We love a good series, so we were thrilled when the minds behind the 1001 Dark Nights announced their new project, Rising Storm. The series boasts eight ebooks from bestselling authors including Elisabeth Naughton, Jennifer Probst and Larissa Ione, to name a few. The first insallment, Julie Kenner’s Tempest Rising, is out now! We were lucky enough to snag an exclusive excerpt from the second book in the series, White Lightning by Lexi Blake, out October 1. We couldn’t wait to take a peek at this twisty, soap opera-type tale.
Dakota knew she was likely making a massive mistake, but she couldn’t force herself to get back in her car. She’d gone everywhere she could looking for her father. Everyone said the same thing. Hector, of course I know him. No. Haven’t seen him tonight. Sorry.
It was like he’d dropped off the face of the earth.
“I certainly didn’t expect to see you here,” Senator Rush said, sliding into the corner booth. The bench was round like the one at the Bluebonnet Cafe where she and her friends used to all squish in together and dip French fries in their shakes. Salty and sweet. She missed those times.
Now it seemed she would miss her father, too.
“I was looking for my father. He’s left town, it seems.” She hated the pathetic whine to her voice. She slid in opposite the senator.
What was she doing here with this creep? He’d hit on her shortly after her eighteenth birthday and she’d turned him down flat. Now she was willingly drinking with him? Not that he was all that bad looking. He was kind of hot for an old dude. For a dude with money and power.
“Hmm, I’m sure he’ll be back.” Sebastian stared at her over his drink. Actually, the guy was kind of sexy. No one had ever looked at her like that before, like he could eat her up. Like she was beautiful.
“Maybe. I think something happened between him and my mom.”
The bartender put a glass of something in front of her and then took another tip from the senator. Had that been a hundred dollar bill? Jeez. How much cash did the man carry? She picked up the drink and sniffed it. It smelled a little like rubbing alcohol. She wrinkled her nose. Maybe she should start with something fruity. “Do you think I could get a piña colada instead?”
The senator chuckled. “Only if you want to go to Murphy’s. This isn’t the type of bar that serves fruity concoctions. I would bet if I asked for a wine selection I would be told red or white. This is the house special. It’s called White Lightning. It’s grain alcohol. If the myth is true, it’s almost two hundred proof. It’s also illegal. It’s only for people with a taste for the wild side. I suppose I can get you a light beer.”
At the very sound of the word “Murphy’s,” she frowned. She’d spent the entire afternoon there watching as everyone in town fawned all over Ginny Moreno. She’d been excellent at playing the frail flower. Ginny had stood in line with the Salts, shaking hands as though she was one of the family.
That should have been her place. Hers. But no, she’d been relegated to walking the line and shaking hands and murmuring how sorry she was and then she’d been utterly ignored. She’d watched as the other young people banded together. Her sister had immediately defected for a group that included Luis Moreno and Jeffry Rush. Once Lacey Salt had gotten away from the receiving line, she’d joined them.
All her friends had left. They were in Dallas or Houston or Austin. They were gone, finding their own lives. And she was stuck here alone.
She took a quick swallow of the drink and came up choking. It tasted horrible. “Why would anyone drink that?”
“Give it a minute,” the senator said with a chuckle.
He was suddenly closer than he’d been before. She hadn’t seen him move, but now he was on her side of the booth. He patted her back as she coughed.
That was the single worst thing she’d ever put in her mouth and she’d dated high school football players. They didn’t always shower. Ick.
Then a warmth hit her belly. It was like when she was a kid and her mom would pull towels out of the dryer and Dakota and Marcus and Mallory would all wrap themselves up. That warmth had a softness to it.
“Oh, that’s nice.” She lifted the glass again.
The senator’s hand came down, covering hers and keeping her from raising the glass. “Not too fast. You’re not used to drinking and this is serious stuff. Give it a couple of minutes and you can have another sip.”
“You’re drinking it fast.”
He winked and took another drink. “I’m well acquainted with liquor, honey. I come here for a couple of reasons, the ambience not being one of them. This is some of the finest moonshine in the world. I tend to prefer more elegant establishments. If I go to a restaurant, I would prefer one with a Michelin star or two. But the gentleman who makes this fine liquor will only sell to this bar. I believe the gentleman goes by the name of Cooder. Cooder has a more blue-collar attitude about the world, so I’m forced to come here when I want this particular indulgence. A man has to follow his bliss, you know.”
She didn’t really get half of what he was saying, but she liked how he said it. His voice had taken on a soothing but elegant tone. He was closer again. Now he was close enough that their thighs touched. Her skirt was so short she could feel the fabric of his pants against her skin. It had been a shitty day, but now she was feeling warm and a fancy man was talking about restaurants. “What’s the nicest place you’ve been to?”
He leaned over and she could smell his aftershave. He smelled clean and fresh, so unlike the sweaty boys who used to grope her under the bleachers. “I’ve been all over the world, honey.”
“I’ve never really been out of Storm. At least I’ve never been farther than Galveston.”
Her dad had taken them for a beach vacation. They’d rented a condo. Her mom had ruined everything by tripping and falling down the stairs when she was trying to bring the laundry up.
Where was her dad now?
“A pretty girl like you should see the world. You would love New York and London. I’m sure you’d do well in Paris. Where are you going to college?” He took his hand off the glass and nodded. “Just a sip.”
It was actually kind of nice that he was looking out for her. No one ever did that. Most boys would be encouraging her to drink as much as she could. She took another sip, managing not to choke this time. After a second the warmth settled in again. She was glad she’d come in here.
“I would love to see all those places. But I’m not in college.” She’d scored well on her SATs, but not well enough to get a scholarship. “I have a job. I’m working at your savings and loan.”
“Ah.” His arm slid around the back of the booth, just brushing her shoulders. “And do you like this job? Or are you looking for something else? Something more challenging?”
She found herself cuddled up against him. He was actually pretty muscular. And he had a handsome face. Yes, he was a little older, but maybe that was a good thing. She thought briefly about the fact that this man had a wife, but let it go. If Sebastian was out instead of at home with his wife, it was likely her fault. She probably didn’t keep the man interested. “Definitely something more challenging. It’s just there aren’t a lot of jobs in Storm.”
“No, you’re certainly right about that.” His words were whispered against her ear, and she could feel the warmth of his lips there. “You should think about going to Austin. A smart girl would make friends who can get her places.”
Her heart rate skittered. His hand found her thigh and her mind was whirling. She was allowed another sip, a heartier one this time. She might not be used to the powerful liquor, but she thought she could learn pretty fast.
A smart girl knew how to work the system. Senator Sebastian Rush was the most powerful man in Storm. Could he get her out of this town? Could he find her a job with prospects?
She didn’t protest when he brushed his lips against her ear. She sighed because between the liquor and the little spark of hope she’d found in his words, she was feeling nice and warm.
“You are a beautiful young lady,” he whispered as his hand crept up her thigh. “You’re certainly the most beautiful thing in Storm.”
“Thank you.” She leaned back and looked up at him. Why had she thought he was old? He was mature, but still hot, still sexy. What did she want with a boy anyway? “Are you going to be staying here in town for a while?”
She wasn’t going to be some cheap one-night stand. If he was headed back to Austin in the morning, then she would have to rethink her position.
His lips curled up in a decadent smile. “I’m here all summer, baby girl. How would you like to spend some time with me?”
“Maybe that could be arranged.” It wasn’t like she had anything else to do.
“Hey, maybe when the summer is over, I can find you a job that’s more worthy of you.” One finger teased between her thighs. He was being aggressive, but somehow she found it sexy. “I’ll just have to study you and find out what your strengths and weakness are.”
She giggled and covered her mouth because she hadn’t meant to do that. The liquor was really going to her head.
He chuckled. “First though, we’ll get you some food. I don’t want you sick in the morning. I’ll go see if they have any kind of a kitchen. If not, maybe we can find a place that’s still open somewhere around here.”
“What do you mean?”
“Why would you care if I get sick tomorrow?”
He ran a single finger along her jaw and then brushed his thumb over her lips. He was staring at her like she was truly beautiful. “Because I like to collect the stunning things of this world. I’m a man of taste, Dakota. You’re simply the finest thing in this town. Someone should take care of you.”
She let her head fall back against his arm and then he was kissing her. He didn’t overwhelm her the way the other boys she’d dated had. He didn’t jump in and immediately stick his tongue down her throat. No, he caressed her lips with his, a soft brush that left her off kilter and wanting more.
She felt something skim across her breast and when she looked down, Sebastian’s hand was covering her.
He immediately pulled away. “Sorry. You’re so sexy I’m afraid my hand had a mind of its own. I’ll go get that food.”
She reached down and grabbed his hand, bringing it back to her chest. She didn’t want to let go of how he made her feel. It was there in the back of her head that this was wrong, but she didn’t care. She just wanted another couple of moments where she felt good about herself.
He was smiling as his lips descended on hers again and he took her mouth. His hand moved over her, her nipples sparking to life under the material of her blouse. His tongue traced the edge of her lips and when she opened for him, he delved inside. She gave over to him, tasting the liquor on his tongue. That liquor and this man had washed away some of the humiliation of the day.
After a long moment, he lifted his head and stared down at her. “We could have fun this summer, you and I.”
He winked down at her. “All right then. Let’s get you some food and then we can find a place to be alone for a while.”
He moved out of the bench with the elegance of a predator.
He was going to want sex. She wasn’t foolish enough to think he wanted to be alone to talk. He would want to take her to a motel and have his way.
She took another shaky drink, longer this time because he wasn’t around to slow her down.
“Are you kidding me?”
She looked up in abject horror. Sheriff Dillon Murphy was standing over her, his eyes staring down at her like she was a murder suspect or something. What was he doing here? She was underage. She could get arrested and Daddy wasn’t around to fix things. Her mother would likely let her rot.
And the alcohol was really making things fuzzy. Sebastian was right. She needed some food.
“Dakota, I’m talking to you. What are you doing here? Tell me that isn’t what I think it is.” The sheriff reached out and grabbed her glass before she could pull it away.
“I’m having a drink, that’s all.”
“Go away. You’re not my father.”
He seemed to pale at her words and he softened a little. God, there was the pity again. “I know. I know why you’re doing this. That’s why I’m taking you home. Now.”
She looked behind him. Sebastian was in the hallway that led to the men’s room. He was standing in the shadows. Even in her fuzzy brain, she knew what he was doing. He didn’t want the sheriff to know he was here. Luckily, he’d taken his glass with him or she would have had questions to answer. He wasn’t going to save her.
He looked at her from the shadows. That was where she would be if she chose him. She would be in the shadows, not someone’s beloved wife, but the dirty little secret of a powerful man.
She had the power now. She could see it on his face. He was practically begging her not to tell the sheriff. If the sheriff found him here, it would be a scandal.
“Did my mother send you? She hates me. She’s so jealous. You can screw yourself, Sheriff, because I’m not going anywhere with you. You can tell the whole town that sweet Joanne Alvarez has a tramp for a daughter. I’m sure she’ll love that.” She knew how to avoid a scandal with the sheriff. He’d been friends with her mom in high school. Just one little suggestion that her mother could be hurt and he was all about getting the hell out of Dodge.
He sighed and hauled her out of the booth. “You’re lucky I don’t want your momma to have to bail you out of jail.”
She gasped as he ducked down and had her in a fireman’s hold over his shoulder. He started for the door, stopping in front of the bar.
“And Cooder’s lucky, too. You tell him he better hide that still well. And you, I find out you’re serving minors again and I won’t care that this is unincorporated territory. I’ll send someone out to get her car in the morning.”
As he hauled her off she managed to look up. Sebastian was smiling her way.
At least one person in the world liked her.
We know you’re going to want to start at the beginning, and book one in Rising Storm, Tempest Rising, is available now in digital. Buy a copy: Amazon | BN | Kobo | iBooks | All Romance. And you can preorder book two, White Lightning, here: Amazon | BN | Kobo | iBooks | All Romance. While you’re at it, why not enjoy more great stories on our Everything Romance page?