Hell on Wheels

Bluewater Bay Book 3

by Z.A. Maxfield

Hell on Wheels - Z.A. Maxfield
Editions:Kindle - First Edition: $ 4.99 USD
ISBN: B00QE80AHU
Pages: 270
Paperback - First Edition: $ 17.99 USD
ISBN: 978-1626491731
Size: 5.20 x 8.00 in
Pages: 268
Audiobook - Audiobook Edition: $ 13.97 USD
ISBN: B01IP9J3N2

A Bluewater Bay Novel

Nash is the reliable one in the Holly family, the guy everyone counts on to keep things going. His genius twin brother is off at university, so Nash runs the family’s auto repair business and cares for his partially-paralyzed little sister while his crackpot father invents. His life seems mapped out for the foreseeable future, however much that might chafe.

So when Wolf’s Landing actor Spencer Kepler-Constantine lands in his life, Nash is ready for a diversion. Spencer is in the middle of a very painful, very public divorce and isn’t ready for a relationship — not that Nash wants one. But they both need a friend, especially one with benefits.

As they grow closer, Nash starts to see his family in a whole new light. Do they really need him so badly? Or does he simply need to be needed? Then Spencer’s ex reappears with a grand romantic gesture, and Nash has to figure out what he wants — and how to get it — before Spencer’s gone for good.

* * * * * * *

Bluewater Bay stories can be read in any order — jump in wherever you'd like!

This book is on:
  • 2 To Be Read lists
  • 7 Read lists
Excerpt:

Chapter One

As Nash leaned in to each sharp turn, his heart lodged in his throat. His matte-black Ducati EVO roared over the damp tarmac, eating up Highway 112 between Port Angeles and Bluewater Bay. The weather had lived down to everyone’s expectations. Deep, silent fog obscured everything but the brief illumination of his headlight—a bright sliver slicing through the empty dark.

Misty rain spattered intermittently, just to thumb its nose at him. He plunged through it, wind whistling over his leathers. There was no one to see what he was doing, no one to remark on his lack of common sense. There was nothing for miles but the roar of his engine, the darkness, and the rush.

READ MORE

In the blank oblivion of night, Nash was free to pursue guilty pleasures, whether it was drink or speed or the occasional trick in the city. By morning he’d be home to eat breakfast at the scarred Formica table with his family. He’d find out what his pop was working on and talk his sister Shelby through whatever math problems had her on the ropes this week. He’d see that she got to school okay. He’d even text his twin Healey to give him a ration about his latest boyfriend, Ford. Pop could make jokes about that all day long.

A few more breathless miles passed under his wheels before he almost careened into a Mercedes SLK roadster parked on the shoulder. As he shifted his weight one way, then the other, adrenaline flooded his veins. His muscles tensed painfully, and he nearly laid the bike down before he got it under control. He just managed to whizz safely around the small silver car.

Thank God the driver had been flashing his hazard lights, or he’d have plowed right into it.

He brought the bike to a halt some hundred yards ahead and flipped his visor up, taking deep gulps of air to compose himself. Visibility was definitely getting worse.

The stranded driver was utterly alone on an isolated strip of road, and Nash couldn’t have lived with himself if he’d just driven off without seeing if he could do anything to help. He turned his bike around and rode back to the parked car.

Nash hiked his bike onto its kickstand and pulled his helmet off, catching the familiar perfume of ocean and evergreens.

The driver stuck his head out his window. Despite the gloom, he was wearing a ball cap and shades.

Sunglasses at night? In this weather?

This guy had to be from the Wolf’s Landing production. Since they’d started filming the werewolf show in Bluewater Bay, that ball-cap-and-shades look had become a kind of uniform. The Hollywood people wore it to maintain the pretense they could go among the flannel-and-denim denizens of Washington with no one the wiser. Yeah, right. ’Cause everyone from Bluewater Bay wore thousand-dollar hiking boots.

Some of the locals had started wearing the Hollywood “uniform” in the hopes of getting comped in bars and restaurants by mistake. Stupid, really, because local businesses were all for charging the Hollywood people double if they could get away with it.

The man said something Nash couldn’t hear.

Nash gave him a thumbs-up and, ignoring all the warnings he’d ever given Shelby about strangers and isolated places, stepped over to knock on the passenger-side window. The tinted glass rolled down slowly.

“You got car trouble?” Nash’s words collided with the scent of leather and luxury. He got a glimpse of the driver’s hands and smiled. They were lean and elegant, resting carefully on the wheel. Beautiful. Nash was a hand man all the way, and he could just picture those soft, supple fingers wrapping around his—

“I called for service.”

The crisp British accent was a momentary surprise. The man surprised him too. He was pretty hot from what Nash could see, lean and pale with dark hair under that hat. His high cheekbones and long, straight nose belonged on a coin.

“You’re having it towed?”

“It’s a rental. They’re bringing a new car to replace it.” The man’s pursed lips were full enough, soft enough in that arrogant face to make Nash take a second look and then a third.

Nash’s inner horndog said, Gimme.

“Do you mind if I ask what happened?” Nash rested his arms on the passenger door and tried not to leer. “I know a thing or two about cars.”

“This car?” The implication it was way out of Nash’s league stung. “It’s a computer on wheels. I doubt there’s anything—”

“Humor me. I’m Nash Holly, by the way.” Nash took off his gloves and held out his hand.

The driver removed his sunglasses before giving it a firm shake. Oh, wow. Dude had eyes like a cloudy sky. Clear and cool and gray. They were so light they appeared silver in the faint glow of the dashboard.

“Spencer.”

“Nice to meet you, Spencer.” Nash held on a little too long.

Spencer pulled away. “About an hour ago, the light came on telling me the car was too low, so I edged over to the curb. When I started it up again a few minutes later, the warning light was gone and everything seemed fine, so I kept driving.”

Nash nodded. Waited, because he knew what was coming. “But?”

“But since then the same thing has happened every ten miles or so. I finally pulled over and called for service.”

“It’s probably your suspension system. That custom ride is the result of what they call Active Body Control. It compensates for terrain changes.”

Spencer sighed. “I knew this car was compensating for something.”

Nash grinned at that. He backed away and squatted so he could watch the body of the car rise into position. “Fire her up. Let’s see where your problem is.”

“Okay.” Spencer did as he asked, then shouted out the window, “The dreaded light still informs me my car is too low.”

“Put it in gear?”

The car growled and shifted.

Nash walked around to get a look at the other side and, sure enough, the left front fender was low. The ABC ride was cool, no doubt about it, but when the suspension went, it went, and you couldn’t drive the car without the risk of damaging the undercarriage. He walked back to lean in the passenger-side window again.

“The left front isn’t responding to the system. You’re lucky it’s a rental and you don’t have to shell out for repairs. It would cost you a bundle.”

“It’s not the money. It’s the bloody inconvenience. I can’t be without a car. It’s the only freedom I’m likely to have until—” Spencer snapped his mouth closed. Probably worried he’d let too much slip.

“I hear you. Sometimes it’s nice to get away. You’re from the werewolf show, aren’t you?”

Spencer narrowed his eyes. “Why do you ask?”

Nash had seen a lot of photographers buzzing around town on motorcycles—nimble paparazzi who made their living invading the actors’ privacy. “I’m not press or anything, if that’s what you’re worried about. I’m just out for a ride. I like to get away sometimes too.”

“That’s why I enjoy having a car.” Spencer relaxed a little. “Yes, I’m with the show. I’m not one of the regular cast members, but I have a recurring role. I’ve been filming here for a few weeks.”

“That’s cool. I live in Bluewater Bay. I see the production people all the time.”

“You probably resent the industry people invading, don’t you?”

“I don’t know. It’s good for business, but it’s a little weird seeing all the strangers roaming the streets. My sister goes apeshit every time she thinks she sees one of the actors. And the werewolf tourists . . . Don’t get me started.” He shook his head. “Those people are nuts.”

“Sorry.”

“You should be sorry.” Nash grinned. “You come up here with all your Hollywood cash to steal our womenfolk with your wicked, big-city ways . . .”

Spencer lifted his left hand to display a diamond-studded wedding band. “Your women are safe with me.”

“I guess.” Nash was mildly disappointed at the sight of the ring. There was a Mrs. Spencer, then. Too bad. “But you know, a mere wedding ring doesn’t stop a whole lot of people these days.”

“It stops me.”

“Yeah, it would stop me too, if I was married,” Nash agreed almost regretfully. “It stops me from hitting on the espoused. Even the affianced are off-limits. I don’t poach.”

“Glad to hear it. That’s rare these days.”

“Who wants somebody else’s cheater anyway?” The moon broke free of a thick wad of cloud, causing light to fall over the shiny expanse of Spencer’s hood. “So you called for service? How long ago?”

“Twenty minutes or so. Not long.”

Nash looked both ways along the deserted road. “Could take a while.”

“I don’t have much choice.”

Nash tilted his head, the better to see under the brim of Spencer’s ball cap. “You want some company while you wait?”

Spencer hesitated before shaking his head. “I think I’ll be fine here.”

“Sure.” Nash nodded. What had he expected? That some stranger would invite him in and they’d play Rock, Paper, Scissors until the tow truck got there?

“Thanks for asking.”

“Okay, but just so you know, I’m a guy with a bike, not some outlaw biker or anything. See?” Nash turned halfway so Spencer could look at the back of his jacket. “No skulls, no colors. Nothing scary.”

“I never thought—”

“But anyway . . . Who do you play on Wolf’s Landing? If I don’t find out, my sister will never forgive me.”

“I play Delaine Romanov.” His grin turned, well, wolfish. “The big, bad wolf.”

“Subtle. What does he do on the show?”

“He makes trouble.”

“Oh yeah?” Nash grinned at that. This man didn’t seem the trouble-maker type. He looked more like an Ivy League lawyer. Fancy office. Designer suits. “Delaine. What’s your story?”

“I’m one of the hidden royals—werewolf members of the Romanov dynasty who managed to hide and escape the revolution.”

That didn’t ring any bells. But then, even though his sister talked about the show constantly, he mostly tuned her out. “So you’ve been alive all that time?”

“No. I’m a descendant. My family has been living in Canada, biding its time, amassing wealth through various criminal means. My job is to muscle in on the Washington pack to expand our power base into America. There’s a tragic love story in my past. I’m a cold-blooded killer who is kind to widows and orphans.”

“Oh, I see now. My sister probably eats that up like Skittles. You’ll hate me for asking, but can I get a picture? Just so I can show her I met you? She’ll blow a gasket.”

Wariness filled Spencer’s eyes again. “A picture.”

“Yeah.” Nash took out his phone and fiddled with it. “Shelby’s Tumblr is all about that show. Werewolves on My Mind. That’s her. See?”

Spencer took the phone from him and scrolled through the entries. “Some of these pictures are of me.”

“Really? Which ones?”

Spencer turned the phone around so Nash could see.

Nash gasped at the sight of Spencer’s head stuck on some steroid-enhanced porn star’s body—totally naked except for the strategically placed skull hiding his junk. “My sister posted that?”

“The picture’s been manipulated.”

“Well, obviously that’s not your body, but she’s fifteen years old.” Nash fumed. “She has no business posting naked—”

“Wait. I don’t disagree, but for the record, what makes you so sure that’s not my body? I’m not exactly a troll.”

“Holy cow. I thought she was making up stories about that show for fun. I thought she was still acting out werewolf weddings with her little pony dolls. I had no idea she was getting into stuff like this.”

Spencer frowned at him. “I’m not saying I’d ever pose like that, but if I did, I wouldn’t exactly suck at it.”

“Yeah, sure.” Nash took his phone back and scrolled through more pictures. Sure enough, many were R-rated. Nothing X-rated yet, but still . . . “Wait until I get home. Pop and I are going to have a talk with her about the human body and why at her age she is better off appreciating it clothed.”

A picture of the real Spencer would be good for her. He unleashed his librarian-tested, teacher-approved Say yes face—the same expression that got him through language arts in high school despite the fact he barely read anything more literary than Cycle World.

“C’mon. Can I get one quick picture? Once I get over the shock of seeing my little sister’s online spank-bank I’ll never forgive myself if I don’t.”

“Her what?”

“Never mind.” Nash gave up his most winning smile. “I can’t promise you won’t end up on her blog, but at least you’ll be wearing clothes.”

Spencer laughed at that. He took off his cap and ran long fingers through his sleek black hair. “All right, turn on the video and let’s make a movie.”

“Really?”

“Sure. You stopped to help me, didn’t you? It’s the least I can do.”

Nash got out his phone. He pressed record, then nodded for Spencer to start. The next thing he knew, he wasn’t leaning in the window of a Mercedes and talking to some English actor anymore—he was watching a ruthless gangster werewolf say hello to his little sister.

“Shelby? Is that your sister’s name?” Spencer eyed the camera lens as though he were planning to incinerate it using nothing more than the power of his evil. “Hello, Shelby.”

That anyone could say hello and still be so perfectly menacing chilled Nash to the bone. There was something powerful inside Spencer, some unseen switch that made him so scary Nash had to steady his camera hand on the window frame to keep it from shaking. Spencer’s soulless gaze was electrifying.

“Family is important, don’t you think? Family is everything. Your brother is currently enjoying my hospitality. I hope you’re giving a great deal of thought to the proposition I put before you. I’d hate to see anything happen to him. He’s really quite . . . beautiful.”

The camera loved Spencer. Every chiseled plane of his face looked carved from marble. Every shadow held deep mystery. Nash bobbled the phone in his sweat-slick hand but managed to catch it again. He stopped the recording with an embarrassed chuckle.

“That’s going to be kind of hard to explain if it falls into the wrong hands.”

“Ha.” Spencer barked a laugh and presto change-o, he turned back into an ordinary human being. “That’s a scene from last season. Shelby will recognize it if she’s a fan.”

“Sure.” Nash felt like an idiot. “I recognize you now, without the hat. I’ve seen your picture enough.”

“Oh Lord.” Spencer raked his hands through his hair again. “That’s the part you don’t think about when you sign the contract.”

“Does it ever bother you that your image is all over?”

“It’s a trade-off.” Spencer shrugged. “I get to do what I love, but I pay for that with my privacy.”

Spencer said privacy with a short “i” sound, which was kind of easy on the ear. The light patter on the roof of the car indicated rain was about to start coming down. Cold water built up in the collar of Nash’s jacket. “I guess I’d better go before the interior of your car gets soaked.”

“Oh hell.” Spencer unlocked the door. “You shouldn’t ruin your nice leather suit. Get in.”

COLLAPSE

About the Author

Z.A. Maxfield started writing in 2007 on a dare from her children and never looked back. Pathologically disorganized, and perennially optimistic, she writes as much as she can, reads as much as she dares, and enjoys her time with family and friends. Three things reverberate throughout all her stories: Unconditional love, redemption, and the belief that miracles happen when we least expect them.

If anyone asks her how a wife and mother of four can find time for a writing career, she’ll answer, “It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you give up housework.”