Ride Wild by Laura Kaye comes out tomorrow and it’s the third book in the Raven Rider’s series. It’s a pretty popular series that features characters from a motorcycle club and I’ve been hearing good things about it. We’re excited to share an excerpt of the first chapter with you lovely readers today.
Check it out.
It was their normal routine, and it was awkward as crap.
Cora Campbell bit back a smile as she sat in the passenger seat of the beat-up pickup truck. She didn’t think Sam Evans, her boss-of-sorts, would appreciate her humor. Or, like, any humor. He filled the driver’s seat beside her, his big hands on the wheel and black tattoos snaking all down his lean, muscled arms. From the corner of her eye, she sneaked a glance at his face, and one word came to mind.
Longish wild brown hair, like he couldn’t keep from raking at it in frustration. Wild brown beard that Cora sometimes imagined chopping off just so she could better see the face it seemed like he purposefully hid beneath it. Pale green eyes, mesmerizing in their uniqueness, but also wild with emotions at which she could only guess . . .
“So, um, Slider,” she said, her use of the nickname his motorcycle club had given him slicing through the uneasy silence, “anything special I need to know about Sam and Ben for tonight?”
That pale gaze slashed her way, and she felt the chill of it into her bones. Slider didn’t scare her—he was too good to his boys for that. But it was entirely possible that his glances appeared in the dictionary next to Intimidating as Fuck. And maybe even If Looks Could Kill. And definitely Like, Whoa. It was a good thing he paid her so well to babysit his sons. In truth, he was doing her a pretty big favor giving her a part-time job while she figured out her life, so she put up with his… moodiness.
He huffed out a breath, as if mustering the energy to reply sucked vital life force from his soul or something. “Sam has homework he wants your help with,” he said, his tone almost apologetic. “And Ben… is Ben.”
Cora nodded. Having babysat the kids four or five days a week for the past three months, she had a decent idea what Slider meant. At six, Ben was a sweetheart of a boy, but nightmares and monsters under the bed gave him more than a little difficulty sleeping. “Okay.”
They came upon the two-story white farmhouse where Slider lived and Cora sometimes worked. Empty, overgrown flower beds. A misshapen wreath on the door, so bleached from the sun Cora could no longer tell what color it’d originally been. Shutters hanging at odd angles from years of neglect. The house had an abandoned, decaying feel about it, and Cora didn’t really have to wonder why that was.
Slider hadn’t even parked when the front door exploded open, the creaky screen door wobbling like it might just give up and fall off its hinges. A little boy darted out next to the gravel driveway, hopping excitedly as if the grass hid a trampoline. Except for the lighter brown hair and happiness shaping his face, there was no denying Ben was Slider’s kid.
Cora stepped out of the truck into the warm early September evening wearing a smile. “Hey, jumping bean.”
“Name’s Ben, not Bean,” he said, his grin all the cuter for the big gap where his front teeth should’ve been.
“You sure? I could’ve sworn it was Bean.” She hugged him as he threw his arms around her waist. Where Slider was a walking, talking wall that kept all his emotions barricaded, his younger son wore every single emotion on his sleeve.
“No.” He laughed. “It’s Ben!”
“Okay, Bean.” Hiking up the backpack that served as an overnight bag, she glanced at Slider and found him watching her through narrowed eyes, like maybe she was a foreign language he couldn’t decipher. Tall and broad-shouldered, he had a ranginess about him that, like the house, spoke of neglect. She’d seen him sit with the kids at meals, sometimes even with a plate of food in front of him. But it was possible she’d eaten more watching movies in bed with her friends Haven and Alexa last weekend than she’d seen Slider eat in the past three months combined.
The youngest Evans let loose a long-suffering groan. “No, Cora, it’s Ben,” he said, pronouncing her name more like Coowa. It was so cute it almost killed her.
“Finally, you’re here,” Sam called from the front door. At ten going on eleven going on thirty-five, the kid was the definition of an old soul. It was in his eyes, the seriousness of his personality, the way he took care of his little brother, as if, without being asked, he was trying to relieve some of the burden of being a single parent from his father’s shoulders.
“I am, in fact, here. Now the party can begin,” Cora said, ruffling the older boy’s hair as she stepped into the neat but shabby living room. Sam tried to hold back his smile as he dodged her hand, but didn’t quite manage.
“Wait. We’re having a party?” Ben asked as she dropped her bag on the couch.
Sam rolled his eyes. “No, doofus, it’s an expression.”
Ben’s shoulders fell, and now Cora was the one holding back a smile. “If two certain someones I know take their showers without any complaints, maybe, just maybe, we can have a party.” The littler boy’s grin was immediate, but what really caught her attention was the way that Sam’s attention perked up, even though he tried to hide it. “Deal?” she asked.
Just as both boys agreed, Slider cleared his throat. Cora turned to find him shrugging into his button- up uniform shirt with its Frederick Auto Body and Repair logo, the movement causing his T-shirt to ride up his side. Just a momentary glance. Just of one small part of his body. But it revealed two things that stole her breath—more ink, and a frame that was all raw muscle and sinew.
Like a wild animal.
The comparison should’ve been alarming, but for some reason, that wasn’t how her body interpreted it if the flutter in her belly was any indication. Never in a million years would she have described Slider as attractive, but there was something unquestionably attracting about him, even if she couldn’t quite articulate what that was.
“Leaving?” she managed.
He nodded. “On seven to seven,” he said. “You have my cell.”
“We’ll be fine,” she said, bracing her hands on Ben’s shoulders. “Won’t we?” she asked, hugging him against her as she peered down into his little face.
“Yeah,” he said. “Don’t worry, Dad.”
Slider gave a single nod as his gaze skated between Cora and his sons. “See ya later, alligators.”
Sam rolled his eyes, but Ben grinned and said, “After while, crocodile.”
Slider winked at his youngest. Just a single little wink. But, together with the way he said good-bye to the kids every time he left, it proved to Cora that there was a sweet, playful man in there somewhere. Or at least there used to be.
Either way, it was clear that what Slider had left of himself to give, he gave to his boys. And given what a miserable piece of crap both her dad and her best friend’s father had been, Cora knew how much having a good father mattered. It mattered a lot. She had to respect that much about Slider, whatever else his faults might be.
From RIDE WILD by Laura Kaye. Used with permission of Avon. Copyright © 2017 by Laura Kaye.