Monday, March 21, 2022

Take Me Down

Hey all! Author Avery here. My latest book, Take Me Down, releases on Friday, March 25th. I've been working on this one forever it seems. So happy to finally share this couple with the world. Here is the prologue and the first chapter as a teaser. Hope you enjoy! I'd love to hear your comments. 

PROLOGUE

Kennedy

Squeak… Thump…. Squeak…. Thump... 

I stared up at my stark, white ceiling as my light fixture shook above me.

Squeak… Thump…. Squeak…. Thump... 

“Oh yes! That’s it!” a female shrieked. 

Squeak. Thump. Squeak. Thump. Squeak. Thump. Squeak. Thump. The pace ramped up exponentially. 

Slap. Slap. Slap. Slap. Open palm hitting flesh. 

“More! More! More!” she mewed like a feral cat in heat. “Harder! Harder!” If the bloke went any harder, he’d split her in two. 

“You like that?” a low, gravelly male voice this time. 

“Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!” she exclaimed. 

So theatrical. I rolled my eyes. Were they making an explicit film? I’d never shouted like that while shagging. She had to be faking it. 

“Yes! Yes! Ohhhhhhh, baaaaby!” she whined, followed by a drawn-out scream. “OH GOOOOOOD, YES!”

Rolling over, I tugged at the gold locket around my neck. My fingers traced the inscription Stay Gold. 

“I don’t understand your mad obsession with that American book, but I like the sentiment,” my brother had said when he gifted it to me at Christmas one year. 

I swore to him I’d never take it off, except to shower. That was one promise I’d kept.

Is this your way of getting back at me, Theo? Granted, I deserved to live in hell after what I did to him. 

If I closed my eyes I could still see him, standing there at the piano, crying, broken. 

“You’ve always been blind to it!” I’d screamed to my stepmother after she’d just run off the one decent bloke I’d met in quite some time. After she said how proud she was of Theo, for always making the right choices, and finally settling down with a nice girl.

He was supposed to bring his partner, Emerson, a bloke. It was the only reason I’d showed up. To support him as he came out. Instead, my brother hung me out to dry—costing me the best relationship I’d had in years.

My last thread frayed. I was delirious with rage, laughing like a madwoman so much, I could barely catch air. “You sent him to an all-boys Catholic school! Do you have any idea what really happened there? Tell her, Theo! Tell mummy dearest what her precious little altar boy did.” Tears rolled down my cheeks as gasps came from the crowd. “Your perfect little angel told me every sordid detail!” I shouted from the bottom of my lungs. “You didn’t protect him from girls! You let him loose in the candy store!” 

You have to forgive yourself. 

That’s one thing going through the twelve steps had drilled in my head. And yes, I’d logically learned that during my addiction I wasn’t the person I wanted to be. And it’s natural when under the influence to do terrible acts I’d never dream of. Still, the guilt ate at me, because Theo was the one person I’d never be able to make amends with. 

I rolled back over and listened to the noises above me. 

Primal grunts, growls, and other various animalistic noises blended with the squeaking and thumping as my light fixture continued to sway, and even a few pieces of plaster fell onto my forehead. 

“Well played, brother,” I said to imaginary Theo. He was probably laughing his arse off from heaven.

“Oh, yes, oh, yes,” the low voice was back in play. “God, that feels good.” 

I groaned, pulled the pillow over my head, and screamed into it. 

The woman getting shagged let out one final squeal so high pitched it shocked me that all the dogs in the complex were not howling. 

And finally, at long last, a drawn out, heavy squeak, followed by panting. They were finally done. 

Thank goodness. 

Even though my well had been dry recently, I wasn’t a prude. Nothing wrong with getting a bit of action. Sometimes two people just needed to bang it out. Lord knows I wasn’t getting any, so cheers to my neighbors. Hell, I’d been single for so long that I’d named my vibrator Johnny, after The Outsiders character since my it was rose gold in color, and it happened to be my favorite story of all time.  

Stay gold.

I had no issues with shagging, unless it was blow-the-speakers loud and happening right above my head, nightly.

I rolled over, curling to my pillow as a satisfying sigh escaped my lips. Blissful silence. 

Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump. Footsteps across the floor, then nothing for several moments. 

Flush. 

Blimey. Go. The fuck. To sleep. 

Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump. Bang. CRASH! 

I groaned. Glass breaking?

Please. Just. Stop. 

This was New York. It was a noisy city. I understood that. And even though my complex was newly renovated, this building still had paper-thin walls and ceilings. Not this bloke’s fault. But, bloody hell, it was two in the fucking morning. 

Muffled voices followed, along with more footsteps as the two of them scurried to tidy up the broken mess. 

Finally, after several excruciating minutes, it was quiet again except for a very soft murmur. A little pillow talk it seemed. That, I could live with. I rolled over and closed my eyes. 

Then, giggles. 

For the love of all that is holy, please stop. 

Another moan. 

Oh, heavens. No. Please no. Not again.

More moaning. More mewing. More purring. More groans.

That was it. I was going to kill them. 

I could see the headline now. Kennedy Murphy, age twenty-nine, was arrested just days after moving from London to New York City. Murphy is accused of murdering her upstairs neighbor and his lover. 

Justifiable homicide if you ask me. 

All I’d have to do is play them an audio recording of what my ears had been privy to. No jury in their right mind would convict me. 

Squeak. Thump. Squeak. Thump. 

As annoyed as I was, I was also oddly fascinated, and impressed, that he could rally so quickly for round two. 

Well, here we go again. 

I debated getting up and unpacking a few more boxes, since sleep was obviously NOT in the cards. But instead, I got a wicked idea. Revenge. Two could play at this game. 

I threw off my covers and grabbed my phone, mentally ticking through a list of the worst possible songs to shag to, then, brilliantly, it came to me. Connecting to my Bluetooth speaker, I turned “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” from Toy Story on full volume.

Gleefully kicking back on my bed, I stared at my ceiling and waited for the drama to unfold. 

I hope you go flaccid. 

The swaying of my light fixture stopped. Still, I let the song play to the finish, lest they rally. When it ended, I stared up at my ceiling and listened. A bit of arguing going on. A lovers’ quarrel. 

Sorry, not sorry. 

Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump. Slam.

And they were done. The sweet sound of nothingness. 

Feeling quite pleased with myself for ruining their night as much as they had ruined mine, I rolled over and went fast to sleep.


CHAPTER ONE

Silas

The best part of every morning was when she’d get into the elevator. 

Elevators were typically not my thing because it was an overload for my olfactory system. Dudes that wore cheap body spray to cover up the gym sweat—which never worked—like they hadn’t grown up from high school and were still afraid of the shower. Or ladies who would bathe in fruity, flowery body spray, which just reminded me of too many blurry, drunken nights at the club. 

But not this girl. 

I knew nothing about her other than she lived on the twenty-seventh floor, and I suspected she was hot. I had a knack for that sort of thing. Every time I’d go to the bars with my buddies they’d like to see if I could sniff out the pretty ones. And yeah, I could always pick them out of a crowd. Really, it was just dumb luck. Eight out of ten women in the clubs were usually above a seven. It was simply math. 

But damn, this girl. I didn’t fuck around with women in my building, but her pheromones for the past week had been killing me.

If sex was a scent, it would be her. Bold without being brash, her perfume carried an exotic, spicy aura. Sandalwood maybe? A hint of something spicy. Coffee? Tea? Faintly masculine but mixed with a slight undertone of berries to cut the intensity. A slow burn that would linger long after she’d get out on the second floor and head to the complex’s gym. I knew that’s where she was heading because, one it was the only thing on that level, and two, I could always hear her shuffle her gym bag on her shoulder as it swiped against her spandex pants.

God, I fucking missed yoga pants. Sure, I could make out her blurry shape in front of me—tall and curvy in the right spots with an I-want-to-reach-out-and-tug-it-from-behind ponytail—but it never had the same effect as getting the glimpse of that thong line on a tight, firm, perky ass. 

And I suspected from her strict workout regime that hers was fucking fantastic. 

“You’re new to the building, right?” I finally spoke up, jutting my chin toward her. For one week I’d been sharing my rides with her, like she and I kept the same rigid schedule. No one else was up at the ungodly hour of four-thirty a.m. Me, for work. My morning show started at six sharp. Her, well, she was obviously very dedicated to her early morning workouts. 

“Um…yes…” she cleared her throat. “I am.” I detected a hint of a sleepy British accent as she pivoted toward me. Fair colored hair. Blonde or light brown? Impossible to tell with the shitty elevator lighting.

“Silas Graves,” I said, offering my hand in her direction. “28B.” 

A heavy breath came from her as I stood there like a dumbass, arm out, waiting. Was she just wary of strangers, or a posh, snobby, Brit? I suspected she had no clue who I was. Not many people recognized me much anymore, which was both a blessing and a curse. 

“Kennedy Murphy,” she reluctantly replied. “27B.” A dainty hand slipped into mine and I held onto it for a beat longer than I should. Soft skin, except a few calluses on her fingertips. Short nails. Musician? Strings or piano? This girl was getting more interesting by the minute. “So, 28B, you’re the one making that racket above me.” There was an edge to her tone, but still melodic. The more she spoke, the more I wanted to hear it. 

I’d hoped that when she opened her mouth it would be garbled and cockney—like listening to a female chimney sweep. That way it would at least ebb my desire. But no dice. Her voice was husky, saucy, and sexy—like honey over gravel. Thick, rich, and a little rough. 

And voices were my thing. 

I laughed and lifted my palms. “Guilty. I like my music.” I patted my shirt: Johnny Cash flipping the middle finger. At least I hoped it was. 

I’d switch up my listening depending on my moods. Lately, it had been nineties rock. Metallica. Nirvana. Guns N Roses. Smashing Pumpkins. Some days it was country. Other times it was indie/alternative. I knew just about everything and could name a song within the first couple notes.

But that morning I woke up feeling it was a fuck-it-all Johnny Cash kinda day so I’d gotten dressed to him singing live from Folsom Prison. 

“I wasn’t talking about the music.” Her words cut through the air like an axe. 

Oh. Damn. She heard that, huh? The music from Toy Story blasting the other night was making much more sense. She was striking back. 

Well played. 

I liked women with wit. 

“But I will say, the music is quite bothersome as well.” She scoffed. “At that volume, you’ll wind up deaf.” I couldn’t tell if she was mildly irritated and teasing, or downright pissed. Had to be the accent. Brits always threw me off. They had this way of packaging snarky comments in pretty paper with an enormous bow on top. “I left a note above your box,” she added.

“I didn’t see it.”

“You should check your post more often.” 

“Noted.” I offered a salute, flashed her a grin, and winked. “I’ll try to mind my volume.”

“That’d be fab.” So frosty. So cold, and yet still sexy as hell because of her damn fucking dialect. “I take it you’re the one also smoking pot on the terrace?” 

I squinted, trying to get a better look. “Legally prescribed.” I pulled off my glasses and rubbed the lenses with the bottom of my tee, hoping to get the smudges off. 

“Well, it stinks like a dead skunk.” 

I chuckled, slipping my glasses back on. Damn, she didn’t hold back any punches, so I swung back. “I could have cancer, you know.” I gave her a lopsided grin, not about to tell her the real reason. 

“That’s a hideous matter to joke about. My mother died of cancer.” Her reply struck me right in the gut. Ouch. Way to go, asshole. My hair-trigger mouth shot holes in the tender subject. Truth be told, it was tender for me too. I thought about my good friend, stand-up comedian Noah Miller, who’d recently lost his private, nearly ten-year battle. Nobody knew.

Cancer fucking sucks. But like Noah, my medical issues were my business. “You’re right. It is. My apologies.” I lifted my palms. “How about a drink tonight, my treat?” I offered. “My way of saying sorry for being an insensitive asshole, and welcome to the neighborhood.” Why the fuck was I even asking? A root canal would probably be less painful than a long conversation with her.  

“I don’t drink.” 

“Share a milkshake at the soda shop?” I threw out a nineteen-fifties, trans-Atlantic accent as my lips pulled into a taut line. 

She growled. Kinda hot. “No thank you.” 

The elevator chimed and she moved toward the doors as they squeaked open. “Have a good workout, Kennedy.” I jutted my chin toward her as I adjusted the bag on my shoulder.

She snorted. “Cheers, 28B.” 

Well, there you had it. Didn’t even bother to use my name. 

And why the fuck did I care? I was breaking my rule number one—you don’t shit where you sleep. But for some stupid reason, she’d piqued my interest. Ever a sucker for the prickly ones.

The elevator doors creaked shut, and I dropped to the ground floor, then hung a left, thankful for the good lighting in our lobby. It was a straight shot and twenty-five steps to the revolving door at the front of my building.

“Morning, Silas,” Gabriel, my doorman, greeted me as I walked out. 

“Morning, Gabe.” I nodded to him. 

“What are we lookin’ for today?” 

“Black Toyota. XKD license plate,” I rattled off the description of my Uber. Every morning we went through the same routine. I’d come out, tell him the details, and he’d let me know when my driver arrived. 

“You got it.” Gabe was good like that for me, and I appreciated it. I’d show him how much soon enough. My buddy, Phil, who was also my entertainment lawyer, got me a hefty bump in my recent contract negotiation, so Gabe’s tip would be doubled at Christmas. 

“You catch a glimpse of the newbie in 27B?” 

“The Brit?” 

“Yeah. Trying to get a read on her.” I nodded. “She as hot as she sounds?” 

Oh yes, how vain of me. Why should I care? How would I possibly think she was cute? Instinct. The cues they give paint a picture in my head. Sprinkle in their scent, voice, accent and personality…it starts to form an image. It’s probably inaccurate as fuck, but my brain could decide in a few minutes if I was attracted to someone or not, and there was something about this woman. 

Gabe let out a long whistle. “Well, she’s not painful to look at. Above average.” 

I chuckled. “You’re not helping me much here, Gabe.” 

His tongue clicked. “I don’t know, man. She’d be a lot cuter if she smiled once in a while.”

I raised a brow. His words reminded me of this obscure nineties song, “Lullaby” by Shawn Mullins. “Resting bitch face?”

“Yeah. Makes her look like she just sucked on a lemon. I can’t get a word from her, unless it’s a complaint.” 

I frowned. “Really? That miserable, huh?” Even though we only spoke for a couple minutes, I suspected that under her sandpaper coating there was a decent human.

“You thinking of making a play?” His voice went up an octave, shocked. Couldn’t blame him. The women I brought around only came through my complex twice. Once on the way up, then down on their exit, and Gabe, being the morning doorman, was privy to their departure.

I shrugged. “Just intrigued.” 

“You dirty dawg.” He snorted. Yeah. Gabe called me “dawg” because of the parade of women I’d drag through the complex. “But, trust me, you’re asking for trouble there, man.” 

I tossed my head back in laughter, then gave him a playful slug on the shoulder. 

“What happened to that hot brunette that was here three nights last week? That was like a record for you.”

“Production assistant in town on business.” I shrugged. “She went back to L.A.” 

Due to my minor celebrity status—and the fact I wasn’t a hideous troll—I did well on Vocative—an exclusive, highly-vetted app designed solely for people in the media industry. One of the few that I met the old-fashioned way, my ex Erin, bounced when shit got too real. 

So, I’d given up the dating and now went straight for the sex. Women who were just floating through town, looking for a trophy lay.

But the truth was, I was exhausted of swiping right or left. It all felt…unnatural. Kennedy seemed like a challenge, and it was a long time since I’d had a challenge. Well, a romantic one at least. I was like a starved lion catching a whiff of gazelle—hungry for the chase. My inner caveman yearned to hunt, kill, and drag it back home. 

“Your ride’s here,” Gabe said. “Straight ahead.”

“Thanks.” I nodded and moved forward until I could see the outline of the door. I fumbled for the handle, but eventually got it. “Later, Gabe.” I waved before climbing into the vehicle.

7 comments:

  1. Wow! I absolutely love this. I'm dying to read more! I already like the charscterz and I've been dying for some quality blind guy action haha! Awesome. Thank you for sharing!!

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    1. Thank you! Glad you enjoyed the characters so far. This was a fun couple to write.

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  2. Oh my god AJ, I devoured your new book! So amazing. I love, love, love this couple, and I love love love your writing style. Might be my favorite so far, and I'm so happy that the guy is blind and that you actually showed him adapting to his condition. I'm gonna reread it in a bit. You're an amazing writer, I hope you keep sharing with us!!

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    1. Aw, thank you so much for the kind words. That makes my heart happy.

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  3. I really really liked this book, like all your others. I couldn't stop to read, and finished it in one day. Thank you so much!

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    1. I'm so honored that you loved it! Thank you!

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  4. I loved the book !! so happy to finally see good blind hero content. Silas is HOT
    if you write another book I will absolutely buy it :)

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