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Authors: Chelsea Camaron

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Morrison (Caldwell Brothers #2)

BOOK: Morrison (Caldwell Brothers #2)
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Morrison
is a work of fiction. Names, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

A Loveswept eBook Original

Copyright © 2015 by MJ Fields and Chelsea Camaron

Excerpt from
Jagger
by MJ Fields and Chelsea Camaron copyright © 2015 by MJ Fields and
Chelsea Camaron

All rights reserved.

Published in the United States by Loveswept, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York.

L
OVESWEPT
is a registered trademark and the
L
OVESWEPT
colophon is a trademark of Penguin Random House LLC.

This book contains an excerpt from the forthcoming book
Jagger
by MJ Fields and Chelsea Camaron. This excerpt has been set for
this edition only and may not reflect the final content of the forthcoming edition.

eBook ISBN 9781101968000

Cover design: Caroline Teagle

Cover image: © Gergely Zsolnai/Shutterstock

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Aces, Kings, Queens, Jacks, and Spades—my world is one hand at a time. The read, the game, and the ability to walk away as the unexpected winner—that’s how I roll. Life is a game of chances, not a game of hearts.

—Morrison Caldwell

Chapter 1
Morrison

When my older brother Hendrix moved out of the apartment that housed our family, I became the man of the house. “Housed our family”? No—we never truly lived there. I refused to believe that was living.

The old man owned the whole building, and his bar, as he called it, was below the apartment.

His
bar. We knew better. Momma ran that place. If it wasn’t for her, he wouldn’t
have been able to hang on to the only thing in his miserable existence he could possibly ever have been proud of. Because he didn’t care about us, that was for damn sure.

“Think of me what you will,” he slurred as he wiped the blood from the corner of his mouth, stood up from off the floor, and pointed his yellow, tobacco-stained finger at my brothers—Hendrix and Jagger—Momma, and me. “Every
other dive around here has been abandoned since the factories all took a shit. But not my place. I’m one hell of a businessman, and you’re all lucky to have a man like me.”

“You piece of shit! Momma is the only fucking reason you have a business,” Hendrix said before lunging at him.

Jagger and I both grabbed him, holding him back from beating the old man’s ass down once again. We had cause to
worry, because when Hendrix had stepped in once before while the old man was beating on Momma, he had knocked him out cold. The old man was down for a while, too.

Momma cried, worried Hendrix had killed him. Worried Hendrix would get in trouble, get taken away, go to jail. Never once was she concerned about the old man being dead; she was concerned about my brother, her son. Over and over, Momma
said, “This is my fault.” It was never her fault, though. It was always his, the fucking bastard.

With Hendrix gone, I had to learn how to keep the bastard from killing Momma without myself winding up in jail, so I did.

I took blow after blow from that motherfucker. I never cried or whimpered, and I didn’t fight back. I remember the day I lay on the floor, curled in a ball, covering my head
while he told me in the slurred, drunken voice we had all become accustomed to that I was either immune to pain or had one hell of a poker face.

Over the span of several months, he took less and less satisfaction from hitting me and started in on Momma again. I’d stand in front of him, blocking his blows. When she’d try to get between us, I wouldn’t allow it. Gone were the days when she would
hide us away in the tiny room of the apartment like she had done for so long when we were little. There was no more shielding us from the fucker; we would do what needed to be done to shield her.

I’d no longer lie on the floor. I’d stand motionless, appearing unaffected as he beat my face, my chest, my body. With each drunken strike, he’d grow angrier and angrier, whereas I’d grow mentally and
physically more able to endure his attacks.

One day the old man came at me with a bat he kept in the bar. As he ran toward me, Jagger stuck his foot out from where he was sitting on the couch and tripped him. The old man fell flat on his face, and when he got up, he swung that bat at Jagger over and over while Jagger ducked and avoided every attempt. The fucking scrappy little shit never got
hit once.

The last swing would have had Jagger—he was cornered. However, I grabbed the fucking bat, pulled it back against the old man’s throat, and held him there until the bastard passed out.

Momma came running up the stairs from the bar to find him lying face-first on the floor.

“This has to stop. You two boys should go stay with Hendrix at his place.”

“We won’t leave you with him. If we
leave, so do you.”

“I can’t, or everything I’ve worked for will be gone.”

“Not us,” I told her as I wrapped an arm around her.

“I work for you three boys, breathe for you three, live for you three. I still see something good in him. When he’s sober, he—”

“I’m not gonna leave you or what you worked for,” I told her.

Momma eventually stopped crying, but it took forever. When he came to, all
three of us were sitting on the couch. He stood up and glared at us through his red eyes, yet never said a single word.

One night, I woke up to them fighting and ran out of my bedroom in my damn shorts. He was chasing her up the stairs to the apartment. A big old trunk sat on the landing. I pushed it to the edge, ready to send it down on top of him. The old man froze, and I saw fear in his bloodshot
eyes, fear I had never seen before. But it passed quickly.

“You fucking touch her, and this comes down on you, you feel me?” I roared.

“You don’t have the balls, you little shit.”

“Try me, motherfucker,” I hissed.

Fear showed again, and I now knew his
tell
.

Everyone has a sign, a slip that shows a weakness, a small way in.

High school wasn’t easy for a kid who had the looks. I’m not being
cocky, either. I own a mirror and know how females look at me. Not having the cash for the right threads or the right things everyone else had, I became a behind-the-scenes kind of guy to a variety of the
it
girls in school. They waited their turn.

One chick, Annie, was dating a jock whose name was Aiden, and he cheated on her. Then she started coming on to me. One day after school, she asked
for my number—away from her group of friends, of course. I told her I didn’t have a cell. She acted shocked, and I walked away.

Next day, she hands me a phone. “It’s prepay. I’ll text you.”

“Nah, I don’t want it. Thanks, though,” I told her.

“It’s for me, not you.” Dismissively, she walked away with me still holding the phone.

That night when she texted me, telling me it was her, I asked where
she got the phone. After some convincing, I found out it was from a drugstore a block away from the school.

After school, I walked in there and found the phone in aisle six. It was fifty bucks on sale.

For a week, I dragged my ass out of bed at five in the morning to walk up and down the street with a shovel until I found people wanting their sidewalks cleared.

On Friday, I walked into school
and handed her sixty bucks. “Phone’s mine.” Then I walked away.

That afternoon, I was taking trash out from the bar when she pulled up in her little Beamer. It was older but pretty fucking sweet.

“Go for a ride with me?” she asked when the window rolled down.

“Nah.” I shook my head.

“Morrison Caldwell, how much more do I have to do or say to let you know I’m interested in you?” Annie said,
then smiled.

I shook my head and tried not to return the smile, but I did. “You still dating Aiden Law?”

“Depends.” She smiled again.

“On?”

“You, of course.”

I watched her send a text. “Get in and I’ll show you what I just sent.”

“You a little tease?” I smirked, then leaned in, grabbing for her phone.

“Not at all. Get in.”

As soon as I got in, she handed me her phone, and she hadn’t been
teasing. She had told him she was done, broke up with the poor bastard in a text message.

You hear all about those heart-crushing Dear John letters. Hell, even movies are made about them. Yet, I’m here to tell you, those letter writers ain’t got shit on Siri. That bitch has broken more hearts than they could even begin to imagine.

Annie’s hand was on my thigh as soon as she pulled away from
the curb. Her lips were on my dick as soon as we parked in the alley between two abandoned warehouses. Not gonna lie, I filled her mouth much quicker than I’d like to admit—and just as quickly, I was sure I was in love with Annie. Gotta have something to do with a chick who swallows or getting my first blow job, though I’m not sure which.

I’d had dozens of hand jobs, finger-fucked plenty of chicks,
eaten plenty of pussy, but none of that shit resulted in love. A blow job that ended in her swallowing my load, however—well, I was seeing stars and shit.

Annie was a giver in all ways possible. She not only loved to suck dick, but she was a little gift giver, too. It started out with notes, and then she was bringing me lunch. When she gave me a new pair of sneakers, I was hesitant, but mine
were beat to hell.

“I just want everyone else to see you the way I do.” She smiled as she lifted up on her little navy Jimmy Choo espadrilles and kissed me in front of everyone in the hallway, then walked away.

Valentine’s Day, she gave me a leather jacket, which was a little over the top. I was still shoveling sidewalks to save enough to buy her a Tiffany necklace.

That little heart cost me
three hundred bucks, even secondhand from a pawnshop. She wore it with such pride. The night I gave it to her, we fucked on the pool table at the bar, where she’d met me after sneaking out of her house.

Wasn’t her first time. It was mine.

The next day, I’m wearing the hell out of that leather when Aiden comes up to me and tells me he wants his jacket back.

“What the fuck are you talking about?”
I slammed my locker shut, then turned to face him and his five friends.

“She gave that shit to me, then made me give it back. You certainly don’t deserve it. I want it back.”

When I stood toe to toe with him, I saw little beads of sweat pooling in his hairline—
his
tell.

“You take it off me, it’s yours,” I said as I walked around him.

His boys, all five of them, held my arms as Aiden swung
on me. I didn’t move, didn’t flinch, the only thing I did do was spit the blood pooling in my mouth into his fucking face. Then the bell rang, and they scattered like little fucking roaches.

Annie ran up to me, asking what happened, but I didn’t say shit. I only walked past her as I took off the jacket and threw that fucker in the trash.

“What are you doing?” she yelled at me—like, really fucking
yelled.

“Not you, ever again.” And yes, I said it loud enough so a few people, quite a few, heard me.

That night, the old man had his boys at the bar to play cards. His ass passed out face-first on the green felt card table. I had fifty bucks from shoveling sidewalks, but when old man Smith asked if I wanted to play, I told him I didn’t know how. He said he would teach me.

Then he smirked,
almost maliciously—
his
tell.

Five-card draw was the game. I got the gist of it quickly. I also lost forty bucks within ten minutes. In those ten minutes, however, I learned the tell of every man at that table, and then I walked out with eight hundred seventy-two dollars. Beginner’s luck, they all laughed.

The next day, I showed up late to school, wearing a brand-new leather jacket. I grabbed
a brand-new chick, tossed Annie my old phone, pulled my new prepaid smartphone out of the jacket, and gave the new chick my digits.

After that, I played cards with the boys whenever the old man passed out. I made bank enough to get the shit I wanted and get Jagger some shit, too. But my proudest moment was when I handed Momma her Mother’s Day gift—a Tiffany necklace straight from the online store.
No secondhand shit for her—or for me.

Never again. And no looking back, either.

A year later, my old man bet on an underground fighter because he was fighting a brand-new unknown—Jagger, then a junior in high school. He lost the bar, and he lost it to Hendrix. It was fucking beautiful.

My old man is a piece of shit. He’s a drunk, a gambler, and a heavy-handed asshole who takes pleasure in hurting
and degrading everyone around him. But he has taught me and my brothers a lot.

Hendrix now owns a bar, I travel around playing cards, and Jagger is a fighter. Some may say—hell, many have said—that the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree. But the tree’s roots are as strong as Momma’s, tainted with his spill or not, so we are good boys. We may have the old man’s bad habits, but we have Momma’s
heart.

On her deathbed, she told us she was proud of us. She told us she loved us, apologized for how we were brought up, and made us promise to be the good in a world of bad.

Momma died because that fucker couldn’t keep it in his pants and gave her HPV. She was too stubborn to go to the doctors when she was feeling like hell.

We lost Momma, but knowing she was proud of us three boys, none
of which hold a degree or work traditional jobs, made us all feel good. It also made us determined.

First Hendrix caught the old man’s hand in the till, then he found him fucking a used-up old barmaid, and finally he kicked him to the curb.

Without the old man around, what I have learned in the few months I have been back is that nothing is stronger than the brotherhood Hendrix, Jagger, and
I share.

I’m not anyone’s bitch, never have been. But when you live with a real monster—and not just the childlike notion that one is living under your bed, but the real deal—you are never truly living out loud; you are just surviving.

This place of horrors and hell no longer feels so bad, though.

Detroit Rock City no longer holds the same cold and bitter feeling it always did before. It feels
like a sanctuary, a place to go when I feel alone, a place I want to drive to, not from. This is a place where, when the shit hits the fan, I know that as brothers the three of us can get through it together. Without the old man, this bar, this city, this place is now a place my brothers and I want to live.

Now we
can
live.

Today, as I hop in my Escalade and pull my John Varvatos Aviator sunglasses
off my head to cover my eyes, I wave goodbye to my brothers and my new sister-in-law, Livi, then head back to the desert. I need a fix, a score, a few good hands dealt my way. I need to stash some cash so the next time I return to Detroit, I can stay longer.

I stop in front of the cemetery to say “See ya” to Momma before heading to the airport. It doesn’t seem right not to.

Then I hop back in
the Escalade and hit the playlist: Kid Ink, “Carry On.” Mmm, can’t wait to carry on.

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BOOK: Morrison (Caldwell Brothers #2)
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