Happy New Year to everyone. I hope you had a wonderful holiday season. I’ve been busy this last month, working on several new books and stories. No rest for the… Well, I do enjoy writing. Time to get back to business. Missoula Smokejumpers is my baby. I think anyone who’s read a single book in the series knows this. I love the characters, the town and the danger. I also love the danger the smokejumpers are involved in as well as their dominating passion. There’s something about men who walk headlong into a dangerous situation that truly fuels our fantasies.
The 4th book in the series is coming out on January 26th and this is Riker’s story. My biker, my muscular and very brooding man. He has his reasons for being standoffish, even curt. You know he does and I hope his story allows you to see inside the man. Would you like a preliminary taste? Totally unedited, so keep that in mind. I hope you enjoy.
FIRESTORM – MISSOULA SMOKEJUMPERS BOOK FOUR
Riker Sheffield rounded the corner, pushing the Harley to its limits. He loved the crisp spring air, the way the wind whipped around his body as he accelerated. Leaning into another curve, he could see a line of cars ahead, moving at a snail’s pace. When he was in a straight section, he jutted out and bolted ahead, passing all four vehicles. He had a couple days off and the free time would allow him to play.
The end of the bitter cold winter meant a new fire season. As if the season had allowed the smokejumping team any concept of rest. Too many dangerous fires had destroyed thousands of acres of land in three states. He was exhausted and antsy, longing to spend a few weeks by himself. He hissed as he rolled into town, shooting by Ziggy’s. While he’d developed real friendships with the Jackals, the majority of the smokejumping team would never understand the man inside.
Neither did he any longer.
He remained bitter, full of anger to the point he’d succumbed to drinking alone, something he swore he’d never do. At least the pain was dulled enough he could sleep, freefalling into a drunken state and away from the constant nightmares. He wanted to say enough was enough, but there was nothing that could drag him away from the anguish. Nothing.
After stopping at a red light, he contemplated where he was going to land for the night. A single thought came to his mind. The biker bar was on the other side of town and far removed from a location his buddies would consider, perhaps with the exception of Landen. However, his best friend and a man after his own heart had a woman. A damn woman. Yeah, he couldn’t help but smile. Someone deserved a level of happiness.
He took off, roaring past the sightseers and tourists, heading in the direction of the dilapidated bar. He’d been to the place a few times, his presence never questioned. Tonight, he needed some kind of relief or he was going to crawl out of his skin.
Rolling into the parking lot, he darted a glance at the other vehicles. Mostly bikes of various sizes and types, he knew he’d feel comfortable, even fitting right in. He parked in the back and climbed off, securing his helmet. He could hear the sound of loud music pumping through the thin walls. The time wasn’t event nine-thirty and already things were getting wild.
Exactly what he needed. A damn good time.
Riker headed inside, taking only a moment before walking straight for the bar. There were no odd looks, other than perhaps given his massive size. Yeah, he towered over almost every man but his look was basically the same. Jeans, shit kicker boots, a tee shirt and jacket, only his being leather. The place was crowded, wall to wall with mostly men. He could see more than one game of pool, a few throwing darts and all were drinking.
Easing onto a bar stool, he tapped his fingers on top of the bar. Almost instantly the bartender acknowledged, giving him a respectful nod. Not a single one knew of his status, a supposed hero to so many in town, nor would they give a shit. This was just the way he liked it. He was nothing to no one which meant there wasn’t a thing expected out of him.
“What’ll ya have?”
“Budweiser. Bourbon chaser.” Riker thought of Stoker, the man’s usual drink and snickered. Wouldn’t the jumper be proud?
The place was hot. Too many bodies in one damn place. After removing his jacket, he settled into the worn wooden stool and gave a quick glance at the ancient television, the grainy picture highlighting some game that he sure as shit didn’t care about. The thought made him sigh. He’d been forced to face some ugly truths as of late. He didn’t give a shit about anything but his job. Not a single blessed thing.
“Here ya go. You got a credit card?” The bartender asked as he slid the drinks across the bar.
Riker grabbed a twenty, tossing it past the drinks. “Cash still good?”
“Works for me. Let me know when you need another one.”
He raised the bottle, taking a swig. At least the beer was ice cold. Polishing off half the liquid, he noticed a group of females sitting together at a table in the back. An unusual site in a place like this. Biker women were well attached and not a single man would let them come out in a pack. He snickered and shook his head. Listen to his barbarian thoughts. Things had certainly changed in a few years.
The bourbon was just smooth enough, settling his aching head and he could feel a portion of the tension easing away. Even the headaches had occurred more often, keeping him grumpy, or so he’d been told more than once. This would be a good respite, albeit brief, to find his soul. This time, he resisted laughing. His soul had been ripped away one fateful night.
When one of the girls eased out of her chair, he couldn’t help but notice. She was striking. Long reddish blond hair and a killer body. As she walked through the crowd, swishing her hips in a way every red blooded male would notice, he watched. He didn’t mind enjoying the view.
“Hey ya, hot mama. Wanna play?”
She stopped, gave the man a hard look and pointed her finger. “Sorry, dude. You don’t have what it takes.”
“Ooohh!” Several men yelled then whistled their approval.
The damn bars were all the same. At least this one had some entertainment value. He fingered the glass before polishing off the bourbon, lifting the finished product so the bartender could see.
“Gotcha,” the man said, immediately grabbing a glass.
The girl slid her hand against almost every shoulder as she passed, her walk becoming more exaggerated. And she was headed right for him.
Riker looked away, concentrating on the second drink as it appeared, the man behind the bar no longer asking for an instant payment. He swirled the drink, listening to the various conversations, none of which were interesting in any manner.
Mmm… What do you think?
Don’t forget that the second prequel – Standing at the River’s Edge is out. Now, this is a prequel, four short stories about Riker, Boone, Sawyer and Antonio and the reasons they became smokejumpers. A taste. That’s all. But… important information.
Have a great day!