Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Stolen by J.P. London Excerpt



After a series of horrible tragedies, Max is left with a shattered family, a crippled sister, and a mountain of climbing debt. With his back against the wall and the crushing weight of his circumstances on his shoulders, he has no other choice but to take matters into his own hands and fight for his sister and his own survival.

But when a heist goes beautifully awry, he finds the one person who will help him carry his weight. Together, they’re forced to fight for what’s right, even as legal boundaries are crossed.

Disclaimer: This New Adult Contemporary Romance is recommended for readers 18+ due to strong language, sexual situations, and other mature topics.


Fear is the trouble only of the gazelle, I think to myself as the door of Rick's Liquors swings open. This store has a familiar setup. The cash register sits high up on its altar, directly in front of the door facing the aisles of booze. It's set up this way so the clerk can peer down from his post and see if anyone's going to steal from him.
I don't necessarily scream thief. But then again, a wolf in sheep's clothing still bares teeth.
It's a small store. The aisles are only twenty feet long or so, each adorned with two racks that create a small space between the four aisles. I walk along the front to the far aisle and then take it all the way back to the refrigerated walls. I want to see who's in the store. Aside from a clerk who won't take his eyes off me, there's only one other occupant.
She's a cute blonde with curly hair that drapes down past her shoulders. A large hat is perched on top of her head and sunglasses hang from her low-cut shirt. She has light, narrow features.
The girl glances up at me as I walk past her. Her blue eyes attempt to meet my gaze, but the only thing they're able to catch is their own reflection. She quickly darts her eyes away from me, avoiding my gaze. I can tell she is trying not to look at me.
I walk along the far corner and pass by the glass doors. Beer, orange juice, sodas. Ah, here we are--the Holy Grail. Energy drinks.
I open the glass door and grab the red can--the can of energy.
I open the can with a "Sppshhh." I take a long sip as I walk through the wine section. Another slow sip of the energy takes me past the cardboard Absolut Vodka display. The blonde beauty is there again, on my left side. I can see her, but she can't see me. My eyes are covered by dark reflective aviator sunglasses.
I can see the clerk staring at me. He must really think I'm going to steal something. I should be offended by his profiling views, but then again, he has no idea how right he is. Approaching the counter, I set the red metal can down.
The clerk looks to be a tall man, but he's stationed high on his pedestal so who really knows? His skin is tanned and he has a dark beard, which extends down from a full head of brown hair. He wears a blue and white checkered button down short-sleeve shirt.
"That all?" the clerk asks with an air of suspicion. For a moment, I wonder if he's actually being weird or if it's just my guilty conscience.
His eyes aren't breaking away from mine. Something is wrong. He's staring way too hard. Seconds tick and fall off the clock with the subtlety of a hand grenade.
"Yes," I reply with a nod. Then I reach down as though I'm going for my wallet, but instead, my grip fastens against the chrome handle of Strength.
I pull the gun from my belt and raise it, aiming it at the clerk's face. He doesn't ever appear to break eye contact with me. The engraved letters on the chrome barrel stare back at me.
"On second thought, I would like something else. Give me the cash."
He freezes, but he doesn't look scared. In this kind of situation, your best defense is a good offense. If he's shitting his pants, you're pretty much good to go. Usually, they step back and throw their hands up, begging for mercy, but... he's not.
In fact, he hasn't moved an inch since I got to the counter. He's just staring at me dead-eyed. My first thought is of a deer in headlights, but that's wrong. He's a jaguar on the hunt.
"Did I fucking stutter?!" I shout. As soon as the words leave my mouth, I hear a loud slam. The door to the back office closes and, for a split second, I glance at it. That split second is too long. The dastardly clerk won't show me his hands because he has a hammer in one of them.
He takes a wild swing and lands the striking side of the hammer perfectly on my fingers. In a gut reaction, I let go and drop the gun on the counter. My hand retracts back close to my chest as the clerk reaches out to grab the weapon.
He has it, but his grip isn't secure. He's too far away for me to wrestle him for it. I race for the front door, but realize it's too far.
I hear the first shot as it echoes through the store. The sound reverberates back and forth in my head. It's much louder than I imagined it would be. I can feel the impact on my arm, and the force almost knocks me down. And at that point, everything goes numb; all senses, all thought. We have now entered survival mode.
Please keep your seatbelts on and your tray tables in the upright and lock position. We are going to be experiencing some turbulence.
I dive behind the aisle. I can see my blood splattered on the black and white checkered floor tiles. I reach my hand over to my right shoulder, touching the wound. My senses return, especially pain. I can feel the bullet hole in my sweater and the hole in my arm.
I look up. I can see the door, but can I make it?
Bang! Bang! The gun screams again as I watch the bags of potato chips around me explode and glass liquor bottles break. The dull sound of my ear drums dying overtakes everything.
The ringing in my ears is deafening, but not loud enough to block out the sound of my heart beating. I can hear it pounding and pulsing through my entire body. With each beat of my heart, my arm hurts more. This is not good.
I start to move, trying to stay low. The fiend has blocked my escape through the front door. Scaling the black and white tiled floors, I move desperately, aiming for the back of the store. Maybe that door I heard close isn't locked. Maybe it leads to an exit.
My feet begin to move quickly.
Bang! Bang! I hear again. Two more shots fired, this time further away. I can hear the bullets getting expelled from the gun and the empty shells being tossed to the floor.
"Think you can rob me?!" he calls out.
I make it to the back door and grip the handle.
Shit, it's locked. My thoughts overwhelm me.
I can hear his footsteps getting closer as the clerk moves with haste and purpose. He's about to round the corner and achieve a direct line of sight.
I move as quickly as I can. I hide behind the wall of the aisle. With my back to him, the only thing between us now is a thin aluminum wall and bottles of pinot noir.
Another shot is fired from the gun. This one almost hits my foot. I continue to shuffle. I'm now on the back wall of the store, pinned in the corner, away from the back door or any windows. Giving up my escape, I sink into the corner.
I'm cornered off, out of places to go. The only hope I have is that this crazy son of a bitch doesn't shoot me.
His footsteps come closer. I raise my hands in the air, the universal sign for, "Don't shoot."
The clerk steps out from behind the coverage of the aisle, his weapon drawn. He looks down at me. My eyes are now exposed, no longer hidden behind my dark reflective lenses. My heart is raising and my breath is struggling to keep up with it. I can see in his eyes that he wants to kill me. This is personal for him.
"No more room to run, no place to hide," he taunts me. "What's going to protect you now?" His words hang in the air.
My eyes fix on him as he raises the gun. The glimmering chrome is now focused. The business end of this beautifully detailed death machine is now aimed at my face.
I can't move. I'm frozen.
Then a metal on metal clicking sound breaks the silence. My view expands from the chrome barrel of doom pointing down at me to the bearded man standing behind it, outward to the chrome barrel behind his head and a flash of blonde hair. Then a soft, demanding voice spoke.
"A Queen always protects her King."

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