Scorched Souls Serial-Series

Watch for the upcoming, four-part, biker romance serial-series. There will be four books, approximately 100 pages each. C.L. Riley has given a major nod to the premise in the 1987 move, Overboard, starring Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn, creating a suspenseful, edgy romantic adventure with humor as dark as it is daring. This is an adult series, with themes that some will find disturbing. 

Here is the book's initial PROLOGUE (subject to change through editing process)

March 2011

I stared at the smoldering rubble, my throat raw from the smoke and my screams.

All that was left of our family guest house, where my mother had been staying since she discovered my father’s infidelity, was its blackened and charred remains. A few stubborn pieces of furniture and household appliances protruded from the wreckage like bones from a shallow grave.

Our small town fire department, consisting mostly of volunteers, had put out the blaze just an hour earlier. Two police officers I’d known since I could first walk were in deep conversation with several firefighters. They’d made sure to have their discussion far enough from me that I couldn’t overhear.

Every so often, someone would dare a glance my direction, their expression reflecting the pain that threatened to consume me―the pain I swallowed down each time it started to surface.

Until I could be alone, I refused to examine my heart-crushing emotions. The hard shell I erected when times got tough was firmly back in place, sheltering me from the unwelcome feelings.

I knew I was in shock but didn’t care. Other than the heavy blanket draped over my shoulders, I’d refused any medical attention. No EMT or doctor could mend a shattered heart. To be honest, I wasn’t sure my heart was even repairable.

Until today, I’d considered myself fortunate, blessed even.

My dad was Seal’s Cove’s mayor, and my mom was the gracious wife, mother, and perfect hostess to everyone. We were rich, respected, and for the most part, as far as I knew, well-liked.

For the people gathered on our property, their sorrow was real. I didn’t doubt their sincerity for a second. My mom had made everyone feel special. Even when her world was falling apart she’d always gone the extra mile to help others.

My chest tightened as another wave agony crashed over me. I struggled to shove thoughts of my mom aside. I’d undoubtedly be tormented by a barrage of memories in the days and months ahead. I’d never forgive myself turning off my alarm clock. Had I gotten up on time, I could have saved her.

To distract myself from images I’d never forget and feelings I could never bury, I studied the volunteers instead, wondering why they’d want to take on a dangerous position like fighting fires, especially without pay.

One in the team stood out from the rest. His eyes were narrowed as he surveyed the scene. Anger rolled off him like heat from the steaming embers. He was huge, reminding me of a tank in his firefighting gear. He stalked around the destruction, searching for something.

The ambulance had already left with my mom’s burned body, sirens off. Everyone understood it was just a formality. She’d died from fumes and smoke inhalation before the explosion and subsequent torrent of flames had destroyed the two-story home. I had to believe she’d avoided the fire’s scorching agony. The alternative was too unbearable to even consider.

If what our fire chief said was true, she had done the unthinkable. Leaving the gas stove on after taking a handful of sleeping pills, she’d killed herself.

He’d found a half-empty pill bottle, its remaining contents spilled across the car’s front seat. Parked down the long driveway, her treasured VW Bug had been spared from the blast. The car might have been ancient, but the prescription was new. According to the receipt, she’d returned from the 24-hour pharmacy not long before the fire started.

It didn’t make sense.

She’d been so happy lately, dating a man she’d met online. She was planning to move out and finalize the divorce with my dad once I graduated in June. In the meantime, my parents had called a truce of sorts, for my sake, and had been getting along fairly well, all things considered. On his way back from a meeting in Salem, my father was devastated by the news.

There was no way my mom would end her own life. Not a chance. She was the flower that never wilted even when water was scarce.

Despite initial evidence, I couldn’t begin to grasp why everyone had accepted her death as suicide without more questions. I was sure my father would find the circumstances suspicious and insist on an outside investigator.

The volunteer I’d noticed before approached, his mouth set in a firm line.

“Did you see anything?” he asked, wiping soot from his face and standing way too close. His eyes, an icy blue, scanned my frame before returning to my face.

I took an obvious step back.

For some reason, his question, and the fact he’d pretty much cornered me, pissed me off. “Yeah, I watched my mom’s house burn to the ground, with her in it. What do you think I saw?”

He shook his head and raised a brow. “Just asking. Sorry for your loss.”

Before I could smart off again, he spun around and marched away.

It was then I recognized him.

He was one of those disgusting bikers my father had been trying to chase out of Seal’s Cove for years. Their clubhouse, more like a military compound, was about five miles north of town. They considered Seal’s Cove their territory. Lucky us.

Their stupid “club” was a major point of contention between my mom and dad. She’d argued they did good things for the community, where my father considered them hardened criminals and drug dealers.

I agreed with my dad when it came to the Soul Scorchers Motorcycle Club. They were a bunch of creepy old guys with beards and tattoos. Their Harleys were too loud, and they ran the biggest strip club on the Oregon Coast. Some of the senior boys from school had managed to get in for a show, bragging about what they’d witnessed. Gross all around.

At least the biker slash fireman hadn’t been sporting a bushy Santa beard or mustache. From what I’d glimpsed under all the dirt and grime, he’d looked pretty young. I had to give him some credit for being here. At least he’d tried to help.

“Olympia, I know this is hard, but I’d like to take your statement while things are still fresh in your mind,” Police Chief Wells interrupted my inner debate.

Keeping the wall fortified around my heart, I told him everything I could remember about the day that changed me and my life forever.

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