Hi guys, we have Ki Brightly popping in today with their upcoming release Trust Trade, we have a brilliant guest post from Ki and a great excerpt so guys, check out the post and enjoy! ❤ ~Pixie~
Life hasn’t been good to Jeb Birchman. When he attempted to escape his abusive, zealot father, he found himself on the streets, making a living the only way he knew how, the victim of more violent men—one of whom orchestrates a series of vicious attacks that leave Jeb deaf. Now that he’s aged beyond his latest client’s interest, Jeb knows he needs to escape his risky lifestyle before it’s too late. Seeing one last chance for himself, he earns a GED and enrolls in college.
Freddy Williams enjoys a life that couldn’t be more different from what Jeb has survived. He loves sports, being a personal trainer, and hanging out with friends. The son of deaf parents, Freddy is an outspoken advocate of the Deaf community and works as an interpreter at his college. When he meets Jeb at the bookstore, he’s struck by how attractive he is, and as they get to know each other, he finds Jeb’s good heart just as appealing. By the time he learns of Jeb’s past, it’s only a few steps behind them, and Freddy must make a choice between school and his familiar routine and protecting the man he’s falling in love with.
Thanks to MM Good Book Reviews for hosting me today!
With Trust Trade I wanted to do something a little different than what I’ve done in the past. I love writing Paranormal Romances, mainly because I greatly enjoy the aspect of world building that goes into those books. The things is, I kept getting ideas for more mainstream settings—humans doing “normal” human things— so I decided to try my hand at a “contemporary romance”.
When I first told my Sugar Plum I was going to tackle a contemporary romance he winced. “Do you even like those?”
“No…well, sometimes,” I amended, because I realized I do like them, but only when there is a really engaging story going on around the romance thread. I need something other than Will they have sex? Won’t they? to keep me engaged.
I actually named Trust Trade “contemporary romance” in my work files for a good while as an amusing joke for myself, mostly because I wasn’t sure I was capable of writing such a thing.
Then one day I changed that file name to Trust Trade and I knew I had a story I was going to finish.
Trust Trade is a love story, sure, but it’s also a crime thriller. I am a fan of the detective movies from the 80’s and 90’s and this book has a lot of elements I love from that era: cops who save the day, cops who ruin it, criminals who are greedy and, sure, let’s go ahead and say it, more or less evil, as well as at least one Detective who you know has your back. It also has a few surprise twists along the way because…why not?
But at the end of the day, every good story is a love story (in my opinion) so that is in there too, right alongside all the chaos. I hope you enjoy Jeb and Freddy’s story and stick with their rocky ride all the way to their happily ever after.
“GET BACK here!”
His voice rips apart the quiet city sounds and echoes back at me from the tall buildings towering around me. A car horn honks in the distance. Twump. Twump. Twump. I pound the ground so hard with my feet, my shins hurt and my leg muscles burn.
Get away. Faster.
My head rushes as I gasp for breath. Horrified, I glace over my shoulder and immediately wish I hadn’t. My hood’s in the way and then it shifts. He’s there, too close behind me, feet slapping the pavement almost as fast as mine. Wally’s wide, normally attractive face is rough and scary, with bared teeth and flared nostrils. Sweat plasters his brown hair to his broad forehead. His inky eyes promise pain. He wants to rip me apart, to destroy me any way he can.
Whump. Whump. The rush in my ears gets louder. My pulse flutters hard in my neck, like my heart’s going to burst out of my chest, Aliens-style. I run faster. The sweet garbage smell of dumpsters assaults me as I tear past. Wildly, I eye the alley behind my run-down apartment building for inspiration, but no cops jump out of a window and no superheroes magically materialize. My big brother Jacob’s warnings over the phone crackle in my mind as I try to decide whether or not I could manage to snag one of the emergency ladders to the fire escapes. I jump at one as I run past, but my fingers don’t even skim it. I’m too fucking short and they’re too ridiculously high.
“Fuck,” I rasp out.
“The average age of death for a prostitute is thirty-four, Jeb. I know you said you’d help me get out, but I don’t want you dead. Lie to Dad and tell him you’re straight. He’s more pissed about that than the money. Come home. I need you here.” Jacob’s nasally voice cracks suspiciously, and he inhales deeply.
My heart twists. I left him. Left him there. What was I thinking? So selfish. But… I can’t. “Thanks, no thanks. If home is so great, why’d’ya want my help to leave?”
“Better than being fucked by strangers.”
“Maybe,” I gasp to myself. The memory of Jacob’s stuffy voice beats at the insides of my thick skull. I’m so stupid. Well, I’ve always been an overachiever.
Eighteen. I’m going to die at eighteen.
I force myself faster. My lungs scream for air and my heartbeat crashes in my ears, waves on the beach of my brain. The rush of my life flashing before my eyes—fucking pitiful—drowns out Wally’s shouts behind me for a few seconds. I can’t get enough breath. Heart’s going to pop. I push my legs until the muscles might rip apart. My side cramps. Speeding along the alleyway, I run a hand over the scratchy red brick as I bolt by the carbon copy apartment buildings on my block. Stupid. I should have gone for the main street as soon as he started yelling at me. No witnesses back here. Fuck. I sob out a harsh breath. He’ll kill me this time.
No kisses afterward while he patches me up either, unless he likes corpses. I shudder.
When Wally’s quiet like that, sweetly taking care of my hurts, I can almost believe he loves me.
My pimp is going to fucking kill me.
I laugh out a hysterical croak that nearly strangles me and power on a final burst of speed. I’m topped out. Can’t do any better. “Fuck you, Wally,” I shout breathlessly as I run. I’m smaller, younger, faster. I smirk as the end of the huge building I’ve been skirting comes into sight. If I veer left up the alleyway between the two old brick complexes, I’ll be on a busy street and maybe I can even flag down a cop.
Would going home to Dad and Jacob really be worse than this?
I round the corner into a solid wall of building materials, bricks covered by a gray tarp. Dust hangs in the air. My heart nearly stops. I’ve used this alley with johns before. What happened? A quick glance upward shows me part of the building has scaffolding attached—it’s being renovated. I can’t get over this huge pile. I jump uselessly and scrabble at brick. No, not even a handhold.
“Fuck,” I whisper and force my feet to move again. A horrible low laugh from behind me slithers up my spine and crawls into my brain where it lodges, terrifying me. Sweat sticks my shirt to me and pools at the base of my spine, soaking my boxers. I can’t go any faster. My shoe catches on a crack in the pavement. I stumble. A gigantic body slams into mine, taking me to the ground. My elbows crack the pavement and white light explodes behind my eyelids as my stomach rolls with the pain. Winded, I flail. Wally drills a knee into my back, making it nearly impossible to catch my breath.
I fight, scratch, elbow, and wiggle, but Wally’s a fucking muscly monster. He crooks his huge arm around my neck and flexes tight. Bile tries to sneak up my throat and it’s hard to breathe. I struggle. My vision grays around the edges. This’s better, in a weird way. Nicer than what he could do.
I saw Little Greg at a party missing all his teeth. Jason lost his balls. And they didn’t do what I did.
Let me go unconscious before he kills me.
I’m almost relieved until he backs off and the breath I’m fighting for streams harshly into my lungs—a blessed relief, a curse—waking my mind back up. I try to cough, but Wally flexes his arm against my throat again and I strain to master myself, to stay still. Something cold and metallic traces the shell of my good ear. I become a statue. The nasty, oily smell of unwashed man covered in cologne swamps me, stinging my eyes. Hair raises on my entire body as Wally’s laugh rumbles, soft and deep, into the only ear I can hear out of.
“Baby boy. Such a sweet little bitch.” Wally licks around my ear with his hot tongue, following the cool line of metal. I lose the battle with myself and thrash, but it gets me nowhere with him on top of me. “You thought you could get away? You owe me money.” A hard lump presses into my back, hot and male. My stomach flip-flops when he cants his hips and digs it in against me. My front freezes against the cold pavement, even wearing my hoodie. I squeeze my eyes shut. “You give me my money and take care of this—” He rocks his hips, and I open my eyes wide, searching for anything I can use to escape. “—and maybe… maybe we’ll call it even.”
Choking on some tears, I wipe at my face with the back of my hand and let myself go slack underneath him. There’s no use fighting. I brace myself mentally. I hand my ass out every night, right? Hell, I’ve even let Wally fuck me because I wanted to before. But somehow this isn’t the same.
I gag and try to breathe evenly. I’ll get through this.
“Spent it. Paid rent for the month.” It’s a lie. The bus ticket out of this horrible fucking city practically burns a hole in my pocket. Good-bye, Philadelphia. Good-bye for fucking ever. “Your boys have to live somewhere, don’t they, sir?” I try to turn over, but that insidious cool pressure is back, tracing along the arch of my ear. My hands spasm and scrabble at the black pavement. I don’t know what he has in his hand, but old memories rear up to bite at me. Please, no. Not again. My muscles freeze, though I try to convince them not to.
“You know what I hate, Jeb?” Wally whispers and drops a loud smooching kiss on my ear like he’s having drinks with me after hours.
Leaden dread weighs down each beat of my heart.
“So, I’ll tell you a little truth.” The pointed metal scrapes into my ear canal in a sadistic parody of fucking.
I’m terrified. I can’t think anymore. Metal. The last time this happened, my right eardrum was popped. I can’t hear out of it. Oh shit. Wally saved me from that john. He knows what happened. He saved me. He loves me. He tells me so all the time.
I know it’s bullshit, deep down inside, but I want it be true.
“You wouldn’t,” I sob out.
Another laugh ghosts hotly into my ear and slinks around in my brain, sending drops of sweat in a languid stream down my spine. “Would you like my truth, Jeb?” he murmurs.
My hands and feet tingle as I drag in short pants of air. Those words would be sensual if I wasn’t ready to pass out. If I were on soft sheets and happy. Some small part of me does love Wally. He took me in. He saved me when I needed it. I just don’t want this life anymore.
The cold metal teases into my ear, and he grinds his hips viciously against me. I want to hurl, but keep it in check.
Ki grew up in small town nowhere pretending that meteor showers were aliens invading, turning wildflowers into magic potions, and reading more than was probably healthy. Ki had one amazing best friend, one endlessly out of grasp “true love”, and a personal vendetta against normalcy.
Now, as an adult, living in Erie, Pennsylvania, Ki enjoys the sandy beaches, frigid winters, and a wonderful fancy water addiction. Seriously, fancy waters…who knew there were so many different kinds? It’s just water…and yet…
Ki shares this life with a Muse, a Sugar Plum, and two wonderful children.