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Tied to Trouble

By´╝ÜMegan Erickson

Chapter One


Chad leaned over the candy apple–red fuel tank of his Honda Interceptor and prepared to gun the engine. The Toyota in front of him had been going exactly one mile over the speed limit for the last five miles, and if Chad didn’t blow this Popsicle stand soon, he’d explode into a mass of impatient flames.

His sister had said there’d be food at this party where he was heading, and he’d be damned if he passed up that—or the chance to see his sister’s smiling face—because of some lame-ass driver he’d already dubbed Turtle Toyota.

He flicked his wrist, building up speed, relishing the wind on his face and in his hair. The weather in Willow Park, Pennsylvania, was finally warming up and there was no better way to celebrate than flying down the highway with a huge hunk of powerful, vibrating machine between his legs.

When there was a break in traffic on the two-lane road, Chad took his shot, crossing the double yellow lines into the lane of oncoming traffic and screaming past the slow-ass turtle of a Toyota, making a point to shoot a daredevil grin at the driver of the slow sedan. He caught a glimpse of big blue eyes and then he was back over on the correct side of the road, in front of the Toyota. And ahh, the open road.

In a matter of five minutes, he slowed to a stop in front of Austin Rivers’s house. Well, it was Marley’s house, too, now that she’d moved in with her boyfriend. They were sickeningly perfect in a way that stirred a longing in Chad’s gut. But instead of dwelling on that bit of suckage, he spent his time lobbing tech puns at the two nerdy lovebirds.

It felt a hell of a lot better than focusing on everything he didn’t have.

Yet, he told himself. Everything he didn’t have yet.

Unless he chickened out. Again.

Not thinking about it.

He parked his bike, checked to make sure his wallet was tucked into the back pocket of his jeans, and straightened his black leather jacket. His sister and her boyfriend were throwing a party for the employees and associates of Gamers magazine, a company Austin used to co-own and where Marley still worked. Apparently the guy wanted to thank them for all they’d done the years he’d been a part of the company. Chad guessed that was pretty cool—he’d never held a job where his boss wanted to spend extra time with his employees, let alone thank them.

He slipped through the door and headed straight for the kitchen. He probably should’ve found Marley first and given her shit for inviting him to a stuffy work event, but he really was hungry. And as his sister liked to say, a hungry Chad was an obnoxious Chad. He’d just grab a few things and find her when he was fit for human company. Honestly, he was doing everyone a favor.

When he walked into the room, angels sang and the heavens shined down from above. Food. Glorious food. Meat and cheese platters, fruits and vegetables, and some little pastry things that looked Greek and delicious.

Chad didn’t bother with a plate, just began to dig in. He was shoving a huge strawberry in his mouth when a throat cleared and his turned his head to see his sister with her arms over her chest, eyebrows raised.

Busted. He tried to say, “Hey,” but because of the strawberry, it came out more like a grunt.

“Really?” Marley asked.

He chewed and swallowed, which took some effort. “Where’d they get these strawberries? They’re mutant.”

Marley rolled her eyes and popped a cube of cheddar in her mouth. “Who knows where Austin gets anything? But seriously. You couldn’t come out and socialize before stuffing your gullet?”

He surveyed the strawberries for another massive one and spotted his prize. He grabbed it before his sister could steal it. “I’m a growing boy who has to leave for work in a couple of hours. Let me fill my poor starving belly, and I’ll be out in a little bit.”

Marley snatched the strawberry out of his hand. “Speaking of you finally having a job, you can afford your own food.”

“Hey!” he protested. The finally dig bothered him, but as always, he didn’t let it show. It was his own fault, in a way. He’d always played in to the part of the job-hopping, fun-loving guy. He couldn’t expect to be treated differently than how he treated himself.

Marley took a dainty bite off the tip. “How is the job by the way?”

He shrugged. He’d been to Blue Moon Bar enough that it made sense he should get paid to be there, plus he made a mean Screaming Orgasm. Sure, the work uniform was a little weird—tuxedo pants, a bow tie, and a pair of white cuffs, no shirt—but his nipple rings were tip magnets, so whatever. “It’s fun.”

“How about this one lasts, yeah?” Her voice was softer now, kinder.

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