Excerpt Prologue Roamer © Copyright 2017 All Rights Reserved by Janine Infante Bosco.
Many want to believe they’ll go peacefully in their sleep. After they have lived a long life, conquered their dreams and left their mark on the world.
No one wants to be murdered.
They don’t want to suffer.
They don’t want to scream and beg for a pardon.
A woman doesn’t want to stare at the man who swore he’d love and protect her. She doesn’t want to wonder why he won’t save her when there are four guns aimed between her eyes and one of them is his.
I can still feel her blue eyes pinned to me, silently willing me to do something. To rescue her. To be the man I promised her I’d be. I remember watching the hope fade from those eyes as the seconds passed and the safety on the gun clicked out of place. I can still place the moment when the drugs wore off and clarity filled her blue irises as she realized the end of the line was approaching.
It has a sound.
Bullets flew through the air, traveling faster than the speed of sound, piercing the skin I used to kiss, the body I once worshiped.
Bang! Bang! Bang!
That’s the sound of death.
Death also has a scent.
The gunfire died as blood poured from her body and stained the sheets. Gunpowder lingered in the air, mixing with the metallic scent of her blood creating the scent of death.
Death has a face too.
Worn features from a grueling life and lifeless blue eyes that a single tear falls from is the face of death.
Once a beauty, now a casualty.
The bible portrays death as a new beginning. If you’re a believer, once your blood dries and your body cools you think your soul will be lifted to Heaven. You wait for your Lord and Savior to welcome you into the afterlife where your every sin is repented and all the ugly shit that found its way into your life fades.
As a man who delivered death to those he called enemies, I never thought much about the scriptures in the bible. I didn’t believe the Lord suffered and died on the cross at Calvary. And I sure as fuck didn’t believe he rose on the Sunday that followed. But in that single moment, staring at the woman I loved, I wanted to be a believer.
I wanted to believe that wasn’t the end.
Somehow, someway there would be more.
More of her.
More of me.
More of us.
In life, we’re given responsibilities.
In death, we’re given regrets.
A man can only pray to whatever hell he believes in that the two don’t bleed into one another. For a man is a failure when his responsibilities become his regrets.
If he’s smart he doesn’t do responsibility.
He lives free.
He dies free.
The dictionary defines responsibility as having the duty to deal with something or being held accountable for someone. Merriam-Webster fails to mention responsibility comes with the act of commitment. A person can assume responsibility, but he doesn’t truly accept it until he commits his heart and soul to the duty or person.
A roamer cannot commit to anyone or anything, especially not a self-proclaimed cowboy who is destined to ride his chrome horse to his grave. No, a man like me, who is wanted dead or alive by his enemies, isn’t meant to have responsibilities.
He isn’t supposed to commit.
He’s meant to travel the road paved for him by those who stole his soul and forced him into a life of sin. All the while he keeps pissing on the law as he eludes the men gunning for him and dodges bullet after bullet. He earns his patch and wears the title of an outlaw proudly.
He doesn’t walk away from tragedy to find grace.
He never gets the fucking chance to find his ride or die girl, the one who stands by his side when his life is a mess.
And he sure as hell never gets to commit the perfect crime with her.
He doesn’t get to claim her heart or watch as she steals his.
Unless the outlaw roaming is me.
Then he gets the girl.
He finds the Bonnie to his Clyde and laughs in the face of the devil.
I ease my conscience by telling myself I tried to fight the inevitable, that I warned Jack Parrish I wasn’t the right man for the job. Still, he handed me all the broken parts of a tortured woman and made me the man responsible for piecing her together.
I could’ve walked away.
I could’ve handed him my patch and kissed Brooklyn goodbye.
Instead, I committed to the task with my heart and soul.
Because even after she ratted me out to Rush and got my ass abducted, I knew we were meant to be in one another’s life.
Like a lit match to gasoline, Ally and I were made to create fire.
Beautiful fucking fire.
The kind that lights up the whole world.
The kind of fire no one forgets.
The type you never escape.
She was an angel who lost her way to Heaven, dancing in chaos and pain. And me, I was the demon sent from Hell to make it all go away. In my quest to be what she needed, I broke rule after rule and watched a beautiful angel find her wings.
I forgot about the sound of death.
I forgot its scent.
And I allowed death’s face to be a memory.
I laid Chelsea to rest and carved out a piece of my soul for her to keep.
Legend says when two souls are meant to be together, the devil will find a way to keep them apart. Being a man who tasted Satan’s tears and drank from his soul, I thought I had outsmarted him and escaped the halls of hell, but no sinner is ever truly free from consequence.
We all pay one way or another.
Some pay with their own lives, others pay with the lives of those they love.
Being a man who already lost one love, a man who watched one woman suffer and die before his eyes, the choice became simple. I chose her life over mine.
She says I saved her.
Tells me I showed her how to live again.
But her life is just getting started. She won’t truly live until I’m gone.
Until I’m a memory.
A place in time.
Lifting the bottle of whiskey to my lips, I drain the little that’s left and glance around the motel room. I used to hate this fucking place, bitched to anyone of my brothers who would listen, but these four walls became mine and Ally’s home. It’s here, in this room where she laughed for the first time in twelve years. It’s at that broken-down table she sat and tasted sushi for the first time. It’s through that bathroom door, inside the shower stall where she decided she wanted to create a bucket list. It’s the fucking bed that is now full of weapons where she gave her body willingly. The bed where she learned sex could be something she enjoyed and not something she dreaded. The bed where she laid with me and watched the movie Bonnie and Clyde a hundred times until she knew every word by heart. It’s this fucking room that lives and breathes the memory of the girl I fell in love with.
In the depths of hell with no way out other than death.
Rearing my hand back, I throw the empty bottle and watch as it smashes against one of the walls.
“Fuck,” I shout in agony as I swipe a hand over my face and fight for clarity.
In between the flashes of her smile and those intoxicating blue eyes, I find it.
I find my truth.
This is the end of the line and death is the wage of sin.
I take a step toward the bed and lift the bulletproof vest from the mattress. Clutching it in my hand, I stare at the guns scattered before me when I hear a knock on the door. Quickly, I slip my arms through the vest, secure it around my chest and reach for the closest gun.
Death has arrived and this time I am the face of it.
Striding toward the door, I pull the safety back on my gun and wrap my finger around the trigger.
“Deuce, open the door,” Ally pleads, causing me to pause mid-stride. “Open the fucking door or I’ll shoot the lock off.”
Pulling it open, I glance over her shoulder at the empty parking lot. She pushes her way inside as I turn around and kick the door shut. Staring at her, I bite the inside of my cheek and lower my gun. She places her hands on her hips and her blue eyes are ablaze as they lock with mine.
Beautiful fucking fire.
“Thought I told you we were done,” I grind out.
“Yeah, you said a lot of things, Deuce,” she hisses. “I thought I’d remind you of some of them,” she says as she takes a step closer to me and purses her red lips. “One of the first things you ever told me was that I should stop waiting for the light at the end of the tunnel. Remember that? You told me I should strike the fucking match myself.”
“Shut up, it’s my turn to talk,” she orders, closing the distance between us, poking her finger into my chest. “You told me to live for me, taught me to find what I want in life and encouraged me to follow my heart. I listened and it led me straight here, back to you.”
“You need to leave.”
“Ally, any minute this place is going to become a war zone. They know where I am, they’re coming for me and they won’t leave without a body,” I shout, grabbing both of her wrists as I bend my knees and level her with a look. “That body ain’t going to be yours. Now, for fuck’s sake listen to me, you need to get the fuck out of here.”
“No,” she shrieks, pulling free from my grasp. “I am not going anywhere, Deuce. I won’t leave your side,” she cries, tears slipping from the corners of her eyes. “I won’t do it.”
Ride or die isn’t a phrase, it’s her.
“I had a dream,” she whispers, wiping at her cheeks with the back of her hand. “I dreamt the whole world was burning in flames,” she continues as she turns toward the bed. Bending down, I watch her lift an 8 millimeter off the bed and turn back to me. “The flames died, the ash settled. All that was left was you and me standing side by side.”
Silently, I reach for the Velcro securing my vest and peel it back before I shrug it off and charge for her. Holding the gun with one hand, I thread my other one through her hair and cup the back of her head.
“I’m sorry,” I rasp. “So fucking sorry.”
“Don’t—” My lips fall over hers, cutting her off. I kiss her with everything I am and everything we could’ve been. I suck on her lip, slide my tongue inside heaven and take.
Take, take, take.
We make fire.
Beautiful fucking fire.
Then it happens.
The wind changes.
The storm rolls through.
The pipes sound.
The end of the line.
Pulling away from her, I hand her the vest and lean my forehead against hers.
“However this ends, whether I’m dead or alive, I love you, Ally. Put the vest on and take cover behind the bed and do as I taught you. Don’t think, just shoot. Fight to win. Fight to live,” I demand. “Fight for tomorrow.”
The engines grow louder.
I step back as she puts the vest on before I check to make sure it’s secure. Pressing a quick kiss to her lips, I toss her another gun and tip my chin toward the other end of the bed. She does as she’s told, drops to her knees on the side of the bed before she cocks her gun toward the window.
“Let’s ride,” I mutter as I grab the AK-47.
Before I can take cover behind the dresser, the engines die and the ambush begins as the bullets fly.
Spinning around, I pull the trigger repeatedly. Ally and I fire away aimlessly, fighting to see past the thick fog the gunpowder creates.
“I can’t see,” she shrieks.
Stepping to the side, I keep my finger on the trigger and attempt to cross the room.
Bang! Bang! Bang!
“Fuck!” I scream as a bullet pierces through my shoulder. My vision fades to default as pain sears through me. I force myself to push through, cross my good arm over my bad one and steady myself as I continue to shoot.
Something flies through the window and I watch in horror as flames instantly crawl up the curtains, signaling the harsh reality that the war is over. If we escape the fire, they’ll kill us before we have the chance to draw a breath.
“The bed is on fire,” Ally cries. “Deuce, what do we do?”
Turning around, my eyes land on the center of the bed and the piece of leather burning. I don’t need a closer look to know it’s mine. The charred patch stares back at me, offensively reminding me of where I came from, who I am and why I’m about to die—why Ally’s about to die too.
Before I can offer myself to them and hope they spare her, the fire spreads above us and the ceiling begins to buckle.
But I’m too late.
The last thing I hear is Ally scream as the ceiling collapses over us and the amber flames burn bright.
A fire that lit up the world.
A fire no one will forget.
A fire we couldn’t escape.