Guest Post – Cole McCade – THE LOST

The Lost Cover


She’s known it her whole life. She knows it every time she spreads her legs. Every time she begs for the pain, the pleasure, the heat of a hard man driving deep inside. She’s a slave to her own twisted lusts–and it’s eating her alive. She loves it. She craves it. Sex is her drug, and she’s always chasing her next fix. But nothing can satisfy her addiction, not even the nameless men she uses and tosses aside. No one’s ever given her what she truly needs.

Until Gabriel Hart.

Cold. Controlled. Impenetrable. Ex-Marine Gabriel Hart isn’t the kind of man to come running when Leigh crooks her pretty little finger. She loathes him. She hungers for him. He’s the only one who understands how broken she is, and just what it takes to satisfy the emptiness inside. But Gabriel won’t settle for just one night. He wants to claim her, keep her, make her forever his. Together they are the lost, the ruined, the darkness at the heart of Crow City.

But Leigh has a darkness of her own. A predator stalking through her past–one she’ll do anything to escape.

Even if it means running from the one man who could love her…and leaving behind something more precious to her than life itself.

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Note: This book contains material that may be triggering for some readers


“State your name.”

Cold, clipped words, blending into the noise of the police station. Leigh lifted her head from a fixed study of her clenched fingers. Colors whirled around her in a lurid carnival nightmare, too bright, too blurry. On a bench on the far side of the room, a wasted and broken scarecrow woman picked at a scab on her wrist with a certain habitual listlessness, oozing diseased red-brown blood over liver spots. Her tendons were rails under her skin, and the dull gleam of cuffs chained her to the bench. She raised her head and stared at Leigh with yellowed eyes that captured her with a sort of empty, terrifying promise.

Across the desk a policewoman waited, with that compassionate impatience only a half-step from pity and shoulder-to-shoulder with disgust. Her flat blue eyes said she’d been trained to care, but couldn’t be bothered anymore. Leigh swallowed and tugged her hoodie close against the tinny air-conditioned chill. Her mouth had dried to a tacky, sticky mess, gummy pills of lipstick beading on her lips, and her tongue was a bloated and useless organ, this swollen pink thing pushing pointlessly against her teeth.

“Leigh,” she ground out. “Clarissa Leigh…” Her married name scratched sandpaper syllables against her throat. “…van Zandt.”

“And Miss van Zandt, do you know why you’re here?”

She nodded, her neck a creaking wooden puppet-hinge. “I do.”

“Your family’s been worried about you.”

“I know.”

She knew what she should do here. Bow her head in shame and contrition, maybe even sniffle. But she looked for the emotions and they weren’t there; just scraps and tatters, clinging to the empty place where they belonged. She had no feeling left, hollowed out and lost and wondering how she’d ended up here. This didn’t feel real. Instead it was a dream where everyone leered in fisheye close-up, their smiles all teeth and stretched red lips and manic glee. She wanted to run, but somehow she’d gone too numb to do anything but sit here surrounded by the stink of fear-sweat, stale beer, and that particular police-station smell of urine soaked into concrete for decades on end.

“What happened to you?” the officer asked. Leigh didn’t answer, and the officer’s pen tapped against the forms on her desk, rat-tat-tat, rat-tat-tat, Morse code for I’d rather be anywhere but here with this spoiled little runaway princess. “It’s been four years. You were declared legally dead.”

“That’s all right.” She closed her eyes with a laugh that ripped her guts up into her mouth, and buried her face in her hands. Dead. Dead.

Yeah, that was about right.

“Miss van Zandt?”

Stop calling me that.

“Miss van Zandt. I need you to focus on my voice.”

Stop calling me that!

Leigh took a measured breath and opened her eyes. Her shoulders squared. The bolts on the back of the hard, ass-biting chair dug into her shoulder blades. “I am focused. I can hear you just fine.”

“Eyes are dilated.” The officer—her nametag read Maroni, could there be a more clichéd name for a Crow City cop—leaned across the desk, peering at her face. Then she beckoned to the aide hovering over them like a mannequin. “I’ve seen this too many times. Drugs and prostitution.” She talked about Leigh like she wasn’t even there. “We’ll have to clean her up before her husband gets here.”

“I’m not on drugs. I’ve never been on drugs.”

Maroni’s pen-clicking stopped. Her disbelief was a heavy thing, push-push-pushing until Leigh nearly laughed.

“You’re not on drugs.”


“Then what happened?”

There it was. The first hint of exasperation. Of frustration, stitched into knitted brows and the purse of lips in just the right shade of I can’t be a woman, I’m a cop mauve. Because like anyone normal, anyone who wasn’t fucking broken to pieces and liked being that way, Maroni needed to make sense of this. Needed to quantify it in a world where the rules worked as normal and everyone wanted to chase that dream of happiness that wasn’t anything but desperation painted over of a frantic tally of things. Things of plastic, things with value created by people whose upper lips curled when they looked down at little girls like Leigh, and demanded she account for herself in sane, rational ways that made proper sense.

Sorry, Officer Maroni.

I’m not the kind of thing that makes much sense.

Maroni pushed a harsh sound through her teeth. “You had a job, a husband, a newborn son. You had a life other people would kill for, and we find you here on the streets. Were you pressured? Kidnapped?”

“No. None of that.” Leigh shook her head.

“You’ll have to explain, then.”

“I left.” She trailed off, lips parted; no words came for long seconds, until she managed, “I…I was afraid.”

“Of what?” Maroni tried to catch her eye, but Leigh looked down at her hands, at her chipped pink fingernails dipped in the sparkles of shooting stars. “Miss van Zandt. If someone was hurting you, you need to tell us now so we can take appropriate steps to protect you.”

“No. No one hurt me. Not like that.”

“I’m afraid you’ll need to be more clear. What were you afraid of?”


She struggled for an answer. Struggled for something this woman would accept, something that would make her sigh with sympathy and pity and relieved disdain that said there, but for the Grace of God…

But again, she found nothing. Nothing but the truth, and Leigh shrugged as she looked up at the policewoman and wondered if she had daughters who might one day be like Leigh, daughters who would cut stark red lines of fingernails in the walls of flesh that caged her in the shape of pop culture’s perfect woman.

“Of the inevitable monotony of it all,” she said.

And smiled.


Cole McCade’s Top Five Musical Guilty Pleasures

Anyone who knows me in the slightest knows I’m an audiophile. I need music like I need breath, and while I’m a complete omnivore devouring music from all genres and several countries, I’m also insanely finicky and can be found talking about my listening setup in language that looks like a technical engineering manual. But there are certain things I’ll only listen to when no one else is around, because I don’t want to get those looks. That, and I don’t want to get caught singing along. Sometimes dancing. I do a mean tango with a broom, kids.

But I’d never do that. Ever. Because I’m gruff and manly and listen to Red and A Perfect Circle and Breaking Benjamin and Nas and Jay-Z and classic 80s rock and many other super-manly things, and not…

  1. JRock. Maybe it’s because I speak the language. Maybe it’s because Visual Kei involves men in more makeup and frills than the most glam drag queen. Maybe it’s because it can’t figure out if it wants to be death metal or hair metal or symphonic ballad rock. But JRock is wild crashing rock music that fuses so many influences of decades of global rock with a clear Japanese influence, and it ranges from crazy adrenaline-pumping madness to thumping bass riffs to these screaming emotional laments. Sometimes it’s discordant, but it’s always primal, and it’s the fastest way to get me headbanging and rocking out.
  2. KPop. Look, I can pronounce it perfectly, but I have no idea what they’re saying. None. I speak maybe twenty words of Korean, though I’m learning more. It doesn’t matter. Way before Gangnam Style, I was listening to S.E.S. and 1TYM and Hyuna and OPPA. It’s like everything my high school self loved about western 90s pop, with a twist of sweeping, over-the-top energy and insane bubbliness. It’s happy music, and it gets the blood moving. Kpop is one of my favorite fallbacks for when I need something to get my energy up and get me moving. Though I don’t know, maybe I’m just in love with multicultural music. Don’t get me started on South African R&B.
  3. Disney songs. Shut up. I know I’m a grown man. I know I’m nearly forty. Did you know I used to be an animator? Yeah. I went to school for a lot of things. A lot. I bounced through majors a dozen times, but in the end I settled on art and animation. I love the power that Disney films have to draw so much emotion out of people, with their combination of beautiful animation and viscerally engaging music. There’s just something about those songs that’s like crack. They know how to touch the feels, both good and bad, and leave them raw. Though if you start singing “Let It Go” in front of me, I will stuff a sock in your mouth. Enough already.
  4. Dubstep. Believe me, I know exactly why people get that pinched look on their face and curl their upper lip when you mention dubstep. A lot of it sounds like a robot suffering from a hernia. But there are some that are just this deep, sensual throb that gets down in the pit of your stomach and pulses in your blood and makes you feel like you move with the turn of the earth and the shifting of its magma-hot blood, this force of nature filled with more power than your fragile fleshly body can hold. Glitch Mob, 16bit, Emalkay, and Sub Focus are all artists I’d recommend for dubstep that doesn’t sound like a vehicle compactor on the fritz.
  5. One Direction. This one is new, and I’m still trying to scrub it out of my brain, but I can’t. I’ve been listening to “Drag Me Down” on repeat all day, while I wrote guest blog after guest blog and answered a hundred interview questions. Last week I was in a grouchy-arse mood, and a friend sent me “You Don’t Know You’re Beautiful” and told me to go bop it out until I was being less of a jackhole. I listened. Grudgingy. Even more grudgingly, I admitted that I liked it. And listened again. And, okay…maybe two or three more times. Then “Drag Me Down” started trending on Twitter. I gave in. I listened. And I can’t. Frigging. Stop. I might as well just give up and join the cult.

And I’m a little embarrassed to admit that One Direction bumped Taylor Swift off this list.


About Cole McCade:

Corporate consultant by day, contemporary romance author by night.

Mid-thirties. Coffee addict. Cat lover. Bibliophile. Technophile. Definite sapiophile. Native Southerner. Runner. Country boy turned city suit. Shameless collector of guitar picks, vinyl records, and incense holders. Aficionado of late-night conversations over live music in seedy bars. Browncoat with a secret crush on Kaylee Frye.

Fascinated by human sociology, and particularly by the psychology of sex and gender – and their effect on relationship expectations, the culture of dating, and what it means to fall in love.

Non-smoker. The picture’s just a stock photo. A rather broody, dark one for someone who isn’t all that broody or dark, but sometimes forgets to smile even when he means to.





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