Tied up, tied down, p.39
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       Tied Up, Tied Down, p.39

         Part #4 of Rough Riders series by Lorelei James
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Page 39

 

  “Don’t seem so complicated to me, but then again, I’m just a country girl. You love him, he loves you, get a preacher and get married. Simple. ”

  Skylar slumped back in her chair. “What makes you think he loves me?”

  “He’s here, on his day off, takin’ care of kids that ain’t his, in order to help you out?

  Sugar, if that ain’t love, plain as day, I don’t know what is. ” Annie left and closed the door.

  A couple hours later Kade was outside dumping garbage when an old Dodge truck pulled up to the outer gate, not in the general parking area.

  The bearded guy behind the wheel poked his head out the window and studied the building from top to bottom, side to side. Like he was casing the joint.

  The behavior raised Kade’s hackles. Still, he decided to give the guy the benefit of the doubt. The man disappeared inside the truck cab, then sat up. He tipped a bottle of booze and took several long swallows. Then he jumped out of the truck, puffed up his chest and all Kade’s doubts were fully realized.

  This guy was trouble.

  Kade intercepted the man about thirty feet from the front entrance. “Something I can help you with, buddy?”

  “I ain’t your fuckin’ buddy. Move. ”

  “Whoa. Then how’s about you tell me who you are?”

  The man sneered. “How’s about you back the fuck off, and lemme handle my business. ”

  “See, that’s where I have a problem. What goes on in that buildin’ is my business so you’re gonna hafta tell me yours before I let you step another foot on this property. ”

  “My wife is in there. I wanna talk to her. Now get the hell outta my way. ”

  “What’s your wife’s name?”

  “None of your business. ”

  “Again, it is my business. Tell me her name and I’ll get a message to her. ”

  “I’ll give her the message myself, asshole. Move. ”

  “No. What’s your name?”

  “What the fuck is it to you?”

  Kade was beyond pissed. “Wrong answer. Get in your truck and go home. ”

  The man’s beady black eyes shrunk to pinpoints. “You can’t keep me from my family. She took our kid and she’s hidin’ out in there and I got rights. ”

  “I don’t give a good goddamn about your rights. Get off this property. Now. ”

  “Or what?”

  “It involves my boot in your ass, buddy. ”

  “Bet you’d like that you fuckin’ pervert. ”

  The steel door banged open and Skylar stormed out. “What is going on?”

  “You!” The guy brushed past Kade, menace in every ounce of his posture.

  Rather than take a chance this idiot might hurt Skylar, Kade jerked him to a stop by the back of his shirt.

  The man twisted, leading with his fist. He clocked Kade in the jaw with enough force that Kade stumbled back. The guy came after him again, swinging and missing, then driving a punch straight to Kade’s sternum.

  “Fuck!” Kade launched himself at the idiot. They fell to the soggy ground and Kade landed a solid right to the man’s mouth. Blood burst from the guy’s lip. Kade followed through with another right, but the guy rolled and Kade’s fist connected with mud. Before Kade regained his balance, the man hit him in the side of the head.

  Even though he’d gotten his bell rung, Kade automatically swung low and heard the whump of air as he punched the guy in the stomach. A splash followed as the man fell into a puddle.

  “Enough!”

  When Skylar moved to stand between them, Kade jumped up and blocked her from the man’s long reaching arms, even when the guy was curled up on the ground. “Stay back. You have no idea what this guy is capable of. ”

  “I had no idea that you were capable of this kind of behavior. ”

  Stung, he said, “He took the first swing. ”

  “I don’t care. Step aside. I’ll handle this. ”

  “The hell you will. ” Kade dropped his voice. “Get in the goddamn building, Skylar, right now. ”

  “Last time I checked, I owned this place and you do not get to dictate to me here. So back off. ”

  “No. I will not let you put yourself in a dangerous situation because you think you can handle it. ”

  Skylar’s eyes were as cold as he’d ever seen. “I’ll handle it my way and it won’t be with physical violence like you’ve handled it. ”

  “There ain’t any other way. ”

  She sidestepped Kade and addressed the prone man. “Rex. Get off my property and don’t come back. If I see you within fifty feet of the front door, I’m calling the sheriff. ”

  Mud-covered Rex scrabbled to his feet and shuffled back to his pickup, amidst mutterings of lawsuits. He gunned the engine and was gone.

  Kade seethed. Hadn’t she learned her lesson last night about purposely putting herself in danger? How did Skylar know the idiot didn’t have a gun in his truck? He could’ve pulled it out and started firing at her and gone after everyone in the building. He growled, glaring at her for her short-sighted decision to let the guy go.

  Without turning away from Kade, she pointed to the building. “See those kids plastered to the window? Kids you spent all day caring for? They’ve been watching you beat the shit out of another man. Every single one of them has had to deal with domestic violence in some form. This is the one place they shouldn’t have that fear. You brought that fear to them today in Technicolor. ”

  “I didn’t. He showed up here lookin’ for a fight. I gave him one. ”

  “You should’ve walked away. ”

  “I didn’t do a damn thing that was outta line. I’d do it exactly the same way if I had to do it over again. ”

  “Is that macho cowboy bullshit supposed to impress me?”

  “No, it was supposed to protect you. I was just defendin’ myself, and you, and what’s mine. ”

  “I don’t need you to defend me. ”

  “You really think you would’ve stood a chance at keepin’ that guy under wraps if he’d’ve come after you? Were you gonna try to reason with him?”

  “Yes. ”

  “Give me a goddamned break,” Kade snapped. “That guy was pissed off, outta control and lookin’ for trouble. ”

  “No, you’re out of control. You’re a hundred times more trouble. ”

  “What the fuck is that supposed to mean?”

  “Just like I suspected, the little bit of control I allowed you wasn’t enough. Now you want all the control in my life and take it at the first opportunity. ” Skylar spoke through clenched teeth. “You’re not content to call the shots in the bedroom any more. You want to do the same here. Guess what? Not happening. ”

  Kade could not believe she’d thrown that in his face. Control wasn’t the issue and she damn well knew it. “Well excuse the fuck outta me. ”

  Her eyes narrowed.

  “I’ll put aside your ignorant, wrong and just plain damn petty insult and give it to you straight. This is about safety, not control. And guess what? Your security measures are piss-poor, darlin’. First, that guy shouldna been able to get that close to the building.

  Second, he coulda waltzed right in the front door. Know how I know that? Because I’ve done it several times. No one stoppin’ me, no security inside or out. You, or whoever is in control doesn’t even lock the goddamn door during workin’ hours. ”

  Skylar’s icy glare continued.

  “This is a business. If you’ve hired women with a history of domestic violence issues, you oughta be more vigilant about security issues than normal, not less. Alarms on the doors and windows. A gate with a code box to keep out trespassers. You already have a damn gate, hell, you have two gates, why would you leave them open night and day?

  You’ve got kids in there, Sky. You’ve got my kid in there. And the way it sits, ain’t nothin’ stoppin’ an angry ex or a pissed-off bo
yfriend from stormin’ the joint with a gun and killin’ every last person in there. ”

  “That wouldn’t happen. Not here. ”

  “Wrong. It happens all the time and you know it. So you’d better fix your security problems pronto, because after this incident today, I ain’t about to let you put my daughter in danger any more. ”

  Skylar bristled. “What are you getting at?”

  “Just what I said. Fix the problems or I’ll yank Eliza out of here so fast it’ll make your head spin. ”

  “You wouldn’t. ”

  “Don’t fuckin’ push me on this because I’d do it in a fuckin’ heartbeat. And yeah, if you wanna be technical, I’m exercisin’ my parental control and right to remove her from a potentially dangerous situation. I’ll make sure my kid don’t become another tragic statistic because you have too much pride to admit you are wrong. ”

  Footsteps splashed up next to them. “You two oughta take this inside. ”

  “We’re done. ”

  “Done? What the hell do you mean done?”

  “Oh, honey, you have a gash on your jaw,” Annie said to Kade. “Why don’t you come in and I’ll take a look at it?”

  “I’m fine. Probably had worse. ” Kade rubbed the sore spot and his fingers came away bloody. Sucker did hurt. “I gotta take off pretty quick anyway. ” He didn’t bother to hide the anger in his eyes. “Think about what I said. And don’t wait up for me tonight. ”

  “Where are you going?”

  He said, “Out,” and walked away from her without looking back.

  Out.

  Damn him.

  Why did he make her feel like she was in the wrong when he was the one who’d been involved in a fistfight, with her employee’s husband, in the parking lot of her business, in front of her employees? And then he had the balls to tell her how she’d been putting everyone—including their child—in danger?
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