. I was crying. In front of the guys. I couldn't even remember the last time I’d shed tears, much less tears in front of someone. “What?” I asked flatly. “You need to talk to us, and you need to do it now,” Diesel said. And as his voice hit my ears, everything came rushing back. The phone call. Lars’ voice. My daughter. My sweet, red-headed, beautiful daughter. She was in his claws. At his mercy. Suffering whatever wrath had come down onto her head because of me. Because of the choices I’d made with my life. I gazed into Knox’s eyes. Into the eyes of the man that had found me scrounging around in thrift stores for clothes. Who had found me eating out of dumpsters so I could afford to buy Ariel fresh food. He was the man who had introduced me to the crew. Suggested I become a prospect. Claimed I brought something to the group they didn’t have yet. To this day, I had no idea what the fuck he was talking about. And as I pushed off the wall, I threw my torso over the railing of the porch. Vomiting onto the ground.