The anthology is about guys with tattoos -- yummy! -- and my story in particular is about Dope, an ex-con who thought his best friend, Rat, had died as they were fleeing a crime scene... right up until Rat shows up on his doorstep with a new tattoo, a lot of scars, a .45... and a grudge.
I really like this story. I'd had the notion for it almost as soon as the call for it came out, but I couldn't get the characters to gel, couldn't get them to go where I needed them to go. So I shrugged it off and put it away and went on with life. I came back to it about a month after my husband and I separated, only a week before the call deadline, and apparently the spark I'd been missing was a little extra anger to put me in touch with Rat, because once I started, the whole thing came boiling out all at once.
I do believe I promised you some release-day excerpts, did I not? This is the opening, not much changed since the taste I posted back at the end of August:
The knock on his door was staccato and brief, the kind of knock that heralds only bad news. Still, Dope did not expect to open the door and find himself staring straight into the muzzle of a .45.
Dope had stared down more than a few barrels in his life -- he'd come up hard, and things had only served to make him harder over the years -- but it wasn't the kind of thing a man ever got used to. At best, he'd learned to hide the reaction, the way his stomach flopped and his balls curled up tight and his throat suddenly went dry. Dope's outward reaction was pretty good by now. His jaw clenched and he rocked back on his heels, but he managed to avoid actually taking a step.
One thing he'd learned, last time he'd been in the joint, was that it was a mistake to look at the killing end of a weapon pointed at you. You had to look at the man holding it. Look him in the eyes. Sometimes, if you were a big, mean-looking sonuvabitch, like Dope was, if you looked hard enough, it would make them back down. And if not... Well, it showed in their eyes first, before they attacked.
Dope didn't figure any warning would be fast enough to matter when the weapon was a gun instead of a prison shiv, but he looked up anyway, let his gaze follow that cold steel barrel to the hand holding it, along the arm, up the neck to the face. The face had a lot of scars, especially on the left side, which was so pitted and seamed as to be grotesque. But it was the eyes Dope was looking for. These eyes were chocolate brown under the narrowed lids, cold as ice, pitiless as a crack whore on her last fix, and... familiar.
And another one, since you'd probably already read that back in August:
Rat smiled thinly. "You like my ink, Dope? Tats don't set well on scars, but my guy was one of the best." His free hand lifted, his thumb absently brushing over the design.
"God, Rat." Dope's throat was thick. "What the fuck did you do to earn a Sinner's Star?" A Sinner wasn't anyone you wanted to cross, if you were inside. Even the guards gave the Sinners a wide berth. Most of them were lifers, or the kind of repeat offenders who might leave, but you knew they'd be back inside of six months.
"None of your damn business, Dope," Rat snapped.
Amazon and B&N aren't showing the listing yet, but I'll update my assorted links when it shows up. In the meantime, the ebook is available at both Torquere's site and on All Romance Ebooks, and probably some other distributors quicker on their feet than Amazon and Barnes and Noble. And in a few weeks, it'll be available in print as well, from Amazon. I hope you enjoy it!