ANAMNESIS will be up for preorder soon, but I can’t resist giving you guys a sneak peek first!
When Ethan Knight wakes up on Alki Beach in Seattle, he has no memory of the last four years, and only fragments of his early life. Disoriented and experiencing drug withdrawal, he quickly finds himself assimilated into a life of crime. Unable to go to the police for help, Ethan abandons any hope of remembering his past.
Now, seven years later, a dangerous drug arrives on the streets that interferes with the brain’s ability to record memories. When affluent campaign manager Olivia Holloway shows up on Ethan’s doorstep claiming she’s losing time like he did, he realizes that with her help, he may finally unravel the mystery that has long plagued him.
As Ethan and Olivia embark on a fast-paced journey to reclaim their minds, they expose a complex web of greed, corruption, and sex that is far more twisted than either anticipated.
The concrete wall sent a bitter chill through my jacket, but I leaned on it anyway. I was tired. An hour gone and not a single hit. I took a drag on my cigarette—fucking tobacco tax was almost bad enough to make me quit—and savored the nicotine. I blew a smoke ring. It hung in the air, gray and thick, before disappearing into the night. Even if I didn’t make another sale, at least I had a nice smoke.
Christmas lights set the street ablaze even though it was only the end of November. The Westlake Center tree lighting was yesterday, and the thing towered in front of the mall entrance. Hordes of people posed for photos in front of it, giant overpriced coffees in hand. It was hard to believe people came to Seattle from around the state just for the tree.
Skid emerged from the crowd to my left. His baggy pants dragged on the ground, the hems muddy and ratted. A navy blue knitted hat was pulled low over his forehead. Despite being a street kid, homeless since I met him, he always had a goofy smile on his face and an attitude that didn’t match his circumstances. I had at least ten years on him but we got along.
Skid leaned on the wall next to me. The passing crowd gave us an extra breadth. Two shady guys loitering was scary business. “Got someone for ya. Looking to get some rope.”
“He at the spot?”
“Been a slow night, thanks.” I tossed my cigarette on the ground and crushed it with my heel. “Come on. I’ll give you your cut after. Then I gotta bounce.”
We crossed the intersection and walked to the alley where Skid’s guy waited behind an overfilled dumpster. He was exactly what I expected. Beady eyes set deep in their sockets, greasy skin. Dressed nice enough to look respectable at first glance, maybe even good if you were drunk. I fucking hated these guys.
Skid hung back while I handled the guy, keeping watch.
“What do you need?” I asked.
He shifted, glanced down the alley. “Uh, roofies I guess? Two of them?”
“Two huh?” I shoved my hands in my pockets and grinned. The guy was a dabbler. Easy money. “Forty bucks.”
“That seems like a lot. Google said they’d be less.” When he frowned, his nostrils flared wide. I gave him the silent treatment and, as dabblers do, he reached into his wallet and took out four crumpled tens.
I plucked them from his grubby fingers and handed him two small plastic baggies from my jacket. “Best there is.”
The second he had the packages he hightailed it back to the main street. I had to take advantage of a guy like that. They were bastards, nasty and despicable. I wasn’t supposed to care about what I sold, who I sold it to, or what would happen after. All these years in the game, I still did. Maybe it was because I still believed this life wasn’t mine. That one of these days, I’d remember. I’d remember everything. And get out.
Skid wandered back to me and we headed farther down the alley where it exited on the other end of the block. The smell of fresh bread from the sub shop nearby mingled with trash. My stomach rumbled. Fuck I was hungry.
The cash from the rope was still in my hand. I gave thirty bucks to Skid and pocketed the rest.
“Shit, E, thanks. That’s a lot.”
“Don’t worry about it. You’re a good steerer,” I told him. “Call it a Christmas bon—”
A woman in a short pink cocktail dress rounded the corner into the alley and slammed into me. She stumbled backward then fell on her ass on the sidewalk. People navigated around her, going out of their way not to look at the scene.
“Jesus, watch where you’re going lady,” I snapped. My voice faltered once I got a good look at her.
She’d been in the dress more than a day. The rumpled fabric had a dried stain down the front and flecks of something dark across the hem. There was a sweaty sheen to her skin and her hair flew in all directions. She was on a bender. I’d seen it before. Good girls got bored, maybe had an addiction in the past. They squeezed into a little number from the back of the closet. Had a nice little breakdown with lots of booze, sex, and drugs. I bet she had a gaggle of friends at a bar somewhere who wondered where she’d gone off to. No doubt they were sending text messages furiously, asking if she’d hooked up with someone.
Then I saw bruises on her neck. Her knees were scraped and bloodied. Makeup was smudged around her eyes and mouth.
She got to her feet. The heel on her right shoe was missing, setting her stance off kilter. She pushed past me and continued down the alley.
“E, should we do something?” Skid’s nose and eyebrows scrunched together.
Doing something meant sticking around, and sticking around was dangerous. You didn’t hang around the last place you sold. But the look of concern on Skid’s face made me go against my gut.
“Hey, lady,” I called out. “Are you okay? You need something?”
She stopped, already twenty feet away, and turned around. “I need somewhere to hide and something to put me to sleep.” She wiped her mouth with the back of her hand, then reached into the purse dangling from her elbow. “I have money. I’ll give you everything I have. I don’t have much time. They’re looking for me.”
“Who’s looking for you? The cops?” I used my arm to gently push Skid back. “Get out of here, now.”
Skid nodded and booked it out of the alley without question. He disappeared into the crowd.
“Please,” she begged. “I’m going to wake up soon and I won’t know where I am.”
Someone had taken a sledgehammer to my chest. My heartbeat came to a stop then raced so hard I felt my pulse throbbing in my ears. The bottomless panic in her eyes tore through me. The dark voids of my memory spilled into the foreground of my mind.
I won’t know where I am.
My mouth went dry. Any thoughts of running disappeared. “What do you mean?”
“I-I don’t know exactly. They took me and did things to me. I escaped, but I know they’ll find me. I’m remembering things. I remember more every time and—”
“Who took you?” I interrupted. I closed the distance between us and grabbed her shoulders. “What are you talking about?”
Suddenly her body tensed. Her chin tilted up and she scanned her surroundings.
Something shifted in her. She brought her hand to her neck and felt the plum colored bruises. She winced and swayed. I tightened my grip on her to keep her upright.
“Where am I?” Her voice was hoarse. She slapped my hands off her and took a wobbly step back. “Who are you?”
The world was expanding and it hurt my brain. She was acting like I did seven years ago when I woke up from my missing time. I was totally alone, the chaotic storm of consciousness fighting to make sense of where I was, who I was.
And with no results. It had been years since I’d fully given up hope of discovering who I was. Years since I stopped looking for answers, since I let the streets suck me under.
“Tell me what happened to you.” I demanded. “Were you drugged? How much time have you lost?”
“No. No! I don’t know why I’m here.” Her confusion veered into hysteria. “I don’t know how I got here! What did you do to me?”
Tires screeched at the head of the alley closest to us as a black town car came to a halt. Two men sprang out of the back seat and ran straight for us. The dim amber streetlight cast ugly shadows on their faces. Once they entered the cover of the alley, one reached into his suit jacket. I knew that motion. He was going for a gun.
The woman burst into tears. I took her hand and tried to pull her into a run. I wasn’t letting her go. I couldn’t. “Move, dammit! Come on!”
She took two steps, then her knees buckled and she crumpled to the dirty ground. Her breaths were short and frantic. The two men were seconds away.
Every part of me screamed not to let go. She knew something. She’d help me. She was my only chance.
A bullet pinged off the dumpster beside me.
What good were answers if I was dead?
I let go of her and ran.
ANAMNESIS will be available for preorder in late August.