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Posts tagged ‘second chance’

Story a Day: Day 25 – Believe in You

Today’s prompt was to change the POV of one of our previous stories. Since, I’ll be working on Carlos & Tereza’s story once again, I decided to do one of those ones. This one is some backstory that takes place about 20 years before the actual story. I wrote it in third person the first time, but switched it to first here and got into Carlos’ head a bit more.

I dropped the silverware on top of the rest of the dishes in the bus pan. Gathering up the rest of the trash from the table, I balled it all up together so it would be easier to throw away when I got to the kitchen. I gave a little shake of my head. They had certainly left a mess. I’d noticed most didn’t seem to care who would have to come by later and clean up after them.

I lifted the pan and turned from the table, my shoulders getting that itchy feeling between them, the hairs on my neck prickling. People were watching. It didn’t matter. I couldn’t let it matter. I took a deep breath and kept walking through the dining room.

It was nothing. People could look all they wanted. It didn’t mean a thing. I heard all the whispers anyway. They saw my tattoos and automatically assumed they knew everything about me. I must be some kind of thug, had probably done prison time, was likely dangerous and shouldn’t be working here.

I just wished it wasn’t all true.

I shouldered my way through the doors into the kitchen, dropping the pan on the shelf by those doors for the dishwasher to get to. The kid beside the sink jerked his head at me in greeting, but I only grunted back. I still didn’t know his name. I hadn’t bothered with any of that unless I needed to.

I’d only been here for about three weeks, and I knew it wasn’t the strength of my experience or references that got me the job. I didn’t have much of either of those. Only one reference had really mattered. Roman’s. And he’d done more than get me this job. If it wasn’t for him, I would have spent more than the one month in jail. And I would have this, or likely any, job. I wasn’t going to screw up that chance. Even if it was only to clear tables and wash dishes.

Even if I did still miss Tereza and Roman wouldn’t tell me anything except she was settling into her life with them.

I turned to grab another tub so I could clean yet another table off, but as I straightened again, I nearly collided with someone else. My first impulse still was to slam a fist into his face and pull a knife from my belt. Both would get me fired. The second would also, if I even carried one on me, get me sent back to jail.

I couldn’t afford either option.

I only let my lip curl at the tattoo of a wild cat on the other man’s bicep. Fuckin’ Pumas.

“Sorry,” I mumbled. Dios, that word tasted bitter on my tongue. I wasn’t really, but our boss had strict rules about fighting in the kitchen. I wasn’t risking my job for this pendejo.

The other man, Romello, sneered at me. “Just like a cowardly Coyote.”

I bristled at the words but picked up the bus pan I’d dropped during the collision and kept walking. It wasn’t worth it. I needed this job, this new start. The Pumas had taken enough from me, I couldn’t let them have this as well. So, I ignored the words meant to taunt me and walked back out into the dining room to clear another table.

***

I stepped out of the restaurant after clocking out and saw the three men waiting for me. One was little more than a boy, really, but Romello, the pendejo, had roped him in anyway. Romello himself stood right in the middle of them.

Great. Just great. Looked like we’d be fighting about this after all. I could always run, but I’d never done that before. And they’d just chase after me anyway.

I balled my fists and took a step forward. “What do you want? I was just goin’ home.”

“To your hovel, you mean?” Romello scoffed.

I doubted if his place was much, if any, better than my tiny apartment. But, I let the words pass. I really did just want to go home. “I don’t got a beef with you. I’m just trying to start a new life, like you. I just want to be left alone.”

Romello sneered at me again. “You’re nothing like me. You’re a Coyote.”

“Not anymore.” The words felt like a lie. Sure, I didn’t run with the gang any longer, but I wasn’t sure I’d ever stop feeling like a part of it.

Romello’s lip curled further, until he was nearly snarling. “You still ain’t washed the stink off.” Then, he was swinging at me.

I ducked the first punch, but the second caught me in the shoulder. I stumbled but found my footing quick enough. But the other two were on me a moment later. I got a few blows in myself, but I couldn’t fight off all three at once. I hit the ground but jumped right back to my feet. I wasn’t going down without one hell of a fight.

They meant to kill me. I could feel it in each of their strikes. I wasn’t just going to give up on this new life I’d been given.

I hit the ground again. I tried to get back up, but a boot connected with my ribs. More blows fell, stealing my breath, and I heard the snick of a knife opening. Then, sirens split the air, and the other men scattered. I got my knees under me and grabbed onto the closest thing I could find, a sign post, to get to my feet.

A hand closed around my arm. I tried jerking away, but metal snapped around my wrist before I could. The man’s words were barely more than a buzz in my head, but the actions were all too familiar to me. And my head was spinning too much to resist even if I’d planned to.

***

“You’re damn lucky they held you instead of taking you straight to booking.”

I held my head in my hands, not even looking up at Roman. I didn’t feel too lucky about anything right now. The cops who had brought me in had slapped a Band-Aid over the cut on my forehead but that was it. My head was splitting, my ribs nearly screaming in agony, but I was stuck in this damn holding cell. The only lucky thing I could see was that when Romello and his buddies had been hauled in too, they’d been put in a separate cell.

“I didn’t start the fight, Roman. Romello and his buddies were waiting for me outside. He’s always baiting me.”

“That’s why you ignore him. I thought you wanted this job.”

“I do!” More pain shot through my head, and I drew back, digging the heels of my hands into my temples. Dios. How hard had I hit my head? “And  know, I probably lost it now.”

“If there weren’t witnesses who gave the same story as you, that would probably be true.”

At a gesture from Roman, a guard stepped forward and unlocked the cell door. The loud whine of it opening nearly had my head exploding. I squeezed my eyes shut as if that would help ward off the inevitable.

“Come on,” Roman said softly. “I’ll take you home. You’ll have to talk to Aberto in the morning about the job.”

I couldn’t think too much about that right now. Not when my head was splitting open and my ribs were on fire as I followed Roman out of the police station. Aberto’s place was known for giving released cons a second chance. He wasn’t known for giving ones for breaking his rules, though.

I just hoped he’d make an exception this time.

***

I stepped into the restaurant and winced at the bright lights. Roman had taken me by the hospital the night before. Head contusions and a couple cracked ribs. He’d stuck around until this morning, to make sure I woke up again. He really made sure of that, too, waking me several times during the night and asking me questions. When I flipped him off each time, he just laughed and left my bedroom again. Guess that was a sign to him my brain wasn’t too rattled.

They’d wrapped my ribs at the hospital and given me something for the headache, but it only helped so much. And these damn lights certainly didn’t.

Roman had said he’d already talked to Aberto this morning, so he’d be waiting for me. Now, I just had to plead my case. I knocked on the doorframe of the office even though the door was open, and my boss watched me approach. No point in taking any chances. Certainly not this morning.

“Come in, Armas,” my boss called out to me.

I stepped into the office and licked my lips, wishing they weren’t so dry. “Mr. Aberto-”

He held up a hand, and I came to an instant stop. I had to shove my hands in my pockets to keep him from seeing the way they trembled. I didn’t want to show any weakness now.

“You know I don’t allow any fighting in or around my restaurant.”

“Yes, sir.” I could barely get the words out. My throat and tongue felt so thick, I felt like there wasn’t room for anything else. “I can explain.”

“No explanation needed.”

My shoulders drooped at those words. That was it then. It was all over for me. I started to turn away but Aberto’s next words stopped me.

“I’ve seen the way you and Romello have been. And I’ve seem how you’ve handled it. I also talked to the person who reported the fight last night and said you were the one assaulted. I imagine you didn’t see any way around the fight.”

I shook my head. “Figured if I ran, they would’ve just chased me down.”

Aberto nodded as if he’d expected that. “Charges have been pressed. Romello will no longer have a job here.”

I swallowed hard. “And me, sir?” If I lost this job, I wasn’t sure what I’d do.

“Well,” he said, his lips curling up slightly, “I’m going to have an open position for a server. I’ve seen you’re a hard worker and seem determined to make your place here.”

I couldn’t quite believe what I was hearing. “Why?” I shouldn’t be questioning it. Shouldn’t risk him realizing he was making a mistake and change his mind.

“I see something in you,” Aberto said. “And I believe in the things I see. I believe in you, Carlos, and you should believe in you, too. Now, get on home and rest up. We can start your training tomorrow.”

 

Cover Reveal: First Choice, Second Chance

No blog links this week, since I got the cover art for the first in my small town contemporary romance series, First Choice, Second Chance. So, you get the first look at that instead.

I first got the idea for this back in the summer of 2013, I believe. I had just finished reading a book(Gwynneth Ever After, by Linda Poitevin), and for the first time I had ideas for a straight contemporary romance. No suspense subplot. I couldn’t get to sleep with all the ideas I had circling in my head(one reason I shouldn’t read on my phone in bed). So, I got up and started writing them down. I knew I wanted to set it in the area where I grew up(and still live not far from). I had some other vague ideas and they started to come together. I also realized there were two stories here, but they were so twisted together, they couldn’t really be separated. Hence an alternating timeline. And it just took off from there.

I know, I know, you’re actually here to see the cover, huh. So, I’ll get to that…

*Pushes papers around on desk*

*Shuffles some more papers*

Oh, here it is(I know, I’m weird.)…

FirstChoiceSecondChanceSmallerWebUse

Ain’t it purty?! Love when I’m looking through pre-mades and find one that just hits me. This was designed by the wonder Marianne Nowicki, the same designer of my cover for Flames of Redemption.

Title: First Choice, Second Chance
Series: Kurztown(#1)
Release Date: 8/18/2015

Synopsis:

One wrong choice doesn’t have to lead to another

Seven years ago, he watched her drive away.

Lila Corelli was the love of Mason Akeley’s life, but she chose a music career and another man over him. He thought it would destroy him, but he’s been scraping by; on the family farm and in life. Now, she’s back in town, and he feels like he’s barely hanging on.

She made a wrong choice.

Lila knows she made a mistake. She thought she had been on the right path; to her career, love, her life. Instead, she never saw the disaster one wrong choice could cause. Now, with everything gone, she returns to her hometown, hoping to find her way to a new path.

Mason’s love for Lila has never died, but he’s afraid to open himself to be hurt again. Lila chose the wrong future once, and she worries she’ll be making another bad choice that will only lead to more destruction. But, if they can untangle their past from their present, they just might be able to find their future together.

Excerpt 1:

Mason Akeley stepped out of the barn and saw his father standing beside the large red tractor. He had one hand on the handle of his cane, while the other tried to turn a wrench. A curse barely slipped past his lips before he hurried forward. “Dad, what are you doing? You’re going to hurt yourself.”
“I’ve been working on tractors longer than you’ve been alive, boy. Leave me to it.”
He ignored the words and the pain behind them and put his hand over his father’s. “Dad, please give me the wrench.”
His father didn’t even bother to bite back the curse. “If I can’t even be helpful around here, I don’t know why I bother. The damn doctors should have let me die.”
The words had something slithering inside him and squeezing around his chest. “No, Dad, don’t say that. You’re still useful. You don’t have to do this. That’s why you have me around, remember?”
The storm seemed to pass right through his eyes. His shoulders slumped, and he relaxed his grip on the wrench, letting Mason take it. “Can you go in and get my toolbox?” Mason asked. “I planned on getting to this when I finished the other chores anyway.”
“Right,” his father muttered.
Mason waited until he’d limped into the barn before he turned back to the tractor. He closed his eyes, trying to gain his composure back. His father stayed upbeat most of the time. When he got like this, he was in serious pain. Nothing seemed to take that completely away. He smacked the wrench in his hand against the tractor. “Damn it.”
His father had always been the strongest man he knew. Now, he seemed to get weaker and weaker. This damn tractor was a reminder of why. He wished he didn’t have to see it and be reminded every day. Really wished he didn’t have to try to fix it all the time. It wasn’t the tractor’s fault his father was nearly crippled.
It was his.

Excerpt 2:

Her father opened the door before she had even reached it. He took the larger suitcase from her and set it aside. Then, he dragged her inside. Maybe he would wrap her in his arms like he had done when she was younger, but he didn’t. He held her away from him and looked her up and down, like he looked for any flaws. Like one of her flaws had caused this whole mess.
Maybe it had.
Then, he released her, and one of the cracks in her heart widened. “I’ll take your stuff back into your room,” her mother said, stepping forward.
“Thanks, Mom.”
She turned to look at her father, but he’d already turned away. She itched to go to him, to put her arms around him. Then, maybe he’d turn and return the gesture. She wanted something to tell her she could be whole again. She stayed right where she was, too afraid he would never embrace her again. She was too much of a disappointment for that. Tears welled into her brown eyes, so much like his, but she blinked them back. She’d caused them enough heartache in the last year. She wasn’t going to burden them with her tears as well.
“Dinner will be ready in a little while,” her mother said when she returned. “You have time if you want to take a shower and get cleaned up. I know you spent most of the day on the road.”
She was about to thank her mom again, but the words wouldn’t come. Instead tears flooded her eyes. “Oh, baby,” her mother whispered and stepped forward to offer the hug she’d wanted from her father. It didn’t take away the pain though. Neither did her father’s next words.
“You never should have let him do this to you. You were smarter than this.”
The words slammed into her, like punches right to her soul. “I’m sorry, Daddy.”
“You are sorry?” The words came out as a roar, and thick with the accent that most of the times nearly disappeared from his voice. Then, he shook his head and stepped back. “I cannot do this.”
Lila watched him leave the room then turned back to her mother, tears gathering in her eyes. “I never meant to hurt him. I didn’t mean to hurt anyone.”
Her mother didn’t say anything. She stepped forward and slipped her arms around the young woman. “You did nothing. He blames himself.”

Excerpt 3:

He held up a hand to stop her. “Give me a shot of Jack.” He caught Lila at the edge of his vision. “Actually make it a double.”
Jess hesitated then poured the drink and passed it over to him. He took the first sip and winced at the burn. He wasn’t sure if he would ever get used to it. The whiskey warmed the parts of him that had gone cold with Lila’s arrival. He kept his eyes focused on the wall across the bar as he took the second sip. He still knew the moment she stepped up beside him. He didn’t know if her scent still lived in his memory and he recognized it, or if it went deeper. He didn’t even have to hear her voice. It was in his head, in his dreams, every day and every night. When she ordered a drink, it twisted around his heart again.
His fingers tightened around the glass. He was almost afraid it would shatter right there in his fist. He dragged in some air through his nose, but it only came back out sounded strangled. He started to turn away. He needed to put some space between them. He couldn’t handle having her so close. As soon as he took a step, her hand was on his arm, the muscles in it cording tighter. “Mason.”
He was going to explode, shatter into tiny pieces no one would ever be able to put back together again. He had to get away. He didn’t even respond to her saying his name. He set the glass on the top of the bar. It must have been harder than he planned because a crack sounded when he did it. He didn’t even look back. “Put it on my tab, Jess. All of it.”
His head pounded. He didn’t think it was the alcohol or the music. It was Lila. It had always been Lila. He pushed out through the door. Then braced his hand against the side of the building and squeezed his eyes shut. The door opened again, and he didn’t even look behind him. Instead he strode across the small parking lot to his truck. She called his name again, but he didn’t stop. He checked his mirror to make sure she wasn’t right behind him, he certainly didn’t hate her that much. She still stood close to the building. She had her arms wrapped around her, and stared after him. His eyes started to burn. Then, he backed out of his parking spot and pulled out of the lot. The gravel spun under his tires, but he didn’t care. He wanted to put distance between them. Before he lost the grip he barely kept on his sanity.

Add it on Goodreads or pre-order now(Kindle only, I’ll have other links up on release day).

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