Cream Cheese/Cinnamon Roll Puffs

This fun little recipe is perfect for brunch, but also delicious anytime you want a sweet treat.

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Start with two tubes of cinnamon roll dough.

For the filling you will need:

8 oz of cream cheese. I’ve used both soft and firm, and the little blocks seem to work better.

1/4 cp sugar (+/- depending on how sweet you like it)

1/2 cp milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

You can also add finely chopped walnuts and raisins, if you like. I’ve used both from time to time and they’re a great addition.

Mix the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla together in a bowl until blended. Add the milk and stir until it’s smooth, with no lumps.

Stir in additional ingredients now, if you’re going to use them.

Put the bowl in the freezer until the mixture is frozen, but not too hard. In my freezer, it’s roughly 45 minutes.

Once the filling is ready, preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Take the cinnamon rolls out of the tubes and press them out until they are flat.

Place a large dollop of the filling in the center of a cinnamon roll and bring the edges up over the sides of the filling.

Place a second roll over the top and tuck the edges underneath to make a ball. Sometimes, I use a small spatula to help with this.

Do the same with the remaining cinnamon rolls and filling.

Place the balls upside down in a baking pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until they are golden brown and puffy.

Turn them right side up, drizzle the cinnamon roll icing over the tops, and serve while warm.

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Thank you so much for stopping by my blog today. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do.

* * *

Books

Shadow of the Drill
Born of Circumstance, Bred for Revenge.
https://t.co/QzD2ODjvKk

A Perilous Thirst
A different kind of vampire story.
http://goo.gl/4HSpxu

One Dyke Cozy
“HAVE A NICE DAY”
Mr. Happy
goo.gl/QTS6Xq

Contact Info

Email: rhanidchae@gmail.com

Twitter: @rhanidchae @rhanidchaaebooks

Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/rhanidchaeauthor/

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John and I went to the movies

This past weekend was time for my friend John to make his monthly visit up to Tacoma. We both love movies and spent a great deal of time at our local Regal.

We saw a total of 7 films, and I thought I would share our opinions with you.

* * *

The first movie we saw was Truth or Dare, which starred a talented young cast that I’ve never heard of before. Lol The three main roles went to Lucy Hale, Tyler Posey, and Violet Beane. The film was very reminiscent of the Final Destination franchise.

A group of kids played a game of Truth or Dare, not knowing that there was an ancient demon involved. They had to continue the game in the order that they originally played.

There are some twists in the film, and some revelations that are rather surprising. All in all, it got 5 stars from both of us.

* * *

A Quiet Place was a different kind of concept, and a pretty good film. And not a lot of action, and only a couple of times when the giant bugs interacted with the human cast. It was a bit slow on more than one occasion, so from us, it gets 4 stars.

* * *

The third movie we saw was Pacific Rim Uprising. It was a good movie, with lots of action, but John had a hard time following everything that was going on. I have to say that casting Jon Boyega in the lead was a good choice.

I gave this movie 4 stars, and John gave it 3 stars.

* * *

The last movie that we saw on Friday was Acrimony, which was an incredible look at a woman’s descent into Crazyville. Everything that I knew about the movie before we went told me that she was a woman who was burdened by a lying, cheating husband. And I’m not saying that the man was perfect, but it was interesting to see him through her wildly distorted viewpoint. Taraji P Henson was absolutely phenomenal as Melinda, and Lyriq Bent was equally amazing as her husband, Robert.

This film was an easy 5 stars from both of us, and I highly recommend it.

* * *

We started Saturday with Chappaquiddick. It was interesting, but it didn’t do much to really hold my attention. I’m not saying it wasn’t good, because it was, but it just seemed very dry and slow. Jason Clarke was excellent as Ted Kennedy, but I just felt there was something missing. I may have to see it again.

Chappaquiddick gets 3 stars from me and 4 from John.

* * *

Or second movie on Saturday was Ready, Player One. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect, but wow, what a thrill ride it was! A great ensemble cast came together to make this probably my favorite film of the weekend. If you have the time, you should absolutely go see it. This is one you just don’t want to miss. 5 stars from me, and 4 from John, because he got lost and couldn’t find his way back. 😃

* * *

The last film we saw was Rampage, and I was hesitant about going. I never played the video game, and had never even heard of it until this movie was made. I just didn’t know what to expect.

I needn’t have worried because this movie is fantastic! Dwayne Johnson heads a phenomenal cast which includes Jeffrey Dean Morgan and a few minutes with Joe Manganiello. And, of course, George. There was a lot of humor between Dwayne Johnson’s character and George. Yes, there were some sad moments, but overall it was a great film and was probably my second favorite of the weekend. John and I both give it 5 stars.

* * *

I hope you enjoyed these movie reviews. I can honestly say there were no bad ones, but some were definitely better than others.

I plan to be back on Wednesday with another great recipe, so I hope you will join me then. In the meantime, enjoy your Sunday. 😃

* * *

Books

Shadow of the Drill

Born of Circumstance, Bred for Revenge
https://t.co/QzD2ODjvKk

A Perilous Thirst
A different kind of vampire story.

http://goo.gl/4HSpxu

One Dyke Cozy

“HAVE A NICE DAY”
Mr. Happy
goo.gl/QTS6Xq

Contact Info

Email: rhanidchae@gmail.com

Twitter: @rhanidchae @rhanidchaaebooks

Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/rhanidchaeauthorhor/

Bundt Pan Pizza Bread

This is an easy-to-make, versatile pizza bread that’s a favorite at my house. Hmmm…easy and versatile. That’s right up my alley!

Here’s what you’ll need:

2 tins of biscuit dough

2 or 3 cups of finely shredded cheese. I usually use mozzarella and/ or Colby-Jack, but any cheese is fine.

1 cup of finely shredded parmesan

Assorted pizza toppings. Ground beef, small pieces of pepperoni, vegetable pieces – pretty much anything that will hold up to being baked.

1 or 2 tbs of Italian seasoning

1 tsp each of salt and pepper

1/3 to 1/2 extra virgin olive oil. The amount depends on how many ingredients are used, because they need to be fairly evenly coated.

Preheat the oven to 350

Cut the biscuits into quarters

Put all ingredients into large bowl and stir together. Add the biscuit pieces and toss until everything is mixed and coated with olive oil and seasoning.

Spoon it into a greased bundt pan, and top with more cheese, if desired.

Bake for about a half hour, until dough is cooked & cheese has melted.

When done, invert the pan while the bread is hot.

Serve with marinara, ranch, or any other dipping sauce.

* * *

Thank you for stopping by my blog on recipe day. I hope you enjoy this pizza bread. I hope to be back on Sunday with something fun to read.

* * *

Books

Shadow of the Drill
Born of Circumstance, Bred for Revenge.
https://t.co/QzD2ODjvKk

A Perilous Thirst
A different kind of vampire story.
http://goo.gl/4HSpxu

One Dyke Cozy
“HAVE A NICE DAY”
Mr. Happy
goo.gl/QTS6Xq

Contact Info

Email: rhanidchae@gmail.com

Twitter: @rhanidchae @rhanidchaaebooks

Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/rhanidchaeauthor/

Do you like potatoes?

We sure do! So today, I’m sharing a fun and easy way to bake potatoes to accompany a meal, or as a snack.

Start with a fairly large potato, and slice it across the top from side side to side, without cutting all the way through. Make the cuts as close or as far apart as you like, depending on how thick you want the potato slices.

Drizzle the top with melted butter, a little olive oil, some sea salt, and pepper. We have also topped it with things like bacon bits and cheese.

Bake the potatoes for about 40 minutes at 425 degrees.

Sometimes, I bake the potato with just the butter, oil, and salt. Then, when it’s done, I top it with ketchup and goat cheese. This may sound a little strange, but it tastes fantastic!

This is another very simple and versatile recipe. You can do whatever you like with it, which is what makes it so much fun.

* * *

Thank you so much for stopping by my blog on recipe day. I plan to be back on Sunday with another post, although I’m not sure yet what it will be. Hopefully, it will be something fun. 😃

* * *

Books

Shadow of the Drill
Born of Circumstance, Bred for Revenge.
https://t.co/QzD2ODjvKk

A Perilous Thirst
A different kind of vampire story.
http://goo.gl/4HSpxu

One Dyke Cozy
“HAVE A NICE DAY”
Mr. Happy
goo.gl/QTS6Xq

Contact Info

Email: rhanidchae@gmail.com

Twitter: @rhanidchae @rhanidchaaebooks

Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/rhanidchaeauthor/

Super Easy Fruit Cobbler

I’m sorry this post is a couple of days late, but I’ve been sick and just haven’t wanted to do anything more than I absolutely had to. Lol

I don’t know about you, but I love cobbler. Especially blackberry or apple cobbler. I also love this recipe because it gives me my cobbler without a lot of work. Don’t get me wrong, I love to bake. I just never seem to have the time to do much of it.

* * *

Start by melting 1 stick of butter and pouring it into a baking pan. I use the standard cake pan, but you can divide it between two square pans, if you want to make two different kinds.

In a bowl, stir together 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, and 1 cup milk. Add 1 tsp baking powder, and a little bit of salt. Once it’s all mixed up, pour it into the pan on top of the butter.

Now comes the fun part. Dump 3 or 4 cups of sweetened fruit, whatever kind you like, evenly over the top of the batter without stirring it in. If I’m doing apple cobbler, I like to throw some oatmeal and brown sugar on top of the apples.

Bake for about an hour at 350 degrees. Top with ice cream or whipped cream. I like it warm, but it’s also good right out of the fridge.

* * *

Thank you so much for stopping by today. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do. I will be back on Sunday with another peek into the Drill series.

Books

Shadow of the Drill
Born of Circumstance, Bred for Revenge.
https://t.co/QzD2ODjvKk

A Perilous Thirst
A different kind of vampire story.
http://goo.gl/4HSpxu

One Dyke Cozy
“HAVE A NICE DAY”
Mr. Happy
goo.gl/QTS6Xq

Contact Info

Email: rhanidchae@gmail.com

Twitter: @rhanidchae @rhanidchaaebooks

Super Easy Fruit Cobbler

I’m sorry this post is a couple of days late, but I’ve been sick and just haven’t wanted to do anything more than I absolutely had to. Lol

I don’t know about you, but I love cobbler. Especially blackberry or apple cobbler. I also love this recipe because it gives me my cobbler without a lot of work. Don’t get me wrong, I love to bake. I just never seem to have the time to do much of it.

* * *

Start by melting 1 stick of butter and pouring it into a baking pan. I use the standard cake pan, but you can divide it between two square pans, if you want to make two different kinds.

In a bowl, stir together 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, and 1 cup milk. Add 1 tsp baking powder, and a little bit of salt. Once it’s all mixed up, pour it into the pan on top of the butter.

Now comes the fun part. Dump 3 or 4 cups of sweetened fruit, whatever kind you like, evenly over the top of the batter without stirring it in. If I’m doing apple cobbler, I like to throw some oatmeal and brown sugar on top of the apples.

Bake for about an hour at 350 degrees. Top with ice cream or whipped cream. I like it warm, but it’s also good right out of the fridge.

* * *

Thank you so much for stopping by today. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do. I will be back on Sunday with another peek into the Drill series.

Books

Shadow of the Drill
Born of Circumstance, Bred for Revenge.
https://t.co/QzD2ODjvKk

A Perilous Thirst
A different kind of vampire story.
http://goo.gl/4HSpxu

One Dyke Cozy
“HAVE A NICE DAY”
Mr. Happy
goo.gl/QTS6Xq

Contact Info

Email: rhanidchae@gmail.com

Twitter: @rhanidchae @rhanidchaaebooks

#WinterIsComing – Charlene

If you’ve read Shadow of the Drill, you’re familiar with the character of Charlene. Decker’s long suffering lover, her loyalty is unwavering, and there’s nothing she won’t do for her man.

Aside from being the resident fixer-upper, she rarely gets involved in Decker’s work. This is by her choice as much as his.

But, things change in Winter of the Drill. Once Duncan Malone learns of her closeness to Rudy Valdez, he decides to use her to force Rudy to sign over ownership of the Toybox. After arranging her kidnapping, he has her taken to one of his “adult entertainment” studios, turns on the cameras and starts filming.

You may wonder why I didn’t have Decker find Charlene before the camera started rolling. I think it’s because, in reality, the girl usually doesn’t get rescued before something unpleasant happens. This is one of those times.

Charlene is a strong woman, both physically and emotionally, and it’s her emotional strength that is on display in the following excerpt.

* * *

Charlene glared at the man who stood at the foot of the bed, her expression one of disgust. She had been beaten, abused, and humiliated in front of the camera for longer than she wanted to think about, and she was in no mood to deal with the idiot in the Armani jeans who fiddled with the camera and avoided eye contact.

Then, a tilt of his head of his head triggered a memory, and recognition dawned.

” I know you,” she informed him in an icy tone of voice. ” I’ve seen you at the club. Rum & Coke, and champagne splits for the girls.”

She paused, searching her memory. “Jack. You go by Jack, but that’s not your name.”

“What?” He was clearly startled.

“Oh please.” Her disdain was unmistakable. “Give me a little credit. Life can be educational if you let it, and in my time or two around the block, I’ve learned to spot a phony. And I don’t mean IDs.”

Jax shifted his weight uncomfortably, caught off guard by her perceptiveness.

“Look…” he began, but Charlene was just getting started.

“So, you work for Malone. How stupid are you? He’s a killer, and if you work for him you must be okay with that. Hell, you’re probably a killer too.”

Something in his face changed, and her eyes widened. ” you are, aren’t you? That’s what you do for him. You’re a killer.”

Jax gave his head an emphatic shake. “No, it’s not like that.” He wanted her to understand that he was not like Malone, though he did not know why it mattered.

” I handle some of his business, that’s all. I find information for him. I run interference between him and…well, everyone. I schedule his crews when he needs something done. And okay, sometimes the business that I handle is a little rough, but I’m no killer!”

She studied his face, paying particular attention to his eyes. “So, did any of that rough business involve Rudy’s car?”

To respond would be to admit what was, at that point, his greatest shame, so he said nothing. Charlene, however, was not done talking.

“I’m sure Malone’s kept you busy, so let me jog your memory. Think BMW, a rainy night, and River Road. Oh, and three screaming women who’d done absolutely nothing to you.”

Her voice hardened, the memory of that night still much too fresh. “Ring any bells?”

He shrugged, averting his eyes again while shifting the paper that he held to his other hand. “Not really. Okay, here’s the deal. Malone took you to prove a point, and he plans to prove it. What they’ve done to you so far is just the beginning. But the good news is, you’ll walk out when it’s done. He doesn’t want you dead, he just wants your friend to cooperate.”

His voice took on a note of profound sadness that Charlene immediately understood. “And I want it too.”

“You’re not on board with this, are you?” A slight glimmer of hope touched her eyes. “I’m not saying you’re a nice guy, cuz you’re not. But you didn’t sign up for where he’s taking this.”

She paused, hearing agreement in his silence. “I’m sure the plan is to send Rudy the film, and hope he’ll do whatever Malone wants to get me back, but that’s not gonna happen.”

“Of course it will.” Jax could not hide his surprise. “If he’s even half the friend I think he is, he won’t wait a minute longer than he has to. No, he’ll jump as soon as he gets the disc. He’d never leave you here, knowing what’s going on.”

“Oh, you’re right about that,” Charlene agreed. “But it’s not gonna go like you think it’s gonna go. He’s not gonna grab a notary by the hand and trot down to the club to wait for your boss, so he can sign his life away.”

She laughed, finding the thought of Rudy kneeling to Duncan Malone hilarious. “I’m gonna give you some advice, and if I was you, I’d pay very close attention.”

Curious, he moved closer. “I’m listening.”

“Rudy doesn’t bow to anyone, and that’s a fact. He’s probably already looking for me and he’ll find us sooner or later. Most likely sooner.”

She paused, accurately reading his expression. “You’re thinking, ‘he’s one man, what can he do?’ But you’re wrong. He won’t come alone. He’ll bring friends, and by the time they’re done, this place’ll be knee-deep in blood. So you can stay and die with whoever’s on-site when Rudy gets here, or you can go now and save yourself a lot of pain later.”

Jax swallowed, his mouth suddenly dry. The memory of his encounter with the cowboy was still vivid, and if that was the kind of friends Valdez would be bringing, he knew that he most definitely did not want to be around when they arrived.

* * *

I’m so glad you decided to stop by today for Charlene’s moment in the spotlight. I hope to be back on Wednesday with a super easy cobbler recipe that I happened upon. I hope you had a great weekend, and I also hope that Monday is kind. 😀

Books

Shadow of the Drill
Born of Circumstance, Bred for Revenge.
https://t.co/QzD2ODjvKk

A Perilous Thirst
A different kind of vampire story.
http://goo.gl/4HSpxu

One Dyke Cozy
“HAVE A NICE DAY”
Mr. Happy
goo.gl/QTS6Xq

Contact Info

Email: rhanidchae@gmail.com

Twitter: @rhanidchae @rhanidchaaebooks

Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/rhanidchaeauthor/

Crockpot parmesan chicken

We really like chicken. So I like being able to post easy chicken recipes that also taste good. And if stuff can just get tossed in a Crock-Pot, that’s even better. 😁

For this recipe, you will need:

3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts.

2 sticks of butter or margarine

Parmesan cheese – the original recipe said one cup, but we like cheese so I generally use more. I’ve also been known to mix in some ricotta, from time to time.

1 cp of mayonnaise

1 tsp each of whatever seasonings you want to add. (Salt, basil, pepper,ect)

You can also throw in a few finely chopped garlic cloves. We aren’t really garlic people, so I tend to omit oh meant this step.

Put the chicken in the Crock-Pot, and cook on high for 3 hours, or low for 6 hours.

When you’ve reached the end of whatever time you are cooking at, drain the liquid from the pot.

Combine the rest of the ingredients in a separate bowl and mix it all together. Pour it over the chicken, put the lid back on, and cook it for another half hour or so.

This is a great recipe, and one of our favorites. If you try it, I would love to hear how it works for you.

Thanks for stopping by today. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate each and everyone of you. 😀 Hopefully, I’ll be back on Sunday with something new from my upcoming novel, Winter of the Drill.

* * *

Books

Shadow of the Drill
Born of Circumstance, Bred for Revenge.
https://t.co/QzD2ODjvKk

A Perilous Thirst
A different kind of vampire story.
http://goo.gl/4HSpxu

One Dyke Cozy
“HAVE A NICE DAY”
Mr. Happy
goo.gl/QTS6Xq

Contact Info

Email: rhanidchae@gmail.com

Twitter: @rhanidchae @rhanidchaaebooks

Drillbooks – A minute with Davis

If you read Shadow of the Drill, then you are familiar with the character of Davis. Decker’s investigator, he collects information, follows leads to ensure that they are valid, and keeps his ear to the streets. He prefers to keep his hands clean, so he does not usually participate in the more violent aspects of Decker’s work.

However, he has reason to rethink this when Decker’s most recent nemesis, Duncan Malone, strikes a little too close to home.

The following is an excerpt from my upcoming novel, Winter of the Drill. I hope you enjoy it.

Davis’ eyes clouded as he replayed the scene in his mind. The two dancers, huddled together and sobbing hysterically. The car, nose down and slowly settling in the muddy water. And Rudy, frantically diving again and again, surfacing just long enough to grab a quick breath before going back down to rescue a girl who was surely past any help that he could give. He had no light, and a crunched door that would not open hampered his efforts, but he continued to try.

Holding his chin above the murky water, Davis had paddled out to the submerged vehicle, catching Rudy by the arm and trying to bring him back to shore. The stronger swimmer, Rudy had pulled away and gone back to the car, clutching a large rock that he had been using to pound the window glass.

Davis remained where he was, knowing that the younger man was tiring and would probably need his help when he came up for air.

You did your best, he thought with a melancholy sigh. She’s in God’s hands, now.

It was not long before Rudy broke the surface, gasping as he filled his lungs for another journey downward.

“That’s enough,” Davis muttered. Rudy had done all that he could possibly do, and he was going to have to accept it. To continue on would risk his own safety, and Davis would not allow that.

“Let go!” Rudy ordered when Davis grabbed a wrist and reeled him in. He beat at a soggy sleeve with his free hand, but Davis held firm, refusing to release him until he had half-carried, half-dragged his struggling burden up onto the roadside.

“Listen to me!” He shouted the words, grabbing Rudy’s other wrist. “It’s done, do you hear me? It’s done!”

Blood dripped onto his hand, and he shook his head sadly when he saw how the rock had ripped into Rudy’s fingers and palm. Rudy raised his head, his haunted eyes staring back at the pond. Davis pulled him close, holding him while he sobbed in heart-rending agony.

Malone, Davis thought. It had to be Malone. Of course, knowing and proving were two very different things, but that was where Decker’s inner circle came in. They would find the truth and handle things accordingly. But this time,Davis decided, they would have some extra help when the crap hit the fan.

The thought brought with it a momentary chill, for with very few exceptions, the fastidious investigator avoided that part of Decker’s business. But, as he knelt in the dirt with his arms around the man who was the closest he had to a friend, he decided that this time he would not stay away. This time would be different. This time, it was personal.

* * *

Thanks so much for stopping by on this beautiful Sunday, and taking a look into Winter of the Drill. Please leave a comment and tell me what you think. 😀

I plan to be back on Wednesday, with another great recipe for you to try.

* * *

Books

Shadow of the Drill
Born of Circumstance, Bred for Revenge.
https://t.co/QzD2ODjvKk

A Perilous Thirst
A different kind of vampire story.
http://goo.gl/4HSpxu

One Dyke Cozy
“HAVE A NICE DAY”
Mr. Happy
goo.gl/QTS6Xq

Contact Info

Email: rhanidchae@gmail.com

Twitter: @rhanidchae @rhanidchaaebooks

Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/rhanidchaeauthor/

#WinterIsComing – Meet Jax Weston

In a previous post, I introduced you to Duncan Malone, who will quickly soar to the top of Decker’s to-do list in the upcoming Winter of the Drill.

Malone has set his sights on the Toybox, which is the strip club co-owned by Decker and his business partner, Rudy Valdez. And he’ll do whatever it takes to get it.

Jax Weston is Malone’s right-hand man, and oversees most of Malone’s dirty work. However, the ruthless things that Malone plans to do to force Rudy’s hand go far beyond his comfort level.

In this excerpt, Jax has taken a break in a quiet bar to think about things, and has a conversation that shakes him up quite a bit.

I hope you enjoy this look at Jax Weston.

* * *

Jax Westen nodded to the bartender, gazing morosely at his empty glass until it was replaced with a full one. He wondered if the glass was clean, given the seediness of the establishment, but then decided that it really made no difference. He had stopped by Louie’s Pub & Grub because he needed to think about his current situation in a place where Malone could not find him, and he wanted to be less than sober while he did it.

A cockroach scurried busily across the bar not far from his hand, and he watched it with disgusted fascination. The bartender, a gray haired man with tattooed arms who had introduced himself as Tinker, followed his gaze, sweeping the roach onto the floor with a quick flick of his towel.

Tinker grinned, showing yellowed teeth beneath his untrimmed moustache. “I haven’t seen you in here before. We usually get the boys from the docks, and a few wayward truckers looking for action on the strip. You don’t fit either category so I guess you’re part of our third group.”

Jax looked up, curious in spite of himself. “What group is that?”

Tinker chuckled, his eyes reading Jax’s with the insight gained from thirty years of watching people come and go through assorted tavern doors.

“Trouble,” he said simply. “You’re trouble. But somehow…I think you’re mostly trouble for yourself. And no amount of booze is gonna change that.”

Jax stared back, his interest rapidly giving way to irritation. “You don’t know me.” His voice took on an unpleasant edge that Tinker did not seem to notice. “You don’t know anything about me. So what gives you the right to judge me?”

Tinker studied his face for a moment, then shook his head with jaded recognition. “I ain’t judgin’ you, boy. Hell, I was you, back in the day. I lived your life ’til I wised up and got the f out. So I don’t have to know you to know you.”

Jax picked up his glass and scowled at the liquid inside, disliking the man intensely. He had come for a few drinks, not a lecture, and he deeply resented the bartender’s intrusion into his personal space.

But the silence that followed Tinker’s last sentence soared quickly from uncomfortable to unpleasant, hovering there until Jax’s already frayed nerves could take it no more.

“Okay,” he snapped crossly. “You know me so well, tell me why I’m trouble.”

Tinker shrugged, his expression saying that he was only stating the obvious. “You’ve got a good build, and the scars on your hands tell me you didn’t put in the gym time just to get girls. But your face is clean. Your nose was never broken, and you’ve never had a cut deeper than a surface scratch. This tells me that you don’t fight anyone who’s in a position to fight back. So…you’re not a boxer, a cager, or any other kind of ring fighter. And you’re not a guy who fights just for fun ‘cuz if you were, you’d have the scars. That leaves hired muscle for one of the shitbirds that think they own the streets around here.”

He shrugged again, eyeing Jax appraisingly. “You’re dressed nice so whoever pays you has some green behind him. That leaves out Deaf Tony, Carl Dawes, Len Morgan, or the Mason twins. It also leaves out the popcorn pimps like Dark Daddy, King, and Ricky Roy. So…process of elimination tells me you answer to one of the big guns like Duncan Malone or Dane Kinney. Maybe even the Drill, though I’d be surprised if you did. He treats his people pretty damn good, but you look like you’re hatin’ life and everyone in it. It’s usually girl trouble what drives a man to drink, but I see somethin’ in you that goes way deeper than that.”

He paused to pull out a battered comb and make a quick pass through his thinning hair. “Boy, if you’re tied up with Kinney I’d say be careful and leave it at that. But if you’re one of Malone’s dogs then all I can say is watch your back and sleep with your eyes open. ‘Cuz life with Malone means you’ll always have to be choosin’ between what he tells you to do and what you’re willin’ to do. And no matter how you play it, sooner or later you’ll choose wrong and, then I’ll see your blood on the sidewalk right next to Milo VanDiepen’s.”

The mention of the notorious enforcer who had died in a hail of bullets, not far from the bar in which he sat, brought a frown to Jax’s face. A frown that did not go unnoticed by the man who had read him with such disturbing accuracy.

“You’re still young, boy,” Tinker continued. “Watch your step, and you might live to get old.” He paused, giving the bar an unnecessary swipe with his towel

“Don’t mind me,” he continued. “Sometimes I talk too much for m’own good. Seems whenever I see a younger version of me, I feel the need to impart a little sage wisdom. But I don’t mean nothin’ by it.”

A disarming grin followed the words, and then he stepped away, leaving Jax to ponder both the conversation and the truths that had been woven throughout.

Milo scwed up, he told himself reassuringly while he sipped his drink through the narrow black cocktail straw. He was way too cocky, and he turned his back on the wrong guy. That won’t be me. I won’t let it be me.

He jiggled the glass, watching the alcohol swirl around the ice cubes, and wondered how many more he would have to drink to dull the misery that threatened to take him down to some emotional hell from which there was no escape.

I could drink a gallon and it wouldn’t make a bit of difference, he thought dismally as he swallowed the liquid and signaled for yet another refill. He’s right about Malone. I gotta get away before he changes me completely. Before he kills everything I am.

A long sigh slipped from between his lips when he recalled the things that he had done at Malone’s request. Things that even a year ago he would have considered beyond his willingness to do, no matter what the payoff.

He remembered the girl, trapped in the sinking car. Her death had been a tragedy, but it was the fact that it had been no accident that kept him awake at night. Malone had wanted to make a statement that could not be misunderstood, and he had achieved his goal, exactly as planned.

I was his weapon, Jax admitted with no small degree of shame. I let him load me like a gun and aim me right between her eyes. I killed her just as if I’d walked up and shot her.

His vision blurred, and he blinked rapidly, hoping that none of the burly men seated at the nearby tables could see the tears that lingered on his lashes.

No more crying, he told himself sternly. You just did your job. Doesn’t matter how it turned out.

But even as the thought formed, he knew it was wrong. That it did matter how things had turned out. A girl’s life had been taken in a soulless act, and that mattered very much.

Even his minor role in the shooting of Valdez’s bouncer had to matter, if he allowed himself to think about it with any degree of honesty. The boy had done nothing to deserve such a fate, aside from being a target whose injury would hit Valdez hard enough to hopefully force his hand. It had been a nasty piece of work, and even though Jax had been well paid for helping Rhegan find the boy, there was still a nagging voice in his head that told him what he had done was wrong.

It has to matter. The voice pounded into his mind with incessant force. At least a little. ‘Cuz maybe I’ve done some pretty stupid things for Malone, but I’m not like him. I never hurt anyone that didn’t have it coming, and I always said I never would.

He lifted his head to look for the bartender, but paused when he saw his own image in the mirror behind the bar. Haunted eyes stared back at him from over a twisted grimace of a mouth. Shocked, he whimpered softly, gripping his glass even tighter.

It was an ugly visage, beaded with sweat and devoid of color, and he averted his eyes rather than face the reality of what he was becoming.

I’m not him. At least, not yet. There’s still time to get away, if I really want to. But that’s the question, isn’t it? Do I really want to? Do I want it enough to give up the money and the power that being with him brings? And if I leave, chances are he’ll find me and rip out my lungs. What good is it to break away if I’m too fucking dead to enjoy it? There’s so many things to look at. I guess it all boils down to the million-dollar question. What matters the most?

The dim barroom light glinted on the heavy gold chain around his wrist when he lifted his glass to signal for a refill, and he studied it with resigned certainty. Because at that moment, loaded with alcohol and forcing himself to look honestly into his deepest heart, he knew exactly what the answer to that question would have to be.

* * *

Thank you so much for stopping by today. I will be back on Wednesday with another great recipe.

Books

Shadow of the Drill
Born of Circumstance, Bred for Revenge.
https://t.co/QzD2ODjvKk

A Perilous Thirst
A different kind of vampire story.
http://goo.gl/4HSpxu

One Dyke Cozy
“HAVE A NICE DAY”
Mr. Happy
goo.gl/QTS6Xq

Contact Info

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