By BB Easton
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Ronald “Knight” McKnight was obsessive. Possessive. Downright psychopathic. But that didn't stop BB Easton from falling in love with him. . . or from falling apart when he joined the Marines. As he left, Knight told her to “find someone better,” but she didn't.
She found Harley instead.
Harley James was a fun, flirty, tattooed mechanic whose face was as angelic as his secrets were sinful. He taught BB how to live again. How to laugh again. But would he teach her how to love again?
Over Knight's dead body.
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This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.
Copyright © 2017 by BB Easton
Cover design by BB Easton
Cover copyright © 2019 by Hachette Book Group, Inc.
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Books by BB Easton
Speed is a work of fiction based on characters and events introduced in BB Easton’s memoir, 44 Chapters About 4 Men. While the settings and many of the situations portrayed in this book are true to life, the physical characteristics and names of all characters other than BB have been altered to protect the identities of everyone involved.
Due to excessive profanity, violence, graphic sexual content, and themes of juvenile drug use and delinquency, this book is not intended for—and should probably be completely hidden from—anyone under the age of eighteen.
This book is dedicated to my parents. Consider it my apology for bringing a twenty-two-year-old ex-con with a tattoo on his head home for dinner…when I was only sixteen.
An apology that you are never, ever allowed to read—ever.
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There are two types of people in this world—those who've read my memoir, 44 Chapters About 4 Men, and those who have not. Both types are welcome here. Unless, of course, you belong to one of those groups and your last name also happens to be Bradley or Easton. In that case, the odds of us being related by blood or marriage are simply too high for me to allow you to proceed. Please, Ms. Bradley, put the book down and back away slowly. Trust me on this, Mr. Easton. It's for your own good.
If your last name is not Bradley or Easton and this is your first dose of Harley James, hold on to your ass. He is the ultimate baby-faced bad boy, and he took me on the ride of my life. Pun not intended! Harley's character is loosely based on an actual ex-boyfriend of mine, but his name, identifying characteristics, and personality traits have been altered and/or exaggerated to the point that not even his mama would recognize him. I mean, she'd have her suspicions, but she couldn't prove a damn thing.
If you belong to the former group, then you've already been introduced to Mr. Harley James—two versions of him actually. You saw him portrayed as a lovable moron in my real-life journal entries and as a fictionalized lothario in the ones I left out for Ken to stumble upon. Well, I am happy to report that the fictionalized-lothario Harley is the one starring in this book while the plot, setting, and time line are based on mostly true events. I tried to give you guys the best of both worlds—the sexy, dangerous, tattooed hero and a gritty, raw, true-life story.
Like I said in SKIN, this book is my truth—it's just not one hundred percent the truth.
(In this case, it's more like sixty-five percent. Seventy-five, tops.)
Enjoy the ride!
ATV (abv.)—All-Terrain Vehicle.
AWOL (abv.)—Away Without Leave. A military term used in reference to soldiers who have left their posts without proper clearance.
Bajillion (noun)—a made-up number somewhere between one billion and a shitload.
Benzo (noun)—Slang. An illicitly used antianxiety pill belonging to the benzodiazepine classification. Examples include Xanax, Valium, Ativan, and Klonopin.
Crotch Rocket (noun)—Slang. A specific type of imported motorcycle, characterized by a lightweight, aerodynamic body and favored by street racers.
Cumtrillionth (noun)—a person's bajillionth orgasm.
Dip (noun)—Slang. Chewing tobacco.
DMV (abv.)—Department of Motor Vehicles.
Doobie (noun)—Slang. A term hippies use in reference to a hand-rolled marijuana cigarette.
Factory/Stock (adj.)—a vehicle with no aftermarket modifications.
Fastback (adj.)—the sexiest muscle car body style ever made, characterized by a roofline that slopes in one continuous line down the back of the car to the rear spoiler.
Five-oh (noun)—Slang. A Ford Mustang with a five-liter V8 engine, produced from 1979–1993. The term refers to a small silver emblem affixed behind the front-wheel wells on this particular model that read 5.0.
Fishtail (verb)—Slang. When the back end of a vehicle slides from side to side due to a handling or traction problem.
Flophouse (noun)—Slang. Cheap or free lodging with minimal amenities, often inhabited by several people at once and used as a place to hide from the police and/or do drugs.
Four twenty-nine (noun)—Slang. A vintage Mustang with a 429 cubic-inch engine.
Gutter punk (noun)—Slang. A homeless or transient youth whose appearance and lifestyle choices are associated with the punk subculture.
Head Shop (noun)—a retail store specializing in marijuana and tobacco paraphernalia.
Hooptie (noun)—Slang. A large, older model American sedan, often in poor condition but equipped with flashy aftermarket modifications.
Jarhead (noun)—Slang. A derogatory term used to describe a member of the United States Marine Corps. It is in reference to the flattop-style haircut that many Marines have, which makes their heads appear to be jar-shaped.
Jackalope (noun)—a mythical creature of North American folklore, created when deer antlers are affixed to a taxidermic jackrabbit.
Juvie (noun)—Slang. Juvenile Detention Center. A prison-like institution for minors.
Kegger (noun)—Slang. Keg party. A social gathering of teens and young adults centered around a metal barrel full of cheap, piss-colored beer.
MDMA (abv.)—the street drug methylenedioxymethamphetamine, commonly referred to as ecstasy.
Motorhead (noun)—Slang. A car/racing enthusiast who has a wealth of knowledge about auto mechanics.
Mudding (verb)—Slang. Driving an all-terrain or four-wheel-drive vehicle off-road in muddy areas, such as creek beds or fields after a hard rain. The objective of this recreational activity is to get one's vehicle as filthy as possible without getting it stuck.
Narced (verb, past tense)—Slang. To inform the police or authorities that someone is in the possession of illegal drugs. Derived from the word narcotics.
Natty Ice (noun)—Slang. Natural Ice, an inexpensive brand of American beer, favored by rednecks.
Nine-eleven (noun)—Slang. A Porsche 911 model.
Peater (noun)—Slang. A made-up word for a passive cheater.
POS (abv.)—Piece Of Shit.
Priors (noun, plural)—Slang. Prior convictions.
Racing slicks (noun, plural)—Special racing tires that are extra wide and have a smooth surface rather than tread.
Rager (noun)—See Kegger.
RBF (abv.)—Resting Bitch Face.
Redneck (noun)—Slang. A derogatory term used to describe a rural, working-class white person from the southeastern United States. The term refers to the tendency for men from these backgrounds to have sunburns on the backs of their necks due to working manual labor jobs outside.
Rolling (verb)—Slang. To be high on MDMA/ecstasy.
RPM (abv.)—Revolutions Per Minute.
Shittastic (adj.)—the polar opposite of fantastic.
SoCo (abv.)—Slang. Southern Comfort, a brand of whiskey.
Spoiler (noun)—a flap or arch on the back of a car, designed to reduce drag and improve aerodynamics.
Skin (noun)—Slang. A member of the skinhead subculture.
Torque (noun)—an automotive measurement of how quickly a vehicle will accelerate, considered more important than horsepower in short-distance street racing.
Twenty-twos (noun)—Slang. Twenty-two-inch wheels.
Wifebeater (noun)—Slang. A fitted, ribbed white cotton tank top designed to be worn by men as an undergarment. The term refers to the abusive, working-class male characters who tend to wear these garments in classic American films.
Winch (noun)—a motorized rotating drum designed to reel in a length of cable attached to something very heavy. For example, a truck that has gotten stuck in the mud, like a little bitch.
When I woke up on my sixteenth birthday, I didn't leap out of bed to go get my driver's license. I wasn't thinking about the appointment I had to buy my first car that afternoon—a car that I'd been saving for since the day I turned fifteen and was legally able to work. I didn't give two shits about going to the mall, or opening presents, or eating a fucking piece of fucking cake. All I wanted for my birthday was to sleep through it, because whenever I was awake, so was my gnawing, soul-crushing pain. I could feel it chewing through the lining of my stomach, devouring my once-bubbly personality, sucking the energy from my bones like marrow, swallowing my will to live. Being eaten alive hurt. Being awake hurt. Being asleep didn't.
I reluctantly opened my eyes and glanced over at the nightstand. The red numbers on the clock announced that I'd slept past noon again. The blueberry muffin sitting next to it with a candle shoved haphazardly in the top told me that my mom must have come in and tried to wake me up. My wide-open blinds, which were letting in an obscene amount of summer sun, let me know that she'd tried more than once. And that little white pill and glass of water on my nightstand? Well, those only pissed me off.
I sat up and squinted at the assorted bullshit on the table until I spotted my pack of Camel Lights. Swinging my spindly legs over the edge of the mattress, I reached past the food and water, opting for poison instead. I lit a cigarette and waited for that comforting, calming first inhalation to do its thing, but even smoking had become joyless. Just like everything else, I was going through the motions.
Hand to mouth.
I ashed my cigarette in an empty Altoids tin on the nightstand and stared at the pill my mother had left for me—the tiny white hope that had turned out to be just another disappointment. I picked it up and inspected it. If it hadn't had the word PROZAC stamped on the side of it, I would have assumed they'd just been giving me Tic Tacs.
That shit did nothing. Nothing but mute the vibrant colors of my world to a dirty, dull gray. Instead of my feelings being a violent riot of bitter, angry crimsons, churning, crashing ceruleans, and blinking, cautionary yellows, my inner world was now as gray as the cloud of smoke that hung four feet above the floor and three feet below the ceiling in my bedroom. As gray as my skin, which now draped between my ribs and puddled in the hollows of my cheeks and eye sockets.
As gray as the fading knight tattoo on the inside of my wedding ring finger.
I threw the glorified breath mint across the room and listened to the plink, plink, plink sound it made as it bounced off the wall, onto my "desk"—which was just two filing cabinets and an old door that my mom had scrounged up at Goodwill and spray-painted black—and landed in a heap of shiny Army-green nylon on the floor.
My chest felt as if someone had come up behind me and yanked the laces on an invisible corset. Tears stabbed at the corners of my eyes as images began flashing, unbidden, behind them. Images of a skinhead standing behind me at my locker, sliding a tiny green flight jacket up my arms and over my shoulders to warm my perma-chilled skin. Images of his smile when he turned me around to admire the fit. I'd never seen him smile before. Not like that. I'd wanted to make him smile again, but instead, I made him scowl when I told him I couldn't keep his gift. When I rejected him, just like everyone else had.
I squeezed my eyes shut and pressed the heels of my palms into them, trying to rid myself of the memory. The flashbacks were only getting worse. The doctor had acted like this was a simple case of normal teenage depression. Like all I needed was a little Prozac and some R&R to clear it up. Like watching your psychopathic, steroid-fueled skinhead boyfriend beat a man to death was normal. Like losing your childhood best friend to suicide and helping your hemorrhaging best friend deliver a baby in the same day was normal. Like having your first love suddenly join the Marines right before you found out that he might have cheated on you with a guy was normal.
Well, it didn't fucking feel normal. It felt heavy. The gravity of those compounded traumas was pulling me under, and I was too weak to swim to the surface. Too tired. Instead, I just sat on the bottom of the deep end and wondered how long I could hold my breath. Although my eyes stung from peering through nicotine instead of chlorine, my slowed, effortful movements, the weight pressing down on me, the alternating bouts of panic and resignation were all the same.
I was drowning.
Just not fast enough.
Without thinking, I stamped out my cigarette and stood up. Stars danced before my teary eyes, and tunnel vision threatened, but I pushed through the dizziness, fueled by my pain. Grabbing the vile baked good on my nightstand, I headed toward my parents' master bathroom in search of relief.
Out of habit, I crumbled the muffin into the toilet and flushed, destroying the evidence. I used to not eat because I wanted to be skinnier, prettier, Kate Mossier. Now, I didn't eat because I couldn't fucking eat.
Because I was the one being eaten.
In a frenzy, I threw open my mom's medicine cabinet, fully prepared to swallow the contents of anything and everything I could get my hands on just to make the ache go away.
But it was empty.
I yanked the mirror on my dad's side of the double vanity away from the wall as well. Empty. The stash of prescription opiates, antianxiety medications, and muscle relaxers I had known I would find there was just gone. Even the over-the-counter painkillers and cough syrups had vanished into thin air. Rummaging through their drawers, cabinets, closets, dressers, I found nothing but toiletries, makeup, and clothes.
My heart raced as the room began to tilt on its axis. I'd rushed in there, expecting to find the exit to my worst nightmare, but instead, I'd found myself trapped inside. There was no escape, and the walls were closing in.
Struggling to breathe, I clutched the edge of the bathroom counter and screamed, "Mom! Moooooom!"
My knees gave out before I heard her footsteps make it to the top of our squeaky stairs.
"Jesus Christ, BB," my mother said as she walked in on her emaciated daughter kneeling in front of her vanity with her forehead pressed to the cabinet door. "What's wrong?"
"I can't find the Tylenol," I choked out.
"Do you have a headache, honey?" she said in that sweet, sympathetic voice that always made me want to curl up into her lap and cry.
I squeezed my eyes shut and nodded into the knotty wood.
"I'm sorry, baby. Must be a migraine, huh? Let me get you some Excedrin."
Instead of opening a cabinet or a drawer, my mom opened her closet door, right behind me. I turned and watched as she slid an armful of hanging tie-dyed sundresses aside and began turning the silver knob on a small black safe left and right. I couldn't see what she was doing once the door to the safe was opened, but I heard the familiar rattle of pill bottles as she rummaged around, looking for what she thought I needed.
When my mom reemerged from the closet with two little white pills in hand, I asked with betrayal in my voice, "Why is all the medicine in there?"
"Oh. My. God. I can't stop laughing. Or reading. WHAT IS HAPPENING?"
—Colleen Hoover, #1 New York Times bestselling author on 44 Chapters about 4 Men
- On Sale
- Aug 10, 2021
- Page Count
- 416 pages