Susan here. I’m giving up the little gimmick of writing my posts here in the voice of Lola, my muse. That play has lost its appeal for me. Besides, after almost two years, the place was due for a little restyling.
As I mentioned during the FCP’s Sturgis Week celebration back in August, I’ve begun a new MC romance series: The Brazen Bulls MC. Today, I’m revealing the cover and synopsis for the first book, Crash, and offering the first chapter as a teaser.
Crash will release on Saturday, 3 December 2016. The preorder will be up around the middle of November.
In the meantime, you can add it to your tbr on Goodreads.
If you’ve read the Night Horde series (Signal Bend and Night Horde SoCal), then you probably recognize the name of the club. The Brazen Bulls are allies of the Horde, and this series occurs in the same world as the Horde series do (actually, all my series occur in the same world, even my Vikings).
I’ve gotten a lot of questions about whether I’ll write more about the Horde, either a series about the next generation in Signal Bend, or about the new Montana charter of the club. My answer is: probably not. The timeline of the Horde saga is too far in the future from us for the stories to go any farther forward, at least not until we here in the real world have caught up a few years. But I can go backward, and once that occurred to me, I really liked the idea and found a rich field of story potential.
It’s been a big heap of fun writing about the kinda-near past. Remember a time when we didn’t carry the whole world of information and everyone we know around with us everywhere, in our pockets? I know—the olden days! How did we manage?
This new series begins in 1995, when the Bulls are early in their alliance with the Horde. The Bulls you meet in the Horde stories are young patches here, and the Horde will be secondary, recurring characters throughout the series. You’ll get glimpses of Isaac, Showdown, and Len as young patches, and you’ll meet Big Ike and see his relationship with his son. You’ll catch glimpses of Tasha and her dad, too.
And, of course, you’ll meet the whole Nineties roster of the Bulls, starting with their SAA: Rad.
I hope you dig the Bulls!
PS: Little bit of cool/disturbing trivia: The Brazen Bull is a medieval torture device. The victim was sealed up in the belly of a large brass or bronze bull, and a fire was stoked under its belly, cooking the victim to death. Smoke—and screams—came up through the bull’s mouth and nose, which were connected to the belly through pipes intended to turn the sound of screams into the bellows of a bull. Here’s the Wikipedia page.
So, you know, as outlaw MC names go, I’m gonna call it pretty damn badass.
Here’s the synopsis for Crash:
Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1995.
Conrad “Radical” Jessup, Sergeant at Arms of the Brazen Bulls Motorcycle Club, has life just about where he wants it: he’s free of a bad marriage and his club is cruising along healthy and strong, their business relationships as solid as their brotherhood. He’s a contented man, riding his road at his speed.
Until a massive highway wreck sends a blonde on a little sportster crashing into his life.
Willa Randall is making a new life in Tulsa, working hard to put a demolished past in her rearview mirror. Trying to keep herself safe, she’s built a life insulated by locks and walls. Inside those walls, she’s alone, but she feels secure, and that’s enough.
Until a big, tattooed biker holds out his hand and helps her up from the pavement.
A love seeded in chaos grows fast and deep.
But when chaos is a constant, can any love endure?
And a little taste:
The plate clattered to the table before him, and he scowled down at it. His order of blueberry pie with a scoop looked like someone else had chewed it first and hocked it back onto the plate. He was pretty sure he saw a froth of spit swimming in with the melting ice cream.
He looked around the table at the picture-perfect slices of fruit pie before his brothers, each topped with a pretty ball of vanilla ice cream. Delaney’s even had a little sprig of mint or something.
He lifted his eyes to the waitress still standing at his side. “Come on, Kay Ann…”
She gave him a blatantly insincere smile, then shifted her attention to the full table. “Y’all let me know if there’s anything else you need.” As she shimmied off in her blue polyester uniform, the men at the table who didn’t have a plate full of garbage broke into raucous laughter.
“What the fuck you do to her, Rad?”
Conrad ‘Radical’ Jessup, Sergeant at Arms of the Brazen Bulls MC and notorious enforcer, glared at his brother Becker’s grinning gob and shoved the heavy china plate away. “Not a damn thing.” Becker was a smug young asshole. He needed some time in the ring, Rad thought. A little seasoning.
“I’m gettin’ a picture that her story’s different.”
He had no doubt. But shit, the chick was a waitress at a truck stop just south of Dallas, on I-45. The Bulls landed here maybe six-eight times a year, tops. So what if he’d been banging Kay Ann pretty regular the last two years or so, when they were here for a night or a few hours? So what if last time they’d come through he’d wanted a change and taken on the new little brunette—whatshername? Kay Ann was a good fuck and a sweet girl, but shit. Nobody had any claim on anybody. He’d’ve been fine if she’d spread for one of his brothers.
Spending the night at her place that last time with her had been a big fucking mistake. He’d known it at the time. Rad loved women, but since his—nasty, expensive—divorce three years before, he steered clear of romantic entanglements. But he’d been tired and beat up—and, yeah, feeling lonely and sorry for himself—and Kay Ann had offered him comfort. He’d been weak and taken her comfort, and now he wasn’t getting her pie.
It was possible that he’d gone for the little brunette the next time on purpose; Rad was self-aware enough to realize he might have been looking for a reset after that night at Kay Ann’s. When he’d woken in her bed, with her snuggled on his chest and purring like a cat. Definitely needed a reset.
It was also possible he was an asshole. His ex, among others, would say that was a certified guarantee.
He fucking hated being called an asshole.
Delaney, their president, sliced his fork into his flaky piece of pie and took an appreciative bite. Around the mouthful of berry and crust, he said, “What do I say, brother? I say it all the fuckin’ time.”
“One chick to a roost,” about six of the men at the table chimed in. Delaney’s big wisdom: outside the clubhouse, never bang two chicks who know each other.
Rad flipped them all the bird and poured himself another cup of coffee from the carafe Kay Ann had left on the table. He didn’t really want pie, anyway.
He was in too damn good a mood to let a bitch’s hissy get him down. He wasn’t looking to get his knob polished today—they were planning a straight shot home this run and only stopping here to refuel body and bike.
The Bulls were on their way back from a charity run and rally in Houston, and they were all in high spirits. They’d been riding in a massive formation with other friendly clubs, and the occasional solo rider or couple of buddies. Clubs didn’t mind some civilians in their midst on runs like this, as long as they kept their manners and didn’t get tangled up inside different club formations or try to showboat. Bikers respected each other, sporting colors or not, until that respect was broken.
The diner here at Ethel’s Fuel & Food was nearly packed, and Rad guessed more than half of the clientele was affiliated. Several of the clubs they’d been riding with had pulled off with them—he saw patches from the Night Horde, the Priests, the Vikings, and a couple others the Bulls didn’t work with much or at all. As they’d been eating, more bikers had come in, wearing colors or just carrying their helmets. The Houston rally pulled people internationally, from Mexico and Canada both. They’d just spent three glorious days partying hard with friends from all over.
The clubs taking this route home to points east would all probably stick more or less together as far as Tulsa, where the Bulls called home, and the rest would break off onto different interstates and keep on rolling.
As Rad finished his third cup of coffee—he was going to have to drain the pipe before they hit the road—and his brothers finished their pie, Big Ike Lunden, president of the Night Horde MC in Missouri, came up to the table.
The Horde was a piddly-ass club in the middle of bumfuck nowhere. They ran a tiny town that was dying on the vine, and they shouldn’t have been of any account to the Bulls or anybody else. But Delaney and Lunden went back some kind of way, and he’d convinced the club to bring the Horde into some business, to help them keep their club—and, apparently their whole damn town—afloat.
Rad didn’t like it much. Lunden was a sour son of a bitch who ran his two-bit club like his own personal kingdom. Way too goddamn big for his boots.
Delaney saw Big Ike coming and wiped his mouth before he stood and held out his hand. “Hey, Ike.”
Ike grabbed his hand and shook. “D. We’re headin’ out. Wanted a proper handshake if we don’t see ya on the road. And I want to thank you again.”
Even on fun runs, some business always got done. This time, the officers had met with Kirill Volkov to finalize changes to their gun routes, and Delaney and Dane, the Bulls VP, had met with Big Ike and Reg, the Horde VP, to pull them in on some of the transport work.
“Always help a brother out, you know that.”
They embraced, and Ike nodded at the rest of the Bulls collectively. “Fellas.”
They all nodded and muttered vague pleasantries back. The rest of Lunden’s small club were standing, hanging back a few steps; when Big Ike headed toward the door, his men followed in a line, nodding to the Bulls and other riders they knew as they walked out. Lunden’s son, Little Ike, brought up the rear, as far from his old man as he could be.
That kid was young, not long patched, but not remotely little. Rad figured ‘Little Ike’ for a good six and a half feet, maybe more, and he carried lots of muscle on that tall, broad frame. He was near twice the size of his old man.
The vibe between those two had never been warm. When Delaney had started throwing work the Horde’s way a couple of years back, Rad had protested—he was concerned that so much obvious venom between the king and the prince could only mean instability in the club as a whole, which was a dangerous risk in outlaw work, but Delaney knew them better, knew Big Ike well, and insisted that the boy would toe his father’s line.
In Houston, Rad had made note of the new, nasty red scar that climbed up half the kid’s face, from his mouth to his temple. He’d also noted the way Big Ike looked at it, and he wondered if that scar hadn’t been Little Ike getting his toes dragged back where they belonged.
Rumor had it that Big Ike was damn loose with his fists in his family. Some even said he’d killed his wife.
Not that that was any of Rad’s business. But he’d had a hard father, too. He remembered the lash and the fist, the buckle and the switch. He carried the scars, too. So he felt a little sorry for the big kid sauntering out of the diner door behind his buddy Showdown, dragging a hand through dark hair almost long enough to pull into a ponytail.
Rad sent a thought out to the kid. Little Ike was big. His father was not. When you were beaten down all your life, it was hard to see when you got bigger than your old man. You had to be bigger on the inside as well as the outside before you could see it. But one day it would happen, if it hadn’t yet. It had happened for Rad, and it would happen for Little Ike. On that day, the old man would learn that his days of beating his boy down were over, well and truly.
Rad’s face stretched in a bitter, nostalgic grin.
From Ethel’s, they took US-75 north to Oklahoma. The sun on this early April afternoon shone warm and gold in a blue sky, and Rad settled into the saddle and let his mind wander. It was a long day of riding—eight hours on the road—but he was in no hurry for the ride to end, and he doubted anyone else with an engine between his legs felt any different. You didn’t ride if you didn’t want to be on the road as much as you could.
Rad rode near the head of the Bulls pack, alone in the lane for the most part, just behind Delaney and Dane, who rode side by side. Every now and then, Griffin, a young patch Rad had sponsored, would pull up alongside, just being companionable. But Rad preferred the lane to himself, and Griff knew it, so he’d drift back after a few minutes.
They cruised along just faster than cage traffic when they could, but when they got bogged down, it was no sweat—just meant sharpening the senses to guard against the drivers who were still on autopilot.
It was a fine day and a fine ride, and Rad’s spirit puffed up and crowed.
Every now and then, a sport bike or three would zoom past, wanting the speed more than the ride, but so far, nobody had been obnoxious. In fact, for a good ten miles or so, two brightly-cladded Kawasakis, each carrying two riders, all in full gear, had ridden up with the Bulls. Rad could tell they were youngsters, getting a rush from riding with the Big Bad Outlaws, checking out the massive American metal, and they behaved themselves.
The passenger on the green bike, nearest Rad, was wearing a pack on her back with a shiny logo from Six Flags Over Texas. Her bright red ponytail brushed wildly over it. Rad figured that was how they’d spent their spring weekend, and it confirmed his assumption about their youth.
Cruising wasn’t what the kids were after, and it didn’t take long for them to tire of the easy pace. When the rider on the green bike held up a gloved thumb and then waved, Rad returned both gestures, and the two crotch rockets surged forward with the high-pitched racket of bumblebees on steroids.
Rad cringed. That was his number-one reason for hating sport bikes. They had no throat at all. When he opened the throttle, he wanted a roar, a rumble, something that would make a civilian quiver in fear, thinking a beast was on his tail, ready to eat him, not swat at his neck, expecting to be stung by a bug.
Not long after his young Kawa bees had flown off, another bike pulled into the lane beside Rad’s. As always, he took note. A little Harley sportster with a silver tank. The rider was wearing full gear, even an armored jacket, and a solid black full-face helmet. But Rad could tell it was a chick—that ass, sheathed in black riding leather, was a work of art. Jesus on a biscuit.
Ascertaining that she was solo, he slowed up just enough to get her a bit more forward and then settled in to appreciate the view.
Since he’d slowed, Griffin pulled up at his flank and waved at him, checking in. Rad gave him a thumbs up. He was great. He was building up a nice picture in his head of what that ass might look like naked and rocking on his cock.
Then the hot ass on the little Harley turned that black face shield and pointed it right at him. He could see nothing—fuck, for all he knew, it was a dude with a feminine shape in there, not that he was going to let that thought stomp around on his fantasy—but still he felt sure that it was a she, that she was fully aware that he’d been checking her out, and that she was letting him know she knew.
She faced forward again and opened her throttle, pulling up ahead, lane splitting and putting some distance between her and the Bulls.
They were within an hour of Tulsa, though. The afternoon was getting old, the shadows were long, and traffic was thickening up. Lane splitting was illegal and drew unwanted attention, so most riders resisted the urge. On straightaways, he could still glimpse the Kawa bees. Hot Ass wasn’t getting far.
He entertained the thought he might follow her a ways, if she pulled off before the Bulls did. He was curious what was under that helmet and that armored jacket.
Letting his mind play around with that thought, Rad settled in for the last leg of this long ride.
Fifteen minutes later, all thoughts of how that ass might feel in his hands were gone.
Rad saw it all happen.
The road lay before him like a ribbon, rising just enough to clear the view, like standing at the bottom of an amphitheater and looking up into the seats. About a mile ahead, maybe a little less, with the last of the sun glinting off their cladding, he could still make out the bright green and red flashes of the Kawa pair, heading up the rise of the road.
Hot Ass had almost caught up to them; she was about three or four cars behind.
A fuckwit in some kind of cage—Rad could name most bikes at some distance, but cages these days all looked the same to him—was starting to get ragey in the thickening traffic on this spring Sunday evening. Rad had seen him do the move drivers did where they shoved themselves into a space barely as long as their cage, then tailgated until they could shove themselves in front of a car in the next lane, like that video game with the frog. That was dangerous shit, especially for bikers, because there was no way the asshole driving like that was paying attention to anything but the slimmest hint that there was room in the next lane. If that.
Noting that driver make that fucked-up move three times in succession, Rad had his antennae up. The road was still full of bikers, but the traffic had broken them up some. Few drivers understood that it was bad form to break into a riding formation. They figured if the bikes weren’t all grouped in a knot, they could slide in.
They could, technically. There might be room, technically. But they shouldn’t. They should let the bikes keep together. The best kind of drivers would slow down or pull over, in fact. But pretty much the only drivers who did that were also riders.
If you rode, you knew it was up to you to look out for your own head. Nobody else was going to bother.
Rad had just about enough time to wish there were a way to send a warning up ahead, because those kids on the sport bikes were riding too comfortably, like they believed that everybody on the road with them understood that they had a right to be there.
He wasn’t surprised, therefore, when the rager shoved his cage into the lane and took both Kawas out.
What happened next, however, shocked the shit out of him.
The green Kawa went airborne, its riders flying pell-mell, and the red bike laid down, spinning wildly backward, into traffic. Rad didn’t see either rider part from the bike, but they must have.
The rager’s cage spun forward and stopped facing the median.
“Don’t do it, jackoff,” Rad muttered as he quickly instinctively maneuvered out of the way of the continuing crash.
He pulled to the shoulder, sensing every bike around him doing the same, and brought his Dyna into the median as the chain reaction went on. Trained to pay attention to his surroundings, he listened and watched. He lost count at ten collisions—they were overlapping each other too much to distinguish—but they were nowhere near done.
The wrecks up at the front were bad—fatally bad. He had every expectation that he’d get up there and find the young bikers in mangled pieces. As the reaction rippled down the line, it finally petered out at fender benders not far ahead of where he and the rest of the Bulls—and another twenty or so patches from other clubs—had come to rest in the median.
Screams and moans already undulated in the air.
The cage that had started all this mess was gone—the rager had bolted. As Rad had suspected he would.
Nearly as one, every biker stood his bike on the shoulder or laid it in the grassy median and ran forward to offer their help. It would take some time for emergency crews to get to the scene, through the mess of traffic and the crumpled snarl of involved vehicles.
Rad saw the little silver sportster on its side in the middle of the interstate, its rider lying prone not far from it. He ran there first.
As he neared, he felt a charge of relief when the rider worked her way to a seated position. She pulled off her black helmet and showed short blonde hair.
Rad skidded to a stop at her side, then dropped to his knees. “You okay?”
©2016 Susan Fanetti