OUT OF TIME is the HIGHLY ANTICIPATED sequel to NINE MINUTES where Grizz, Kit & Grunt’s gritty tale continues! You aren’t going to want to miss this!
RECOMMENDED FOR READERS 18 AND OLDER DUE TO
STRONG LANGUAGE, SEXUAL SITUATIONS AND VIOLENCE
Out of Time is book two in a series. It is not a standalone novel. I highly recommend that you read my first novel, Nine Minutes, to be able to understand the background stories of the main characters. There are many twists and turns in both stories that can best be connected if read consecutively.
Although I do answer all of the outstanding questions from Nine Minutes, there is more to this story, and some readers may consider it a cliff-hanger. If you do not like cliff-hangers, you may want to wait until the third novel is released in 2016.
They thought with his execution it would all be over.
They were wrong.
The leader of one of South Florida’s most notorious and brutal motorcycle gangs has been put to death by lethal injection. Days later, his family and friends should have been picking up the pieces, moving on. Instead, they’ve been catapulted into a world so twisted and dangerous even the most ruthless among them would be stunned to discover the tangled web of deception, not only on the dangerous streets of South Florida but all the way to the top.
In this gripping follow-up novel to Nine Minutes, Out of Time takes readers from the sun-drenched flatlands of 1950s Central Florida to the vivid tropical heat of Fort Lauderdale to the halls of Florida’s Death Row as we finally learn the gritty backstory of Jason “Grizz” Talbot and the secret he spent his life trying to conceal.
Not even Grizz’s inner circle knows his full story—the tragedy that enveloped his early life, the surprise discovery that made him the government’s most wanted and most feared, and the depths of his love for Ginny, the tenderhearted innocent he’d once abducted and later made his wife.
Once Grizz’s obsession and now the mother of his child, Ginny has spent years grieving the man she’d first resisted and then came to love. Now remarried to Tommy, a former member of the gang, the pair have spent more than a decade trying desperately to live a normal existence far from the violent, crime-ridden world they’d once carved out on the edge of the Florida Everglades. For Tommy, especially, the stakes are high. Desperately in love with Ginny for years, he’s finally living his dream: married to the woman he never thought he could have. But even with the façade of normalcy—thriving careers, two beautiful children, and a genuinely happy and loving marriage—they can’t seem to put the past behind them. Every time they turn around, another secret is revealed, unraveling the very bonds that hold them together.
And with Grizz finally put to death, now Ginny has learned secrets so dark, so evil she’s not even sure she can go on.
Will these secrets tear their love to pieces? And how far will Grizz go to protect what he still considers his, even from beyond the grave?
1950s, Central Florida
The slap was hard and almost knocked him to his knees. They wobbled for a split second, but he managed to regain his stance and glared hard at his father.
“Your mother said you missed the bus and had to hitchhike home.”
He tasted blood in his mouth where the slap had caused him to bite the inside of his cheek. He knew his next comment would bring another blow. He braced himself.
“Ida is not my mother.”
Another hard one, this time to the side of his head, which caused a ringing in his ear. This was nothing. He’d endured worse. He didn’t know why it bothered his father so much when he said this. Ida herself was the first to remind him that she wasn’t his mother.
“Don’t fuck with me, boy. Where were you?”
“It’s the last day of school. Some of us had to stay after to help the teachers clean out their classrooms.” This was a lie. He’d gotten in a fight that day. He’d snapped when a snooty rich kid made fun of him.
The kid was new and had only been enrolled for the last two weeks before school let out for the summer. He was too new to have been warned. The new kid had asked him in the boy’s room if he picked his clothes out of the garbage can that morning. He’d left the idiot dazed and bloody on the bathroom floor, then calmly washed his hands and went back to his classroom. He’d looked at the big clock over the blackboard. Less than fifteen minutes until summer started. Hopefully, his dad wouldn’t work him to death and he’d be able to keep an eye out for her. For Ruthie.
He’d been on the loaded school bus, ready to pull away, when the driver reached over and opened the door. The substitute principal stood at the front of the bus and quietly perused the group of kids. When he saw who he was looking for, he pointed and indicated with his finger. Follow.
Damn. He’d almost made it out of there.
They never discussed the alleged crime as they made their way back into the school and to the principal’s office. He simply bent over the desk and endured the paddling. It wasn’t so bad and didn’t even compare to the beatings he’d received from his father. Beatings that had left permanent scars on his back and other parts of his body. He may have been young, but he knew this fucker, a temporary replacement for the school’s regular principal who was out recovering from surgery, was enjoying this way too much. Would probably lock his office door and jerk off after sending him to find his own way home. Fucking pervert. The world was foul.
So, he’d hitchhiked and ended up walking the last seven miles to get home and now stood there, facing the wrath of his father. His stepmother stood off to the side leaning back against the kitchen counter, her arms crossed and a smug look on her face. A hot, stale breeze floated in from the window above the kitchen sink.
His stepmother. Ida. He’d hated her for as long as he could remember. He had no memory of his real mother. He was told she’d died in this house giving birth to him. It wasn’t really a house so much as a shack in the middle of nowhere. A two-bedroom hovel situated on several acres surrounded by orange groves as far as the eye could see. His father was a skilled carpenter by trade, but for reasons that made no sense to his son, he preferred this destitute existence. He could have made a decent living, could’ve lived in a home not so far from the modern world—as modern as you could get in the fifties. He chose instead to live in a dilapidated old house that had been passed down for generations. He never once used his carpentry skills to make it into a real home. He’d slap some tar on the roof if it leaked or replace a busted pipe, but other than some hodgepodge repairs, he never lifted a finger. It was crumbling around them.
Maybe it was because his father considered himself the king of his castle and he could hold reign over his unworthy subjects. Maybe the brutality he unleashed here made him feel an iota of power that he didn’t feel in the real world. Maybe knowing that he could provide a nice and safe environment, but purposely chose not to, was part of the psychotic seed that had been implanted in his personality. He wasn’t just a bad man. He was worse than that. He prided himself too much on withholding any good he could do for his family.
That made him pure evil in his son’s eyes.
Before she’d married, Ida had worked as a maid for a wealthy family in West Palm Beach. His father had met up with a couple of other laborers to make the long drive down to a mansion situated on the beach to spend a few days doing carpentry work and repairs. He returned with his three comrades and a glowing Ida, who had finally, finally snagged herself a man. She had become tired of being someone’s maid, and when a hardworking, widowed family man came along and showed a hint of interest, she jumped. Unfortunately for her, she jumped too quickly and without hesitation. She hadn’t realized then that she was jumping from the frying pan right into a fire that was even worse. Overnight, she went from being a lonely, overworked maid to a lonely, overworked, and abused housewife.
No, he had no good memories of Ida. Maybe she’d started out trying to do her best. To make their shack a home, to be a mother to her new husband’s young son. But if she had started out that way, he had no recollection of it. Maybe she wasn’t always the horrible person he knew. Maybe his father made her that way. It didn’t matter. He hated her no matter what. He hated her because he knew what she was doing to her own daughter. His half-sister, Ruthie.
Ruthie was a sweet and trusting child who’d captured his heart since the day she was born. She was a happy little girl who was always smiling in spite of the mistreatment her mother inflicted. He spent every second that he wasn’t at school or working caring for his little sister. He adored her and did everything he could to protect her from his parents, especially Ida. He made sure she ate when she was sent to bed without supper. He made sure she was bathed. He couldn’t do it every day, but he did it as often as he could manage. He erased evidence of her bathroom accidents, making sure to wash out her clothes in the creek and let them dry before returning them to her dresser. He wiped away her tears and kissed her boo-boos.
Unfortunately, there were too many even for him to kiss away.
Every night she’d say, “Brother, tell me a story. Tell me a happy story where things don’t hurt and everybody is nice.”
He would pull her close in the bed they’d shared ever since she was a baby and, ignoring the stench of their unwashed bodies, he would make up happy stories to tell her. Anything to make her forget, just for a little while. They would watch the stars from their bedroom window and sometimes he‘d even use them in his stories.
“See the brightest star, Ruthie?” he’d tell her as they gazed out their window. “That’s you. You’re the brightest, most beautiful star in the sky.”
“Where are you, Brother? Are you there, too?” she asked him once.
“I’ll always be the one that’s closest to you.”
He didn’t know if the stories he made up were happy ones. He didn’t know what happiness was himself, so how could he tell a four-year old? But he tried.
Once in a while, after he was certain his father and Ida were asleep, he’d go to the back screen door and let Razor in to sleep with them, too. Razor was a big black Rottweiler that had wandered up to their house one day and never left. His father refused to let the dog stay and insisted he didn’t need another mouth to feed, that he’d shoot the dog if it didn’t leave on its own. The dog was smart. Sensing the father’s animosity, it would come around only at night and wait for the handout left for him on the far side of the barn. His father finally relented; he decided maybe the dog wasn’t so bad after all when his barking woke them up one night to warn them that a wild animal was trying to get into the chicken coop. The hen’s squawking never reached their sleeping ears, but the stray dog’s barking and pawing at their back door did. His father let Razor stay, but he had to be kept outside.
Now, the beating done for the day, his father stared at him for a few seconds. Finally, he said, “Get your fucking chores started. Don’t come back in until they’re all finished. You don’t get done before supper and you don’t eat.”
The boy didn’t need to glance at his stepmother to know she would purposely serve a very early supper that day. He headed out the back screen door and let it slam behind him.
“C’mon, Razor,” he said as he headed for the ramshackle barn.
It was dark outside when he finally finished his chores. He found some food he’d stashed in the barn and silently ate, sharing half with his dog. After washing up in the rain barrel, he headed into the house and crawled into bed with Ruthie, pulling her close. She moaned.
“Brother is here, Ruthie. Do you want a story?” He was exhausted, but couldn’t fall asleep thinking he would let her down without a story.
“My stomach hurts,” she whispered.
“Do you need me to take you to the bathroom?” he whispered back.
“No. It’s not that kind of hurt.”
“What kind of hurt is it? Are you hungry?
“Mommy stepped on it.”
He stiffened, then squeezed his eyes shut. He was glad she didn’t want a happy story tonight because the only one he could think of was one where he strangled Ida with his bare hands.
The next day, he was walking back from the groves carrying the three squirrels he’d killed with his slingshot. Ida could make a decent stew out of these. He’d watched Ruthie that morning at the table as she slowly ate her breakfast. She seemed okay, and he’d left to hunt before she finished. He shouldered the squirrels and imagined the look on Ruthie’s face when she saw what he’d caught.
That’s when he heard it. A shotgun blast coming from the direction of the house.
He’d heard the shotgun before, when his father caught rare sight of a deer or other animal that was either a predator or something that would end up on their dinner table. But his gut told him this was different.
He broke into a full run, then came upon a scene that brought him up short. He tensed as his mind started to grasp what had happened.
There, right beside the clothesline. His father holding the shotgun. Ida cradling a bleeding arm. Razor on his side and lying in a puddle of blood.
And Ruthie, on the ground and flat on her back, her arms at her sides. Ruthie.
He broke into another run.
“Your fucking dog was attacking your sister, and when Ida tried to stop him, he went after her, too,” his father said coldly, a finger still resting on the trigger. “I had to kill him.”
Razor attacked Ruthie and then Ida for trying to stop him? Impossible. Razor would never hurt Ruthie.
Ida held her arm up for him to see. She didn’t have to. He had already seen it and there was no doubt it was a bite from Razor. More like a mauling. Like he’d grabbed on and was wrestling with her.
He dropped his dead squirrels and knelt at Ruthie’s side. And then he knew for certain the concocted story wasn’t true. His sister was lying on her back, her eyes closed. Soft blonde curls framed her face. She looked more peaceful and beautiful than he had ever seen her. A tiny smile curved her sweet, innocent mouth.
Of course she was smiling. She had just escaped from hell.
He knew she was dead. He also saw nothing on her body that indicated Razor had attacked her.
They were lying. But he’d already known that.
He couldn’t stop himself. The words were out of his mouth before he could think.
“Doesn’t look like Razor attacked Ruthie. No bites or anything. Just Ida’s bruises.”
The blow was hard, but not unexpected.
“Get the shovel,” his father ordered. “Pick a place way out past the house and bury your sister. Don’t care what you do with your dog. You can drag its lousy ass out to the groves if you want and give the vultures some supper.” Scooping up the three squirrels that had been dropped, he grabbed his wife by the uninjured arm. “You ain’t hurt so bad you can’t make supper.”
As he headed back to the house with Ida and the dead squirrels, he yelled over his shoulder, “And when you’re done you get your sorry ass back here and put out the rat poison like you were supposed to do yesterday.”
He stared after them as they made their way back to the house and tried to imagine a world without Ruthie.
A world without light.
Haven’t read this series yet, check out Nine Minutes for
Beth Flynn is a fiction writer who lives and works in Sapphire, North Carolina, deep within the southern Blue Ridge Mountains. Raised in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Beth and her husband, Jim, have spent the last 17 years in Sapphire, where they own a construction company. They have been married 31 years and have two daughters and two dogs. In her spare time, Beth enjoys writing, reading, gardening, church and motorcycles, especially taking rides on the back of her husband’s Harley. She is a five-year breast cancer survivor.