Authors: Olivia Jaymes
Tags: #Romance, #Western
Cowboy Justice Association
By Olivia Jaymes
Copyright © 2014 by Olivia Jaymes
E-Book ISBN: 978-0-9899833-7-2
Print ISBN: 978-0-9899833-8-9
Cover art by Sloan Winters
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED:
The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.
All characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead is strictly coincidental.
he best part of Griffin Sawyer’s day was the morning. He loved rising before dawn and sitting on the front porch of his home watching the sun come up while sipping on his first, second, and sometimes even his third cup of coffee. The peace and quiet were a balm to his solitude loving soul since he spent most of his waking hours dealing with the worst of humanity.
He usually had quiet at the end of the day too but nothing compared to this. He could remember the frenzy of activity and his mother’s harried manner in the home he’d grown up in. She hadn’t had it easy getting ten children up, dressed, fed and off to school but somehow she’d managed it. With a lot of help from the older children of which he was one.
Now, the only sounds were the rustle of the leaves and the muted quacks of a few ducks taking an early morning swim. No one was pulling on his sleeve asking for help to brush their hair, their teeth, or to get them more juice. He could be alone with only his thoughts for company.
But all good things had to come to an end.
Griffin heard the growl of an engine at the front of his home and then the clomp of heavy boots. He knew those boots as well has he did his own after the last few years. His deputy, Darrell “Dare” Turner, had come to pick him up for the monthly meeting with the town council.
Griffin had once asked his second-in-command how he got his nickname “Dare.” The deputy had bravery and heart although it was usually covered up by a grouchy demeanor that had most people stepping lightly around the man. But nothing Griffin had seen Dare do had ever been foolhardy. He seemed to have a level head on his shoulders. Dare had simply scowled at the question and told Griffin the nickname had stuck in high school. No other details, which was just Dare’s way.
“Are you ready to go?” Climbing the steps to the back deck, Dare wore the perpetual frown that furrowed his brow. Griffin had never figured out why Dare was always pissed off at life either but he could count the number of smiles he’d seen from the man on one hand.
“You wouldn’t be so damn ugly if you smiled once in a while.”
“No offense, but you’re not my type,” Dare answered flatly. His lips never twitched but Griffin thought he saw mirth in the deputy’s eyes.
Laughter bubbled from Griffin and he had to put down his coffee mug before he spilled it on his clean uniform shirt. “Good morning, Dare. Want some coffee?”
“I wouldn’t turn it down.” Dare shrugged. “You’re the one with the schedule.”
Griffin lowered his legs from where he’d had them propped up on the deck and strolled into the kitchen through the sliding glass door knowing Dare would follow. They’d done this enough times to know the drill whenever Griffin’s truck was being serviced. He ought to replace the ornery thing but he just couldn’t bring himself to do it. It had been the first new truck he’d ever owned all by himself. He was the only one who had ever driven it.
“I’ve got my meeting but we have enough time to pour you a cup.”
“Thanks. Was that Tina I saw barreling down your driveway as I was heading up here?” Dare asked, accepting the mug from Griffin.
Griffin’s lips twisted as he remembered the conversation between himself and the woman he’d been dating the last few weeks. It had ended better than he’d expected but as usual she didn’t understand. No one ever did.
“It was. I don’t think I’ll be seeing her anymore though.”
Dare lifted the cup to his lips probably to hide a smile. “I guess she didn’t get the memo.”
“The memo?” Griffin filled his travel mug with coffee and a generous amount of cream. “What do you mean?’
“Everyone knows what you’re like.” Dare snorted and shook his head. “The female gossip is that you don’t like women getting too fucking comfy here at your home. You like to sleep alone. You don’t let them leave anything personal here or anything. Stuff like that.”
Griffin turned away to hide his warm cheeks. He was particular about some things and it was true Tina hadn’t appreciated that. Just this morning she’d used his fucking toothbrush because he wouldn’t let her leave one here. Now he was going to have to stop at the store and get a new one. He knew it was hypocritical considering the places he’d had his mouth but he didn’t like to share. His toothbrush or anything else.
“I like my space, that’s all.” Griffin took a drink of the hot liquid before turning back to his right-hand man. “Is that a crime or something?”
Dare lifted his hands in surrender. “Not to me. I don’t blame you, personally. I like my space too.”
“It’s just they take over everything.” Griffin sighed, still smelling the distinctive perfume Tina had sprayed on herself and half of the house. He’d have to open the windows to get rid of the stench. “Their female crap is everywhere and a man can’t get a decent night’s sleep with them draped all over you. And they talk. Always asking me what I’m thinking or feeling. Shit, maybe I’m not thinking or feeling any damn thing.”
“You’re preaching to the choir, boss man. The problem is they’re always thinking something. Fuck, it’s a wonder their brains don’t explode from how much they’re always thinking. That’s not for me, man. You’ve got the right idea. Stay single and live alone.”
Griffin didn’t want to apologize to the woman in his life constantly, but yes, he enjoyed being alone. He liked sleeping in his big bed by himself and drinking milk out of the carton. He liked having control over the thermostat and the television remote. If he wanted to eat ice cream for breakfast he could or maybe stay up all night watching a Clint Eastwood marathon. There was no one to bother, no one else’s feelings that might get hurt. He only had to worry about himself.
“Shit, we better get on the road.” Griffin glanced at his watch and grimaced. These meetings with the town council were never fun but they were necessary. Normally they were also uneventful but lately there had been a lot of wrangling over the budget. They wanted Griffin to cut a deputy and he was pushing back. They were too short staffed as it was.
He shoved his hat on his head and followed Dare out to the truck, his mind already moving past the events of the morning. The woman who would understand Griffin simply didn’t exist. There was no point in even looking.
* * * *
This couldn’t be happening.
Jazz Oliver stared at her cell phone in disbelief, blinking back the tears. She’d wanted that part. Badly. Desperately. She’d been in Hollywood for six years and the only thing she had to show for it was a few commercials, a bloody low-budget horror flick, and an impressive resume of waitressing jobs. Some unpaid bills too. She certainly couldn’t forget those.
She was currently serving the breakfast crowd at Virgil’s Waffle and Pancakes. There was more on the menu than just those two items but they did a big early morning business and she was loath to miss out on the tips.
“You’ve got customers at table three.” Patty, another waitress and sometime actress, nudged Jazz. “You don’t want to get Virgil’s attention. He’s in a mood today, has been all week.”
Jazz grimaced and shoved her cell back in her pocket. Her boss had a rule about phones which most of them ignored but this might not be the day to push her luck.
Especially as she didn’t have much luck to begin with.
“I didn’t get the part.” Even as she said it, the words formed a hard lump in her stomach. She’d been counting on that role. Born to play it, dammit. They’d passed her over and it hurt. She never got used to the rejection in show business. Her friends were constantly telling her she needed to grow a thicker skin if she wanted to be an actress in this town.
Patty, who’d had her share of disappointments, put her hand on Jazz’s shoulder, her mouth turned down. “I’m sorry. You really thought you had it didn’t you? I know how that feels, hon.”
“I know.” Jazz tried to push away the disappointment but fear wrapped around her heart instead. She’d really needed the influx of cash that job promised. She was swimming in a sea of red ink. “I shouldn’t let these things bother me.”
She tried to muster a smile despite what felt like the weight of the world on her shoulders. Patty was a good friend but she didn’t seem to take the rejection as personally as Jazz did. But then Patty had a husband who made a decent living. Jazz, on the other hand, was already thinking about how she could possibly pay the rent and still have money to eat this month.
Like a robot on automatic, she went through the motions of waitressing, trying to keep a smile on her face when she really wanted to sit down and cry her eyes out. The customers didn’t know or care about her problems.
“I need to talk to you before you leave,” Virgil said as she shoved her tips deep into her purse and pulled on a sweater. “Just a quick meeting.”
“Fine.” She slung her purse over her shoulder and followed him to his office in the back of the restaurant. The other waitresses who had worked the morning shift, including Patty, were already there. Apparently he was planning to give everyone one of his usual royal ass chewings. Would today’s be about upselling dessert or about keeping the patrons moving through their meal so he could turn over the tables faster?