Banged: A Blue Collar Bad Boys BookBy: Brill Harper
Blue Collar Bad Boys, Volume 9
About this Book
He’s a warrior with no battle. A cop with no bad guy. A man with no purpose.
WHEN MY BEST FRIEND and ERU partner was blown up by a bomb I should have been able to defuse, I vowed to never let anyone get that close again. I’m just drifting through life, and that’s okay with me. If I can’t feel, I can’t hurt.
Until I meet my neighbor.
I’ve been doing my best to avoid the too-pretty pregnant girl next door. She stirs too many things inside me I have no business feeling. She’s too young, too fresh, too pregnant with someone else’s kid for me to be fantasizing about.
Until the day I can’t ignore her anymore.
Hillary is a born caretaker, but nobody takes care of her. She’s alone in the world, but not for much longer, not with the way that baby dances in her belly. She’s all the things I try to stay away from—optimistic, uncommonly sweet, and oh, yeah, she’s somehow still a virgin.
Author’s Confession: You read that right. She’s a pregnant virgin. I probably don’t need to say anything else to get you to one-click at this point, but I’ll go ahead and tell you the bomb technician will make your heart go BOOM. He’s the alpha caretaker you want guarding your six. And your nine...
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I REALLY HATE THIS coffee shop.
The darkest corner I could find is still lit up like they’re using stadium lights, and the speakers placed every two feet are blaring annoyingly spirited pop music of the boy band variety. The air even tastes sweet, like bubblegum. It’s like Whoville and all the noise, noise, noise. Fuck.
The barista at the counter even looks like Cindy Lou Who with her shiny blonde hair braided up and her too tight T-shirt showing too much skin. Maybe some men like that. Maybe she gets great tips. But she does nothing for me other than make me want to suggest she put on a sweater and get her homework done.
The music in here jangles my nerves, but so do the clattering dishes, the clinking spoons, the scrape of metal against metal. My blood pressure is rising, the thumping in my head getting louder and louder. A cash register dings and the vein in my temple throbs.
Hold it together, Stryker.
I sip at my acrid, burnt coffee, and it scalds the inside of my mouth.
That quiet spot inside my head that used to make my job dismantling explosives possible seems to have disappeared, leaving me like this—always one step from losing my shit. My hand throbs, a reminder of why I’m sitting here instead of at the station or out on a call. I could probably hide the stuff going on in my head if I had to, but nobody is letting me go back to work until my hand heals, something physical therapy doesn’t seem to be doing.
I frown into my cup. If I have to be at a coffee shop instead of the cop shop, I wish I were at Old Joe’s instead. Old Joe’s feels more like a pub, only instead of booze they serve smooth coffee and normal looking desserts that taste like food and not plastic and saccharin. But now I come here because she had to ruin it all.
I don’t know her name. She’s pretty. She’s smiley. She’s pregnant.
And she’s my neighbor.
The last day I stepped foot in Old Joe’s, I took one look at her behind the counter, that sunny smile and pretty little dimple, her dark chin-length hair the same shade as her deep brown eyes, and I turned around and never went back. It’s hard enough to avoid her in the hallway outside our apartments, I don’t need to run into her every day over my coffee. Then she’d start talking to me. Asking me questions. Getting to know me. Then she’d expect that we chat at the mailbox. Maybe gossip about the neighbor down the hall who entertains an awful lot of men in her apartment when her husband is at work. Then comes “borrowing a cup of sugar” or “I made extra lasagna and brought you a plate.”
No. Thank. You.
For one thing, I don’t want to be friendly with anyone. It’s not just her, but she’s worse. She’s the kind of person that you can tell is genuinely nice. Good inside. Not faking it like most of us. Ten years on the police force and I can tell you I know for certain there are more assholes like me in the world than honestly nice human beings like her.