Titolo: Vigilante Nights
Autore: Erin Richardson
Genere: YA contemporaneo con elementi soprannaturali
Trama: A "good boy" will do anything for vengeance when a gang rite kills his twin sister. Will Lucas win, or follow his sister Silver into the darkness?
After a hideous car wreck, Lucas wakes from a coma to find that his world is gutted. Not only is his beloved twin sister, Silver, gone forever, but Lucas is broken in body and spirit. He will never be a college athlete, and is robbed of what he now realizes was the most important bond of his life. Although they weren't identical twins, Lucas and Silver shared a bond so fierce it defied reason, and was nearly supernatural.
After her death, that bond seems to endure when Lucas sees Silver everywhere he turns. Either he's crazy, or Silver is trying to tell him something about the California gang initiation they stumbled into that cost Silver her life. Lucas is bent on revenge, turning on Raymond, Silver's former boyfriend; the one Lucas never wanted her to date. He forms a posse of vigilantes to take out the gangsters responsible for Silver's death, but he risks not only his own life, but the love of the new girl on his block, who knows more about Lucas and Silver than can be accounted for by mere chance.
Erin Richards lives in Northern California. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, photography, and American muscle cars.
Silver’s babbling continued at racecar speed. Seriously, I didn’t want to hear about the new target of my sister’s lust. The fallout of her last crush with one of my friends still jacked me up. Memories surged and my gut pinched. Ex-friend now.
A blissful moment of silence descended. I peeked at my twin in the passenger seat. Brow puckered, she sucked on the straw to her daily iced mocha. My gaze slid past the speedometer clocking me at ten over in a fifty-five zone.
“Something feels weird tonight, Lucas.” Her tone turned somber. “Maybe you ought to slow down.”
“Meaning?” I felt her apprehension, a feeling I’d grown used to over the last week since she’d kicked Raymond—our collective ex—to the curb.
She shrugged. “Just a weird vibe I’ve had since we left the mall.”
“Raymond still bothering you?”
Silver looked out the passenger window. She didn’t have to hide the tears I felt from her in our weirdo twin bond. Hoping to lighten the mood, I gunned the car on a clear stretch of the frontage road. Despite her heebie-jeebies, I knew she loved the speed as much as I did.
Night had sneaked up on us as we left Monterey behind. We zoomed past the dimly lit Welcome to Sea Haven, California sign. Population 28,342, give or take ten million in an influx of farm workers from the inland counties, yearly tourists, and summer resort peeps.
The thumping drone of the Red Renegade’s new headers oozed ’68 perfection. Or as sweet as the Camaro SS should’ve sounded back in 1968. “Camaro sounds badass, you think?”
“I guess.” Silver sighed, knocking her cup on her thigh. “Do you think I did the right thing?”
“Dumping Raymond?” Incredulous, I glanced at her. “Hell, yes.”
“He’s still your friend. He keeps calling me.”
“We’re football teammates. Nothing more. I’ll make sure he stays away from you.” I tweaked her hair. “You know he’s gunning for my spot.”
“You’re the best quarterback the school’s ever had. Coach would never,” Silver said thoughtfully, jingling her silver bangle bracelets.
Good enough to get three scholarships to killer schools. “I am perfect, aren’t I?” I teased, wanting to slide her mind off douche bag Raymond. He’d never know how much I hated him for the way he treated my twin. If I didn’t continue to keep the peace, he’d get all vindictive on her, like he did with other girls who quit taking his crap. I’d bite my tongue into pieces before I let on how much I knew about him . . . pressuring her . . . before she was ready. A slow burn spiraled up my chest. Screw him.
Dropping my speed, I felt for the glassy shift of the four-speed transmission. I’d spent junior year restoring the Camaro, using all the money from my weekend gopher job for my mom at the resort. I finished the last engine mods in time for summer break in two weeks. I was raring to open up the Red Renegade on the public track.
“I’m still ticked about my cell,” Silver said, her long blonde hair streaming out the open window, her mind already switching gears as usual. “Karma’s like a boomerang.” She swished her drink. “It always comes back ’round.”
I snorted. “In your case, it always bites you in the butt, and I gotta wipe up the mess.”
“Not always, Lucas.” I deflected her playful backhanded slap. “You owed me a trip to the mall. Besides, I didn’t lose my cell. Someone stole it out of my purse.” She danced her fingers on her silver bangles into a tinkling vibration. “I needed a new phone anyway. Screen was shot.” A giggle slipped out. “Karma’s a bitch.”
As we neared the speed trap on County Coast Road, I eased up on the gas. The small-block engine thumped and growled, the exhaust burbling defiantly. Few cars zipped past, driving south toward Monterey. Cops wouldn’t clock me going more than seven over north of the Sea Haven sign. This stretch of the frontage road had already earned me a speed warning. Lucky for me, I weaseled my way out of a ticket by promising to install a Borla exhaust on the sheriff’s Corvette. Killer small town bribery.
Silver traded my quick grin with her evil squint. Her evil squint was one of her poker “tells.” That particular tell meant the hard drive was spinning in her head. Which led me to believe she knew who nicked her cell. Man, I felt sorry for the poor sucker.
She slurped down the dregs of her mocha and tossed the empty cup in the pristine backseat, missing the trash bag by a mile. “Oops.”
“Silver! My car’s not a trash bin.” I knocked my fist on the gearshift, glowered for half a tick. We approached the STOP sign at the Ocean Avenue intersection. I downshifted and rolled to a full stop. The streetlight across the intersection bathed the red car in amber fire and ghosted the stickweeds along the side of the road. Light glinted off a small spot in the ditch to our right.
“Jeez, go find your happy place, will ya? I’ll get it when we . . .” Silver cranked up her window so fast I thought she’d just discovered that sea air killed genius brain cells. She mashed her elbow on the door lock. “Someone’s hunched over in the ditch.” The seat harness squeaked as she squeezed closer to the center console. “Oh. My. God. A body’s lying down there, too.”
My strange new life continued. My physical healing pleased the doctors. No one expected me to use the crutches much anyway. The hike up to the second floor of the house winded me, and my leg ached constantly. Someday, normal lung function might return. I had months of physical therapy on my leg to go. Not that I cared. I’d never play football again.
One day, in a lame fit of despair, I dug out my letterman jacket. I sat on the bed fingering the haunting symbol of my former status, remembering Silver’s happiness the day I earned the letters. She loved the status I brought to her table.
“Will you miss football?” she asked.
“What do you think?” I said aloud before I whipped my head around to look for her. Holy. Crap. The air in front of my desk lamp wavered as if a cloud floated in front of it.
“Who’d you think? Casper? Bloody Mary?”
“Right. Sure. Okay. Whatever.” I paced the room, looked at the lamp and waited.
“Raymond will take your place as team captain and first-string quarterback now.”
“No shit, Sherlock,” I said as if it was natural talking to the air. “He’ll be first to boot me off the A-list.” I slammed the jacket on the floor.
“I know,” she whispered. “I’m sorry. I hate him now and I want to burn him.”
“He didn’t cause the accident,” I yelled louder than I intended. Then I understood. Her hatred went back further, to a horrible day in April. Son.Of. A. Bitch.
“Not once did he come to the hospital. Half the team, Raymond’s minions, will shun you.”
My fists curled and I stared in the mirror. Windshield glass had left a network of tiny scars across my face. Safety glass, my ass.
“Bunch of losers. They’ve all wanted Raymond as top dog from day one. Well they can have the jackass.” Raymond’s family practically ruled the town. When I made lead quarterback instead of him, I imagined things eventually changing. Fat frigging chance.
Anger fueled my movements as I schlepped out to the backyard. I tossed kindling in the fire pit and set it blazing, adding lighter fluid until flames shot up three feet. Slowly, I fed the jacket into the fire. Flames devoured the material inch by inch. I squirted on lighter fluid until the fire blinded me and the charred leather and wool stunk up the backyard. I dropped the lid on the smoldering ashes of my childhood. They represented relics of a life that no longer existed.
It was that conversation with Silver when it dawned on me she wasn’t merely a figment of my imagination. I couldn’t possibly know about the smack Raymond spread while I was in Comaland. The convo left me epically disturbed. Also freakishly sane.
My lucky stars must’ve aligned in my alternate universe. The mystery goddess was catching rays and reading on her eReader on her front lawn. Bookworm? Girls I used to date only read fashion and gossip rags. Her gazed alighted on me, zipped away, head bowed as if she were studying her purple toenails. I climbed out of the Lexus, practicing my most suave moves. My disjointed efforts backfired big time as my knee buckled and I banged my arm on the open door catching my balance. Stars flickered in my vision as I rubbed my elbow.
“School out already?” Her voice carried to me, sultry and hot enough to melt chocolate. The breeze tousled her hair and she made no attempt to smooth it down.
Wow. My tongue got all tied up for the first time ever. I wanted my initial words to be epic. Stupid Epic refused to emerge from the brain sludge. I strolled over to where she sat Indian style on the new lawn in a loose black T-shirt and baggy cargo shorts. “I need to meet the tow to snag my car.”
“Bummer about your Camaro.” Lacking any grace, she stumbled to her feet, brushing grass off the rear of her white shorts, seeming not to care about grass stains. Most girls I knew would’ve beelined it for the closet. Strangely, I liked that she didn’t care. “I’m Tara Harrison,” she added. She sipped green gunk out of a clear plastic cup.
Her name jingled a distant bell. Dad probably mentioned the family to me during my Summer of Delirium—in honor of Silver, my moniker for the worst summer of my life. The parentals used to visit my hospital room and babble about nothing. The pits of despair kept me from remembering much.
My gaze traveled from Tara’s bare feet to her blonde-streaked brunette hair. Weird flutters plagued my stomach. A freakishly intense need to move closer to her kept my feet rooted to the new sod in a fierce battle. “Lucas Alexander. I live next door.”
“I figured as much.”
Feeling the idiot gene sprout, I mentally kicked myself. We traded an easy laugh, and I resisted the urge to scratch my itchy facial scars.
“You have awesome eyes. Like spring grass.” A blush colored her neck, flushed down her chest.
“Uh, thanks.” Total moron reply. Man, everything had changed after the accident. My defective brain couldn’t keep up with the new Lucas Alexander.
“Do you play football?” A breeze kicked up, and Tara brushed a lock of glittery hair off her eyelashes.
Several disconcerted moments slipped by before I realized I wore my football team polo, the first shirt my hands snagged in the closet that morning. Regret radiated through me. I attempted to unclench my locked jaw. Time to bite the bullet. Beranger told me every time I discussed the tragedy, it’d get easier to tackle. Those hundred bucks an hour weren’t a total waste. That piece of advice was worth a bill.
“Used to,” I mumbled, honing in on a beetle crashing into the damp grass.
“Did I say—” Her eyes grew misty. “Oh, I’m sorry. The realtor told us about the . . . about what happened.”
I waved off her concern. “Where you guys from?”
Her full bottom lip trembled. Honestly, I was glad she’d heard the story. Saved me from having to download the gruesome details.
Life seemed good again. Beranger reduced my head shrinking to once a week. At the same time, he doubled sessions with Mom and Dad. But I refused to think about it. Call me an ostrich. Everyone agreed that going to the dance was another step in my recovery.
I decided to go stag rather than bury my head in the sand. Whistling Skillet’s Awake and Alive, I crossed the driveways to the Harrison house, Alyssa shadowing me. My apprehension collided with my anticipation. CrimsonX liked dances. After busting the theft ring, CrimsonX and the Juggernauts, a rival gang, had issued an open call to war. I loved it, but it set CrimsonX on edge and they had crosshairs on trouble.
The door slid open before my finger touched the doorbell. Denny’s face lit up as he inspected—salivating a little—Alyssa’s tight black jeans, high-heeled black boots and a second-skin purple sweater. When I first saw her, my throat had grown chalky. Except for her auburn hair, she’d pass as Silver’s sister. My sister.
Oddly disconcerted, I sagged onto an ottoman in the living room. Alyssa crossed the room to check out photos on the wall above a weird medieval table with dragon legs.
“We taking the Camaro?” Denny scrubbed his hands together. “Man, I wish my parents would drop a Camaro in my lap.”
Alyssa turned, her jaw hanging. “Seriously?”
“Ah, dude.” He whacked himself upside the head. “I’m such an idiot.”
An awkward hush fizzled up to the vaulted ceiling. With a stiffness born of lingering pain, Denny sat on the floral loveseat and Alyssa sat next to him, her pinky grazing the side of his hand.
“Don’t sweat it.” I tossed a small pillow at him and he caught it before it thumped his skull. I gave him credit for trying hard to fit in. “I didn’t even want a replacement Camaro.”
“Talking cars again.” Tara glided down the staircase. Her virtual radiance unfurled a fire from my chest to my groin. Her silky voice set my heart fluttering. Douche-jerk Raymond.
The dance was informal, but she wore a short black skirt, a flowing pinkish blouse, tall black boots over black tights. Everything in the room vanished, except Tara. Stars exploded inside me, warm and tingly tumbling around the two of us.
My jaw seemed to thud on top of my best Nikes. “Sure you don’t want to go with me?”
As she descended the last step, her arm brushed against the back of my hand. Static burst between us and we both jumped a little, blinked back our surprise. We stood there, absorbing the heat of electricity.
Alyssa waved her hand between us. “Hello! Anyone home?”
I leaned around Alyssa. “Be careful with Raymond,” I murmured to Tara. When her brow crinkled, I added, “He used to date Silver. There’s a reason she dumped him.”
Cool night air calmed me. My car came into view, and I halted, stunned. “Tara,” I breathed out her name. “Where’s Raymond?” I forced the rancid name past my lips.
“Wasted. I left him with the football team.” She rested her hip against my car, pulled the sleeves of her jacket over her hands. “Can you give me a ride home?”
“You never have to ask.” I opened the door for her, my heart pounding. “Did you see Denny and Alyssa?”
“They’ll hitch a ride with Kev.”
Caution schooled my newfound excitement and I loped to the driver’s side. I told her what went down. “Dalton’s already made up his mind no matter what evidence they find.” I hightailed it out of the parking lot, cut my speed below limit, extending our drive time.
“Not much you can do tonight.” Tara hugged her jacket tight.
“I know.” I cranked up the heater. “Thanks for being here.”
Ten minutes later, the Camaro crawled onto my driveway. I shut off the engine. “Sorry this turned out to be a screwy night for your first dance.”
“You warned me about Raymond.” She smiled, her rosy lips enticing me. “Thank you.”
I couldn’t stop staring at the opening of her blouse, the creamy upper swell of her breasts. “I wanted to take you to the dance.” I wiped my sweaty palms on my jeans.
“There’ll be other times, right?” she said softly, shyly, too freaking cute.
Endorphins sprang to life. “Definitely.” Side by side, we walked up to her porch. Landscape lights radiated yellow beams across the walkway and newly filled planters of funky tall grasses and late-blooming flowers. “Tell Denny, case he forgets, we’re not meeting tomorrow.”
“Sure. Alyssa told me you’re all going on a yacht trip in the Bay, an annual thing your father’s law firm does. Sounds fun.”
“Doubt it. But my parents insist we go as a family,” I mocked with no real conviction. “I’ll be hard pressed to keep my mind off tonight.” I slanted toward her. “Or off you,” I whispered in her ear, inhaling her tropical fruit shampoo into my senses, willing it to drown out the lousy night.
The length of her quaked against me. “Try. They have no proof.”
“I feel guilty. And I don’t even know what was taken.” My lips toured her silky neck, along her jaw line toward her mouth.
“Dalton made you feel that way.” Tara made a clicking sound in her throat. “I . . . believe you.”
I touched my lips to hers, firm, soft, tasting spearmint. “Thanks,” I said against her lips. Drawing closer, I kissed her gently. Her mouth parted slightly, her tongue darted out then hid from me as if afraid. A hot stream of desire fed my blood, and I was useless to cut it short. Easing away before I turned her off, I released her hand.
Dazed, I strolled home. Another seed of life sprouted in my barren soul, replicating as fast as those dragsters had snuffed out my light. For the first time since the Summer of Delirium, I felt like I might be okay one day. For real.
I leaped at him, my fist hitting his face full force. I felt his nose fracture against my knuckles and the scathing chaser up my hand. He roared and shot an arm toward my gut. Lashing gusts forced us backward, and we rolled down the side of the cliff onto a narrow stony landing. The last firm footing before we tumbled into hell. That’s when I noticed the ripping burn in my middle. Stunned, I felt the warmth of blood mushroom across my stomach beneath my cold, clammy shirt. He’d stuck me with the knife, buried so deep it appeared his fingers were digging inside my gut. My hands circled his neck. As I began to squeeze, a mountainous wave blasted the rocks and slammed us flat. Water sloshed over the ledge, dragging at us like an undertow.
He lost his hold on the knife. Pulling on my arms, he tried to loosen my grip on his neck. I dug for his jugular. Blinded by blood lust, I lost notice of everything except the sneering face pissing on my car, the lustful eyes staring at Silver, the gaping mouths when the two hotrods approached the intersection.
Another wave smashed into us, knocking us apart. He toppled backward, tumbled into the receding water. I fell forward on my hands and knees, gripping a sharp edge of rock.
“I’m gonna kill you.” Pisser sprang up bowed over, prepping to gore me again.
I rolled out of the way, tripping him. He fell onto another flat boulder. I managed to push to my feet, the dark, tempestuous sea behind me an ominous threat. Pisser lunged for me, barreling us both onto the jagged rocks along the edge. He thudded on top. I rolled, flipped him on his side, my hand fisted on his jacket sleeve. His body thumped onanother ledge of rocks.
Another wave towered up. Too late. It crashed down, a bludgeoning, suffocating weight pinning me to the boulders. Hanging on for what sketchy life remained, I waited for the wave to recede. It didn’t. Another followed and a third. A triple threat.
I heard screaming. Tara or Alyssa? Strange thoughts of death flashed through my mind. A white beam lit the rocks lending their dark death a momentary glimpse of rebirth. If I died, am I supposed to limp into the light or some stupid thing? Did Silver ever go into the light? Where’d she go? She seemed to disappear when I didn’t think of her. My mind rambled.
A hoarse, terrified voice spiraled above the storm. “Help me, man. You want another death on your hands?”
Water flowed, ebbed, and I lay half over the cliff, my right leg stuck between two rocks. Frozen fingers slid over my hand. I tightened my tenuous hold, reaching forward to grab Pisser’s arm with my other hand. He dangled from the cliff, dead weight in my faltering grip. Without my help, he’d bite it hard. In one split second, I contemplated letting go, prying his fingers off the rock one by one, hearing his body plop to its death on the boulders below.
E per finire ecco il ricco giveaway di cui vi parlavo, buona fortuna!a Rafflecopter giveaway