Right or Left?
I’m Maggie O’Malley, and I’ve been in the information technology field for thirty years. I’ve been everything from a programmer to project manager. This profession is extremely structured. There are programming rules, syntax, methodologies, and best practices. I have to be highly organized with logical thinking. I’m a planner, a list maker, a puzzle solver.
I’m left brained.
So being left brained, I plan everything out before I start writing, right?
Nope. Not me. I usually wake up and know who my main characters are and how they meet. That’s my first chapter. After that, I don’t have a clue what’s going to happen next. Most of the time, I don’t even know who the villain is. My writing is a journey, and only my characters can tell me what’s going to happen next. Kinda crazy, huh?
I’m totally right brained when I write. I don’t do it on purpose; it just happens naturally. But I think I’ve figured out why writing is so different from my day job. If I plan everything out, if I have all the answers, then I’ve accomplished my goal. The puzzle is solved; therefore, I don’t need to make the journey.
Now I admire the left brain plotters and planners, but plotting would kill my creativity. I have one critique partner who does her whole story in outline form. When she’s satisfied with her outline, she takes each point and expands it. It would take a lot for me to go back and flesh out the skeleton, because I already have all the answers. I know how the conflict is solved, so it’s not fun for me anymore. I mean that’s why I write, to have fun.
Now, is my right brained writing perfect? Nope. I struggle with timelines of stories. I keep telling myself to keep an outline when I finish a chapter, but I never do it, because I’m ready to start the next chapter and see where it leads me.
Thanks for having me here today. Which are you? Are there any centered brained writers out there?
Cat Watson managed to escape from the powerful drug lord Alvarez and right into the hands of the notorious killer—Rabid Rio. Rio promises to protect her and her baby if she becomes his mistress. With no money, what choice did she have?
Rio Wolff has found his mate, and she’s carrying another man’s child, not that it makes a difference to a werewolf. Cat’s running from the bastard, and only he can save her. It would help if she’d stop trying to run away every time he turns his back.
Creed Wolff gazes at the beauty standing in his kitchen and wonders why Rio has broken the rule never to bring a female home. She’s Creed’s mate so he can forgive his brother. Now he needs to replace Rio’s scent with his.
Cat can’t believe she lets both brothers pleasure her. Finally, she’s found a place where she feels safe, protected, and loved. But her world crashes when she finds out they have sold her to Alvarez.
Publisher's Note: This book contains explicit sexual content, graphic language, and situations that some readers may find objectionable: Ménage (m/f/m), anal play/intercourse, sex with toys, and spanking.
Rio Wolff took a sip. There was nothing better than a cup of black coffee, and Fred made the best. Well, maybe a lovely, willing woman was better, but he didn’t have one, so coffee was it. He took a sip as the rain pelted a constant tat-tat-tat on the tin roof. It had been raining for two days making his life miserable. Except for the coffee. He itched to do the job next week, give him something to do. Keep the skills sharp, and all that shit.
The hairs on the back of Rio’s neck stood on end which meant that something was about to happen, He never ignored his instinct which meant enjoying his coffee in peace would soon come to a screeching halt.
An eighteen-wheeler skidded to a stop outside the diner, and a small woman threw herself from the cab, surely she wasn’t the cause of his uneasiness. Anything was possible since women were nothing but a pain the ass.
The woman picked herself up, gave the driver the one-finger salute, and then flagged down another trucker. In the blowing rain, it was a wonder someone didn’t run over her ass. This close to the Mexican border was no place for a female to be running around by herself. Human trafficking was a problem, but if the woman was crazy enough to flag a stranger down, then Rio wasn’t going to try to talk some sense into her. He didn’t go looking for trouble. Trouble always found him.
“You need your cup warmed?” Fred asked from behind the counter.
“Nah, I’m good for now, but you can make another pot. I’ll need another fresh cup before I leave.”
“You know you shouldn’t sit by the window.”
Fred was right. It wasn’t the brightest idea to be sitting at the huge window of the diner. After all, he could count the number of friends he had on one finger, and the number of enemies were too many to count. Dying didn’t frighten him—he just wasn’t ready yet. Besides, it was hard to kill a werewolf. Several had tried, and several had died trying. The last time he saw his shiichoo, Apache for grandmother, she foretold of a woman who would almost be the death of him. All the more reason he’d let that woman out there in the rain crawl into another truck. The almost of her warning wasn’t something he wanted to test.
After this job, he was heading back to the little town across the border to find the woman who stole his money eight months ago. Hell, even in his mind that sounded like bullshit. Rio could care less about the money, but the mystery woman might be his mate. He wasn’t sure. He’d been drunk on his ass with too many tequila shots. His wolf remembered her soft flesh and smelling sweet, but not a scent he could put his finger on—yet. Her identity was a mystery too because she’d insisted he keep the lights off. He hadn’t cared at that time. He’d just needed a warm pussy to drive his cock home, and she had one, nice and tight and slick.
And that’s all he remembered.
He’d awakened with a headache, the smell of her sweet sex filling the air, a dick as hard as steel, and his money missing.
Funny thing was no one at the brothel remembered anything about this anonymous woman, and he was skilled at intimidating interrogation tactics. Rio didn’t smell any lies on those he interrogated, so he’d either been so drunk his wolf had made a mistake, or the people he needed to question were long gone. Or she was a ghost. Either way, he had to find out.
His hairs prickled again as he took another sip. Gonna be a shame to waste this coffee. From the corner of his eye, he saw a figure standing across the road. Even through the driving rain, his wolf eyes saw the person drag a sleeve across their nose. Because of the small size, it could be a kid, but he was betting on woman and not from the eighteen-wheeler. Rio sensed her hesitation, but something compelled her across the highway. The way he figured it, he was soon going to have the answer to his creepy feeling.
Keeping his head low, he pulled his hat over his eyes as she opened the door. She warily glanced around and then sat at the far end of the bar where she could see the two occupants of the diner and the door. Surprisingly, she didn’t give him a second look. Her clothes were nothing but rags, her hair a stringy mess, and he was sure there wasn’t a dry spot on her.
“What can I get you?” Fred asked.
Her mouth opened, and then abruptly closed. Rio sensed her fear and uneasiness. She was probably chilled to the bone.
“I…I was wondering…if you could let me work for food.”
Fred wiped the bar in front of her. “When’s the last time you ate?”
She shrugged. “Couple of days.” Even without being close to her to smell the lie, he knew. Some people didn’t want to admit that they were down and out.
Rio cleared his throat, and Fred looked over his shoulder at him. Rio nodded. Hell, he had more money than God. What was one meal for a starving woman?
“Okay, little lady. What do you want to eat? I have some chopped steak and mashed potatoes or maybe a cheeseburger?”
“Cheeseburger would be great…and maybe some fries. I can wash dishes and sweep up after you close.”
Rio doubted that statement. The woman was at the end of her physical rope. God only knew her mental state. Was she the cause of his apprehension? A starving woman wasn’t something to be alarmed about. He’d hoped that one day he could prove at least one his shiichoo’s visions wrong.
“What can I get you to drink?”
“Coffee, please. Extra cream and lots of sugar.”
Bleh! Leave it to a woman to ruin the best thing next to scorching sex. He inhaled deep, tried to use her scent to ascertain her health. A small whiff of ripe peaches floated to his nose above the smell of strong coffee and greasy food. It was pleasant and somewhat familiar, but hell, he’d known women smelled sweet, that’s why he loved them, physically of course.
It didn’t take long for Fred to set a plate in front of her along with silverware, ketchup, mayo, and mustard. After pouring her a cup of coffee, Fred dumped a pile of sugar and creamer packets in front of her. Rio could only imagine her belly rumbling and her mouth watering at the smell of food. Fred grabbed the coffee pot and headed to his table.
Ah, more hot coffee. Just what I need.
“What do you want me to do, offer her a job?” asked Fred.
She wouldn’t take it. He’d seen that look before. Running anywhere but here. “Sure. Just let me know how much I owe you, and I’ll settle up the next time I’m through this way.”
“You know that’s a bad deal for me.”
Rio eyed Fred from under his hat. “Yeah? How do you figure that?”
“Your line of work has a high mortality rate. Collecting from you is iffy.”
“It’s high for the other guys. Besides, I ain’t dead yet. I’ll leave you a big tip to cover a couple of weeks, but I bet she won’t stay long. She’s running from somebody.”
“Hell, we’re all running from something.”
Rio agreed, but he wasn’t going to dwell on it right now, maybe not ever. The woman carried a backpack, so he wondered if she had a change of clothes, preferably dry. Most likely, all her worldly processions were crammed into it. “I’ll leave some extra money in case she stays around. She’ll need some clothes.”
“I ain’t running no damn halfway house.”
Fred was complaining, but underneath all that piss and vinegar, was nothing but an old softie. If Rio hadn’t come to her rescue, Fred would’ve. “I know. If she’s still here when I get back, I’ll take her someplace safe.”
Rio rolled his eyes. He was good for his word, but Fred just liked to give him shit.
“I’m glad I put that cot in the back. She can sleep there.”
That’d work. It wasn’t a motel, but Rio had installed a damn good security system for this hole-in-the-wall diner. She’d be safe. If anyone tried to break in, alarms and shit would go off and scare the bejesus out them as well as alert the cops.
Not that there was anything to steal…besides the weapons Fred let him hide in the broken cooler. Of course, this wasn’t his only stash house, but he believed in being prepared and
protecting his one and only friend. Fred was an old Marine and a werewolf, getting up in years, but he could sure brew a killer cup of coffee. He chuckled. For that reason alone, Rio would keep him alive.
Her coughing drew his gaze. “There are some antibiotics in my truck. I’ll get them before I leave.”
“Yes, Dr. Rio. I’ll see she gets them.”
“Kiss my hairy balls.”
“No thanks. I’ve seen your balls, and they did nothing for me.”
Seeing each other naked before or after a shift was a pack thing. Fred went back to the counter, and Rio closed his eyes and inhaled his coffee. Damn, that was pure heaven.
“I have a place you can sleep tonight,” Fred said to the lady as he wiped down the counter for the hundredth time.
She ducked her head. “I…I can’t stay. I’ll wash the dishes and sweep, and then I’ll head out.”
“It’s raining. Where are you going to sleep tonight?” asked Fred.
“I…I have somewhere to stay.”
Sure you do.
Fred shot Rio a look across the counter. The woman didn’t want charity, just wanted to eat and pay her debt. The real question was why she didn’t want to stay somewhere warm and dry, at least for one night. She was obviously in trouble.
Fred turned on the charm. “Ah, come on. It’s just for one night.”
She shook her head. “Thanks, but I need to keep moving.”
Keep moving. It was a simple tactic of evasion. Keep moving and hope you’re one-step ahead of whoever is after you. Sometimes it worked, and sometimes it didn’t.
“Listen lady, it’s none of my business, but your body’s running on fumes. I don’t want to find you in the ditch tomorrow when I come into work. You’d give this old heart of mine a reason to give out. Just stay one night.” Rio had to give Fred credit, he’d played on her heartstrings, turned the burden around.
She shoved another fry in her mouth and shook her head furiously. Damn, he hated stubborn women. Why couldn’t they just listen to common sense? Most were more trouble than they were worth.
Lights flooded the diner, and she immediately stood up, her eyes rounded like a deer caught in the headlights. “Do you have a back way out?”
The fear in her voice scraped down Rio’s spine. This was it. The hairs on his neck stood on end again. Before Fred could answer, the front door flew open, and four young men slithered in from the rain. Fred moved to the shotgun stashed under the counter. Rio didn’t take his eyes off the four. The young men were dressed like thugs with baggie pants, wife beater shirts, and full of bravado with no brains. It was gonna be a shame to have to kill them.
“There you are, puta. Alvarez wants you back something bad,” the apparent leader said.
Damn. Everybody was running from Jose Alvarez. His Mexican cartel ruled by instilling fear in people, and those he couldn’t scare ended up unpleasantly dead. Defy and die was his motto. Not that Alvarez was really a Mexican. He was from Arizona, and somehow used his half-Mexican heritage to create the biggest cartel in Mexico just over the border, so he could laugh at the American’s and their drug prevention efforts. Alvarez was below scum, but he paid well.
“Get her,” the youth said.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you.” Rio spoke over the rim of his cup.
The leader spun and glared at Rio. “What did you say?”
“I said…I wouldn’t do that if I were you.” Shame to kill a boy who was hard of hearing.
“And who’s gonna stop me? You and this old man?” The teen and his friends laughed. Rio was sure they’d just pissed Fred off by calling him an old man.
“No, just me.”
Rio pushed his hat up on his head and locked gazes with the leader. These men weren’t part of the death squads or the enforcers; they were young, low-level dicks with shit for brains.
“You? Just you? Ain’t nobody that good.”
The leader hitched his head, and the others grabbed the woman. She didn’t scream or cry which was a good thing because crying grated on his soul. Her fear was strong, assaulting his nose, ripping a hole in his gut. His wolf was pacing, getting antsy about something, but he didn’t have time to dwell on it.
“What do you want her for?” Best to find out why these boys were gonna die.
“She belongs to Alvarez.”
Belongs like property, probably treated worse than the dog. Good for only one thing.
“Hey, I know you,” the leader said. “You’re Rabid Rio.”
He didn’t miss her sharp intake of her breath and knew if he glanced at her face, fear would be there. It didn’t take long for her panic to reach his nose. So she knew who he was.
Rio hated that name except in times like this. These punks had no idea how rabid he could be when an innocent was involved. “Then you know you don’t want to fuck with me.”
“But you’ve worked for Alvarez before. I know you don’t want to fuck with him.”
Rio didn’t give a shit that this was Alvarez’s woman. She obviously didn’t feel the same way, so there was no way in hell he was letting them take her back.
“You’re not taking the girl. Now which one of you wants to remain breathing so you can tell Alvarez that Rabid Rio said to leave her alone?”
“You’re kidding, right?” the leader asked.
Rio shook his head. Kidding wasn’t something he did or even knew how to do.
“There’s a reward for bringing her back.”
Rio didn’t doubt that. Alvarez had plenty of money and thought it could solve any problem. Sure Rio had taken Alvarez’s money to do special, odd jobs, but so far, Rio’s conscience was intact.
“The way I see it is you have two options. You can walk out the door without the girl and live or you can stay here and die.”
Indecision crossed the boy’s face as well as his friends. They were in a no-win situation. If they went back to Alvarez, he’d surely kill them because they didn’t die trying to take the woman. And if they were stupid enough to try to take the woman, there was no question they would die. “The best thing you can do is leave and pretend you didn’t find her.”
Fear was a wonderful thing. Now this thug had to figure out whom he feared most. Rio always figured that fearing the closest threat was the best option, but shit-for-brains probably wouldn’t figure that out.
“Nah, man. I can’t let that money slip away.
Rio waited. He saw the fear replaced by determination in the young man’s eyes. Rio didn’t particularly want to kill them, definitely wouldn’t like it, but at some point in everyone’s life, they had a choice to make. The men’s lives for the girl’s. Punk boy was making his choice, and Rio made his.
Rio planned on living up to his name tonight. When he got into that mode, he was like a rabid wolf intent on finishing the job at all costs. His eyes narrowed as he waited. Calm moved over his body. Acute awareness pulsed through him. The soft hum of the overhead lights, a single drop splashing in the coffee pot, the hostage’s ragged breath.
When the leader reached for his piece, Rio hesitated until it cleared the thug’s back. Then he drew and fired three times. Three young men lay dead on the floor. The fourth pulled the girl in front of his body, a pistol aimed recklessly at her head.
Her eyes rounded with fear. She looked like she was going to puke up all that good food.
“You want to be the one to give Alvarez a message for me or do you want to join your very dead friends on the cold, hard floor?” In Rio’s mind, it was a no brainer
The guy’s gaze dropped to his dead compadres. “No,” said the lone kid. “You’ll let us walk out the door, or she’s going to die.”
The teen and his hostage inched toward the door. Rio took a sip of coffee while he waited. All he needed was a few inches of that ugly face, and the youth would be dead. Over the rim of his cup, he saw her eyes narrow. Oh, shit! What was she going to do? Stay calm, little girl. In a smooth move, she pretended to stumble, and Rio didn’t waste the opportunity. As the bullet sent the man careening backwards, the woman broke free and charged for the door.
“Why is she running?” Rio asked Fred. “I just saved her life.”
Fred glanced at the carnage on his diner’s floor. “You’ve killed four men without leaving your seat at the same time you’re sipping your coffee. Hell, you even scared the shit out of me. Or maybe she’s afraid of the Rabid part of your name. Or maybe you’re just butt ugly.”
Rio stood, holstered his pistol, and stretched his back to ease the tension. “I’ll go get her, and then I’ll help you clean up this mess.”
“Be careful. She’s armed and dangerous.”
“What?” No way.
“Yep, she pilfered one of my best steak knives.”
Rio grinned. “Thanks for the heads-up.” He pulled his cowboy hat down over his eyes, buttoned his duster, and stepped out into the pelting rain.
Damn, women sure were a pain in the ass.