With seven days to go until the release of LIGHTNING IN A BOTTLE, I’d like to introduce you to the characters. Today, meet Bo McKenzie.
Don’t let the smile fool you. She’s survived a humiliating divorce that went wildly public in New York, thanks to her ex’s salacious crimes. She might be broke, emotionally battered, and still a bit fragile, but she’s not about to give up on her dream. So, with some financial help from her successful and powerful father, she’s about to launch Empire Brewery, a craft brewery specializing in ales and lagers. Dad’s help has come, however, with a few caveats, chief among them that if she didn’t plan to stay in New York, her only other option is to build her empire in the Palo Duro Canyon where family friends can keep an eye on her. Want to get to know her? Here’s a scene where the town’s attorney gets a peek at her more playful (and competitive!) side:
“What’s going on back there?”
Mitch grinned. “Bo. One of the guys has a hoverboard, and she’s messing around on it right now.”
Drew snorted. “You’re kidding.”
“Come on. Let’s get you situated up in her office. You’ll be able to watch her from there.”
They crept upstairs, and Drew paused only long enough to drop the bag of food on the desk before striding to the window to view the brewery floor below. A crowd of men lined up near the walls of pallets, and in the middle of the aisle they created, Bo waved her arms frantically as she struggled to stay upright on the narrow board with the illuminated wheels and herky-jerky motion. While they all watched, the contraption spun in a circle, and she windmilled her arms to counter the rotation.
The board moved forward. She wobbled, flailed, and for a split-second, looked like she’d pull out of the downward spiral. Gravity worked against her. To the shouts of, “Whoa! Whoa!” from the onlookers, she stumbled off the hoverboard, and onto her knees on the cement floor. A dozen men winced in empathy, including Drew and Mitch, who both sucked in a sharp breath.
At that point, Drew expected she’d return the board to its rightful owner and admit defeat. Good thing he didn’t bet on it. She regained her feet and brushed off her jeans. With a wave of her hand, she signaled her eagerness to jump on the board again. The men on the brewery floor cheered. Drew’s heart plummeted to his stomach when she climbed on top of the contraption for another round.
“How long have they been doing this?” he asked Mitch.
“About a half-hour or so. Bo’s trying to beat the current record.”
“How close has she come?”
“About ninety seconds.”
“Within ninety seconds?”
Mitch shook his head. “Nope. Ninety seconds total.”
He chuckled. “So I wouldn’t be interrupting anything crucial if I went down there and invited her to come up here to eat?”
A smirk twisted Mitch’s lips. “You’d probably be saving her life. Bo’s not one to give up easy. She won’t quit until she breaks the record or a bone. She’s got a real competitive streak.”
“Is she always this reckless?”
“Well, I don’t know if she’s reckless. She’s got a lot to prove.”
“Herself, mostly. But her family, too. Her dad’s pretty well known in…his business, and so are her brothers, so she feels like she needs to make a name for herself in her chosen profession. They’re a competitive bunch. The fact she’s the only female in her family and grew up in a household of men means she always works ten times as hard, and she usually winds up twenty times more successful because she doesn’t give up.”
Outside, on the brewery floor, Bo fell off the hoverboard again.
Drew sighed. “I better go get her before she hurts herself.” He strode to the desk and pulled out a round, aluminum foil dish with a clear plastic cover. “I bet I can lure her upstairs faster with this.”
“Is that a deluxe burger from that diner over in Claude?”
They left the office and headed downstairs to join the chaos on the brewery floor. Once again, Bo balanced precariously on the hoverboard in the center of the room while a young man, barely out of his teens, stared at his watch to time her progress.
“One minute, fifteen seconds,” the young man shouted.
Everyone cheered, except Bo, who ordered above the din, “Don’t keep calling out the time, Ryan! It distracts me.” The aroma of the burger must have reached her nostrils because she turned in his direction and smiled. Leaping off the precarious contraption with more grace than she displayed while riding it, she announced, “Time out. My dinner’s here. To be continued tomorrow.” She followed the scent straight to him. “Please tell me that’s meat, I smell.”
“And hello to you, too,” he replied.
“Sorry. Hi, Drew. Thanks for coming back. How was your day? Is that meat I smell?” She spoke the words as if reciting a list, and he grinned.
“My smart phone shows more emotion than that.”
“What can I say? It’s been a long day. I need recharging.” She looked at the dish he held and gave a fist pump. “It is meat! Oh, thank God. It occurred to me after you were gone you might think I was one of those scrawny, salad-munching women.”
Seven days and counting, friends!