GtPGKogPYT4p61R1biicqBXsUzo" /> Google+ Excerpt Spotlight: Dangerously Fierce (The Broken Riders Book 3) by Deborah Blake | I Smell Sheep

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Excerpt Spotlight: Dangerously Fierce (The Broken Riders Book 3) by Deborah Blake

February 26, 2018
217 pages
The Riders: Three legendary brothers who kept the Baba Yagas safe. The Riders’ immortality was stripped away, along with their mission. But they are still much more than Human, and their story is far from over… 

His brothers may have found new paths to follow, but Alexei Knight isn’t even looking. If he can’t have the life he was meant to lead, there is no second choice. So he is bent on drinking and brawling his way across the country until he winds up on Cape Cod in a bar called The Hook and Anchor, where he finds challenges he was never expecting, a feisty red-haired bartender, and maybe a lot more than that…

Bethany McKenna left behind an almost-completed law degree to return home and care for her cranky disabled father and run his bar for him. If that wasn’t enough, she also agreed to foster a very pregnant Great Dane. She has enough to deal with without adding in a giant bearded brawler, no matter how appealing he is. Yet somehow he ends up living in the guesthouse, taking care of her father, and sneaking his way into her heart…

Alexei and Bethany both think the lives they wanted have come to an end, but after dealing with a mysterious sea monster, pirates, dragons, and some adorable puppies, they might just discover that love is the greatest adventure of all…

Alexei Knight swallowed the last of his beer, hid a grin in his beard, and aimed his pool cue at an innocent looking nine ball. The ball caromed across the felt to tap in three of its fellows before swishing into the corner pocket with an almost smug-sounding sigh. Across the table, his opponent let out a curse.

“Too bad,” Alexei said, plucking the twenty dollar bill off the edge of the table. “Want to go again?” His slight Russian accent, stronger after an afternoon of drinking at a slow but steady rate, made the first word sound like “Vant.” But his hands were still rock steady. When you were six feet, eight inches tall and weighed two hundred and seventy pounds, it took a lot of alcohol to made an impression, even if you didn’t have the metabolism of a formerly immortal Rider.

While the man he’d beaten conferred with his companion, Alexei let his gaze swing idly around the room. He’d been in so many bars over the last year they were all starting to look alike. This one, The Hook and Anchor, was someplace in Cape Cod, although he wasn’t sure exactly where. He’d started out in California, methodically drinking and fighting his way across the country, hitting every state other than Alaska or Hawaii. (The thought of flying made him shudder, and there was no way he was leaving his beloved Harley behind.)

But eventually he’d run out of land, ending up here in this nautical themed bar, whose sign bore an anchor crossed with a pirate’s hook. It wasn’t too bad; clearly aimed more at the locals than the tourists, and slightly threadbare at the edges, which was just the way he liked them.

The floors were wooden planks, worn down by time and use, and the walls were hung with battered fishing gear—old harpoons, frayed netting, empty lobster traps, and the like. The lighting was dim and the music a low throb of jazz that would have seemed better suited to a more upscale establishment. But as long as the beer kept coming, he was happy to hang around for another few hours and use his considerable skills to separate his fellow drinkers from their money at the pool table. It wasn’t as though he had any other place to be. Ever.

The two men came around the table, glowering, their ruddy faces alike enough to mark them as brothers. The one Alexei had just beaten clenched callused hands. “You’re cheating,” he said in a low voice. “You suckered us.”

Alexei shrugged. “No. And yes,” he said. “But nobody forced you to play. If you don’t have the stomach for the game, run along and let somebody else have a chance.”

The second brother growled and waved his pool cue threateningly in Alexei’s direction, and a couple of other men who had been leaning against the wall and watching started to drift in their direction. “Give us back our money,” the man demanded. “Or you’ll be sorry.”

Alexei grinned, large even teeth gleaming whitely in his brown beard. This was more like it. He’d been getting bored with pool anyway. “Not going to happen,” he said, and as the others started closing in, he lifted his own stick in both hands, getting ready to break it over his knee to make it into a better weapon. But for some reason, the stick didn’t move.

He blinked, looking down. A small, surprisingly strong hand hung on to the middle of the cue, pulling it downward and him along with it until his eyes were looking into the steely-eyed glare of a petite red-headed woman.

“NOT IN MY BAR,” she said with the hint of a Scottish accent. “And not with my pool cue. Those things aren’t cheap, you know.” She plucked the stick out of his grasp and leaned it against the wall before turning her glare on the other men. “Tommy and Jonah, I think I’ve made my feelings clear on the subject of fighting in this bar. You’ve had enough. Go home.”

“But he stole our money!” Tommy whined. Or maybe it was Jonah.

The woman snorted. “Nobody forced you to play pool, Tommy Carson. And nobody forced you to bet on it, and keep betting on it after it became clear that you were seriously outmatched. Go home and sleep it off, and take your brother with you. Get, now.” She shooed them out the door, and everyone else scuttled off to sit at tables and try and look as though they hadn’t been about to pile four-deep onto a perfect stranger.

She turned to Alexei, tilting her head up so she could look into his eyes. “You,” she said. “Bar. Sit. Now.” She pointed at an unoccupied stool towards the end, away from anyone else. When Alexei didn’t move right away, a little bemused by the small dynamo who had just ordered around a room full of men twice her size, she narrowed her eyes, crossed her arms over her chest, and added, “Unless you’d rather go after the Carson brothers than have another beer.”

“Make it a vodka,” Alexei said, trying to hide the laughter in his voice. “Since you’ve insisted on spoiling all my fun.”

“Fine,” she said, stalking off toward the bar. “You can pay for it out of your winnings.”

She went to the other side and waited for him to sit before and pouring him a drink.

“I’ve been watching you,” she said. “I’m Bethany McKenna. This is my place, or near enough.”

“Alexei Knight,” he said, holding out a massive hand. Alexei couldn’t figure out how he missed noticing her. He must be worse off than he thought. There was something special about her. And considering the women he normally hung out with, that was really saying something. “You’ve been watching me?”

“I don’t much appreciate you hustling my customers. I realize those two boys are none too sharp, but still, I figure you took about eighty-five dollars off them, and that’s enough.” She pushed a stray stand of red hair back into the clip that held the rest off her slender neck.

Alexei shrugged. “How am I supposed to get the money to pay for my beer, then?” he asked in a reasonable tone.

She pointed at an well-dressed man currently being rude to the lone waitress. “Feel free to entertain yourself with the tourists,” she says. “Just don’t hustle them. I don’t need this bar getting any worse a reputation than it already has. Play an honest game. Anyone still dumb enough to bet you after the first one, well, I’ll consider it a cheap education.”

Alexei thought he might like this woman. He’d tell her so, but he had a feeling she’d just smash a bottle over his head. “Okay,” he said instead. “Fair enough. You get a lot of tourists in here?”

The woman grinned. “At the end of March? Nope. Hardly any.” She gave him an assessing glance. “You’re not from around here, but you don’t seem like the tourist type. What brings you to the Cape?”

He shrugged again. “I started out on the West Coast, and I’ve been drinking my way across the country. Near as I can tell, I’ve about run out of road.”

Bethany took this in without any notable reaction. “Yup, I’d say that’s probably true, although technically you’ve still got about half the Cape to go before you hit Provincetown.” She shifted a couple of inches to the left so she could wash dirty glasses and still continue their conversation, her eyes constantly roaming over the bar to see if anyone needed her attention. “So what are you going to do now?”

“Not sure,” Alexei said. “Turn around and do it all over again, maybe. Or get on a boat and go drink my way across Europe. Haven’t done that in a while.”

She put a clean glass upside down on a drying rack. “A boat? Not a plane?”

Alexei shuddered. “Not a chance. Flying is for birds and dragons. Not for people.”

Bethany laughed. “I wouldn’t have pegged you for a man who was afraid of flying.”

“Not afraid,” he said. “Just smart enough to know when something is a bad idea. I don’t have many rules. Do not trust a machine to carry you through the sky is one of them.”

Another glass joined the first. “So, what are the other rules?” she asked, sounding half curious, half dubious. He understood that. He knew he didn’t exactly give the impression of a man who followed many rules. And he didn’t, although the few he thought were worth following, he’d stuck to without exception for more years than most could count.

“An empty beer bottle is an abomination,” he said, looking pointedly at the one he’d carried over from the pool table, until she took the hint and replaced it with a full one. He took a swig and thought for a moment. “Never hurt an animal that isn’t trying to hurt you. Picking on those weaker than you is wrong.”

Bethany bit her lip, trying not to smile. It made the cleft in her strong chin stand out even more. “I’m guessing that doesn’t leave many folks for you to pick on. That’s a pretty short list. Anything else?”

Alexei took another drink and stared blankly into the mirror behind the bar, not really seeing his own reflection. “Never pick a fight you can’t win, unless you’re backed into a corner and don’t have any choice.”

She raised an eyebrow. “I wouldn’t have thought you’d have ever lost a fight,” she said, waving a wet hand to indicate his size, in case he’d somehow forgotten the way he dwarfed most other people.

“It only takes once,” he said with a growl, and tossed down the shot of vodka, slamming the shot glass back down on the bar. “It only takes once.”

About this Author:

Deborah Blake is the author of the Baba Yaga Series from Berkley (Wickedly Dangerous, Wickedly Wonderful, Wickedly Powerful), the Broken Rider Series, and the Veiled Magic series from Berkley and has published ten books on modern witchcraft with Llewellyn Worldwide. When not writing, Deborah runs The Artisans’ Guild, a cooperative shop she founded with a friend in 1999, and also works as a jewelry maker, tarot reader, and energy healer. She lives in a 130-year-old farmhouse in rural upstate New York with multiple cats who supervise all her activities, both magical and mundane.

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