Erin Lausten

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Unexpected Test Drive: Chapter 1

Posted by erinlausten on November 22, 2011

I am so excited to have this book available. Can you tell??? So far it has been fabulously received and I am tickled at the comments from my readers. In the tradition of sharing, I wanted to give those of you on the fence about whether you really want to crack open–I mean click the link to that Ebook–a taste of what the world of the Viator is all about. And here it is, Chapter 1 of Unexpected.


Chapter one

White. Why had she worn white? Hailey McIntyre grabbed a napkin and dipped it into her glass of water then scrubbed viciously at her shirt. The orange stain faded but she was left with a giant wet spot across her chest that would take an hour to dry. She sighed, gave it up for lost and returned her attention to lunch.

Jason smirked at her from across the table. She responded with a middle finger salute then laughed as her heart warmed. He was the brother she’d never had and those were the best kind. They never fought over parental approval or premium bedroom spaces. Their affection could be real without the history and it was absolutely perfect.

The wax paper crinkled as she wrapped her fingers around the special sauce soaked sandwich. Grease and caffeine had been just the thing to stop the incessant pounding in her head. She really needed to rethink the wisdom of going out to the bar on a work night. Casting a glare at Jason she wondered how he managed to always wake up no worse the wear from a night out. The man had to have some kind of party man super power.

Based on the sappy grin he’d shared when he passed her cubical that morning he’d gotten lucky the night before too. She said, “So, how do you do it? How do you walk out of the bar every night with a different man on your arm?”

He waggled his eyebrows and leaned against the back of the thin plastic yard chair that lent that special seedy ambiance to Rizzo’s Super Subs. His hands patted his belly. A black cotton t-shirt clung to his slight paunch. Black might be slimming, but it didn’t hide it all. “It’s the power of smokin’ hot abs, babe. I can turn a man on fire at fifty paces.”

Hailey rolled her eyes. “You are a piece of work.”

“A work of art, sweet heart. A work of art,” he said. The chair, fed up with the ill use, folded back on itself. Jason lunged forward, knocking the table several inches toward her. Swift hands saved her Diet Coke from tipping over onto her half-eaten pastrami-on-rye: The best damn sandwich in Los Angeles County.

“I wish I could turn a man on fire at fifty paces.” She replied placing her soda back onto the plastic checkered table cloth.

“Girlfriend, you turn men on fire with that caustic wit of yours. There’s just nothing left of them to walk out of the bar with,” Jason said.

Hailey snorted and cracked a grin. He was right. She probably could have a guy on her arm with relative ease. The trouble started when she got bored. And she always got bored. If they weren’t talking about the drunkfest the night before they were bragging about their recent material acquisition. The winner last night had bought himself a brand new, hot off the presses, smart phone. Then spent three hours showing her every feature, every app—every stupid little thing until she wanted to dump the slim silver gadget into her pint of Sam Adams.

Her beer survived—enough for her to finish it. The poor sap hadn’t been so lucky. As each agonizing minute progressed her remarks went from witty to scathing until she reduced him to a withering weed at her feet. She left the bar with glares pounding her back, convinced that at thirty she was well on her way to spending her life as the crabby spinster that lived in the corner house waiting for the opportunity to turn the hose on the neighborhood kids.

The candy red plastic lunch baskets sat among the balled up napkins and grease covered wax paper like eighteen wheelers in a twenty car pile-up. The clock on her phone flashed the time and her shoulders sunk. Ten minutes until she needed to be back at her desk, plunging back into the mess that was the marketing proposal. Ten minutes that would feel like half a gasp. The four hours left in the work day would no doubt feel like fifty years.

“Dude, we have to go,” she said.

Jason tipped his head back and drained the last of his full octane Mountain Dew. Then stood and brushed the crumbs off his lap. He held out his elbow and she slid her fingers into the crook of his arm. It was nice having a man treat her like a lady. It was too bad he wasn’t her type. Or that she failed to have the correct anatomy for him.

“So, you’re going to love this.” He pushed open the door to Rizzo’s, letting in the ozone rich Los Angeles air. “McDermott is preggers.”

“Dude! Shut up!” She stopped and slapped him on the arm. “She’s what, like fifty?”


“Wow.” She hugged her arms around her chest. Karen McDermott, their manager and all around crazy lady, was pregnant. The woman had mood swings as a rule. Add hormones and the office might go up in flames before she reached full term. Terrifying was the only word for it. “Who would marry her? The man must want to kill himself.”

“It’s Ron in operations.” Jason started down the three crumbling cement steps that led toward the tiny back parking lot.

Once she pulled her lip off the ground she ran after him. “Ron? Little Ron, the one with the crooked teeth that won’t look anyone in the eye?”

“That’s him.”

“Oh my god. That is too much,” Hailey said. Her beat-up grey Civic waited pitifully beside the alley trash bin. When they’d arrived the lunch rush just hit, leaving the sliver of land as the only option. Now, the lot was empty save for the three cars that belonged to the staff. Flies buzzed around her head and she held her breath against the stench as she slid along the car to the driver’s side.

Hailey rifled through her purse for the keys as a scrawny man approached them. His saggy pants and over large shirt swallowed him up in un-mastered ghetto style. The glazed eyes of the eternally stoned peered out from beneath a beat-up baseball hat pitched precariously on stringy hair. Jason watched him with shoulders tense and lips thinned. Cursing her choice in handbags, Hailey’s fingers swam through the mass of receipts, makeup and gum wrappers. The keys and her cell phone had sunk to the deepest recesses and neither cooperated with her desperate search.

“Hey man, what’s up?” Jason kept his voice cool and relaxed, but his stance remained wary. The druggie stopped five feet from the car and glanced furtively to the side, his jittery reflexes sent waves of warning flowing through her head. His long-fingered hand slid into deep pockets and she held her breath in dread.

Jason threw his hands up with palms out and fingers wide. “Look dude, we don’t want trouble, tell us what you want.”

The man’s eyes were frantic and his lip curled as he snarled, “Shut up, fag and get away from the car.”

A gun flashed toward Jason as the man strode toward the driver’s side. “Give me the keys, bitch.”

“I…I can’t find them,” Hailey stammered. The world shrunk around her and time trickled to a creep. Blood rushed past her ears in a deafening roar and the hairs along her arms tickled in anticipation.

“I said give me the keys!” The man’s yellowing teeth bared and his fingers clenched the handle of the gun. Hailey squeaked, praying he wouldn’t shoot Jason.

“I think I left them inside,” she replied.

A red flush spread up the man’s neck. Hailey felt it before she saw the gleam in his eyes shift from barely restrained violence to deadly intent. When the gun swung toward her, Jason’s shouts were swallowed in a cotton-like fog. Fear barely registered when the gun went off. As the world around her flashed bright white she prepared for the excruciating pain of a bullet hitting her chest. Everything slowed to a crawl but her thoughts ran sharp and clear. This was a hell of a way to die, she thought just before she blacked out.

When her senses returned a wave of nausea flipped her stomach into a round of cartwheels. A headache split an arc of hot fire through her temples and her ears felt like someone had stuffed in cotton, added water, and shook. Strange, this was not what she thought getting shot would feel like.

She opened her eyes. Expecting to see the concerned faces of a couple of hot EMT’s or at the very least Jason, she was surprised to find her nose inches from a giant wooden barrel. A thin iron band ran around the bottom that held together the bentwood slabs. The last time she’d seen a barrel like that was with her Aunt Sue at the Old West movie lot. She was ten and Aunt Sue was cancer free.

Flipping to her back, she closed her eyes. Nausea swamped her stomach and only after several deep breaths was she able to reopen her eyes. Through the darkness, slivers of light peeked through the cracks between the hand-hewn wooden boards that made up the ceiling. A drop of water careened from a crack and splashed on her upper lip. The cool wetness settled against her skin triggering a torrent of sensations through her body. Her ears popped open with a horrendous howl.

“Argh!” She cringed and slapped her hands against her ears. Muscles twisted and agony shot through to the bone. The suddenness of the pain and sensations crashed her system sending shockwaves through her fingers and toes. It was as if a switch turned off the morphine drip. She curled into a ball and rocked.

It was impossible to guess how long she writhed on the hard floor but it eventually subsided and everything inched toward normalcy. Little sounds outside her head crept in. The creak of wood shifting its weight echoed through the room. The soft hum of voices floated above the laboring planks.

A loud thunk slammed through the ceiling. A rush of water droplets splashed across her body, soaking her already damp shirt. She sat up and scooted back to lean against the hard plank wall. The room rolled from side to side. Nausea followed at a softer pace, but threatened her equilibrium nonetheless. If it hadn’t been completely ridiculous she would have sworn she’d been dumped on a boat.

The room plummeted down and to the side then heaved back to settle into a mild rocking motion. She pressed her ear to the wall. Water sloshed against the wood. It must be some kind of hallucination.

No one sailed wood boats anymore. Unless they were weird—or rich. Maybe she’d been kidnapped by a crazy rich guy. A hot crazy rich guy. Now that might be something she could handle.

She struggled to her feet and rested a hand against the wall. When her head stopped spinning and stomach quit rolling she scanned the room for a way out. A soft frame of light illuminated a door several feet to her right. The barrels surrounding her were bound tight with thick twisted rope to prevent shifting. Somehow she’d been stowed in the only free space large enough for a body to stretch out.

Hailey wiggled and wound her way through the barrels to the narrow walkway that ran through the middle of the room. Once she reached the door it wouldn’t budge. Was she trapped accidentally? She couldn’t think of a single reason someone would lock her in a place like this.

Her fists pounded at the door, but all she managed was a muffled thud. Shouts and screams it was then.

“Hey! Let me out!” The room rang but the sounds dulled before they could make it through the walls and ceiling. After several minutes she leaned in and placed her ear against the crack between the door and jamb. Nothing. “Argh!”

She slumped to the floor and banged her head against the door. Going hoarse wouldn’t help the situation. She banged her head against the door again and was rewarded with a sharp pain through her temple. Beating herself senseless wouldn’t help either.

The heavy moisture seeped into her pores. A couple hours in this place and she’d have fingers like a Shar-pei’s face. All the events that led to this moment were laid out in her mind and not a single one added up. She gave up trying to figure it out when the scenarios included fairy dust and magic wands. Closing her eyes she commanded herself not to freak out.

Metal scraping against metal woke her from an unexpected doze. She had barely enough time to scramble to her feet before the door swung open and a backlit figure stood in the hall. With his short legs and wide shoulders he looked more like a podium than a man. He took a few steps into the room before he noticed her standing there.

“Holy Mother Mary!” He jumped back several feet and grabbed the door jamb. His other hand flew to his heart. The stink of unwashed masculinity wafted to her nose and instigated a new bout of nausea.

“Why are ye in ‘ere boy?”

“Excuse me?” Hailey said and stepped into the light.

“Lordy! Yer a woman!” His wide eyes, gapping mouth, and gender identification issues suggested she hadn’t been expected.

“Last time I checked.” Hailey peered over the sweat drenched man into a dimly lit hallway. Despite the man’s diminutive height, his broad shoulders and thick neck kept her wary. “Look, I’m not sure how I got here, but if you let me through I’m sure we can…”

Meaty hands shoved her back with such violence that she landed heavily on her tailbone. The door slammed shut and she heard the metallic scrape of the key turning in the lock before she caught her breath.

“Shit,” she breathed. With trembling limbs she struggled to stand, adrenaline pumped her heart like a bilge. She didn’t care if he was built like a bull dog; the man was going to find himself flat on his ass when she saw him again. She rubbed her tailbone. The fact that she’d never actually hit a person wasn’t relevant. No one pushed her.

Shouts failed to bring him back. Several violent kicks to the door just bruised her foot. Eventually she sat and buried her head in her arms. The day was really starting to suck. After a while her butt went numb and she stood to pace. Pacing always made things better. It settled her mind and let the thoughts fall into order. It also prevented the flood of tears perched precariously at the edge of her eyelids. She hated crying.

The sound of the key in the lock barely registered. She spun around just as the door swung open and a huge shadowy man loomed in the doorway. All her false bravado fled and she took a step back as he advanced into the room.

His voice boomed, “What, Madam,” he grabbed her elbow and yanked her against his chest. “Are you doing on my ship?”

oin Hailey and Derian in a fast paced adventure in time against forces no one expected. In fact, it was all quite Unexpected. Now on Amazon and Smashwords!

Are you interested in knowing the minute my books are available? Send me an email at and I will put you on the list. I promise not to spam you with a constant barrage of sales pitches. I’ll only send information when something new is out.
You can also keep tabs on my progress at my Facebook fanpage and on Twitter.

4 Responses to “Unexpected Test Drive: Chapter 1”

  1. I had a lot of fun with the first chapter, Erin. It’s a very different take on time travel, which really suits your style.

  2. I did love this book. It took you from one adventure to another…I was sort of expecting a “The Time Traveller’s Wife” and got something so out of the ordinary, it was hard to put down. Loved it!!

  3. Rayford said

    It’s going to be ending of mine day, except before end I am reading
    this wonderful post to improve my knowledge.

  4. Elisabeth said

    It’s a shame you don’t have a donate button! I’d certainly donate to
    this superb blog! I guess for now i’ll settle for bookmarking and
    adding your RSS feed to my Google account. I look forward to fresh updates
    and will share this site with my Facebook group. Chat soon!

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