Beneath These Chains - Meghan March

I have so many things to be thankful for and one of them is the amazing team I have working with me. This book would not be what it is without them. My editors, Angela Marshall Smith and Madison Seidler—I’m so grateful to you both for helping me shape and polish my stories. The world’s most fabulous publicist, Chasity Jenkins—You rock my world. Enough said. My fabulous beta readers, Angela, Natasha, and Carmen—I appreciate your time and willingness to read whatever I throw at you. Once again, Sarah Hansen of Okay Creations knocked it out of the park on the cover, and Sara Eirew shot the perfect pic. The Runaway Readers—you ladies amaze me with your passion, and I am humbled by how shamelessly you spread the word about my books. My family—your support means everything to me. A huge thank you to all of the book bloggers who read, review, and share my books. Not only do you make the indie book world turn, you do it graciously, with excitement, and for the love of books. Last, but certainly not least—my most sincere gratitude to the readers who spent their hard earned dollars to buy this book. As long as you keep reading, I’ll keep writing.

I fucking hated people who stole from me. Which was ironic, considering the only thing that had kept me from starving as a kid had been picking pockets and snatching purses. I dropped my elbows to the desk and rubbed a hand over my buzzed head.

“Goddamn, karma’s a bitch.”

“She the bitch you fucked last night, bro?” The leather of my office couch creaked as Mathieu sank his tall, lanky frame into it.

“How many times do I have to tell you not to call women ‘bitches,’ boy?”

My words were met with a long sigh from Mathieu. Ever since he’d walked into Chains and tried to grab a guitar and run back out the door—only to be tackled to the ground by yours truly—he’d been a fixture in my life. To be fair, his choices had been to work off the price of what he’d attempted to steal, or go directly to the nearest cop shop. The entire situation had been such a blast from the past, I’d caught myself smiling when I should’ve been glaring and scaring the piss out of the kid. But apparently I’d done an okay job of it because he’d decided starting a rap sheet at seventeen wasn’t a good plan. Thank fuck. Almost two years later, the kid was my right hand.

And now that Chains was mine, someone was stealing from me—but not just someone. An employee. Someone I should’ve been able to trust. The cameras I had installed on her day off had already paid for themselves.

I rolled my head from side to side, cracking my neck. I hated firing people. It never got easier. And this time? This time it was going to be even worse … because there would be tears. And quite possibly claws.

Pushing up from the chair, I strode to the door without looking at Mathieu. Over my shoulder, I tossed, “You might want to stay here; Brianna’s ass is about to get canned.”

“For real?” His words followed me out, but I didn’t bother to reply.

Every time I stepped foot onto the shop floor, a feeling of pride surged through me—pride that I’d helped build this business into one that was not only honest, but profitable. At least, it was profitable when one of my employees wasn’t skimming off the till and messing with my bank deposits.

Finger twirling in her long, dark extensions and gum snapping