Home > Deacon (Unfinished Hero #4)(15)

Deacon (Unfinished Hero #4)(15)
Author: Kristen Ashley

He was somewhere else.

Interesting. He’d been there when I’d checked the lot at ten o’clock. I had no clue he took off and stayed out late, mostly because I made a habit of not paying attention.

It was interesting but none of my business.

I kept walking, thinking that in the last four years he’d updated his Suburban. It was still caked on the side with mud most of the times he came to stay, but it was newer. It just didn’t seem to matter to him it was newer. He took the same care of it as he did the old one.

He wasn’t alone in getting a new vehicle. Three years ago, I’d bought a dark green Range Rover. My baby. I freaking loved it. Much better than my car. Especially when I had to hit Costco and load up on laundry soap in bulk.

Also in the last four years, a bunch more had happened.

I’d had all the cabins re-insulated, for one. And I’d had swamp coolers installed. I’d upgraded the furnaces. I’d attached flower boxes to all the windows of the cabins that faced the lot, and in a few weeks, I’d be filling them with bright flowers and lush greenery. I’d had permanent fairy lights wound around a number of aspen by the parking lot and dotted through the woods to add more light to the night and do it in a way that was attractive, quirky, and welcoming. They were on timers. Turning on late dusk, turning off at eleven-thirty to let the five dim overheads do the work of lighting the space.

This meant now, they were off.

Further, as the snow melted away, the wildflowers would be coming. Randomly and regularly I tossed seeds and planted bulbs wherever it struck my fancy. Amongst the trees, around the cabins, around my house, but concentrating up and down the river banks. Some of them didn’t take so I did it repeatedly (and would be doing it again soon with the seeds, the bulbs I’d plant in autumn) and every year I got more blooms coming up, color bursting through the summer months, making the entirety of my property even more beautiful.

I’d also had the master bath at my house renovated, something, thankfully, I did not do myself. I’d gotten rid of all the flowery wallpaper and painted or papered the walls like I liked them. I’d refinished all the floors (something I did do, backbreaking but worth it).

I’d further managed to get rid of some of the chintzy or velvety or flowery furniture and replace it with pieces that suited me. Quirky pieces. Comfortable pieces. Things I liked to see when I walked into my house that was becoming, month by month, inch by inch, all about me.

I’d also hired Milagros to help with the cabins. She cleaned them and changed the sheets when a customer left. On occasion, she also hung at my house with her husband Manuel in order to be available to patrons whenever I needed a change of scenery.

Having her helped amazingly.

It meant I could go boarding, which I did. It meant I could take jaunts around the county and the ones adjoining on more than rare occasions. And not just to drop brochures and staple pamphlets on bulletin boards, but to discover, go shopping, go hiking, have the kind of mini-adventures that made life interesting.

Having Milagros also meant I could go to the local festivals. It meant I could go into town, have a drink, make some friends who were definitely now friends and not friendly acquaintances. I could go off and listen to live music at the bar in town or in Gnaw Bone, which wasn’t too far away.

I could have a life.

I could really live the dream.

And a life I had.

I just wasn’t living the dream.

I knew it.

Something was missing.

I just didn’t know what it was.

I’d even dated (and gotten laid). Alas, none of these men worked out and it wasn’t like I always had a guy. But at least I had some companionship that was more than shooting the breeze with Milagros, going to her house for dinner when she asked me, or hanging out with my girls in town.

As far as I knew, and I knew not very far because I knew him not at all, nothing had changed for John Priest, except he had an updated SUV.

I wondered, vaguely—which was the only way I allowed myself to wonder before I shut it down—where he was after one in the morning.

Then I focused on the cabins, the one with the boys being lit up like a beacon, but worse, the cabins on either side of it and three more besides had lights on. Lights I knew that had been turned on because they were probably right now phoning my cell to tell me to do something about this crap.

I felt my blood pressure rise as I tightened my grip on the bat and stomped up the steps to cabin six. Horizon cabin. The cabin painted in the muted blues and grays and purples of a Rocky Mountain horizon with prints of horizon vistas on the walls.

The Navigator was out front, as was another SUV.

I walked right to the door and knocked. Loudly.

The music went off quickly. A lot more quickly than the door opened.

In fact, the door didn’t open at all.

I hammered on it, shouting, “Open up!”

“Who is it?” a boy-man’s voice shouted back.

I didn’t share who I was because he knew who I was.

Instead, I threatened, “Open up immediately or I’m calling the police!”

Several moments passed before the door opened. But not far. I still caught a glimpse of the space beyond filled with food wrappers, beer cans (in fact, on the coffee table there was a beer can pyramid and it wasn’t a small one—how was it that the youth of America never got out of doing stupid crap like that?) and the couch was covered in bodies. Two to be precise.

A boy on top.

A girl on the bottom.

And another girl who was not on the couch but on her feet. She disappeared out of sight within moments of the door being opened.

At what I took in, more precisely, at the way the girl was laying there, a feeling of dread shifted through me as the tall, rather muscular, very fit boy who I guessed was the parents’ actual son filled the narrow space he’d opened the door.

“What do you need?” he asked.

“Open the door and let me in,” I demanded.

He didn’t open the door.

He said, “Sorry about the music. We won’t turn it on again.”

I held his eyes and informed him, “I need to speak to your parents.”

He shifted out of the space, not totally but so I couldn’t see his face. Then he shifted back and said, “They’re asleep.”

Did he seriously think I was that stupid?

“I need to speak to them right now.”

“Maybe you can talk to them in the morning,” he suggested.

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