Hello, all! Thanks for joining me on my blog tour for Black Dog, the first book in my new Bannon’s Gym series. (Hot mixed martial arts fighters – rawwrrr!)
I’m giving away a brand new Kindle Paperwhite loaded with my entire back list. Follow along at all my stops on this tour – and leave comments on each. Every comment counts as another chance to win! I’ll announce the winner on my blog on Friday, August 30th.
People ask me how I figure out which point of view to write from. Sometimes it’s simple – one (or two) characters speak to me clearly and insistently. But in the case of my latest book, Black Dog, I had three protagonists vying for my attention. Giving them each their fair share of page time proved quite a juggling act, but luckily, all three characters had such rich and distinctive voices.
Here’s a bit of Tom, my teenage runaway’s, first scene:
It felt good to keep busy, keep moving, even if every muscle in Tom’s body groaned in protest. Felt good to have food in his belly—real food, not chips or candy bars from fucking vending machines. The warm, full feeling made his eyelids droop, but he chugged coffee and kept going, ignoring the ache in his arms and shoulders as he lugged another tub of dirty dishes.
Time passed quicker when he had plenty to do. The lunch rush—if that’s what you called a diner full of old fogeys gumming grilled cheese sandwiches and chicken soup—flew by. Eddie cooked him a cheeseburger and fries, and God, if it wasn’t the best burger he’d ever eaten—hot, juicy and blood-red right down the middle.
The sky was turning dark blue when he toted the garbage out to the dumpster, keeping his eyes peeled for the drunk in the stained parka. He almost bumped into Gloria coming out the back door as he headed back in. She had her coat on.
“You leaving?” he asked.
“Not enough business to keep me around after seven.” She smiled a crooked, orange-lipsticked smile and chucked him under the chin. What the hell? Did she think he was five years old or something? “You’ve got a cute face, hon. Don’t let anybody else mess it up.”
When she put it that way, it was pretty hard to stay pissed with her. She reminded him of his grandma, if his grandma had been a blue-haired diner waitress. Heat flooded his face, his bruised cheek throbbing. Ow.
The last few customers straggled out around nine. Eddie locked up behind them and started cleaning the grill while Tom wiped down the tables and counters. His pulse started racing, throbbing inside his skull like a fucking gong. His internal warning system going off again. What the hell was his problem?
You know what. That offer to sleep on the couch in the office—as long as you do a little something for him.
Eddie hadn’t said a word about the “little something,” but he didn’t have to. Nobody had ever done Tom a favor without expecting a favor in return. At least Eddie seemed nice. Clean. Good-looking too. Long, lean and muscular with that buzzed ginger hair and hint of stubble. Doing him wouldn’t exactly be a hardship.
Yet Tom’s hands still shook as he finished washing up the last batch of dishes. When the double doors whooshed open, he jumped.
“You okay, kid?” Eddie said.
“Yeah, fine. Just tired.” He blinked, hoping it’d stop the room from shimmying. He couldn’t wait to lie down. All he wanted was one night someplace quiet and warm, where he didn’t have to worry about getting mugged or beaten up.
“Go on in and make yourself comfy,” Eddie said. “I need to drop today’s receipts in the night deposit. Back in a few.” He disappeared out the back door, shutting it behind him.
No telltale click of the lock. He could still leave if he wanted to. And for a second, the sting of Eddie mentioning the deposit curled Tom’s hands into fists.
Don’t be an idiot. He literally picked you up off the fucking pavement this morning. Of course he doesn’t trust you around his money.
He grabbed his backpack from the closet and headed for the office. Had to be the door just past the pantry. His only other choice was the walk-in freezer. He flicked the light on before walking in and still almost tripped over a chair piled high with files and papers. Nothing else in the cramped space except a desk with a crappy old Acer computer on it, a filing cabinet and the couch. A gray cloth-covered thing that’d seen better days.
He sat down gingerly, surprised when he didn’t get half a dozen springs poking him in the ass. Not bad. Lumpy, and a little saggy in the middle, but he could live with that.
Sighing, he hauled himself to his feet to undress. Now that he wasn’t pushing himself to keep going, every little movement hurt. His hands throbbed. His back and shoulders ached. The bruise under his eye had swollen up so much, it was easier to keep the eye closed. Maybe he should ice it again. But then he’d have to put his clothes back on and go get the ice out of the freezer, and . . . oh, fuck it.
He’d just unbuckled his belt when he heard the back door creak, followed by the clomp of Eddie’s boots. “I had this blanket in my truck. Figured you could use— Oh.” Eddie froze. “Sorry. Didn’t realize you were, um . . .” He pulled a small bag with the corner drugstore’s red and black logo on it out of his jacket. “I got some antibiotic ointment for your hands.”
Wow, that was sweet. Better make Eddie’s reward extra-special. He inched closer, trying to smile, fingers trembling as he walked them up the front of Eddie’s shirt. What was he so nervous about? Wasn’t like he hadn’t done this before. He reached the top button and started to undo it—
Until Eddie’s fingers closed over his. Long, sinewy fingers. Callused hands covered in old cuts and burns. Raw, oversized knuckles from too many breaks and sprains. No one got hands like that without throwing their fair share of punches. “What’re you doing?”
“I, uh . . . I mean, I thought you might want to—”
The confusion in Eddie’s eyes morphed into . . . empathy? No, pity. “You’ve got the wrong idea, kid.”
He was turning him down? “What, so I’m not a good enough fuck for a short-order cook?” He grabbed his shirt and started pulling it back on, until—oh, shit. A white-hot blade of pain sliced across his shoulders. His knees buckled.
Eddie dashed to his side, catching him before he hit the floor. He helped him stagger to the couch, his hands sliding over Tom’s back, halting abruptly when he touched the crisscross of old scars above the waistband of Tom’s jeans. “I should take you to the ER. You can’t even stand up.”
Alarm jerked through him. “No, no, it’s okay, I’ll be fine. I’m just tired and sore.” He couldn’t go to the hospital. If he did, they might—no, he couldn’t go. He just couldn’t. “All I need is a little rest.”
Eddie looked skeptical, but finally he nodded. “Okay. But if you’re not better in the morning, I’m taking you whether you want to or not.” He put the blanket over him, then, after a faint rustling of paper, began rubbing ointment into Tom’s sore knuckles. His touch was so gentle and soothing, Tom started to drift. “Be right back,” Eddie said, returning a few hazy moments later with something cold wrapped in a paper towel. He pressed it to Tom’s swollen eye. “How’s that?”
Tom tried to answer, but nothing came out. His tongue had turned to rubber. It took his last scrap of energy and focus to mumble, “Why’re you . . . treating me so well?”
A soft, ticklish rasp of stubble brushed over his ear. “It’s about time someone did.”
Danny Bannon and Eddie Roscoe have been fighting in and out of the ring for more than fifteen years, held together by mutual attraction and small-town ties, yet kept apart by a shared tragedy that continues to haunt them. Their steady on-again off-again is shaken up by the arrival of Tom Delaney, a teenage runaway trying to escape his tense home situation and his punch-happy dad.
In no time, the scrawny homeless kid has shown himself to be a boxing prodigy, and building him up brings Danny and Eddie closer than they’ve been in ages. It seems that the three of them, plus Eddie’s mother, Gloria, are forming a new family unit, much tighter than anything Tom experienced in his difficult past.
But Tom’s politically influential father isn’t the only person he left behind. When his mother shows up at Eddie and Gloria’s diner with a shiner and a haunted look in her eyes, Tom is hopeful for her future. But when that hope is snuffed out, Tom is ready to turn his new fighting skills to a deadly purpose: get revenge on his abusive father or die trying.
It’s up to his surrogate big brothers, Danny and Eddie, to put their differences and their painful history aside to prevent another tragic ending.
Cat Grant lives by the sea in beautiful Monterey, California, with one persnickety feline and way too many books and DVDs. When she’s not writing, you can usually find her watching movies or TV (Supernatural and The Vampire Diaries are among her favorite shows), singing along to whatever’s on her iPod, or fantasizing about kinky sex with Michael Fassbender.
Here’s Cat’s various hideouts on the Internet:
You can contact her directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Blog Tour Schedule:
- Cup O’ Porn: August 1st
- Novel Approach: August 2nd
- Book Reviews & More by Kathy: August 5th
- World of Diversity: August 7th
- Top 2 Bottom Reviews: August 9th
- Words of Wisdom from the Scarf Princess: August 15th
- All I Want and More: August 17th