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Bounty(9)

By´╝ÜKristen Ashley



Now I was here in a town called Carnal where I’d just bought a house.

I looked down at the seat beside me and saw the bulky, legal-sized, white plastic folder with the real estate agent’s logo on the front.

My paperwork. The ink was barely dry.

As of about an hour ago, I owned a shell of a house in the middle of a forest that had a killer master suite and not much else.

And I was on Holden “Max” Maxwell’s schedule to start up again.

The problem was, that schedule was busy so he couldn’t even start for six weeks, and that was if his other jobs finished on time, something he told me happened, but also didn’t.

In order not to think of this inconvenience, I dug my phone out of my purse as it had been ringing on my way to find somewhere to celebrate the news I just bought a home. My first home that was mine.

My oasis.

Alas, at this current juncture of my life, there weren’t a lot of calls I wanted to take, and as I tugged my phone out of my purse and saw who had called and left a voicemail, I noted this was one of those calls.

But who it was, I had no choice.

I sat in my truck and engaged my phone, going to voicemail, seeing Mr. T listed at the top, the same name also listed under that (and under that), with Dana being under that, then Joni, then Joss, but Mr. T again under my mom’s name.

I sighed, took the new voicemail and put it on speaker.

“Justice. I’ve had another communication from your brother and his mother. It likely won’t surprise you it was another unpleasant one. I think I’ve been thorough in explaining to you the consequences if your brother continues on this path he seems bent on taking. It’s become such a nuisance, the only reason I’m persevering in trying to find some way to get through to him is that I know how deeply distressed your father would be if he knew this was happening. I’m aware you’re also trying to get through to him but I’m strongly suggesting you try harder.”

His voice changed, became less cross and more threatening.

“I’m ready to let this go to court, Justice. Speak to your brother. Get him away from that woman and find some way to get through to him. I don’t have to tell you the consequences will be dire if you and I don’t succeed.”

I pressed my lips together, rolled them and engaged my texts, pulling up Mr. T’s string.

I then tapped in: I received your voicemail and I’m still doing what I can. I closed today, Mr. T, so I’m having a celebration drink. I’ll take a sip for you. More as soon as I can. Peace and love…

I hit send and stared at the “Mr. T” fighting a smile.

My dad’s balding, stooped, seventy-three-year-old sergeant major (literally, he was a former Marine) manager did not look at all like the famous Mr. T. I called him Mr. T for short (and this was adopted by everyone), not as a joke (he wouldn’t get it anyway, he likely had no earthly clue who the famous Mr. T was) but because his name was William Thurston and calling him Mr. Thurston was a mouthful.

And no way was I going to call him William, Will or Bill (what my granddad had called him). He wasn’t that kind of guy.

He was a guy who expected a Mister.

Even from my father, who gave it to him.

Though he was not like the other Mr. T, my Mr. T was ballsy, tough-as-nails, impatient, curt, had the bullshit detector to end all bullshit detectors and had never demonstrated he could be soft, or even pretend to be, even when he personally handed me my birthday presents.

But he was loyal to the extreme.

Dad, in part, was what he was because of Mr. Thurston.

So (in part) was Granddad.

So (in part) was I.

And it was no surprise even now Mr. Thurston was a dog with a bone with the shit my brother Maverick was pulling.

Not because I wanted to, but because Mr. T was right, Dad would want me to, I went to my contacts and phoned my half-brother.

It rang half a dozen times before I got, “This is Mav. If I like you, leave a message. If you’re my bitch of a sister calling to hand me more shit, go fuck yourself. And if you’re that greedy, gold-digging cunt who tricked my father into marrying her, eat shit and die.”

This was new.

And a new, much deeper descent into assholery.

In order not to lose my fucking mind, I took in a very deep breath as I waited for the beep.

I was still close to losing my mind but had it enough in check to say, “Mav, dude, seriously low. You’re better than that and I know it. Dad knew it. Not sure why you’re hell-bent to prove us wrong. But that doesn’t matter. What matters is you getting your head out of your ass because this shit has gone south and you don’t want it to go any more south. It does, you’ll be so deep in Antarctica, you’ll freeze to death. I hope you take my meaning because Dad made things clear and ironclad. Don’t fuck up, brother. I don’t want that for you. And Dana doesn’t either, by the way, so stop being such a douche about her.”

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