Series: Rebel Wayfarers MC, #10
Author: MariaLisa deMora
Genre: MC Romance
Release Date: March 6, 2016
Raised in a hellhole echoing with the sounds of conflict, Bones most profound childhood memory is of the day he died. Decades later, he has built an empire where he is king. His brothers have his back, and life is good. So good, he doesn’t realize what’s missing until he meets her. Ester seems to be the one woman capable of looking beyond his mask and seeing … him.
Salvador Ramos’ world was upended the day before he turned twelve. The stick-thin son of a small-time drug king, his demand for justice fell on deaf ears, and the identity of his sister’s killer remained a mystery. From that day forwards, Sal vowed he would never forget how it felt to be powerless.
Now he’s ready to make good on that promise. Positioned as one of the dominant outlaws in Chicago, he deals from a place of strength and power, leveraging fear as a weapon. He is a leader among men, having honed loyalty through harsh lessons, and earned trusted friendships until none can stand against him. He is Bones.
Bones. A man who looks like a monster. Covered in tattoos, black and grey, with hardly any inch of skin left bare. A hundred different sigils and symbols on each arm, ink crawled up his neck like the collar of a closely fitted shirt. Black and colored ropes of pictures disappeared underneath his shirt. Strong hands, with muscles that danced beneath the images as he moved. Bones wore his skin like a shield, a barrier to hold at bay those who wouldn’t put in the time to know who he is. Who didn’t care enough to learn about the man behind the bars written on his skin. The ink as isolating as any jail cell unless you held the key.
Ester has been on her own since she was ten. She spent much of that time on the run from her own fears, failing to escape from the demons in her mind. Her life on the fringe of society has given her a unique perspective on humanity, and a cautious but abiding curiosity about the nature of people. She sees pain and terror everywhere, except when she looks at him. Bones alone helps relieve the piercing agony of her thoughts.
He should be frightening to a woman like her. But he wasn’t. He isn’t.
Bones rolled the bike to a slow stop, scanning the benches in the park. It was the third one he’d been to in the past hour, and with each approach, he had felt his pulse speed in anticipation. There, he thought, satisfaction and relief sweeping through him. She sat on a bench, head cocked to one side, listening to a boy tell her a story. Arms pumping, the boy seemed to be miming every aspect of the tale, from running while looking frantically over his shoulder, to leaping across an obstacle, finally collapsing back onto the bench with arms lifted in victory. Ester’s own arms raised in shared jubilation, and Bones heard her laughter ringing through the air.
He had first met her months ago. A chance meeting which intrigued him so much, he felt compelled to seek her out again and again. That first time had been in a section of town belonging to neither Skeptics, nor Rebels, and his very presence there carried a certain danger if discovered. Alert to any oddness, the bolting exit of a woman from an alley with a man’s wallet in her fist had caught Bones’ attention.
One moment later she continued on her way sans wallet, and he’d walked into the alley to see what was transpiring—just in time to see a man lifting his hand to strike the whore in front of him. Bones thought surely the skinny woman must be a whore like the one who’d just escaped, finding out moments later he had been wrong. Reading wrong meaning into circumstances, he had judged as surely as every person on the street judged him. The knowledge had stung.
Defending her regardless, that defense had granted him far more than anticipated. Such had been his introduction to his nameless friend. Standing with a bag of spoiled fruit clutched to her chest, she had squeezed so tightly in her fright the peaches had left pink stains on her shirt. Bright eyes looking out from underneath a wild mass of hair, she had gifted him with a wide smile when she stretched out her hand, quoting a ridiculous movie. With her actions and words, she’d shown him she had mastered not only her environment, but also was a master at observation. She’d taken his measure in a glance, and not found him wanting. Something for which he was eternally grateful, because she somehow made his life richer.
Destitute, homeless, she was filled with a giving nature the likes of which he had never seen. He had watched one day as she took a loaf of bread given to her by a shopkeeper and divided it down so her portion was the least. Half given to a woman with a child, half of what remained to a legless veteran on the street corner, half of what remained to a dog that whined and twined around her legs, making her laugh, and half of the last piece went to the clutch of pigeons that landed at her feet the moment she took a seat on a bench, happy to stuff a single bite into her mouth, laughing again as the birds strutted and preened at the attention.
The boy stood, and she tilted her head up to look at him, then they simultaneously twisted their necks to look at a red-faced woman shouting, standing on the path. Bones watched as the boy shrugged, then ducked his chin to his neck at another shout. Embarrassed, it seemed. Seated, she shooed him away, releasing him from the niceties of society and the boy ran backwards a few feet, waving madly until both of her hands rose above her head, pivoting in a wild wave at the ends of her arms.
My beauty, Bones thought, checking traffic before he pulled back out, slowly increasing his speed, riding away from her and no longer caring when she had become his. She simply was.
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Raised in the south, MariaLisa learned about the magic of books at an early age. Every summer, she would spend hours in the local library, devouring books of every genre. Self-described as a book-a-holic, she says “I’ve always loved to read, but then I discovered writing, and found I adored that, too. For reading … if nothing else is available, I’ve been known to read the back of the cereal box.”
A hockey fan, hiker, gamer, and single mom of a special needs son, she embraces her inner geek and has been working in the tech field for a publishing company for a couple decades.
Music is a driving passion, and she says, “I love music of nearly any genre — jazz, country, rock, alt rock, metal, classical, bluegrass, rap, hip hop … you name it, I listen to it. I can often be seen dancing through the house in the early mornings. But I really, REALLY love live music. My favorite thing with music is seeing bands in small, dive bars [read: small, intimate venues]. If said bar [venue] has a good selection of premium tequila, then that’s a plus!”
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