Authors: CM Hutton
a London Brothers Novel
Life of a Fool
Copyright 2014 CM Hutton
All rights reserved.
*Warning: This book contains violence, explicit
sexual situations and stories of abuse against women. If you are sensitive to
these issues, this may not be the book for you. Be advised.*
To my fans.
Yes, this book
is dedicated to you. You wanted Jason’s story, have cheered him on and waited
patiently for it to all unfold. Thank you for loving my London Brothers. You’re
My life had been a nightmare.
My younger brother, the former NFL player turned
firefighter, had been severely injured and on death’s door, as a matter of
fact. We’d been held hostage at the hospital for weeks. His bride-to-be, Claire,
was one of the strongest women I’d ever known…aside from my mom and Lori Ann.
Actually, they were probably all about equal in their feminine strength.
Damn…Lori Ann. I needed to return her call.
Thankfully, Derek pulled through, married the love of his
life, and they were expecting a baby. I was really happy for him. My little
brother had seen more hard times than I cared to mention, and he’d finally
found happiness with a woman that was pretty incredible. Claire had been
through her own share of shit and had risen above it. I was in awe of the
woman and loved her as fiercely as I did one of my blood family members.
Truthfully, seeing Derek find his soul mate, at the age of
thirty-five, made me jealous. I was his older brother. And although
thirty-seven wasn’t that old, I felt ancient. Perhaps, it was due to the
stress of holding us all together these last few weeks while we watched Derek
struggle for his life. Maybe it was the ache I felt seeing him so happy.
I’d dated plenty of girls. They were nice, kind…some a
little kinky, but not one of them held my heart…held my soul in their hands.
had that privilege, and she was already
Why hadn’t I answered her call?
Oh, yeah. My younger brother Kyle had walked into the
waiting room with news about Derek’s second life-saving surgery. He was a
physician and part of the team of doctors taking care of Derek.
I hadn’t heard from Lori Ann in more than a year. She and I
had always been pretty tight. We tried dating in college, but it felt
awkward. We discovered that we were much better at being best friends.
Admittedly, that “best friend” thing got under my skin from time to time. I
didn’t like most of the guys she dated, although there were a few that were
The last semester of our senior year at San Diego State,
things changed—at least for me they did. My feelings for my best friend were
growing wildly out of control, and I felt panicked. I was certain it had to do
with our impending graduation and new jobs. I knew it would separate us and, I
hated it but couldn’t do anything about it. I was leaving for the Army the
next month, and Lori Ann had taken a job overseas. The happiness on her face
when she found out she’d gotten her dream job as a junior accountant with Ernst
finding out the job was in Italy…well, I couldn’t do
anything but smile and celebrate her success. She deserved it.
My plan? To go into the Army. I owed them two years of
service for a scholarship I’d received. Then I was looking at going into
police work, maybe make detective. Like my firefighter brother, we desired to
serve. It sounded completely overwhelming and like I was some macho do-gooder,
but it wasn’t like that. I had goals, I wanted to accomplish things. At one
point, in a moment of weakness, I’d thought wherever I went or whatever I did,
Lori Ann would be with me. Of course, I never admitted anything to her. I
came close, though. That was the day she got her job offer and it all changed.
So, I pressed forward with my plans and left Lori Ann to
We’d kept in touch over the
years. I knew everything about my Lori Ann. She was tall, about five feet,
nine inches, had long, dark hair, giant blue eyes, and the longest legs I’d
ever seen. She’d been a swimmer in college, so those damn legs were killer.
She was smart and sarcastic, which was just perfect for me. She loved old
movies and red wine. Her favorite band was Bon Jovi, which I constantly gave
her shit about, and she was a great dancer. I knew lots more too…like where
she was ticklish, what her favorite color was, and where she’d had her first
kiss. I was pretty pathetic. But she’d been my best friend for years, and I
had no doubt she knew just as much about me as I did about her.
I walked into my house after a long day at work. Lori Ann
had been on my mind for a few weeks. I’d ignored the need to return her call
while we all waited to make sure my brother Derek was “out of the woods” and
home. And as his healing progressed, I started to feel
call her back, but the rock in the pit of my stomach delayed me from doing it.
Her voice, that incredible voice, was full of concern and
different, a sadness I’d never heard before.
Lori Ann and I had kept in close contact over the fifteen
years since college, even taken some trips together and spent a few holidays
with each of our families. We were really close. But I hadn’t heard a peep
out of her for almost a year, and I tried not to push since she was a married
“Hey, Jace. How are you? How is Derek? You know I keep
up with you guys, even from Italy. Please tell me he’s okay. Will you call me
back? I know it’s been a long time…and I’m sorry. I should have called you.
Things are just a little…well, I just should have called.” She paused. “But I
really need to hear your voice…please, Jason. Call me back.”
I’d listened to it at least ten times, and every time the
hair on the back of my neck stood up. Not only because I missed her, but
because something was wrong. I just couldn’t figure it out. So, tonight was
the night to put my feelings and pride aside, pick up the damn phone, and call
I dialed her international number.
I knew her sweet voice immediately. “So, want to tell me
what’s going on and why you’ve been avoiding me for the last year?”
“Jason!” She gasped and whispered my name.
“You know I hate that name, Jason London.” I couldn’t help
but to laugh. “Derek?” I should’ve called her before now to say he was okay.
I was a bastard.
“He’s doing really well. He’s out of the hospital and
healing just fine.”
“Oh, thank God. When you didn’t return my call, I was so
afraid. I almost called again, but was terrified something had…”
“Hey…” I interrupted “…stop. I should have called you. It’s
my fault.” I could hear her sobs. “Talk to me. Why are you so upset? What’s
going on, Lori? You’re a mess and your voicemail sounded…off. Are you okay?”
I heard her breath hitch. I’d gotten pretty good at hearing
the subtle things over the years. Something was…wrong with her. “No. I’m
okay. Just relieved that Derek is okay.”
“You’re lying. Don’t forget how well I know you.”
“Jace…I’m fine. Just emotional about your brother.”
“That’s bullshit and you know it. By now, you would’ve seen
it on the news or internet that he was okay. So, what gives? Why do you sound
so desperate to hear my voice? I know you…”
“Jace, please stop. I can’t. Not now.”
I scrubbed my hand down my face. “Why not now? Talk to me.”
“I need to go. Can I call you tomorrow?” I wished she didn’t
live so far from me. I needed to lay eyes on her to make sure she was okay.
“You know you can. You can always call me, Lori Ann. You’re
Shit, what was she?
“…my best friend.”
“Thank you.” Her voice was no more than a whisper. Something
was very wrong, and I couldn’t shake the horrible feeling deep in my soul that
I needed to get to her. “Please, tomorrow.”
“Okay. But tell me you’re safe.”
“What?” My mind was going crazy. “What the hell is going
on? TELL. ME.”
“I have to go.” And with that, Lori Ann hung up.
My mind was a jumbled mess. What the fuck was going on?!?!
It was late, but I didn’t care. I had to call someone.
Derek had too much to deal with, and my younger brother Kyle wouldn’t see the
urgency in any of it. I swore that dude had a serious screw loose. I guessed
not being an emotional person helped him be a great doctor. Who knew?
I waited a bit, then called my longtime friend Craig. He’d
gone to college with Lori Ann and me, served time in the Army with me, and was
a cop—another detective, but in Denver. He knew all about my relationship and
feelings for Lori Ann. He’d seen it all, heard it all, and would definitely
understand my concern.
I punched in his number.
“This better be good, dude. I’m out with my woman right
“I might need your help.”
“What’s up?” He obviously heard the concern in my voice.
“WHAT? Jace, man…you’ve got to move on past that shit. She’s
“Hey, just listen!” I was pissed. “I told you she called
while my brother Derek was in the hospital, right?”
“Well, I finally called her back tonight. Something was
really off. She had been radio silent for a year before she left me that
voicemail. Then, when I heard her voice tonight…I don’t know, man. She
sounded scared, and when I pushed, she suddenly told me she couldn’t
talk—whispered it even—and said she’d call tomorrow. You know her, Craig.
Lori Ann doesn’t get scared. She’s tough and can take care of herself.”
“Damn. Okay, what do you want me to do?”
“Not sure. I just needed to voice my concerns to someone
who knows her. I mean, I’m pacing my fucking house like a caged animal, dying
to fly over there and get her.”
“Jason, you can’t. You don’t know what you’d be walking
into, and this could be some huge misunderstanding. Maybe she’s having
marriage issues and feeling homesick. Maybe she was just busy. Who the hell
knows? But flying to Italy and ringing her doorbell is the
you need to do right now. You hearing me, friend?”
I let out a loud groan. “You know I hate you, right?”
Craig laughed. “Yep! But you know who to call when you
really need someone to tell you the truth. Look, I know how you feel—have
always felt—about Lori Ann, but maybe you need to let this sit for a few more
days, call her again, and see if she sounds better. If you’re still getting
the ‘red flags,’ call me. I’ll hop on the flight with you. I know you have
good instincts, Jason. Just make sure you are
using those and
not other parts of your body.”
I took a deep breath. He was right. “I hear you, but I
just know something is wrong. In all the years I’ve known her, she’s never sounded
like she did tonight. But I’ll give it until tomorrow. If she hasn’t called
me back, I’ll call her. I just pray I’m not too late if she really does need
“I get it. Think about it like this…if there is something
big going down with her and the hubs, what’s gonna happen if you show up? What
if he takes it out on her?”
“Shit. I didn’t really think about that. Surely that prick
she married isn’t doing anything. They’ve been married for six years. You don’t
think he’d all of a sudden change—do something to hurt her, do you?”
“Jason, I don’t want to plant things in your head, but we’ve
seen it all in our line of work.”
“You’re right. I’ll just have to wait and talk to her
tomorrow. But if I hear
in her voice, I’m going.”
“Do me a favor and call me first? Talk to me before you
make the decision.”
“Sure.” I paused. “Thanks, Craig.”