Keeping What's His: Tate (Porter Brothers Trilogy Book 1), page 1
Keeping What’s His
(Porter Brothers Trilogy: Tate) (Book One)
Young Ink Press Publication
Copyright © 2015 by Jamie Begley
Edited by C&D Editing, Hot Tree Editing, and Bippity Boppity Book
Cover Art by Young Ink Press
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the author. The only exception is by a reviewer, who may quote short excerpts in a review.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
This work of fiction is intended for mature audiences only. All sexually active characters portrayed in this ebook are eighteen years of age or older. Please do not buy if strong sexual situations, violence, drugs, domestic abuse, child abuse, and explicit language offends you.
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Tate yawned as he went into the kitchen to turn out the light before going to bed. His hand was on the switch when a sound he hadn’t heard since he was eighteen reached his ears. A chill stiffened his spine at the distinctive melody only a few members in his family tree had been gifted to hear.
Changing directions, he went to the front door, taking the shotgun off the rack, opening the door to stride out onto the lit front porch. It was still muggy and the summer night was eerily silent. Tate’s eyes surveyed his land, looking for anything out of place. He pumped his rifle, waiting to shoot anything stupid enough to move. Tresspassers would recognize the distinctive sound.
“What’s wrong?” Greer’s low voice alerted him to his presence as he moved to stand next to him, rifle held expertly in his hands.
“Don’t know,” Tate answered, not taking his eyes off the trees bordering their house.
Greer didn’t question his instincts. In their profession, their lives and those of the ones in the house depended on their staying alert to possible danger.
Dustin’s shadow was the next to join his brothers, his rifle pointed at the dark woods.
“Want me to go check the field?” Dustin asked.
“No,” Tate answered sharply. “I will. Greer, you keep an eye outside. Dustin, you go back inside with Holly and Logan.” He took a step off the porch, pausing with his back to his brothers. “I heard the death bell.”
“Shit! How many times?” Dustin’s sharp question held worry for his son sleeping in the house.
Each of the Porters were gifted, or cursed, depending on which one you talked to. Rachel was the most powerful of the four, having inherited most of their grandmother’s gifts. Tate’s own power wasn’t a gift, but the curse of knowing someone was going to die. He never knew whom Death was going to strike. It could be a family member or someone he had been near recently. The first toll was a warning that Death was coming, the second meant Death had found his victim, and the third was Death’s arrival. He had heard the bells intermittently during childhood. He had asked his grandmother about the sounds that no one else seemed able to hear, and she had looked at him sadly, explaining how the death knells were a warning.
“How do I know who’s gonna die?” he had asked.
“Then what good is it?”
“It’s a warning to keep your family safe. Don’t let Death sneak in the backdoor to steal what’s yours.”
Tate had taken his grandmother’s words to heart. Whenever he heard the bells, he became vigilant, watching over his family until Death’s next victim was revealed. However, only once had he known whom the bells were intended for, and that was his grandmother. She had been ill for some time. He had gone to her late one night when he had heard the second bell, giving her the warning she had known was coming.
“I’m ready.” Her weary voice had been filled with pain as she had taken his hand and held it while he sat by her bedside. “Tate, one day, you’re going to be head of this family. It’s your job to make sure everyone’s kept safe. Don’t let me down.”
“I won’t, Grandma,” Tate had promised.
He had failed in that promise with his mother and father, neither listened to his warning to stay home the day they had gone fishing. It had taken a week of dragging the river to find their bodies. Since then, he hadn’t heard the death knells.
He took the last step off the porch, striding across the yard to head into the dark woods. He knew the mountain like the back of his hand, so he easily maneuvered through the thick brush for over a mile, avoiding the traps set to catch trespassers who wanted to steal what they had spent all season growing, which was worth a small fortune. He listened to every noise, trying to pinpoint whether anything was moving, but could hear nothing.
Crouching, he scooted under a heavy patch of briars until he came out on the other side, looking around the massive field of marijuana he and his brothers had planted. Next week, they would cut it then dry it out in their homemade drying shed. It was their winter supply. They wouldn’t start growing again until next spring.
Tate wished now he hadn’t listened to Dustin to give it an extra week to grow. They should have cut and processed it last week, but Dustin wanted Logan out of the house while they processed the pot in the barn. In three days Logan would be leaving to stay with his great-grandmother in town. They could get the weed dried out and bagged before he returned from the two-week stay.
Tate didn’t see anything out of place. None of the traps had been touched. He walked around the perimeter of the field, unable to explain the uneasy feeling. If it was daylight, he would climb a tree and look out over the area, but the darkness made that option useless.
Quietly, he went back through the opening in the briars, coming out the other end where he carefully removed any signs that he had passed through. Standing, he made his way back to the house.
“Find anything?” Greer asked when he was back on the porch.
“Nothing. You see or hear anything?”
“Nope. Think the bells just got you spooked?”
“No, someone’s out there.”
“Want me to take watch?” Greer’s own eyes searched the woods surrounding the house.
“No. Go inside. I’ll keep watch until morning. At daylight, I want Holly and Logan out of here. Take them to Mrs. Langley’s a few days early.”
“I’ll tell Dustin.” Greer turned to go inside. “He won’t be happy. He misses him when he’s gone.”
“I’m not taking chances. The Hayeses and Colemans are still pissed off no one’s buying the shit they’re growing, and they’re taking more chances selling it to out-of-town buyers.”
“I saw Asher and Holt in town the other day talking to Shade.”
Tate stiffened. “Do you think The Last Riders are buying from them?”
The bikers were his best buyers, but between them and selling to the people in the county and across the state line, they sometimes ran short.
“I’ll talk to him and find out.”
“If the Hayeses have been selling to Shade when we run short, they could be thinking about taking us out to get the whole fucking pie.”
“That’s what I’m thinking. I’m not worried about the Cole
“Asher and Holt, on the other hand, can do some damage. Asher is a mean asshole, and Holt’s a sneaky son of a bitch,” Tate reminded him.
“I’ll get in touch with Shade first thing in the morning.”
“Do that. I’m going to call Cash and tell him to watch Rachel.”
“You think someone would be stupid enough to make a move on Rachel to get at us?”
“I’m not taking any chances,” Tate said grimly.
Greer nodded. “Night. I’ll see you in the morning.”
When Greer went inside, Tate sat down on the porch. He couldn’t relax while waiting to see if one of their enemies would strike. It was times like this he wished he had listened to his mother and Rachel. The other dealers in their area were envious of their crop and connections, and would do anything to bring them down, even if it meant taking out his entire family. He would probably have stopped dealing already, but Greer wasn’t ready to give it up. They had accumulated too many enemies over the years, and his brother believed if they stopped providing product, their customers would go with another dealer who would push them toward harder drugs to fatten the dealers’ wallets.
They had managed to keep blue heroin out of Treepoint, but it was becoming a deadly struggle that he wasn’t sure they were going to win. He heard a rumor the Colemens were dealing Spice, a synthetic marijuana that fucked up those who used it. The effects lasted longer and were much stronger than marijuana, which had the buyers wanting to buy more from their dealer. Many of those buyers were in high school and often ended up in the emergency room. He and his brother had two rules when selling: don’t sell to kids, and make damn sure they weren’t a Fed. The constant demand for their product put them in jeopardary from the other dealers in the county. As head of the family, it was his job to protect them. So far, he had succeeded, but constant worries were leaving him uneasy.
His premonitions were never wrong. Like a massive storm brewing, no one could know the devastating effect until it struck. Tate’s hand tightened on his shotgun. He had been born and bred on this mountain, and no one was taking what was his without a fight.
“When do you leave?”
Sutton looked up from the document in her hand, placing it back down on the desk before answering her friend. “As soon as I clear the rest of my paperwork,” she said wryly, looking at the large stack of papers still waiting for her signature.
“I still can’t understand why you’re going to Treepoint, Kentucky for your vacation. You could go anywhere.”
“I have been everywhere. Besides, I miss Treepoint, and I need to figure out what I’m going to do with my grandfather’s house.” She would use the time she was staying there to decide whether she wanted to fix up the run-down property or sell it, breaking the last connection to her hometown.
“Why would you want to keep it? Your life is here in California.”
What life? Sutton thought to herself.
“I can do my job anywhere there’s internet.” Sutton shrugged off her roommate’s concern. “What, Treepoint doesn’t appeal to you? You could go with me. You have plenty of hours saved up.” She tried not to smile when Stella’s expression turned to one of horror.
“Over my dead body! What’s the population there, three?”
This time, Sutton didn’t hold back her smile. “A little more than that, but it doesn’t have a mall or the nightclubs you love.”
“Then that’s a definite no.” Stella smoothed back her already perfectly styled hair with her manicured hand. “Are you going to see your dad while you’re there?”
“No, and I’ve told you not to call him my dad.” Sutton’s voice was ice-cold.
Stella winced. “Sorry.” She waved her hand airily. “It’s getting embarrassing turning all his calls away.”
“Then tell him to quit calling.” Sutton began signing the paperwork she had already read through and making notes on those orders that needed to be recounted. Then she handed the pile to Stella when she was finished. “That’s it. You sure you don’t mind dropping those off at the office for me on your way to work tomorrow?”
“It’s only a few blocks away, and I can see that hot boss of yours. It will make my whole fucking day.”
“Just don’t be late to work. You’re already on probation,” she warned.
Stella winced. “Don’t remind me. You just had to take the fun out of it, didn’t you?”
“That’s what I’m here for.” She rose from her desk and stretched. She had begun working early so she would have plenty of time to get on the road and get at least six hours of driving in before dark. Even after all these years of being away from Kentucky, her body still clung to the time zone that was three hours ahead, sending her to bed long before others in the evening and rising early in the morning, which worked well with her work schedule that dealt with various time zones.
“I’ll keep in touch on my drive in.”
“You better. I don’t want to have to come up there and check on you.” She shuddered in mock horror. “You should have some fun, maybe fuck someone. It could improve your sense of humor.”
“I’ll be too busy cleaning up the house to have any fun, at least for a couple of weeks.”
Sutton hugged her good-bye before picking up her purse. “Make sure the house is locked up when you leave. I’m going to be worried about you while I’m gone. Who’s going to remind you not to be late or set the alarm?”
“Hopefully your boss,” she wisecracked.
“Just don’t get me fired for forgetting about that paperwork,” she reminded her again.
“I won’t. Be careful, Sutton.”
“Always.” Sutton headed outside of her large home to the car she had rented. Her own car sat in the garage, it would stick out like a sore thumb in Treepoint, and didn’t want to draw attention while in her hometown. The only person she intended to see had no idea she was coming, and certainly wouldn’t welcome her back. She was determined to see Rachel Porter and set things straight. Only then could she finally leave the weight of the past behind to move forward with her life.
Sutton put the key in the ignition, her stomach already clenching with nerves. Sliding her sunglasses on, she put the car in drive.
Her hometown had been calling her more and more each day. The constant niggling feeling becoming more forcefull, wearing on her determination to stay away. It was time to answer the call.
“Who’s that?” Tate turned at Greer’s low whistle.
He glanced in the direction that Greer nodded his head, seeing a woman pull a red suitcase from the trunk of her car before slamming the trunk closed. Both men watched as the slim brunette rolled the suitcase to the hotel door, sliding the card into the card reader.
“I don’t know,” Tate answered his brother. There was something vaguely familiar about the way the woman moved, but Tate couldn’t place her, and was unable to get a clear view of her face.
“Do you think she’s staying long?”
“How in the fuck would I know? Let’s get these groceries loaded. We need to get home. I don’t like leaving Dustin home alone for long.”
The brothers finished loading the groceries into the bed of their truck before climbing into the cab. His eyes went to the closed hotel door the woman had entered. He had no idea who she was, but Tate could understand his brother’s interest. The woman had on a pair of shorts and a T-shirt that had showed her tanned skin and perky ass. If her face was half as good, Greer would be in Heaven. The man got a hard-on for brunettes, while Tate preferred fair-haired women. He had only dated one brunette, and she was a memory he wished he could forget.
Tate drove the old pick-up toward the mountains where their house was located.
“Thought I would meet Diane at Rosie’s,” Greer explained.
“Why do you want to step in that dog shit? We have enough enemies without you adding her to the mix.”
“She swears she isn’t seeing anyone except me,” Greer argued.
“Which doesn’t mean shit and you know it. That lying whore would swear on a stack of bibles she was a virgin if she had a reason. You want to piss the Hayeses off? I heard she’s been fucking around with Asher.”
“There isn’t going to be a fight. He didn’t start a fight when she was hanging around The Last Riders, so why would he give me trouble?”
“Maybe because you don’t have a clubhouse of bikers backing you up,” Tate replied.
“I don’t need those pussies to back me up. I have my rifle, you, and Dustin.” Greer looked at him from the corner of his eye. “Besides, she told me she hasn’t seen him in a couple of months.”
Tate’s mouth tightened into a grim line, knowing Greer would do what he wanted, regardless of the consequences. Greer would never back down from trouble, and sometimes, he deliberately sought it out. This was one of those times.
He sighed. “Try not to shove it in their faces.”
“Why would I do that?” Greer gave him a shit-eating grin.
“Because it’s what you do. This time, I’m telling you to take it easy. If you get us all killed, do you want Holly raising Logan alone?”
Greer lost his grin. “That will never happen. I’ll see to that.”
“Not if your ass is buried six feet under,” Tate said as he carefully maneuvered the truck up the rutted driveway that led to their house.
“Isn’t going to happen. I don’t know why we still need her hanging around, anyway.”
“Because Logan’s attached to her. To him, she’s his mother.”
Tate didn’t harbor any ill-will toward Holly. He had saved all his hate for Samantha Langley, Logan’s biological mother who hadn’t told Dustin he had knocked her up in high school. Her father had taken her to Jamestown where she had the child in secret. Then he had hired Holly to care for the child, leaving her alone to raise Logan, while Samantha returned to Treepoint without anyone in town realizing she had a child. When Samantha died, Holly hadn’t told anyone of Logan’s existence to afraid of losing the child that had become like her own. If not for Diamond, the town lawyer, defending her now husband Knox, Tate doubted they would have ever found him. Holly planned to leave town when she discovered what inherited illness was making Logan so sick. Greer wouldn’t forgive her for her deceit in keeping Logan hidden.
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