Home > Sweet as Honey (Aster Valley #2)(7)

Sweet as Honey (Aster Valley #2)(7)
Author: Lucy Lennox

“Oh shit,” Mikey said in a soft voice. I nodded. “How did she even know where you were?”

Mikey and Tiller were close enough friends to know my family history. They also knew that I would never, ever jeopardize my career by allowing any of them access to a jobsite where I was working.

“One of my guys ran into her at a bar or something, I don’t know. It doesn’t really matter how she found it. She broke a seven-thousand-dollar ornamental window and then threw a brick at one of the guys who tried calming her down. He’s okay, but the project manager called the cops. They arrested her, which of course gave her one more thing to blame me for. Then when I called my mom to tell her about it, she blamed me, too. It was a shitshow.”

Mikey sighed. “She’s going to have to do some time for this one, don’t you think? That’s… what? The third time she’s been arrested in the last couple of years?”

I shook my head. “Fourth. I didn’t tell you about the one at Christmas. That was when you and Tiller were going through everything. She was arrested for possession. I hired a lawyer who got it down from a felony to a misdemeanor, but I told her it was the last time I was going to help her if she wouldn’t accept my offer of another rehab stay. Which of course, she refused. Again. So, yeah. This isn’t going to be good.”

Mikey reached back and took my hand in a squeeze. “I’m sorry, Sam. I know how hard you’ve tried to help her.”

While that was true, I didn’t want to think about it. My feelings about my family were so mixed-up and toxic, I was having a hard time dealing with them. It was one of the reasons I’d left town.

“I resigned the Gillette job,” I admitted. “Handed it over to the Harding brothers.”

Tiller’s eyes caught mine in the rearview mirror. “You busted your ass to land that project.”

It was true. But I was so tired. I hadn’t taken a vacation in… ever. And it was time for a change in my life. After watching Mikey take a big step toward pursuing his lifelong dream of opening a restaurant, I realized I’d let my own life become stagnant. Hell, I’d never even had dreams. All I’d had was work. I’d spent the better part of the past fifteen years busting my ass to make something of myself.

It had started as a scramble to make money to help my family. I’d started working construction at age fifteen and had worked my way up to becoming a contractor by apprenticing with a pair of brothers I’d worked for. They’d helped me get set up in business and had even pushed a few small projects my way to help get me started. Since then, I felt like I’d been trying to prove myself with every job I took on.

And I was so fucking tired.

“I need a break,” I admitted. “I thought maybe I’d ride out to California and drive along the coast.”

Mikey and Tiller exchanged a look before Tiller pulled the SUV through a large pair of elaborate iron gates. I knew that look was some kind of marital mind meld even though the two of them weren’t married. Yet.

“You don’t need to fix me,” I muttered, looking around at the gorgeous plot of land they’d bought in this little town in the Colorado Rockies. “This is amazing.”

And it was. Thick stands of trees made way for a more formal lawn of freshly sprouted green grass. The lodge itself was huge and solid, a long sprawling building made from heavy timbers and embellished with gas lantern fixtures by the welcoming double doors and plenty of windows sparkling in the spring sun. The slope of Rockley Mountain peeked over the roofline, and I could see the very top of the highest slope still held on tightly to its snow cap.

I’d been there before, but not since the winter snowfall had melted away and revealed everything it had hidden back in March.

“Jesus, is that an actual old-fashioned well?”

Tiller let out a soft laugh, and Mikey’s face lit up. “Oh my god, yes! And wait till you see how adorable it is. The pump handle isn’t just for show. Actual water comes out. I feel like I’m in a period drama when I use it.”

Tiller pulled the vehicle to a stop in front of the lodge. “He thinks he’s developing biceps from all the pumping.”

Mikey smacked Tiller’s arm. “I am developing biceps, jackass.”

Tiller’s eyes twinkled as they looked at his man. “Want to have a gun show?” He moved to roll up his sleeve, but Mikey slapped his hand away.

“Your pro-football muscles will never compare with my Little House on the Prairie muscles, so I wouldn’t want you embarrassing yourself,” Mikey said with a sniff. “Better to keep those little things under wraps.”

Tiller leaned over and kissed Mikey on the mouth. “You know I love your muscles,” he murmured against Mikey’s mouth. Before he said anything else, I took the opportunity to hop out of the SUV and stretch my legs.

I was desperate for a long soak in their hot tub and a healthy dose of something alcoholic. No matter what else happened today, I knew I could count on those two things along with heaps and heaps of Mikey’s gourmet cooking.

Despite the awkward start to my visit in Aster Valley, I knew I was in the perfect place to begin letting go of the work and family stress. Besides consulting with them on the construction projects they wanted my help with, I could spend a few days—or however long it took to get my bike back in working order—relaxing and enjoying the easy company of good friends before continuing on to sun and surf.

I ducked my head back into the SUV. “Show me how to work the hot tub, and then you can go have your fuckfest.”

 

 

The afternoon spent lazing around the lodge with my closest friends did wonders for my mood. It all but wiped out the memory of watching my bike get crushed. I felt calmer and more centered, traits I’d worked hard to embrace over the years so I would never become my asshole father.

But the minute I saw Truman walk through the door of Rockley Lodge, my calm disappeared in a puff of smoke. The side of his face was scraped and dusty, and a hole had been ripped in the knee of his pants.

“What the hell happened to you?” I barked, standing from my spot at the kitchen island and striding over to him.

Truman hadn’t seen me yet, so when he heard my question, he jumped in surprise and clutched his chest with the hand that wasn’t holding a bottle of wine. “Cripes, you startled me.”

Mikey took the wine and set it on the counter on his way back into the kitchen from answering the door for Truman. “He fell on the driveway. Tiller, grab the first aid kit from our bathroom.”

As Tiller disappeared down the hallway, I reached out to examine Truman’s face. His big eyes were wide behind his crooked glasses, and his top tooth came out to pin his bottom lip. I reached up to straighten his glasses which made his eyes widen even more.

“Better,” I murmured.

“It’s fine,” he said in a ragged voice. His entire body was coiled with tension, and his cheeks were mottled with pink patches as if he was flustered or embarrassed. “I just tripped. That’s all. Stupid.”

I glanced down at his feet and noticed the same black Converse sneakers he’d been wearing before, only one of them had a long pair of untied laces. I crouched down to tie it for him.

“So stupid,” he muttered again under his breath.

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