Authors: Amanda Siegrist
Trust In Love
A McCord Family Novel
By Amanda Siegrist
Copyright © 2015 Amanda Siegrist
This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you're reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to your favorite ebook retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
All characters in this book are a product of the author's imagination. A few places, events, and locations mentioned either are created to help inspire the story or are real and used in a fictitious manner.
Table of Contents
The driveway stood solid as a rock, yet felt like liquid fire under her shaky legs. Her nerves flowed in all directions, draining her as she stood staring at the dilapidated house in front of her. The horror of its despairing look slammed into her with brute force, knocking the sense in that her life wasn't going to get any better. Sophie wasn't sure what was worse—the fact she moved here for a fresh start to such a revolting place, or that her father even left this appalling place called a house to her.
The shutters on the front windows hung crookedly, one little touch of breath and they would shatter to the ground. A porch swing swayed in the afternoon breeze, the hinges creaking as it went. She wasn't going to attempt to sit on it because the poor thing probably couldn't even hold her meager weight of a hundred and fifteen pounds soaking wet.
From this distance, the porch steps looked fragile. On the top step, to the left, a small hole wallowed in pity. With the swing appearing beaten and bruised, she was starting to wonder if the steps would support her.
This had to be a sign.
She shouldn't step inside the house at all.
The house looked like it used to be a deep red, beautiful at one time. Now it had peeling paint, cracks scouring everywhere, reminding her of bloody knuckles after a beat down of great proportions. Her eyes slowly trailed from the house to her hands, envisioning the cracks in her skin from numerous punches, the blood slowly seeping out.
A shiver rushed through her from the memories. She never beat anyone—but she witnessed it more times than she could remember. She didn't want to remember. She just wanted all of those memories to fade away.
The longer she stood there, the faster her anger simmered to the surface. She hated red. Hated this house. Hated her father who ran out on her mom and her at the age of five. Now he decides to leave this miserable house to her in his will. He left without a backward glance and twenty years later decides when he croaks, he wants to leave this disgusting house to her. He knew exactly where she was to give the notification when he finally slipped into death from liver cancer. She didn't remember much about her father, but she did remember the excessive drinking. She supposed it was fitting he died in the manner he did with the way he drank.
She tried to feel even a touch of remorse, but all she felt was rage. Hot, burning rage that he thought he needed to put this dreadful house into her name.
Just as suddenly, burning terror rushed through her as this house had become her haven. She had needed to run away from her life, and for once in his life, her father had given her the perfect escape. One small thanks could be given for that.
Sophie screamed at the sudden intrusion of her thoughts to see a man standing way too close to her liking. Where had he come from?
"Are you crazy? It's highly improper to scare people like that. Just walking up to them without a thought or care," Sophie shrieked as she tried to calm her racing nerves and jumped back from him.
She stared wide-eyed at the man, who looked speechless and somewhat filthy. Dirt and sweat hung off his face, with a shirt just as dirty, tattered in the front with little holes littering about. His jeans had a rip in the knee, dirt stains trailing down the length, right to his mud-caked boots.
"I—" he tried again.
"I don't appreciate being walked up to like that. Is it common practice for you to frighten people? Can't you see I'm in the middle of something?" she said as she slowly moved farther away from him.
He was still standing too close for her comfort. A horrible fear suddenly flashed that this wasn't a nice neighborhood, especially by the looks of her house. This man didn't help convince her either as he continued to stare at her with a strange look.
"Are you here to rob me or something? Or just stare at me? What kind of neighborhood is this? It's highly disturbing and I will—" Sophie started to say she would call the police, but stopped herself. She didn’t trust the police. They weren't out to help people. They never helped her when she needed them the most. "I will throw you off this property myself," she finished with as much firmness she could muster.
He glanced down at his clothes, then looked back at her. "I—"
"You need to leave now," Sophie demanded.
"Stop. Just listen to me for once. Quit interrupting me. This is a great neighborhood. The only bad house here...is this one," he exclaimed, throwing a hand towards her house. Sophie reacted instantly by taking two steps.
"I saw you standing here and assumed it was yours now. The yard needs a good mow and I was just going to offer to mow it for you. Welcome you to the neighborhood and all. That's it. Calm down," he yelled, pointing to the yard this time.
Sophie tried not to show her fear as she glanced at his hand and then at the yard. Her focus had been on the house for so long she never took notice of the lawn. The sad state of despair dug deeper inside her. At least a foot tall, if not more, the dire need of mowing the lawn roughly slapped her in the face. She had never mowed a yard in her life. She didn't even know how to work a lawn mower.
The longer she stared, the deeper the despair slipped in. But she didn't know this man and didn't trust any man. Not anymore. They were all bad. She looked back at him and gathered the little strength she had left from the long, trying day.
"I don't need nor want your help. Please do not step foot on my property again."
She abruptly turned around, missing the look of shock on his face, and walked quickly towards the porch steps. She had hesitated in the driveway to enter the house, but now she burned with the need to get inside safely.
Staying carefully to the right of the steps, having no desire to fall through the hole already formed on the left, she quickly took her key that she had been twisting in her hands and shoved it into the lock. Thankfully, it unlocked without issue. She shoved the door open, stepped inside as fast as her feet would carry her, and slammed the door with force. Twisting the lock immediately, a deep breath consumed her body. She put her back to the door and slid down with a slow pain, the tears finally falling.
She didn't even know why she was suddenly crying. Did that strange man cause her tears? Was she that frightened of him? She honestly didn't believe so. But they felt good releasing from her body, a sort of cleansing that she needed. She wanted this to work. Desperately needed her life to move in a good direction for once. She could only hope it would as she sat on the dirty floor, crying her eyes out.
Austin stood in the driveway for a few minutes trying to process everything that just happened. Absolutely crazy woman. She interrupted him, threatened him, and denied him of a good, decent offer to mow her lawn.
He had gotten home from the farm and noticed the woman standing in the driveway to the house next to his. He knew the previous owner had passed away two months ago. He never knew the man considering he just moved in a month ago, but he knew by the other neighbors that he had no care in the world, especially about the upkeep of the house. He was just trying to be neighborly by his offer to mow her lawn.
He hadn't meant to scare her. He honestly thought she heard him walk up, or at least saw him approach. The way she stomped up those steps and slammed her door, he couldn't tell if it was fright to get away from him, or anger burning inside because of him. He had seen the way she constantly backed away, the trembles that left her body. Trying to figure it out would just cause him a headache. The best course of action would be to ignore her, not even attempt a hello. He couldn’t even get his first attempt out.
What did he do to get such a reaction? A quick glance at his clothes, he knew how the dirt and grime that clung to him from helping Ava plant her garden she'd been dying to have made him look a little unpresentable. He didn't think it made him look like a criminal.
No more dating crazy women. Once was enough for him. He never intended to date his neighbor to begin with. Crazy or not. Never in his life had a woman reacted to him like that. All women usually swooned over him. They swayed with vigor, flashed a pretty smile, and bowed at his feet. Well, not necessarily bowed, but women did crazy things sometimes to get his attention. Hell, he'd be the first to admit; sometimes it didn't take much to get his attention. Beautiful face, gorgeous body, and his interest peaked instantly.
Either she was a little crazy in the head or he was seriously losing his touch. He didn't even try to flirt with her in any way. He could just imagine her reaction if he did. The thought had briefly crossed his mind just to see it, but he decided he didn't need another woman causing havoc in his life. He liked life to be simple, carefree. Testing that, clearly unstable woman, would not bring him any good at all.
He finally moved his feet towards his front door, unlocking it with ease, and headed for the shower. Within thirty minutes, he showered, dressed, and had his keys ready to head back to the farm. About a ten-minute drive, if that. He really just wanted to chill out in his new house, but Ava insisted he come back for supper and cake. He had insisted on a shower first because he hated trampling dirt into the house for Eleanor to clean. She did enough around the house. She didn't need to clean up after his dirtiness, too.
He supposed he could've showered and changed there, but he liked the new house he bought. Nothing but pleasure hit him each time he came home. He had lived on the farm with his brother Zane, never once leaving to live on his own. Zane had recently married Ava, and Austin decided it was time for him to branch out on his own, give them their duly deserved space.
Not to mention, Ava always disapproved of the women he brought home. He hated seeing that critical look in her eyes. The women usually didn't accept a second date from him with one nasty look directed their way by Ava. If she didn't approve of his women, it never amounted to much. Now he knew how his brother Jimmy must've felt when Ava went all mother hen on him when he lived in New York City. He loved her, though. He had to admit she had a keen eye for things of that nature. He wasn't looking for love. Just a good time. Which meant, he'd probably never have to worry that Ava would scare a good woman away. He didn't date the
He shot a wary eye at his neighbor's house, the crazy woman not in sight, and got into his truck. Despite his own warning about dating his neighbor, he had to admit she was rather cute. A short pixie haircut, dirty blonde, as some people liked to call it, with a cute pert nose. He decided if she ever smiled, it would light up her face with a beauty that could blind a man. But he didn't think he'd ever see that.
He thought about what her smile would look like. Small, yet radiant. Maybe two sweet dimples to add to the beauty. Her lips curved in a delicious invitation, begging him to try a taste. And taste he would. He could almost feel her smile on his lips.
He suddenly saw his reflection in the rearview mirror and shook his head in amazement. Why was he thinking about her smile? He shouldn't think about her at all. The best thing she ever did was freak out on him. Dating his neighbor would be bad. If it didn't work out, which he knew it wouldn't, then he'd be in serious trouble having to live next door to her.
He wasn't in the market for a wife, or a long-term relationship. He liked his short, fleeting relationships, and had no intention of wavering from that lifestyle. Ever. Definitely, no dating his neighbor.
He sighed in contentment when he pulled back into the driveway of the farm, knowing even though he moved, this would always be his true home. Entering quickly into the house, he took a seat at the dinner table just as Eleanor set down the last plate.
"You smell better, Austin," Zane said with a grin.
"A shower does that to you, bro. This looks delicious, Eleanor, as usual," Austin said smoothly at Eleanor, who sat right next to him.
"Thank you, Austin. Wait until we have cake. Ava did an excellent job. And she says she's not a baker," Eleanor said sweetly.
"Well, you did help a little. Not sure I'll ever get the hang of baking," Ava replied.
Zane leaned over and kissed her cheek. "Your apple pies are delicious. If they weren't my favorite already, they would be after you made them."
Austin made gagging sounds as he winked at Ava. "You two are ridiculous sometimes. It's because of me that you're together. That idiot would've never figured anything out without me."
"I would've eventually come to my senses. I could never live without this woman by my side," Zane said sincerely, gazing lovingly at Ava.
"You could have a wonderful relationship, you know, if you would just quit dating trash. That last woman was disgusting," Ava said with a raised brow.
"You think all the women I date are disgusting. Just because I like beautiful, available women, who like sex just as much as me, doesn't make them disgusting," Austin pointed out as he cut a piece of his pork chop and popped it into his mouth.
"Yes, they are. Don't think for one minute just because you moved out, I don't see who you're bringing home. What's her name—Dakota something, you brought home a few nights ago. Now, my dear little brother, she's all wrong for you. I mean, her name is Dakota. Need I say more?" Ava said with irritation.
"How in the hell do you know I brought a woman home and what her name is?" Austin asked, incredulous.