Home > New Jerk in Town (Carolina Kisses, #2)(6)

New Jerk in Town (Carolina Kisses, #2)(6)
Author: Sylvie Stewart

Yeah, stupid question. “Maybe I should be calling him to ask how he’s being treated,” I tease.

“Maybe. But he’s going to tell you the same thing I’m telling you. You can sell the beach house if you want to. I know it’s not your plan to stay here, and that’s fine. You need to do what makes you happy.”

Happy. Like it’s that simple.

There’s no understating how shocked I was to learn my dad had transferred the house to my name before he died, and I’ve spent the last six months trying to work it out in my mind with little success. I suppose he didn’t want wife number six—a cantankerous delight named Monique—to get her hands on it. But surely there were other options. He of all people knew I never intended to come back here, aside from a brief visit to my mom a couple times each year.

And then there’s the simple yet glaring fact that he never liked me much. He wasn’t one of those abusive assholes or a deadbeat or anything; he just didn’t take an interest when I was around—which, thankfully, wasn’t that often since I lived with Mom and Morris until I graduated high school. The only time he talked to me was when he was drinking, and even then, he never said much. That man loved two things: the ocean and his rundown house. And now, here I am squatting in his legacy—for the time being, that is. This town doesn’t feel right in my bones. We’re practically strangers to each other after all my time away.

“Mom, I’m not selling the beach house.” The truth is, I still haven’t decided on a plan. “At least not right now. Maybe when Felicity graduates.” I pick up my pace and spare a glare for a bike rider who’s ignoring traffic laws by riding on the sidewalk.

“She could come stay with me. It would be nice having someone young around here for a change.”

The cyclist flips me off and keeps going. Shithead is going to kill someone. “She’s staying with me. I’m her uncle, and it’s no big deal. Besides, you can’t get rid of me that easily.” I don’t mention that Felicity would go nuts in their small house with my mom nosing her way into everyone’s business.

“Well, maybe if someone would give me my own grandchild, I wouldn’t have to go around poaching other people’s.”

Sherry and I have different mothers. I may be no picnic, but there’s no way on earth my mom could ever be responsible for unleashing that disaster on humankind.

“Sorry, I think you’re breaking up.” It’s just like her to tell me to go travel the world in one breath and tie me down with a wife and kids in the next. The impossible is never off the table with her.

“Liar.” I can hear the smile in her voice. “Just promise me one thing.”

“What’s that?” I’m certain I’ll regret asking.

“If you do sell the house, make sure you use the money for something you love, okay?”

My steps slow again, and I close my eyes for a second while her words try to sink in. “Yeah, Mom. Okay.”

By the time we hang up, I’m running late for my appointment at the bank, so I haul ass. My guess is I’ll have better luck getting my loan if I don’t piss the suits off. I even combed my hair and wore a collared shirt, an occasion that caused Felicity to choke on her cereal when I walked into the kitchen this morning. She didn’t even give me a hard time if you can believe that.

“Milo Papatonis for a ten o’clock appointment.”

The middle-aged teller in a crisp blue shirt smiles politely and asks me to have a seat, but I’m hard-pressed to stay still. Nerves have me shifting on the hard sofa and drumming my fingers to the tune of “Carry On Wayward Son” on the armrest. I’ve been on a Kansas kick lately.

By the time I’m finally led back to the semi-private office, I’m ready to call this whole thing off and go grab a liquid lunch instead. Why are banks so fucking hot?

“So, you said over the phone you’re interested in a loan.” The loan officer, William something-or-other, takes his seat across from me, unbuttoning his sport coat before rolling his chair closer to his desk.

“Uh, yeah.” Why the hell am I so nervous? I’ve never given one single shit what someone thought of me—well, almost. But I’ve never needed a stranger’s help the way I find myself needing it now. It’s not something I’m anxious to repeat anytime soon. “I want to find out what my options are.”

“All right.” He smiles and uses his index fingers to hunt and peck on his keyboard. Something about that causes the buzzing in my hands to relax, and I take my first easy breath since walking through the bank doors. “I took the liberty of checking out your account before you came in this morning, and I have to say, you’re in an ideal position for a loan.”

Excuse me? I do my best to hide my surprise. “I see.” I manage to lean back in my chair like he didn’t just shock the ever-loving shit out of me. It seems all that worry was for nothing. I’ll just get a small loan to give me a cushion until I figure shit out.

“Well.” William chuckles, turning his computer monitor in my direction and leaning forward in a conspiratorial manner. “It’s not so much about your account, but your assets. Have you thought about selling the beach house?”

Fuck me running.



“What’s crawled up your ass?” Bran drops his backside in the chair next to mine and lifts his sunglasses to eye me.

“Nothin’. What’s crawled up yours?” My focus remains on the incoming tide.

“Well, excuse me, but you seem to be even more pugnacious than usual tonight.”

“Look at you using fifty-dollar words. You been reading or something?” I take a swig of my beer, knowing I’m being an asshole and not caring.

“Case in point.” Bran leans back in the deck chair and crosses his ankles like he’s got nowhere to be and nothing to do but stick his nose in my business. “I can’t help it if I’m smarter than you.”

Hell, he’s probably right. Shit.

For reasons I don’t understand, I decide to offer something other than bullshit. “I went to the bank today.”

“Ah. Now it’s making more sense. I keep telling you we can use a hand up at the shop.” Bran works at an auto shop up the beach—has since we were in high school, except now he’s in charge of the place.

I consider letting it go there and not sharing any more, but I’m even starting to annoy myself with this raincloud I’ve hung over my own head.

“I wanted to get a loan. Was hoping I wouldn’t have to use the house as collateral, but it’s a no go.”

His laugh sounds like a wheezing hyena. “Yeah, ’cuz you don’t have a job, genius. They want to see income.”

I turn my head and pin him with a glare. “Well, why the hell did I go to the trouble of hauling ass all the way down to the bank when I could have just had a beer with you on the deck instead?”

“You know, sarcasm is a sign of impotence.”

“It’s a sign of intelligence.”

“It’s a sign of an asshole is what it is.” He grins at me, and I throw my bottle cap at him. It hits him square in the forehead and bounces off.

“I know I need income to get a loan. I was gambling on my last few paychecks from Hobbs to smooth the way.”

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