Home > Flame (Steel Brothers Saga #20)

Flame (Steel Brothers Saga #20)
Author: HELEN HARDT

 

Prologue

 

 

Callie

 

 

I knock softly on Rory’s door when I get home. “Ror? You awake?”

The door opens, and a yawning Rory looks back at me. “Cal? What are you doing up this late?”

“I just got in. Sorry to wake you.”

Another yawn splits my sister’s pretty face. “S’okay. What’s up?”

I walk into her room and close the door behind me. “Some shit’s going down.”

“Like what?”

“I ran into Pat Lamone tonight.”

Rory wipes the last of the sleep from her eyes and widens them. “Shit. How?”

“He’s back in town, apparently, working the evening shift at the Snow Creek Inn.”

“How can he be back in town?”

“Hell if I know. I had to act all innocent with Donny, like I hardly remembered him.”

“Did he buy it?”

“I think so. He was more angry about other stuff.”

“Like what?”

“I think…” My heart hurts. It hurts so badly for the man I love. “I think he and Dale must have gone through some serious stuff before they came here. Like really bad.”

“I guess we always suspected.”

“Maybe you did. I didn’t give it a thought, which makes me feel about an inch tall right now.”

“Damn, Callie. You’re in love with him, aren’t you?”

I nod, sniffling back tears.

She pulls me into a hug. “It’ll be okay. We’ll work it all out.”

“How can we? Why is that jerk back in town?”

“I don’t know, hon. But I’ll find out.” She sighs. “I have some news myself. It’s not good.”

I pull back. “What? What happened? Is it Talon Steel?”

“No, no. He’s still fine, as far as I know. It’s Raine.”

“Oh my God. What happened?”

“She’s fine, as well, but she’s decided to stay in Denver. A former colleague offered her a partnership in his new day spa. She’ll be in charge of the salon. It’s too good an opportunity for her to pass up.”

“Ror, what are you going to do?”

Rory pauses a moment. “I don’t know. Except that I think I do.”

“I wouldn’t blame you if you wanted to get far away from this place.”

“But the family. The fire. They need me. And you, Cal. If Pat Lamone is back in town, you and I need to stick together.”

I gulp audibly. Rory’s right, but I can’t be selfish. “Raine needs you too.”

“I don’t think she does, Cal. I don’t think we’re in that place.”

“But you live together.”

“We do. Or did. But lately…”

“What?”

“Things have been a little tense, like I told you. She can’t seem to get over the fact that I’m bisexual and she isn’t. Plus, apparently Willow White has offered to buy Raine’s business here, so other than me, there’s no reason for her to stay.”

“You’re a pretty big reason.”

“I shed a tear or two earlier tonight, but I feel okay now. I think our time has passed. We weren’t each other’s forever.”

I say nothing. I’m not sure what to say.

“Have you found your forever?” she asks.

I simply nod. I have. Whether Donny feels the same way after tonight is up in the air, but at least he loves me. He said it, and I believe him.

One silly fight doesn’t change that.

But it does bring the current issue back to light.

“I’m sorry about Raine,” I say, “and Donny and I will work through our issues. But Pat Lamone…”

“Right.” Rory nods. “I guess we gather the group together.”

“Some of them don’t even live here anymore.”

She nods. “Carmen Murphy is still here. And Jordan.”

Carmen Murphy. Brendan’s cousin, born to his unwed aunt, Ciara Murphy. And Jordan Ramsey, Rory’s and my cousin, who was in Pat Lamone’s class at school.

Pat Lamone.

There were others, but he was the worst.

He tried to destroy us.

He failed.

But now he’s back.

 

 

Chapter One

 

 

Donny

 

 

I’m chilled yet numb as I stand in front of my mirror to brush my teeth.

So much to process for one evening.

God, my head. I’d swear Paul Bunyan is inside swinging his ax through my skull and into my brain.

Ibuprofen will ease it. Maybe.

I pull open the mirrored door to the hidden medicine cabinet—

What is that? I pull out a glasses case. I don’t wear glasses. Never have. I do wear sunglasses, but I’ve never left the case inside this cabinet. Besides, I don’t even recognize this brown leather case.

I unsnap it and open it.

Nestled inside the black lining is a key.

A key to what?

The key chain has a number and address etched on it. A bank in Denver.

This is a key to a safe-deposit box.

And I don’t have a safe-deposit box.

It’s settled, then.

I won’t be sleeping tonight. At all.

 

 

My alarm blares at me. Six thirty a.m. Did I sleep? It was four a.m. the last time I looked at the clock.

And now…work.

First a quick call to the hospital to check on Dad. I don’t want to disturb Mom at this hour.

My phone rings then. Mom. This early? Is something wrong?

“Mom?” I say into the phone, trying not to sound too frantic.

“Donny”—her voice is…different—“your dad had a rough night.”

Icy shards hit the back of my neck. “Is he okay?”

“Yes. He is now, thank God.”

“What happened?”

“His blood pressure dropped really low, and he spiked a fever. The doctors thought he might have an infection, but they got it under control and have him on another course of antibiotics.”

“Do they know what caused it? If it wasn’t an infection?”

“No.”

“Not good enough.”

“I agree, but all they can tell me is that these things sometimes happen during recovery from major surgery.”

“Not good enough,” I say again. “Do you want me to drive into the city?”

“More than ever,” she says, “but you can’t. I need you covering things in town at the city attorney’s office.”

“Mom, Snow Creek will survive without—”

“No, Donny,” she interrupts. “Please. Take care of things in town. I can’t have another worry on top of everything else.”

“Okay, Mom. Maybe Dale can go to the hospital.”

“Diana’s here. Dale has his Syrah to look after, and Bree has classes. I’ll be fine.”

My mother will be fine. She’s as strong as they come. But she depends on me. I’m her rock when Dad’s out of commission. And Dale, Diana, or Brianna can’t take my place.

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