Half Moon Bay woke to a veil of gray and wet, the air thick with fog and a pounding cold rain a degree away from hail. The drops sliced at Lang’s face as he ran from his parking spot to his shop, cursing himself for not taking one of the spaces in front of Between the Lines.
“Customers.” A vicious snap at his cheek made him flinch, and Lang juggled his messenger bag around, tugging his jacket’s hood down. “Spaces for customers.” None of whom were there at eight in the morning and probably would be in their right minds if they stayed home altogether.
The wind carried more than the cold with it. A taint of salt and spoil ran along its edges, carried up from the shore. With the wet came the rot, decomposing leaves and grasses piling up until they grew hot from the decay. The rain broke through composts and brush, a frigid hand scraping back the dank until the grungy smell carried through the streets.
It was early, too early for most people to be out, but there was already a light on over at the auto shop. Shaking out his jacket, Lang spotted a sheriff’s car and two dusty vans parked to the side of the building, their windows misted nearly opaque. From where Lang stood, there was no sign of that day’s violence except for the shops’ boarded-up windows and a few specks of glass tumbling around in the gutter’s flow. Deacon’s truck sat close to the field, its camper top a dull beige as the torrential downpour scraped the dust from its paint.
It’d been two days since their ride to the coast and back ended in tragedy, and the air still felt heavy with confusion and regrets. There was no blood on the asphalt, no piercing screams bouncing off of the surrounding wood and brick walls. Picked clean, the whole cul-de-sac seemed more an eerie ghostly backdrop than an actual crime scene, but Lang’s nerves knew differently. He could still see Eli lying broken apart in Abe’s terrified embrace, and there were echoes of booming pops in his ear, the smell of blood steeped into his mind and senses.
When he looked up, Lang’s day went from dreary to full-out shit when he saw Deacon limp out of the auto shop and stand in the chilling rain. His head was thrown back and his eyes were closed, weariness hanging on his shoulders. He looked bruised and worn, beaten up by the past few days.
Angled with one end farther from the rest of the businesses, the auto shop had been a later addition and set up by its original owner, Lang’s great-grandfather, a Chinese-born immigrant who’d not wanted the street’s bad luck to flow into his shops. As a result, the end unit was a slanted jog off of the main building, the end cap of a long L, practically spread open for everyone to see inside if the bay doors were open.
They were all open now, rolled-back shutters laying Deacon’s life out for everyone to see. There were people inside the shop, pacing shadowy forms picking at bricks and the floor. A grim-faced cop stood a few feet away from the spot Deacon’d shoved Lang and Zig to keep them out of the shooter’s sight.
Seeing how open and vulnerable the space was, it struck Lang how close they’d come to dying.
Fish Stick Fridays is being released by Dreamspinner Press on November 30.
Deacon Reid was born bad to the bone with no intention of changing. A lifetime of law-bending and living on the edge suited him just fine—until his baby sister died and he found himself raising her little girl.
Staring down a family history of bad decisions and reaped consequences, Deacon cashes in everything he owns, purchases an auto shop in Half Moon Bay, and takes his niece, Zig, far away from the drug dens and murderous streets they grew up on. Zig deserves a better life than what he had, and Deacon is determined to give it to her.
Lang Harris is stunned when Zig, a little girl in combat boots and a purple tutu blows into his bookstore, and then he’s left speechless when her uncle, Deacon Reid walks in, hot on her heels. Lang always played it safe but Deacon tempts him to step over the line… just a little bit.
More than a little bit. And Lang is willing to be tempted.
Unfortunately, Zig isn’t the only bit of chaos dropped into Half Moon Bay. Violence and death strikes leaving Deacon scrambling to fight off a killer before he loses not only Zig but Lang too.