Release day for BAMF

July 28, 2014

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With his fauxhawk, sleeve tattoos, and visible piercings, Ridley Corbin has the whole badass vibe going on in spades. The image serves him well as the self-proclaimed protector of the underdog, and he wants nothing more than to be Alex Firestone’s hero.

Alex, a mild-mannered library assistant, has moved to Slater, a quiet college town, hoping to hide from his past. He keeps to himself, but that doesn’t save him from catching the unwanted attention of the campus bully. But not all is as it seems. Alex’s past comes calling, and it’s time he becomes top dog.

Excerpt:

Chapter 1

RIDLEY CORBIN was the protector of the underdog, a role he’d come into as a direct product of his upbringing. A squirrely little kid, he had buckteeth, bright red hair, and was a good ten pounds and two inches shorter than the next smallest kid. A runt, and an ugly one at that, he’d been bullied nearly every day of his first three years at Gates Elementary School.

During those early days, he’d drop to his knees next to his bed and beg God for a little brother or sister. It would have been cool to have had a sibling to play with—even if he or she were forced to play with him by their mom. Apparently something had gone wrong during his birth, though, and they’d had to pull out Mom’s baby box. But hey, at least the prayers had been good for something—he got a puppy.

The summer between third and fourth grade, Ridley thought he’d gotten the next best thing to a sibling. Brock Hanners moved into the house next to his, and Ridley thought that, since they were the only two kids on the cul-de-sac, Brock would want to play with him. He was wrong.

Brock was huge; well, at least to Ridley’s scrawny little ass he was. Much to his dismay, Brock bullied him too. He used to steal Ridley’s bike, take his toys, even came over once and knocked down his clubhouse. Granted it was only a couple of kitchen chairs and old blankets and he was the only member, but it was his. Instead of the friend he had hoped for, Ridley found himself even more miserable after Brock moved in. He was being picked on at school and now bullied at home as well.

However, Ridley was a smart kid and Brock, well, he wasn’t too bright. Brock had been held back a couple of years—hence why he was so much bigger than everyone else. So when classes resumed in the fall, they came to a little agreement. Ridley would do Brock’s homework and Brock would keep Ridley safe at school. Brock was like his own personal bodyguard. Not a perfect arrangement, but he learned some great study habits doing the work of two, and it saved him a crap-ton of ass beatings.

Brock moved away during their junior year of high school, but by then Ridley had had his teeth fixed, his hair had changed from Bozo red to a nice chestnut color, and, most importantly, he’d grown. He was still scrawny, but he was inching up on six feet and had a wicked bank shot.

It would have been easy to become one of those kids who felt that just because he’d been bullied his whole life, it was now his turn to be the bully. Instead, he became more like Brock, except Ridley did it for free and he was a lot smarter. Okay, he was nothing like Brock. He never took advantage of someone and he’d never failed a class, but he did take to the protector part.

So it was only natural that he was on the move as soon as he heard Kyle Bouche’s familiar sneer—Hey, nerd boy. Where can I find a book on Gustave Courbet?—on the other side of the books he was searching through. Damn, he hated that guy. Kyle was the big man at Slater University. Quarterback for the football team, student body president, as well as president of his fraternity, blah, blah, blah. Ridley didn’t normally pay attention to the shit that went on around the campus, couldn’t care less. He kept his head down, stayed to himself, and worked hard to keep his grade point average at a 4.0. The only reason he knew about Kyle’s activities was because the fucker liked to brag about them. Personally, Ridley thought Kyle was a complete and utter dickhead.

Ridley eased his way around the aisle, and there in the next row was Kyle, smirking at Alex Firestone. Ridley was about to step in and teach Kyle a few manners, but stopped when he saw Alex glare at Kyle and say, “Look it up on the computer like everyone else.” Alex then went back to sorting the books in his cart.

Ridley tensed and his hands tightened on the Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood he was holding as Kyle moved up close to Alex. Kyle puffed his chest up in an obvious attempt to intimidate Alex. The idea made Ridley crazy and he wanted so badly to slap Kyle up against his thick head. The little bantam rooster had no idea who he was messing with. Yes, Ridley fancied himself protector of the underdog, but with Alex the need was even sharper. It was personal. If Kyle laid so much as a finger on Alex, Kyle would be washing the cold blood from his face later. Ridley had to bite down on his lip to keep from laughing at the irony.

“Do you have any idea who you’re talking to?” Kyle snarled.

Ridley shifted slightly, fighting back the urge to pounce when Kyle put the cart between him and Alex and leaned in close. He couldn’t see Kyle’s face but clearly saw the narrowed gaze and challenging look Alex gave him in return.

“Yeah, you’re the guy who is going to use the computer to search for your book like everyone else,” Alex informed Kyle without so much as flinching.

Alex worked in the library, and although Ridley didn’t really have a need to be in the library—with his major in mechanical engineering, most of his studies were done hands-on or on the computer—he found himself drawn there anyway. Basically he was there to gawk at the star of his wet dreams, Alex Firestone. No, he wasn’t a freaky stalker. He just hadn’t built up the nerve to approach the sexy man. Okay, it might have been bordering on stalkerish since he’d been doing quite a bit of gawking over the last six months, but damn, it was Alex Firestone.

Alex was the same six-foot height, and although he tended to wear dress shirts and slacks that were a bit big for him, Ridley could tell Alex had an impressive build beneath the cotton material. He also had the most amazing gunmetal-blue eyes Ridley had ever seen. Oh, and then there was the fact that Alex had a head full of unruly blond curls and the biggest and sweetest dimples ever. He also wore heavy-framed black glasses, and the bow ties he sported were just too adorable for words. Basically, Alex worked the fuck out of cute.

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