All I’ve ever wanted is to fit in.
But no one can ever see past how weird I am. Bright lights? Can’t stand them. Loud noises? Definitely sends me over the edge. And touching? Forget about it.
At least, until I met Drake.
From the moment I walked into that nightclub, I finally felt like I belonged somewhere. And when Drake touched me, it didn’t send me into a tailspin of sensations that I couldn’t stand. It actually felt…nice. Like something I could get used to. And it doesn’t hurt that he’s probably the hottest guy I’ve ever seen.
But now someone wants to close the club down. And since I promised Drake that I’d help him keep it open, I’m going to have to find a way to tap into whatever that inner strength thing is that everyone always talks about. And fast. But what happens if I can’t?
About the Author
Ciara Knight is a USA Today, Amazon Bestselling, and award winning author who writes 'A Little Edge and A Lot of Heart' that spans the heat scales. Her popular sweet romance series, Sweetwater County, takes readers into small town romance full of family trials, friendly competition, and community love.
Ciara's teen books are coming of age stories, set in fantastical worlds, with a little grit. Her bestselling series, The Neumarian Chronicles and Battle for Souls both received four and five star reviews and were nominated for prestigious awards.
The sexier side of Ciara enjoys writing stories with alpha heroes pitted against equally challenging, sexy and sensual heroine’s in gritty and dark worlds. Ciara’s high fantasy romance series, The Shrouded Kingdoms released to rave reviews, followed by her sizzling western, Fools Rush.
Out of all her projects, she’s most excited to share her New Adult story, Silver Edge. A modern day Cinderella fairytale where A Girl with a Dragon Tattoo meets Mr. Darcy.
Read an Excerpt
A Straight Edge Novel
By Ciara Knight, Tera Cuskaden
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2017 Ciara Knight
All rights reserved.
I knew I'd end up in a psych ward. A building with white walls, lumpy beds, harsh lights, and the smell of Clorox. But I hadn't predicted the psych ward would be abandoned, sold off to the Community, a family of misfits.
The front doors opened, and a bitter New York wind swept through the lobby, bringing two Straight Edge Community Brothers with it. One in a Yankees cap, the other in a tight black T-shirt.
I didn't know their names. I didn't want to know their names.
I never bothered with names. It made things easier that way.
"Hey, Scarlet." Black T-shirt Guy waved.
I glanced over them but avoided connecting, as always. I stared at the Straight Edge poster. The large XXX provided an eye-contact safe zone, one that didn't make me jittery.
The poster was mocking me. No drugs. No alcohol. No promiscuous sex. They forgot one line. No life. Only an existence of rules, rules, rules. But that wasn't life, it was safety.
Yankee plopped down on the yellow couch. His forty-eight-hour-strength cologne surged over me like a noxious tsunami. "Did you land a job yet, Autistic One? You gonna crunch crazy numbers in your head like Rain Man?"
I swallowed my snark. "No. I'm waiting for our mighty ruler to return." Okay, a little seeped out.
Yankee rubbed his pitiful attempt at a beard. It looked like long bug antennae dangling from his chin. "Cut Ton some slack. He saved you. He saved all of us. Who else would take on druggies? You would've been dead before your fifteenth birthday."
Grateful. Yes, Ton gave me life and a roof over my head. A priceless gift for an orphaned, abused teen who didn't like to be touched without a heavy dose of street drugs. No one had ever cared until Ton. "I'm nineteen."
"Your skinny ass don't look over fifteen," Yankee said.
Black T-shirt walked over, getting too close, invading my well known no-intruding zone. "Don't listen to him. You're clean. And with your mad math skills, Ton'll have you working some high-paying finance job, or have you do his books for his electrician company."
Yankee shifted to the edge of the couch, his knee against my chair, threatening to touch my thigh. "She won't last a day in a job outside the Community. Those numbers done rattled her brain."
"Stop being an ass. Leave her alone," Black T-shirt said, his voice taking on an I'm-going-to-protect-this-crazy-runt tone.
I'd been protected, isolated, confused, and imprisoned long enough to choke the life out of an orca. Still thankful, but still choking on rules.
How would I ever know if I could deal if I lived in an overprotective, structured, decisions-made-for-me home. Was I better, or just controlled?
His knee grazed mine, causing my crazy to awaken. A lice-infested, tiny-legs-crawling sensation claimed my scalp. With my anxiety reaching critical levels, I bolted from the common area to wait for Ton's return in the safety of my room. A haven with no stench of bad cologne, mocking posters, or people. People expected things, like interaction. I wasn't good with interaction.
I wanted to be better. I tried to be better. But I worried I'd never be more than a recovering street rat.
My fingers ached to pound piano keys, to lose myself in music, but the only thing available was my iPod. I slid my earphones in and cranked Mozart's Symphony Number Four in D Major. The notes carried me to another world. A world of color, mystery, promises, love, loss ... My world.
I tossed my sweatshirt on my bed and crawled onto the mattress. The stiff springs groaned from age. Closing my eyes, I listened to the music and lost myself in it.
Two songs later, a nudge to my forearm ripped me from my happy place. I opened my eyes and found Ton hovering over me, the bald, barge-sized, tattooed dictator with heart. A young girl stood in the doorway.
I stared at her, confused. She had the same dark hair — minus the purple streak — same willowy frame, and large eyes. The same strung-out druggy blank stare.
I tore the earphones out and pushed past him, but the stench of sweat and vomit halted me. I lifted my arm over my nose to shield from stench and sensory overload. "What's she doing here? Why's she in my room?"
Ton moved between us, the thick skin on his forehead crinkling. The movement brought the lion tattooed on the top of his head to life. Two fangs slid down from his hairline, as if feasting on his anger ... on my fear. That was why he was nicknamed Ton. A ton of tattoos, a ton of attitude, a ton of terror. "This is ..."
Ta-ton, Ta-ton, Ta-ton. My heart sprinted and I shrunk into myself like cornered prey. Mozart's symphony played over in my head, each note taming my thrashing heart, dimming my fear.
"Did you hear me?" Ton blew out a large sigh, his cheeks collapsing.
Oh, shit. I did it again, faded out before the most important words could reach my brain. "Sure," I said, my voice recoiling faster than my body.
Ton rubbed his scalp as if taming his inner lion. His eyes softened, and he leaned against my desk. "She'll be rooming here with you."
My lungs tightened and my stomach clenched. My adrenaline revved, heating my skin to habanero hot. "Are you insane? I can't room with anyone. I don't want to smell her. I don't want to hear her. I don't want to know her. I want a job. I want a place of my own. I want out of here." Guilt threatened to shove me back into submission, but I needed this. I needed to know if I could survive beyond the great white walls of protection.
"How do you think you'll do at a job when you can't even share a room? It's time for you to take the next step in the process. I know you're ... sensitive. You admitted to me from day one that you needed drugs to handle sounds, lights, touch. I've talked to a professional, and he offered —"
"No. No shrinks. I'm ready. I know you want to protect me. You want to protect everyone, but I'm ready to stand on my own."
He lowered his head as if to find the answers on his work boots. "I tell you what. You make it a month sharing this room with her and I'll find a job for you." He stuck his face inches from mine.
I chewed the inside of my cheek and curled my toes but resisted the urge to shrink away from him. He was playing dirty now. I'd be damned if I'd let him win. "Prove it."
"That there's really a job. I told you I wanted out of New York and you agreed. There're too many bad memories for me here. I'm ready to start over."
He flinched but recovered quickly. His entire six-foot-four-inch frame of solid muscle froze. All his tattoos — the dragons, vipers, and scorpions — froze.
All I heard in the silence of the building was my pounding heart.
"I have a friend in Atlanta," Ton said finally. "He'll hire you."
"Call him. Call him now." I rose onto my tiptoes and forced my gaze to meet his. The second hand on the wall clock behind me ticked twice, the longest I'd managed to hold eye contact.
His authoritative stare ordered me into submission and my gaze dropped to his forearm. That damn clock ticked ten more times. Ton's hand fisted, the scorpion's tail arching to strike me. Dizziness took hold, as if its poison had already entered my system, but I stood my ground.
"If I call the guy, will you chill? No more outbursts, no more attacks that would send you back under the bridge I pulled you from?"
I cringed. Ton would do anything for anyone, but he'd never soften the truth. Every word hit like a punch to the gut. What gave me the right to disrespect him? Yankee was right about one thing. Ton had saved me. He'd picked me up out of the gutter, sat by my side while I detoxed, held my head when I was married to the toilet for days, clothed me, fed me, talked to me, but did that mean I had to remain a slave to the Community for the rest of my life?
I swallowed the dryness of regrets and nodded.
Ton slid his cell from his pocket and dialed a number before turning his back to me and holding up one finger to the girl still trembling in the doorway. It was time to stand on my own and stop mooching off Ton and the Community he'd created. This girl, and others, needed food and shelter.
"Hey, man. It's Ton." He rubbed the back of his neck, as if to rub away his fears of letting me go. The large X on the back of his neck rippled.
I nudged closer.
"I've got a girl here, Scarlet. She needs a job. You think you can find something for her at your place, the Midtown Diner?"
I held my breath, listening, hoping, willing the man on the other end of the line to say yes, but I could only make out muffles.
"No worries about stealing. She's more the artistic type than criminal."
"Yep, I'd consider it a favor."
"Great. I'll drive her down when I can. I'll see you then." Ton lowered the phone and faced me. "You've got a job. Give back to the Community and help this girl detox, be her clean buddy for a month, and I'll drive you to Atlanta myself. Show me you can handle dealing with another person before I send you out into the world on your own."
"Ton, I'm not ready to help anyone, especially a girl on the brink of destruction. You're asking too much from me."
"You can and you will," Ton commanded, using his addiction-police voice. "If you want me to call in favors and get you set up in the outside world, you show me you can handle life."
"It's different. I'll serve food, wipe tables, not rehab my former self."
Ton pushed from the desk, but instead of calling his inner warrior that made people obey, he leaned close, without touching me. "You can do this. I believe in you."
Believe in me? No one ever believed in me. I didn't believe in me, but I had to try. "Fine." To hell it was fine. One look at my doppelganger and I knew I'd never make it. I would never survive playing the sober sister role. It was asking too much. I wanted to help. To pay back the community and all they'd done for me. To help the former me. But I couldn't. I couldn't be the soft, sensitive, strong support person she needed.
"Great. Find her some clean clothes and get her bathed. I'll be back to check on you both before dinner." Ton gently placed a hand on the girl's shoulder. "You're safe here." Then he left. Left me to repay the debt I owed the Community, one I had hoped he'd never collect on.
Unable to look directly at her, I kept her in my peripheral vision. "Come on. I'll heat up the shower. The handle labels are backward." I headed for the bathroom down the hall, but I wanted to go farther, beyond the restrictive walls of the psych ward, to a new life.
But if I ran away, I'd be shunned by the Community. I'd be blacklisted, never allowed to come back. I'd be alone.
Perfect. I'd leave tonight, a few hours after Ton called lights out.
I eyed the girl trailing behind me. The world of pain and debilitating emotions she faced required strength and understanding, not a mess of a person who would resort to hiding in the corner with her hands over her ears.
If only I wasn't ... me. I would help and be a functioning member of the community. Paying back the love and support they'd given me. Save the next soul that stumbled through the double doors into a white-walled welcome wagon of support.
Ton had a new project now. Hopefully she wouldn't be a disappointment.CHAPTER 2
I slipped my notepad into my apron pocket and followed the sunshine-colored tile past the hostess stand of Midtown Diner. Same ritual I'd followed after the morning meeting each day for the last week. Sizzles warned of an approaching fajita platter, so I pinched my nose to guard against the overwhelming onion aroma and sidestepped. This time I avoided colliding with the solid mass of attitude who waited tables one station over.
People rushed by, but I managed to X them out of the equation and concentrated on the Midtown Diner sign swinging to the beat of the house band. In the first hour at my new job, I discovered the rhythmic combination provided a focal point for my ears and eyes, allowing me to keep from having an epic attack. An epic attack of attitude. My ultimate defense against all that was evil in the world. I needed this job if I was truly going to be independent, so I had to play happy waitress.
"Scarlet, move it! I didn't hire you to stand around daydreaming all day." The stout, balding general manager snapped his fingers two inches from my nose. "I know Ton said you were the artistic type, but I don't have time for daydreamers."
The world began to whirl around me once more, bombarding me with light and sound. I knew I couldn't stay buried in my head. I had a job to do. A job that Ton had recommended me for despite my issues.
I shoved from the wall, plastered on a smile like I was in a tooth-whitening commercial, and greeted my next table of customers. "Good evening."
"It's about time." Without waiting for my reply, a woman launched into a tirade, the string of words pounding faster than a food chopper grinding my skull.
I dug my half-bitten nails into my palm for distraction. Pain, self-stimulation, it didn't matter what the social worker called it. It was my only means to control my desire to flee. "Can I take your order?" What did she know? She'd removed me from my foster home and dropped me in a juvenile facility after my psycho foster mom caught my foster dad and I partying. The social worker told me I used drugs to numb pain, and to be touched, but what my foster dad did was wrong. No charges were filed, and I paid the price. No way I could live in a center. If it wasn't for Ton I'd be dead.
The woman quirked her platypus lips, but they remained puckered as if she'd battled a Dyson vacuum cleaner and lost. "Hello?" A hand waved in front of my eyes, snagging my attention to discover her eyeing me with the look of a nun analyzing a prostitute. Her nose crinkled, then she returned to the menu in front of her. "I'll have the Fiesta salad, no cilantro, no corn, no meat, and the dressing on the side."
My eyes rolled faster than a drunk on his fiftieth shot of tequila. Although my mind had acknowledged the no attitude memo from the owner, my body had ignored it. "So, you want lettuce with a side of dressing?"
The Marilyn Monroe wannabe sat forward, clearly appalled, but the guy at her side tossed his dark waves back from his forehead and stretched with an ease of comfort in any setting. "Well, she has a point."
Marilyn smacked his arm before her hand drew circles on his overly tight T-shirt–covered chest. "Oh, honey." Her rooster cackles echoed, bouncing off the walls, other tables, and my eardrums.
I fought my desire to launch her out the front door to spare the patrons, myself, and the dead from her grinding-metal laugh.
"Do you need to write this down, young lady?" Her condescending tone bulldozed my willpower to maintain my facade of normal.
No. My brain cells haven't been murdered by bleach, thanks. The words clawed for release, but I managed to hold them back. "And you, honey? What would you like?" Okay, maybe one snarky remark slipped.
The man held his knuckles to his lips as if contemplating his order, but his tight cheeks indicated his restrained laughter. He was handsome. Not good-looking handsome, stop-the-sensory-swirling-world handsome. Him. Me. No noise, no lights, no smells. Too bad I couldn't live in my crazy with him.
The woman's head spun food-processor quick my way. No matter how hard I tried, the unbearable sensation of her eyes penetrating my soul cowed me into bad dog position. My mother's words from childhood whispered in my head. It takes practice to look a person in the eyes.
The dark-haired man-filet cleared his throat. "I'll have a cheeseburger."
"Want anything special?" The velvety tone of my voice matched his smile.
"No, regular is good enough for me."
I tucked the pad back into my apron. "I'll have that right out for you and Monroe wannabe."
Crap. The words broke through my mouth barrier.
Ms. Monroe tapped her painted nail against the tabletop four times. "Do you know who I am?"
No. I don't subscribe to Snob Weekly.
I tugged at the scratchy-collared uniform shirt they forced me to wear then scribbled on my pad. Writing instead of saying kept me from unemployment. "No, I don't."
"I'm someone you don't want to mess with, little girl. I'm Margo Elswood." She scooted to the end of her booth and stood on her Lady Gaga shoes. "I'm going to find the manager."
Great. Now I'd done it. Why'd I have to be so hostile? What did the social worker call it? A coping mechanism for sensory issues? Of course, why did she have to be such a tool?
Man-filet stopped her with a soft touch to her arm. "Don't worry about her. Focus on me," he said, his voice dripping with enough sex appeal to match his Vin Diesel tone.
Excerpted from Silver Edge by Ciara Knight, Tera Cuskaden. Copyright © 2017 Ciara Knight. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Scarlet is a nineteen year old girl who has known life on the streets. She’s been in an orphanage, two abusive foster homes, and found living on the streets and taking drugs to be the only means of escape for her. However, One day she is saved from that life by a man who is hellbent on helping teens get off the streets and get clean. Scarlet’s been sober for a year now but still has a huge battle to overcome, her Asperger’s. However, she’s dead set on getting out on her own and making it. So she leaves NY and heads out to Atlanta to work as a waitress at a small diner. Except that doesn’t pan out and pretty soon she finds herself living on the streets again. With nowhere to go and no one to turn to, she takes matters into her own hands and decides to sneak into a club and start working behind the bar in the hopes of impressing the owner and securing a job. Which is how Scarlet met Drake, the only man she’s ever been able to get close to, and this is their story. I wasn’t overly sure what I was going to get when I started to read Scarlet Edge. I’ve never read work from this author before, and I wasn’t sure what kind of nightclub Drake ran. Are we talking your typical drinks and DJ or are we talking about something a bit more on the darker side? As it turns out, Drake’s club is your typical nightclub with booze and tunes. Which I found to be a bit confusing. I mean, Scarlet has Asperger’s and can’t handle bright lights, loud noises, various smells, or being touched, and yet she does well in the club. A place that while dark, has loud music, people cramped so close you touch, and all kinds of funky smells. I just don’t understand the hows and whys behind Scarlet being okay at a nightclub but not being okay at a small diner. Straight Edge is an interesting story about a girl who’s gone through so much and struggles with herself on a daily basis, who’s able to overcome it and rise above it when she meets her other half. I liked that the author took a risk with writing this story. Writing about someone with a disability or condition can’t be easy. I do wish the romance was slowed way down and wasn’t such an instant reaction that seemed to almost solve everything. I think if I had more time with Scarlet and Drake before all the feels came into play I would have connected with them and their story a bit more.
Ciara Knight is an author’s name I had seen but had never had the pleasure of reading one of her books. I also had associated her with small town romance. Boy was I misguided, she can sure write romance with anyone who are anywhere. It is listed as a Straight Edge Novel but read fine on its own. I would read more by this author who gives the reader such realistic unique characters. It is not your usual romance, definitely original. Silver Edge has characters who don’t give up on life or each other, in spite of some difficult life struggles. The story line flows briskly with a rapid finish. Because of that I hope to see more of Drake and Scarlet in a future story. These are characters that hold your interest, making it a character driven story. An ARC of the book was given to me by the publisher through Net Galley.
Silver Edge by Ciara Knight is Book 1 of the Straight Edge Series. This is a wonderful start for a new series. It is an amazing and gripping read. Absolutely loved this book...so realistic, and the feels...wow the feels. Ms. Knight has done it again with this story...highly recommended. Please note that an ARC was generously provided in exchange for an honest review of which this is both honest and completely voluntary.
I didn't know much about this book before I started reading it but what I got was a fantastic, unique story with some incredible characters. I truly loved just about everything this story gave me. My only complaint is that the ending seemed rushed. Not bad enough to take away from the entire story but I think it could have been a bit more emotional. With that said, you don't want to miss this emotional roller coaster of a story. Scarlet definitely had her set of issues to deal with but her connection with Drake and the incredible way he treated her tugged at my heart. Drake was, well, perfect! He has his own issues to deal with but he takes the time to really get to know and understand Scarlet. Never making her feel anything but special. This one has all the feels. I definitely recommend it.