Here’s another excerpt from my new contemporary romance, Things Lost In The Fire! One of the best parts of writing this story was crafting the two main characters. While Sadie was a pleasure to write, her best friend and love interest, Brody Odell, was a total blast. He’s everything you’d expect in a cynical California journalist…snarky, witty, street-smart and secretly damaged. He pushes everyone he loves away with snide remarks and cold humor, convinced he’s better off alone. He’s known great highs and some serious lows, seen faraway lands ravaged by war and poverty, and personally inflicted pain he knows he can’t take back. As such, when he stumbles upon Sadie completely by accident, he rediscovers his own self-worth through her loving eyes. It’ll take time for him to win her trust, but he’s never wanted anything so badly in all his life as he does Sadie. 🙂
Excerpt from “Things Lost In The Fire” by Katie Jennings
Available Now on Amazon in eBook and print!
A cocky grin lit Brody Odell’s face the second before the punch came. He ducked not a moment too soon, dodging the blow with a nimble sidestep and a wild laugh. Exhilaration raced white-hot through his veins, his hand surprisingly steady as he held up his camcorder, recording every second.
His opponent tried again, only to be wrestled back by his own beefcake of a bodyguard. Being that it was midday on the busy streets of West Hollywood, witnesses were starting to gather. A scattering of paparazzi swarmed in like ants, eager to capture controversial rapper DeShawn “Murda” Williams in a raging mood.
“You goddamn son of a bitch,” Murda snarled, baring his teeth as he struggled against the hold of his guard. His rail-thin supermodel girlfriend rolled her eyes and scoffed, obviously annoyed at yet another of her boyfriend’s outbursts. She tried to grab his arm only to be swatted away like an annoying fly.
Brody continued to smile, swiping his free hand through his crop of dark hair. His brown eyes honed in on the rapper with eager intensity. “Do it again. I dare you.”
Murda gritted his teeth and Brody could tell he was struggling against the temptation to beat him into a bloody pulp. He was also probably debating if the satisfaction would be worth an assault charge.
Never one to fear risking life and limb, Brody gave a brisk nod. “So what’d you think of that SNL skit last night? I thought it was pretty funny, myself. Though I have to say, they might’ve downplayed your temper little a bit.”
“I don’t give a shit—”
“C’mon, baby. Let’s go,” the girlfriend interrupted, her ebony eyes sweeping over Brody like he was a moldy piece of garbage. She hooked her spidery arm through Murda’s muscled one, urging him onward.
“The best part was when they parodied your new song. I was laughing my ass off,” Brody added, keeping the camera directly in Murda’s face to capture every detail.
Murda bit back a retort and flipped Brody off for good measure, shoving his middle finger into the camera lens. He turned around and let his bodyguard and girlfriend lead him away, grumbling obscenities under his breath.
Brody shut off his camera as he watched them go, pleased with himself. “TMZ thanks you!” he called out, laughing like a hyena. Murda shot him a venomous look, barely restrained from jumping into attack mode once more.
A few of the other paparazzi nearby burst out laughing while a couple of them trotted after Murda to get more footage. Brody merely lifted his aviator sunglasses from the neck of his white ‘I Make Stuff Up’ T-shirt and slid them over his eyes.
“Well, ladies and gentlemen, it’s been a pleasure.” He bowed to his fellow reporters and to the crowd that had gathered, earning more looks of disgust than appreciation. “Until next time.”
Camera in hand, he took off in the opposite direction. He dug into the back pocket of his jeans for a pack of cigarettes, shaking one out of the case and into his mouth. Seconds later he lit it and smiled into the bright California sun, smoke dancing around his face. The worn-out Chucks on his feet slapped against the chewing-gum smeared concrete, taking him east down Sunset Boulevard.
He knew he should be grateful he’d narrowly escaped a beating, but the blood rush had been worth the risk. There was a time not long ago when he’d dodged bullets and laid awake at night with the sounds of sirens and bombs exploding in the distance. That had been a real rush, he recalled, the sentiment bittersweet. He’d had a real job back then, a respectable one. Now he was stuck chasing celebrities all across the greater Los Angeles area to exploit them in their weakest moments. Moments of adultery, anger, inebriation, violence—whatever the tabloids were willing to pay him for. Sometimes it paid big, but most times he was stuck begging for scraps.
Either way, it was a life he’d earned. He knew that much. He held no delusions that he deserved anything better than what that bitch Karma had bestowed upon him. In the end, he was right where he belonged.
His mouth twisted around his cigarette in a cynical grin as he approached his car. It was a white ’95 Thunderbird, beat to shit and barely functional. He reached for his keys and unlocked the door, slipping onto the faded red seat with a grunt and tossing the camera onto the passenger seat. As he coaxed the car to life, he wheeled the driver’s side window down to let the smoke from his cigarette escape.
The radio kicked on, the snarky wisecracks of Jack FM preceding one of his favorite songs. His smile widened as he cranked up the sound of Guns N’ Roses singing about Paradise City, instinctively bobbing his head in time with the beat.
Shoving the car in drive, he whipped out into traffic and joined the mad rush of Hollywood.
He let his arm hang out the window, smoke drifting from the tip of his cigarette. Without working air conditioning in his car, he had no choice but to embrace what little breeze there was on the hot streets of the city.
He’d lived most of his twenty-nine years in L.A., except for that glorious time when he’d roamed the darker, more grotesque cities of the world on the hunt for a story. Those had been the best years of his life. When he’d lived for something meaningful and pursued truth the way a hound hunts down a slippery fox. Back then, even his father had to admit that he’d been worth a damn to the world.
Brody sucked on his cigarette and tapped ash out the window. Bitterness wallowed in his gut but he forced it back. His pride wouldn’t allow him to suffer under the weight of the old man’s judgment anymore.
His father, the lawyer. Not just any lawyer, but the most powerful defense attorney in all of Los Angeles. Everyone who could pay the price tag sought out the services of Max Odell of the Odell & Son law firm. His reputation was spotless, his intellect and knowledge of the law impeccable, and his ability to win cases legendary. He could whittle even the most reliable witnesses offered by the prosecution down to sputtering uncertainty. And the power he held over wobbling juries was the stuff of legend.
If only he’d been half as good a father as he was a lawyer, maybe things would have worked out differently. Brody scoffed at the idea, knowing he’d be the black sheep of the family even if his father wasn’t such a righteous bastard.
The ‘son’ in Odell & Son was Brody’s younger brother, Chase. Mr. Perfect. Brody’s opposite in nearly every way.
Where Brody had the dark, sharp featured looks of their mother, Chase had the chestnut brown hair and bright blue eyes of their father. While Brody lived on his toes and let impulse rule his every move, Chase was a successful family man with a baby on the way. And where Brody had made every bad, rebellious decision in the book, Chase was as straight-laced as apple pie on a Sunday afternoon.
The offer had always been open for Brody to join the family law firm, or to let his mother help pay rent, but he couldn’t lower himself to accept charity. He made his own way in the world, even if it wasn’t flashy or pretty. He’d seen bad times, but he’d seen some damn good times, too. At least it had always been on his terms, on his back, and with his own sweat dripping down his face. His life was his, and he’d live with the choices he made, good or bad.
And boy, had there been a lot of bad ones.
When his thoughts drifted to that godforsaken desert on the other side of the world, he grimaced. He forced the demons away as he snuffed out his cigarette in the car’s ashtray. He was paying the price, wasn’t he? Every goddamn day he was paying for that stupid, horrible, fatal mistake.
After releasing a heavy breath to clear the guilt from his system, he swerved into a faster lane of traffic and gunned the engine. What he needed was some food and most definitely a cold beer. He dug into his pocket, only to discover a measly twenty dollar bill. Well, it’d be cheap take-out and even cheaper beer. Until he got his next check from one of the many tabloids he submitted to, he was strapped for cash.
The irony of it never ceased to amaze him. There had once been a time when he’d had more money than he knew what to do with. Now he was lucky if he could afford a couple containers of second-rate Chinese food.
Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
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Loving Brody!! ❤