Monday, April 7, 2014

Sneak Peek: Make It A Double by Sawyer Bennett

BY USA Today Best-selling Author Sawyer Bennett
Last Call, #2
Adult Contemporary Romance
April 21, 2014
Markham has endured a nightmare, spending the last five years in prison and losing everything that was dear to him. Now he’s back home, trying to survive in a world he doesn’t recognize anymore. While his family and friends desperately try to reach through to him, he shelters himself further and further away from their love.

Myers has worked her entire life to distance herself from the luxurious and privileged lifestyle in which she was raised. Running her non-profit agency, The Haven, she is content to spend her days helping abused animals find sanctuary, which fulfills her in a way that money just can’t buy. 

it’s that she recognizes in Brody some of the same characteristics she sees in her homeless wards, but Alyssa is powerless to stop her personal quest to make Brody whole again. 

Brody struggles to surface from the darkness, Alyssa tries to protect her heart in case he’s not willing to accept the light that she offers him.

*MAKE IT A DOUBLE can be read as a stand-alone*

I put the last of my groceries away, fold up the brown paper bags,

and tuck them in the space between my refrigerator and the kitchen wall.
Turning around, I observe my little studio apartment. I see it all in just a
quick glance, because it’s about the size of a postage stamp.

While I just helped Gabby move into Hunter’s house, I

certainly didn’t need to ask them to reciprocate the favor. The only things I
own are my clothes, and those were gifts to me from my mom. She had taken me
out shopping the day after I got home from prison, outfitting me with an
entirely new wardrobe. I mean… new as opposed to wearing prison garb for five
years. I felt ashamed that my mom had to buy her twenty-eight-year-old son
clothes because he didn’t have a dime to his name.

Past my clothes and some basic toiletries, I have no other

possessions. The car I’m driving is courtesy of my parents… on loan, of course.
It’s an old Chevy Malibu that had been sitting under a tarp, which Dad used to
drive. They don’t use it, but it runs fine. Mom and Dad tried to give it to me,
but I wouldn’t accept it. Instead, I capitulated only by agreeing that I was
borrowing it until I could save up enough money to buy it from them.
Luckily, this studio apartment came completely furnished, and

the kitchen was stocked with dishes, pots, pans, and utensils. I had all the
basics that I needed to survive, because let’s face it… it wasn’t too fucking
hard to boil some Ramen noodles for dinner, and that was a huge step up from
the prison food I’d been eating.

So with my duffel bag filled with clothes purchased by my

mom, I drove my old Chevy borrowed from my parents to the grocery store and
stocked up on some basic provisions. Then it took me all of five minutes to
move into my new home.

A knock on my door has me glancing down at my watch.

Right on time.

In three regular strides, I’m from one side of the apartment

to the other and opening the door. There stands my parole officer, Jimbo Peaks.
He is six-foot-six of solid muscle, his neck as thick as a tree truck, and his
biceps the size of smoked hams. With skin darker than midnight, his light hazel
eyes are spooky as shit when he looks directly at you, in that contemplative
sort of way I’ve come to know over the last two months since I’ve been home.

“What’s up, Brody?” he says with a huge grin on his face,

sticking his hand out for me to shake.

I take his hand, and it freaks me out how mine is dwarfed by

his. I mean… I’m not a small man myself, almost as tall as Jimbo, in fact. But
when comparing my muscle mass to his, I feel downright puny and I kept myself
in pretty decent shape while in prison. Other than reading, working out was
about the only thing that was a resourceful use of my time.
“Come on in,” I tell him as I step back so he can enter.
Jimbo walks into my humble abode and turns around once. Yup…

he’s seen everything. A small kitchen on one side that merges right into my
living room that abuts one wall. A double bed takes up the other wall, and the
bathroom takes up another. It’s four hundred and fifty feet of cozy living,
situated right above Mabel Fisher’s three-car garage.

Miss Mabel is older than Methuselah but has been a friend of

our family’s since I was a baby. She’s eccentric, rich as hell, and loves to
thumb her nose at polite society.

And by polite society, I mean those people here on the

islands that look at me in disdain because I killed someone.
Not Mabel though. She was at my parents’ house within

forty-eight hours of my return home, giving me a hug and a papery kiss, then
making me sit down while she drank tea and filled me in on all the Outer Banks’
gossip for the past five years. She’s a trip… a breath of fresh air, and one of
the few around here willing to give me a chance. When she offered to rent this
apartment to me for a ridiculously small amount, I couldn’t say no.

“Nice digs man,” Jimbo’s deep voice rumbles. “All moved in?”
“Yup. Bag of clothes and some groceries. I’m settled.”
Jimbo chuckles and moves to my small kitchen table that seats

only two people. Sitting down, he motions to the other chair so I do the same. “How
does it feel to be out of your parents’ house?”

I crack a small smile and tap my fingers on the kitchen

table. “It’s good. I mean… I love my parents, but it was time for me to get my
own place.”

“Heard that,” Jimbo agrees, and then transitions into his

next question. “How’s work going?”
“Going great,” I tell him, because it is. I enjoy working at

Last Call, and I’m thankful as fuck I have a job. Most parolees struggle to
find work, or get shit jobs that scrape the bottom of the barrel. When they can’t
find work because no one will take a chance on them, they go back to a life of
crime. If I had a nickel for every repeat offender I met in prison, who was
there just because they couldn’t make an honest living, well… I’d be buying
Mabel’s house from her rather than renting this apartment.

Jimbo doesn’t seem satisfied with my short answer, so he

delves a bit more. It’s his job to make sure I can acclimate to life on the
outside, so I’m not bothered when he asks, “Any problem being around the

“Nah,” I tell him genuinely. “No desire to drink at all.”
“That’s good,” he says with a smile. “Seeing as how that’s a

condition of your parole.”

“Look, man… doesn’t matter if it’s a condition or not, there

is nothing on this earth that could get me to drink a drop of alcohol.”
“And why is that?” he asks, but he knows the answer.
I tell him anyway.

“Because it shattered my life. Because it killed a man. It

left a mother without a husband and a little boy without a father. Need any
other reason?”

“No,” Jimbo says quietly, staring at me with those light

eyes. “That’s a good enough reason.”

I hold his gaze, waiting for the next question. We’ve had

this same meeting on five other occasions since I came home, but today it’s
being done at my new home so he can check it out. As a parole officer, his role
is part jail keeper, part counselor. It’s his responsibility to keep me on the
straight and narrow, but to also do what he can to make sure my head is clear
when I’m making my choices. So that involves talking… a lot. Just to make sure
that the emotional and psychological toll of reentering the real world doesn’t
cast me in a downward spiral.

Yeah, I talk a lot to Jimbo. He knows more of my internal

struggles dealing with life on the outside than my family does. For whatever
reason, I’ve been able to open up to him—somewhat—in a way that I just haven’t
with my family. I suppose that boils down to the simple fact that Jimbo asks me
questions… asks me how I’m feeling and how I’m coping. My parents, my identical
twin Hunter, my baby sister, Casey… while they love me more than the air they
breathe, well… they’re just not sure what is open to talk about and what may be
taboo. So they walk on eggshells.

“Tell me some of the problems you’ve had adjusting?” Jimbo

leads in.

Heard this question before too, and my answer the last time

was, Not anything to tell.

I start to tell him the same thing, but the look on his face

stops me. It says, And don’t hand me any
bullshit, either.
I suppose I can skirt the real issues only so long before

Jimbo is apt to put me in a headlock and beat the information out of me. Taking
a deep breath and letting it out slowly, I decide to go ahead and lay it out. “I
wake up at five AM every day, no matter what time I get to sleep the night
before. It’s because I’ve been getting up at the same time every morning for
the last five years… because I had no choice but to get up every morning at five
AM. I don’t even know how to have a leisurely morning where I sleep in. When I
go to sleep at night, I can hear metal cots squeaking and my cell mate rubbing
one off while he tries to stifle his groans into the two-inch piece of flimsy
foam that’s called a pillow. I hear the newbies crying, and I hear the lifers
telling them to shut the fuck up. When I’m awake… out in the real world, I can’t
walk around a blind corner without my palms sweating, because I’m expecting
someone will be there waiting to jump me. I was always on alert… I’m still
always on alert. The air smells too fresh, the food tastes too good, people
talk too loud, and I’m having a hard time letting people touch me. It’s
overwhelming and that’s just for starters, Jimbo. So yeah,” I say with some
sarcasm as my eyes drop to the table. “I’m having a bit of an adjustment

“How does all of that make you feel?”
My eyes slowly rise to meet his. “I’m pissed off. All the

time. I’m withdrawn, moody, and restless. I have all this wide-open space
available to me, yet I’m having a hard time straying too far from the things
that are safe to me. So I go to work, and I go home. 
That’s it.”

Jimbo gives me that contemplative look, and I can see the

wheels turning inside his head. I’m prepared for him to launch into a pep talk,
about how I have a chance to make something with my life… to atone for my
mistakes and put the past behind me. Instead, he says, “You know… there’s
something odd about you.”

My eyebrows shoot up and, for a moment, I consider being

affronted by that statement, but then I just mentally shrug my shoulders. Odd
is one of many things that I am.
“How’s that?” I ask.

“I’ve been doing this work close to twelve years now… and I

can count on one hand the amount of parolees I’ve had that don’t try to
convince me that they didn’t do it… or they were framed… or hell, even if they
did do it, they blame a corrupt system for sending them away.” He pauses, his
green-gold eyes flickering back and forth between mine. “But not you. You
accepted responsibility and never once tried to blame someone or something else
for your lot in life. It just makes you… odd.”
Shrugging my shoulders, I lean back in my chair. “No one to

blame but myself.”

“That’s right,” Jimbo says with a nod. “No one to blame but

yourself, and you’ve done a remarkable job accepting responsibility. In fact,
you’ve done such a good job at it… some might say that it would help you have a
clear conscience.”
“What’s your point?” I ask, genuinely curious as to where he’s

going with this.

“My point is that if you truly took responsibility and had a

clear conscience, then you should have some measure of peace.”
I scratch my chin absently, pondering his words. I did the

time. I took my lumps and accepted my punishment. Should that give me peace?
Jimbo’s probably right. In those circumstances, maybe my soul

should feel a little lighter… more free. If I truly was remorseful for what
happened, and I truly had done my penance, I shouldn’t be struggling the way I

Except… my circumstances aren’t exactly the way Jimbo

describes it. He sees my sorrow and guilt, but he doesn’t see past that.
Because there’s a whole lot more that makes up Brody Markham’s fucked-up world
than just the after effects of a few years in prison. My issues started before
I even got sent away.

About the Author

USA Today Best-Selling author, Sawyer Bennett, is a snarky southern woman and reformed trial lawyer who decided to finally start putting on paper all of the stories that were floating in her head. She is married to a mobster (well, a market researcher) and  hey have two big, furry dogs who hog the bed. Sawyer would like to report  she doesn’t have many weaknesses but can be bribed with a nominal amount of milk chocolate.

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  1. Ooooo, thanks for the sneak peek!

  2. I can't wait to read Brody's story. Thanks for sharing!

  3. I loved the excerpts! I have wanted to read a Sawyer Bennett book for ages! this series sounds great.

    Thanks for sharing Ellen :)

  4. I'm really excited about this series! I love Sawyer Bennett!!!

    Lindy@ A Bookish Escape


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