It all started when I had finished writing NOLAs Own. I had spent eleven months just…writing. And suddenly, this part of my life was over. I was left with this massive hole in my schedule, and I felt it to my soul.
I had to keep going. I wasn’t supposed to not write. But what was I supposed to write now?
A scene popped into my head. A man with a black beard chasing a curly-haired woman out of a pub. He’s heartbroken, she’s pissed, and…it took off from there. For days I obsessed with this one scene until Oliver and Xanthe told me their names, their dreams, quirks, and what makes them who they are.
It was just something to write about until the next story popped into my head. I named the supporting characters after friends, creating this world where we could all just hang out as though we aren’t separated by oceans and time zones.
But then, I finished the book, and this brand new universe opened up to me, and Ten Thousand didn’t end. It just…shifted.
Jaime and Ricki have their own story to tell.
How does this close-knit group bring in new friends and lovers? They’ve got these secrets, so it’s not an easy thing to accomplish. But when Oliver decided to ask Xanthe to marry him, the Bro Dawgs knew he was family, and family knows.
Who is Ricki Conklin?
From the beginning, Oliver has wondered who the hell this man is. By day, he’s just a brilliant tattooist, right? So, what sort of life does he–and the rest of this motley crew–live? And for the love of all that’s holy–what is meant by Ricki turns men into women?
TEN THOUSAND LIES
A terrifying past, a second chance, a greater purpose.
Ten Thousand Words is classified as a “dark” romance, and at the end, one can imagine what the next book entails. Lies takes us there, into this realm of disturbing humanity, with no shortage of carnage and brutality. It’s harsh, raw, and filled with the broken pieces of lost souls. Through friendship and love, family, these people do some awful things in the name of humanity.
We were the nightmares of nightmares. Avengers who came in silence, with a wrath that bordered on demonic. Behind us stood the Devil, proud that we’d taken our prey down in such a gruesome manner, and so fucking pissed that our souls weren’t damned for doing so.
And for Ricki, there’s only one person who brings the light to his soul.
Exclusive, unedited excerpt from Ten Thousand Lies.
Either I was drunk off one and a half beers, or I had just auditory-fantasized my ass into a hallucination. Turning toward the sound of that deep, soft, British voice, it was as though some higher being had listened to my frantic secret prayers, and plopped the motherfucker right there in front of me.
Across the table, Lilla drew in a sharp breath.
“Ricki?” I gasped.
His strange eyes were glowing in the dim light, his jaw clenching as he looked at Shaun, then back to me. “I need to talk to you.”
Shaun’s arm tightened around my shoulders. “She doesn’t want to talk to you.”
Indignation flared up in me.
“How the hell would you know?” I snapped.
I made to slide out of the booth and Shaun grabbed my arm. “Wait—”
Fast as a flash of lightning, Ricki was over the table and had Shaun shoved back into the wall behind the booth. “Fucking touch her like that again—touch any woman like that again—and I’ll fucking end you.”
“Wh-what?” Shaun spluttered.
“Women aren’t on this planet to appease men, you fucking douche,” Ricki snarled. “She made the decision to get the fuck up and you just physically tried to stop her.”
Shaun’s jaw dropped as Ricki straightened up.
“Misogynistic motherfucker. If you can’t get her to stay with your words, then you never had any influence on her anyway.”
Holy shit. That was the hottest thing I’d ever witnessed.
Ricki turned his attention back on me. The fury in his eyes was a complete contrast to the soft tone of his voice. “Will you talk with me, Jaime?”
Feigning indifference, I shrugged and grabbed my bag. “Sure.”
It was then that I noticed Ronen standing behind and to the right of Ricki. He gave me a huge, shit-eating grin and dropped into the spot next to Lilla.
“Hi,” said Ronen to Lilla. “I’m Ronen.”
Heart pounding, I got to my feet and headed for the exit. Ronen and Lilla would let Xanthe know where I’d gone off to. I didn’t spare Shaun a second glance.
Outside, I dug around in my bag for my pack of smokes. I’d bought them for a night out drinking with my girls. Fishing one out, Ricki was there with his lighter, sparking it up for me.
Taking a pull off the cigarette, I exhaled. “Is everything okay at the shop?”
Ricki’s eyes narrowed on me. “The shop’s fine.”
My heartbeat increased. “Then why’d you hunt me down on my night out?”
Instead of answering, he fished his own smoke out and lit it. “Will you walk with me?”
“Not until you tell me what’s up.”
His nostrils flared and his jaw bunched beneath his beard. “I want to talk to you away from this place. Please?”
Huffing, I grumbled, “Lead the way, then.”
Unsure of where we were going, I followed him down the street. We made our way in silence, and it was so uncomfortable I wanted to scream at him. Coming to a bridge, we made it about halfway across before he stopped and flicked his cigarette over the side.
“Are you finally going to tell me what this is all about?”
“I’m just so bloody nervous,” he said. “Please, just…I…”
Taking pity on him, I shut my mouth and leaned against the railing.
“Is that what you want?” he asked me quietly. “Would you rather be with other guys?”
“Really, you dragged me ten minutes away from the bar to ask me that?”
“No. But fuck, Jaime! Five days ago you were kissing me!”
“That didn’t end so well, if I recall,” I replied scathingly.
“I’ve wanted to tell you I was sorry. So, so sorry,” he said, his voice cracking. “Jaime, you are the second woman I’ve ever been with, and…that was the second time I’ve ever had sex.”
“When I was sixteen, my father paid a bloody hooker to fuck me. It was one of the scariest, grossest moments of my fucking life. She was terrified of my father, I was fucking terrified of him, and…it was messy and fast, and humiliating. It was so bad, I couldn’t bring myself to be like that with anyone again. Until the other night with you, I hadn’t been with anyone in more than ten fucking years.”
“Ricki…” I whispered, my heart bleeding for him. No fucking wonder…
“The difference between the first time, and last time, was more than anything, I wanted it. I wanted to be with you like that. Just you. I’d been dreaming of what it would be like to have sex with you, and I was—I was embarrassed that I was fucking shite, and then you laughed…”
His pain wrapped around my chest and squeezed. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, looking dejected and broken. It took everything I had not to burst into tears for him.
“When you laughed at me, I don’t know…I just snapped.”
“I was happy, Ricki,” I whispered. “I was just happy to finally be with you. I’d been dreaming of it, too.”
Oh, God. His fucking lip was quivering. There was no holding back my tears now.
“I’m so sorry, Jaime. I’ve hated myself every waking moment for what I did. When you came back to the shop, I had hoped that maybe you would change your mind about second chances. Even though it was killing me seeing how much you hated me, I think it would kill me more if you weren’t there at all.”
“Damn it,” I sniffed, wiping the tears off my face.
Slowly, his gaze went from my feet to my face, his strange eyes burning into mine. “I don’t think I can handle you going out with other guys. I—”
“Stop,” I whispered, taking the steps toward him to close the distance.
“I can’t,” he replied. Reaching out, he took my hands in his. Large, hot, and slightly damp, they enfolded mine completely. “You’re my Doll Face. You’re all I fucking think about. I’m in love with you, and I’ve fucking made myself ill over this. I can’t fucking go another day…please, please give me another chance.”
Thank you so much for coming on this journey with me! Ten Thousand Lies is scheduled for release June 10th, 2016. Hope to see you all there!
Thanks, and MUCH LOVE