Book cover for Betting on Brian; women in black dress and blond hair with pink heels and man in jeans and leather jacket



The moon hung low in the Nashville sky, casting an ominous glow over a figure moving through the corridors of the state capitol. Senator Michael Black—a man of cultivated charm, good looks, and barely concealed malevolence—stood at the precipice of his most audacious plan yet. One he’d been working toward for most of his life.

He entered his dark office and pulled the chain on a desk lamp , sending long shadows around the room. He didn’t waste space on his large mahogany desk for family pictures or

knickknacks; it was a place to bring his plans to fruition. He sat in the black leather chair—he thought of it as his throne—pleased with the way the day had progressed.

His bill, the Digital Well-Being and Algorithmic Transparency Act, had passed. Just barely, but it still passed. He knew Robert St. Claire, of St. Claire Industries and Technologies, would be pleased. And not only would St. Claire be pleased, he would now be indebted to Michael. At the moment, that was all that mattered. St. Claire was one of his biggest contributors, and it paid, literally, to keep him happy.

Michael picked up his cell phone to make the call; this didn’t need to go through the capitol switchboard. He paced in front of the window overlooking the lights of Nashville and stared at his reflection, cast by the soft light of the lamp. This lighting made him look harsh. His stubbled cheeks seemed hollow and angular, and dark eyes stared back with an almost sinister glow.

If my constituents could see me now, he thought with a jaded laugh. At fifty-five, he worked hard to present well on the campaign trail and in front of his colleagues. His “hard luck, bootstrap” story resonated with his base, and they’d kept him in office for ten years. But it was only half of who he was. His other half…he kept it out of the public eye. That part of him was set on vengeance. An eye for an eye.

It had been easy to work hard over the years, his goal of revenge always in mind. He’d voted on bills he knew were important to his people and his party. Worked his way up in seniority. And finally, found his way to the Future Technology and Innovation Committee. Now his end goal was in sight.

“Yes?” A man answered.

“It’s done,” Black said simply.

“The bill passed?”

“It did.” He paused to let the news sink in. “I’ve kept up my end of the deal…” He left the sentence hanging.

The man at the other end of the line sighed heavily. “Yes, you have.”

A small smile flitted across Black’s thin lips. “I’ll see you at the gala in a couple of weeks. We’ll talk then.”

He disconnected the call. He’d won. This moment had taken twenty long years of hard work, but it was all worth it.

The St. Claire family would pay.