Sunday, 22 November 2015

Chapter one of Altering Authority... Yes, the WHOLE chapter.

I'm a book snob, I admit it. I judge them by their covers and if I'm not hooked by the first couple of chapters, I abandon it like a mama deer and her lame fawn.

There are too many good books out there waiting to be read! I can't waste time forcing myself to finish something that doesn't hold my interest, regardless of how good or bad the writing is. If it doesn't have 'it', it doesn't have it. That's that.

I'm confident that my books have 'it'. There are over a thousand readers all over the world that would agree, which is why, without further ado, I give to you chapter one of the first book in the Authority Series, Altering Authority. Enjoy!



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he wasn’t  particularly close to her father. His mobster lifestyle kept him busy. Her mother tried desperately to keep her away from the violence that life entailed, but push came to shove and the money was great. How could her mother raise her alone? It wasn’t as if she was going to get a job and pay the bills herself.

            Surprisingly, his death came as a shock. Not at the hands of a drug dealer hell bent on revenge, or one of the customers who’d felt ripped off. He died suddenly with a brain aneurysm, sitting alone at the kitchen table, reading his newspaper on a Sunday morning.

            Tatum had known that he would leave everything to her. She was his only child, and much to the dismay of her mother, she was somewhat more - ungovernable – than her father was. Where he’d have his henchmen do his dirty work, Tatum preferred to handle things herself.

            The drugs and gun dealings were more trouble than she preferred, but the high profits made them more than bearable. With strong connections and repeat customers already built, Tatum used her associates to collect and sell the merchandise. She rarely saw that aspect of the business, just the cash flow.

Her favorite inherited business venture was the strip clubs. She never had to threaten those girls; they knew their place and how to have fun. The real money came from those girls after hours. Tatum didn’t like to consider her new job title as a ‘Madam,’ however, technically that’s what she was. The word sounded so old, carried such a stereotype. She thought of women like Heidi Fleiss and Michelle Braun and didn’t consider herself to be anything like them, aside from their jobs.

 Her business was whores but she was the furthest thing from one of them.

Her father, Bill, was a pimp, even though he didn’t quite fit the clich├ęd description. His business suits were pristine and expensive. There most certainly were no fur coats in his closet or gold-grills in his jewelry box.

            Three months after Bill’s death, Tatum found herself sitting awkwardly with her mother at the dining room table. The same table her father’s face had smashed onto in death. Since then, it had been uncomfortable around her mother. The older woman was withdrawn, morose. She could see that something was weighing heavily on her mind and she knew it wasn’t her deceased husband. They weren’t close, not the typical man and wife.

 Her mother’s eyes would stare off into nothing, growing glossy. Her usual pristine black hair was in a constant state of mild disarray. Not her normal self. This day in particular it grew more annoying to Tatum than anything.

            “What is it mom?!” she said, a few octaves higher than she knew were necessary. Her mother flinched at the sharpness in her voice.

            She inhaled deeply and looked at her daughter, the words on the tip of her tongue. She made eye contact for a brief second before looking away, wiping a tear from her cheek.

            “You’re not leaving until you spit it out” Tatum said, sipping calmly on her tea, staring intently at her mother, her eye contact unwavering.

            Donna stood clumsily and made her way to the opposite side of the table, the action looking funnier than it should have, considering how polished she was dressed in her beige pant suit and pearls.  She sat in front of her daughter and swallowed hard, the lump not disappearing.

            She hesitated a few minutes more, looking around the large room with its enormous windows facing out onto the dew covered lawn 20 feet or so below. The streams of light slicing through held a constant whirlwind of sparkles. In a house this size, one wouldn’t consider it to be dust.

            Tatum’s glare held up. Donna took a minute to study her features. There was no denying she was her daughter. The same bright eyes, the slim nose. Tatum was more Donna than Donna had ever really noticed. It’s no wonder no one ever questioned her paternity.

            She was sorry more than anything that Tatum had grown up in this life. The drugs, guns, and violence were more than most people could stand; however Tatum seemed to thrive in it, despite Donnas best efforts. How could she not? It was in her blood, more than Tatum even knew. 

            Looking at her now, Donna knew that she couldn’t stop heredity. “I haven’t been honest with you Tatum” she finally spit out. “I don’t even know how to tell you this.”

            Her mother paused, choking on her words. The look in her eyes was of sheer terror. Surely, Tatum thought, her mother wasn’t afraid of her? There had been times when people had crossed Tatum and she’d had to ‘take care’ of them herself, but her mother was kind of off limits. There were boundaries when it came to these types of things.  Offing your mother was one of them.

            “Just say it mom.”

            Donna took another deep breath. “He wasn’t… Not biologically… He wasn’t your real father Tatum.”

            The weight of the words hung in the air for a moment. The only sounds were the waves in the distance on the beach. The hum of the refrigerator. The ticking of the clock.

            “I tried to protect you. I thought this lifestyle was better than the one you would have grown up in if your real father had raised you.”

            Tatum’s face wrinkled in thought, but she couldn’t form a coherent sentence. All she could think was ‘it makes sense.’ She was nothing like Bill. At times, after she’d gotten into the family business, he would look at her as if she were an anomaly. He could call the shots, give the orders, but there was no way he’d be able to put a bullet in someone’s head and not bat an eye about it the way Tatum did. She had none of his characteristics. Not a single thing.

            It dawned on her then. If Donna thought that this was a better lifestyle compared to the one her real father was living, what kind of person was he exactly?

 She knew she’d done horrible things. Abnormal things. It wasn’t a typical day at work to beat someone to death for information about drug lords or rival gangs. But with her lifestyle, it came with the territory. Donna knew this. She wasn’t proud of it, but never really seemed to try to stop Tatum. What was she keeping her from?

            Then, at a rapid pace, the questions flooded in. Was he still alive? In prison? Did she have siblings? Nieces? Nephews? Grandparents that knew about her? Did he know about her?

            “Speak Tatum. Please tell me what you’re thinking” Donna pleaded as she saw the emotions run across Tatum’s face. “I’m sorry” she choked out in a whisper.

            Of all the thoughts swirling around in her head, “Why?” was all she could muster.

            Donna looked at her, thoughtfully. She licked her lips and rubbed them together, the way she normally did when she was about to talk a lot.

            “He’s a good man. We had a short lived fling, nothing serious. He’s involved in some things, Illegal gambling, prostitution... I didn’t think you’d end up taking over all of this” she gestured with her hands around the large room, but implying so much more. “I didn’t think this life would affect you as much if you were raised by Bill. I was wrong though, obviously. You ended up more like him than you did Bill.” She frowned and looked down at her hands. “He lives on the west coast, in San Francisco.”

            “Does he know about me?”

            Donna looked Tatum in the eyes for a moment, as if she were waiting for this question. She shook her head slowly. “He would have been involved if he did.”

Tatum nodded and ran her fingers through her long, curly, dark hair. “Did Bill know?” It would explain his distance from her. Why bother being a father to a child whom you know isn’t actually yours?

            Her mother shook her head and at least had the sensibility to look embarrassed.

“Do you know how to contact him?”

            Donna hesitated a minute before nodding.

            “Find him and tell him… I want a paternity test first.” She stood and walked away then, leaving Donna alone and staring after her.

            She was numb. She didn’t know if she should be mad at her mother or thankful that she had a father again?

            Walking out of the patio and down towards the beach, she heard the rev of her mother’s Audi RS5 Cabriolet leaving the driveway. She wrapped one arm around herself, propping her elbow on it to chew her fingernail as she walked.

            The wind was up, the tide out. Spray from the waves wet her face but it was soothing, almost. A distraction from the tsunami in her brain.

            She knew a slew of gambling rings in San Francisco. She should have asked her mother which one. Had she met her biological father doing a deal? A bunch of them up there bought guns from Bill in the past.

            She pulled her cell phone out of her pocket. Noticing the time, she sent a text to Rick, her go-to man, saying she wouldn’t be able to go to the clubs today. Putting the phone back in her pocket, Tatum sat down on a fallen log that had been dragged toward the shoreline as a seat for the fire pit in front of her. She was beginning to regret not grabbing a sweater.

            She couldn’t picture Donna ‘fooling around’. She seemed too uptight to have flings. Tatum herself was a believer in big romantic gestures. She knew the men that were associated with her lifestyle were a different breed, not the type to shout ‘I love you’ from a rooftop, to cry over and fight for their women, and she accepted that, never truly expecting to find ‘the one.’ She’d probably end up like Donna. Settling for whatever was the most convenient. However, the way she saw her mother light up when talking about him, Tatum could see that there was more to it than she was letting on. Perhaps she was even more like Donna than she realized.

            She thought about what this meant for her businesses. Legally, her father – or Bill – had left her everything in his will. If word got out that she wasn’t biologically his, would others try to take it all from her? Was she still entitled to it? Legally, she knew she was, however in her world, the one with prostitutes, drug lords, and gun dealers, things were different.

The first decision she made was to keep this new found knowledge under wraps until she knew what to do about it.

            She wandered aimlessly around the property for a while. Only running into the gardener, who politely tipped his hat to her and went on his way on his ride-on mower.

            When night fell, she climbed into bed, a bowl of cereal in hand. The TV was only a mild distraction. She flipped through the channels, never really settling on one thing. Eventually, she fell asleep, her head pounding with thoughts and questions, but no answers.
©2015, Ashley Dooley, all rights reserved
 
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