Monday, June 13, 2016

Danburn The English Dragon Release Day & Giveaway 6/13/16



Danburn English is the ninth earl of the English castle. He and his dragon alter ego have been on this earth for a very long time. Danburn is accustom to his orders being followed to the letter, no questions asked, so when this feisty young woman bucks his authority he is beyond angry.
Kendrick Barrera can't seem to get caught up. Every time she turns around, her sister is in trouble again. Now, because of her sister's new mess, she's being evicted and has nowhere to go.
Danburn's intentions were to defend her honor, but when Kendrick intervenes, she steps in front of a punch intended for her mouthy landlord. Now Danburn has to step back and take a good long look at himself, and he doesn't much like what he sees.
Kendrick doesn't care for the overbearing lord of the manor and makes no bones about telling him so either. No one, especially him, is going to tell her what to do or how to act or dress.
There is something about the feisty woman that has touched Danburn's heart. She has a rare honesty and bravery that has him take notice. A woman like that is hard to find and should be protected and cherished. The chemistry is there, they've both felt it, but controlling his mouth just might get in the way of winning Kendrick's heart....



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Chapter 1
Danburn moved to the side of the large lake and stripped off his boots. It wasn’t
necessary for him to take his clothing off, but he wanted to just sit in the grass for a few
minutes before he headed home. He looked over at the large castle and smiled. Some home,
he thought. It was bigger than the hotel he’d just left a few days ago.
He stood at the very edge of the water and calmed his inner beast. He was hungry
for some time of his own, and Danburn had been promising it to him for weeks now. It
would give him what he wanted, or Danburn would suffer at his hands. It wouldn’t be
painful, not really, but it would be annoying. And home was the only place that Danburn
could give him the freedom that they both so craved.
Diving into the water, he felt his beast take him. Not all at once, but enough to know
that his beast was just as anxious as he was to be free. Parallel with the water, he felt him
take all of him, and as soon as he hit the water, there was nothing left of the man he had
been.
The water was deeper than it looked. Much like the castle, there were hidden coves
and outlets in this lake that no one except a few that he trusted knew about. Danburn
swam the distance of the entire lake before flipping and making his way back to swim
beneath the earth into the deepest part of it.
Swimming like this wasn’t the same as flying, but it was close. The beast, a dragon,
was much larger than Danburn by nearly ten times, and weighed several tons. His wings
alone were as wide as several football fields laid end to end, and his tail was nearly fifty
feet long, covered in thick spikes and dark scales. Danburn had never understood the
dynamics of what he was and what he could become, but he did enjoy the way it made
him feel.
He was in need of some air several hours later, and slowly rose his snout to the
surface of the water to take a breath. As he was breathing in the oxygen, he caught a scent
that startled him. Fresh blood. And a great deal of it. Moving to the reeds behind him,
Danburn lifted his big head out of the water to look around, knowing that he would be
well camouflaged if anyone were to look in his direction. There was not a measure of
sound, not a ripple of movement, on the water or around him.
The scent was stronger now, but he could see nothing out of the ordinary. He
continued to search just to make sure that nothing was going to come back and bite him
in the ass later. It was, after all, his property, and usually everyone knew better than to
trespass on his land. As he watched, something moved at the corner of his vision. It was
then that he saw what his nose had already told him.
The woman was making her way to the water, slowly looking around as much as he
was for something to come upon her. He could see that she was hurt. The blood stained
the water even as she made her way to the deeper part, which was several hundred yards
from where he was. Danburn looked around again when she ducked under the water,
knowing that she’d not be able to stay under long because of her being human. He could
taste it in the scent of her blood as she hid below the surface.
A man—or now that he could see them, men—were walking to where she was.
Danburn didn’t want to interfere, especially in his current form, so he waited. When one
of the men lifted a rifle, pointing it in the direction the woman had gone, Danburn dipped
beneath the water just as the shot was fired.
When he saw her, it appeared she’d been hit. Her eyes were closed, not in death, but
in pain. Blood pooled around them both as he reached her. Grabbing her gently with his
clawed hand, he pulled her body to his and swam to the underground tunnel of his home.
He knew that someone would be there. His friend and go-to man, Noah, would be there
if no one else was. Emerging from the water, he handed the limp woman to Noah and
dove back into the waters without a word. He had to make sure that she was safe,
whoever she was, as well as his home.
Two of the four men were in the water when he emerged from the reeds. Danburn
didn’t even bother trying to figure out what they were doing there, or even what they
had wanted the woman for, but pulled them both under the water and held them there
until they no longer struggled. When he was satisfied that they were no longer a threat,
he moved to the surface again and waited for someone, either man, to come into the water
to retrieve the now floating bodies of their comrades.
They were being very cautious, but he was a very patient man and could wait them
out for hours. Just as one of the men moved to the edge of the water, he heard the sounds
of the sirens coming. Noah, he thought, had called someone for him. As the men
scrambled away, leaving the dead for him to deal with, Danburn sank beneath the surface
again and headed back to the cove where he’d taken the woman.
Noah was there, as was his personal physician, Pierce Cunningham. Noah said
nothing as he held out a towel for him when he shifted to his body and climbed out of
the water, shaking a few of his scales into the depths to replenish what he’d done to it.
Leaving the dead behind would harm the lake only a little, but he hated doing it. Noah
fussed at him then, telling him he should have taken better care. Noah was sometimes
worse than his mother could be when it came to him.
“I couldn’t let her die, you know.” Nothing but a small huff of a sound. As he took
the towel and dried his legs, he was handed a shirt and tie. “We have a guest?”
“Yes. A party. In your mother’s honor. I’m not sure what we’re to do with this injured
woman, but I’m just glad that we have no guests coming. I don’t think it would bode well
for you if anyone found out.” Danburn paused in getting dressed and looked at the
woman, then back at Noah. “Pierce is doing the best he can with her. The beating she
took was bad, but Pierce said that with a little rest she’ll be good as new. The gunshot
wounds, however, will need some tending to.”
“Wounds? As in more than one?” Noah told him there were two total on her person.
“I only heard the one shot. I had no idea that…by the way, there are two bodies in the
lake. They drowned.”
Noah tisked at him, and Danburn had to hide a smile. The man was such a prude. As
he pulled on his pants, not bothering with the underwear held out for him, he asked Noah
what the police were called for.
“I’ve no idea, my lord.” He was in trouble if Noah was calling him lord. “Perhaps
they heard of a large dragon swimming in the waterways and drowning people, and
someone took it upon themselves to call the law. Or perhaps they think that having a shot
up woman in their realm is something else that they might fumble into, and half blindly
find the culprit.”
“You’re in a mood, aren’t you?” Noah snatched the towel from him and walked
away. “I’m fine, in the event you were going to ask. No shots to my poor body.”
“We should be so lucky, my lord.”
Danburn was still laughing as he made his way to the upper levels. He made sure
that the woman was cared for and put into one of the many bedrooms, but out of sight of
the household. He had no idea who she was, but no one physically hurt women—and
that was all there was to it.
When he entered the living room, his mother stood up and came to him.
“You smell of lake water.” He kissed her on the cheek and told her she smelled
wonderful. “Good save, but it does not negate that while I was here wasting away,
waiting for you to come and wish me a happy birthday, you were having a nice dip in
the water. Danburn, you know I hate it when you’re late.”
“I know, Mom, but this couldn’t be helped.” He told her what he’d come upon, and
she wanted to see the woman right away. “Pierce is working with her. He’s to come and
get me if there are any problems with her when she wakes. He said she took a hell of a
beating.”
“You didn’t really kill those men, did you? Right on your own lake?” He told her that
there was little choice in that too. “I’m sure that once their bodies are found there will be
questions. Do you know who the other two were?”
“No, but I know what they look like and what they smell like.” Dinner was
announced, and he escorted her into the dining room. There would be cake later, after
her favorite meal of lobster and steak, then he’d give her his gifts. He might have
forgotten about what the date was, but he never forgot her birthday.
Dinner was a quiet affair with just the two of them. He did try to get Noah to come
and have cake with them, but he only glared, something that he was quite good at, and
told them that he’d have some later, with the rest of the staff.
No one could put themselves in a class better than Noah did. The man was pompous
as well as correct, but Danburn loved him with all of his heart. And he was pretty sure
that Noah loved him as well. The two of them had been together for as long as Danburn
had been alive, and that had been a long time.
“I’ve been thinking of taking a trip.” He didn’t mention that he had the same idea for
her in the form of a cruise, but only nodded at his mom’s statement. “With you closing
up the house here, I just don’t think I can stand to be around to see it. We’ve been here
for so long, Danburn, that I don’t know what I’ll do without being able to come here.”
“I’m closing the house, not tearing it down. And I’ve told you several times, you can
live here for as long as you want. I just need to be closer to my work.” She nodded, but
he could see the sadness there. “Mom, what is it really? Is it Dad? Do you not want to
leave him?”
He knew that his mom went to talk to his dad daily. He’d died some two hundred
years ago when he’d let an infection get into one of his wings and it had spread to his
heart before they could do anything about it. Even as immortals there were things that
could kill them, and poisoning of the blood was the biggest one.
“I can talk to him anywhere, but yes, that’s part of it.” She sat down before the blazing
fire and looked at it instead of him as she continued. “I love this place. I understand that
you need to be closer to your job and all. But this is home to me. And to you. I wish…there
are times when I wish I had taken my own home instead of coming here to yours. I should
have thought that if you found a mate, she’d want to run her own home and not have me
around.”
“Don’t say that, Mom. Please don’t. I’m not going to have a mate this late in my life.
And even if I do, if she doesn’t like you, there is no way I’m going to love her. I’m not
going to sell this place or leave it to ruin. I just think it’ll be better in the long run for me
to settle elsewhere. At least for the time being.” He didn’t tell her the real reason, but he
had a feeling that she knew. The house was lonely without his dad there. He’d been a
rock in his otherwise turbulent life. “Why don’t you let me give you my gifts? I know that
you’ve been trying to get information from Noah.”
“Yes. And he’s as stubborn as you are.” After winking at her, he went to get the boxes.
There were several of them; he would find things for her throughout the year and send
them here to give to her for this occasion. “Oh, so many. Danburn, you spoil me rotten,
you know that, don’t you?”
“Yes, but you make it so easy.” She hugged him to her, longer and tighter than
normal, and he pulled her to him when she started to back away. “I love you, Mom. And
will forever.”
Long after she went up to bed, he sat in the den watching the fire. He’d been to check
on the woman, and there was no change in her. He’d also asked Noah to find out where
the police were going, and so far there was nothing on that either. Only that they’d gone
to the property near him, the one where he knew the new owner was up to no good. Not
until someone knocked on the front door did he realize how late it had become. Or that
it had started raining.
~~~
Kendrick felt like a drowned rat. Her hair was plastered to her head, and her coat
was as soaked clear through. The boots she had on, usually made for this sort of weather,
had gotten a leak in them a few days ago, and she’d thought for sure she’d be able to
afford a new pair by now. Then her sister.... Well, it is always Louisa, now isn’t it? Kendrick
thought. One thing or another was always befalling her sister. Reaching for the giant
knocker on the door again, she nearly screamed when a man suddenly opened the door
and stared at her.
“I was wondering if I could use your phone.” He stood there so still she wondered
for a moment if he was real. “I broke down a few miles back, and I dropped my phone in
a puddle and it no longer works.”
Lie, she told herself as her face heated up at the fib. The phone didn’t work because
Louisa had stolen her money for the bill and it had gone dead for lack of payment. Like
her boots and her now overdue rent, there was no money to take care of even the simplest
things, including food. Louisa was going to ruin her more than she already had.
As the man continued to stare at her, she had the most overwhelming urge to snap
her fingers in front of him to see if he was sleepwalking.
“Or not. I guess we can just stand here, staring at each other until one of us dies from
the cold and wet. I’m thinking it’ll be me, since you’re all snug as a bug in the house.” He
still did nothing. “Christ. Is there someone here that speaks? Any language? I know a few
that we can try out.”
“The master of the house has gone to bed.” Well, big fucking deal. She didn’t want
the master of anything, just a fucking phone. “If you were to wait here, I’ll retrieve the
phone for you and you may use it.”
The door closed so fast that she had no time to tell him to forget it. She stood there
for several seconds, wondering why she was even bothering about this, then turned and
made her way back to the driveway. Fuck this shit. Louisa was on her own.
Three hours ago, Louisa had called her and told her that she was in trouble, which
by Kendrick’s estimation happened about four times a day. It was out of the pan and into
the fire for her sister. Just trying to figure out how she did it was usually more of an effort
than she cared to make any more. But the call had come, and she’d driven her piece of
shit car to where Louisa said she was, to bail her out if she could. There was no money,
so if that was going to be it, Louisa was going to have to deal with it on her own. But who
the fuck knew there really was an English castle here?
The night was so nasty and cold that she wished now that she’d stayed home. No
matter what she did for Louisa, it was never enough, nor did it keep her out of the next
bout of trouble. But when she’d mentioned guns and men, like an idiot, Kendrick had
dropped everything to come to her rescue. And more than likely had lost yet another job
because she couldn’t stay until the end of her shift. Life with her sister was as bad is it
came, she thought.
“I should have my head examined. Again.” She huddled into her soaking wet coat
and stomped her way back to the main road to her broken down car. “Come and get me,
she said. They have guns and they’re going to kill me. Perhaps I’d get some peace and
quiet if they did.”
Stopping in her tracks, Kendrick felt herself start to cry at what she’d said. There was
no way she’d leave Louisa to get shot just so she’d leave her alone. She loved her sister
more than she did herself at times. But it was becoming too much. She was broke, thanks
to her, late on all her bills, again thanks to her sister, and she’d not had a decent meal in
longer than she could remember. Her belly seconded that comment by growling loudly.
Louisa was a good person when she wanted to be…mostly when she needed
something or someone to do something for her. Her troubles, Kendrick knew, happened
because she was so demanding, and when someone told her that she was going to get
this or that for her troubles, she believed them. Kendrick had learned her lessons at the
hand of a very nasty person, namely her own mother, and knew that trusting anyone
could get you killed. Or worse.
“Beat me once, shame on you. Beat me a couple of dozen more times, and I have to
learn to run and hide better.” She stood in the middle of the field, not having a clue where
she was, and then heard a sound behind her. “Fuck.”
Diving into the brush closest to her, she lay as still as she could, trying not to think
about what might be sharing the place with her as two men walked by her. One of them,
she knew, was the quiet man at the door.
“I was bringing her the phone. Why would she leave when I told her that I would
bring her the phone?” The other man said nothing but grunted. “It’s not my fault that she
has not the sense of a toad to get in out of the rain. I guess I could have talked to her more,
but I was so shocked to see her there that I was rendered speechless for too long.” She
wanted to get up and tell him had he invited her in, she’d not have been in the rain, but
said nothing.
The two of them were just passing her when they stopped suddenly. Sure that they’d
found her, she wished now that she’d brought some sort of weapon with her. A rock
would have made her feel better than she did at the moment.
“She’s here. I can smell her.” The other man lifted his nose to the air, and Kendrick
had a feeling that he really could smell her. She’d left work so quickly to get to Louisa
that she’d not had time to change her clothing. She knew she smelled of french fries and
greasy meat. “You look over there and I’ll go this way. And for Christ’s sake, Noah, don’t
step on her. Danburn is pissed enough about this.”
“Yes. I will try. She didn’t appear to be injured. But I will be careful.” The other man—
Sniffer, she decided to call him—told him to hush. As Sniffer made his way toward her,
she closed her eyes and wished she was home in her own bed, wished it as hard as she’d
wished for a great many things lately.
Peeking beneath her lashes, she knew that someone was standing over her. She saw
his boots first. And the insane thought of how expensive they looked and how totally out
of her league they were was running through her mind when he bent his knee to become
eye level with her. He didn’t say anything but put out his hand to her, which she refused
to take.
“I just wanted to call someone. I don’t know who it might have been, but I thought
someone could help me out.” He said nothing but kept his hand where it was. “Why
don’t you pretend that you didn’t find me? I’ll go back to my car and sit there until either
this monsoon takes me away or the sun comes up. I’m sure this Danburn person wouldn’t
care a fig if you just left me here.”
“It won’t work. He’s very stubborn. And until one of us shows up with you, my boss
will make us keep looking for you. He is, at this moment, looking in the opposite direction
that you took, by the way. Did you know that you are about five feet from the lake?” She
didn’t even bother turning. It would be her luck that it was just a ploy to catch her off
guard…or maybe there really was a lake behind her. One with a great big monster in it.
“There is one. It’s deeper than it looks, and holds all sorts of secrets that you are better
off not knowing.”
“Right now I wouldn’t care if something lurking it in came out and gobbled me up.
I’m so fucked right now.” He nodded, but said nothing more. “I don’t suppose you know
a woman by the name of Louisa Barrera, do you? She’s my sister, and the reason I’m out
here this late at night.” He told her that he did not. “Well, it was worth a shot.”
Standing up on her own, she watched the man as he put two fingers into his mouth
and made the most amazing sound she’d ever heard. Being called a simple whistle wasn’t
enough. It was perfectly pitched and loud enough to wake the dead. The man from the
doorway came toward them with a small flashlight. It occurred to her then that she had
one in her glove box, but the battery was more than likely dead. Why should that work
out for her?
“You should have waited, miss. I was returning with the phone.” She wanted to say
something along the lines of she hadn’t felt welcome, but didn’t. “The master of the house
is most upset with you. He said he has enough going on right now, and he’s right.
Danburn is usually right.”
“Me? Why is he upset with me? I didn’t do anything but ask to use the phone. You
guys came out in the rain to find me. And I doubt very much he’s always right. Bossy
more than likely, but not always right.” She was sloshing back with them in the event
that one of them would offer to give her a lift back to her car, which she’d only just
realized was in the opposite direction from where they were headed. “I think we’re going
the wrong way. I just want to go home now. I’ll find her in the morning. Why I believed
her when she said that men with guns were after her, I have no idea.”
“Guns? Your sister told you there were men with guns after her? Well, if that’s the
case, I think we might know her after all.” She stopped moving when Sniffer spoke. She
was still standing there when he turned and looked at her. “Blonde with dark eyes. A
mark on her left arm that looks like someone touched it with a curling iron?”
“I have no idea what color her hair is now. It’s been a couple of days since I’ve
actually.... Never mind. The mark, it was a branding iron. One of her boyfriends thought
it would be cool if they branded each other. She was first, and he chickened out when she
screamed and fainted. Where is she? Dead? Please tell me she’s all right.” He assured her
that when he’d left to find her she was fine. “I can take her now if you’ll just let me use
the phone to call in a favor. My car won’t…it’s too far for me to take her back by walking.”
“She’s been shot.” Kendrick felt her knees just give out, and something—or she
supposed someone—scooped her up before she fell. The voice of the man, strong and
angry, made her struggle against him, but he commanded her to be still and she did.
“What were you thinking walking around in the rain like a fool? You could have been
killed or drowned. Do you have the sense that God gave you?” She struggled again and
he told her to be still. “If you fall now, I will simply have Noah get the car and run you
over several times for scaring the household.”
“You are a charmer, aren’t you? I bet all the women around just fall at your feet from
the way nice things just roll off your forked tongue. Let me go, you buffoon. I just want
to get my sister and get the hell away from you people.” He laughed, and Kendrick
wanted to hit him, but they were suddenly standing in the hallway of the most beautiful
area she’d ever been in. “Where the hell am I? Dead?”
“No, you are not dead. There is something decidedly wrong with you, isn’t there?”
She looked at him then, really looked, and wished to Christ she hadn’t. Men like him,
handsome and sexy, were not something one like her saw much of. If ever. “This is my
home. And you are an unwelcome intruder. Had you not upset my household, I would
be sleeping in my bed, not soaked to the skin looking for you in the rain.”
“Danburn!” The woman’s voice coming from the staircase sounded shocked. It took
all the energy Kendrick had to tear her eyes away from the hunk of nasty beauty to look
at her. “Nous ne traitons pas invité cette façon. Quel est ton problème?”
“I’m not a guest, but an intruder, as he called me. And if you’re going to speak a
different language to chew him out, you should know that I can speak more than most
people.” Kendrick looked at the man, then back at the woman. “As for what is wrong
with him. I would say that he’s not any different than he normally is, a nasty
dispositioned prick that got up on the wrong side of the bed today, and is taking it out
on the people around him like it’s his job. Like he does daily.”
The woman laughed and reached out her hand. “Hello, my dear. I’m the nasty
dispositioned prick’s mother, Lady English. I’m to understand from Noah that your sister
is here. Let me take you to her.”
As they moved by the big man, Kendrick couldn’t help herself. She stuck her tongue
out at him and flipped him off. There was going to be hell to pay for that, she was sure,
but right now she felt like she’d won a small battle. And she had a feeling that there were
going to be a few more battles before this was done.




Monday, May 30, 2016

Burke Bentley Book Four Release Blitz 5/30/16

Burke Bentley's decision to quit the hospital and go into practice with his brother was the best decision he'd ever made. With the daily pressures gone, he could do what he loved to do most --be a doctor.

Piper Cordale, Pip to her friends, just wanted to bust her friend out and go. She didn't handle people well and needed to be on her way, but fate had other things in store for her. Her friend's gorgeous doctor, Burke, insisted that he was her mate. Pip didn't have a mate, nor did she want one. The chore of breathing in and out was hard enough.

But when she saw Burke's nephew, Shane, sitting all alone, she reached out to him, and they formed an instant bond. She was fae and told the boy if he ever needed her, all he needed to do was call out and she'd be there.

When the unthinkable happens, and Shane and his brother Walter are targeted by a madman, can Pip reach his side fast enough? Is she strong enough to save them both?

The Bentleys must band together like never before to protect their young and pray that it's enough....

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                                                   Happy Reading 
                                                    Kathi  S Barton 














THE BENTLEY LEGACY 




Chapter 1
Burke stretched his neck and heard it pop twice before he leaned back in his chair. The ding of his computer, telling him he had an email, didn’t even faze him. He was beyond exhausted, but as happy as he’d ever been in his life. He looked up when he felt someone in the room with him. Nolan smiled as he sat down across from him.
“What did he weigh?” Burke just slid the file over to him without moving much. “Wow, you were almost dead on. Nine pounds, ten and a half ounces. Christ, you might have hit the all-time record with this one.”
“He was a bear to get free.” Burke smiled again. “His daddy is about to bust his shirt, he is so proud. But I have a feeling that Momma is going to be saying no a lot more now that they have a son. Seven little girls and now a boy. I don’t envy that little guy.”
Burke had been worried for a bit when the baby had been breach. But the mom, a tiger, had told him to fix it. Burke did and then twelve minutes later, little Cartwright James had come into the world screaming his head off.
“You’re settling in okay, right? I know it was hard for you at first.” Burke nodded at Nolan and told him he thought he was. “When you came out of your office that first visit, I thought you were having a heart attack.”
“I did too, to be honest. I wasn’t used to people being so frank about why they were there. And then when he showed me his arm and told me that he’d cut it doing something so mundane as chopping wood on his farm, it was all I could do not to call the cops, thinking of foul play.” Burke sat up in his chair when his computer dinged again. “I’ve been getting emails since Monday from the hospital. I’ve only read the first couple of them, but it looks like they’re wanting me to come back at any cost. What do you suppose is going on?”
“I heard from Mom that there was a shake up about some of the surgeons. Something about a rotation schedule. To be honest, didn’t really listen. What are they wanting you to do? Come back part time?” He told him what the one email said. “They want you to come back as chief of the hospital’s emergency room? Wow, there really must be some shit going down. What are you going to tell them?”
“Nothing. I mean, as I said, I’ve not read more than a few of them, but even after the first one, I knew that I’d never go back. I love this job. I like what I’m doing. And I know that I’ve only been doing it for about a month, but I feel like I’ve found my dream job.” Burke heard the computer again and turned off his speakers. “Mom told me that next week we’re going over to her house for a little pre-Thanksgiving test tasting. I have no idea what that even means.”
“It means that she’s going to try and cook up something strange and she wants us to approve it. I hate pre-whatever meals.” Nolan stood up. “I have two more patients tonight, then I’m done. What about you?”
“I’m done. I have a few notes to make, but I have nothing to rush home for just now, and I thought I’d hang a few more things up. I finally got my things out of storage yesterday.” Nolan nodded and told him not to be late tonight. “Nolan? Will you do me a
favor? I’d like to find me a house. Nothing on the scale that you guys have, but something sedate and sort of smallish. Do you happen to know of a realtor, or someone selling?”
“We don’t do smallish and sedate in this family. Haven’t you learned that by now?” Burke was afraid he’d say that. “But it would be my pleasure. Do you have any ideas? Other than I’m assuming close to home?”
“Yes, close to home. I don’t want to build. I have no desire to pick out carpets and wall shit. Just a house I can go to when I want to unwind, as well as a nice yard. Shane gave me a list, but I think the kid has it in his head that all of us Bentleys need giant homes. The two that he showed me were as big as your house.”
Nolan laughed as he made his way out the door. But when he stopped and looked at him, Burke felt his cat run along his skin. “Are you happy, Burke? I don’t mean with coming to work with me, but in general terms, are you happy?”
“I think so. I’m lonely most of the time. Not so much anymore because I can see the family more because I have a better schedule. Did you know that Walter has been popping over a lot? Well, he and Shane sometimes, too. And I’m telling you right now, that car you helped him buy has that kid thinking he’s king of the world. And I guess he comes home from college a little more too since he got it.” He knew he’d not answered his brother’s question, not really, and changed the subject before he could ask him anything else. “I’ll see you at Mom’s at six for dinner. Then maybe we can go on a run if you and Rylee aren’t too busy.” Nolan told him it was a date.
When he was alone, Burke pulled out the boxes that he’d brought in on Monday. Then he got himself a bottle of water and his tool box. He smiled when he looked at the name that was engraved on the top. It had been his dad’s, one that Burke had gotten for him when he’d been about ten. Running his fingers over the crooked letters that spelled out Dad, he thought of his father again.
Burke and his father had been close. Not as close as he and Micah had been, but almost. His dad, Grandda, and he would meet up once a week to go fishing, even if his dad had to miss a little overtime to do it. It had become their time. Then one day, it had only been him and his grandda.
“He loved you.” Burke told Grandda that he knew that. Burke’s father had been killed a couple of years before, right around Thanksgiving. This time of year as a matter of fact. “Didn’t think I’d outlive him, never dreamed of it. And here I am, sitting with my grandson, feeling both our grief overwhelming us.”
“Grandda, I think he knew that he was going to die.” His grandda had nodded but said nothing as they both sat there with their poles forgotten in the water. “He told me that if I did nothing else in life, that I should be happy. No matter if I wanted to be a homeless man. Just so long as I did something that made me feel good and happy.”
“He sure did love what he did.” Burke knew that as well. “My boy Micah told me once that being a cop like I had been was one of his greatest pleasures in life, besides marrying your momma and having you boys. I wish all the time that he’d not been killed and that he was right here with us. I worry about your momma too.”
“She’s really sad. And I hear her crying all the time too.” Grandda had nodded and blew his nose in his handkerchief. “I don’t think she wants to live anymore. Her heart is just too broken.”
“No, but she will. Now she will.”
Burke had heard them talking. Mom was telling his grandma and grandda that she wasn’t fit to be their momma anymore. She didn’t have it in her to want to go on. Grandma had sobbed hard, and Grandda got mad at her. Burke wasn’t sure what had happened after that. He’d been called away by one of his brothers.
And she had gotten better after that. Flourished even more since the grandchildren had come along, as well as the three wives of his brothers. Burke took out the first framed picture and smiled. It was the one they’d taken at the charity event last month, all of them standing in their finest and happy. There were others of them as a family…the babies, as well as Shane, were in them. But this one, the one taken of them sitting at the table all together and smiling when someone asked them to turn to them…Burke thought it was his favorite.
Burke was just putting the nail in the wall for the last framed picture when there was a knock at the door. Telling his assistant, Margaret, to come in, he turned to her when she didn’t speak. The man at the door with a knife to Margaret’s throat had him reaching for not just Micah, but all of his family to tell them what was going on.
You know him? He told Garth that he did not. We’re coming. I’m with Tony, and Micah and Reggie are close too.
The man started talking to him, using Margaret as his shield. “You go over there.” Burke did what he was told and moved with his hands up. “Where is she? I want you to bring her right on out here now.”
“Her who?” When he hit Margaret with the knife butt, Burke felt his cat run along his skin. “I’m trying to be helpful here, but I don’t know who you might be talking about. And that being said, I can’t bring her without that information.”
“Captain McClure. I want her now.” It took him several seconds to remember who he was talking about. Rylee, Nolan’s wife. “You tell her that she needs to come and see what she’s done to me.”
“All right. I’ll do that for you if you let Margaret go. She’s done nothing to you.” He told Nolan what was going on and he asked for the man’s name. “You just tell me who you are and I’ll call her right now. No funny business.”
“You fucking damn well right there won’t be no funny business. I want her here, and if you think I’m giving over this woman, then you’re stupider than them bastards at the hospital.” He told Nolan what he’d said. “My name is Franklin. They won’t treat me no more.”
“What is it you need treating for, Mr. Franklin?” He told him that his first name was Franklin. “All right then, Franklin, what is it that you need treatment for?”
“I got me a wound.” Burke nodded as he made his way to his desk. There was nothing there that he could use against a knife, but he was going to be calm and cool about this. “They said that it’s not nothing they did, so they ain’t gonna help me out.”
“Can I look at it? I’m not sure what you thought that McClure could help you with, but I’m a doctor.” He nodded and held the knife tighter to Margaret throat. “You hurt her and I won’t have anyone to help me treat you. And I won’t, either, if you don’t let her go.”
“She said that we could get fixed up. But that guy down there said no. He said that it wasn’t related to the army.” Burke asked him what place he’d gone. “Down to the new place that has been helping us out. You know, the Micah Bentley place.”
“Yes, I know the place. I work there, as well as one of my brothers. He’s the one that started it.” Franklin looked as if he didn’t believe him. “Nolan, he’s my brother and a good doctor too. He did that for you. And if someone turned you away, I’ll find out why for you.”
“I hurt.” Burke nodded and moved a little closer. Franklin was looking weaker now, his face pale. Burke could feel something wrong with him but not what. It wasn’t until he felt Chris touch his mind that he knew.
He has something on his spine, a cut along with a few other injuries. He had to escape. But to be honest, I don’t know what that means. His mind is all jumbled up. They won’t treat him because he’s got other issues. Mostly that his mind is hurting. They thought him too depressed to help. But the doctor there is being dealt with as we speak. Your mom is there at the clinic now. Burke could almost feel sorry for whoever it had been. Your brothers are nearly there, but I’ve told everyone to wait. You have this under control, don’t you, Burke?
He told her he hoped so, but to send in Rylee if that was okay with Nolan. The man was a human, and he might not know that he was a panther. Instead of pretending to use the phone, he told him that he’d contacted his brother.
“I want McClure here. She told me I’d be all right.” He told him how he was related to her. “Oh. Then she’s coming here?”
“Yes, but I won’t let her come in here until you let Margaret go. You’re scaring her, and I really like her. I need her to work with me.” Franklin said he was right sorry. “I know you are. Just let her go and I’ll have a look at your back. Then when Rylee gets here, you can talk to her.”
He staggered back from Margaret, who turned and slapped Franklin. When he just stood there, his face looking sort of sad, Burke asked her to set up a room for them. She nodded once and started out of the room.
“You do something like that to me again, Franklin, and you will think that Rylee is sweet on you when I’m finished with your old body.” Franklin looked at him when Margaret left the room. “Rylee is on her way.”
“I think that nurse is mad at me.” Burke nodded. “I want you to know that I only came here on account’a I knew the Captain was here sometimes. I heard tell that she hangs out here. Guess nobody knew that she had herself a husband that worked here too.”
“She’s married to my brother, Nolan.” He knew he was repeating himself, but Burke was trying to get his thoughts together. When Margaret came back to say that Rylee was here, Burke put out his hand. “I want the knife. And any other weapon you have on you. I’ll not have you trying to hurt her when’s she’s done us both a favor.”
“I like her.” Burke said he did as well. And when he put the knife in his hand, he asked him if there was more. “They took it from me when I went to the hospital once. Said I was unfit to carry any more. I was fit to carry when I had a bullet in me and they was needing me overseas, but now that I need to get some help, I’m unfit.”
“You come on along then and we’ll work in this.” He saw Rylee just as he was guiding Franklin into the room. He asked for one minute and she nodded. Burke went in and saw that Margaret had gotten his shirt off already. Burke wasn’t prepared for what he saw on the man.
~~~
Pip searched up and down the long building, trying her best not to cry. Franklin had been missing for four days now, and she was sure that he’d been arrested again or murdered. When the young man who had been trying to keep up with her finally did, she asked him again if he’d heard that he was here.
“His name isn’t on the list, miss. You said he could write, and he’s just not there.” She’d been confused by that when he’d asked her if he could write his name. He explained that there were plenty of men there that could not. “Mrs. Bentley is with the doctors now or I’d ask them if they—miss, you can’t go in there.”
She’d seen the room earlier where a bunch of people were closed off in a room. Pip knew they were mostly doctors and other staff. Why they were having a meeting now was sort of mind boggling to her since there were people everywhere that needed help. But she was missing the only man she’d ever loved, and one of them had to know where he was.
The door opened easily. She’d been sure it would have been locked. And when she walked in, she almost had the feeling that they were expecting her. Which wasn’t possible, as she’d only just gotten into town. A woman sitting at the head of the table was laughing, but the older woman who looked to be in charge just stared.
“I’m trying to find out if my uncle has been here. I heard from someone at the VA that he’d been...well, he escaped. They’re not very good at keeping him safe, and I’ve tried my best to get them to understand that he hates to be tied down, but they don’t listen. I’ve had to take on two jobs as well as move here to try and get him to be signed over to me.” She looked around the room. “I’ve shared too much. But I need to find him.”
“What’s his name?” She told the older woman. “Ah. We were just talking about him. Come on in, dear, and have a seat. And so you know, we know just where he is and he’s in good hands.”
“I want to go to him. Now if you don’t mind.” The woman nodded but didn’t move. “Perhaps you didn’t get it. I want to go get him and take care of him. Wherever he is, it can’t be safer than when he’s with me.”
“He’s with my son, Burke, who is taking care of him. He broke into Burke’s offices and demanded to see a woman by the name of Captain McClure. That would be my daughter-in-law, Rylee.” She asked what this man was doing for him. “He’s a doctor. Burke said that he’s doing some minor surgery on him now, and that he’d have him brought here in about thirty minutes.”
Before she could think that she was light headed, she was sitting in a chair with her head between her knees. The shoes in front of her were expensive and looked comfortable. For a moment she wondered what it would cost to have something like that, and heard someone laugh. Pushing against the hand that held her, she looked at the face of the younger woman that had been seated.
“You all right now?” Pip nodded. “Here, you drink this juice and I’ll tell you what I know. Franklin Bradshaw was here earlier today. And yesterday, from what we’ve been able to piece together. He was turned away both times.” Pip emptied the tall glass of orange juice and realized it was fresh with pulp, the best kind.
“Why? I mean, you have your doors open for anyone, correct? Not that he should have been out and about on his own, but I thought this place was for people like him, vets.” The woman nodded. “I’m Piper Cordale, everyone just calls me Pip.”
“Chris Bentley.” Pip looked around then back at the woman. “Yes, my family owns and runs this place. That’s why we’re taking care that your uncle gets the best care now and that the people who turned him away are dealt with. Not everyone is cut out for helping the lost.”
“I’ve been trying to help him, but he’s a lot to handle. I suppose he’d say the same thing about me.” Chris nodded. “And you should know that I’m not his niece but his friend. For some reason it’s easier to get someone to listen to me when I say that I’m related to him. Franklin hasn’t anyone left, and I’ve been trying to make things easier for him.”
“At what cost to you?” Pip said nothing but played with the condensation on the now full glass. “Does he know what you are?”
“No. I don’t think so. I mean, he might have at one time, but his mind is a little fuzzy at time on details.” Chris said nothing. “That other woman, she said that her son was working on him. Can you tell me what happened to him?”
“He was injured when he tried to get away from the hospital. Burke said that in addition to the wound at his back, he also had bruising around his wrists and ankles. He said it looked to him like they tied him down.” She said they had to at times to keep him from hurting himself. “No, that’s not why they do it and you know it. It’s why you’re trying to get him to come live with you. Please don’t lie to me, Pip. We won’t have a good relationship if you do.”
Pip looked at her. “I’m not sure what you mean by that, but I really don’t think we’re going to be best of buds, do you? I mean, you know as well as I do that I’m broke.” Chris cocked a brow at her. “Yes, I know what you are and who you are. And I’m also pretty sure you can read my mind. Not that I have much in the way of secrets. But if you want to know something then don’t rape my mind. Ask me.”
“All right. And the only thing that I got from your head was about my shoes. By the way, they’re very comfortable. When I touched you, all your emotions came to me and I can’t stop those. Also, I wanted to make sure that you were all right as well.” Pip nodded. “You’re not, are you? All right, I mean.”
“No. I have issues as well. Chronic Major Depression, or CMD as my file says on it. It’s what brought the two of us together all those years ago.” Chris asked her how. “I was
ready to jump. I had no idea he was there as well, on the building I mean. And when I lifted my hands off the railing that I’d been holding onto, he grabbed me from behind. No matter how much I fought him to be let go, he hung onto me like it was his business. I wasn’t able to shake him for another year and a half.”
“But that didn’t stop you, did it?” Pip pulled her sleeves down over her wrists and said nothing. “Franklin told Nolan that you were his niece just now. He asked me to have you be there when they come in.”
“Is he going to be all right?” Chris said that he was now. “I need him in my life as much as he does me, I guess. If anything were to happen to him.... I just don’t want anything to happen to him, that’s all.”
“Is it what you are that has you so depressed?” Pip just shrugged as she emptied the glass of juice again, only to have it full when she sat it on the table. “If you want something different, I can get it for you.”
“Cranberry.” The glass, which had been full of orange juice, was now filled with a dark red, blood like juice. Picking it up, Pip moaned as the flavor and the richness rolled over her tongue. Almost as soon as she set the glass down, it was full again. “Thank you.”
“You could have done it on your own.” Pip just shook her head. The depression, coming in waves more and more lately, nearly had her falling to the floor. But a touch from Chris and she could feel it dissipate. Not leave her; there was only one way for that to happen, but it did lessen a little. “How long have you been off your meds?”
“Five years, six months, and twenty-nine days. Since I lost my insurance, along with my job, when I couldn’t function at work when they fucked with my dosage. It happens at times. The place where I got my medicines wasn’t the best of places, and I don’t think they got the dosages just right when I picked them up. It had happened before.” Pip smiled at Chris. “I guess it’s what you are that makes it so I can’t lie to you.”
“No, you don’t want to lie to me.” Chris stood, and so did Pip. “They’re here. Nolan, my brother-in-law, is with Burke and would like for you to hang back a little until they get Franklin in a room. He’s afraid that if you show, he’ll get upset again.” Pip nodded. “Rylee is with Franklin as well. He knows her from the service.”
“His boss, I guess.” Pip sat down again when Chris told her she’d be back. The glass filled when she’d emptied it again. She was going to be buzzing soon if she didn’t stop. But as a faerie that hadn’t had any for a while, she was getting it while the getting was good. And she had a feeling that despite what Chris had hinted at earlier, she’d not be seeing the grand witch again.


Monday, May 16, 2016

Landon Justice Series book Four Release Day 5/16/16








Synopsis


Landon Logan is a man haunted by a tragedy that he blames himself for but didn't do. No one can convince him otherwise--especially his well-meaning Grandda who happens to be dead. Landon is a necromancer.

Dillon Malone has a few abilities of her own. She can "find" things by touching the owner or touching something the owner has touched. This makes her a wanted woman.

Landon is so angry at his good-for-nothing parents that he storms out of their house with their maid in tow. Dillon is happy to leave with this brooding young man and soon discovers that the handsome hunk is her other half.

Dillon's happiness is short lived when her past reaches out to bite her, and she and Landon become pawns in her father's evil scheme. When Dillon's father has Steele's new baby kidnapped, all bets are off.


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Chapter One 






Landon could see the people below him walking around the quad like nothing was going on. There was a lot going on so far as he could see, and it made him nuts to think that no one else in the world could see and hear what he could. He glanced over at the letter he’d gotten from his parents’ attorney this morning and then back out the window. Happy birthday to me, he thought.
It occurred to him then, and not for the first time, that he should just jump. End his life. It wasn’t much of one…even at nine he knew that. And now...he figured that everyone might be a little better off if he did. He knew now that his parents thought so. They seldom, if ever, had anything to do with him other than to tell him what a disappointment he was to them, and that they wished they’d given him away as soon as he took his first breath. They certainly knew how to make him feel good. Picking up the letter again, he read it aloud.
“I’m to inform you, Landon Michael Logan the Sixth, that your parents have taken steps to not allow you back into the family home. Should you try, you will be arrested on sight. If you attempt to contact my clients, you will be arrested and charged with trespassing. They have, in their words, written you out of their lives.
“Provisions have been made for your care. You will be allowed to finish your school years there at the academy, and so long as your grades are not below par, you will continue to have money in your account should you need it, but this is limited to what they feel is necessary, not you. Tuition, as well as your books, will be paid for out of that fund as well.
“At this time you have not been taken out of their will. They feel that doing so will make it so that, should they pass away too soon, you will not be cared for in a manner in which they have said. In addition, they feel it would be an embarrassment to their good name should they cut you out without anything and people were to find out about it. But there are rules that apply to you for the rest of your youth that you must abide by, or there will be nothing. You will not, however, inherit anything from their estate.”
Landon knew that his name, or that of his parents, would have opened any doors for him should he want it to. But for him, it had only been a name. Nothing much to brag on, and certainly nothing prideful about it as with other families he’d seen at school since he’d been here. As long as he didn’t ask for or expect any comfort or love from the two people in the world who were supposed to provide it for him, Landon had hoped that they’d forget about him. Apparently, they had not. His father was abusive, both physically as well as verbally, and his mother a tyrant, only out to get what she could from others and never give a dime back, even when it was expected of her. His parents were the perfect couple for each other as far as Landon was concerned. Picking up where he left off, he read the rest of the letter.
“At that time you turn eighteen you will be given a lump sum of cash. This money will be all that you will receive from the estate. You will not under any circumstances tell anyone of this settlement, nor will you ask for more. There simply is nothing for you.
Then when you are twenty-five you will receive the rest of your money as has been willed to you by your grandfather. In the event that your parents should die at any time before the dates mentioned in this letter, this accounting will be carried out by their attorney and there will be no more funding after such time. At this time, you are their child in name only. A full accounting of the rules will come to you when it is time.”
If they died? He was pretty sure that they would if any of the things around him were any indication. There were dead walking around all the time. Landon looked over at the man who was standing there staring at him. His grandfather, he’d told him the first time he’d come to him, was the only man in the world that Landon had ever trusted.
“They disown you?” Landon nodded. “Selfish shits. What do they think you’re going to do as a kid? Find you a job or something? Not likely. I didn’t leave them that money...I didn’t leave it so they could be cold and heartless to you.”
“I’m pretty sure they think they have enough reasons. You know what kind of person I’ve been.” His grandda, a Landon too, only shook his head. Landon looked out the window again and continued. “I’m thinking of joining you. I just don’t know what I have to live for anymore. I think Mother and Father would be much—”
“You’ll do no such thing. Why do you want to go and do something stupid like that? You think they’re going to mourn you? They will not. They’d have to have a heart to do that, don’t you think?” Landon said he was tired of it all. “Yeah, I know that feeling. Got me a terrible case of the tiredness until I realized that you could see and have a nice conversation with me. What am I to do if you’re not around? Now that I got you here and I’m not ready to stop talking to you as yet.”
Landon watched a boy he knew running across the quad, with a bunch of the older boys chasing him. Two weeks ago that had been him. Since then he’d been hiding out in his room, only leaving when he absolutely had to.
“They’re not nice here. I mean, I’m not either, I guess, but they’re cruel to each other and even to themselves. I’m betting that not one person would care. I even doubt anyone here would notice me for days after I was gone. It wouldn’t be me that brings them looking, but the smell of it.”
“That’s enough there, Landon. I don’t want you feeling sorry for yourself. You should just get your ass to class and forget all that other crap. You know I got me a powerful need to see what lies that history teacher is telling you kids. If I was alive, I’d tear him a new ass, let me tell you.” Landon smiled and thought that a smile shouldn’t be painful like this one was. “Landon, son, don’t do it.”
He pulled the gun out of his pocket and held it in his hands. He heard the sharp intake of breath and wondered what his grandda would do if he were just to look him in the eye and use it. Landon had bought it several days ago, and had been surprised at how easy it had been to do so. His grandda came to stand beside him and Landon put it out to him, knowing that he couldn’t touch it, wanting him to see how serious he was about ending his life.
“They don’t like me. They never have. I know that I’ve not been the best of kids, but I only wanted them to see me. See that I’m a person too. But they never did, not when I was good nor when I was bad. I can’t take this anymore, Grandda.” His grandda told
him that he could see him. “It’s not the same. I wanted them to say they love me. That they want me in their lives. But what do they do? They send me a letter from their attorney and have him tell me that I’m not to ever come home again.”
The longer he stood there saying nothing, the more appeal it had to just put the gun in his mouth and pull the trigger. He knew that he could do it. He’d even read up on how his head would look when he was done. Not that it mattered really, but he did want to just end his life. Looking up at his grandda when he said his name, Landon knew that it was time.
“Goodbye, Grandda. I’m so glad that I had you in my life.” Putting the small gun to his head, he closed his eyes. Pulling the trigger was as easy as opening the door, and he knew that he’d be dead long before he hit the floor. But nothing happened. Pulling the trigger again and again, he opened his eyes to see his grandda looking at him.
“Got me ways of making sure you’re safe.” He asked him what he meant. “Took me a person and had him come in and take the bullets out for you when I saw that you had it. Can’t lose you, boy, you know that. You’re all I have in this here entire world, dead or alive. I can’t let you do this because of them. I had him take them out and put the gun back where you had it. Throwing them bullets away was the best thing I’ve done for anyone in a very long time. I can’t be letting you do this to yourself, Landon. You’re my grandson and I have a need for you to be around for a bit longer.”
Landon threw the gun at the ghost. He, of course, didn’t move, but Landon’s anger spiraled out of control. As he began tearing things up, curtains from the windows, his sheets from his bed, he began screaming how his life was his own and no one else’s. Then he saw the candle. Grabbing it up, he looked for matches as his grandda begged him to stop.
He wasn’t sure what happened then. Landon woke up with his head spinning and the room he was in filled with smoke. The curtains were burning, as were his sheets and his books, and the letter from his parents’ attorney was there as well. As he started for it, to...he had no idea, he heard the first screams and knew that the fire had spread. He’d caused the building to fill with smoke and now people were going to die. Because of him.
Landon had no idea how he’d gotten into the hallway. He was sick with the pain in his head, and his arm was hurting as well. Tumbling a few times as he tried to make his way down the smoke filled hall, he started pounding on doors to see if someone needed help out. The third door he came to was hot, but he opened it anyway. Pushing hard on the door nearly had him passing out, but he finally managed to get it open enough to see the boy lying in front of it.
Dragging the boy out by his legs wasn’t easy. He was heavy for one thing, and Landon was sick now. Throwing up twice as he moved down the hall, he noticed that there was blood in his puke, and that scared him. Not that he wasn’t ready to die, but that the boy with him would as well. Getting him to the stairs, he sat down, trying to get his bearings. Two boys came up the stairs toward him, their hands full of something that looked like trash bags. He pleaded with them to help him.
“Help me get him out of here.” They said they had things to do. “But he’ll die. I can’t let him die like this. Just help me get him out of here.”
“Sucks to be you, I guess.” They were laughing as they made their way around him and to the next flight of stairs. Landon had no idea who they were or why they were in this part of the building, but he could see that they’d escaped being burned by the fire and soot had gotten them. Their bodies were dark with it.
“Follow me.” He looked at his grandda as he stood over him, his body floating just about a foot from the stairs that he was on. “Going down with your burden is going to be easier than going up. Just make sure that you pull him by his arms and not his legs. You don’t want to hurt his head any more than it already is. Come on, son, you can do this. I’ll get you out.”
“I hurt him.” His grandda asked him how he figured that. “I set the fire. He wouldn’t have been hurt if I had just jumped like I wanted to.”
“You didn’t do this, Landon. Not you. Them others, they did this, not you.” Landon nodded and said that he had the candle and it had caused it. “No, you didn’t. You might have been in the blast when it...why do you think you had a thing to do with this fire?”
“I set it. It’s what I was going to do when you hit me.” He told him he’d never touched him, that he’d been knocked out of the room before Landon had found the matches, that the explosion or whatever it had been had done it. “I must have found them then. I set fire to my room.”
“You didn’t, I tell you. You didn’t do anything.” Landon picked up the boy’s legs and started down the stairs again, knowing that he was going to go to prison for this. And wouldn’t that just make his parents thrilled. “You didn’t do this, boy, I swear to you.”
The next explosion rocked him. Hitting his head again, Landon knew a new kind of fear. The staircase was filled with flames now, and he was going to be burned alive, he just knew it.
~~~
Landon sat up in the bed. The dream of that fateful day as a child coming back to haunt him every night was taking its toll on him. His body was covered in sweat, and he could hear the echo of his screams in his head. Whether or not he had vocalized them, he wasn’t sure. But it was bad enough that they were in his head. Again. Sitting on his bed, the shaking began and he pulled a blanket from the floor, soaked now with his sweat.
Wrapping the blanket around him to keep the chills at bay some, Landon made his way to the bathroom to warm up. He nearly fell twice on his way, and had to go to his knees once when the tremors nearly had him throwing up. His body was frozen now, his head pounding so hard that he had trouble thinking beyond getting warm. Once he was in the bathroom, he turned the water to its hottest setting, and with his back to where the mirror usually hung, he leaned against the tile wall.
“I’m here, boy.” He nodded, knowing that his grandda would never leave him no matter what he’d done now or back then. “You gotta talk to somebody, Landon. You can’t keep this up. You’re killing yourself.”
“I’m fine.” Grandda snorted. It was no less than he expected of him. “You never did tell me how you like the house. Did you find your way around all right?”
“I like it right fine, and don’t change the subject. Get yourself cleaned up and come on out here, and we’ll have ourselves a pow-wow, you and me.”
There was no point in arguing with him. His grandda had been telling him what to do since he’d been about three and no one else was talking to him. Or listening to him. When he realized that not everyone could see what he could, Landon had lashed out, hurting those that might have helped him but letting his anger at being alone most of his young life keep everyone away. He’d figured that would keep his heart safer. Not that it had.
Stepping into the hot water, he was warmed immediately. From experience he knew that he’d be doing the same thing again tomorrow, so he turned the water to a relatively cooler temperature so that in the morning his skin wouldn’t be tender from his abuse today. Scrubbing his body several times, Landon leaned against the wall and thought about his life.
He was nearly twenty-nine years old, next week as a matter of fact. And it had been almost twenty years to the day since he’d blown up the building he’d been staying in, as well as two kids that he talked to daily, ones that haunted him still. And in all that time, since he’d been released from the hospital a month later, he’d not spoken a word to his mom and dad. That was until recently, when their attorney had reached out. They wanted to speak to him.
Getting out after washing his body again, he dried off, still not looking in the mirror. He would have had it removed as he had in every other place he’d been in, but he’d not figured out how to do it. Someone had adhered it to the wall, and other than busting it to get it down, he had yet to get it out of this room. Landon figured that he didn’t need any more bad luck.
Looking at his body was a constant reminder of that day. The scars, old and faded, seemed as fresh and raw as they had then. No pain was there any longer, but he did feel it all the same. Steele had been the only one to see them, and he’d told him that they were barely noticeable. But Landon knew they were there. And always would be.
Going to his bedroom again, he opened the huge closet and had to grin at what was there. Or in this case, what wasn’t there. The thing was as big as most bedrooms, holding not just things on hangers, but drawers for shoes and cufflinks, as well as watches and under things such as tee shirts and his boxers. Right now it had three tee-shirts hanging there, two pair of jeans that had seen better days, as well as a black suit in a bag that he’d not opened in more years than he could remember. Pulling out the worst looking of the shirts, he pulled it over his head after he’d put on his boxers and a pair of jeans. This was his attire on his day off. He headed to the kitchen, where he knew his grandda was waiting.
~~~
Logan, what most people called him, watched his only grandson move around the kitchen ignoring him. He was fine with that…for now. As Landon pulled out a big box of those flakes of corn he liked to eat, Logan suggested gently that he get him a banana to go with it.
“No thanks.” They both eyed the fruit that had been in the bowl turning darker and darker since Addie had brought it to him a few days ago. “I have to go into town today. Are you going to be joining me?”
“I don’t think so.” Logan was sort of afraid of the town. There wasn’t really anything there that would hurt him, but he didn’t like all the people. It was why he’d never met any of the others that Landon worked with. Logan just did not like the living. He’d barely tolerated them when he was one of them and avoided them even now. But he didn’t want the same for his grandson.
After he ate, Logan watched Landon put his things away and clean up the counter. He’d been alone too long, Logan thought. The boy was a better housekeeper than most women he knew. And when he finished drying his one bowl and spoon, Logan looked at the sad state of affairs that was his cabinets.
“You gonna get you some dishes today? Maybe a pot or two. I heard you telling that other man, Mitch, that you wanted him to come on by and have some dinner with you. What you planning to do, share the one plate you have and that bowl?” Landon said nothing, but Logan was used to that. That was another thing he didn’t care for, his grandson being so lonely. “You call that attorney back?”
That got a reaction. Not the one he wanted, but enough that Logan could see that he was thinking about it. He needed to get this resolved if for no other reason than to show his mom and dad that he wasn’t nearly as bad as they’d always thought. Or worse yet, as bad as they always told him he was. Landon was a good man; a great one as far as he was concerned.
“I didn’t plan on it. In fact, I’d forgotten all about it.” Sure he had, thought Logan, and I can pull a rabbit out of my ass. “I’ll call them tomorrow.”
“You’ll do it now. You might have won one of them clearing house things, and they might give it away should you don’t call and claim it.” They both knew it was his parents, and Logan had a feeling he might know what they were gonna say. He’d been visiting them too. “Landon, call the man and get it done.”
“I don’t want to.” He sounded five, and before Logan could point that out to him, Landon continued. “They want to see me. And then they want to sit me in a chair and point out all the things I’ve done since I saw them last. Twenty years is going to be a long list, don’t you think? I’m not ready for that. I don’t know that I ever will be.”
“You’re a damned grown man. What do you think you would do if they try to sit you in the corner like a child? You answer me that.” Landon said he had no answer. “Didn’t think so. You don’t like the way they’re treating you, then you can leave. But you’ve no way of knowing shit unless you go there and talk to them. For all you know, they could be wanting to welcome you back with open arms.”
“You know that’s not ever going to happen.” Logan knew that too. But a man could hope, couldn’t he? His son and that wife of his had done them both wrong. “And what do I do, Grandda, when they ask me what I’ve been doing with my life? Do I tell them I start each day with you harping on me? Do I say that I work with a bunch of men just like me that talk to the dead? I’m sure that’ll go over just fine.”
“I don’t know why not. You’ve made a living at it. And from where I’m sitting you’ve done a fine job at that too. Not the living part, but the money part. Why, you never have touched that money they paid you. Building yourself up from nothing, now look at you.” Landon snorted. “You don’t no more live than them ghosts you help. Hell son, when was the last time you were laid? I’m thinking it’s been a long while.”
“I’m not talking about my sex life with you. Especially not you. Christ.” He got up and put a load of wash in the washer as he continued. “In the event you didn’t notice, I just purchased this house and it’s taking up a great deal of my time.”
It was two more pairs of those ratty jeans he wore and five work shirts. He’d hang them on the bar when they were washed up and pull them down when he needed them. Work shirts never made it to the upper levels all that often.
“Yeah, I can see that. Laundry and dishes. Yesterday you run that vacuum cleaner until I plum thought you were going to wear a hole in the carpets. Then you dusted. If you ever want to change jobs in the future, you can make a right fine domestic.” Landon said nothing, but the shirt in his hand wasn’t going to survive the anger he was holding in much longer. So of course, Logan decided to push him a little harder. “You should get you one of them blow up dolls to screw. That way you can shove it in the closet when you’re satisfied and not have to think about it anymore. Much like you do most of your friends.”
The shirt ripped and hung limply in his hands. Logan wanted to get up and hug the boy. Hold him like he was sure no one had done in more years than was right. Logan watched his grandson struggle with his temper and his hurt.
“If I go and do this, you’ll go with me? See what they really are so that I can move on with my life?” He said that he would. There was no point in telling him that this might not turn out the way he thought, because they both knew better. But Logan was forever hopeful. “All right, but you’ll meet the others too. It’s a fair trade for what you’ve been doing to me all these years.”
“I can do that. But what about them boys? You gonna do something about them too?” Logan wanted to tell him to vanish them, but knew that he’d not do it. Landon had been tormented by the Bobbsey Twins, as Logan called them, since the fire.
“I don’t know. You know that they come and go as they please.” He did at that. Never here more than it took for them to upset Landon. Then they’d move on to some other trouble. And it mattered little to any of them that Logan knew just what had happened that day, and it had not been the way that Landon thought. And those damned boys knew it too.
The phone call from that pansy lawyer had upset Landon. Logan wanted to go through the device and choke the living shit out of the person on the other end. But he just sat there knowing that someday, not only would Landon listen to him about that day, but his son and daughter-in-law would as well. He’d been there. Logan had seen what had gone on that day and what had happened to cause it all. And it was not Landon. It had never been the boy. He also knew why he wasn’t there for his only grandchild, and he was gonna enjoy seeing their reactions to that coming out too.
Landon called to set up the talk. That’s what he knew it was gonna be too, a talk. He hoped that Landon would get in a few words of his own. Maybe a fuck you or a fuck off would be nice as well. Landon sat down when he closed his phone.
“I have to go there at one. They have an appointment open for me and I’m to meet him at the parents’ house. I have an appointment to go to my parents’ house.” Logan stood up to leave with him, not that it mattered. He could pretty much go where he wanted when he wanted to. “You really don’t have to go, Grandda. I was only...I was pissed off, and I didn’t mean you’d have to go. There isn’t any point in both of us having to suffer.”
“I want to. I need to.” Landon looked like he was going to say more. But Logan had a feeling he didn’t want to know what it might be. “I can see how well that son of mine aged. I’m thinking not so well. What do you think?”
“I think I’d rather you just pull my nails out with a pair of plyers than to go and see them both. And if you want to know the truth, I’m sort of sick about going there.” Logan knew that as well. “When this is done and you see what you need to see from them, you don’t bring them up to me again. Promise.”
“I promise, but on the condition that you have an open mind and don’t be going in there with your head up your ass.” Landon said he wasn’t make any kind of promises. “Then I guess I can’t either.”
As they made their way out of the house and to his truck, Logan had a shiver of dread. What if, his mind kept saying, and the list was too long for him to try and work out. What if Landon’s parents were as cruel as they’d always been? What if they were only bringing him there to hurt him again? The closer he got to the house, waiting on Landon, the more dread he felt. This was a mistake, he knew it. He just hoped the letter that he’d sent out would help his grandson more than he could.