Tied up, tied down, p.42
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       Tied Up, Tied Down, p.42

         Part #4 of Rough Riders series by Lorelei James
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Page 42

 

  Kade wouldn’t roll on his brother or his cousins anyway.

  Before Kade uttered another denial, the man hauled off and punched him in the eye like a champion boxer. Pain exploded in his head and he staggered back.

  “How’d you like that? An eye for an eye, fucker. That’ll teach you to keep your eyes off my wife. ”

  While Kade was trying to regain his equilibrium, the guy delivered a wicked uppercut that rocked his jaw so hard his teeth clacked together and he bit his tongue.

  “Keep your mouth offa her. ”

  Kade curled his arms around his head, attempting to protect it, when the guy slugged him in the gut with enough force to knock the air from his lungs. Through the pain Kade realized he was getting his ass kicked and he couldn’t stop it. He dropped to the pavement in defeat.

  “Stand up and fight me, you fuckin’ pussy. ”

  A car door slammed, followed by bootsteps thumping down the sidewalk. “Hey!

  What the hell is goin’ on?”

  “Walk away. This ain’t your concern,” the man said.

  “The fuck it isn’t. ”

  Colt.

  Why was Colt here? Kade tried to say his name but nothing came out.

  “Last chance to get gone or I’ll give you some of what he just got. ”

  “Big talk. ”

  “I’m more than talk, sheep-fucker. ”

  “Bring it on, cocksucker. ”

  More bootsteps scuffled on the cement, preceded by loud shouts. Kade heard it all through a haze of pain.

  “Colt? What’re you doin’ here? Oh, shit. Kade? Man, you all right?” This from Blake.

  Colt said, “I was on my way inside the Golden Boot and I saw Kade get sucker-punched. ”

  “Is this the fucker who did this to him?” Cam demanded.

  “Yeah. ”

  The man said, “Let me go. ”

  “Fuck that. You started it. ”

  “We’re gonna finish it. Still feelin’ tough?” Ben taunted.

  “Not when the odds are six against one. ”

  Kade pushed himself to a sitting position and said, “Let him go. ”

  “What?” Remy said. “We all wanna take a shot at him so he knows he messed with the wrong fuckin’ family. ”

  “You’re all McKays?”

  “No, some of us go by the name West. Heard of us?”

  The man said, “Yeah, you’re all a buncha fuckin’ psycho cowboys. ”

  “Then you know we ain’t gonna let this slide. ”

  “Enough. Let him go. He thought I was someone else. ” Kade tried to look up at the guy. Shit. He couldn’t see. “His choice. He walks away and stays away from all of us or we go to the sheriff’s office and I file charges. ”

  “This some sort of all for one and one for all bullshit?” the man sneered.

  “You bet your ass. ”

  Cam shook the big man like a rag doll. “What’s it gonna be, hoss?”

  “I’m goin’. ” After Cam released him, the guy slithered into the darkness.

  “Jesus, Kade. He did a number on you. I think that cut above your eye needs stitches. ”

  “Screw that, I fuckin’ hate needles. It’ll be fine. ”

  “Is your mouth bleedin’?”

  “Probably. He didn’t knock any teeth out. ”

  “That’s reassurin’. Need some help up?” Cam asked.

  “Yeah. ”

  Cam and Colt hauled him up and leaned him against the brick building. “Thanks. ”

  The movement made Kade dizzy and he closed his eyes.

  Chet said, “Want us to make sure you get home okay?”

  “Nah, you guys get goin’, you have a longer drive. I’ll get him home,” Colt said. “I owe him. ”

  Murmurs of agreement followed and Kade knew they’d all left. Although, after two fights in one day, he couldn’t muster the energy to wave good-bye.

  Lighter footsteps approached, accompanied by click click of metal chains.

  “Whatcha think, Indy?” Colt asked softly.

  “I think he’s bleeding like a crack whore and looks like dog shit. What is it with you cowboys and fighting all the damn time?”

  Kade cracked open his good eye. Great. Skylar’s sister. “What the devil are you doin’ here?” He saw India shoot Colt a look and managed to turn his head to see Colt’s response.

  Colt mouthed something to her and she shook her head.

  Silence.

  “It wasn’t a trick question,” Kade said.

  India sighed. “I’m here because I’m Colt’s A. A. sponsor. Tonight was the first time he planned on going into a bar since he sobered up last year. I hung out in his truck so we could talk about it afterward. ”

  “I didn’t know you were his sponsor. ”

  “No one knows. Colt wants it kept confidential information, which is his choice, so you can’t tell anyone, not even Skylar. ”

  “Well, that’ll be easy since she’s pissed as hell at me. ”

  “Why?”

  “Long story. ”

  “Does that mean you ain’t goin’ to her place tonight?”

  Kade gestured to his bloody and mud-covered clothes. “No choice. All my stuff is there. You guys go on. I’ll be fine to drive myself. ”

  “You can’t see out of your right eye, how are you supposed to drive thirty miles? In the dark?”

  “I’ll manage. ”

  “We’ll take you. ”

  “I need my truck tomorrow. ”

  “Fine. Colt can drive your truck. I’ll drive my car. He needs to follow someone who knows the way in case you fall asleep and I’ll bring him back to town. ”

  Colt said, “Toss me your keys. ”

  Kade dug them out of his pocket and pushed off the building to follow Colt to his truck.

  India’s hand on his chest stopped him. “Huh-uh. You’re riding with me. ”

  “Great. ”

  India didn’t speak until they were halfway home. “You know Sky is going to freak out when she sees you all bloody?”

  “I figured she might since it’s the second time she’s seen me like this today. ”

  “This is one of the reasons she refused to date cowboys when she first moved here because they’re always getting in fights. ”

  His laugh was more grunt-like than humorous.

  She shot him a look. “So it shocked the hell out of me when you and I crossed paths—”

  “Crossed paths? You cornered me in Sky’s house like I was a stray dog in the chicken house. ”

  “If the shitkicker fits…”

  Kade snorted. “Sky still doesn’t know about your threatening little chat with me that day, does she?”

  “No. You think she’s gonna get pissed off that I was doing my sisterly duty? Wrong.

  But it was damn shocking to learn that Eliza’s father is not only a cowboy, but one of the notorious McKay cowboys. ”

  “Yeah, that’s me, one of the damned. ” He sighed. “I’d crash someplace else tonight if I could, but everything I own is at her place. ”

  “What’s going on with you two?”

  “Who the hell knows? She’s mad. Thinks I overstepped my bounds today. ”

  “Did you?”

  Kade explained as neutrally as possible.

  A full minute passed before India responded. “Lemme ask you this: do you know the real reason why she’s so upset?”

  “Because I bucked up and pointed out the security issues with her business and she thinks it’s none of my business to be worryin’ about hers?”

  “Close. But no cigar. ”

  “Then what?”

  “Let’s break it down and see if you can’t put it back together correctly. ” She offered Kade an impish smile. “As an A. A. and N. A. counselor, I’m big on folks finding their own solutions. The answer means more if they figu
re it out themselves.

  “Now, I’m sure my sister has told you about Ted, and how he used her and robbed her blind. Once he’d gotten what he’d wanted from her—most of Sky’s money—then he divorced her. ”

  “But see, that’s where what happened today don’t fit. I don’t want anything from her. ” Immediately after he voiced the denial, he made the connection. His queasy feeling multiplied. “Goddammit, I threatened to take Eliza from her. ”

  “Ding ding ding! Give the man a prize for guessing the correct answer. ”

  “Christ. How could I be such a fuckin’ idiot? I’d never take Eliza from her. Never. I just wanted Sky to see how seriously she oughta take the safety issues at the plant. I’ve been tryin’ my damndest to make the three of us be a real family, not tear us apart. To show her I ain’t goin’ anywhere. ”

  “You can talk until you’re blue in the face and she won’t believe you. ”

  “Why the hell not?”

  “Because she’s the type who needs what she calls ‘tangible proof’. ”

  “I asked her to marry me so I could put a damn ring on her finger. What kinda concrete proof could be better than that?”

  “There is one thing that you could do…never mind. ” She shrugged. “You thought I was joking around with the no pain, no gain comment? I wasn’t. Come talk to me when you’ve figured it out. ”

  Great. More games. More puzzles. More reasons for him to take his cousin’s advice and lay low for a while.

  India didn’t speak further until she pulled into the driveway and parked. “I knew you were a different kind of man when you barged into her life and offered her everything she never thought she’d have. After I figured out the McKay family connection, I asked Colt about you. He told me you’re the most honest, kind, and forthright man he’s ever known.

  He says you cared enough to save him when no one else did. ”

  Embarrassed, Kade looked away.
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