Here’s one last excerpt from Luke & Bella: Two Streets Over, along with a little bit of trivia. This is the final chapter in the book, but it was written several months after the book was finished. Originally there were 98 chapters, but there was one little loose end that kept nagging at me, so I eventually sat down and wrote this scene. Truthfully, I did it for me. But I hope you enjoy it.
WARNING: This excerpt contains spoilers.
It was early evening when two men walked into a bar in Austin. The city is known for its music scene in hip clubs and bars. This was not that kind of bar. It was a tacky dive out by the airport. They stood just inside the doorway waiting for their eyes to adjust to the dimly lit interior. The place smelled like sour beer and old cigarettes. Glancing around they saw a half-dozen patrons seated around the bar, another few seated at high top tables along the side. Most of them seemed like they’d been there all their lives drinking cheap beer and smoking cheap cigarettes. At the end of the room was a small stage where a lone guitarist was playing bad covers of classic rock. They chose a space at the far end of the bar near the stage.
“Coupla Buds,” Luke told the bartender. “Is that Daniel Santiago?” he asked, indicating the singer.
“Yeah, that’s him. Are you from the record label?” asked the man behind the bar. “He said someone was coming to hear him.”
“Something like that,” Luke responded. He started a tab and he and Tre turned around on their stools to listen to the music. If he’d ever been good, those days were long gone. Years of smoking and hard drinking had turned his voice to a raspy wheeze. He ended his set with a lousy rendition of Desperado before promising to return in a few minutes.
He made his way to the bar next to Luke and the bartender handed him a shot of well tequila, which he downed immediately. Up close he looked ragged and tired, at least fifteen years older than Luke knew him to be, his face worn and wrinkled, his shaggy brown hair streaked with grey. He was also shorter than Luke expected, five foot ten, tops. His blue print cowboy shirt was stained and his boots were scuffed beyond anything polish would remedy. “Nice set,” Luke said. “You don’t want that shit. Give him a double of Patron 1800, on me.”
The singer looked up at him in surprise. “Thanks. Thanks a lot.” He gulped down the Patron and closed his eyes in appreciation. Luke motioned to the bartender to pour again.
“Aren’t you Daniel Santiago?” Luke asked.
The man squinted at him and Tre. “That depends on who’s asking,” he replied cautiously.
Luke reached to shake his hand. “I’m Luke McGillicutty and this is Tre Grant. We came a long way to see you. We heard you’re quite the musician.”
It was still with caution that Daniel reached to shake both their hands. “S’at right?” he asked.
“I make documentary films,” Luke continued. “I was tossing around the idea of doing one about the Austin music scene. Your name came up so here we are.”
Daniel sank onto a stool as Luke ordered a third round for him. “Documentary films. I like to watch those sometimes. Beats the hell out of the shit they put on tv now. Have I seen any of them?”
“I made one a few years back about an earthquake in Italy. That one was pretty popular,” Luke answered.
“No shit!” Daniel laughed. “I saw one like that. Where that bitch got stuck under a pile of shit? Is that the one you’re talking about?”
Tre started to rise, but Luke put his hand out. “They had a fairly strong quake on Sardinia. The oldest part of Cagliari got pretty much leveled. The host of a travel show, Bella Grant, had to be rescued out of the rubble. Did you see it?”
“Hell yeah, man, you made that? Could’a left her under the building as far as I’m concerned. I used to be married to that cunt, can you believe that?” he laughed humorlessly. “Now she’s all ‘My shit don’t stink,‘ doing interviews with all kinds of famous people on tv. Worthless bitch!” he spat.
“Alright amigo,” Luke said, abruptly standing. Tre was beside him. “Forget tequila. How do you feel about something a little less legal? We’ve got some good shit out in the car.”
Daniel looked from Luke to Tre trying to make a decision but his usually muddled processing skills were even more impaired. “Okay, les’go.”
Luke settled his tab and the three made their way out of the bar and into the gravel parking lot in the back. There was a full moon overhead and the night was cool. “So where’s this shit you’re talking about?” Daniel asked.
Luke turned around and smiled at him. “You see, here’s the thing, Daniel. We came all the way here to talk to you because you’ve been sending some pretty nasty emails to someone we both care a whole hell of a lot about.”
Daniel wrinkled his brow and looked to Tre. “We’ve come to ask you to stop,” Tre said. “Bella is my sister. She’s Luke’s wife.”
“What the…Wait a minute,” Daniel stumbled a step backwards and held up a finger. “I haven’t sent any messages to that cunt and if she says otherwise, she’s a goddamn liar!”
“And that’s what we’re talking about here, Daniel. It’s that potty-mouth attitude. It’s going to get you into trouble,” Luke said calmly.
“That cunt…” Daniel began, but Luke grabbed him by the front of the shirt and lifted him off the ground, slamming the smaller man up against the back wall of the bar and in the process knocking the wind out of him.
“Bella is my wife and the mother of my children,” Luke growled through gritted teeth. “If you use that word again to refer to her it will not go well for you. Am I getting through that shit-pile you use for a brain?”
Daniel, still winded, nodded silently. Luke continued to hold him up against the wall. “If you ever, and I mean ever, send another message to my wife, I will come back and I will kick the living shit out of you from here to next week. Do I make myself clear?”
Again, the man nodded. “Yeah, man, I get it,” he croaked.
Luke lowered him back to the ground and released his shirt. “Glad we understand each other.” He turned on his heel intending to leave.
“Man, that bitch musta sucked your cock til you were blind. She always did give great head.”
Without even thinking about it, Luke spun and grabbed Daniel by the shirt once again pinning him to the wall. He looked into the man’s eyes and what he saw surprised him. It was a confession of self-loathing that said, “Please hit me.” Disgusted, Luke let go of the guy’s shirt and turned to walk away. Before he could, Daniel fairly levitated. Tre had landed a right hook square in the guy’s solar plexis. All the air left his body, he actually said, “Oooof!” before he fell to the ground.
“Nobody talks like that about my sister, futher-mucker!” Tre said firmly.
Luke scowled at him. “Dude, we’ve gotta work on your cussing.”
“God, that was great!” Tre exclaimed as they walked back toward the rental car. “I think I broke my thumb, though.”
Luke looked at Tre’s right hand. Sure enough, it was swelling and turning eerily purple before his eyes. “Now what have we learned? Never tuck your thumb into your fist when you hit someone. Let’s get you to a hospital.”
Twenty-four hours later in Alabama, Bella tucked Rose and Nevin into bed and went downstairs to join the others in the kitchen of the big house.
“I still don’t understand how on God’s green earth you broke your thumb fishing,” Cornelia was saying, stirring a pot of chili on the stove.
Tre, right forearm in a cast and held up by a sling, shrugged his shoulders and raised his left palm. “What can I say? I’m a hot mess.”
“It’s a shame you didn’t catch anything, though,” Bella added, wrapping an arm around Luke’s waist.
He gently placed his hand on the swell of her belly and felt a kick as his unborn son shifted in his warm cocoon. He kissed his baby girl’s temple affectionately. “We caught a little one, but we let him go.” Luke looked across the room at Tre and both men grinned.
Remember, Luke & Bella: Two Streets Over is just .99 on Smashwords for a limited time. Thanks for celebrating with me!