Adam’s POV in the chapter “Book Brawl”

Adobe Photoshop PDFAdam Upton’s POV

Virgil had warned me to be ready for payback. He already knew the story of me and Lee. I guess Nikki had told him all about it or he read it in the newspapers — how I’d backed out of our plan to shoot up our high school; how I’d told the police everything and served less than a year while my ex-friend got 25.

Lee never got back at me during my first term in the New Hampshire State Prison for Men, but by now, he had built up some real prison currency. He had a better chance of exerting influence and bribing people to tell other people to do his bidding for something in return.

“He’ll find out you’re there,” Virgil told me. “Word travels from maximum to minimum and back again.”

“I know,” I said. “I’ve been there.”

“Yeah, but it’s been a while. Watch your back every second.”

“I will.”

On Day 29 of my 30-day term, Virgil’s crystal fucking ball flashed red.

And I was ready.

I was in the prison library, putting books back where they were supposed to be — the same job I had back when I was here in 2014-15. Lee was a fool for waiting so long because the closer it got to the end of my term, the more I felt it would happen at any moment … and the more I couldn’t wait to wreck whoever tried it.

I don’t know if the guard had been bribed to look the other way or not, but when he walked off for thirty seconds, my adrenaline surged. There were two guys sitting at a table well behind me who I knew and didn’t expect any shit from. I was standing beyond all the aisles of books, stocking the long shelf along the rear wall of the basically square room.

Two other guys I didn’t know very well — both shorter than me but pretty tough-looking — came in and started peeping around, but definitely not for books. My blood boiled and I imagined myself as who I always did before a fight — Shawn Thornton, ex-Boston Bruin and one of the best hockey fighters who ever lived.

I moved my cart toward the rear right corner of the library and played oblivious. I turned the cart the long way so it would block both the rear horizontal aisle and stick into the second-to-last vertical aisle at the same time. The only way they could get me without hurdling the cart was to come down the far right vertical aisle. I’d trapped myself in the corner on purpose and mostly kept my back to them. An exaggerated cleared throat not far away told me they’d found my aisle, my corner.

They both approached my ass single file as silently as they could while I raged inside — head pounding, heart banging through my chest. My left hand white-knuckled a hardcover of “No Easy Day” by Mark Owen; my right fist transformed into a hammer.

“This is from Lee in max,” the first dickhead declared, but before he got the “x” out of his mouth, my left hand had flung the book at his buzzed head, causing him to duck and my right fist followed with a hard punch to his nose, stunning him. The second guy, with the barbed-wire tat creeping up his neck, backed up a step, stunned that I was ready for them. I bull rushed past the first guy and tackled the second. I started whaling on him right there on the floor when the two guys I knew from the table ran over to check out the battle.

“Holy shit, Upton!” the one name Eddie shouted. The other one, Calhoun, just laughed.

“Get the fucking guard!” I yelled. “Or grab …”

Before I could shout another word, the first dickhead stabbed me in the back with something — a razor blade or the end of an X-acto knife maybe — and ripped downward. It fucking KILLED! I struggled to stand up as he put me in a headlock from behind, but I was so pissed off from getting stabbed that I rammed him into the bookshelf and crushed his arm enough to release me. Then I was free to wreck him up against the books. Every move I made hurt my back like a motherfucker, but I kept swinging anyway and wasted the rest of his face to match his broken nose.

That’s when the guard finally showed up. By now, at least Eddie was holding down the second asshole. Calhoun must’ve run off to tell the guard what had happened.

“What the fuck is going on here?” shouted the guard, a new one I didn’t recognize.

I shoved the dazed and bloodied mofo who stabbed me toward the guard’s feet. “These two motherfuckers just ambushed me and I kicked their asses! Now take me to the fucking hospital!”

They all looked at me like I was insane, so I turned around to show them my gashed back — orange prison suit parted by a red sea of blood. The chorus of groans told me how bad it was.

I spun back around on them.

That’s fucking why!” I shouted, loud enough so Lee could hear it in max.

From “Nikki Blue: Source of Trouble”
Release date: Oct. 9
ARC date: Available now on NetGalley

Wicked cool 4.5 star review today by book blogger Christine Cheff, aka Lady Balls …

Adobe Photoshop PDFWow. That is all I have to say. As many of you know I absolutely loved and I mean loved the first book, Streaks of Blue and could not wait to see what the author had coming out next and I was not disappointed. I will say first and foremost that when I started reading this book and I saw it mention Scientology, I thought “hmmmm…not sure if I will like this” and was apprehensive. However, I am so glad I stuck it out and continued to read.

This book starts off with Nikki who is now 21 out in the real world looking for a job. She does get one at a local newspaper as an intern and is shortly thereafter propositioned by a company called “The Bridge”. They make her a monetary offer that she can not refuse and takes the job not really knowing what exactly the company does nor what her exact job will be. At this point in the book I was scratching my head wondering how this heroine that I loved in the first book could be this blind and naive? I mean I could see or rather read from a mile away that this was a shady deal and she was missing the big picture that would come back to haunt her.

Needless to say this book takes you on a very interesting journey. While it does make mention of Scientology, this new group is made up of people who left Scientology, which I am not sure is better or worse. Through the course of her employment Nikki starts to finally see the bigger picture and that she is being used as a pawn, only now its just not her. This clever group has intertwined her past and her present together and all are in danger. I dont want to give away to much of the plot but old characters are still around and you get to see what they are up to and how they get mixed up in this nightmare with Nikki. I found myself at times holding my breath and reading as fast as I could to see what happened and unexpectedly and totally caught off guard, the book ends in a cliffy!!! NOOOOOOO!!!! Which may I add I was sweating at the end of!! I was so engrossed in the book I never realized it was almost to the end! I am praying to the literary gods that the author is feverishly working on the next installment.

Definitely recommend this book but recommend you read the first one as well!

Nikki and William talk books in “Nikki Blue: Source of Trouble”

NikkiBlue
Nikki’s POV

William: “Virgil told me you’re working on a book.”

Nikki: “Did he?”

William: “Yes. What about?”

Nikki: “Well, it’s kind of based on what I’ve gone through over the last few years or so.”

William: “Boy troubles?”

Nikki: “You could say that, but on a number of different levels.”

William: “Got a title yet?”

Nikki: “I didn’t really have one, but this latest chapter in my life has certainly given me an idea.”

William: “Which is?”

Nikki: “I think I might call it ‘Scar Trek.'”

Bill laughed.

“I love it,” he said. “Very appropriate.”

If he only knew my scars, from a bullet wound to daddy issues to commitment phobia. I surmised Bill had plenty of emotional baggage, too, after two failed marriages.

“Which book of mine did you like?” he asked.

“‘Pinch-hitting for Dad,'” I replied without hesitation.

“Really? One of my early ones.”

“I loved every word of it.”

“Wow. Thanks. … Why?”

“I just loved how the girl’s uncle stepped in after her dad died and was an even better dad than her actual dad,” I said, trying not to get emotional just talking about it. “I guess I wished I had an uncle or dad like that. I read it in like eighth or ninth grade, not long after my dad cheated on my mom and left us. I read that book like five times … at least.”

Bill seemed genuinely blown away by what I’d said.

“Thanks. I needed to hear that,” he said. “It’s been a long time since I’ve heard someone tell me something like that about one of my books.”

Nikki and William from the chapter “Loveless Fascination”

NikkiBlueNikki’s POV

“We’re officially assets. Don’t you feel special?” Bill asked.

“Do you? I’m officially paranoid. We’ve got people watching our back now. They could be spying on us right now,” I said.

Bill cringed.

“What about last night?” he asked.

“Do we have to think about that? I loved last night. Don’t ruin it.”

“Cheers to that,” Bill said, clinking his glass into mine.

“I could use some cheers. Christmas was awful. Now this … incident … tonight.”

“What can I do to help?”

I nodded toward his guitar and smiled.

“Any particular request? ‘Crashed My Car Into The Bridge’ again?” he asked with a lovably goofy grin as he grabbed the guitar.

“I so loved that. The perfect song for that stuffy crowd. I love your reckless sense of humor.”

“Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.”

“What’s your listening pleasure?”

“I’m thinking.”

I sipped my wine, looked up and saw a few stars twinkling somewhere over the ocean.

“I’ve got it,” I said.

“What?”

“It’s an old one. Definitely your era, not mine, but I loved it the first time I heard it. Maybe you’ll know it.”

“What song?” he asked.

“Under the Milky Way.”

He squinted, pretending like he didn’t have a clue, but I knew he knew it. He played dumb anyway.

“What band?” he asked.

“The Church,” I said.

“The Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Day Saints?”

“No,” I laughed.

“The Church of Scientology?”

Before I had finishing rolling my eyes, he started playing. And singing. Beautifully. He made his voice deeper just like the original singer. He knew every word. I blushed and sang along with him, at least the words I knew.

“Sometimes when this place gets kind of empty
Sound of their breath fades with the light
I think about the loveless fascination
Under the Milky Way tonight

Lower the curtain down on Miami
Lower the curtain down all night
I got no time for private consultation
Under the Milky Way tonight

Wish I knew what you were looking for
Might have known what you would find
Wish I knew what you were looking for
Might have known what you would find

And it’s something quite peculiar
Something shimmering and white
Leads you here despite your destination
Under the Milky Way tonight”

From “Nikki Blue: Source of Trouble”
Pub date: 10-9-15
ARC date: Available now on NetGalley

Nikki reflects on moving, madness and nightmares in the chapter “Silver Sands”

Adobe Photoshop PDF

Nikki’s POV

Derek and I held hands as we strolled down the long boardwalk toward Silver Sands Beach in Milford, a town on Connecticut’s southern coast.

Just a mile or so behind us lurked the rat race of Interstate 95 and its ugly little sister, Route 1, with its endless strip malls and oversized SUVs. A few hundred feet ahead of us, beyond the beach, Long Island Sound beckoned, calm and blue. In between, sandals flip-flopped against wood; cattails rustled on either side of us in the salty breeze; and small children skipped with delight as their feet approached the warm sand.

The fine line between madness and serenity in this world is hard to fathom sometimes.

I’m from New Hampshire and I still believe it is one of the most beautiful places imaginable, but the fact remains that I got shot there. And though I had been told there are beautiful places in Connecticut, I had yet to see anything that resembled New Hampshire. It’s hard to find beauty on flat, crowded highways. So far, I didn’t like Connecticut or its maddening pace.

Thankfully, by showing me this place, Derek had given me my first glimmer of hope. And he needed to … because the only reason I moved to this state was to be close to him.

Our first date was at Chili’s on September 13, 2014. We were both just barely seniors in high school. A co-captain of the football team, he was so confident, handsome and funny that night. We toasted to our future and I felt on top of the world.

I got shot the very next night … because I was worried about another boy … about what he might do.

I had to find Adam Upton.

In most of my nightmares, I’m still looking for Adam. I’m searching his pickup truck on the side of the road. I’m looking into the windows of strange cars in dark, wooded parking lots. I’m seeing something run across my field of vision, baiting me to chase whatever it is.

And inevitably, a figure dressed in black steps out of nowhere to torment me. Thomas “Lee” Harvey.

There’s a totally catchy song they used to play on the radio all the time that summed me up perfectly at various times over the past four years. I have no idea the name of the band, but the chorus is “I’m not sick, but I’m not well.” There’s another line from that song that spoke to me as well: “Paranoia, paranoia, everybody’s coming to get me.”

From “Nikki Blue: Source of Trouble”
Pub date: 10-9-15
ARC date: Available now on NetGalley

Steve and Nikki … from the chapter “Nikki Blue”

NikkiBlueSteve’s POV

I parked in the hotel garage and told myself not to get out of the car and enter the forbidden building with the beds in it under any circumstances.

“Thanks for the ride,” Nikki said.

I did not look at her in my passenger seat. All of the looks had to stop or I wouldn’t be able to.

“It only took a minute and a half so don’t worry about it,” I told the steering wheel.

“You coming up?” she asked, bold as shit. I didn’t answer for at least 30 seconds. I spent 25 of those seconds trying to determine if this whole scenario was real or a dream. I had never cheated on my wife and, as ballsy as I might seem, I had never showboated myself this close to Siren Isle before.

“Um … I don’t think that would be a good idea,” I finally said.

“Good answer,” she immediately said, shocking me almost as much as her question.

Now I looked at her. Yes, I wanted her. No, I couldn’t have done that to my wife and children. Yes, I was glad she said what she said.

Nikki broke our stare, got out of the car, closed the door and came around to my side. The window was already down. Another chink in my defenses she could exploit.

“I respect you even more now, Steve,” she said, kissing my cheek.

I’m damn sure I blushed like a maiden — definitely not an Iron Maiden.

“If I weren’t married …”

“I know, but you are.”

“Then why did you torture me tonight?”

“I don’t know. I guess maybe I wanted to find out if all men cheat … or just my father,” she said, looking down at her boots and sounding so sincere that I was less pissed off than I should’ve been for being the subject of her seduction experiment. “I’m sorry,” she added, looking at me again.

“Don’t be,” I said, not sure why I was so quick to let her off the hook.

“No, I shouldn’t be like that … but sometimes you have to be a little shit to find out the truth.”

“Or a big shit, in my case. It’s what I am and what I do for a living.”

“You’re good at it,” she said.

“You will be, too.”

“I don’t know about that, but thank you for helping me learn a better side of the truth tonight. I wasn’t sure it existed.”

“It does … barely,” I said with a smile and a wink. “You’ll find more of it if you look in the right places.”

“Right faces,” she corrected me, staring at me again. I wasn’t so sure it was an experiment. The chemistry between us was undeniable.

This time I broke the stare.

“I’m leaving now,” I said, starting up the car.

“Thanks again,” she said, sullenly waving as I backed up — a reluctant, one-mile-per-hour retreat from the edge of an unforgettable night that would’ve ruined all my other nights.

“See you on TV, Nikki Blue. You’re way too hot to handle in person,” I said, driving away with a new-found hatred for the bloody person who invented monogamy.

From “Nikki Blue: Source of Trouble”
Pub date: 10-9-15
ARC date: Available now on NetGalley

Nikki and Virgil from the chapter “The Other Kind of Auditing”

Adobe Photoshop PDFNikki’s POV

“What’s your biggest fear as we sit here today? Can you single one out that is weighing you down or freaking you out?” Virgil asked, lacing his fingers together and pressing them against his lips. Clearly it was my turn to talk and I had his undivided attention. His determined brown eyes met mine and never looked away as I talked.

“My biggest fear? I’d have to say … Thomas ‘Lee’ Harvey. He wanted me dead almost four years ago. He shot me. I got lucky … I am lucky to be alive right now. But he’s sitting in his prison cell up in New Hampshire probably thinking of ways to break out and get revenge on me for messing up his plan to kill us all. I’m the one who got his best friend to betray him and back out. Adam testified against him to get a short sentence. I’m sure he wants to kill us both. He’s supposed to be in jail for another 20 years or so.”

Virgil removed his clasped hands from his mouth.

“Thank you for being honest about your biggest fear, Nicole. I’m sure it’s not easy talking about him.”

“No, it’s torture. I don’t have nightmares about him as much as I used to, but I still do.”

“How often?”

“It varies. Sometimes none for a few weeks. Sometimes I’ll dream about him three times in one week.”

“What you’re experiencing is completely normal,” Virgil said. “You went through a very traumatic event and this is the post-traumatic stress and emotions from that.”

“Is there a magic wand in your Scientology tool box to get rid of it?”

“Not specifically, but I do have a risky idea in mind that could yield high rewards. It would take a lot of courage and strength to pull off, but I can help make it happen if you’re willing to try.”

“What’s that?”

“I say we confront Thomas ‘Lee’ Harvey and show him who’s boss in this situation,” Virgil said, exuding confidence that I was definitely not feeling. In fact, I gasped at the thought.

“I say no effing way.”

“You wouldn’t have to face him in person,” he pressed on undeterred. “Most prisoners are allowed to use Skype these days. I would have to get clearance from the prison warden, but our company can be quite persuasive when it wants to be.”

“Even if I did, and I don’t, why the hell would he want to talk to me?”

“All we can do is ask.”

“You think having me looking this homicidal maniac in the eyes again is going to help stop my nightmares and fears? It’ll only make them worse,” I said. “I don’t want to ever see his face again.”

“But you are still seeing him and fearing him. It’s affecting your quality of life. What if we look at this as an opportunity. You get a chance to vent at the person who shot you, who tried to kill you, directly. What a release that would be for you. And maybe, just maybe — with all this time that has passed to think about what he almost did to you and your classmates — he’ll have some perspective on why he did what he did. He’s not the same person he was in 2014 when he shot you, just like you’re not the same person you were then. A lot can happen in a young person’s brain between 17 or 18 years old and 21, 22. I’m not saying Thomas will be some reformed angel by now, but I’d be willing to bet he’s at least slightly more mature. I’d also be willing to bet he’s starved for interaction, especially with people from the outside world.”

“I’m sure he is. And I don’t want to give him that. He put a bullet through me. Isn’t that enough?”

From “Nikki Blue: Source of Trouble”
Pub date: 10-9-15
ARC date: Available now on NetGalley