The Diversion series stars a drug trafficker (Richmond “Lucky” Lucklighter aka Simon Harrison) and a former Marine turned pharmacist and pharmaceutical drug addict (Bo Schollenberger). Both men are offered a chance at redemption, working for the Southeastern Narcotics Bureau’s Department of Diversion Prevention and Control. These guys focus on the white collar crime of diverting legal prescription drugs for illicit use. Where once they found themselves on the wrong side of the law, they’re now champions for the right. And in the process, they just might find redemption in each other too.
Drug dealers aren’t always on the streets; sometimes they sit in offices and board rooms, selling merchandise in official looking bottles instead of little cellophane bags.
When given a choice between eight more years in prison or using his “expertise” to assist the Southeastern Narcotics Bureau’s Department of Diversion Prevention and Control, convicted drug trafficker Richmond “Lucky” Lucklighter takes the sentence with the illusion of freedom. Cynical and unwilling to admit he’s begun to care about his job, he counts the days until his debt is paid. His sole obstacle to getting his life back is the rookie he’s assigned to train before he leaves; a rookie who quotes pharmacy texts, hasn’t paid his dues, and has the obnoxious tendency of seeing the good in everyone – including the target of their investigation.
Former Marine Bo Schollenberger dreamed of becoming a pharmacist and watched the dream turn into a nightmare of PTSD-fueled prescription drug abuse. Battling his demons daily, he wakes up every morning, wondering, “Will this be the day I give in?” To keep his license, he must now put his skills to use for a diversion control task force, deal with a crude partner with too much attitude and no brain-to-mouth filter, and take down a drug lord who reminds him of his favorite cooking show hostess.
Dead men can’t love.
Former drug trafficker Richmond “Lucky” Lucklighter “died” in the line of duty while working off a ten-year sentence in service to the Southeastern Narcotics Bureau, only to be reborn as Simon “Lucky” Harrison. The newbie he trained, former Marine Bo Schollenberger, is now his partner on (and maybe off) the job. It’s hard to tell when Lucky doesn’t understand relationships or have a clue what any sane human is doing in his bed. Bo’s nice to have around, sure, but there’s none of that picking-out-china-together crap for Lucky.
While fighting PTSD, memories of a horrid childhood, and a prescription drug addiction, Bo is paying for his mistakes. Using his pharmacy license for the good guys provides the sort of education he never got in school. Undercover with his hard-headed partner, Bo learns that not everything is as it seems in the world of pharmaceuticals.
When a prescription drug shortage jeopardizes the patients at Rosario Children’s Cancer Center, it not only pits Bo and Lucky against predatory opportunists, but also each other. How can they tell who the villains are? The bad guys don’t wear black hats, but they might wear white coats.
And don’t miss the upcoming Corruption, due out Fall 2013 (tentative blurb):
To save your life, could you live someone else’s?
Former drug trafficker turned narcotics agent Simon “Lucky” Harrison is the best, always has been, always will be. The Southeastern Narcotics Bureau puts his beliefs to the test with inner-division cooperation, new policies, new personnel, and a tough new case involving a designer drug that turns mild mannered people into violent criminals. When the call comes for undercover work, Lucky’s raring to go—and never expects to get passed over for a rookie.
Having a partner like Lucky, both on and off the job, isn’t easy, but Bo Schollenberger sees the man behind the arrogant façade. But now he must to step out of his mentor’s shadow and stand on his own. He didn’t know the time would come so soon, or that his first big case without Lucky would require months away from home. One false move could end his life as he immerses himself into an Athens, Georgia motorcycle gang to stop a smuggling ring.
The case gets sticky and Lucky charges in. He has no clue what to expect, but it isn’t finding his lover totally enmeshed in being someone else. Lucky knows the difference between Cyrus Cooper, outlaw biker, and Bo Schollenberger, mild-mannered SNB agent, but does Bo?
Corruption: Sequel to bestselling novels Diversion and Collusion.
Renegade biker. Drug runner. Recovering addict. Wanted by the Southeastern Narcotics Bureau. But he isn’t a crook, he’s the law.
SNB Agent Bo Schollenberger’s solved his cases using his brains and not a gun, and with his partner, not alone. Now he’s handed a tough new case involving designer drugs that turn users violent. One false move could end his life as he immerses himself into a motorcycle gang to locate the source. His fate depends on how well he can impersonate someone else. Someone named Cyrus Cooper.
Cyrus is everything Bo Schollenberger isn’t, including the badass enforcer for a smuggling ring. He establishes pecking order with his fists and doesn’t take shit from anybody, not even the undercover agent who comes to help his case.
Simon “Lucky” Harrison’s always been the best, whichever side of the law he was on. Former trafficker turned SNB agent, he damned well ought to be undercover in this motorcycle gang, instead of hanging around the office going crazy with new policies, new people, and “inter-departmental cooperation” that sticks him in a classroom. Yet he’s passed over for the SNB’s biggest case in decades in favor of the rookie who shares his bed. A man Lucky thought he knew.
When survival depends on a web of tangled lies, lines blur, worlds collide, and a high stakes game turns friend to foe. Lucky knows the difference between Bo the agent and Cyrus the outlaw, but does Bo?
Deleted scene from the upcoming book, Corruption
What the fuck did I ever do to deserve this? One hard case doesn’t mean I got go back to lightweight duty, even if every time I close my eyes I see that woman’s eyes. What the hell had she seen to scare her so badly, and left a formerly law-abiding citizen facing assault charges? Thank God she’d only hit his shoulder instead of a warm body or she’d be facing murder charges too.
The sixteen passenger van jostled Lucky against the man sitting to his left, who grinned, showing yellowed teeth. “Rub all you want,” tall, dark and unwashed said, placing a hand on Lucky’s knee. “I don’t mind at all”.
A foul mix of stale cigarettes and sour booze wafted from the cretin’s mouth, wrinkling Lucky’s nose and driving back evil visions. Relieving the man of the need to brush his front teeth by removing them with a fist was definitely an option. Not one the boss would approve, but definitely a possibility. It would also blow his cover as a mindless sheep and set back three months of casework. Maybe not an option after all. A return to assholery loomed in the future, the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.
Lucky grasped the offending hand and peeled it off his leg, finger by finger, while biting back the words, Try that again and you’ll be known as “Lefty.”
Leaves of red, gold, and yellow clung to the branches of mostly nude trees outside the van’s window, a far sight prettier than Mr. Toxic Breath. Grinding gears pushed the mindless chatter of fellow passengers into the background. The last of the afternoon’s rays kissed Lucky’s cheek with warmth, though outside the temperatures fell into the zone his mother used to call, “Sweater weather.” The tobacco harvest would be over back home, along with apple picking season. Mason jars of canned Granny Smiths probably lined the pantry shelves of his parents’ old farmhouse, waiting to be turned into pies or apple crumble. Hmmm… Apple pie. With cinnamon and oatmeal on top. And a side of home churned vanilla ice cream—made with fresh cream, courtesy of Old Betsy, or Bessie, or whatever name Mom hung on the latest in a long string of milk cows. Mom. Home. Gone forever.
An icy pit formed in Lucky’s stomach that tightening his jacket didn’t drive away. Francine Lucklighter wasn’t “Mom” anymore; she’d stopped calling Lucky “Son” ten years ago.
The van pulled to a stop behind a familiar brick building before the overly ambitious grabby fucker sitting next to him could try again, a clinic Lucky’d visited regularly over the past three weeks. From the crowded van Lucky trudged with ten other drudges to a tiny office ill equipped to handle so many at once. No patients sat in the waiting room, and a chair by itself at the far end offered a bit of protection against mingling and attempts at mindless chatter. Lucky’s ass hit faded upholstery a moment before the moron from the van dragged over a stool. “What ‘cha doing later?” the loser asked, plopping his pungent ass down way too close for Lucky’s comfort.
Anything but you. Lucky’s barely restrained comeback died on his tongue as a nurse emerged from a door to call out, “Zimmerman? Stoddard? Yancy?” Head of the class today, and just in time to leave the guy with too much ambition and a skewed sense of self-worth behind. The nurse bypassed the scale and the area set up to collect blood samples and pressure, her pink-smocked back serving as a guide to a cubbyhole marked, “Exam Room A.” “The doctor will be with you in a moment,” the woman said, beating a hasty retreat as though she sensed the trouble she’d just ushered in.
Somewhere a family might be waiting for her. She probably needed this job and had no idea she worked for a shady son of a bitch who wrote pain pills prescriptions with a far too easy hand. Tomorrow her reality would be filled with investigators and a subpoena. A few short months ago twinges of guilt never would never have crossed his mind. I’m getting soft.
A balding, fifty-ish man in a lab coat stepped through the door. He didn’t examine Lucky, didn’t speak, and, in fact, never regarded Lucky long enough to pick him out of a lineup should there be reason to later. The man whose name graced several degrees—proudly displayed in frames on the wall—merely handed Lucky a stack of prescriptions.
The crumpled scripts tightly fisted in Lucky’s hand scratched his sweaty palm as he made his way out to the waiting room. The two men who’d gone back to the exam rooms with him emerged and the nurse called three more names. All returned in less than fifteen minutes, to be replaced by the remaining four. The surly van driver stood by the front door, ensuring no one left.
Less than an hour after arriving, Lucky and his fellow “will ache for money” patients clambered back into the van for the short trip to a mom and pop type pharmacy. A rusty awning and fading linoleum spoke of more prosperous times when the tiny apothecary most likely faced little competition in the area. Now, the aging building stood alone, a relic of an earlier era, and poor cousin to the four brand-new chain stores the van passed en route. Lucky took his place in line at the counter, handing over the papers the doctor had given him. A pharmacy tech took a brief look before handing the slips over to another tech. “Medicaid?” the woman, scarcely more than a girl, asked, extending a hand for his ID.
Lucky handed over his fake documentation. From his vantage point at the counter he perused the pharmacy area, mentally cataloguing row upon row of bottles and boxes. Nothing much to look at until he noticed a white-jacketed man busy counting out pills. Chestnut hair barely touched the man’s collar in the back, and when he glanced up, deep chocolate eyes bored into Lucky’s, bringing to mind someone else. Lucky’s heart skipped a beat. He snapped his mouth closed. Crow’s feet gathered where smooth skin should be, and a shiny gold band spoke of marriage. A too-long nose and absence of freckles further broke apart Lucky’s momentary bout of mistaken identity. Not Bo. Just a guy in a pharmacist jacket with dark hair and dark eyes. Damn. What did it mean to be seeing Bo everywhere, even when not there?
Under the guise of asking the pharmacy tech an inane question about dosages, Lucky checked out the pharmacist’s backside. Yup, Bo had him beat in that department too. The reminder of the one who shared Lucky’s bed met the height requirement, easily topping six feet. Only, he didn’t make Lucky want to climb him like a tree.
“Where’s my oak when I need him,” Lucky mumbled under his breath.
“Sir?” the tech asked.
“Nothing.” While Lucky waited. How’d he love to see his pharmacist soon, maybe go a few rounds. Ah, to run his fingers through that lush mass of perfectly styled hair, turning it into a sexy, freshly-fucked- looking mess. Or see those dark tresses fanned out on a pillowcase while he…
Lucky made a discreet dick shift and stepped to the far end of the counter to wait for the little white bag filled with enough pain killers to keep him numb for a month or more.
“Get him!” someone shouted.
A flash of dark blue shot past, a kid in a hoodie snatching a bag from a tech’s hand. “Outta my way, Grandma!” The guy shoved a lady to the side, his tennis shoes pounding on tile toward the door.
Lucky jumped out of the way of the hulking gorilla of a van driver. The man pile-drove the kid into a rack of sunglasses. “Help!” the kid cried, twisting like an eel in the man’s grasp, sending Ray-Bans flying. Lucky averted his gaze. Not his business if a victim tried to victimize the buzzards. Only, if the enterprising youngster did break free, it’d only mean a loose end—and more paperwork. Paperwork. Brrr. After a moment spent staring at the offender, those milling around the pharmacy went about their business. It wouldn’t be the first time someone of their crew attempted a rip off.
“Zimmerman?” the tech he’d spoken to earlier called. A trip to the counter and one scribbled signature later made Lucky the proud owner of a bag full of mind and pain numbing goodies. Under the watchful eyes of the van driver, and reproachful gaze of the apprehended kid, he waited until the last of their group clutched a white pharmacy bag to shuffle back out the door.
“Wanna come over later?” the ugliest man to hit on Lucky in ten years asked.
I must be losing my touch if that troll expects a yes. Lucky flashed an insincere grin. “Sorry, fella, but I’ve got other plans.”
Pudgy cheeks drooped, the man’s shoulders following suit. Not Lucky’s problem. Besides, though he didn’t know it yet, the overly optimistic suitor would also have his hands full in about—Lucky glanced his watch—oh, thirty minutes, give or take. He rubbed a thumbnail over the cheap watch he’d bought to replace the ancient Timex he’d left up in the woods when a couple of felons grew a conscience and ditched him in the wild rather than disposing of him in a more permanent manner. Big mistake. The felons now sat in jail, while the watch probably added a touch of shiny to a raccoon’s treasure trove.
As he stepped from the pharmacy out into the rapidly chilling evening, Lucky adjusted the innocent looking medallion around his neck, liberating it from the audio-muffling effects of his shirt collar, and climbed back into the van. There, by the driver’s visor, was a new camera that hadn’t been there the last time Lucky visited Dr. Have a Pill. Some IT geeks must be pushing for a raise.
The driver took them away from the drug store and to a nearly empty back-street parking lot. A late model Cadillac waited. The faint orange glow of the setting sun glimmered from behind the nearest building, casting shadows across cracked asphalt.
The closer they came to the Cadillac, the faster Lucky’s heart pounded. Show time! Lucky held his breath as the seconds ticked by. The culmination of weeks’ worth of careful preparation was coming to a head. Still, one false move might blow meticulous plans to shit. Slow inhales and exhales steadied his breathing as he clenched and unclenched his fists.
Glancing at his comrades in felony, he sized up his opponents. The felonious kid would benefit from the surprise ending to his day—it might just prolong a life currently on a crash course with an overdose, and the loser with too much ambition needed to get a real job. Lucky had no idea why the others in the van resorted to law-breaking to enhance their incomes, but his job didn’t include being judge and jury—only ensuring these folks kept their as yet unknown appointments with legal types.
Lucky squirmed on a cracked plastic seat, fighting the urge to bounce a leg, and divided his attention between the Caddy, his fellow passengers, and the roads leading in. The van came to the full stop and a man stepped out of the waiting car. From a distance he spotted two black SUVs turning down the street, slowly making their way toward the parking lot. Had to be newbies. Could they be any more fucking obvious? He shifted in his seat again, muscles bunching to spring the moment the door opened.
Cadillac man climbed into the van, holding a leather bank deposit bag. “When I call your name, come forward, please.”
Politeness? From a soon-to-be-con? What a waste of breath.
“Aaron? Barber?” the man called. Alphabetic order. Lucky sank back into the seat. Whoever made his fake IDs and gave him a name destined to make him wait, owed him, big time.
One by one Lucky’s co-conspirators stepped forward, relinquishing their bags of legal goodies in exchange for one hundred dollars, a mere pittance of the street market for the drugs they turned over. The van driver examined the contents, comparing the bottles inside the bags with the list on the outside before letting anyone off the van. As predicted, Lucky handed his bag over last.
“Here you go,” Lucky said, adding, “though I hate to give up good oxycodone. I could have myself one hell of a party with this.” He winked at the man handing out cash.
The man glared, counting twenties into Lucky’s hand but not responding. No problem, the camera caught every detail, even without audio. Lucky chanced a glance out the window, spotting the two SUVs he’d seen earlier parked beside a building across the street. A muscle jumped in his cheek, and he damped down the beginnings of a smile. Sometimes he couldn’t help himself, but he’d never in a million years confess to anyone how much he loved his job.
“Until next time.” He hopped out of the van and aimed across the parking lot toward the bus stop, where most of the other van passengers huddled together.
Five, four, three… Nothing happened on the count of one. Okay. One more time. Five, four, three…Still nothing. Slow bastards. Hesitation blew cases. Five, four, three, two… The Cadillac rolled forward. Twin screeches split the quiet, from twin Dodge Chargers, sliding into position front and back, cutting off the Cadillac’s escape. The sleek sedans beat the hell out of the old Crown Victorias the department used to pursue Lucky in, back in the days when he’d been up to no good. Slam, slam, slam… Uniformed officers erupted from the vehicles, surrounding the Caddy.
Before the frightened sheep could react, the two SUVs barreled toward the bus stop. The vehicles screeched to a standstill. Men in blue piled out. Gotta get out of here, now! Lucky’s tennis shoes smacked the asphalt in a perfect one, two cadence, followed close behind the enterprising kid from the drug store. Heart and legs pumping in rhythm, Lucky whipped around a building and down a deserted alleyway. In the gathering gloom of an early November evening, he stopped, recently broken foot choosing then to remind him of an unfortunate spill out of a factory window last summer. His doctor wouldn’t be thrilled about the running, and in another lifetime he’d have found a way to save some of those high powered painkillers from the pharmacy bag for himself.
“Think we lost them?” the kid asked.
“Dunno,” Lucky replied, peering through the shadows to the end of the alley. “Looks like we might have.”
The kids blew out a relieved-sounding sigh. Lucky caught a flash of blue out of the corner of his eyes at the far end of the alley. “You go on,” he said, holding his side and pouring drama into a winded gasp. “I can’t run no more.”
Stained teeth flashed against a freckled face, and the guy pushed back a mop of lank hair. “Hold ‘em off then, old-timer. I’m outta here.”
Smug bastard. Rough brick abraded Lucky’s jacket as he leaned against the wall. Little shit deserved what he had coming. A few minutes later, from the end of the alley, the distinct snick of handcuffs broke the quiet, followed by, “You have the right to remain silent.”
And another one bites the dust. Lucky limped off into the proverbial sunset, slipped his cell out of his pocket, and hit speed dial for his boss. The phone rang once before connecting. Lucky spoke two short words, “It’s done.”
About the author:
All Eden Winters requires to spin a yarn is two hot men and a happy ever after. A spectral Highlander haunting a Scottish castle while awaiting his lover’s rebirth? Why not? A time-traveling pirate? You betcha! A pack of ravenous… possum shifters? (Crickets beware!) Yeah, that’s how Eden’s mind works. She’s the author of such Rainbow Awards recognized novels as The Wish, The Angel of Thirteenth Street, Duet, Diversion, and the Lambda Literary Awards nominated Settling the Score.
Currently, Eden calls the southern US home, and many of her stories take place in the rural South (yes, her possum shifters speak with a Southern accent). She divides her time between a day job, friends, grandkids, writing, trying different varieties of vegetarian cuisine, and exploring her world. Her musical tastes run from Ambient to Zydeco, she owns a TV she never watches, and she’s a firm believer that life is better with pets. She also loves cruising down the road on the back of a Harley Davidson.
Visit Eden’s website at http://www.edenwinters.com. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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