In case you can't wait for the next novel in the inCapable series... I thought I would give a peek at the first chapter from unForgivable. Don't forget this is the unedited version and it subject to changes. This novel picks up a few chapters before the last novel ended.
Beth: Scowling, I trudge into Mona’s pub, blowing through the entrance to the back room so I can change into some sensible shoes for work—one inch versus two inch heels. As I pass Aunt Mona’s office, her gaze lifts and our eyes meet but I keep walking. I soon hear her heels marking time with mine.
When it comes to other people’s business, Mona usually sticks to her own. But when it comes to mine? She’s like a dog with a bone.
I fall onto the couch and kick my feet out of my shoes, sighing. I hug my designer purse against my chest like it’s a lifeline. Once upon a time I used a teddy bear for comfort but as a grown women, my brown leather designer bag will do just fine.
Mona appears in the doorjamb, her flaming red hair a few shades darker than it was the day before. She should be grey at her age, but this fiery lady isn’t about to grow old gracefully. Not a chance. She leans against the frame, studying me.
“Problem?” she asks, crossing her arms over her chest.
“Have you seen Evie?” I ask. Evie’s condition on my mind for days now since I heard about her attack. I’ve been sick about it since. I just thank God she wasn’t killed because from what I’ve heard that was the asshole’s goal.
Mona frowns at me.
“Please don’t look at me like that.”
“Maybe you should have gone to see her at the hospital.”
“Yeah, maybe.” Evie is a new friend and a coworker. I had a hand in her starting work here, but I also had a hand in getting her almost killed. One thing about me I always felt good about until recently? I’m a good friend. Well, usually I am, but the other night I got drunk and when a friend wanted to leave the club we were partying at, I let her leave—alone. And I didn’t even visit her when she lay in the hospital bruised and beaten. Nope, my guilt wouldn’t let me. Seeing her in pain would have just given me a permanent image of my huge mistake. And I don’t like to look my mistakes in the face. Who does?
“You fucked up, Beth. Don’t go it again.”
“I need a change,” I say. Deep down, I know letting Evie leave alone was selfish and stupid. I didn’t want to leave so I let myself pretend Evie could take care of herself, but she only just moved to Sterling City and she’s perhaps one of the most innocent people I’ve ever known. If I hadn’t been drinking…if I hadn’t been so focussed on Mason Cross… Mason Cross.
There’s another reason I need to change.
“I don’t know…I’m just thinking if I could go back.” I chew on my nails, wishing I could. Could I have saved her from the attack? Or would someone else have taken her place? Could I have saved them too?
Mona picks up an apron sitting on the table to her left and chucks it at my face. “Don’t dwell, Beth. It’ll give you wrinkles. Just don’t do it again. And yeah, you need to change. I’m sick to death of having to bail you out of the stupid situations you constantly get yourself into.”
I don’t have the energy to argue that point, and Mona doesn’t exactly give in when it comes to arguments—like ever.
“Is there something else?” Mona asks, eyeing me with big, brown eyes, one eyebrow raised.
I frown up at her and slam my head back against the upholstery.
“What?” She rolls her eyes at me. “Don’t tell me…it’s a boy.”
“A boy? I don’t date boys, Mona. I date men. Unfortunately, they’re all pricks and liars.”
“Don’t swear, I’ll wash your fucking mouth out with soap.”
I chuckle at her poor attempt at humour. But then, she’s probably not joking. It’s okay for her to swear like a sailor, but it isn’t for her niece—not that, that’s all I am to her. She’s practically raised me since my mother brought me over from Poland when I was almost thirteen. She was the one who convinced my mother to let me stay when Mom went back home. That, and my mother has questionable morals, even more questionable than my criminal aunt and uncle. But at least Aunt Mona and Mickey are there for me when I need them.
“He’s married, Mona,” I say.
“The guy I’ve been seeing.”
“What’s his name?”
I glare at her, ignoring her question—and with good reason. My aunt is one of scariest women you’ll ever meet. Seriously. Think Annie Oakley meets Bonnie of Bonnie and Clyde. People that piss her off go missing. That goes for her brother, too, my cranky Uncle Mickey. So giving her the name of a boy who managed to hurt me isn’t something I’m about to do, no matter how much I might like to see him suffer.
“Tell me,” she demands.
“Forget about it.”
“Why do go after all these unavailable men? I don’t get it.” She shakes her head and then like a lightbulb has gone off in her head, a smirk crosses her lips. “I know what you need.”
Declan Lewis appears behind her, his eyes moving from her to me. Declan is behind hot. Once upon a time I would have done anything to get his attention, but since Mona took him in years ago he’s become more of a brother than a potential bedmate. And with that, he’s also become quite annoying because he tends to get overprotective about me at times. Even if he comes in a muscled, tattooed, and beautiful package.
“What’s going on?” Declan asks though he seems distracted and simply making conversation.
“Boy trouble,” Mona says, a hint of acidity in her voice.
He groans and walks away. “Need to borrow something from the basement,” he says, his voice trailing off.
“Put it back when you’re done.” Mona pauses for a moment. “On second thought, throw it in the harbour.” She turns her attention back to me.
This is my family. Criminals. And I’m just close enough to their shit that I can hear it, taste it, smell it…they just make sure I never see it. That no one sees it. They like to keep their criminal activities hidden from me, but then, I’m not an idiot, and Mona has a small arsenal in her basement, and though she never goes down there anymore, it doesn’t mean she doesn’t have it on standby. Mickey and Declan tend to peruse her selection from time to time. Here, they talk about picking out a gun as casually as they would talk about Sunday dinner.
“I guess he’s not mad at me anymore.” Declan has fallen hard for Evie and he didn’t exactly keep quiet about how shitty I was to let her take off on her own that night at The Pipeline. He’s talking to me so he must be over it.
“He does care about you, you know,” Mona says, referring to Declan.
“Well he’s falling hard for Evie and I think that probably outweighs any feelings he has for me.”
“She’s good for him.”
I shrug. “Yeah, I know.” I stand, slip out of my leopard print shoes and snatch my black ones to the left of the couch. Wish I could find someone good for me. I slide my feet into them my shoes, already appreciative of the extra room I find in the rounded toe.
“Beth, if you want a change…then change. Stop dating assholes who don’t give a shit about you. And stop obsessing about them. Because I’m sure you leaving Evie to fend for herself at The Pipeline had everything to do with a guy.”
I hang my head and shake it, my blonde hair falling over my face like a curtain to hide my shame.
“Let me set you up with a nice boy. Someone who won’t put up with your bullshit.”
“I don’t know why I started this conversation.”
“I told you before, Mickey and I won’t always be around to take care of you.”
“You little snot. You’ll miss me when I’m gone.”
“I know the perfect guy. He just moved back here and—“
“He’s a marine, or an ex one. Whatever the fuck you call them.”
This stops me. I’ll admit a man in uniform has a certain appeal, but a marine? Don’t they stick their dick into any hole they can find? “I’m good, Mona. I can find my own man.”
“Just go out and meet him.”
“What is so great about this guy, anyway? You don’t like anyone.”
“You’re right. And I barely like you.”
I blow her a kiss.
“There’s something about him, Beth. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but he’s the guy for you…He’s a bit like Declan in a way…quiet…a little sad…maybe a little lost.”
I can’t contain my laughter. “This is your sales pitch? Sad and lost? He’s like Declan? Declan annoys the hell out of me on his best days.”
“He’s in the pub right now,” Mona says as she turns on her heel and starts to walk away. “He’s sitting at the bar. Longish brown hair, big brown eyes and a five o’clock shadow. He’s got too many tattoos for my taste but you probably like that sort of thing.
“Oh, and his name is Damien.”
I roll my eyes at her words as I walk past her on the way to the bar. “Stop playing matchmaker, Mona. It doesn’t suit you.” The last thing I need in my life is someone like Declan. He’s got more baggage than a freight ship…but when I push through the double swinging doors leading to the front, I can’t help but nonchalantly search for this guy who Mona thinks might be my perfect match. Perfect match? Hah. Relationships don’t last. The only lasting relationship in life is the one you have with yourself.
It’s lunchtime and the pub is more crowded than usual. The noise level peaks, the muffled sound of a hundred conversations happening all at once. Add the sound of Irish music to the background and I can barely hear myself think. I head to the bar, not intending on looking for Damien, but my curiosity won’t let me forget about him.
He’s easy to spot, even though every seat at the bar is occupied. He has the body of a military man: tall, lean and muscular with tattoos. His hair is short on the bottom and long on top, a haircut perfect for a guy who hid his hair under a hat or beret or ball cap or whatever it is that they wear in the marines. He wears a short sleeved black shirt, his tats stretching down the the backs of his hands. He’s thick but not beefed up like a guy who spends long hours at the gym pumping iron while staring at himself in the mirror. Just fit…lean. And I’m a little in lust.
He leans over the bar, his hand firmly around a glass of something or other. I don’t approach him initially. I pour some drinks, get rid of some dishes from the customers who leave and then wipe down tables. When the place has quieted and is filled with only the regulars, I finally make my way over to him. Though I make sure Mona’s not around because I don’t want to fuel her meddling fire. Or to have her shout ‘I told you so’ at me when it is clear that I find him attractive.
I hate that she knows me so well. If only she matchmake herself so I wouldn’t have to see her alone all the time. Not that her brother-in-laws would allow her to remarry or anything. Or dead husband was a Dante and in this small city, that means something. The Dante and the Hill family are like the mob in Sterling.
“Another drink?” I ask him.
He doesn’t look up at me; he keeps his eyes on his glass as he offers a single nod. It kind of hurts my ego a little. I’m not used to guys ignoring me. Blonde hair, blue eyes, small body and ample breasts, I’m used to guys coming on to me, giving me my way and offering to give me the world and more—until they get bored of me, like Mason just did. Asshole. They always end up married or emotionally unavailable. Story of my life.
“What are you having?” I lean over the counter, knowing full well the curve between my breasts is visible in my low v-neck shirt. He doesn’t even raise an eyebrow. Maybe he’s gay. Or maybe he is as advertised—another Declan. Before Evie, I could have sworn Declan was batting for the same team.
“Whiskey and water.”
“Water? That’s a serious drink,” I say.
“What can I say? I’m a serious guy.” He tilts his head up to study me. A hint of a smile crosses his full lips.
I’ll admit I like the way his face looks when he engages me. Like he’s focused on me and no one else. I also like those big brown eyes, they look like they have a story to tell and I’m nothing if not nosy. And the scar that passes over his left cheek when his cheeks lift has me intrigued. I imagine it’s from the military, but then it could be from something much less glamorous, like falling off a bike when he was a kid.
I make his drink and set it down on the hardwood counter in front of him. “Where are you from?”
“Never seen you before.”
His smile builds. “No, I don’t suspect you would have.”
“But you know my aunt?”
He tips his head to the side.
“Mona Bilsky?” I offer.
“Yeah, I know Mona. You must be Beth.”
He holds out his hand and I take it in mine, noting the roughness and the nicotine stains on his fingers. His hand engulfs mine, and the heat from his body adds to the heat building in mine. Okay, Mona, there is something sexy about him, something undeniably raw. All I can think about right now is how these hands would feel against my bare skin.
“How do you know my aunt?” I demand, not caring if I’m prying or bordering on rude.
What did he just say? I open my mouth and then snap is shut before find my voice again. “Excuse me?”
He chuckles. “I’m not even kidding. We met a long time ago. She did me a favour and we’ve kind of kept in touch ever since.”
“You must have made an impression on her. She doesn’t like a lot of people, and she likes you enough to think we should date.”
He chokes on his drink. “Wow, she wasn’t kidding when she said you’re confident.”
“So has she told you that? That she wants us to date?”
He smirks at me, shaking his head.
“She must have forgotten to put that in her letters, huh?” I say, my voice laced with sarcasm.”
“Uh…I…I’m not sure what I’m supposed to say right now.”
“You don’t have to say anything.”
“So why do I feel like you’re standing there passing judgement.”
I shrug. “Maybe I am. I guess I’m trying to decide if you’d be worth my time.”
He laughs out loud. “That’s even if I’m interested.”
“Please,” I say, refusing to lose my nerve. “One kiss. One touch…And you’d be interested.”
“Don’t be so sure,” he says, winking at me before taking drinking the rest of his whiskey.
I like that he’s giving me as much sass as I’m giving him. Guys love confident girls and I try hard to play the role with finesse, even if inside I’m just as self-conscious as the next girl—I’m just a better actress.
“It wouldn’t have worked anyway,” I say, matter of factly as I stand back to survey his handsome body.
He chuckles, “Yeah, and why is that?”
“You look like a shitty kisser. I wouldn’t have been able to get over that.”
“I’ve never had any complaints.”
“Prove it. Then whatever attraction we have between us will be over.”
“Whatever you’re feeling is one-sided.”
“Prove it,” I say, motioning with my hands for him to get up.
He laughs out loud now. Shaking his head at me, and looking at me like he can’t decide if I’m crazy or perhaps a little a little too bold and a whole lot of crazy.
He stands up, pushing his stool back and out of the way. Challenge accepted.
I never imagined him to be as tall as he is, and I have to admit I like it a lot. He’s got a good foot on me and when I glance down to his pants I see a bulge I’m a little impressed with—unless the guys stuffs himself like some other guys I know.
My stomach is in knots and I can’t explain why. Guys don’t make me nervous. Not one bit. But this guy…Moan was right. Like Declan, he’s a little unnerving and perhaps a bit unpredictable. He’s going to follow through. I didn’t expect him to. Nope. I expected to keep control of the conversation and have him get a little fidgety and a little nervous. Guys don’t know how to treat a bold, confident woman. They usually back down or run away, but not Mr. Marine. I’m not sure this guy would know how.
My stomach aches as unfamiliar butterflies dance wildly inside to a song that I’ve never heard before. He lifts a hand and with a single finger, he motions with a wave for me to come closer. I shrug at him, refusing to be scared. He won’t back down so neither will I.
He puts his hands on the counter, leaning in and I stretch up on my tiptoes, forcing myself to meet him the rest of the way. With a single hand he reaches up to stroke the side of my face and my eyelids flutter until they fall closed.
What the hell am I doing?
He whispers in my ear, something low and husky. “Is this what you want?”
I nod, my cheek tingling against the rough feel of his calloused fingers.
Then, as I wait with bated breath for him to touch his delicious lips to mine, he presses a kiss to my other cheek. And then…nothing. His fingers leave my face and his breath is no longer a weak wind in my hair. When I open my eyes he’s smirking at me. He leaves me hanging. Me! And I want to slap him hard and go masturbate in the bathroom all at the same time.
“Asshole,” I say as I turn from him, ignoring the sound of his chuckling at my back.
I storm out back, straight to Mona’s office and when I reach her doorway, I put my middle finger up sky high as I give her a death stare. She laughs riotously at me. “Met your match, little bird?”
“Not even close,” I say as I stomp away. “And don’t call me little bird.”