Published by Changeling Press
Cover Artist: Bryan Keller
Lavender – My parents weren’t the type to win any awards, but I did learn a few things. Like how to read lines of code and get through the backdoor of pretty much any site or program. I also learned about the man my mother had dated when she’d met my dad, someone who has intrigued me for years. I never thought I’d get the chance to meet him, until my parents end up dead and I can’t think of anyone else who might be able to help. I know too much, know my parents’ death wasn’t an accident, and now I’ve been targeted. If the infamous Voodoo Tracer can’t help me, then I’m screwed.
Reality is so much better than fantasy, and with one look, I know the reason I haven’t dated is because I was waiting. For him.
Wire – I never really expected my past to come knocking at the front gates, nor did I expect it to be in such a sexy package. Lavender isn’t what I’d call a siren, but with her glasses perched on her nose, her messy hair, curvy figure, and adorable tees, she’s exactly what I want and don’t need. A nerdy, geeky, super intelligent woman who craves me as much as I crave her. So I did what any man would do… I claimed her. Now she’s mine, and if an enemy from my past thinks he can hurt her, I’d like to see him try. He might have killed her parents, but I will destroy anyone who tries to take her from me.
All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2019 Harley Wylde
The infamous hacker, or more accurately cracker, Voodoo Tracer, hadn’t been all that hard to find. My mother had always said if anything happened to her I should track down the guy she’d dated before marrying my dad. I’d heard the story a million times, about how they’d all been friends but she’d fallen for Dad and hurt the guy she’d been dating. He’d left and never returned. Mom had lost track of him, but it hadn’t take much digging for me to find his current location, which told me he wasn’t really hiding. A guy like him didn’t leave a door open unless he wanted someone to use it.
While my mom and dad were hackers and worked for a lot of companies, trying to find the weak spots in their security so the companies could improve them, men like Voodoo Tracer took advantage of those weak spots to get whatever information they wanted. Mom had never approved of Voodoo’s need to crack government and banking sites. From what she’d said, back then, he never took anything vital. He’d mostly done it because he could. I couldn’t say for certain what he’d been up to lately.
I didn’t really walk either path, but tended to dabble a bit in both. Like the infamous Voodoo, I mostly liked to see how far I could get somewhere I shouldn’t be. If I were as nice as my mom and dad, I’d then turn that information over to the companies so they could keep other people out. Then again, they weren’t exactly paying me for my help, so why give it? I wasn’t an angel by any means, but I wasn’t precisely a devil either. I operated in those murky shades of gray.
I’d known how easy it would be for some to trace my phone, or the built-in GPS on my car, so I’d left both behind. The bus hadn’t been the most comfortable option to ride to Alabama, and I’d paid cash so there wouldn’t be a credit card trail, but now that I was here, I had to wonder if I’d made a huge mistake. The walk to the Dixie Reapers compound wasn’t that far, but the place seemed a bit imposing as I approached the gates. I’d walked what felt like miles of fenceline, although that was surely not the case. Razor wire topped it, and I had to wonder just what they were trying to keep out. Or was it more what they wanted to keep in?
The guy standing guard didn’t seem much older than me, and I noticed the way he scanned me from head to toe. I probably wasn’t the type of woman who typically came to this sort of place. My Converse were well-worn, my jeans ripped along my thighs and knees, and I had on my favorite Dark Crystal T-shirt, which had faded over time. I hadn’t thought much about my appearance and had tossed my hair up in a messy bun. With my thick-lensed glasses perched on my nose, I probably looked like I should be in school right now. If it weren’t for my curves, I’d never pass for my real age.
“You must be lost,” the man said, then pointed back behind me. “Town is back that way.”
“I’m not lost.” I hitched my bag higher on my shoulder. “I’m here to see Voodoo Tracer.”
The man stared and rubbed at the stubble on his chin. “No one here by that name. So I think you really are lost.”
My brow furrowed. I’d assumed his club would know him by that name. From what little research I’d managed before taking this trip, I’d learned that some clubs preferred to use a road name and kept their real names private. If Voodoo followed that belief, this guy may not know his birth name. It was foolish to think whatever the club called him would be the same name he went by when he was cracking codes.
“Hang on. I have a picture, but it’s really old.” I slid the strap off my shoulder and dug in my backpack. I withdrew the picture of Voodoo with my mom, Seraph, and my dad, Doc Paradox. I’d stared at this picture a lot over the years. I’d found it shoved into a box in the top of Mom’s closet a while back. The ginger-haired young man had drawn my attention. He couldn’t have been older than sixteen or seventeen at the time it was taken, but even back then he’d been more than just cute. I knew he’d be my parents’ age now, but I’d often wished I could meet a guy like him.
Showing the picture to the guy, his eyes went wide.
“Holy shit, is that Wire?” he asked.
“Um. Maybe. I don’t know his club name. I only know his hacker name.”
The man nodded. “That would be Wire, then. I’ll have to call him down here. I’m not letting you in uninvited. You don’t exactly look like the type to party at the clubhouse.”
If that was code for sleep with random men, then no, I wasn’t. Not even a little. I took a step back as he made his call and took the time to check out the place behind the fence. There was a building with Dixie Reapers across the top in neon letters, and a lot of houses down either side of the road. As I strained to get a better look, I thought I saw a playground, but that was ridiculous. What type of biker compound had a playground? The fatigue must be getting to me. It seemed I was now hallucinating.
“He asked who else is in the picture,” the guy said.
“Tell him Seraph and Doc Paradox.” I swallowed hard. “They were my parents.”
He relayed the information, and I hoped that Wire would come and hear me out. If things had really ended as badly as my mom had said, then he might refuse to see me. She’d not gone into a lot of detail, just said she’d picked my dad over Voodoo. Knowing my mother, there was a good chance she’d omitted part of the story. Coming here was a gamble I’d been willing to take. Whatever Mom and Dad had been into, it had gotten them killed. Thanks to me nosing around, I now worried that I might meet the same fate. I didn’t know anything about the man Wire was now, but the kid who had grown up with my parents had been the type to help those in need, even if he hadn’t done it the legal way. I was counting on that still being true.
The rumble of a motorcycle started out faint and then got louder. I saw a rider with copper-colored hair approaching from down the road and as he came to a stop on the other side of the gate, my heart flipped, flopped, then took off at a gallop. Holy hell! Mom had thrown over this guy for my dad? What the hell had she been thinking? He didn’t even remotely look like a hacker. Nor was he the gangly teen from the photo I’d brought. Yeah, he’d been handsome back then, but now? Shit. I was almost certain my panties were getting wet just looking at him. His heather gray tee stretched tight across his broad chest, and the leather cut just added to the sex appeal. The denim hugging his thighs was as worn as mine, with a few well-placed holes, and did nothing to hide how muscular he was, especially for a geeky computer nerd.
Definitely nothing like my dad. I’d loved my father, but time hadn’t been kind to him. He’d had lines around his eyes, and what my mother fondly called his spare tired around the middle, from long days and nights at the computer. This guy didn’t have that problem. Hell, he didn’t even look my parents’ age.
Wire swung a leg over his bike and came closer, removing the sunglasses that had shielded his eyes from me. Green, and so damn pretty. It was a sin for a man to have eyelashes that long and thick. Dammit. My nipples were getting stiff. I swallowed hard, wondering why my body was betraying me. I’d never had a physical response to a guy, even when I thought they were hot. Until now. The beard covering his jaw made my fingers itch to reach out and touch it. Would it be coarse or soft? I’d always had a weak spot for gingers, and he had to be the sexiest one I’d ever seen.