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Authors: Lynn LaFleur

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BOOK: ScandalandSin
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“I notice you conveniently forgot to tell
me about your relationship with Alesia until after we fucked.”

She winced, then straightened her shoulders
and looked him straight in the eyes. “I didn’t start that.
You’re
the
one who grabbed my boob.”

“I grabbed your
body
to keep you
from falling. I acted on instinct. I didn’t plan to grope you.”

“I didn’t plan to fuck you either. It
simply…happened.”

“Yeah, right.”

She stood taller, her hands clenched at her
sides. “How could I have planned us being together? I didn’t know I was going
to fall.”

“I warned you the stairs might not be
sturdy.”

“After I’d already stepped on one.”

Rye crossed his arms over his chest. Just
like Alesia, Alaina had a ready answer on the tip of her tongue. “You’re
definitely Alesia’s sister.”

He would swear he could see the hair on her
arms bristle. “What do you mean by that?”

“I mean, she always had the perfect reason
for whatever she’d done. Even when I found her fucking another guy, she swore
he’d forced her. She was bouncing up and down on his dick like she couldn’t get
enough. It didn’t look forced to me.”

The shock on her face appeared real. She
was a good actress. Rye almost believed she had no idea what her sister had
done.

“Rye, I-I’m sorry. I didn’t know.”

He barked out a laugh. “Sure you didn’t.”

“I didn’t!”

“You knew we were engaged.”

“Yes, I knew that, but not until after it
was over. She didn’t tell me your name until y’all broke up. She said you ended
the engagement.”

“I did, after I caught her with one of my
friends…who, I add, is no longer a friend. Before he left Lanville, he informed
me he wasn’t the only guy in town Alesia was fucking. The list was staggering.
I don’t know how she could walk.”

“You believed him?”

“I had no reason
not
to believe him
after what I saw. So I did some investigating. Turns out he’d told me the
truth.”

“Rye, I’m not close with Alesia. We talk on
the phone a couple times a year and email maybe half a dozen times. I haven’t
seen her in two years. I don’t even know where she lives. She’s had the same
cell phone number and email address for years, but I know she’s moved around a
lot. She contacts me when she wants something from me. That’s the only time I
hear from her.” She took one step toward him. “I’m nothing like her.”

“Pardon me for being skeptical after what
happened here a few minutes ago.”

Her cheeks turned pink. She bit her bottom
lip again. Rye stopped himself before he groaned. He wanted to bite that lip…and
every other part of her body.

You’re an idiot. You should’ve learned
your lesson with the first Pearson sister.

“I don’t have sex with men I’ve just met.”

“But it’s okay to have sex with men you
haven’t seen in…what? Fifteen, sixteen years?”

She shook her hair back from her face and
sighed. “I let my hormones overrule my good judgment. Haven’t you ever done
that?”

“Yeah, about ten minutes ago.”

Alaina frowned. “Are you always this rude?”

Rye huffed out a breath. He saw no reason
to continue this conversation. “You wanted my professional opinion about
refurbishing this house. Yes, it can be done. Despite the holes and broken
boards and rotted wood, it’s structurally sound. Will Coleman Construction work
for you? No. Find yourself another company to do the work.”

He made it halfway to the front door before
she grabbed his arm to stop him. “Wait, please! I want you and your brothers to
do the work. Your company has an excellent reputation and you know the house. I
don’t want strangers in here who only work to get paid and don’t care about the
job they do.”

“I can give you the names of several good
firms. Come by my office tomorrow morning and I’ll have a list for you.”

“I’ll pay whatever percentage you want—”

“This has nothing to do with money,
Ms.
May
.” He leaned closer until his nose almost touched hers. “I will not work
for
you
.” He tugged his arm away from her. “Goodbye.”

Rye didn’t wait to hear any more from her.
He strode from the house and got into his pickup. Loose dirt spewed from
beneath his tires as he sped away from Stevens House.

Once back on the county road, he flipped
open his cell phone and punched in Dax’s number.

“Yo, bro,” Dax said. “What’s up?”

Rye could hear country music in the
background. “Where are you?”

“Boot Scootin’. I’m having a beer with
Dad.”

Perfect. Rye liked that his father would be
present for the discussion with his brothers. “Have you made plans for the
night?”

“Not yet.”

“Good. Stay there. I’m gonna call Griff and
tell him to meet us.”

“What’s up?”

“I’ll tell you when I get there.”

He ended the call and punched in his other
brother’s number. Griff was scheduled to work at one of the restaurants today.
A quick glance at his watch showed Rye it was ten after five. Griff should be
through by now.

“Hey, Rye.”

“Hey, Griff. Are you through for the day?”

“Will be in about five minutes.”

“Great. Meet Dax and me at Boot Scootin’. I
need to talk to my brothers.”

Silence. Rye waited for the inevitable
excuse his brother would come up with why he couldn’t meet his brothers. Ever
since his wife died five months ago, Griff avoided people whenever possible. He
was an excellent electrician and did his job well, but hid in his house after
the workday ended and didn’t leave it again until the next morning when it was
time to go back to work.

“Can’t we talk in the morning at the
office?”

“I want to tell you and Dax what happened
today. Dad’s there too. He and Dax are having a beer right now.”

Silence again, for several moments. “You
and Dax can come out to the house.”

Rye pulled into Walt’s gas station to fill
up his pickup. “Dax and Dad are already at Boot Scootin’. I’ll be there in five
minutes, after I get gas.”

Rye sighed when his brother pulled the
silent act again. He’d tried his best to be patient with Griff, to give his
brother time to heal after losing his wife. Griff would never heal if he didn’t
get back out in the world. “Griff. I need to talk to my brothers.”

He heard Griff blow out a heavy breath.
“Give me fifteen minutes.”

“Great. I’ll buy you one of Dolly’s greasy
cheeseburgers.”

Rye snapped his cell shut before Griff
could change his mind. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Walt Kinney hobble
out of the station as Rye climbed down from his truck. Despite celebrating his
seventy-eighth birthday last month and having to use a cane to get around, Walt
refused to sell his station and retire.

Walt was good friends with Rye’s
grandfather, so Rye had known the older man since he was a kid. Some people
thought he looked more like a bum than a businessman with his unkempt gray hair
and ragged overalls. Rye knew a deep intelligence lay behind those blue eyes.
Walt saw a lot more than people realized.

“Hey, Walt,” Rye said, unscrewing the gas
cap on his truck.

“Rye. How’s it goin’?”

“Good.”

“Stayin’ busy?”

“And then some.”

Walt leaned against the side of Rye’s
pickup. “Had to fix a flat out Bella’s way this afternoon. Saw you with a
pretty little redhead in your truck.”

Rye had learned a long time ago that Walt
never hesitated to say exactly what was on his mind. He’d also learned that the
older man wouldn’t give up until he knew everything he wanted to know. “She’s
interested in buying Stevens House to turn into a bed-and-breakfast.”

Walt’s bushy eyebrows arched. “She want
your company to do the work?”

“Yeah. I turned her down.”

“How come? Seems like that would be a
good-payin’ job.”

“She’s Alesia’s sister.”

“Hmmph.” Walt tucked one hand inside the
bib of his overalls. “Can’t see where that makes any difference.”

Rye assumed telling Walt that Alaina was
Alesia’s sister would be explanation enough for why he turned down the job. “I
got burned once by a Pearson girl. That won’t happen again.”

“Can’t see where it would happen again, as
long as everythin’ is strictly business.”

Rye thought of the used condom he had in
his pocket. He had to look away from those shrewd blue eyes so Walt wouldn’t
know he and Alaina hadn’t exactly conducted business in Stevens House a short
time ago.

“Seems like you should put aside any
personal feelin’s you might have for the girl if it’s a good job.”

“I don’t have any personal feelings for
Alaina.”

“Then what’s the problem? It’d be a long
job for your workers. Good money for ‘em and your business.”

“I can’t work for Alesia’s sister.”

“She’s Alesia’s sister. She ain’t Alesia.”

Rye replaced the handle on the gas pump.
Everything Walt said made sense. Still, he didn’t know how he could look at
Alaina and not remember what her sister had done.

“What that young gal did to you was a long
time ago, Rye. Time to let it go and move on.”

Easier said than done
. “Yeah, I know, but…” He stopped long enough to screw on the gas
cap. “Sometimes letting go isn’t easy.”

“Yep. Know that. But sometimes you gotta
think of other people more than yourself.”

Rye clapped Walt on the shoulder. “How did
you get to be so smart?”

He grinned, exposing the few teeth he had
left. “I’m old. Ain’t much I haven’t heard or seen.”

Chuckling, Rye opened the door to his
truck. “Thanks for the advice.”

“Got a lot of it. And it’s free.”

Walt moved away from the pickup and Rye
climbed in behind the steering wheel. “Put this on my account, okay?”

“Will do.”

Rye thought about what Walt had said on his
way to Boot Scootin’. He knew the older man meant well, but Rye doubted if his
brothers would agree. They’d side with Rye and say he was right to turn down
Alaina’s job, even though it would bring in a nice amount for Coleman
Construction.

He spotted Dax’s pickup as soon as he drove
into Boot Scootin’s parking lot. He pulled into the space next to it and headed
for the entrance.

Kenny Chesney was belting out his latest
song from the jukebox when Rye opened the door to Boot Scootin’. He saw his dad
and Dax at a table in the corner. Both of them were sprawled in their chairs,
looking as if they planned to stay there a while. With his mom out of town
visiting her parents, Rye knew his dad would avoid going home to an empty house
as long as possible.

He squeezed his father’s shoulder when he
passed him. “Hey, Dad.”

Kenneth Coleman smiled and patted Rye’s
hand. “Hey, son.”

Rye took the chair to the left of his
father, facing the door. He wanted to see Griff when he arrived. “Who’s
buying?”

“You are,” Dax said.

“Figures.” He caught the eye of Lana, the
waitress, and twirled his finger upside down over the table to indicate another
round. She smiled and dipped her head.

“Is Griff coming?” Kenneth asked.

“He said he would.”

“If you can get him here, you’re doing
better than I am.” Dax set his beer bottle on the table. “I’ve invited him here
for burgers and pool more times than I can remember. He always turns me down.”

“He turned me down too at first, until I
used guilt. I told him I needed to talk to my brothers. He couldn’t say no to
that.”

Lana arrived with three bottles of beer.
“Hidy, Rye. Dax told me to put everything on your tab.”

“I’m sure he did,” Rye said, scowling at
his brother.

Dax grinned. “You’re the oldest. You’re
supposed to buy.”

“I’m the oldest by two minutes.”

“Oldest is oldest.”

“What about Dad? He’s the oldest at the
table.”

Kenneth picked up his fresh bottle of beer.
“I stopped buying when my sons got jobs.”

Lana laughed. “You’re a very smart man, Mr.
Coleman. Holler if y’all need anything else.”

“One more beer, Lana,” Rye said. “Griff
should be here soon. And cheeseburgers and fries all around.”

“You got it.”

“Speak of the devil,” Dax said, nodding
toward the entrance.

Rye gazed that direction to see Griff
making his way toward their table. His brother looked tired. Griff had lost a
lot of weight since Jana’s death. Rye doubted if Griff had more than one meal a
day. He definitely needed one of Dolly’s cheeseburgers tonight.

BOOK: ScandalandSin
7.25Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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