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

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

It was new. Mom had bought it for me and gave it to me five minutes before Grant and I got in our packed cars and hauled ourselves up to Colorado. Mom giving it to me had made me laugh and hug her, and only when I was in my car, following Grant in his truck, did I let myself cry.

I saw from four feet away that we were still on the first page and there weren’t many names on the lines.

I moved closer and looked at the name on the last line.

In black, the writing slanted sharply to the right and spiky, I saw his name.

John Priest.

The name suited him in a Hollywood everyday-outrageously-handsome-guy-run-amok-with-vengeance character type of way.

In the real world, it seemed fake.

Which also didn’t bode well.

But Grant had his two hundred dollars to drink on and be the big man with his new buddies in town. And hopefully John Priest wasn’t building a bomb or torturing an innocent in cabin eleven.

Hopefully everything would be all right.

Hopefully everything would settle down, the work would get done, the fights would stop, Grant would go back to being Grant, and he and I could start living the dream.

I went to bed with these hopes in mind.

I went to bed but it took me ages to get to sleep because my mind knew they were just that.

Hopes.

Just hopes.

And even at my age, having grown up on a big ranch in Oklahoma with a great dad, a wonderful mom, an older sister who’d never been sneaky or jealous or mean but sweet and supportive and awesome, a younger brother who acted like an older one in the protective and loving departments—in other words, I’d lived a good life—I still knew hopes were that.

Just hopes.

Not reality.

* * * * *

“Toss pillows?”

I looked from my desk to Grant, who was standing by the huge bags strewn around the study filled with comforters, sheets, and toss pillows. He was holding what I thought was a sweet toss pillow in his hand but he was glaring at me.

I didn’t need this.

Not again.

I’d had eight months of it.

I was done.

“It’s time to decorate the units, Grant,” I told him something he would know if he was talking to me on a normal basis. Something he was not doing since he wasn’t around a lot to talk, mostly because he was hunting, fishing, drinking, and through the winter months had been off skiing.

All on my dime. His money had run out two months ago.

He had to ask for it. Luckily, I was smart enough in the nightmare that had become my life to start this venture with separate accounts.

Asking for money was something that did not make him happy. It was something that made me less happy. And it was something that meant we fought and did it ugly. So ugly I shut him up by giving him money.

So last, it was something I was getting really sick of doing.

All of it.

The money.

And especially the fighting.

“I’m getting the website together,” I went on. “We need photos of the cabins to put on there. Photos that look good. Photos that would make people want to stay here.”

“Cassidy, for fuck’s sake, we can’t afford toss pillows, seein’ as you just replaced all the water heaters.”

I turned fully to him but kept my seat, looking up at him and pulling up all the patience I had (which admittedly wasn’t much) to explain, “The heater went out in unit eight. When the inspection was done, the inspector said all the water heaters were old and working what he guessed was on a wing and a prayer. We don’t need to have folks in a unit and their water heaters break down. I know this because we had folks in a unit, their water heater broke down, and they didn’t like that much. I get that. I wouldn’t like it much either. In fact, I don’t like it much either. It doesn’t say good things. It doesn’t say referrals or repeat business. It says check out immediately, don’t look back, and tell your friends about your nightmare experience in the crappy cabins you found in the Colorado Mountains.”

“That makes sense if we got the fuckin’ money to do it,” he returned.

“We do,” I shot back, and we did. But just barely.

“We don’t,” he bit out.

“I keep the books, Grant, and we absolutely do,” I retorted.

“I look at the books, Cassidy, and that’s bullshit.”

“You’re right. It is,” I replied. “If one of us is in town drinking, at the slopes skiing, and out buying hunting and fishing licenses. If one of us would stop doing that, we’d have a lot more to do a lot more then maybe make a lot more.”

He leaned back and his face twisted, but I had no reaction to it this time. I’d seen that look on his face a lot the last eight months.

Suffice it to say, Grant was not settling into our life in the Rocky Mountains.

Grant was still being Dick Grant in a way that I figured Dick Grant was all there was left to Grant.

“Here she goes again with this shit,” he muttered.

“Yeah, here I go again, because you’re never here,” I snapped. “You never help. I’ve had those light fixtures for five months, asked you so many times to put them in, I’m saying that crap in my sleep. And there they sit.” I swung an arm out to the corner of the study where boxes were piled four high and three deep. “So excuse me if I’m not big on listening to you complain about toss pillows when you’ve barely lifted a finger since we got here. This is my gig. I’m doing my gig and not listening to your crap. You want out, you’re out.”

His expression deteriorated as he asked, “What does that mean?”

That was when I stood. I was wearing jeans, a sweater, and had bare feet. But even with Grant only hitting five foot ten, he still mostly towered over me.

“It means I’m sick of this,” I hissed. “I’m sick of fighting. I’m sick of doing everything by myself. I’m sick of working all day and being exhausted all night and hitting an empty bed. I’m sick of keeping the books…by myself. Cleaning the units…by myself. Washing the sheets…by myself. And somehow in all that by myself, I’m still managing to be sick of,” I stabbed a finger his way, “you.”

He put his hands to his hips. “And I’m sick of you carin’ more about sandin’ a bunch of fuckin’ floors, gettin’ on my ass all the time about fuckin’ light fixtures.” It was his turn to swing an arm to the boxes. “Whinin’ all the time about how I don’t help, how I’m never here. Every wakin’ minute is about those cabins, Cassidy, and not one is about givin’ a single shit about your man.”

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