I have a new novel coming soon! Fear- a Mystery/Thriller will be released within the next couple weeks, and I wanted to share the cover with you! Cover designed by David McGlumphy- Amazing job, as usual David! Thank you!
As a special bonus on this blog only (for now anyway) here is Chapter One of Fear- As always, feel free to let me know what you think!
By: Adrianne Lemke
Ryan Parker sat in the barstool, shoulders hunched in exhaustion. Despite his apparent lack of attention, Ryan’s eyes roved constantly, taking in everything around him. He kept his hands wrapped around his untouched beer and waited for his uncle to finish tending bar so he could get a ride home.
It was a bad day; to put it mildly. On this day, fourteen years ago his parents had both died. They were murdered in a bloody scene that left the then seven-year-old Ryan alone. The last thing Ryan wanted today was to be at his uncle’s bar, but after visiting his parent’s graves Frank had insisted his nephew needed to get out of his apartment and be around normal activity for a while.
Every year at this time Ryan became moody and reclusive, and it broke Frank’s heart to see it. He watched Ryan surreptitiously and sighed when he noticed how tense the kid was. He’d hoped to avoid Ryan’s normal behavior on the anniversary by bringing him out of his solitude, but Ryan seemed miserable.
When his brother and sister-in-law were killed, Frank had not been prepared to take in the depressed and traumatized child. He’d relied heavily on advice and assistance from his friends. Especially useful was his friend Mary Hendrix. She had a daughter around Ryan’s age, and her advice was invaluable. They tried multiple times to have Ryan and Kerry meet but Ryan hid in his room every time she came over and refused to come out.
As if suddenly becoming a parent wasn’t enough stress, Frank also soon discovered that someone was after his young nephew. He never figured out why though. Ryan had been nowhere near the scene of the murder; he had spent the night at a friend’s house, returning the next morning to find his parents’ lifeless bodies in a pool of blood. Letting the kid out of his sight became the hardest thing he had to do, especially after someone tried to kidnap him as he walked to school one morning.
Pulling himself from his memories, Frank finished pouring a customer’s drink and moved to stand in front of Ryan. “Hey, kid.”
“Hey, Uncle Frank,” Ryan answered softly. “You about done?”
Frank nodded. “Kerry should be here soon, but with the weather she may be a bit late. You sure you don’t want to stay here and keep her company?” he asked slyly, suspecting his nephew liked the newly hired bartender. Kerry Hendrix, the daughter of his old friend, had recently moved back into the area to be closer to her mother. Hiring her was both a favor for Mary and a huge help for his bar. He found himself disappointed when Ryan shook his head.
“Honestly, Frank, I just want to be alone tonight.”
Smiling sadly, Frank patted the younger man on the shoulder. “I understand.”
It was nearly half an hour later when Kerry finally rushed in. “Sorry, Frank! The roads are awful. I’ll be ready to take over in a minute!” She spoke quickly as she sped to the back room to drop off her coat and punch in.
Frank took Ryan’s untouched beer away and got no outward response from the young man.
“What’s wrong with Ryan?” Kerry asked quietly, observing the defeated form slouched at the bar.
Stealing another look at his nephew, Frank sighed. “He’s having a bad day,” he answered gruffly.
Kerry smiled sympathetically, but had to turn away when a customer called out for a drink.
Entering the empty apartment was a relief. Ryan understood where his uncle was coming from, and that by bringing him to the bar the older man was only trying to help, but all he wanted was to be alone with his memories.
A cold wet nose nudged his hand, and he smiled slightly. “Well, alone except you, huh, buddy?” he said as he patted the big German shepherd. Walking Hunter always helped clear his head, so Ryan grabbed the dog’s leash.
Checking to make sure he had his keys, Ryan clipped the leash to the dog’s collar and headed down the steps. As they walked, Ryan’s mind wandered to earlier in the day when he and Frank had visited his parent’s grave. There had been a bouquet of red roses leaned against the site—the same as there had been every year since they were killed. He had no proof, but Ryan suspected the flowers were left by whoever was behind his parents’ death.
Hunter suddenly stiffened and whined, calling Ryan’s attention to the shadowed area between two houses. A dark shape moved, and he felt the nylon leash digging into his hand as he tightened his grip nervously. Sure, he could handle himself, but this part of town could get dicey. “Still,” he muttered to Hunter. The dog’s whining stopped, but his ears were aimed at the potential threat and his tail was stiff.
Turning his back on an unknown threat was not something Ryan wanted to do, but he trusted the dog to warn him if someone tried to sneak up on him.
“Hey, Parker!” An unwelcome voice called him from behind. Every muscle tensed and Ryan gripped Hunter’s leash fearfully. Theo Draven was the last person Ryan wanted to see.
“What do you want, Draven?” he asked coldly, trying to hide his fear.
The figure Ryan noticed between the houses emerged and he found himself suddenly surrounded on three sides when another man came toward him from across the street. “You put my brother in the hospital,” Theo growled.
Despite trying to hide his discomfort, Ryan felt his lip quirk briefly. Theo’s brother, known on the street as Little Timmy, had nearly killed him almost a year ago. “He put me there first. And technically I didn’t do anything,” Ryan argued.
Hunter let out a fierce snarl, apparently not liking the scent or body language of the men surrounding his master. “It was your mutt that did it,” Theo said as he took a step forward, but lurched back again when Hunter lunged at him.
Ryan held the leash, not wanting his pet to get too close to the probably armed thugs. Make that definitely armed he amended when he noticed the flash of a knife. “Ask around Theo, I spent almost the same amount of time in the hospital as your brother. Shouldn’t we be considered even?”
Not even close; Timmy had ambushed Ryan, very much like how Theo was now. At the time, Ryan had Hunter off leash at a dog park. “Timmy’s a big boy, Theo,” Ryan tried again to talk his way out of trouble, one hand in his pocket attempting to call for help. “You should let him fight his own battles. Assuming he wants to try again.”
The gangster’s jaw clenched, anger radiating through every pore. In his world, reputation was everything. If he fought for his little brother, then Timmy would appear weak. Now the only thing he had to do was back off in such a way that wouldn’t make him seem like a pansy in front of the other members of his gang. Parker was obviously ready to attack, and the man’s dog was just itching to rip them to shreds. Theo hid a shudder at what the dog’s sharp teeth would do to him if he tried to follow through on attacking Parker.
“This isn’t over, Parker!” he snapped with bravado.
“You try again and it will be assaulting a police officer, Draven. Next time I see you, I will find something to arrest you for; you have my word,” Ryan warned coldly.
The soon-to-be cop’s ice blue eyes bore into Theo’s and the gangster could see no fear in them. Ryan walked forward, apparently done with the conversation. The huge dog trotted at his master’s side obediently, and Theo found himself giving ground to the two; his two lackeys he waved off with a frown.
Ryan forced himself to walk naturally, but with each step he worried the gang members would either keep following him or just shoot him in the back. The only weapon he’d seen was a knife, but he knew the gang used guns too.
After a couple blocks he pulled his cell out of his pocket, surprised to find the number he’d dialed was his uncle’s bar. And the call was still connected. “Hello?”
“Thank God!” a female voice exclaimed. “Are you okay? Where are you? I can send your uncle, or the police. What happened?”
Ryan huffed out a laugh. “Kerry, take a breath. I’m fine. Just ran into a few… old friends, I guess.”
“Didn’t sound overly friendly on my end,” she countered.
He could almost hear the frown in the woman’s voice, so he sighed. “Yeah, okay. Theo’s brother tried to kill me once, but Hunter got to him before he could finish the job. Now, apparently, he wants to finish what his brother started. I’m fine… really. I’m heading back to my apartment now.”
“Quick question, Ryan,” Kerry spoke hesitantly.
“Why’d you call the bar? Why not dial 911?”
“I had the phone in my pocket. I tried dialing the emergency number, but must have hit speed dial number nine instead.
“Hey, I need a hand free to get back into my apartment, so I’m going to let you go for now. Thanks for hanging on the line with me, Kerry.”
“You’ll tell your uncle about this at least, won’t you?”
“Yeah; I’ll tell him what happened. Get back to work and I’ll see you tomorrow.” Until Ryan started at the Police Academy the following week, he worked as a bouncer in his uncle’s bar.
“Sure,” she answered softly. “Have a good night, Ryan."
Hope you enjoyed this sneak peak! I will be posting the release date soon! Happy Reading!