Monday, February 20, 2017

Garth Bentley Series Release Day Final Book & Giveaway

For her loyal services to the queen, Dark is granted one wish--to be human. The problem? Dark doesn't deal well with humans. She is a warrior fae, and all she knows is how to lead armies.

Garth is the last brother without a mate, and he's in no hurry to find one. But when a fire burns his house down, he finds himself at a loss. He has never met Dark, but she has graciously agreed to put him up until he can come to a resolution with his insurance company. When they finally meet, they both know what they are to each other.

An old foe has returned to seek his revenge, and Dark and Micah are butting heads for control of the pack. Dark knows how to deal with this enemy, but Micah is standing in her way. Can they get past their differences to save the family? Or will Snyder Black fulfill his thirst for blood and revenge? Find out in the final installment of The Bentley Legacy--Garth.

Micah Bentley is a third generation cop and a panther. He always wanted to be a homicide detective like his dad, but kept getting passed up for the job because he was too good at what he currently did working the beat. Micah has a gift, he can read people's minds. Such a gift could be a help and a hindrance on a job. He could pluck the information he needs right out of someone's mind, but knowing they're guilty and proving it are two different things. But when his dad is killed off duty it has him rethinking his career choice.
Regina Webster, Reggie to her friends, is just trying to make ends meet by working three jobs to keep her head above water, and also take care of her invalid brother. She doesn't have time for socializing with bossy men like Micah Bentley who butt into her life making everything concerning her his business. She doesn't know anything about this mate thing he keeps spouting off about, she just wants him to leave her alone.Due to a random act of violence, she finds herself suddenly homeless: no home, no money, no car and suffering from a gunshot wound to boot. Reggie has no choice but to accept a helping hand from the Bentleys at―least until she can get back on her feet.Trouble has Reggie marked, and this time they take Micah's mom too. Micah knows they're in trouble, but when the bad guys don't go where they're expected it's a race against the clock...

Christiana McKenzie, Chris to her friends, was at her wits end. She and her sister, Angel, were born witches. Their mother had warned them that to use their powers would bring on another witch hunt, and they'd risk being burned, just like their ancestors. Her sister didn't heed their mother's warning and now Angel was dead. Angel had lived long enough to tell Chris that she'd left something for her with a man by the name of Bentley, then she died. Chris had to track down this Bentley no matter the cost....
Joseph Bentley almost had everything finished: the house, the barn...everything. In a few weeks it would be finished and he would be able to move into the house and get the ranch going. But the progress wasn't going fast enough to suit him?he was lonely.
Micah had come out to tell him that the sister of the girl that died to protect him was coming to see him, and he was hoping that the nightmares since the incident would stop. Micah wanted him to come out to the main house and be there when she arrived. But the limo delivered the woman to Joey's house instead of Micah's. Joey couldn't believe it, the hostile woman was his mate...and more than he could have ever hoped for....
Whether or not Chris wanted a mate or not was irrelevant, Joey wasn't letting her out of his sight. And when she found out that her mother had lied to her?she wasn't an ordinary witch?and that others would come to try to possess her. If they couldn't do that, then they would kill her to possess her powers?she needed help.
The Bentleys ban together to save one of their own, but will it be enough? Can they even fight the powerful magic that's targeting Chris and Joey?

Nolan finally had a practice of his own, and soon his brother Burke would be leaving the hospital and joining him. Now, if the rest of the family would mind their own business, Nolan would be much happier...or not. He was sulking over his dilemma when his nurse told him he had a patient, a hurt kid who wasn't doing much talking.
Rylee nearly collapsed with worry when she found out her nephew had been hurt. She wasn't sure if she was cut out to be a parent. She loved her nephew, Shane, dearly and had taken on his care when her sister died, but how she'd missed the warning signs was beyond her. He was being bullied at school daily and she knew nothing about it until he'd been cut with a knife.
"I didn't know." Her entire body sagged at her confession. "He said he had it handled. And I thought he did. It's my fault he's beaten up like this. I should have...I'm not any good at this parenting thing."Nolan reached for her just as Shane moved on the bed. He wasn't sure what the kid could do, banged up the way that he was, but as soon as Nolan touched her, he knew what she was to him. Her body, warm and strong, leaned into his even as he buried his nose into her neck. Christ, his body screamed at him, she was his. Licking her throat, tasting her, he could hear her moan, but when his head was jerked up by his hair, all he could do was stare at her.

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....

Coleen had heard just about all she wanted to hear from her grandmother about the Bentleys--no one could be that nice. There had to be an angle there somewhere. People just didn't help other people for nothing--not in this day and age.

Tony Bentley wasn't expecting to find his mate, and as a Were Panther he could even understand her reluctance. He was, after all, a Bentley, and the poor woman had been taken through the ringer, but she was his mate, and he wasn't about to take no for an answer.

Coleen's ex had left her in a heap of debt, and she couldn't allow herself to bring that kind of baggage into a relationship. She'd work through it somehow--without the help of the mighty Bentleys.

1. MICAH -
3. NOLAN -
4. BURKE -

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Chapter 1 
Garth watched the ticker tape that ran across the top of his laptop. He was waiting for the magical number that would make him money. Well, magical for him, he supposed. Most would find what he did boring. He supposed in a way that it was. But numbers and making money were his passion.  When the stocks that he was looking at fell to the number he’d been waiting for, he bought the nine thousand shares that were being offered up. Closing his computer, feeling pretty good about himself, he looked around the diner. As usual, it was packed. He was proud of his family. They had decided to pay some things forward and a great many people were benefiting from it. Not just with the diner, which mostly catered to vets down on their luck as well as some of the homeless around town. There was also the antique store, Barron and Bentley Antiques, the restaurant simply called Bentley’s that they all had a hand in, and Faerie Tales and Dreams, the nursery and gift shop. All the shops and places were working hard to make sure that townspeople had a paycheck if they wanted it. And a reference on their resume for those that hadn’t had a paying job for a very long time and wanted to get back into the workforce. Shane sat down across from him and smiled. He loved this kid. Being his uncle was wonderful, but he was also his friend, him and his brother Walter both. Garth asked him what was happening. “Did you know that there is this building downtown that is empty?” He nodded. Garth told him there were a lot of buildings empty, but filling up. “They are. But I’m talking about the one next to the mill. The big one that looks like it’s been empty for a long time.” “Spencer Building. When I was a kid, they used to manufacture cardboard boxes. Mr. Spencer was a good man but a terrible businessman. I think he lost everything when he tried to sell his boxes cheap to undercut the bigger companies.” Shane nodded. “And why do you have an interest in that particular place? I own it, by the way.” “Yes, I know you own it. I was wondering if you’d let me borrow it for a little while. It’ll look better when I’m done. I have a plan.” Garth asked him what it was. “My teacher said that I needed to take on a civic duty project. I asked him what that might be, and he told me that there needs to be some sort of action that makes an improvement to the city itself. It doesn’t have to be big, just a clean-up thing. There are a couple of people in my class that said they’d work with me on it.” “And these other people, are they really going to work with you, or are they just saying that so you’ll do all the footwork? I don’t mean to be crass, but you told me that most of them are lazy and do little to nothing when it comes to classwork.” Shane flushed brightly and Garth changed the subject back. “Okay, what sort of plans do you have for this place after it’s cleaned up? Ones that might benefit the community, I get that, but how?”  “Okay. There is an antique shop, bakery, restaurant, florist, as well as a couple of new shops going in the downtown area. But what we don’t have is a clothing store. And I
don’t mean new expensive things, but used…in good condition, but used.” Garth liked where this was going. “It would be a permanent place, if you let me, where people could come in and sell off items. You know, not enough for a garage sale, but too nice to just toss out.” “There was a shop in town where I went to college. They would take old bridesmaids’ dresses and prom dresses, clean them up, and resell them to kids. I think they did a booming business.” Shane said that was his plan. “So, how is this a civic duty? And that’s not to say I don’t like it, but I’m sure that someone along the line will ask.” “All the money would go for food baskets that are given away at Christmas. Buying turkeys and vegetables, as well as some warm coats for kids.” Garth loved that idea, and it would help with the community. “When the Taylor family lost their home, everyone scrambled around trying to get them a fresh start. Old couches were donated, beds and linens. I think you and I could use this place as a way to stock up on those things. Have them cleaned up and covered in the event that someone needs something.” “I’m in. But I’d like to be your partner on this. I mean, this was totally your idea after the clean-up, and I want to help with that part of it.” Shane looked like he wasn’t going to buy that. “Once this project is complete for your teacher, then you and I will put out the word that this place is here. After that, I’m sure you can have as much family as you need to help you.” “Okay. I can do that. But I want Walter to be a partner too. He’s working hard at college, and I think he’d really be a big help with what might sell or not.” Garth told him that was fine, but why would Walter be a big help? “Because he said that you’d not believe the crap that people just throw out at the end of the college year, and then more crap is brought in at the beginning. He means to figure out a way to see if he can get it donated to the shop.” “I don’t tell you often enough how proud of you I am.” Shane blushed again; the kid was going to go far in business, as well as with the women. “We have a deal. I’ll just need the names and permission from the other kids’ parents, in the event that they get hurt and need medical assistance or something. We need to be safe first and foremost.” “Dark said she’d help.” Garth nodded. “She’s really pretty now. I mean, she was before, but now as a person, she shines.”  “Pip said that she had all her magic still, and that she could even fly should she want. I’ve wanted to do that since I was a kid…fly like those superheroes do in the movies.” Shane nodded, but Garth knew he wasn’t really paying attention. “I think when I find my mate, I’m going to have her make me wings. I don’t know that she’ll be magical, but I gotta figure she will be, and have a trunk-like nose too.” “I’m listening to you. I just have a lot on my mind. How do you know if you want to ask someone out?” Garth said nothing but let Shane explain himself. “There’s this girl in my class. The end of school dance is in a few weeks, and I thought I’d ask her to go with me. I like her.” “Then that’s how you know you should ask her out.” Shane nodded, then shook his head. “You just go up to her and say, ‘Hey, would you like to go to the dance with me?’ Then go from there.”
“I don’t drive.” Garth pointed out that they could walk to school as he did now. “Yes, I know, but she’s a girl and everything.” “You don’t think girls walk?” He snorted at him. “I don’t know what you mean. If you mean that she’ll have on high heels I can understand, but what do you mean, she’s a girl and everything?” “What if it rains? Or turns really cold or something?” Garth nodded, but before he could suggest an umbrella or a coat, Shane went on with his reasoning. “She wears these pretty clothes. I’d hate to have them messed up because we had to walk to the dance.” “You’re overthinking this.” Shane said he wasn’t. “Yes, you are. You ask her out, and if the weather is bad, someone...I’ll drive you there in my car. I won’t say a word unless you ask me directly. Also, I’ll be around close in case you forget how to breathe, pretty much like you are right now.” “I’m nervous.” Garth said he could see that. “I don’t want to mess this up. I mean, she’s not going to marry me or anything, but I think the first time you’re out with a girl, it should be special. Don’t you think?”  “I do. And it will be so long as you don’t have a stroke while it’s going on. Relax. Take a breath and think of how much fun you’ll have with her, not about what could befall you.” Shane nodded, but he didn’t look convinced. “What is really bothering you?” “Sex.” Garth wasn’t sure this was an avenue that he wanted to travel. “I don’t want to have sex with her, but what if she does? I know how it works, but I don’t think knowing and doing are the same thing.” “No, not even close. And if she wants to have sex with you at her age, run. You don’t need to be hanging out with someone that would even consider it.” Shane asked how old he was when he had sex the first time. “This isn’t about me. And I’m pretty sure you already know the answer to that question, or you’d not be here busting my balls when I’m only trying to help.” “Micah said you were a lady’s man.” Garth was going to kill his brother. “Joey said that women helped you get through college on a dream. I had to look that one up. And Burke said that—” “I’m going to kill them all. You shouldn’t listen to those idiots.” Shane smiled. “All right. You ask the girl out; I’m going to be your ride and we’ll go from there. All right?” “Yes. Thank you.” Garth told him it was his pleasure. “Don’t you want to know what Grandma said about you? And Great Grandda said some pretty nice things about you and women too.” “No, I do not. And you need to hang out with other people than those perverts.” They both laughed. “I’ll get back with you in a couple of days. In the meantime, you can go ahead and start on whatever you need to do. If it helps, the faeries at my house are bored. I’m not making them enough work, apparently.” “I heard that too. You’re too clean, I was told. You even make your bed when you get out of it. For shame, Uncle Garth. Whatever did your mother do when you were growing up?” They left the restaurant together, both of them laughing and joking around. When they got to his truck, he asked the kid what his plans were. “The building. I want to get a good start on it, then I’m going home. Mom and Dad are staying in tonight.”
“If that is too tame for you, call me up and we’ll head for some pizza. But I’m betting you want to be with them.” He nodded. “All right then, I’m off to my office. Call me if you need me.” “I will.”  Garth watched Shane as he made his way to the Spencer building. After he was sure he was going to be all right, he started his truck. Then his phone dinged when the timer he’d set went off. Opening his computer again after turning off the truck, he sold the shares that he’d only just purchased, plus the three hundred that he’d picked up yesterday. “How much?” He looked at the passenger window and smiled at his grandda. “You only look like that when you’ve made some money. So tell me there, Whiz-boy, how much did you make off that thing there?” “Whiz-boy? It’s Whiz-man to you. And nearly four million. What have you been up to, Grandda? You have dust on your hat.” He took it off and slapped it against his leg a few times, then opened the door and got in. “Are we hanging out today?” “I got me a project in mind and you can help me. Oh, congratulations on the sale. I’m guessing this one is for you…or all of us?” He said him for now. “Got you a right good head on your shoulders there, boy. I’m proud of you. Go on over to the shelter. I need your help.” “All right.” Starting the truck up, he drove to the shelter. The Micah Bentley Shelter had been open for nearly seven months now, and it was helping a lot of people. “Coleen said that she’d been having some fun with the soups you asked her to make for the shelter. How’s that going?” “Right fine. Yesterday we was serving it up and nearly ran out. Then one of Pip’s buddies came by and we had more than enough. Did you know they were hanging out everywhere now?” Garth said he’d heard that too. “You got any at your house?” “Several. They’re upset with me. Apparently making my own bed is a no-no.” His grandda laughed. “And since I’m not there much lately except to sleep, I’m not giving them enough to do.” “Heard that too. You should make them a mess occasionally. When they got nothing to do, they get into mischief. Speaking of that, I want to know when you’re going to find you a mate.” Garth nearly hit the car in front of him, he was so startled by the question. “You’re the last one, and you should be finding her soon enough, don’t you think?” “I was going to put a full-page ad in the newspaper to ask where she was, but I’ve been a little busy of late. I’ll work on the wording of it today and get right on that.” Grandda glared at him. “I don’t know if you are aware of this or not, but you have five grandsons that are very happily married, and some are even giving you great grandchildren to bother. Leave me alone, old man.” “Ain’t no reason why you have to be nasty about it. I’m just inquiring.” Garth just laughed. “I tell you, you should have more respect for this old man. You might need me to hold your hand when you find her, and I might not be around. I got me things to do, you know.”
“I do. I’m betting that fishing with the kids and the rest of them is really time consuming.” He smiled when Grandda huffed at him. “And I’ve heard that you’ve been at the restaurant too, snitching food when Grandma told you to watch your weight.” “I’m watching it. I got it right where I want it.” The man wasn’t heavy, but he didn’t eat as well as he should.  They pulled into the parking lot at the shelter. “I need you to look something over for me. It’s about them computers they have set up. I’m thinking that we need a few more, but I don’t know if that’s on account’a I’m wanting more or they’re needed.” Garth knew that there was a need for them. There were only three in the place now, and one printer. It had been on his list of things to do this week, getting a couple more to put in place. But with his grandda wanting it done now, he saw no reason to put it off until Thursday, which was the day he’d scheduled for it. Garth wasn’t anal, not at all. But he did like lists. He would make one out the night before and hang it in his bathroom. Then after he was finished with his shower in the morning, he’d take it down and start on it. And if things didn’t get done that he’d set for himself to do, that would be the priority for the next day’s list. It had kept him on track all his life. After spending three hours with his grandda, he mentally moved things around in his head. It was going to be hard going tomorrow to get his list finished, but this was important. And Garth got to spend time with one of his favorite people, as it happened. His grandda was the best person he knew, next to his mom and grandma. ~~~ “Should it look like that?” Dark looked at the little man and huffed at him. “I think the directions aren’t terribly clear. What does it mean when it says that the voltage needs to be set at a right setting?” “I don’t know.” She snapped her fingers and the meal, along with the mess it had made when she’d cooked it, was gone. “I can command an army of thousands, yet I cannot make this microwave thing work for me. I will have starved for all that I have learned in the last several weeks being here.” Sitting down at her new table, she smiled when a salad of fresh flower petals appeared in front of her. Dark knew that she had to learn this thing, cooking, but it was frustrating to say the least. Then there was the fact that she was taller too. “Did you know that when you take a cleaning—a shower, I mean—it is important not to put too much of the bubbly stuff on your body? It took me nearly an hour to get it all washed off. I have learned to read the instructions on things carefully now.” Augustus laughed when she did. “I think there might still be a great amount of the stuff sticking to the walls yet. It is most troubling, this being a human.” “You are beautiful.” She told him to go away. “Do you regret your wish to be human like? I think I’d not care for it. There is much you must put on daily. I cannot fathom why a person would want to wear shoes all the time.” She looked down at her own bare feet and thought about the lovely sandals that Pip had given her. They were wonderful to put on and wear, but what made them the best
thing she’d ever found was that she could slip them off easily and put them back on when she was sitting somewhere. Her feet could breathe in them as well. “I have to work out with the army today. I hope that they are not falling behind in their duties to the family.” He told her that he’d been watching over them and they were tip-top. “Good. What do you know of the blooms? I am to understand that the queen has asked that my men help with the new births.” “Yes. She was going to send word to you today about it. The fields that were planted are nearly ready to receive her. We are nearly to our numbers from last year. If this were to keep up, in a few springs we’ll be back to a goodly number of faeries again. I am very excited for that.” She told him she was as well. “I was wondering about something, my lady. Now that you are big...I was wondering if you were going to need an assistant. Not me, but I have a person in mind to help you.” “Who?” He told her. “Why her? I mean, I don’t mind having you help me. Why is it that you don’t want to be my right-hand man?” “The queen has finally allowed some of us to marry.” She smiled at him; this was indeed good news. Dark would speak to the queen about it soon and see how that was going. “She has given us all permission to take a mate should we want. The queen said that it is good to have someone there that you can be with. I’ve asked Lilith to become my bride.” Faeries like Augustus couldn’t have children, but they could still fall in love and have a mate. All faeries were born from the flowers that came in the spring. Once the flowers had their first bloom, then the queen would come by and kiss the little blossom and a faerie would be formed. Then when the flower opened, showing the world its beauty, the faerie would be collected and taken to the top of the trees to be warmed by the sun until it was ready to join the rest of them in working on projects.  Occasionally a few would be missed and drop to the ground beneath their hosts. This was how brownies were made. They were of the earth and would, while warming in the soil, make the flower they had fallen from bloom a little longer in the summer, and it would be bigger for its help. The life of the flower was a constant give and take. “Tell Liz to come to see me on the morrow. I have a list of things to do today that I cannot put off any longer.” He asked if it was finding a job. “Yes. I’m bored, if you want to know the truth of it. I will see if I can work with Pip in her shop.” “Oh.” She glared at him. “I do not wish to be critical, my lady, but are you sure that is a job for you? You are not very good with people.” “I can be.” He only had to cock his brow at her. “I will be. Okay, I’ll try. But people are so noisy, don’t you think?” “I do. But I do enjoy spending time with the elder Bentley. He is most noisy, but he is a man who knows how to get things done.” She did agree with him there. “I will go now, and have Liz come to you. So that you know, she is terrified of you but excited to work with you.” “Why is she...? Oh. Never mind. I will see her later. And good luck with Lilith, my friend. I hope you will come to see me still.” He told her he would, but that he wished to spend more time with his mate now. “I understand.”
Dark made her way to the bedroom and smiled. It was her place, this room, and one that she’d worked hard to make a resting place for herself. Going to the closet, the only part of the room that she’d not changed, she opened the large doors and looked at the sparsity of her clothing. There were three shirts of varying colors and a single pair of pants. She didn’t understand the necessity of having a closet full of clothing when you could only wear one outfit at a time. Pulling a shirt off the hanger, she pulled it over her head after she removed the one she had on. Hanging the used one on the hanger, she knew that when she returned it would be as clean and pressed as the others. It was her magic that made things the way that she wanted them. Sitting on the log that she had on her floor, she looked around her bedroom. Plants were everywhere…the room looked like she’d simply opened the wall to the forest and let it take over. A lovely waterway that had fish in it took up a large part of the room. Flowers near the walls with bees lazily flying around them gave the room a fresh scent daily. Her bed was a hammock that she had fashioned after one she’d seen in the yard of one of the Bentleys. It was, to her, perfect. And the only thing that she’d ever sleep in as far as she was concerned. Leaving her home was hard for her. She really was terrible with people. She supposed a lot of that had to do with her ability to see them for what they were. Some people, and she had no idea why, seemed to like puffing themselves up to be more than they were. But not like that man that was coming toward her.  Mr. Kendal wasn’t a bad person, but he was lonely and didn’t have a wonderful home life. Still, he tried hard to make everyone believe that he was happy and that everything in his life was just perfect, when she knew for a fact that it was not. He didn’t like his wife or his daughter, he had no say in anything that went on at home, and he hated his job more than she did shoes. The poor man was in a tizzy, as Howie called it, trying to please everyone but himself. “Hello, Dark. I was just coming into town to see about the dress I ordered for my lovely bride. Mable is going to have a big Memorial Day bash. I hope you can make it.” She told him that she’d been invited to the Bentley home. “Oh yes. A lot of people are telling me that. I was invited, but Mable, she had it in her head to have one for herself this year.” “I’m sure that you’ll have a wonderful time.” She saw his disappointment…it washed over him like a blanket. “You’ll be missed.” “Yes, well, Mabel wanted to do this.” Dark nodded and moved down the street when he just stood there. “I’ll talk to you later, Dark. I have to set up for the food and all.” Heading to Faerie Tales and Dreams, she thought of what it must be like to have a mate. It was nothing that she’d ever have, she knew this, but she wondered all the same. Having someone ruling over you all the time would be vexing as well as boring, she thought.  

Monday, February 6, 2017

Caleb: Winchester Brothers ( New Series ) Release Day & Giveaway

Caleb Winchester didn't care for his boss, in fact he despised him. He hadn't meant to quit that day--the words 'I quit' spilled from his mouth without thinking--but once said he had no regrets. He was a good ad executive, he could find another job.

Quinn Dorsey and her father, Alexander, had seen Caleb's work and that was the artist they needed for their dog food labels. When the agency couldn't deliver the ad campaign they ordered, and then lied about Caleb working on the project, they went looking for the man himself.

Caleb hadn't expected his customers to seek him out, but when Alexander shows up at Caleb's house with his daughter, Quinn, Caleb is floored--she's his mate and she's been marked by another alpha.

Caleb's not going to let an alpha beat him out of his mate. This lunatic has been marking females left and right, but if Caleb claims her, he risks not only his life, but the life of his mate and family as well....

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“Dag nabbit boy, what is wrong with you? Do you have sawdust in that noggin of yours?” Caleb said he wasn’t sure. “I’d be thinking you’d better be getting sure if you wanna live through this here thing. Your momma, she’s going to be having herself a kitten if I don’t miss my bet.” He looked over at the truck, or what was left of it. Caleb wanted to tell his dad that it wasn’t his fault, that he’d done nothing wrong, only he was sure that he’d still be in trouble. Caleb had been driving and he had hit the tree. “I’ll pay for the damages.” His dad said he darn tooting was. “And I’ll make sure that the tree is all right. I don’t know how I’ll make that happen, but I will. Mr. Wheedle likes this tree, and I would feel bad if it died.” The tow truck arrived about ten minutes later, and Caleb saw his mom get out of it almost before it was completely stopped. She asked him if he was all right, then she hugged him. Caleb waited for her to make sure he wasn’t bleeding profusely, then stood straighter when she glared. “Where were you going in an all-out hurry?” He told her he wasn’t speeding. She looked at the truck, which was on the dolly now, then at him. “You want to tell me why the truck, the only vehicle that we have, is all mangled up like those towels you left on the floor this morning?” “I wasn’t driving fast, but the wolf that ran out in front of me seemed to be...I think it was hurt.” He looked over at his dad, then at the ground again as he continued. “A wolf came out of nowhere. I wasn’t going to hit it, but it seemed to just jump in front of me. Like it was trying to kill itself. I swerved to miss it and lost control. I’m not blaming the wolf, because I was the one driving, but I didn’t want to hurt the wolf. But like I told Dad, I’ll pay for all the damages and work on the truck until it’s running again.” Neither of his parents said anything and Caleb looked up. They were looking at each other, and he felt his wolf run over his skin. There was something going on and he had no idea why, but he thought they believed him about the wolf. “This wolf, you ever seen it before? I mean, around the house?” He said that he’d not. “Can you tell me if you thought it was a shifter or just a regular old wolf? And I need you to be sure, so if you don’t know, then say it.” “It was bigger than a regular wolf. Of that I’m sure. But as for whether or not it’s a shifter, no, I don’t know.” His mom nodded and looked at his dad again. “May I know what’s going on?” “You know old Mr. Cartwright?” He asked if she meant his old math teacher. “Yes, that’ll be him. His mate died a few days ago. She was poorly for a while now and she just passed on. Mr. Cartwright, he was with her a good long time. Said he didn’t think he could live without her.” “So he was trying to kill himself?” Caleb’s mom said nothing, but he could see the hurt on her face. “Mom, I didn’t hurt him. I missed him by a mile. He...I like that old man. I hurt that he does.” 
“I know you do, son. So do I. To lose a mate…you know how that would make me feel should I lose your father.” She hugged him again. “But I need for you to do me a favor. A big one. And before you say something, yes, it is a lie, but it’s a good lie. Don’t tell anyone what happened here today. The pack will frown on him trying this.” “All right.” He looked at the truck, then back at his parents. “I’ll still take care of this. I swear to you that I will. And I’ll make sure that I keep a better lookout for Mr. Cartwright, too.” “You do that, Caleb. You go on ahead and do that for him.” Caleb and his dad made their way to the tow truck. “You know why we don’t want you to say anything? I mean, the real reason?” “No sir.” He watched his dad help Mom into the tow truck. She didn’t need it; Caleb knew that, but he loved watching his parents together. They loved each other the best, he thought. Always thinking of the other one no matter what was going on. “Mr. Cartwright loved his mate. I know that you understand that part of it, but he had nobody but her. They don’t have themselves any children or anybody else to call their own. If he were to die like this, by suicide, the pack wouldn’t bury him in a proper way. They’d just let his body rot in the field where he crawled to and let him just be more alone. On account’a that, he’d not be next to his mate in the cemetery. Understand?” “Yes, sir. He’s a good man who’s suffered a great loss.” His dad said that was it. “I’ll go on over and see him later. I won’t mention what happened, just see if he wants to go fishing or something. Keep him company.” “You’re a good boy, Caleb. All you boys are. I’m right proud of you.” Caleb felt his face heat up with embarrassment. “Now, you go on home. I’ll work something out with the driver here. We’ll muddle through this. I swear it.” Caleb knew that his family ran right on the edge of poverty, like a lot of families around here. But unlike most of them, his family had food on the table nightly and they had power and heat. His dad worked hard every day to make sure of that. And he and his younger brothers, all of them, did everything they could to help too. This wrecking of the truck, however, was going to hurt them for some time.  Instead of going home, he found himself standing in front of the Cartwright home. Mr. Cartwright was sitting on the front porch, rocking in his chair like he was going someplace. And he was crying. Caleb coughed, then cleared his throat to make sure to give the older man a little bit of time to collect himself. “What are you doing here? Don’t you have enough to do around that farm of yours that you should be here bothering me?” Caleb nodded and told him he had plenty to do, but wanted to ask him something. “Whatever it is, you don’t have any business asking me. Go on home.” “Would you like to go fishing with me? I sure could use a nice little break today. And I know you have that nice stream that goes behind your house.” Mr. Cartwright stopped rocking and asked him why he needed a break. “I had myself an accident earlier. My mom, she’s not mad at me. More glad that I’m all right, but I’d like to make it up to her by bringing home some meat for dinner.” 
“And that means what to me? Are you telling things that aren’t true, boy? You do that and I’ll come after your entire family.” Caleb asked him what he meant by that. “What did you tell your parents about wrecking the truck?” Caleb looked at the ground again. He’d not said a thing about the truck, or wrecking for that matter. Mr. Cartwright would only know that if he’d been there. His parents were right in what they had thought. “I just needed to take a little break, that’s all. I thought.... Well, I guess you have more important things to do than to spend a lazy hour with a kid.” He nodded at him, his heart hurting for what the man was going through. “I’ll see you around, Mr. Cartwright.” “Now hold on there a minute. I never said I’d not go.” He stood up and Caleb tried not to notice how his face was a little scuffed up and that he was walking slower than usual. “You and me, we’ll go fishing today, but I don’t want you to make a habit of just showing up here. You need to be working on your math more than you need to be fishing with an old man.” Mr. Cartwright got them both some gear and even packed them up a nice basket of food to share. There was sweet tea to go with it, too. As they made their way down to the stream, Mr. Cartwright told him about how he had a good recipe for trout, and that he had some stored apples still from last year.  The two of them caught nine trout and two catfish. As he was helping the man gather up their papers from the food and the gear, Mr. Cartwright asked him if he’d take the entire catch with him to his house. “I already told my mom what I caught. She said that there was so much, you should come join us.” He hadn’t talked to his mom, but knew that if Mr. Cartwright would agree then he would. “She even baked a nice peach cobbler today. I was smelling it this morning. I’m betting there might be some homemade ice cream too.” In the end, Caleb was able to convince Mr. Cartwright to join them, and his dad said he’d dig out the old churn, that ice cream sure did sound good. The cobbler was the only thing he’d not lied to the man about. It was, after all, what he’d asked for as his special dessert for his birthday. Caleb Kelley Winchester was seventeen today. As he walked the man back to his house, they didn’t say much. He was stuffed as he’d ever been, and eating with the man beside him had made for a great gift, one he’d not expected to get. When he was up on his porch, Caleb turned to go home when Mr. Cartwright said his name. Caleb turned back to see him standing there with a sad look on his face. “My wife is gone. I know you know that, but I hurt with it. Worse than I ever dreamed I’d be, and that was a lot.” Caleb said he was sorry. “I’m sure you know it was me that caused you that accident. And.... Well, I’m sorrier than I can tell you that you missed me.” “I’m not. Had you died out there, I would have killed a great man on my birthday. I don’t think that would have settled well for me, do you?” He shook his head. “Mr. Cartwright, if you don’t mind, I’d very much like to hang out with you sometimes. I’m sorry that you hurt so much, and there isn’t anything I can do to fix it, but I really enjoyed today. And the meat was an added bonus. You’re a good man, and I liked today.” 
“I did too. It’s the first enjoyment I’ve had in a while.” Caleb nodded. “And if you want to come by here and see me, I’ll not be sorry about that either. You’re a good boy, Caleb. I hope you know that.” “I hope so. My mom will be really disappointed in me if I’m not.” He laughed with Caleb. “I’ll come by tomorrow, sir. And we’ll see about fixing that leaky roof that you were telling me about. All right?” “Yes, I’d like that. I might have a few other chores around here that you can help me with too, if you’ll allow me to pay you for them.” He said that wasn’t necessary, but he’d like the company. “I would as well. I’ll see you tomorrow then.” Caleb returned home with a lighter step. He knew that things were going to be tighter now. His dad had told him that the truck towing alone cost nearly fifty dollars, more than he knew his parents had. He was going to go see Shelton in the morning to see if he could work off a bit of that a week. Caleb was going to hold to his promise of paying for the damage. ~~~ Arnold sat on his rocker and felt better than he had in a while…since his wife had taken her last breath, as a matter of fact. He wiped at the tears that fell, thinking that he just hurt to think about her too much. “I failed you, my darling. Failed to come to you today.” He looked in the direction that the young Caleb had taken. “I should have been a little more selective of who I ran in front of, I guess. An older driver, he wouldn’t have been that quick to swerve to miss me. But I got me a friend out of this mess I put me in. A few of them, I think. And the trout was almost as good as you made me on occasion.” Rocking more, he thought of the Winchester family and how meager their table had been tonight. He wondered what they might have eaten had they not brought the fish to them. But whatever might have been on their table, he was sure that they would have enjoyed it and felt blessed by it. He rocked a little harder. “They got themselves nothing to get around in because of me. I did that to them. I heard that boy telling his daddy that he’d make it right. And I have a feeling that he will too. No matter the cost to his time.” Arnold paused in his rocking to think of what he could do to make it up to them. “That old truck out back, I think they’ll be able to use it, don’t you?” He thought of other things that he had that he no longer had any use for. He’d give it to them, to make up for what they’d lost. But he’d have to be sly about it. Arnold would not take their pride from them. And he knew for as much as they didn’t have, their pride was a thing they valued a great deal. Pulling his phone toward him, he called Shelton Bloom. When he answered his phone on the forth ring, Arnold had to laugh. He was sounding like a man who might need a break himself. “Shelton, it’s Arnold Cartwright here. I wanted to talk to you about the Winchester truck that you brought there today.” Shelton told him it wasn’t worth fixing even if they had the money. Arnold had already figured that was what he’d say. “You got anything there that they can use up? I’ll pay you for it. Not top dollar, but I’ll pay you for it. That 
boy, Caleb, he’s going to be running me around, and I need him to have something to use.” “There are two old beaters in the back that run all right. But I don’t know, Mr. Cartwright. You might need something better than that. I’d surely hate to think of the two of you broken down on the side of the road. How about I let him take that car that Masterson never paid for? It’s a beauty and runs like it’s in its second childhood.” Shelton understood what he was doing, even if Arnold was a little nervous about it. “I think it’ll hold you both, and his family, should they need to be on an outing together. What do you think? It won’t cost you a thing either. Mr. Masterson said I could have it for working on it.” By the time he hung up the phone, he’d planned to have the towing paid by him and his old truck looked at to make sure it was running well. There wasn’t any reason why he couldn’t drive himself around, but to have that boy helping him might be worth it. As he settled into his chair again, Arnold spoke to his lovely wife. “I might not be joining you just yet, my love. This family, I have a feeling that they need me as much as I do them. And I have a powerful need to help them out.” He nodded into the darkness, thinking of how much more alive he felt because a boy hadn’t killed him like he’d wanted. “You just hang on tight and I’ll be there soon enough. I need to be helpful to them and in return.... Well, I think they’re going to be more helpful to me than I ever thought.” Over the next few weeks, not only did he get his leaky roof fixed by Caleb, but he also got his lawn mowed, his bushes trimmed, and he even got the steps to his barn repaired. Not only did Caleb help him, but the rest of them, including that mom of his, lent him a hand or two. He had berries in his freezer, and a few little pies he could eat when he wanted. His pants were patched up, and there wasn’t a single button missing off any of his shirts. His wife, Thelma, she’d been sick for a time, and those things had gone by the wayside. It was nice having the house all aired out and the sheets on his bed to be fresh. It was like they’d adopted him, and he was liking it. Caleb was in his yard, mowing the last of the grass, when he realized how much more he could help this boy. College. He needed this boy—hell, all them boys—to go to college. Arnold also knew that the Winchesters would be lucky to send one to college, not to mention six of them. So he set about, in his own little way, making that happen as well.  And he sat down to dinner with them every night too. Sometimes there was meat, most nights not. But Arnold didn’t mind. He was with good people, and that made up for his belly being just a little upset with him for not having a hunk of meat in it. He decided to help them out with that as well. Arnold was having fun. Helping these people was fun. “I need me a person to work for me full time.” Caleb’s father asked him what he needed and that he’d find him someone. “No, I’m talking about you, Kelley. I need you to come work for me full time.” “Mr. Cartwright, you’re a very nice man. And I have to tell you, you couldn’t have helped us out any better than giving us that vehicle to get around in. Mary said it’s a real 
treat for her to go shopping and not have to load it all in the back end of that old truck of ours. And don’t think I don’t know that you’ve made a few other things happen for us too. I’m appreciative of it, I swear to you. But you don’t have to go making up work for me. I’m glad to help you out.” Arnold started to speak, but Kelley cut him off before he could. “Caleb is learning a lot from you. How to be a better man, and to know that not everything he does needs to have a payment in the end in the form of money. I thank you for that too. But like I said, you’ve done about enough.” “No, I’ve not, Kelley. Without you—without that boy there—I’d be dead now. We both know it.” Kelley nodded and Arnold nodded before continuing. “That day that I hurt him—and I know that it did—but that day he gave me something I’d not had in a long while, since my wife took ill. He gave me purpose. And this job that I have for you, it’s not a made up one. I do need you. I have...I don’t have anyone else.” “You know that I’ll surely be glad to help you. You’re a good man.” Arnold thanked him. “What is it you need help with? I’m not too smart, but I’ll give it my best shot.” Arnold had no doubt whatsoever that he would too. Yes, sir, he was going to have the time of his life with this family.