Copyright© 2018 by Chanel Hardy
Chapter 1: An excerpt from River's Moonlight, book 1 in the Moonlight Series
Coming to Amazon 10/24/18
“He’s beautiful! I love him!” River ran her fingers through the chocolate lab’s smooth brown fur. He barked and jumped up and down in excitement as he enjoyed the embrace of his new owners. River loved dogs, and seeing this adorable surprise sitting on the sofa when she arrived home from school was the highlight of her day.
“He was just walking along the freeway. No collar, nothing.” Her aunt Tasha stood there scratching her head, with one hand on her hip as she watched River interact with the pup. “I was going to call animal control, but I figured he could use a nice home.”
“Well I’m glad you didn’t call them. Poor thing would’ve been put down. You did something nice for once. I’m proud of you.” River said sarcastically. Tasha picked up on River’s sarcasm immediately and shot a nasty look at her niece. River just gave her a smile and continued giving her attention to the dog. Tasha wanted to respond to River’s smart remark but decided to let it slide.
Her and River didn’t have the best relationship. When River was nine-years-old, she survived a car accident, but her parents weren’t so lucky. Since then, she had been raised by her aunt Tasha. Growing up without her mother and father caused River to shut out anyone who tried to get close to her. Her aunt tried to fill the emotional void of River’s loss of a mother figure, but it just caused River to loathe her more. It also didn’t help that Tasha was a cop, which made her extremely assertive and often times aggressive. Her tough personality clashing with River’s teenage angst caused bad vibes between them. Her aunt being a cop also made it hard for River to socialize. Not too many people on the south side of Chicago wanted to be friends with a girl who lived with a cop.
“Alright now.” Tasha huffed. “He better not mess up my house. I just got this carpet steam cleaned. You train him to do his business outside or off to the pound he goes.” Tasha had a hard time letting things go, she was passive aggressive and held grudges which contributed to her complicated relationship with River.
“Well you brought him home. If he messes up the carpet, it’s your fault.” River instantly became annoyed. Her aunt brought the dog home because she wanted to but was willing to get rid of him just to spite her.
“I said what I said.” Tasha shot back.
“Come on boy, let’s get you some fresh air.” River took the dog out to the backyard and let him run around while she tossed a stick across the yard for him to fetch. The clouds were forming close together, and the wind began to pick up. He brought the stick back and dropped it at her feet. He moaned and rubbed his head against her leg. She caressed his face. “What’s wrong buddy? Miss your family?”
Trying to comfort the dog made her think about her parents. What her life would be like if they were still alive. She had these thoughts often, but they just led to depressive episodes that made her feel worse. It’s not that she wasn’t grateful for her aunt taking her in, she really did care for her and appreciated everything she had done for her. But despite her aunt’s attempts to be a parental figure, she couldn’t replace her mom. “I guess we’ve got something in common then.” Her soft touch got the dog excited again, jumping in her lap and licking her face. For once, it would feel nice having someone in the house that she could relate to, that could love her unconditionally. “I think I’ll name you Coco.” She allowed the dog to lick her face, while he playfully signaled for her to continue throwing the stick.
River’s phone rang, and she grabbed it from her left pocket to see who it was. It was Andrew. A friend from school who she was going out with that night. She didn’t typically like to date, but Andrew was cute, and had been begging her to go see a movie with him since the school year started. She finally gave in and accepted. She decided not to answer the call, just to keep him guessing. River liked being a tease. It was entertaining for her to watch simple minded teenage boys like Andrew fall for her puerile ways. She knew he’d be blowing up her messages any second now. She was right. Not even thirty seconds after the phone stopped ringing, she got a text notification.
Drew: We still on for tonight? Can’t wait to see you.
River smiled at the message and decided to wait a few minutes before replying. She grabbed Coco by the collar and pulled him toward the back door. “Come on buddy, I’ve got a date tonight. Time to go inside.”
Back inside, she noticed Tasha putting on her jacket, preparing to leave. “Going back to work already?” River asked.
“Yeah, got a call from Juarez. Body found behind the bodega on 13th street. It’s bad. I’ve gotta go.”
“Another shooting? Can’t they handle it without you? Shootings aren’t anything uncommon here.”
Tasha gave River a tense look. “I didn’t say it was a shooting. You know not to ask me questions about murder cases. I can’t discuss this stuff with you, you know that.”
River rolled her eyes. “Right, how could I forget.”
“Look, I think you should stay in tonight.” Tasha urged. River noticed that her aunt looked concerned.
“Stay in? Why? Murders happen every other day in this city. What’s the big deal?”
“Just stay in tonight okay? Why do you have to be so damn hard headed? Can’t you just listen to me for once!” Tasha shouted. A vein emerged on the left side of her forehead. That only happened when she was really pissed or stressed. Either way, something about work was bugging her. More than usual. River knew this wasn’t a normal gang related shooting.
“Fine. Whatever.” River agreed.
“I’ll be back.” Tasha didn’t say anything else before immediately walking out the door. River went upstairs to her room, with Coco following behind. She sat on her bed and pulled out her phone to text Andrew back.
River: Yeah of course. Picking me up at 7, right?
Not even twenty seconds later he replied.
Drew: Yes! See you then!
“Man, he sure doesn’t waste any time.” River said to herself, amused by Andrew’s swiftness. She knew he really liked her. Most guys were attracted to her. Her light bronze skin complimented by her dark brown eyes, she got from her Filipino mother. Her big, thick, jet-black coils came from her father’s side. Whenever she wore her hair straight, River was a spitting image of her mother. Tasha and River’s mother never got along, which contributed to River’s strained relationship with Tasha. She knew every time her aunt looked at her, she saw her mother. A woman she only tolerated out of love for her brother, River’s father.
River threw her phone on her nightstand and decided to take a short nap before her date with Andrew. Despite her aunt’s wishes, she decided to go out anyway. She really needed to get out of the house, even if she had to cut her date short to be back before her aunt got home. She got undressed, climbed under the covers with Coco joining her at the foot of the bed and went to sleep.
River was awakened by Coco licking her face. She reached over to her bedside dresser to grab her phone and check the time. She realized it only had thirty-five percent battery life left, grunting at her phone and tossing it back on the dresser. It was six-thirty-eight in the evening, and she knew Andrew would be there soon. She kissed Coco on the nose and gently moved him out of the way, so she could get up. On her way to the bathroom to freshen up, she got a look at herself in the long wall mirror across from her bed. Her hair was frizzy from her nap, and she could see bags forming under her eyes. She knew she didn’t have enough time to shower, but decided to take one anyway. Even if Andrew had to sit in his car and wait, River didn’t care. She was doing him a favor by even agreeing to go out with him on the first place. He was cute, but she found him rather annoying at times. An extra ten minutes of waiting wouldn’t hurt him.
After her shower, she braided her freshly washed hair back in four large French braids. She searched her closet for something to wear. River wasn’t your typical feminine teenage girl. She had a personality as tough as rocks and a rugged street style to match. She grabbed her dark blue skin-tight denim jeans with the thighs ripped slightly. Just enough to expose just a little of her caramel skin. She grabbed a blue and white striped tank top that exposed her belly button and threw her brown leather jacket over it. She heard the doorbell ring from downstairs. She knew it was Andrew. She glanced at the clock on her wall. It read six-fifty-three. She quickly grabbed her cell phone from the dresser and her black converse from the floor by her bedroom door before heading downstairs.
Andrew rang the doorbell two more times before River got to the door. She opened it, and there he stood. Tall, lean and gorgeous with a huge smile on his face.
“Hey.” He greeted with his deep, sultry voice.
“Hey good looking.” She replied, smiling at him. Coco came running behind her, barking at Andrew. “Hey now, cut it out. He’s cool.” She rubbed Coco’s face to calm him down.
Andrew looked at the dog, a bit intimidated. “You have a dog? That’s cool, I guess.” He said, expressing a lack of interest in her aggressive pet.
“Yeah, most people do.” River teased. She guided Coco away and quickly closed the door behind her. She walked to the passenger’s side of Andrew’s car and opened it, jumping inside.
“I could’ve gotten that for you, ya know.”
“Too slow bro!” River laughed. Once inside the driver’s seat, Andrew placed his hand on River’s thigh. He leaned over, signaling a kiss from her. “Whoa! I just got in the car. You haven’t even gotten me anything to eat yet.”
“Aww come on. I can’t get a kiss?” He asked anxiously.
“A kiss?! Buy me some tacos first. Then we’ll see what you get by the end of the night.” River gazed him up and down with her mesmerizing brown eyes. Andrew couldn’t resist the temptation.
“I like the sound of that.” He sighed heavily. “Alright. Food it is.” He started the car and drove away.
They decided to see a movie first, a horror film that had just been released that night. During the film, Andrew kept trying to get intimate with River, putting his arm around her shoulders, which she allowed. When he tried to lean in for a kiss, she brushed him off again. This agitated him, he couldn’t help himself. River was beautiful, even with her tomboyish appeal. Her decline of his advances just made him want her more. After the movie they went to Lulu’s Tacos for dinner. Instead of going inside, they ordered at the drive thru, and ate in the parked car. Didn’t take long for River to scarf down her chicken quesadillas. Andrew finished his bean burrito and grabbed their garbage to throw in a nearby trash bin. When he got back in the car, River was busy scrolling through her phone. Andrew stared at her like a lion eyeing its prey up close. He placed his hand on her thigh, moving his hand back & forth.
“So, where do we go from here?” He asked, making it obvious that he wasn’t ready to end their date just yet.
River looked up at him. “Where do we go? Well, I go home. Then you go home.”
“Home? But our night is just getting started, you still owe me that kiss remember?”
River placed her hand on top of his. Andrew was hot, there was no denying that. But other than being attracted to him, she had no interest in pursuing any type of relationship with him outside of a casual date. But this didn’t mean she couldn’t have a little fun. She leaned in and kissed him on the lips. This excited him, and he grabbed her neck and pushed up closer, kissing back aggressively. He slid his right hand inside of her tank top, caressing her breast from the outside of her bra. He guided his hand over her bra strap and tried to pull in down. Their moment of sexual build up ended abruptly as River stopped kissing him and pushed away.
“What? What’s wrong.” Andrew sighed heavily, rubbing his left temple.
“It’s not you, I’m just… not feeling this. That’s all.”
Andrew started to get angry. “Not feeling it? Why not? You were all over me!”
“Drew, I’m just not feeling it. Look, I enjoyed our date, but I’m ready to go home.”
Andrew scoffed at her and shook his head. “Tease.” He mumbled under his breath.
River shot a look at him. “Excuse me?” She wanted to make sure she had heard him correctly before punching him in the face.
“I asked you out because I think you’re sexy as hell. Plus, all the guys at school say you’re down.”
She raised her left eyebrow. “Down? What is that supposed to mean?”
“Oh, come on. Don’t pretend like you don’t know what I mean.”
“Screw you asshole!” River pushed him in the chest and got out of the car. She slammed the door so hard it could’ve broken the window. She walked off, furious. He got out of the car to go after her.
“River! River come back!” He yelled. “I didn’t mean it!”
She stopped and turned around. “Whatever! Leave me alone! I can get home on my own.”
“Really? It’s late. You don’t have to ever speak to me again, but at least let me take you home. I’m sorry.” He looked at her with the face of a pitiful puppy. River was still mad at him, but she wasn’t really in the mood to wait around for a ride in a sketchy parking lot. She began to walk toward him, going back to the car. He smiled at her, like he always did. That adorable grin on an aggravating boy.
Then it came out of nowhere. A beast, moving so fast she couldn’t even blink before Andrew was on the ground, screaming in agony. River became frozen with fear. It was like her feet were glued to the pavement and her legs were made of jelly. The beast ripped at Andrews torso and blood shot out like an exploding can of red paint. It was unreal. River’s shock ignited her instincts for survival and she ran as fast as she could to the car. Her heart felt like it was about to collapse into her stomach as she yanked at the latch and crawled inside the driver’s seat. The keys were still in the ignition. River felt a split moment of relief, that she would be okay. She would live.
The beast smashed through the driver’s side window, grabbing River and snatching her through. She screamed as she flew to the ground, her face hitting the pavement, with bits of glass impaled into her skin. She cried out to God to spare her life, but she knew this was the end. The beast pounced on top of her, clawing at her back. It’s sharp claws ripping, tearing into her flesh. The horror of being torn to pieces was like nothing she had ever experienced. Her life flashed before her eyes. She saw them, her parents. Their smiling faces welcoming her into the light. She was nine, and happy again. Their faces were the last thing she saw. Followed by the sound of gunshots, before everything went black.
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