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The Will
  • Текст добавлен: 9 октября 2016, 02:02

Текст книги "The Will"


Автор книги: Kristen Ashley






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Текущая страница: 26 (всего у книги 35 страниц)

“The whole thing. The trip down. Lobster at a fancy-assed restaurant. Cush hotel the likes none of them have ever seen and girl Taylor’s dad is pretty loaded,” he went on. “Definitely the concert and meetin’ the band.”

“I’m glad,” I whispered.

Jake’s hand moved from the bed so he could use it to cup my jaw.

When he did, I turned into it, pressing my jaw deeper into his hand.

“You mean the world to them, baby,” he whispered. “All of them. Even the Taylors.”

“They mean the world to me,” I replied.

“And you mean the world to me,” he stated.

I blinked.

Then I stared.

Then my heart stopped beating.

“Babe?” he called when I said nothing.

“You mean the world to me too,” I pushed out and when I did, it sounded husky.

“Thank fuck,” he whispered and he meant both words, he meant them a great deal, and that meant a great deal to me. “Kiss me before I do something that does not say good dad and leave my sons alone in a hotel room in Boston all night.”

All our rooms were adjoining. Obviously, the door from my room to his room with the boys was closed, as was the door between their room and Amber and the Taylor’s, but still.

He didn’t want to leave them alone.

Such a good father.

I pushed up and put my lips to his. Then I slid my tongue in his mouth. After mere moments of me enjoying drinking from him, his arms closed around me and he drank from me.

He did it better.

Alas, some time after but still too soon, he ended the kiss, lifted his lips to kiss my nose and put me back in bed.

“See you in the mornin’, Slick.”

“See you in the morning, darling.”

Jake grinned.

I grinned back.

He bent in and kissed my jaw.

Then I watched him move to the adjoining door and through it.

I stared at the closed door long after Jake was gone thinking that I meant the world to Jake Spear.

I meant the world to him.

He told me so.

Thus, mere minutes later, I fell asleep smiling.

* * * * *

It was Sunday.

It was dark.

We were back from Boston. The Taylors had headed home. I’d hung out with Jake and the kids at his house. But now it was time to go home.

Jake was standing outside with me by my Cayenne.

I was in his arms and we were standing close.

“I’ll call you later and tell you how the talk went,” he said.

“Okay,” I replied.

“I don’t get bad vibes, you’re in my bed tomorrow night,” he declared.

This made me slightly nervous but mostly happy so I pressed closer and repeated, “Okay.”

“Okay,” he muttered then dipped his head and touched his mouth to mine. He lifted it and said quietly, “Need to get that shit done.”

“Okay, darling. I’ll talk to you later.”

He touched his mouth to mine, lifted his head again and said, “Yeah.”

I gave him a squeeze and a smile.

Jake returned the gesture.

He then opened my door for me, closed it after I climbed in and stood in the lane that led up to his house while I backed out, turned into the street and drove away.

I didn’t envy him the impending likely uncomfortable discussion with his kids. It was pretty clear they knew what was going on with their dad and I, but bringing it up, discussing it, moving it forward for them in a way that at the very least Conner and Amber would understand, would not be easy.

But I hoped it was relatively painless.

This was on my mind as I drove home.

This was still on my mind when I drove into the curve in front of Lavender House.

It was not on my mind when I saw the shiny black Mercedes parked in front of my house.

“What on earth?” I asked irately into the cab.

I saw Boston Stone move from the shadowed entry of Lavender House as I parked.

I kept my eyes glued to him as I turned off my car, threw open the door, got out, slammed the door, beeped the locks and started to stalk toward him in order to tell him precisely how I felt, not only about a visit late in a Sunday evening, but about any visit from him at all.

However, before I could say a word, I tripped over my feet, righted myself and stopped dead.

Then I went completely still.

And I did this staring at the man who followed Boston Stone from the shadows of the front door of Lavender House.

Staring unthinking but not unfeeling.

And none of the feelings I was having were even remotely good.

For the man who followed Boston Stone was the second to last man I’d ever want to see again in my life.

It was my uncle.


Chapter Seventeen

Gone. Deep.

After Jake watched Josie drive away, he moved to his house, in it and closed the door behind him. He then moved to the stairs, up them and straight to his daughter’s door.

He knocked, waited and opened it, swinging only his torso in when he heard her call, “Yeah?”

She was on her bed on the phone. From the dreamy expression on her face, Jake knew she was talking to Alexi.

“Wrap that up, honey. Family meeting in the kitchen. You can call him back when we’re done,” he ordered.

“Okay, Dad,” she replied easily.

Jake studied her a second before jerking up his chin, swinging back out and closing the door.

He didn’t know if it was Josie’s influence, Alexi or both, but he liked how she was with this kid.

With Noah, she was anxious, unsure of herself, grouchy and a pain in the ass.

With Alexi, she seemed more relaxed, more certain, timidly excited and not at all a pain in the ass.

It might be the kid, but Jake decided to give Josie the credit.

Alexi got her home on time and she was clearly riding the high of the date in a good way throughout the drive to Boston the next day.

But Jake was exercising a father’s prerogative and reserving judgment on Alexi and would keep doing that shit until they broke up or, God forbid, had their first kid in at least ten but hopefully more like twenty years.

On this thought, he turned to the landing and heard the doorbell ring. He was halfway down the stairs when he saw Con walking through the entryway toward the front door.

His son looked up at him as he moved and said, “Got it, Dad.”

“Right,” Jake replied.

When he made it down the stairs, he turned his head and stopped when he saw who was at the door.

At the same time, he heard his son say, “What the hell?”

And he said this because Ellie was standing outside looking up at Conner, her face hesitant, earnest, scared and shy.

“Con, can I talk to you a sec?” she asked cautiously.

Jake waited to see if Conner needed him and as he did, he heard Con reply, his voice clipped, “Living room.”

This was not welcoming but still, Ellie nodded. Conner moved aside to let her in, caught his dad’s eyes and Jake saw he had this. Then again, he usually had it. Unlike Amber, his boy was confident with just about everything.

Jake still gave him a look. Conner returned a shake of his head, closed the front door and moved toward the living room where Ellie had disappeared.

Jake got closer to his son and said low, “Don’t know what that is but we gotta have a family meeting. Sorry, bud, but gotta ask you to do what you can to make it short.”

Conner held his eyes a second before he nodded and moved into the living room, closing the door behind him.

Jake sighed as he walked into the kitchen, taking his phone out of his back pocket. He put it on the charger and went to the fridge, hoping like all fuck Conner dealt with whatever Ellie had going on and quick. He was looking forward to burying Josie deeper into the family fold. He was not looking forward to discussing how he wanted to do that, especially with two teenagers who knew exactly what it meant that he was going to have a woman in his bed.

Luckily, Ethan didn’t get it and probably would just be excited to have Josie around more.

He just hoped Conner and Amber were the same.

They gave no indication they wouldn’t be.

Still, he had far from abstained since he got shot of Ethan’s mom but none of those women had slept in his bed. He’d had them there when the kids weren’t around, but his kids never woke up to his women.

So this conversation was not going to be easy.

He pulled out a beer, twisted off the top, tossed the cap in the trash and took a pull as he started to the family room where he could hear a game playing. He was going to tell Ethan they were having a meeting but he didn’t get that far.

The doorbell went again.

He felt his brows draw together as he looked in that direction then moved in that direction.

He heard nothing from the living room, which he hoped was a good sign.

But he saw through the windows at the top of the door who was standing outside.

Fuck,” he hissed, not wanting to do it but doing it all the same mostly because he had no choice.

He set his beer on the table beside the door and opened it.

Donna stood outside.

And, someone kill him, she had Ellie’s exact expression of hesitant, earnest, scared and shy. Except it was on the face of a woman thirty years older, it was about something she couldn’t possibly think was going to happen so it was entirely jacked.

He did not let her in. He forced her to take two steps back as he went out and closed the door behind him.

“Now is not a good time,” he growled.

“Jake, we gotta talk,” she said quietly.

“Yeah,” he agreed. “But now’s not a good time. You call before you do this shit, Donna. You don’t blindside me.”

She took in a deep breath, lifted a hand and placed it on his chest.

Instantly, he moved to the side, clearing her hand and putting another two feet of distance between them.

Her eyes widened in shock as she dropped her hand.

Fucking hell.

Seriously?

She lifted both hands to her sides, eyes glued to his, and stated, “I fucked up.”

“We’re not doing this,” he returned immediately.

“Jake—”

“You talkin’ about fuckin’ up with our boy and girl?” he asked.

She nodded. “Yes. The kids and, well…us.”

“We’ll talk about the kids later. Not now. We’re not talkin’ about us ever seein’ as there is no us to talk about.”

Her expression turned pleading. “Jake, there’s always been an us.”

Jesus.

Whacked.

“Donna, since you kicked my ass out the first time, the us there was was gone.”

“I know I hurt you,” she whispered.

“Woman, that was fourteen years ago.”

“We were happy,” she told him.

“No, Donna. I was happy. You were never happy. You were always searchin’ for something, wanting something, pissed about not finding it or getting it and up in my shit. Those times I was not happy and lookin’ back, havin’ something good now that actually does make me happy, I see it. But none of this shit matters because it’s so over it’s barely a memory.”

She flinched from his blow but he didn’t give a fuck.

His boy was inside talking to the girl who broke his heart two weeks ago and he had to monitor that situation. And he had a conversation to have with his children. What he did not have was time to deal with his ex.

Before he could tell her to get gone, however, she spoke again.

“So Josie makes you happy?” she asked.

“Yeah,” he answered, “Now, listen—”

But it was then Donna cut him off in order to make a very bad mistake.

And this was saying, “She’s pretty, Jake, but she’s super weird.”

Oh no.

Fuck no.

“She’s weird?” Jake whispered.

“She talks funny and, well…acts funny. Is that really what you—?”

“It’s funny to you that she listens to your daughter, takes her shopping, buys her makeup, is interested in what Amber’s interested in and shows Amber she can trust her with pretty much everything she does so Amber actually trusts her?”

“I—”

“And it’s funny to you that when Conner had a pissed off dad in his face, Josie stood between him and that man, calmed the situation down, sorted it out and didn’t waste any time gettin’ Con off the hook for somethin’ he didn’t do in the first place?”

She shut her mouth and stared at him.

“Newsflash, Donna, that shit is not weird. What’s so weird it’s goddamned whacked is a woman who gives more of a shit about gettin’ off, pretending the men in her bed are the husband she had nearly two decades ago, so that woman has no time to be a mother to her children.”

That got him another flinch and he didn’t care about that one either.

He kept at her.

“Josie’s been more mother to them in the last month than you have in the last five years.”

Donna had something to say to that.

“That’s a terrible thing to say,” she whispered.

“It is. And the fuck of it is, every word is true,” Jake returned. “Proof of that is that your kids are inside this goddamned house and you’re not here to see them, you’re here to talk to me. You haven’t even asked about them. And before you think you can backtrack, I’ll give you the heads up, now’s not your time to have with them. Not with you comin’ over without them on your mind. Until you start thinkin’ of them, you got no access to them.”

Pain suffused her face and Jake didn’t care about that either.

He was done.

So he moved to get this scene done.

“I see you haven’t thought about shit in the last week. Or, if you have, you’ve been thinkin’ the wrong things. So I’ll give you more time to do that. In fact, take all the time you want. But don’t come back here. I don’t wanna talk to you. I don’t wanna see you. I can’t stop you from talkin’ to your kids so the only thing I can do is ask, please, God, if you try to sort shit out with them, do it smart, thinkin’ about them and not yourself. I don’t figure you got that in you so it’ll be me and Josie pickin’ up whatever pieces you leave behind. But still, I’m beggin’ you, try to find it in you to be a decent mom for once. For them. Now, that’s all I got to say. Get gone and don’t come back. Yeah?”

Her eyes welled up with tears and she whispered, “I don’t believe this is happening. I can’t believe you’re talking to me this way. Even if we’re over, Jake, this isn’t exactly nice.”

Christ.

What was the matter with her?

“It is and I am. Believe it. You do, finally, you’ll manage to extract your head out of your ass,” Jake returned, moved to the door, opened it, stepped through and closed it without looking back.

When he did, Ethan called out, “Dad! Your phone’s been ringin’!”

Jake moved to the doorway to the family room and replied, “Thanks, bud.”

His son didn’t even look away from the game as he said, “No probs.”

“Eath, we’re gonna have a family meeting in a minute so find a good place to pause,” Jake told him.

Ethan looked to him then and asked, “About what?”

“About Josie,” Jake answered

His son tipped his head to the side. “You marryin’ her?”

His son’s words put the shit he just endured from Donna out of his head, so he grinned but shook his head. “Not yet.”

Ethan’s face changed before he asked, “She okay?”

“Yeah, buddy,” Jake replied quietly.

His expression cleared and he kept up the interrogation. “She movin’ in?”

Jake stifled his laughter and said, “Not exactly. But I want her around more and gotta make sure you guys are cool with that.”

Ethan looked back to the game and announced, “I’m cool with it, just as long as she and Amber don’t gang up on us and make us watch Project Runway and crap like The Voice.” Ethan looked back to him. “So, seein’ as I’m cool with it, I don’t have to pause the game to go to the meeting. Right?”

Jake opened his mouth to reply but said nothing when he heard his phone ringing at the same time he heard the door to the living room open behind him.

“Find a place to pause, son,” he murmured distractedly, turned and looked down the hall to see a sobbing Ellie rushing through it, opening the front door and throwing herself out, slamming it behind her.

Conner then sauntered out of the room and stopped, his eyes to the front door.

Jake moved into the entryway.

Conner felt his presence and looked to his dad. His face didn’t say much except whatever that was was unpleasant but Jake was surprised that whatever set Ellie to running from the house crying, obviously it didn’t bother Con all that much.

“Everything okay?” he asked.

“Not for her,” Conner answered.

“You wanna tell me?” Jake went on.

Conner shrugged. “She wanted to get back together. Feels shit for not goin’ to bat for me. Talked to her folks. Talked ‘em into lettin’ her give me another chance. Another freaking chance.” He shook his head, looked to the door then back at his dad and finished, “It’s too late. She had her chance and blew it.”

Jake held his eyes, knowing this was Conner’s decision and not disagreeing that it was the right one, so he let it lie.

Then he said quietly, “She was in bad shape when she left.”

Conner’s eyes went to the door as he murmured, “Yeah.”

“Get in your car, Con,” Jake told him. “Follow her. Make sure she gets home okay. Then come back. We got shit to talk about.”

Conner looked back to his dad and guessed accurately, “Josie?”

Jake shook his head, again fighting a grin. “Car. Ellie. Home safe. We’ll talk when you get back.”

Conner nodded and headed to the kitchen but he did it speaking.

“If you’re movin’ things up a notch with her, just so you know, I’m down with that. She cooks great, even if she always serves vegetables she tries to get me to eat. And if she’s here in the morning, I don’t have to take Eath to school.”

Jake followed his son, stopping in the kitchen doorway and leaning a shoulder against the jamb as Con moved to the door to the garage.

Conner stopped and looked back at him, “So that’s my vote. You can have the meeting without me.”

“We’ll talk when you get back,” Jake replied, jerking his head to the door. “Go.”

Conner’s lips twitched then he was out the door.

“Is Josie moving in?”

This came from behind him. It came from Amber. It sounded hopeful. And when Jake turned, he saw his daughter’s face looked hopeful too.

He heard his phone ring again but he focused on his girl. “No, honey. But she’s gonna be around a lot more.”

Awesome,” Amber breathed. “More girls in the house. This means maybe we’ll get some toss pillows and I’ll get to watch Say Yes to the Dress on the big TV.”

His plans for a family meeting clearly in the toilet, he made a decision and held his daughter’s eyes.

“What I mean is, she’s gonna be spendin’ the night,” he said gently.

When he did, Amber’s head tipped to the side and she replied, “Yeah, Dad. Uh…duh.”

Jake stared at her thinking this was a fuckuva lot easier than he expected it to be.

She righted her head and noted, “Does this mean I don’t have to be at the meeting and I can call Alexi back?”

He had all around approvals and didn’t think it was a good idea to make a big deal of something the kids obviously didn’t think was a big deal, so he nodded and said, “Sure, honey.”

She gave him a huge smile, took a hop to him, leaned up and kissed his cheek.

She did this fast, then raced away and up the stairs just as fast.

He watched her go, thinking of her kiss, her smile, how she was a month ago which was absolutely not like that, and again giving Josie the credit.

His mind on Josie, he moved to his phone to call her to tell her tomorrow night (and the night after, and the one after that), her ass was in his bed.

But when he picked up his phone, he saw he had three missed calls.

All from Josie.

His gut clenched as he moved his thumb over his screen.

He hit go on her number and put the phone to his ear.

She answered in one ring and when she did, her voice was trembling.

It was then his gut twisted.

“Jake.”

“Baby, what’s up?”

“Boston Stone is here,” she told him and a burn started in his chest.

“What the fuck?” he clipped.

Her voice got weak when she added, “He’s with Uncle Davis.”

Uncle Davis.

Davis Malone.

Lydie’s firstborn boy and a supreme asshole.

At this news, Jake yanked the charger out of his phone and moved quickly toward the stairs.

Unfortunately, Josie wasn’t done.

“And Terry Baginski just arrived.”

“What the fuck?” he bit out, hitting the stairs and taking them two at a time.

“They’re explaining Uncle Davis is contesting the will,” she whispered.

God damn it.

“Hang tight, Slick, I’ll be there soon’s I can,” he told her as he rapped sharply on Amber’s door.

“Okay, Jake,” she replied just as his daughter called, “Yeah?”

“Be there soon, baby. Yeah?” he said gently.

“Yes, Jake.”

“All right. See you in a few minutes,” he told her.

“Okay.”

“Later, honey.”

“Later, Jake,” she said.

He didn’t want to let her go but he had to let her go so he could get to her.

So he disconnected, opened his girl’s door and swung in.

She was in the same position as earlier, on the bed, her phone to her ear.

“Gotta get to Josie,” he stated. “Look after Ethan while I’m gone.”

She sat up, her eyes not leaving him and he knew she’d read him when she asked, “Is Josie okay?”

“Don’t know, honey,” he replied. “Gotta go. You’re here with Ethan, yeah?”

She nodded, her eyes still glued to him, “Yeah, Dad. Go.”

He swung out of her room, not closing the door. He jogged down the steps and when he got to the bottom, called out to his son, “Gotta go do somethin’, bud. You’re here with Amber.”

Lost in the game, Ethan called back, “Okay, Dad.”

Delaying no further, he went to his truck, backed it out of the garage and engaged his phone to call Conner.

It rang twice before Con answered with, “Ellie’s home okay, Dad.”

“You’re closer than me so I need you to get to Lavender House right now,” he ordered.

Conner’s voice was alert when he asked, “Why?”

“Josie’s there and so’s her uncle.”

Josie had been a part of their lives for a lot longer than she’d physically been part of their lives. This was because Lydie had shared liberally with not only Jake but his kids and not only about Josie but also in her frank but gentle way about herself. His kids didn’t get it all but they got the jist.

And Jake knew Conner got the jist when he said, “On my way.”

“Stick to her like glue until I get there. I’m on my way.”

“Got it.”

“Later.”

“Bye, Dad.”

He disconnected, kept his phone in his hand in case Josie called and drove fast.

There were four cars in the curve of the lane in front of Lavender House when he arrived. After Jake parked and got out he noted a wicked wind had blown up. It bit into him the instant he opened his door.

He didn’t feel it.

Instead, he saw the shadowy figures standing outside the front door to the house. Five of them. When he got closer, he saw it was Conner facing off against Stone, Lydie’s son and Terry Baginski. He was pleased to see that Con had Josie behind him.

Jake made a mental note to put in fucking motion sensor lights the next fucking day as he prowled to the group.

“The cavalry arrives.” He heard Terry say sarcastically as he moved to his woman and his son.

“What’s goin’ on here?” he asked, his eyes scanning Josie’s pale face as best he could in the light and not liking what he saw.

“They want in,” Conner answered him. “Josie doesn’t want them in so they aren’t goin’ in.”

Jake took his place beside his son and turned his eyes to Stone, the old man standing next to him and Terry.

To control his temper, he couldn’t look at Stone or Lydie’s son. So he focused on Terry.

“Josie doesn’t want you in, time for you to leave,” he stated.

“We have things to discuss,” Terry replied.

“If that’s the case, call Josie, make a meeting,” Jake returned.

“That’s hardly necessary when we’re all right here,” she shot back.

“It’s Sunday night, Terry,” Jake reminded her. “Whatever this is, it can happen at a decent hour on a workday.”

“What this is is that Lydia Malone made a highly unusual bequest in her will that unfortunately demonstrated she was not of her right mind when she wrote it. This would be proved true as she also didn’t include her son in any of her rather substantial behests,” Stone announced.

Jake didn’t even look at him.

He narrowed his eyes on Terry. “You share the terms of the will and Lydie’s assets with Boston Stone?”

“Davis Malone, as the only direct living descendent of Lydia Malone, is entitled to know the particulars of his mother’s situation and last requests,” she answered.

“I didn’t ask that,” Jake ground out. “I asked if you shared the terms of Lydie’s will and her assets with Boston Stone who is not a relative.”

She didn’t reply.

That meant she did.

“At the reading of the will, you mentioned Stone,” Jake went on. “Now, you’re colluding with him.”

“I’m hardly colluding with him,” she snapped. “There’s nothing to collude about.”

“So this isn’t a play to get Lavender House sold so Malone can pocket the profits and Stone can doze it or make it into a hotel or whatever the hell he wants to do with it?” Jake pressed.

“I obviously can’t know what Mr. Malone will do should he inherit Lavender House,” she lied through her teeth.

Jake scowled at her. “Don’t know shit about this but it seems a conflict of interest. You got a stake in Stone Incorporated?”

She didn’t get the chance to answer. Lydie’s fuckwad son decided to enter the conversation.

“This is bullshit, barred from my childhood home.”

Even as he felt Josie press close to his back, Jake turned his attention to the man and saw he was old, he was weak, he’d clearly lived a rough life that Jake knew was of his own making and he looked mean as a snake.

“You never lived here,” Jake returned.

“Right, then, barred from my mother’s childhood home,” Davis amended.

“Yeah, and if Lydie was here, she’d be right next to Josie doin’ that and you know it,” Jake told him something he absolutely fucking knew.

“Unfortunately, my mother died before we could make amends,” Davis spewed his bullshit.

“Seein’ as you had about sixty years to do that and you didn’t, I’m guessin’ amends couldn’t be made,” Jake fired back.

“This is ridiculous,” Terry snapped. “It’s freezing out here. We can discuss this inside.”

Jake turned his attention to her. “We’re not discussing this inside. Josie’ll discuss this with you at the meeting you’re gonna arrange. Now, you’re gonna leave or I’m gonna call Coert and he’ll ask you to leave.”

“It’s hardly necessary calling the sheriff, Spear,” Stone noted and Jake finally looked at him.

And his voice changed significantly when he addressed him.

“You got your panties in a bunch when Josie leveled you, you teamed up with Terry and you found this guy in order to fuck with her because you’re so goddamned small, you weren’t man enough to take that direct hit and move on. You think you got a stake in this, but you don’t. All you did was set yourself up to take another direct hit.”

“It’s hardly the behavior of a lucid woman to settle a human being on another human being in her will,” Stone returned.

“’Fraid I’m gonna have to disagree with you seein’ as for Josie and me, that worked out all right, so Lydie knew exactly what she was doin’ and that’s all kinds of lucid.”

“That’s absurd,” Stone clipped.

“You can think that if you want, but it’s still true.”

“Fuck me, all this yammering,” Davis Malone snapped and Jake looked at him to see his eyes aimed at Josie. “Girl, just open the goddamned door.”

Jake didn’t let Josie speak and instead ordered, “Go, all of you.”

“An arrangement can be made,” Terry put in. “Mr. Malone is willing to be reasonable and negotiate a fair division of assets once Lavender House is sold.”

At this, Jake felt Josie press closer to his back.

Jake turned narrowed eyes to Terry. “Explain to me how you can act on behalf of Davis Malone,” Jake demanded. “You’re Josie’s attorney.”

“Arnie’s Josie’s attorney. I’m not,” she returned.

“You’re at the same firm and that’s not a conflict of interest?” Jake asked.

She said nothing.

It was absolutely a conflict of interest, the bitch.

Jake was done.

“You wanna be asked to leave by the sheriff, have at it,” he muttered, turning and herding his son into Josie. His eyes found hers through the dark. “Keys out, baby,” he whispered. “Let us in.”

She stared up at him with wide eyes a moment before she nodded, turned jerkily, teetered on her heel and Jake put a hand out to steady her.

Without Jake telling him to do so, Conner crowded his dad and Josie at the door and he and his son kept crowding her until they got her in, followed her and Jake closed and locked the door behind them.

“Lights, Con,” Jake ordered as he looked down to his phone to find Coert’s number.

“Jake,” Josie whispered and he turned his attention to her, put his phone to his ear and lifted his other hand to her neck where he curled his fingers around the side and gave her a squeeze.

“Just a second, baby.”

She pressed her lips together.

Coert answered the phone. “Yo, Jake. You good?”

“I’m at Lavender House with Josie Malone and there are trespassers on the property who won’t leave even after we’ve asked repeatedly for them to do so.”

“Fuck,” Coert groaned, probably settled in for the night in front of a game.

Jake kept a hand on Josie as he leaned back to look through the window at the side of the door. He saw the cars still there, as were the shadowed bodies.

“I’d owe you one, you roust these assholes,” Jake said into the phone.

“You will and big. The Broncs are playing.”

Coert gave a shit about the Broncos because he was a transplant from Denver. Jake also knew why Coert got the fuck out of the Mile High City. There were only two reasons a man with a good job he liked in a town he loved would move across an entire country. He fucked up or a woman fucked him up.

In Coert’s situation, it was the last.

“Gotta warn you, Boston Stone is one of the assholes I’m talkin’ about,” Jake told him.

“That got me motivated,” Coert surprisingly replied then explained, “Guy’s a dick.”

“Agreed.”

“On my way,” Coert stated.

“Thanks, man,” Jake murmured.

“Later.”

“Later.”

He disconnected, looked to Josie who was staring up at him and noticed instantly she was freaked way the fuck out.

That was why his eyes moved to his son as Con got back from going through the house and turning on lights.

“On the phone with your sister. Get her to pack a bag for you, Ethan and her, get your books and haul her and Eath over here. We’re stayin’ the night with Josie.”

“Jake,” Josie whispered.

“Gotcha,” Conner said and moved toward the kitchen.

Jake looked down to his woman. “Fuck them. You’re stayin’ in your house tonight and you’re not doin’ it alone,” he declared.

She pressed her lips together before she fell forward and face planted in his chest.

He wrapped his arms around her, put his lips to the top of her hair and told her, “It’s gonna be okay, Slick.”

“He wants Lavender House,” she said into his chest.

“He’s not gonna get it,” Jake returned.

“He’s standing out there right now.”

“Coert’s gonna be here and he’ll be gone in fifteen minutes, baby.”


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