ETA July 26, 2012: Given the issue of using photos that aren’t yours on your blog, I’ve had to remove the images from the movie Transformers.
Back in the summer of 2007, when the first Transformers movie was released, my roommate insisted I go see it with her. Transformers? Really? But with a little sweet-talking and a lot of arm-twisting I finally relented. Surprise of all surprises, I got a total kick out of the show and have seen each one since.
Early in that first movie, before Bumblebee transformed into the seriously hot new generation Camaro (WANT!), Sam Witwicky said one of my all-time favorite movie lines:
“Fifty years from now, when you’re looking back at your life, don’t you want to be able to say you had the guts to get in the car?”
My answer to that is a hearty and resounding, “HELLYA!”
That has always been my answer. Ever since I learned how to walk I’ve been a wanderer. My poor Mom and her stories of the little miss going off on random and impromptu walkabouts. So it was no surprise to anyone who knew me that I would hit the road, early and often, when I flew the coop. I’ve probably put enough mileage on open roads to circle the globe a couple times. Road trips, man. I love them with a passion – being out in the unknown, making new discoveries, experiencing new adventures, meeting interesting people… Not all adventures are full of roses, but if I let that hold me back I’d never get to enjoy all the good stuff. I suppose if you want to throw analogies around, life is like one long road trip. Sometimes the road is bumpy, but the drive is always worth it. So fill up that tank and hit cruise control, baby!
Where am I going with this? Well, one of my roommates was a lot like me, only her energy level never slipped below “full-on-and-then-some”. She went with whatever came her way and didn’t have a lot of fear in stepping out there, wherever “there” happened to take her. We lived in Colorado when the big snowstorms of 2006 shut down the Denver International Airport for two full days, which caused another five days of backlogged travel. The storm struck the night before she was scheduled to fly back home for the Christmas holidays. Never one to let something as silly as a grounded airport derail her plans, she put an ad up on Craigslist for a rideshare – and got an answer.
The morning after, I dropped her off at a gas station to meet her driver, and it wasn’t until we actually pulled into the parking lot that I had my first niggle of doubt. She was getting into a car with a total stranger to drive halfway across the country. He could have been a total nutcase, for all we knew. But she shrugged, I took down his license number, and we all ended up safely and happily at our various destinations.
But what if?
And that was the seed for my upcoming novel, Riding with Heaven. What if that guy was a nut case? What if that guy was actually an escaped serial killer? Or not. Anything could happen, right?
Evan McGrath is an Art Major attending his last semester at UC-Boulder, and his flight home for his brother’s birthday is canceled due to the forces of Mother Nature. Except in this case, it’s earlier in the year and the force is a hurricane rather than a snowstorm. Evan places an ad on Craigslist, which is answered by the enigmatic and mysterious, Lucas Briscoe. The attraction is immediate and tangible. The only problem is, a serial killer dubbed “The Domino Slasher” has just escaped a federal prison transfer, and funny little coincidences keep pointing toward Lucas – who looks like Heaven incarnate, but who could be the Devil in disguise.
Riding with Heaven is due to be released at Loose Id June 5, 2012. In the meantime, I’ll leave you all with a little unofficial/unedited excerpt. This takes place the afternoon of the second day of their road trip. Enjoy!
* * *
–losing steam and has been downgraded to a tropical storm. The latest reports from the National Weather Service indicate winds in excess of eighty miles per hour by the time it reaches the South Carolina coast.
In other breaking news, escaped serial killer, Jerry Frobisher, dubbed the Domino Slasher, remains at large.
Lucas froze and glared at the radio Evan had turned on to catch a weather report moments before. Evan almost expected to see laser rays shoot from Lucas’s eyes and turn the thing into a steaming melted pile of plastic in the dash, that stare was so intense.
We’ve received reports that Frobisher has been sighted driving a dark colored, late model SUV eastbound on Interstate 70–
Lucas turned to him, his expression unreadable and unreachable. Then he barked a short snort of a laugh that lacked any trace of humor and flatly said, “Un-fucking-believable.”
Evan’s heart did a little skip in his chest and a shiver trickled down his spine that rendered him mute. As did the hazel-eyed snare Lucas currently held him trapped in.
Without breaking eye contact, Lucas fished his cell phone out of his jeans pocket. He flipped it open with a flick of his thumb, and then finally looked to the phone in his hand. He cursed under his breath and snapped the phone shut.
Yes, it was kind of unbelievable, wasn’t it? How many dark colored SUVs were out there on the roads? Hundreds? Thousands? The chances that the one he was riding in, the person he was driving across the country with, was the Domino Slasher were slim to none. Jerry Frobisher had escaped yesterday morning, according to the reports. Evan met Lucas at the gas station in Denver yesterday morning. Surely an escapee wouldn’t have had the time to break out of a prison transport, steal a fancy vehicle, answer an online ad, and drive across the country with someone like he was on vacation — and into a hurricane. Right? That was…silly.
Evan shook his head. Yes, Lucas seemed a bit mercurial. Yes, Lucas’s sense of humor was a little off-balance at times. But that’s all it was. Play. Right?
“You aren’t worried I might be Domino, are you?” Lucas asked after the silence in the vehicle stretched until it became oppressive.
“No.” Evan wasn’t really lying. He knew Lucas couldn’t be Domino, even though he got moody and a little tense every time they heard a report about the escapee — who was headed in the same direction, in a similar vehicle… “I mean, you wouldn’t tell me, obviously. But if you were, you’d have already chopped me up or something by now. Right?”
Lucas looked at him for a long moment. The bright spark in his changeable eyes contradicted the blank expression on his face. Evan was starting to learn that Lucas could school his face, but those eyes of his were a dead giveaway. He was joking.
Lucas shrugged. “Maybe I just like you and want to keep you alive a little while longer.”
“Flattering, but not funny.”
“It’s just a coincidence — a bizarre one.”
Evan said, “Except there’s no such thing as coincidence. Everything happens for a reason.”
Lucas’s expression changed then, becoming softer and thoughtful, and he faced back to the road ahead of them. “Then whether I am or not doesn’t matter because we were supposed to meet. We’re supposed to be here together, right now.”
Great. Tripped up by his own theories. How could he argue that? “Yeah.”
Coincidences didn’t have to be literal, but there was often a connection. Either Lucas was whom he said he was — though he really hadn’t said much in that regard — or Evan was meant to die on this trip at the hands of an escaped murderer. Which was unlikely. He knew that, and his intuition agreed. But now that the thought was there, his mind could not help but chew on it.
“You know, we’ve talked a lot about me, but not you. I still don’t know what you do for a living.”
“You’re more interesting to talk about, believe me.”
Evan waited, but it seemed Lucas had no intention of elaborating. All right then, since subtle didn’t work. “What exactly is it you do you for a living?”
“I already told you,” Lucas said, his voice tight. “Eradication. I’m one of the good guys.”
Silence stretched again, as though it were a physical being, another passenger, sitting on the console between them and sucking up the oxygen in the vehicle in huge, dizzying gulps. Realizing he was likely never going to get more than that, Evan let it go. It wasn’t like he’d ever see the guy again after they reached Charleston tomorrow anyway. What did it matter?
But it does matter, a little voice whispered in the back of his mind.
* * *
Artist by day, author by night, L.C. Chase is a hopeless romantic and adventure seeker. After a decade of road tripping on three continents, she now calls the Canadian West Coast home. When not writing tales of beautiful men falling love, L.C. can be found designing book covers of said beautiful men, reading, drawing, running the trails with her goofy four-legged buddy, who, if he were human, would be a stand up comedian, and
giving in to fighting her root beer addiction.