Another Wednesday, another set of words, all based on the Twitter #1lineWed theme. This week, it’s all about the red–red letters, red lines, red ink, red light…and that includes tail lights. This scene, from my upcoming Susan Stoker World book, FIGHTING FOR ELENA is fairly self-explanatory. I will say that Elena is a social worker and Joy…well, Joy belongs to Nate and Jacey Conner, from HUNTER’S MOON, though she didn’t arrive in their lives until BLUE MOON. Anyway…here ya go. 🙂
Living on the street leaves scars. Joy carried more than a few now. Still, it was better than being held by the Hell Dogs. Her brain told her to phone home but her heart believed what that scary guy had told her over and over. If she contacted her family or had contact with anyone who was a Wolf, her life and theirs would be over “just like that.” He’d snapped his fingers to emphasize his point. He’d kill everyone she loved in a nanosecond. She couldn’t risk it.
A police car drove slowly down the street and she ducked behind a stack of wooden pallets. She shrank lower to the ground as a spotlight swept both sides of the road. She caught the words spray-painted on a concrete barrier in the afterglow.
One day you’ll die.
The message was enough to suck the life right out of her. Shaking, she forced memories away—memories of a concrete and iron cell, of machines and men in white coats, of pain and terror. But then Nate came. Dad. That’s what she called him now. The big Wolf who’d rescued her, gave her a home, him and and his mate, Jacey. Mom. She’d do whatever it took to keep them safe. To keep Gracie safe. And Liam.
Her head insisted she call home, knowing everyone would be worried but her heart only wanted to keep them safe. The red taillights blinked out in the distance. She pushed to her feet and head down, she kept walking.
“Please don’t run again,” a woman’s voice whispered.
Warm fingers gripped her arm and she recognized the face belonging to the woman. She’d approached Joy on the River Walk and Joy had seen Hell Dogs coming. She’d taken off in a panic. She didn’t know this woman and couldn’t give her trust to that lady or anyone.
“Please. Stay and talk to me.” The woman spoke again. “My name is Elena.” Her voice was nice and had a very slight Mexican accent, like she’d grown up about Spanish speakers but spoke English first. “I work for DFPS.”
Joy blinked, her brow crinkling as she tried to work out what the initials stood for. She was from West Virginia. Or was before the Hell Dogs. That’s where her adopted family settled after Louisiana and Virginia. Bad people had been chasing them forever. Uncle Mac and Aunt Hannah, the leaders of their group, finally settled them in a little town in the mountains of West Virginia where the men didn’t have to hide what they were, where everybody knew the secrets and kept them.
As if reading her confusion, Elena explained. “The Department of Family and Protective Services. I work with kids, with runaways like you.”
“I’m not a runaway.” She wasn’t. Those men had scooped her up during a shopping trip to the mall in Raleigh.
“Do you have a home to go to?”
The lady was nice and persistent, but Joy didn’t have time for this. Any of it. She pulled against Elena’s hold. She had to get away. The Hell Dogs, they could sniff her out. That’s when she saw the bruise on the lady’s face.
“They did that to you.” She was positive. Elena had tried to come after her and the Hell Dogs got her. Had they done anything else?
“Those bikers who were chasing you? Yes. One of them punched me and then some real men came to help me. Like I’m coming to help you.”
Joy shook her head and tried to back away. “You don’t understand,” she whispered.
“I promise I can help you.”
“No one can help!”
And there’s the tie-in. Y’all might remember Joy from BLUE MOON, MOON SHOT, and from the little Christmas story I wrote a couple of years ago for “Tipsy Santa.” Joy is the catalyst that brings Elena, the heroine of FIGHTING FOR ELENA, and Pops, her hero, and chief of the Tarpley Texas Volunteer Fire Department. Pops is human with no ties–that he knows of–to the Wolves. Then Joy pops into his life. No pun intended. Much. The book comes out in February 2020 so there will be more hype coming. In the meantime, who else is “seeing red?”