Category Archives: Tigers

LIAM HARRISON AMBUSH Release Day & Giveaway

Emma Hudson wanted to get this over with. Her father had left her in a jam, and the sooner she dropped off his duplicate trucker log books to the Harrisons, the sooner she could get back to work and try to clear her name. Trucking was all she knew, and she was tired of it.

Liam Harrison watched the pretty little thing climb into her truck to get the books, but when she slipped and fell back into his arms with a life-threatening cut on her arm, he knew two things: she was his mate, and she would die if he didn’t convert her right now.

And when a string of rest stop murders brings an old vampire friend back into the family’s fold, he informs them Emma was next. It was time to park the truck.

They all knew that Emma’s father would come sniffing around to try to swindle her out of more money, it was just a matter of time. But how far would he go to get what he wanted?

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Riordan Harrison can’t believe it. Everyone is pissed at him and he doesn’t see what the fuss is all about. All he did was tell the woman that she was his mate. He couldn’t help it that his tiger caused him to pin the woman to the counter and she proceeded to throw him to the ground and cover him with sticky pastries. Now, no one will talk to him, including his secretary. He hasn’t claimed the woman yet, and it is all seeming like it’s more trouble than it’s worth.

Storm Browning, Stormy to her friends, is a wounded war hero. She’s done her duty and just wants to live a quiet life―run her little bakery without any hitches. The majority of the men she commanded in the war had been shifters so she wasn’t surprised when the big oaf sniffed her out claiming that she was his mate. But that doesn’t mean she has to agree with it. What else could she do? He had to go. He’d hightail it and run anyway when he saw her scars―they all did. She couldn’t emotionally handle that, not again at any rate.

But if Riordan is going to get back on everyone’s good side, he’ll have to make peace with the woman. Even though he thinks he’s innocent, he’ll go for a visit and maybe apologize, but after he gets there things go from bad to worse. Stormy is targeted for assassination and he’s in the line of fire….
Cormac Harrison, Mac to his family and friends, has a good thing going. He has a brand new home, a successful business, and is truly happy with the direction his life is heading. Andi Collins can’t seem to catch a break. The last time she’d encountered her father, she’d ended up in the hospital. Now, Stormy Harrison, is giving her a break and helping her get back on her feet. So when this big handsome man tells her that she’s his mate she’s scared to death. Mate. She’d heard the term before. And what it meant. She would belong to him. Not just him, but whoever he wanted to sell her to. Andi reached for the door handle, thinking that rolling from a moving car would be better than being passed around like a napkin at a banquet hall. “Don’t do that.” He reached for her hand just as she touched the handle. “Please, just listen to me and I’ll explain.” “I don’t need you to explain. I know what mate means. My friends at school, they told me what happens when you become a mate to men. And what they didn’t tell me, my father and aunt explained the rest. Mates use you, and then when they’ve had enough, they pass you around to all the other men they know. I won’t have it.” The car suddenly stopped. Her seatbelt cut into her neck, and she nearly hit her head on the dash it stopped so abruptly.
Nikki Neal was damn good at her job. As an undercover cop, she had just about enough information to put the local crime boss away, but she needed more to make it stick. But when someone blew her cover, Nikki found herself on the wrong end of several guns.

Aedan Harrison was on the fast track to winning the Governor’s seat for the state of Ohio. He had his whole life, or at least his immediate future, planned out. What he didn’t need was a mate he hadn’t made plans for throwing a monkey wrench into the mix. 

The last thing Nikki needed was an overbearing jackass ordering her about, and telling her how much he didn’t need her in his life right now. Well, she didn’t need him either. She had work to do and needed to get herself and her grandda to safety.

It didn’t take long for Aedan’s family to convince him in the error of his ways, and when he saw what he’d done he felt like an ass. All he wanted to do was make it right, but could he grovel enough for her to accept him?
Brooke Rickson had been working the pottery wheel and pulling clay with her great-grandfather almost as long as she could remember. Her work was famous even though no one really knew who she was. She preferred it that way and had become a recluse since her great-grandfather died. He had left her everything.

Mac Harrison loved rare pottery, and when he landed two tickets to the big art show he was thrilled. He could get his prized Rickson pottery piece appraised and get to see new work at the same time. He brought his brother, Darcy, along for the ride.

When Darcy caught Brooke’s scent, he knew he’d found his mate. Unfortunately, the beautiful recluse made no bones about telling him that she was alone and liked it that way, and that no man was barging in and taking over her orderly life. She was living her life just the way she wanted it and that didn’t include taking orders from a man—any man. He could get that thought right out of his head….


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Liam loved the house. He walked through it once more, just to be sure that he wasn’t feeling something that wasn’t there. Nope, he thought to himself, he loved this place. Trying hard not to show how much he did, he walked around the big empty living room once more to calm himself and his inner cat. There wasn’t any point in giving away his happiness before making an offer. “This room alone is nearly as big as the house that I live in.” The realtor smiled at him. “What do you think, Mr. Harrison…is this a place you can put down roots?” “I’m not sure.” He thought that he sounded like he was bored and had to take a deep breath before continuing. “The kitchen needs to be redone. I mean, from the studs. There are going to be issues with the furnace and with the air conditioning as well before too much longer. Also, I think I saw rat droppings in the garage.” Which he knew wouldn’t be a problem once he moved in. He’d bet by now, there wasn’t one within ten miles of the place. Him being a tiger tended to take care of that sort of thing. He asked her what the selling price was again, knowing full well what it was. “The house hasn’t been lived in for about four months…I believe that’s the time frame. And before that, I do believe that they had the place exterminated. If you’re seeing droppings, I’m not sure where they came from. But the bank is very motivated to sell. They’re asking four hundred, but I think I can get them to go a little lower, but not too much. I do know that the house needs work. Like I said, it’s been empty for a few months while things were settled.” Liam nodded. He knew just exactly why it had been sitting, and that it had been a good deal longer than a few months. “I can go in at a lower price, but I believe they have multiple offers so I’d not expect too much.” “All right then. Thank you for your time.” She took his hand when it was offered and Liam made his way to the door.  “Wait. I don’t understand. Did you want me to make an offer?” He told her no. “No? I thought you were interested in this house.” “I am, but not at four hundred thousand dollars. As I said, it needs a great deal of work. And there are no other offers on the table, I know that as well as you do. I also did my research on this place, and I know the real reason that it’s sat here for the last seventeen years. The previous owner had paid up the taxes for the last fifteen years and there wasn’t anything you could do about it until recently. Four hundred thousand is well over fair market, and double what the house was selling for last year when your firm took over for the bank in trying to sell it.” He moved toward the door again and turned as he opened the door. “I’ll just wait and get it from the bank next month when it goes up for auction. Thanks anyway.” Liam was out the door before she could find her tongue. But that didn’t stop her from following him and yelling out a lower price. He thought that three hundred was too much as well, and got into his truck and left. He wanted the house, but he wanted it on his terms.
Are you done with the house? He told Storm that he was. Good. I think you should stop by our house. There is a large vehicle, and that’s an understatement, in the drive, and the person in it is asking for you. Not nicely, I might add. Hudson is her name. Why is she…? You know what, I don’t care. She’s the woman that I was telling you about on the deal with Whites. She said she had some information on her father maybe picking up the loads that they’re missing. Any luck finding Mr. Hudson, by the way? Storm told him she was still looking. He really fucked her over. Not the only one either, from what I’ve been able to find out. But he did royally fuck her over with her job. She had a good rep, as you said, and he’s really taken her for a ride. Lost her house, car, as well as her savings trying to keep herself out of jail. I’d like to find this fucker myself. Liam said that he would as well. She’s currently at her truck, walking around it. I don’t know why, but I kind of think that she’s had enough of the open road for a while. She looks beaten. Liam made a left to go to his brother’s home, and smiled when he thought of the temper of the woman, Hudson. When he’d spoken to her last night—well, earlier that morning—he’d been sleep confused, but hearing her voice and what she had to say had him getting up and going back to his computer. He was going to find her father if he had to do it on his own. The rig was parked in the long drive to his brother’s house. The woman was circling the back end, the place where the big trailer was attached. He watched her for several minutes as she moved around it like a little monkey, checking the lines and lights as she went. When she jumped down, she stared at him as he did her. Christ, she was beautiful. “Liam?” He nodded at her question. “I was close enough to bring them to you, and I’m not so trusting of the postal service on something like this. I need them back, so you know. I might need them should Daddy dearest come back for some more of my ass.” “He won’t.” Liam had no idea why he said that. He didn’t know either of them. But as she made her way to the front of her truck and climbed in, he made his way there, with Riordan and Storm coming with him. “She’s got his log books. But she needs them back.” “She should put them in a safe. If he knows she has them, he’ll come for them.” Liam wasn’t sure he’d not already tried and told Riordan that. “Watch her.” Hudson came tumbling back and he leapt to catch her. He had no idea what had taken her down, but as he caught her in his arms, two things occurred to him. One, she was bleeding, and the second thing was that she was his mate. “Christ, that fucking hurt.” He held her for as long as she allowed him to, then sat her down on her feet. “I’ve been meaning to have that fixed. Fuck, that hurt.” “Let me see. I’ve called Ennis, he’s on his way.” Liam wasn’t a doctor, but he knew this wound looked bad. Not just bad, but there was a lot of blood streaming from it. Liam wanted to lick it, to taste her, but he was afraid to. She looked like she could take him on and come out on top. “It’s going to need some stitches, as well as cleaned up. When was your last tetanus shot?” “Last year. I cut myself on the same fucking place on my other hand. Stupid of me for not getting it fixed then.” He looked at her wrist and saw the long scar. It went from her elbow to her palm. This one wasn’t quite that long, but it was deep. “I don’t feel so well.”
“You’re cut deep. I have to heal you.” He heard Riordan caution him, but he was losing her and had to do something. As soon as she fainted, he shifted. The roaring in his head was making him sick. They were losing their mate and neither of them were happy about it. His cat whimpered but knew what to do. As soon as he licked the wound closed, tasting her blood as he did so, he seemed to realize at the same moment that she was too weak, that they’d waited too long. Growling at the couple that were too close to them, his cat bit deeply into her belly, tearing it open as he did so.  “Hurry, Liam. You’re going to lose her if you don’t.” He knew that and snarled at Storm, and she laughed. “Just trying to help. I’m assuming that she’s your mate.” Yes. And I don’t want to hear you making fun of me just yet. He was pissy and wasn’t sure why, but he bit into her leg. Holding his mouth deep in the wound, he looked up at his brother. Riordan was afraid for him, and Liam didn’t feel any better about this. I have a feeling she’s not going to be thrilled when she wakes and finds out what I’ve done. “More than likely not. But it was that or she was dead. I can hear her heart picking up, can you?” He told him that he could. “Just a few more minutes now and you should be able to release her. I’ll take her inside and put her in the bedroom that you use when here.” Thank you. Riordan nodded and called to someone on the porch to bring out some blankets. Riordan, she’s got some pretty horrific memories in here. Mostly about her father. He took her for everything. And left her with living in this truck. “I know. I read the report Stormy found. When you release her, go in the house and shower and change. Once you are settled, I’ll bring you what we’ve been able to find out. Also, Marcy Cochran called about the house. She wants you to make a reasonable offer.” Liam let the young woman go, but he wasn’t ready to leave her yet. Her heartrate had picked up and he could see the wound at her wrist was nearly healed, as were the ones he’d given her. It had been a big chance, doing this with her blood flowing so quickly, but he couldn’t let her die no matter what kind of mood she was going to be in when she found out.  Riordan picked her up and carried her into the house, and he followed. When she was on the bed, her skin warmer now that she was a cat, he left her to Stormy, who said she’d clean her up for him.  Going into the bathroom, he looked in the mirror after becoming a man again and stared at the person there. He had a mate. And there was a very good chance that she was going to kill him when she found out. Smiling, Liam reached into the stall and turned the water on. Christ, he was way too happy, he thought, for someone that had just converted a person without their knowledge.  By the time he was dressed and sitting in the chair by her, he’d figured out a few things. She wasn’t happy with what she did as a driver, mostly because she had no relief from it. Also, her father had hurt more than her finances when he ran off. She hadn’t trusted him, not entirely, but the fact that he’d taken advantage of her so profoundly had nearly taken her under.  He looked up when Stormy came in the room with a file.
“The courts went by the books on this. There is no fault according to them. She had to sell her house as well as her car, which wasn’t a new one but all she had, when the trucking dealership wanted all their money. The truck is still missing, it appears.” He asked if her father had it. “I’m thinking not. I don’t know why, but I think he sold it for the money, and someone else is driving it that knows about trackers and such. Might be wrong, but I think that’s it. We have the LoJack information, and since we can’t find it that way, we’ve come to the conclusion that it’s been taken out. Also, you know it is against the law.”  If she thought that, then it was more than likely true. “I told Ennis not to worry about rushing now. I told him what happened, but not that she is my mate.” “He knows. So do your parents.” He asked her how that had happened. “Riordan was covered in blood when they showed up, Hudson’s blood, and your mom sort of freaked out. He had to tell them.” “I guess. I’m trying to figure out what to tell her when she wakes up.” The woman on the bed stirred and he watched, sure that she was going to wake a great deal sooner than anyone would have expected. “I have to help her out. Of all of this.” “Liam, can I ask you a personal question?” He just looked at her. “Okay, some of it I know. Like where you have some of your money invested. How much the books say you’re worth. But what is it you do? I mean, I know you work for the family business when they need you, but that can’t be all that you do, is it?” “I’m a businessman.” She snorted at him. “Okay, I’m a very good businessman. I invest low and sell high. For everything. I’m good at bargaining on things as well. Like the house. I’m going to get it, but not at the asking price. Then, if Emma doesn’t care for it, I’ll sell it for a great deal more than I purchased it for.” “Why would me liking your house have anything to do with whether or not you sell it?” He grinned and said hi to her. “It’s Hudson. No one calls me by my first name.” She lifted her arm and looked at it. There wasn’t a wound anymore, and no scars on the rest of her body. He’d not seen her yet, her body, but he’d bet that it was lovely. He started to tell her, just talk to her gently about it, but Stormy laughed before speaking. “You were dying. The cut to your wrist had severed your artery, and you were bleeding out. Had Liam not been here for you, you’d be dead.” Emma asked him what he’d done, but Stormy continued. “He’s a shifter, Bengal tiger as a matter of fact. We all are. He converted you to what we are.” Emma stared at him for several seconds, then looked over at Storm. There was a lot going on in her head right now. None of it very nice, nor all that orderly. She went from terror of her dying to being converted. He was just glad that she knew enough about paranormals to have an idea of what was happening.  “I’m a tiger.” Storm nodded. “And you thought that my being a tiger was a better way to go than to be dead.”  “Yes, I did.” She turned and looked at him. “You’re not freaking out, so I can only assume that you know about our kind.” “I do. I don’t have a lot of contact with them…not because I avoid them, but…. You did this because we’re mates. You saved me because of some kind of DNA thing that
makes you have to save me.” He said that he would have anyway. “No, you wouldn’t have. Don’t lie to me.” “I can’t.” She nodded and sat up, but he could see that she was slightly dizzy. “You lost a great deal of blood, so you might want to take it easy for a few hours. You should try and drink a lot and have a light—” “Don’t order me around.” He leaned back in the chair and looked at her. “I’m not…. I know you really didn’t, but I’m starting to freak a little here. I’m a fucking tiger.” ~~~ Hudson laid on the bed thinking about her life and what had just happened. “I don’t know what I’m supposed to do.” “Me either.” She turned to her back and looked at him. “I’m not going to apologize for converting you. I could, I guess, but you’re alive, and that’s the most important thing right now. I don’t know anything about you other than what I’ve read in the information that Storm got for us when you called me. And you know even less than that about me. What would you like to know? If anything.” “What was your name again?” He told her. “All right, Liam. I’m Emma Hudson, but I rarely go by my first name. I have no idea why, but that’s what they started calling me in middle school and that stuck. I drive cross country. Not as much as I used to, but sometimes I need the money more than I do anything. I had a home, but I had to sell it to pay for the rig that my father stole. Which he did, no matter what the courts say.” “Storm, my sister-in-law—and so you know, you met her when you came here—she doesn’t think he has it anymore.” She nodded, thinking that Storm had some good connections. “Your load you have now, you mentioned that it was a back run. Does that have to go out today?” “Not today, but soon. I have to have it about six hours from here by noon tomorrow.” He leaned back in his chair. “What about me being a cat? I mean, I can sort of feel something inside of me. What does that mean?” “She’s letting you know that she’s there for you. I can sense that you’re nervous, and so can she.” Hudson sat up but laid back down when her head spun. “You’re going to be a little weak for a few more hours, like I said. Ennis, he’s my brother and a doctor, he said that if you were to eat something hearty, you’d feel a lot better. But he wanted you to eat it slowly, in case it doesn’t stay down well.” “I’ve not had a home cooked meal in years.” She laughed. “I’m sorry. That was rude of me. But the thought of something not mass produced or from a microwave sounds amazing.”  “I think we can fix you up.” He stood up and his size made her recoil. “I’d never hurt you. Not on purpose, if I can help it.” “My dad, he’s a big man. Not that he ever hit me, but he was cruel in other ways.” He nodded and put out his hand. Hudson stared at it as she continued. “I know a few shifters, and I’ve heard that their mates are the center of their world. That the sex is amazing and that they can never harm them. They told me that any female, human or otherwise, is to be protected and cherished.”
“Yes. We feel that way as well. I’d very much like it if you were to go with me to the house that I’m thinking of buying. If it doesn’t suit you, then that’s fine as well. I have a place that I live in, it’s an apartment, if you’ll come stay with me for a time.” He cursed and she laughed. “There’s this big deal of a wedding next weekend. My brother Aedan is getting married. They’ve been living together for a little while, but this wedding is going to be epic, I guess.” “Why?” He told her how he was the governor of the state and that he was looking into becoming the president someday. “Wow. Your family, they have big plans.” “They do. We all do.” She nodded. “What is bothering you, Emma? Is it something that I can fix? Or do for you?” “I’m assuming that you all have money.” He nodded but didn’t say how much, which she thought was a good thing. “My father will get wind of this. Not that I’m a cat, but that I’m with someone with money, and he’ll come sniffing around. He’s not stupid, but he can play a person and get what he wants. No matter the cost to them.” “He can do that if he wants. But he won’t get away with it this time. I can promise you that. Nor will he hurt you, mentally, physically, or financially.” Hudson wasn’t sure, but she was almost afraid for her dad. “Will you take my hand? Please?” “What will that mean for us?” He said that it would only be him taking her to the kitchen for food for now. “I feel something for you. I’m not sure what it is, but I trust you. I want to be with you. Is that the cat in me?” “Yes, for now anyway. I hope that later, you as a woman will feel something for me as well. We mate for life, and quickly.” She still wasn’t sure about this, none of it. “I want to take this slowly. I think it would benefit us both if we started out fresh, like we’re dating. I know that we’ve gone beyond that, with me converting you and having this connection, but even my cat is okay with us doing it this way.” “I’m afraid.” He said that he was as well. “What if he comes here? What if my dad comes here and makes demands? He will. I know it.” “How about we don’t borrow trouble for now? We don’t have to think about him until he gets here. And once we know where he is, we can keep an eye on his movements and be ready when it looks as if he’s coming here.” She nodded and put her hand in his. “Thank you. And for now, I think we should go and have ourselves a nice lunch, then get you ready to go on your trip. I’d like to go with you, but I won’t be able to this trip. I have some things that are going on that need my attention.”  “I thought we were going to be inseparable.” They moved to the door, but he kept his arm around her when she was dizzy again. “I feel weird.” “Your cat again, and the loss of blood. Anyway, we usually are, inseparable I mean. But with us trying to work things out, I think that I’ll not want to hunt you down every two minutes and strip you naked.” She looked at him, trying her best to see if he was joking or not. When he laughed too, Hudson still wasn’t sure. But the smells coming from the kitchen had her thinking food rather than jokes. As soon as she sat down with both Storm and Riordan, a platter, not a plate, of food was put in front of her. Hudson thought that she would never eat it all, but once she tasted the first bite, she knew that she’d be lucky if she didn’t eat the platter too.
There was a thick roast beef sandwich on a wonderfully fresh roll with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and onions. A bowl of french fries covered in a tomato sauce that was spicy as well as sweet. A large glass of the best tea that she’d ever drank. She was just finishing off the last fry when June, the cook, asked her if she wanted peach or cherry pie. Hudson nodded. “Well, good for you. I have ice cream too should you want that. I’ve not been to the creamery yet, so it won’t be homemade.” Hudson told her that she loved her. “Thank you, child. I’m so glad to be cooking for the household again. The mister and missus have been away more than at home of late, and I’ve missed it.” “You can cook for me whenever I’m home.” Her face heated up. “I’m sorry. I don’t know where I’m going to be living or what the plan is. But this is the best meal I’ve had in ages. And fresh pie too? Well, I could easily kiss you for it.” After she ate both pieces of pie without the ice cream—she didn’t want to seem too piggish—her and Liam went to her truck. It was locked up, but as soon as she opened the door, she could see that someone had cleaned up after her. She asked Liam about it. “I had a friend of mine come over and fix the bent metal. He also put a new handle on for you. Then his wife—she’s the new alpha bitch for the wolf pack that roams our land—she cleaned up the rest for you. I think she was quite impressed with how much storage you have in there.” She told Liam it was necessary when she was gone. “I don’t imagine that it helped that you lost your house.” “He took me for a great many things. But my house was the most painful.” Climbing into the truck, she watched him walk around to the other side and get in. He commented on how roomy it was. “Yes. My dad complained a great deal about how crowded it was for him. And you’re much bigger. But he would have complained about it even if it had his recliner and a big screen television in front of him.” She showed him around the compartment that she had lived in. The way she had to pull her bed down to use it. There wasn’t a lot of room when he was in it with her. For one, he was taller than her by a foot, and he was just too close. Or, she thought, not close enough. There was something extremely appealing about having this man near enough for her to not only touch, but to know that she could. Hudson thought that she was going insane.

Evan: The Whitfield Rancher Release Day

Dylan Hutchinson lived and breathed Army, and she’d been under cover so long she’d forgot what it felt like to be a civilian. But the last mission took a turn for the worse and not only was she hurt, but she’s been informed that she could no longer do her job. It’s either a desk job as a recruiter, or she’s out. 

Evan Whitfield didn’t have to work, but he loved his job as a surgeon. And when as his tiger he found an old man wandering in the woods with Alzheimer’s and confused, he wanted to help the family. The family had a daughter in the hospital too, and they were struggling. Evan thought the daughter might be not as sick or hurt as she claimed to be, so he took it upon himself to check her out. Evan was surprised to find that she was not only hurt worse than they claimed, she was also his mate.

For a doctor, Dylan thought Evan was dense. What part of go away didn’t he understand? She wasn’t the mate or marrying kind. Her life was over, not beginning. He needed to just go away….


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Chapter 1
The hay bailer was working the last two rows when Evan saw his dad riding his big bay horse toward him. Blake and Adrian, two of his brothers, had already been cut loose, and he was fixing to do the same to Joshua and David, his other brothers. He and Adam could handle this last bit, so he told them to head on back to the house before Dad got there. “He looks like he’s got something on his mind. I’m betting it has something to do with that trip he made today. It’s not like him to go to town unless one of us is with him.” Nodding at Adam, Evan watched as Dad dismounted and made his way toward them. “Are you staying for supper tonight, or heading back to town?” “Town. I have to work in the morning.” Dad asked him if they were about done. “Yes, sir. Adam and I are going to see to this before we put the tractor in the barn. Adrian said he’d clean it for me after supper.” “You not staying?” He told him the same thing he’d told Adam. “I don’t know why you don’t just quit that job. I know that you’re good at it and all, but I’d sure like to see you more than once a week, and that has you rushing off again. Come home, son. For good.” There was a bite to his voice, as if he was really pissed at him. Evan let out a long breath, picking up the next bale that had come from the baler. Whatever was bothering his dad, he was sure it had nothing to do with his job. “Dad, I’m thirty minutes away. Less if I need to hurry. And me working was what I went to college for. And I love what I do. It’s rewarding to see how my work is making a difference. You know as well as I do that you have more than enough hands around if you need them.” His dad nodded but didn’t say anything else. “Everything all right?” “Yes. Why wouldn’t it be?” Evan only shrugged. His dad was in a mood, and while it wouldn’t last long, he could be a bear until it was over. “Your grandpa is coming for a visit. I guess he went and talked to your mom and they set it up. I was in town earlier picking him up. He’s staying.” “You don’t want him here?” His dad glared at him. “Maybe this would go better and a good deal faster if you were to tell me what burr you have up your butt. I’m not being disrespectful, but you’re like a bear with his foot in a trap.” “I’m sorry, son. I love my dad. But he’s a hog.” Evan asked him what that was supposed to mean. “He wants to be in the middle of every little thing. He’ll want to plan a big dinner and all the foods for it. Have you boys at his beck and call. I can’t even get you to stay for supper.” “You didn’t ask.” His dad asked him then. He didn’t sound so sour about it, but there was a tone that Evan decided to ignore. “I’d love to. But if I do, then you’re going to tell me the real reason that you’re ticked off. I know that you’re not all that upset about Grandpa coming around. You love him as much as I do you.”
“He wants to go over his will.” Well, that was something. No one liked to be made to realize that they were as mortal as the next. “I’m not ready for that. I just…. We just buried my mom, and I don’t want to talk about him leaving too. It’s too much. But when I said that to your mother, she got all huffy with me.” “She got huffy or you got huffy?” His dad said he might have started it. “Mom loved Grandma too. I’m betting she no more wants to do this than you do. But I can also understand why Grandpa wants to do this. It was a mess when Grandma died, and she had everything all written out for the funeral director and all.” “No will was properly made out. I know that, I surely do, but it’s just too soon. What am I gonna do if something happens to him too?” Evan hugged his dad and told him he had them. “Yes, but he’s my dad. And…well, I don’t know what I’m going to do. You know? He’s always been there, him and Mom. And to think that he’s making these plans…well, it just breaks my heart. Upsets me so that I get angry about it. I’m sorry, I am, but he’s my dad.” “Maybe if you just let him do this, then he’ll start to get better. You know as well as I that he’s been in a bad way. Not that I blame him. I know that I would be as well. But if he feels like things are settled, then perhaps he’ll start to come out of this depression a little more.” His dad said nothing. “Dad, I don’t know what else to do. He’s going to do it, no matter what we try to say.” “What if he’s doing this because he has plans to join Mom? I mean, like right now, instead of waiting until his time comes along? I’m afraid, Evan, that is just what he’s planning to do. This might be his way of getting things settled, as you called it, before he does something really stupid.” Evan had actually thought of that but didn’t want to mention it to his dad. “I can’t lose another parent. Even as old as I am and knowing that he’s getting up there, I just can’t lose him.” “Neither can we. Neither can any of us.” He hugged his dad, just held him while he got himself under control. Evan didn’t know what he’d do if he lost any more of his family. They were the world to him. Adam had moved away and was sitting in the truck, dealing with his own kind of grief. Losing Grandma had hit them all hard. She’d been the rock of the family. And she was going to be sorely missed. There were still a few rows to go, so Evan asked his dad if he’d help. “Once we get this done, we won’t have to worry about the rain until next season. And I, for one, would love to have this part of the end of season finished up.” “All right.” They worked side by side, putting the bales of straw up on the truck bed as it slid out of the baler. It was hard work, but it felt good to be out in the sunshine. His dad, even as old as he was, did as good a job as Evan was doing keeping up with the baler as it made short work of the hay. And when they hit the last row, both climbed up on the bales and rode home that way. “I think I needed this too. Just to be able to think about nothing else for a time.” “It’s one of the reasons I come home. To get away from the city, run a bit with my brothers, and to see you guys. It clears the mind.” His dad nodded. “We’ll talk to
Grandpa, Dad. Maybe if we show him how much we need him around, he’ll rethink whatever it is he’s got going on in his head.” “I’d like that too. I know you have to go back to work tomorrow, but I wish you’d reconsider coming home for good. It’s not like you need to work, Evan. I really miss you. And I know that your brothers and mom do as well.” Evan didn’t say anything. There was nothing for him to say. He had to work or he’d go nuts. “You think on it. Maybe you can take some vacation time out and see what you’re missing here.” “I know what I’m missing. I think about it every day.” They got off the hay and helped the hands put it in the barn. In a few weeks they’d have to go to the other field to do the same thing there, but for now they had enough to keep the few cows they had and the horses fed in the colder months. And to sell to the other ranchers around them when they ran short. Evan loved his family. He enjoyed being with them, talking to his brothers about nothing much at all. And the open fields that he could roam alone or with them. But he needed to be away too. Needed his own space, his own things. If he did quit his job and came home, his mom and dad would expect him to live at home again, as most of his brothers were. Not that it wasn’t nice being all together, but he needed quiet sometimes. Grandpa was at the house when they came out of the barn. He was still looking lost, not that Evan didn’t blame him. Evan saw a lot of death in his job. Being a surgeon was not meeting people in the best of circumstances. His family might drive him nuts at times, but they were his and he loved them.  Hugging Grandpa, he followed him to the mud room to clean up. Grandpa didn’t say anything, but Evan knew he had something on his mind. “You still being a doctor out there in the city?” He said that he was. “I was wondering if you’d do me a favor when you go back. I need something notarized, and I’d like for you to drop me at the bank when you leave here. If you don’t mind.” “Sure, but I know a couple of people that can do that. So can Mom. I think she still has her license up to date.” He said he wanted the banker to do it. “I can take you. But if you don’t mind, what is it?” “I want to turn over my house to your daddy.” Evan was drying his hands when he asked him what he wanted to do that for. “I just don’t think I can live there anymore. It’s got all them memories, and it hurts me.” “Where are you going to live if not there?” He looked away. “Grandpa, if you don’t tell me I’m going to start guessing, and I don’t think I like that any better than you not telling me the truth.” “I can’t go on. I just don’t have it in me anymore to want to. I miss her that much.” It hurt Evan to hear him say that. “I loved her for over sixty years, and now she’s gone. What’s a man supposed to do if he can’t have the one love of his life standing beside him?” Evan hugged him to him again. “Oh, Evan, she was my entire world, she was. And the best thing that ever happened to me.” “Dad thinks you’re going to end your life. Is that the plan? Because I have to tell you, I’m not going to let you. None of us will.” Grandpa told him that he didn’t have
anything to live for. “You have us. Dad and Mom too. We’d have no one if you were to do this.” “I hurt.” Evan told him he didn’t know the pain he was feeling, but understood. “She kept me in line. Helped me through the day just by loving me. And I tell you right now that she made me feel like I was the king of the world with just her smile. I miss her so very much.” He sobbed then, holding onto Evan as he did so. Evan felt his own eyes fill with tears, and when they fell over his cheeks, he held his grandpa all the tighter. Grandma had been there for all of them. She’d been the one that he could go to, for anything. And now she was gone and Grandpa wanted to join her. Dinner was a somber affair. No one, it seemed, was in their usual jolly mood. Even Blake, who could liven up any seating, was quiet. Evan helped his mom clear the dishes, and the rest of them cleaned up the kitchen. Grandpa joined them just as they were putting the last clean pot on the hanger. “Buy it from me. One of you boys, you should buy my house from me.” They didn’t move, not even to look at one another. “I will make you a good deal. I can’t…. I was thinking of moving in with Oliver here, and I would love for one of you yahoos to have the house.” “You move in with Dad and Mom, and I’ll buy it.” Evan had no idea why he said that. He didn’t need a house any more than he needed to work. “You promise us that you’ll move in here and behave yourself, then I’ll buy your house.” “I don’t want to behave myself. I want to…I want to run in the woods. Have some…. You six should make me a great grandpa. I’d surely have something to do if you were to do that.” Each of them groaned and Grandpa laughed. “You promise me that you’ll be on the outlook for yourself a mate, and I’ll try and keep myself in a better frame of mind.” “Deal.” All of them put out their hands after making the promise. If that was all it took, a promise, then Evan would do it. As for the house? He didn’t have a clue what he was going to do with it, but he’d figure out something. Maybe he’d let his brothers use it for a while. ~~~ Norris put the phone in the cradle and looked at his dad. “She’s coming home. They’ve made arrangements to pick her up and take her to the hospital in New York so that they can evaluate her before she can come here. It’ll be about three more days or so before they release her to the one here in town. We’ll have her close enough that we can go and visit her when we want to.” “Who?” Norris told him that Dylan was coming home. “Your momma is already here, Norris. You go on talking like she isn’t, I’m going to have to ground you. I told you that before.” “Yes, Dad.” Norris sat there, not mentioning to his dad again that his mom had died several years ago. That he’d been living with them for seven years. Nor did he explain, again, that Dylan was his daughter, his dad’s granddaughter, and that she was
coming home because she’d been hurt badly and had to leave the service. He could tell him, but Dad wouldn’t remember it. “I’d like to have fish for dinner tonight. You go ask your momma if she can whip me some up.” Norris nodded. “Then we should go for ice cream. You got those good grades, so we should celebrate. Didn’t you, boy?” “I’d like that. We’ll go after supper, if you still want.” Dad got up and made his way to his room. In a few minutes, he’d come back out and ask Norris where his bed was, and he’d have to show him. Alzheimer’s sucked. Several years ago his dad had been a little forgetful. Slightly disoriented at times too. Nothing that worried them much. His dad was brilliant, and had always had trouble remembering simple tasks unless he wrote them down. After his wife passed, he became worse…his inability to remember to put on shoes or wear a coat had gotten him put in the hospital with a cold that had turned into pneumonia. Then they started noticing him being forgetful of who they were, and most of the time he would remember things that were well in the past. Then he’d begun to wander off. It was then that Norris had found out that his dad was slowly losing his ability to do a great many things. Like living alone and keeping his own house. Meals were skipped because he couldn’t remember if he’d eaten. Bedtimes were overlooked because he didn’t remember where his bed was. Things like that and more had gotten the doctor to declare him unfit to live on his own. He’d been living with them since then. Not that he didn’t enjoy having his dad around. But lately, just over the last few months, he’d been getting away from them. Running off without telling anyone where he was going. And sometimes the police had to help them find him. His dad was having more and more bad days all the time. It was putting a strain not just on Norris’s health, but his finances as well. When Norris’s wife Stella returned from grocery shopping, he checked on his dad before he went to help bring things in and saw that he was napping. They used to do all kinds of things together before his dad came to stay, now they had to do things in stages. But he was glad that he had his dad and that he could be there for him. He told Stella about the phone call he’d gotten. “Dylan will spend a few weeks in the hospital here, then they’ll let her come home. I don’t think she’s going to be too terribly happy about that.” Stella said that she could bet on that. “I’m so worried about her. We were lucky, they told me again. I’d have been a lot happier if she’d not gone over there at all.” “You couldn’t have stopped her. She has her own mind, and once she gets something in it, she’s not going to stop. Not even when it’s that dangerous.” Norris nodded. “To have her home will be wonderful. I know that she’s going to need a lot of rehabilitation, but I’m so glad that she’s coming home for good.” Dylan, Hutch to her men and friends, had been hurt badly about six months back. She and her men had been on a mission, something that she did a great deal while in the army, and she had gotten hurt. Three of her men had been killed, and another had died right after he’d gotten to the hospital. Dylan had nearly been one of them. Norris
didn’t know where it had happened or how she’d been injured, nor did he know to what extent her injuries were. But he knew that she was lucky to be alive, and that was all that mattered to him. For now, anyway. “When did they say they’d be here with her? You probably told me, but my mind is a little fuzzy. I’m so tired, Norris. I shouldn’t have stayed up so late watching that movie.” He laughed and told his wife that it was supposed to be Friday. “Good. We’ll be there when they land. Then we’ll go to the hospital with her. I miss her so much.” He did as well, and had for a long time. Dylan was their only child, and she’d been a delightful little girl who grew up into a wonderful grown up. At seventeen she’d joined the army, and soon after she made it through boot camp, she’d been picked to be trained for special jobs. He knew that she was covert, but anything else had been kept from them, to keep them, and especially her, safe. Over the next ten years they’d seen very little of their daughter. She was forever rushing off for one thing or another, her job keeping her away for longer periods of time. Then about six months ago, a few days before they’d been notified that there had been an accident, she’d called him. With the call coming in the middle of the night, he knew something was wrong. “Dad?” He said it was him and glanced at the clock. He’d never forget the time. It was one twenty-four in the morning. “Dad, I’m going to be coming home soon, I’ve arranged it. I’ll have a month off. I’d like for you to do something for me.” “Anything. You name it and it’ll be yours.” She laughed and he could hear the tension in it. “What is it, baby? Are you all right?” “No. I’ve been…I don’t think I can do this anymore. So much death and pain here now.” He asked her what it was. “I can’t tell you. But I’m done. I want to come home and make a life. After my R&R, I’m going to muster out. I want a house. A yard of my own. I want things to be normal.” “Normal? Honey, do you even know what that means?” She laughed again, and he could hear the little hiccup of a sob then. “Dylan, what is it? Tell me? I want to help you.” “There’s this house, about two doors down from yours and Mom’s. Buy it for me. I have the money. I’m sending you money that I have here to the account that you set up for me, and that we now use for Grandda.” He heard her tell someone to fuck off and started to ask her what was going on, but she started talking again. “If you can, get it cheaper so I can have it retro fitted for Grandda. I want him to live with me.” “Honey, he’s a lot to take on. Even for the two of us.” It tore at his heart when she told him she wanted to come home, for a normal life. “Dylan, what is going on?” “I can’t tell you. I can’t…I’ll come home for good, then we can talk. All right?” He said that he would look forward to it. “Buy the house. Like I said, the money is in the account that you opened for me when I was a little girl. I want you to use it to buy the house. The rest of it…you do with whatever you need to do to get you and Mom something nice.” He told her he would buy the house and she said she had to go. The line went dead then, and it had been the last time he’d spoken to her. Not even when they’d gone to see
her was she able to speak. Her body was too broken to do much more than just heal. Norris made his way out to the back of the house and sat on the deck. His baby was coming home, and he doubted very much anything was going to be normal for her again. “Norris?” He looked up at his wife when she said his name. “Norris, I can’t find your father. He was resting not ten minutes ago, and now he’s gone.”  His body tensed up and he stood. Dad could have gone anywhere in that little time. The man was like a magician when it came to escaping their notice and getting into trouble. Calling the police to tell them what had happened, he began walking the streets. His dad would only be able to tell someone where he lived if he was having a good day. And his dad’s good days had been few and far between in the last several weeks. Most everyone knew him, but there were a few that didn’t.  “Did you find your dad, Mr. Hutchinson?” He told the officer that he’d not about an hour later when he drove up behind him. “I have all our men out looking for him. You should go and talk to Mr. Whitfield like I suggested. Him and his boys, they’d sure be able to find him a good deal faster.” “I know. I’ve been meaning to, but my daughter…she’s coming home soon.” Officer Petty told him that was wonderful as he stopped the cruiser and got out. “She’s going to be spending a few weeks in the hospital, but she’ll be home soon enough.” “You’ve had a rough few months, Mr. Hutchinson. But having Hutch home, that’ll take some of the burden off you and your family. She was always one to depend on.” He only nodded, knowing that she’d be depending on them a great deal now. He’d not been able to tell anyone anything because, frankly, he didn’t know anything. “I’ve got my men out looking for him, sir, like I said. We’ll find him for you.” He hoped so. While it wasn’t cold out, still summer yet, he did worry about his dad taking a tumble into something and not getting out. Or wandering into someone’s home. He’d done that before as well. Norris walked the streets while calling out his name, hoping to find him soon. Norris was exhausted when they finally found him three streets over and lost. Not just exhausted from looking for his dad, but that was a part of it. He was just tired of all the adulting he’d had to do of late. Smiling, he thought of what Dylan would say to him if he whined to her about it. She’d tell him to buck up and to fucking let it go. She had gotten a mouth on her since she’d gone away. And while it did embarrass him at times, he thought it was funny when she’d get on a roll with it. Like the time she’d come home for Christmas about five years ago. “I have to go into town and pick up your mother’s gift. Want to hang out with your old man?” She nodded and grinned at him. “Please promise me that we’re not going to get arrested. You will behave yourself, won’t you?” “Ah, Pop, why would I do that? I’m here to have fun.” He groaned and she’d laughed at him. “Besides, what sort of trouble can I get into at the mall? I mean, they still have those mall cops running around, don’t they?”
“Yes. And Bennie is still one of them. I swear to you, if you make him wet his pants again, I’ll…I’ll….” She laughed hard at his lack of a threat. “He’s a good kid, Dylan. Why do you dislike him so much?” “He’s not a good kid, Dad. He’s a bully and a fucking prick. But I’ll be good if he does. Now, what did you get Mom?” By the time they’d gotten to the mall, both had been having a good time. When they went into the jeweler’s, she’d offered to pay the difference on the watch he’d gotten for her mom.  “I got it. What did you get her?” She only shook her head and told him not to guess. “You did get her something, didn’t you?” “I got you both something.” Norris had seen her stiffen up and turned to see Bennie behind him. “Hello, Bennie.” “Well, well, well. If it’s not the terror of Washington street. Home for good, this time, Dylan? Or are you headed back to out of country?” Bennie made those quotation signs with his fingers when he asked her about the country. “Me and the boys, we think you’re just in prison. A girl like you, that’s where you belong.” “Dad?” He hadn’t wanted trouble, not then or now, but there really was something simply mean about Bennie today. And after that, he’d noticed it a great deal more. “Dad, I’m doing what you asked, but it’s not easy.” “You shoplifting, Dylan? Is that what you learned in prison? Or, I’m sorry, in the army?” Bennie reached for her, and even standing there beside her, Norris hadn’t seen her move. Before he could tell her to go for it, Bennie was on the floor screaming to be released. “You’ve fucking broke my hand.” She laughed and told him she’d not. “You have. I can feel it.” “No, I didn’t. I only stopped you from touching me. However, I can break it if you want.” Norris told her not to just yet. “All right. But I did try to be good, Dad. He started it.” “He did. I saw it.”  The police were called and she was asked to let the mall cop go. After several witnesses said that she’d not done anything but defend herself, she was released. Norris had heard a few days later that not only had Bennie lost his job, but other women had come forward about his behavior in the mall. Bennie hadn’t faired all that well after that. Norris made his way out to the driveway to get his car. Stella had forgotten to get fish, and since Dad would eat if he had something he requested, they’d accommodate him when they could. Climbing into his car, he vowed that as soon as he was home again he was going to make a call to the Whitfields. Norris knew that they were tigers, but not much more than that. The Whitfields were money and didn’t travel the same circles as he and his family did.


Aedan Harrison Ambush Series book three Release Day& Giveaway 7/25/16

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Nikki Neal was damn good at her job. As an undercover cop, she had just about enough information to put the local crime boss away, but she needed more to make it stick. But when someone blew her cover, Nikki found herself on the wrong end of several guns. Aedan Harrison was on the fast track to winning the Governor’s seat for the state of Ohio. He had his whole life, or at least his immediate future, planned out. What he didn’t need was a mate he hadn’t made plans for throwing a monkey wrench into the mix. The last thing Nikki needed was an overbearing jackass ordering her about, and telling her how much he didn’t need her in his life right now. Well, she didn’t need him either. She had work to do and needed to get herself and her grandda to safety. It didn’t take long for Aedan’s family to convince him in the error of his ways, and when he saw what he’d done he felt like an ass. All he wanted to do was make it right, but could he grovel enough for her to accept him?
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Chapter 1
Aedan smiled when he saw all the flyers that had his name on them being put into yards. Aedan Harrison for Governor. Who would have thought that only a short three weeks ago he’d been working for his brother’s firm, and now he was not just running for governor, but he was also having a grand time. He saw his dad coming out of his political offices and had to smile when he showed him the new signage.
“I had to give them a little grief ‘bout the picture. You look like a little boy in them, and I thought about having them paint a mustache on you or something; but your mom, she liked them so we went with it.” He nodded at his dad, proud as he could be about what was going on, but also a little overwhelmed. “All you boys really take good pictures. It’s in your blood. I think it’s a trait that I passed down to you, what do you think?”
Four days ago there had been an ad on the television about Aedan running in the upcoming election. He was getting a late start, he knew that, but he was getting a lot of support too. The president had been in the commercial, saying that Aedan was a man of men and that he would do the best job possible for the state. Aedan had sat there for nearly an hour after it had aired just thinking about how fast this was all going down. Then he’d gotten up, done a little dance, and gone to run with his brother Darcy, who had been staying with him for a few weeks. He didn’t mention anything about seeing the ad until they were having beers and pizza at his house later. Then after polishing off two large with every kind of meat on them, they’d talked.
“You think that when the time comes, you’ll be sitting in the big house?” Aedan said nothing. Not that he hadn’t been having the same thoughts, but he was terrified to say the words out loud. Even to his brothers. Darcy laughed as he continued. “You have a sappy look on your face. The same one you get when you’ve figured out what you’re getting for Christmas from Mom and Dad. Just so you know, you’re going to have to be better at the poker look if you’re having thoughts that big.”
“I just want to get this election under my belt, then I can go from there.” Darcy only nodded, but he did have a smile that said a lot. “How are things going with you and the new building? I’m thinking that in no time you’re going to have your own mailbox out front. Not that I’m in any hurry for you to leave here. I love hanging out with you.”
“Storm is having it made up as we speak, believe it or not. She said to consider it a building warming gift. Did I tell you that she’s going to help me with finding furniture for the building? I asked for things that would blend well with the old building, and she had this amazing desk delivered yesterday. I’m going to love being in my own place but still working for the family. Christ, she really does know people who know people.”
They both laughed, and Darcy asked about his first duty in office when he won.
“I’m thinking we need more jobs, don’t you? But as for Storm, she really does know about everyone. And she’s being very pushy about things beyond the governorship. I’m not thinking along those lines yet. I have done some research on my opponent. He’s not very…well, I was going to say very trustworthy, but I think he’s underhanded and a jackass as well.” Darcy said nothing. “You know him?”
“I do, sort of. And this is between the two of us, but if you want to find some true dirt about him, you should look into the people who used to work for him. Both professionally as well as at his home. I understand that they’re the same, they both work for him, but I’m talking about his different staffers.” Aedan wasn’t sure that he wanted to sling mud, and Darcy handed him a file. “I got this in my inbox at work today. It’s a questionnaire. I’m pretty sure that as your brother I wasn’t meant to get it, but there are some pretty in-depth questions there.”
He told his brother that he’d look into the people but didn’t pick up the file just yet. He wasn’t even sure that he wanted to. Darcy took the decision out of his hands after it sat there for several more minutes, and picked up the paperwork and flipped through it to the back. Aedan wasn’t sure what he was doing until he handed it to him. Aedan read the first three questions, then looked at Darcy.
“They asked you what you thought my sexual preferences were?” Darcy nodded. “What the hell does that have to do with anything? I mean, how the hell does he get by with asking those sort of personal questions?”
“Don’t know, but there are a lot more in there. Read on. At one point they ask me if I thought you were going to have affairs while in the seat. I’m thinking that if they get one person to answer yes to that, you’re going to be labeled as a pervert as well as some sort of sexual deviant. Whoever sent this out is fishing, and they don’t care what sort of catch they get. I’m having someone look into it.” Aedan laughed. “No, not Storm. If she gets wind of this there will be hell to pay.”
“Yeah, she’s a little overprotective when it comes to us. But this shit, it’s not the way I want to do things, Darcy. You know me. I’d never want to stoop this low.” He read a few more questions until he got to the last one. “It asks if there are any things that the reader can think of that might be helpful to the people of this town. There’s a number here they can call.”
“Yep. And I called.” Darcy leaned back in the couch that had only been delivered that morning. “They’re asking more questions too. Like how long have you been a drug addict. They’re not asking if you were, but how long you’ve been using. And when was the last time I’d shot up with you, and where that might have been. I assured the person that I’d never even seen you take an aspirin and they laughed. This guy told me that he had enough people calling in to talk to them that they knew that wasn’t true. Whoever is working to smear you, they’re not playing very fairly. Like I said, any of this gets out, lies or not, it’s not going to go well for you or the family. Storm will be the least of their problems when Mom and Dad find out.”
“No shit.” He leaned back as well. “I wonder who it is. I mean, with this kind of work, someone is really out to make me look bad. I’m sure if I asked Ellison he’d say something like ‘well, I don’t know’ in his best you’re a moron voice. Any ideas who I might have to have murdered?”
“Nope. As I said, I’m having someone look. Mason, too, is having a little fun with this. He said to tell you when it hits his inbox, he’s going to answer all the questions in his own language and hopes someone there gets a kick out of it. He’s been in and out of the offices for a couple of days now; I’ve not really found out why, but it’s fun having
him around. Mason said that he’s helping out while Riordan is out of town.” Aedan asked when he’d be back. “Don’t know. Storm has been out of the country for a few days too. But I think she’s coming back tomorrow. The president has them doing something overseas, and I think they’re going to make a little vacation of it too.”
He’d spoken to Darcy, and now it was two days past when they were to have returned home and neither Storm nor Riordan was back yet. Something had come up, they’d been told. He’d never found out what it was, but he knew that it was like them to rest up after they were done working. Even Dad had been saying how he wished he’d had such perks. Then he and Mom had gone to wherever it was to help out.
Aedan was getting things put away in the kitchen when he heard someone in the drive. The house had a very long drive, lined with trees and a big fucking gate at the end, so he knew that whoever was here had made an effort in coming to see him. Going out to the back deck that wrapped around the entire house, he watched. While the car was in front of the garage, he stood there while whoever it was decided to either get out or drive away. The elderly man that finally got out of the car was no one he knew.
He stood with the car door opened and his hands on the door. Both of them. He looked more like he was hanging on rather than just taking in the view. Aedan decided that tomorrow he was going to have someone manning the gate house as Storm had told him to do weeks ago.
“Can I help you?” The man looked around like he was trying to decide if they were alone or not. Just as he was ready to ask again, another car pulled in the drive and he was relieved to see it was Darcy. Neither man spoke, but his brother did come up on the deck with him. “Perhaps you’re at the wrong address.”
“No, I’m where I’m to be. I’m here to meet someone else. It’s important that nobody knows where I am, you see, and I was told that I’d be okay here for a little while.” Aedan nodded. “You’re the boy, the one running for governor. I saw the signs in people’s yards. Congratulations on that. But you need to get yourself someone to man that gate down there. Doesn’t do you squat if anyone can come in here uninvited.”
“I was just thinking the same thing when you pulled up. Who are you?” The man looked worn out. Depressed, and like he wanted to curl into a ball and simply give up. Aedan had no idea where those thoughts had come from, but he had a feeling that they were all true. Making his way off the deck, Darcy was with him but he stayed back, like he was going to be ready should anything happen. When Aedan was nearly to the man he smelled it…blood. Old and fresh. “Are you hurt?”
“Yes. I got shot up a couple of days ago. I thought for sure that I was a goner, but I managed to get myself free. I’ve been on the run since, not able to stop the hole in me other than to press me a towel or two on it. Hurts like someone has been doing a jig on my insides. You’re not human.” Aedan shook his head and looked the man over. “I can manage to move in a bit, but I have to rest up if you’re planning to kick me to the curb.”
“All right, I won’t kick you anywhere so long as you don’t give me a reason to. Besides, I don’t think you’d make it if I did. I can help you, if you’d allow it.” He just shook his head and continued to hold onto the door that he was near. “Who are you meeting? Maybe I can call them for you.”
“It’s me, Aedan.” He looked at Mason as he made his way to the elderly man. “He’s a stubborn old coot, but I owe someone to keep him safe. Otherwise I would have left his sorry ass on the side of the road.” The older man laughed and then coughed hard enough to make Aedan think he was in a great deal more pain than he was letting on.
Aedan had no idea why he thought that Mason was lying about his feelings toward the stranger. But Mason picked him up in his arms and asked Aedan if he could use his house. Before he could figure out why the man was here or who he was, Mason had taken him to one of the spare bedrooms on the second floor and laid the now unconscious man on the bed.
“I’ll call Ennis.”
Darcy left the room when it was apparent that the man was really hurt. Mason pulled up his shirt and they both looked at the wounds. He had indeed been shot; twice, as a matter of fact. And both wounds were seeping enough to make Aedan realize that he might have used more than a couple of towels to try and stop the bleeding.
“His name is Neal. Paddy Neal. He’s an old friend of a friend that…Browning asked me to bring him here as they’re not home yet. I would have taken him to my place, but it’s too out in the open as yet. He needs a place to hide out until I can get him somewhere safe.” Aedan asked him why here. “Because, my dear friend, your house is built like a fortress and I have been here before, so had you not been home, I could have entered and put him up. It really is important that he is safe.”
“I don’t understand why he isn’t in a hospital, or at the very least a clinic somewhere.” Mason wasn’t one to explain himself, and this time was no different. As they both waited on Ennis to arrive with his black bag, they stripped Paddy’s clothing off. Mason told Aedan what he knew…or in this case, what he wanted Aedan to know.
“Just over a week ago there was a shooting. Nothing you would have heard about here, but an undercover agent was shot several times in the chest at close range. She was about the best there was, but the bad guys didn’t care for her. This is her grandda. Paddy was on the phone with her when she was taken out and presumed killed. She wasn’t, but not for lack of them trying. Just as they were ready to put one in her head, I arrived and took her away to someplace else.” Aedan felt like he was in one of those carnival rides that spun you about so quickly that you couldn’t figure out up or down. “She’s critical, in grave condition actually, but she is going to pull through. But as far as the world is concerned, the world that she works in, she’s dead. And we need to keep it that way for a little while longer. I also have her phone.”
“Her phone.” Mason nodded as he sat down on the other chair in the room. Aedan had already taken the other. “And this is making sense to me how? In the event you didn’t notice, this is not a hospital. I have no staff here that can help out, and I’m pretty sure that since you said you’d been here before, you know that this house isn’t equipped to have guests just yet. The only reason I have this room is because I got a great deal on this set at an auction.”
“This house is very old, and at one time, many decades even before your father was a glint in anyone’s eye, this house was owned by a very dear and close friend of mine. We had many…well, let’s just say that if these walls could talk, you’d be out of here in a
minute.” This wasn’t funny and Aedan said that to him. “No, it’s not. But as I was saying, when Nikki was shot and presumably killed, they went after her grandda when her body and the phone that she used came up missing. I took her someplace safe, as I said, to make sure she would get the care that she needed. Also, I have taken care that the phone isn’t found. She has some pretty determined enemies because of what she’s found out about one of the drug dealers in her city. And trust me when I tell you, his little Nikki is one hell of an investigator.”
“Okay, let me get this straight. This undercover agent was murdered but not. Her grandda was shot to hell and you brought him here. And now, for whatever reason, you think he needs to stay here while he either recuperates or dies, and I’m supposed to keep quiet about it.” Mason grinned and nodded. “You do know that I’m running for governor, right? And this is just the kind of shit that my opponent is looking for to bury me in, correct?”
“You will be fine, young Aedan. And I’d not worry about the questionnaires either. I’ve taken care that none of those questions ever get out in the public.” Aedan asked Mason how he knew that. “Let’s just say that I know more people than Browning does, and mine are a bit more ruthless than she is. And as for Paddy being here, it’s because the president and Browning asked me to bring him here for you to keep safe. They have a great deal more confidence in you than you appear to have in yourself.”
That wasn’t quite true, but Aedan was nervous about having a bleeding stranger in his house. He knew that his family would cover for him in the event someone found out. And if the shit hit the fan, like Mason was suggesting, then they’d be there for him as well.
When Ennis came in a few minutes later, Darcy asked to speak to Aedan. As soon as they entered the hallway, leaving Mason and his other brother to deal with Paddy, Darcy started pacing the long hall. Darcy was a thinker, one who did not blurt out whatever was on his mind until he was sure of his facts.
“I think this is my fault.” Aedan asked him how when Mason had told the man to come here. “I helped him. In a way. You know how I love the news? And especially ones that have to do with syndicates and shit like that? Well, Mason knew as well.”
“Go on.” His brother really did have a fixation on things in the news. He had an app on his computer both here and at home that would tell him every major thing going down. Even his phone and car were rigged up with it. “If you tell me that you called Mason when this went down, I’m going to brain you.”
“I didn’t. Mason called me. About a week before. He said that he had an idea that something was going to go down with a friend that was working undercover. And that he wanted me to keep an ear out for something, anything, that might have to do with this certain city…Chicago. So when the call came in that an officer was down, I contacted him right away and told him what I knew. I think he went to get him or something.” He told him it was apparently a woman. “Okay, that makes sense. He probably had some affair with her and now he’s protecting her or something. Whatever it is, I think this man had something to do with it. Because a couple of hours later, I hear the name again, this time
they say it’s at a residence and shots are being fired. I let Mason know and now the man shows up here. What do you suppose this is about?”
“I don’t know. He just told me that the president and Storm told him to bring the undercover person’s grandda here.” Darcy just nodded, but looked as confused as Aedan felt. “I’m guessing they have something to do with him then. All I know is that I have a wounded man in my house that I know nothing about, as well as some woman out there that may or may not be dead. And I’m to keep quiet about it so that they’ll be safe. I have no problem with that, but I wish I had more information.”
The door opened behind them and Mason stood there. He looked injured, and that was when Aedan realized it was daylight and he was out in the sunlight. When he leaned back against the wall, seemingly exhausted, he and Darcy helped him to the lower levels and away from most of the sunlight. He took a seat but refused their offer of blood.
“She is not my lover, though once I had a look at the little morsel, I had thoughts of changing her and taking her to my bed. But alas, I cannot. She is off limits to me.” Aedan asked why. “She is the niece and goddaughter of the president. The man presently in your bedroom is his uncle. They’re keeping their identities quiet because of what they do and did for a living.”
Aedan nodded then shook his head. Goddaughter and uncle of the president? What else would he find out, that they were also aliens from another planet? Shaking his head to try and clear some of it up only made it worse. He was beginning to have a headache right between his eyes. And he never got headaches.
“Why here? Why not in some other house, closer to him? Or for that matter, why not in a hospital? And what do you mean, did and do? This is like being on a loop de loop ride and you can’t get off; you know that, don’t you?” Mason said nothing but leaned back on the couch. Aedan started to demand answers, but he sat down too and thought about things. “It’s because of this woman being undercover, isn’t it? Something about that is why they have to be protected. She knows something or has…. The phone…you mentioned the phone. You’re thinking that whatever is on it might be something someone would need to bring them in. And those people, the ones on the phone, need to think them dead. For now, like you said, they need to be safe to heal and to be able to bring this to light later. And if the people after them knew differently, then shit would hit the fan.”
“I would say that you’re onto it, at least I think. As I said before, I don’t know a great many of the details. Other than I was asked by Browning to keep an eye out for her. It was most difficult since this cop mostly worked during the daylight hours. But I knew that young Darcy here had an ear for this, so I asked him to have a listen for me.” Aedan looked at his brother then back at Mason. “I only had to give him a name and the city. The rest, it was up to him. He might well have saved her life by being diligent in this. And most assuredly her grandfather. I’m sorry to say that I was too weak to bring him to you quickly. Taking Nikki away the way that I did drained me badly. Driving here was the only way he could have made it. Thankfully he had taken precautions, and had another car with money and clothing it in for them both.”
“And this man, he is involved how? I mean, other than being her grandfather, how is it he has been shot? Being in the wrong place at the wrong time?” Mason said he only knew a few details. “Do I need to know them? Or better yet, do I want to know them?”
“I would say not.” Mason stood up. “There will be staff coming here to care for him and your household. Not from me but the president. He doesn’t want you to have to worry about things, so he has asked a butler to come in and take care of things here should you want. He said to call it a thank you gift. I know Basford; he and his wife are good people.”
“All right, but to be honest, I’m not sure what I need at this point. I’ve only been here for a few months. I mean, Howard is a good friend of the family, but I don’t really need someone to take over my house.” Mason said he figured he’d say that. “How do I give him updates on his uncle?”
“That won’t be necessary at this point. He said that he will contact you when the time is right. But for now, it is safer for his uncle to not be associated with him. Not because he’s done anything wrong, nothing like that, but he should like to keep him safe. And he knows he will be here.” Aedan had a thought, not a good one. Mason laughed. “You have many things running through that head of yours, my friend. I would suggest that you not read anything into this other than a good friend needed your help. You know as well as I that Howard is a good man. If he had not been Browning would have ended him long ago.”
Aedan was still sitting on his couch when someone came into the room with him. He only stared at the man, not having any idea if he should have been frightened, taken cover, or put out his hand in friendship. His head was going in so many directions he wasn’t sure which way was up.
“My name is Basford, my lord. You were told that I was coming?” He nodded. “Mason sent us to help out around the house. Cook and clean for you should you need it, and hire a staff should you want that as well. I’m to understand from him that you have a large household and may need more than just me in residence.”
“To be honest with you Basford, I have no idea what I need.” The man only nodded. “Do you know what’s going on here, with the man upstairs then?”
“I do. I have been informed that should he need something more than he has at the moment, I’m to make a few calls.” More than Aedan knew, and he said as much. “Mason, he said that you were slightly overwhelmed and that you may need a little guidance until you are settled.”
“That might not ever happen.” Basford nodded. “I’d really like to have some breakfast, then while I’m eating, perhaps you and I can figure out what I do with a butler and cook. While I know the duties of both, I’m not sure how to go about getting things done. Does that make sense?”
“It does. I have met the new cook at your parents’ house, as well as their butler there. Mr. Shaw has been a good friend of mine for many years.” That was helpful. Shaw had been working for his family for decades. “Shall we go to the kitchen and see where we stand there? My wife, she’s here as well and has asked to do a bit of cooking for you.
She’s not up to the standards of the young new Mrs. Harrison, but she said she can fill your belly.”
He was talking about Andi, Mac’s wife. Nodding once, he got up to follow the man. Whatever was going on right now, he thought it best if he just played along. For now, anyway.
As they entered the kitchen, he thought again about why the president would have sent the man here. Aedan wondered if he thought that just because he had endorsed him for the governorship that he could take advantage of him. Not that it was a huge hardship having Paddy in his home, but it was odd that the man had been shot and needed to hide out. Then there was the undercover cop thing too. Why was she presumed to be dead? And who wanted her that way? As he sat down to wait for his breakfast, a notebook and pen was set before him. He looked up at the woman, who also handed him a large glass of orange juice.
“To make notes with. Winnie said that you were going to figure things out.” He asked her who Winnie was. “My husband. His name is Winfred, but I call him Winnie. My name is Rose, Rose Basford. Would you like for me to call him Basford as well?”
“No. I like Winnie too. It sounds less…I don’t know. Less stiff. I’m new to this having a staff thing.” She smiled at him and he felt comforted by it. “My parents, you know them as well?”
“Oh yes. Well, not personally, but I know of them. It’s Browning that we know better. Her family would hire us when the staff was in flux. Happened a great deal at the beginning of their tenure in the mansion. But Winnie and I were never up to snuff for them. Only good enough…I should not be speaking of her parents so poorly. Forgive me.” He told her it was fine. He’d heard they were a little cold. “Browning—it was what we called her for so long after they passed—she wasn’t what they wanted in a child. Daring and full of spit and vinegar. Once, when she was about four, we’d been there for a couple of days when she came into the house with not just a snake in her hand, but a turtle as well. Told us right off if we dared cook them for her supper, she’d have us put before a firing squad. I have never laughed so hard in my life.”
When Winnie cleared his throat, his wife moved to the stove. But before pulling out things from the fridge, she kissed Winnie on the cheek and made him blush. Aedan thought he’d enjoy having them around as much as he did his parents.
It took them two hours to get things squared away. And when Ennis came to join them, he was fed as well. Darcy had gone to work, saying that he’d be back late because he had to find him a place to live, and had his eye on a building or two in the downtown area. He’d been saying that for nearly the three weeks that he’d been sleeping over here.
“Your guest is resting right now. I took out the bullets and gave them to Mason when he came back for them. He said he’d take care that they got into the right hands. Mr. Neal is going to be down for a few more days, so I’ve made arrangements to have him a nurse brought in. Also through Mason. He’ll just need help getting up and down and his dressing changed. I’ll come see him a couple of times a day if you don’t mind. Just to make sure he’s healing all right.”
“You don’t want to do this.” Ennis said that he really didn’t mind. That he owed Mason. “Everyone seems to owe him. How is it he’s indebted to you?”
“The new building that I’m moving into? It has a lair in the sublevels. I mean, really, it’s an apartment with all the things that you’d find anywhere, except no windows. I’ve given him permission to live there for as long as I own the building. It’s safer for him, he said, than the aunts’ house.” Lynn and Sally, aunts of Stormy, had been letting Mason stay in their basement while he was in the area. And he’d been having repairs done on the house in return. “He said that he’d take care of the taxes for me, but I said I just felt better with him living there. Sort of a safety net should I need it in the event the place is robbed. I’ll have a lot of drugs in the place when I’m done moving in. Oh yeah, that reminds me, I have to talk to an attorney about something. I got this letter in the mail about something to do with drugs on the premises. Did you ever hear of a vault for drugs in a business like mine? Huge sucker, too, if I’m reading this right.”
“No. I mean, I guess that makes sense, but it’s not like you’re going to be selling them, right? We’re talking just things like samples and such.” Ennis said that was it, but he had to get one. “I’d check into it like you are. Probably just a precautionary letter they sent to all doctors.”
After his brother left, Aedan went to check up on his new guest and wasn’t surprised to find him resting comfortably. Getting ready to go into the office himself, Aedan thought about all the things that could go wrong with this. First and foremost, he could be out of the running for a job that he’d come to want very badly.