The First Time Again: The Braddock Brotherhood, Book 3 (9 page)

BOOK: The First Time Again: The Braddock Brotherhood, Book 3
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Tires crunched on gravel. Coffee cup in hand, he went out to the porch to watch Baylee exit her car and load up her cleaning supplies. She hesitated only a moment when she spied him watching her.

“Good morning.”

“Good morning.” He opened the screen door for her and followed her in, a smile on his face. He’d found his assistant.

Forty-five minutes later, replete with two helpings of French toast and sausage along with orange juice, Trey settled back in the kitchen chair and studied Baylee from across the table. He’d insisted she take a break after she made breakfast and cleaned up. She sipped her coffee and held his gaze.

“Would you be available to work for me full time?”

She set down her cup. “Full time? You don’t need a full-time cleaning person.”

“No. I had something else in mind.”

She raised her eyebrows, waiting.

“I need an assistant.”

Baylee frowned. “To do what?”

Trey waved in the direction of the dining room. “The mess on the dining room table you dusted around the other day? I need help getting it organized and keeping it that way.”

Baylee sipped some more coffee. “What makes you think I’m qualified to do that?”

“You used to work in a bank.”

Baylee glanced away for a second and then back at him. “I never told you that.”

“Was it a secret?”

“No. I didn’t think you’d snoop into my background.”

“I didn’t snoop. Ryan mentioned it.”


“Are you interested or not?”

Baylee propped her chin in her hand and regarded him. Something was going on behind her eyes. Some sort of calculation, Trey thought.

“I’m interested in hearing your proposal.”

“I’ll pay your hourly rate for forty hours a week, but I’m the boss. You clean, you cook, you shop, you organize and anything else within reason I ask you to do.”

“Who gets to decide what’s within reason?”

“You do. If I ask you to do something you object to, say so. We’ll work it out.”

Again, he saw her calculating. Numbers? How to take advantage of him? He wished he knew.

“What if you don’t have enough work to keep me busy for forty hours?”

“I’ll pay you for forty hours. There might be weeks when it’s more or less. You can keep track of your hours and tell me if it balances out to more than that in a month. If you’re caught up, you can take off no matter what time it is.”

“You’re overpaying for this kind of job. You know that, right?”

“I was already overpaying for you to do nothing but clean.”

Baylee grinned. Trey liked her smile.

“How much notice do you want if I decide to quit?”

“You haven’t said you’d take the job and you’re already planning to quit?”

“I don’t plan to stick around here forever cleaning houses and running errands. I’ve plastered my résumé all over the Southeast. It’s only a matter of time before I find something comparable to what I was doing before. Will two weeks’ notice be enough?”


“Great. Should we start now?”



Baylee managed to contain her glee until she left Trey’s house. Organizing him wasn’t as hard as he apparently thought it was. Working in bank operations, she’d had to be organized in order to have vital information at her fingertips if an emergency called for it. Overseeing a couple of months of paperwork for one former pro athlete paled in comparison to keeping track of the amount a large bank holding company generated.

She didn’t think she was being overly optimistic when she’d told Trey she’d find another banking position soon. She stayed in touch with every worthwhile contact she’d made during her banking career. Even though her résumé had generated hardly any interest, the economy had to turn around sometime. When it did, she’d be ready.

While she worked, she added and subtracted figures having to do with her own financial situation. Trey’s overly generous salary offer was several thousand dollars below what she’d once made at the bank. Initially she’d had her suspicions about what exactly Trey wanted her to do for that kind of money, but as best she could determine, he had no ulterior motives or interest in her beyond her housekeeping and personal assistant skills.

She wished she didn’t find him attractive. Shouldn’t her experience with him in the hayloft have turned her off of him forever? Yes, definitely. But it hadn’t. Supposedly Trey had given up drinking and his dependence on prescription drugs. He wasn’t that seventeen-year-old boy any longer.

Still, Baylee made sure to hide her attraction to him under layers of indifference, professionalism, humor and mild sarcasm. He’d never find it there.

Meanwhile, she knew almost to the penny how much she owed on her two credit cards, both of which were nearly maxed out. She had to use them until things improved, until she made some money, until she found a real job. She could barely make the minimum payments each month, and the new interest charges always outstripped what she managed to pay toward them. She couldn’t wait to use her first few paychecks to pay both of them off. After that she swore she’d hide them in a drawer beneath her underwear and take them out only in case of an emergency.

The tires on her car were going bald and she needed an oil change badly. Maybe she would splurge on a haircut in a salon instead of relying on Lisa to trim her ends every couple of months. More contact lenses. Maybe some new glasses. Her list went on and on. Later she’d write it all down and run the numbers on a calculator instead of in her head.

As a boss, Trey was an odd combination of demanding and lackadaisical. He wasn’t concerned with how she organized him, but he wanted to be able to find everything, so she’d had to explain what she was doing as she did it.

Before they’d even begun, he produced a confidentiality agreement and told her to take as much time as she needed to look it over before she signed it. When he’d mentioned it the other day, she’d been amused, but she could see he was dead serious about it. If she violated Trey’s privacy, the agreement guaranteed he’d make her regret it. She read through it, asked for a copy of it and signed it.

Chapter Eight

Judge Artemus O’Toole had been a fixture in the Henderson County Courthouse for thirty years. He attended the same church as Trey’s parents, his wife bought homemade jam from Grandma J every year and he played pinochle with Andy Christopher and several other locals at the lodge.

He’d peered over a pair of half glasses at Trey, who’d stood before him with Ryan at his side. He’d clucked and tsked and shuffled the pages in front of him.

“Is Deputy Spoley available this morning?” he asked, glancing first at his clerk and then at the bailiff. The bailiff motioned to the gallery area behind them. Trey wasn’t surprised when Justin Spoley stepped forward in full uniform and greeted the judge.

“This is quite a list of citations you’ve leveled in Mr. Christopher’s direction, Deputy.”

“Yes, sir.”

Judge O’Toole cleared his throat and picked up one of the pages. “Indecent exposure. Mr. Christopher exposed himself to you, is that correct, Deputy?”

“Uh, no, sir.”

“You witnessed him engaging in some sort of depravity within the Edna Falls town limits?”

Spoley coughed. “No, sir. Not exactly, sir.”

“You got videotape or pictures of Mr. Christopher indecently exposing himself? Witnesses?”

“No, sir.”

“Charge dismissed.”

He stared at Spoley, who was wise enough to keep his mouth shut.

Trey slid a glance Ryan’s way, but Ryan remained professional and showed no outward sign of emotion.

“Now, then.” Judge O’Toole picked up another page. ”Expired tags on the vehicle.” He glanced at Ryan. “Mr. Reagle, I understand this has been taken care of.”

“Yes, sir. My client tried to explain to Deputy Spoley that he had the tags with him at the time, but—“


He swung his gaze to Trey. “Mr. Christopher, I’ve been given to understand you refused to allow Deputy Spoley to administer a portable breathalyzer test. Your attorney will no doubt advise you, you’re under no legal obligation to answer but I’d like to ask you a question. I believe there’s been some assumptions made about your past behavior that may impact your current legal situation. I’d like to put a stop to this right now if you and your attorney agree. This is strictly off the record, of course. Were you intoxicated when Officer Spoley stopped you for speeding?”

Trey exchanged a look with Ryan before he answered. “No, sir.”

“Were you under the influence of any illegal drugs or substances when you were stopped?”

“No, sir.”

O’Toole stared hard at Trey for a moment. He turned his attention back to Spoley. “Deputy Spoley, did you have any reason to believe Mr. Christopher was intoxicated when you made the stop?”

Spoley didn’t reply immediately. O’Toole continued, “Was he driving erratically? Did he not seem in control of his mental faculties when you spoke to him?”

“No, sir.”

“He did not seem in control of his mental faculties when you spoke to him?”

“No, sir, he wasn’t driving erratically.”

“But he was in control of his mental faculties?”

“He appeared to be, sir.”

“Why did you ask him to take a breathalyzer test?”

“I wanted to be sure, sir.”

“Did you offer him the opportunity to take other roadside sobriety tests first?”

“No, sir.”

“Deputy Spoley, how long have you been with the sheriff’s department?”

“Ten years, sir.”

“Are you telling me you’re unable to ascertain whether a motorist is in control of his mental faculties once you’ve spoken to him and asked him to step out of his vehicle?”

“No, sir. I mean yes, sir.”

“Do you administer a breathalyzer to all your traffic stops to make sure they aren’t under the influence?”

“No, sir.”

“Why did you attempt to do so with Mr. Christopher?”

“I was aware of his history. Sir.”

Judge O’Toole seemed to ruminate on Spoley’s answer. “Yes, I believe we’re all aware of his history.” His gaze moved from Spoley to Trey to Ryan and back.

“I’m sure you’ve had other citizens who’ve had a known past history with driving under the influence. Do you immediately attempt to administer a breathalyzer test to all of them?”

Spoley hesitated. “No, sir.”

“This smacks of some kind of profiling on your part, Deputy Spoley. In the eyes of the law all citizens are innocent until proven guilty, and they are all to be treated the same. Your behavior could leave the county vulnerable to legal action by someone like Mr. Christopher here should his counsel so advise him to pursue such action.” He glared at Spoley.

Trey had a hard time controlling the smug grin tugging at the corners of his mouth, but he managed to contain it.

“Now as to the citation for speeding,” the judge continued, lifting another page and staring at it. He looked at Trey. “Mr. Christopher, how do you plead?”

“Guilty, Your Honor.”

“Excellent. Two hundred dollar fine and fifty hours of community service.”

“Fifty hours of community—”

“Thank you, Judge.” Ryan’s normally calm tone rose authoritatively over Trey’s objection.

“I’m not done. You’ll do your service at the county animal shelter. Have it completed in ninety days.” He gave Trey a thoughtful look before he turned his attention to Spoley. “Deputy Spoley, I suggest you exercise better judgment in your future traffic stops and keep your personal feelings out of your citation book.”

“Yes, your honor.”

The judge banged his gavel . “Ten-minute recess.”

After the judge disappeared through a side door behind the clerk’s desk Ryan steered Trey to the clerk for paperwork. While they waited for her to complete it, Trey glanced around the nearly deserted courtroom. Beyond the railing that separated the room were rows of old-fashioned wood benches. Baylee had taken a seat near the aisle to wait for him. Now she was talking to Justin Spoley.

Trey couldn’t hear what they were saying, only the murmur of their voices. Still it annoyed him that Baylee would even speak to a man who obviously had it in for him. It rankled that she seemed chummy with Spoley. It figured they’d be acquainted, Trey acknowledged. They’d grown up in the same area and were close in age. No surprise that their paths might have crossed before today.

He turned his attention back to the clerk. She handed him a copy of the judge’s determination on the various citations and a number to call to set up his community service at the animal shelter.

When he and Ryan turned to leave, Spoley was nowhere to be seen. Only Baylee was waiting, her bag over her shoulder, car keys in her hand. “Hi, Ry,” she said to Ryan. They gave each other a brief hug. “How’s my godson?”

“Wearing us out,” Ryan informed her. “Who knew parenting was so exhausting?”

“Ha. You love every minute of it. So does Jenny.”

BOOK: The First Time Again: The Braddock Brotherhood, Book 3
4.82Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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