Parker Black was not a character I plan to write. Ever. I certainly didn’t expect him to have a full length novel in the Titan series. Forget me thinking he would be one of my favorite characters of all times. But surprise, where he started and what he became were totally amazing and absurdly unscripted.
Parker Black first appeared in Winters Heat (Titan #1). He was a cool hacker dude who raced a Ducati and ran Titan’s war room. That was about it. But eight books later, he has filled out. Figuratively and literally. Because when I sat down to write him, the man had muscles. Muscles on muscles. He was a genius, but he was also a Marine. Soon as I saw that, all the pieces fell into place.
A couple yards away, the door opened, and she looked up. Parker. Oh… he wore a form-fitting Henley painted across his defined chest. It highlighted the thickness of his biceps and taper of his waist, and he wore jeans that, even from a distance, curved over his backside—and his front side—in a manner that was sinful. Every part of that man looked muscled. Even his strong neck and stout jaw shouted that he was utter male perfection.
Her mouth watered and her breath froze, a spellbinding contradiction that only served to remind her that he might have been the sexiest man she’d ever seen.
“Hey, Lex,” he said in that bottom-of-the-canyon voice that made her shiver. The door closed behind him, separating him from all that she hated inside that house.
Her cheeks felt flushed, but that was okay since she’d been running in forty degree weather. As he casually downed the stairs, his powerful thighs stole the show, and her lungs boycotted normal breaths. Again, she could blame that on exercising in the cold. But what she could say and what was the truth… those were two very different things. (Black Dawn, Titan #8)
See, not one you would think of as a hacker.
But it’s not the first time that happened. Sugar was a female villain in Winters Heat. She was a gun runner and walking the fine line of prostitution. Her character was completely harsh. Lots of leather and too much makeup, a foul mouth that could make a sailor cringe.
Winters spun around. The woman wore black leather pants like a second skin. Her silver belt buckle of dueling pistols etched over a jagged heart shined near a belly ring. Her black cotton shirt hung to right below her full rack. The lettering scribbled over her tits read Girls Love Guns.
Christ. Cash brought him to a whorehouse. She had on lipstick that was far too red. Her tussled hair was piled in a way that screamed pull here, and she smelled like scotch and spice. Her gaze raked him up and down, lingering over his crotch, before his lips pulled off hello. (Winters Heat, Titan #1)
Wow, was Sugar fun to write. I couldn’t let her go. So, she showed up a few times (because the woman loves drama) in Garrison’s Creed (Titan #2), and by the time book three rolled around, she was the heroine and perfectly paired with Jared Westin, a man so alpha he considered himself Master of the Universe.
Her bottom lip quivered, and she didn’t try to stop it. “I’m not in a good place to negotiate.”
“So don’t. Give me the sincere Sugar. I like to play with the ball-bustin’ Sugar, but bench her tonight. I want the real deal.”
“Nope. Don’t lie to me.” He brushed his lips down her neck. His teeth dragged, ordering lightning bolts to rappel down her spine. “Don’t hold anything back with me. Ever.”
“Ever?” She rolled her neck, allowing him full access. He was asking for a lot. But she could trust him.
She could… right? Yes. She could. She would.
“Ever,” he growled. The authority in the word and the iron-clad strength in his tone made it a commitment that she could agree to. (Westin’s Chase, Titan #3)
Holy sparks! When those two characters got together, it was an inferno. I never saw it coming. The Jared-Sugar combination could melt the keys off my keyboard. And speaking of Jared Westin, he was, ahem, creative. Nothing like his super alpha, all military, tons of rules-honor-standard-operating-procedure. But, the differences in what I expected of him didn’t stay just with Sugar. There was a strong family side of Jared appeared that I didn’t expect. In particular, he ignored everything I ever would have outlined about him when he ends up at Disney World, which very well could be the most unTitan place on earth. The man owns it, and between his actions and dialogue, it is perfect. (Like him, he would likely say.)
But back to Black Dawn. Lexi was a surprisingly strong heroine also. She didn’t start off how she ended up. When I first sat down with her, she was married to a man who cheated on her, and Parker was the one who broke the news.
He paused a beat, then mumbled, “He slept with a stripper. That was his mistake.”
Lexi’s mind stopped tumbling. “Wh—what? Excuse me?”
“He did.” Parker turned to face her, his voice was stronger. “It happened. Before he met you. You gotta know, once he did, you were the only thing he talked about. The guy was into you. Some things just happen like that.”
Dread dripped through her veins. “Why are you telling me this? What does that have to do with… this?” Her eyes dropped, staring at the papers like they were dangerous.
“Stripper got pregnant.”
Her mouth dropped open.
Parker didn’t hold her gaze. “Matt’s got a son.” (THIS IS *NOT* IN BLACK DAWN! Just a draft.)
Nothing like that happened in Black Dawn because when I sat back to re-read, it wasn’t Parker or Lexi. The storyline didn’t have that feel that the final one did—which tears you up and puts you back together.
I wanted Parker and Lexi’s story to really matter, and apparently so did they, because when I scrapped that draft, forgot any semblance of an outline (I’m a total pantser, so really, when I say outline, I mean rows of Post-it notes on my wall), and just let the words fly. What came out made me teary and happy at the same time.
“Nothing.” She took a deep breath. “You said I was pretty—”
“No, sweetheart. I said you were gorgeous.”
The pink on her cheeks intensified, and God, he liked making that happen.
“Gorgeous,” she repeated. “No one’s said that in a long time.”
Parker shifted, wishing he could fix that. “You deserve better.”
Tears welled in her eyes, and emotions scraped through his chest, leaving jagged questions ripping through him.
“Yeah?” He swallowed the knot in his throat.
“This is going to sound so damn stupid.”
No stupider than every at-odds thought in his head. “Try me.”
“Can I have—can you just hug me?”
And… he… was… done. (Black Dawn, Titan #8)
Re-writing Black Dawn to what it is today was hard. I had to take a break from writing Titan to pen the Only Series. It gave me a chance to see if I was really going to go there with Black Dawn (I did), and if I would love where the characters took me (I love it more than I can describe). Lexi and Parker are not at all like I would have described last year. They are a thousand times better, even if they made me re-write their book. They didn’t listen to a single thing I had planned for them, and for that, Black Dawn rocks. I’m totally grateful to my crazy, misbehaving characters for taking me on this ride.