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The ride out to old man Bailey’s was passed with Bron asking questions and Mc answering them. She ran down her list of details and he gave her the status of each item. They drove by the house but couldn’t see it in the dark. They meandered down the dirt road for another twenty minutes before pulling into the drive. The old house was almost in ruins, a ramshackle no doubt.
“He lives here?” Bron questioned Mc looking at the place.
“Yep,” Mc answered as exited the truck and headed to the porch.
Waiting for a second, Bron followed trying to organize her thoughts. Taking a deep breath, she joined Mc on the porch and knocked on the door.
An older man answered and introduced himself as Mr. Bailey. Bron in return introduced herself as Mrs. Cooper. They were exchanging pleasantries for the first five minutes. Bron was trying to gauge the old geezers personality. Mc was dead on with this old codger. He was very old and didn’t like anything new, except maybe his money.
A gentleman stepped forward and introduced himself as Mr. Bailey’s attorney. Bron didn’t think he was that memorable, but he was here. Him being present meant one thing and one thing only. The old man was ready to deal. Figuring she should make her move now before they became suspicious of both her and Mc; she proceeded with her little speech she had rehearsed on the plane.
“Mr. Bailey this property is very important to me. I want the property, the land, air, water, and mineral rights. I want all of it.” Bron reached into her purse and handed the envelope to the old man.
Accepting the envelope, he looked at the small woman standing before him. “What are your plans for this place that makes it so important?”
“Absolutely nothing Mr. Bailey. I want to keep it as a peaceful retreat.” Bron watched his fingers rub the envelope. He wants to know so bad it’s killing him, she smiled inwardly.
“That Richardson kid, the singer; he offered me a big chunk of change for this place. Didn’t sell it to him though. He’s one of them musician guys. I don’t like his kind.”
“Well I’m sure Mr. Richardson will recover,” Bron returned warmly. Keep him smiling Bron, keep him smiling, she chanted to herself.
“Since you won’t change the place much I can at least look at your offer.”
Bron watched him open the envelope. The only thought she had was she was going to flatten this damn ugly house as soon as she could. Put that on the to do list for Monday. I can put the pole barn here and store the equipment. Hmm, nice place to give Mc an office and get him the hell out of mine. Her mind was ticking off her to do list when the old man’s voice brought back.
“Mrs. Cooper are you sure about this?” he asked.
“Oh yes,” she grinned back. Come on dammit say yes. This place is going to save my ass from bad practical joke and can of pineapple. Kevin is so stupid I can’t believe he dropped the damn thing.
“It’s hers,” he spoke as he handed the check to his attorney.
The attorney had the paperwork ready and they both signed. The attorney snagged the paperwork from Bron. “I’ll file these Monday,” he said. Mc’s sonar went on suddenly. He grabbed the papers from him. “I’ll take care of it,” he said in a threatening voice, not wanting a challenge.
Stepping forward, she shook the old man’s hand. “It a pleasure doing business with you Mr. Bailey.”
Bron turned to leave trying to hide a humongous grin on her face. Halting in her steps when her name was called. Slowly she turned thinking the deal had just gone south. The old man was smiling still as she waited for him to speak.
“Mrs. Cooper, do me one favor, get rid of this infernal firetrap I live in,” he grinned at her.
Bron chuckled loudly, “Not a problem Mr. Bailey, not a problem at all.”
All the way to the truck Mc kept telling her, “No victory dancing yet.”
As they passed by Kevin’s house she started singing to the radio. “You can’t sing for shit, shut up. We’ll be back to the house soon then you can do your little dance.”
Bron rolled eyes at him, “Thank you and I love you too.”
The rest of the ride finished in silence as they pulled into Anne’s driveway. Jake and Stevie were watching from the front door. Bron jumped out of the truck and did her famous victory dance. Shaking their heads they stepped aside as she bounded up the stairs two at time singing, “It’s his, it’s his.”
She waited at the top of the stairs for Mc to let everyone know that she had just played Let’s Make A Deal with old man Bailey. Upon hearing Jerald exclaim along with Anne, “You’re kidding,” she headed to change for dinner.
Looking around the bedroom, she hunted for her clothes. Kevin said that some of her clothes were sent here. Checking the around she couldn’t even find a familiar suitcase. She opened the bottom drawer of the dresser and found her jeans neatly folded and put away. Opening the closet, she laughed. Kevin’s clothes were all jammed to one side and hers hung neatly in a row. “Thanks Anne, women need more space anyway,” she giggled. Finding her white button down and a pair of boots lined up underneath her clothes, she changed and headed downstairs.
Bron bounced down the stairs, singing to herself. Flying into the kitchen she froze, Uh-oh family dinner, she groaned in her head. Before her sat Tracy, Tim, their kids, Jerald, Anne, and Bron’s family.
Jerald handed her a glass of wine to get her attention. “Congratulations Mrs. Richardson. My brother will be thrilled.” He leaned over and kissed her cheek. The assembly of people before them burst into laughter. Bron was blushing from the roots of her hair to the tips of her toes.
“Didn’t think that was possible anymore,” Mc snickered.
Bron spoke back in a sarcastic tone, “This looks like a family dinner, since when are you considered family,”
“I’m always family right Bron,” he said coolly.
Jake interrupted immediately knowing that an argument would break out if he didn’t. “Now don’t you two start. I want to eat, I’m hungry.”
Bron went and took a seat between Andy and Bounce. She studied Mc thinking he’s being awful nice to me. “You’re right Mc, you are family.”
Grinning from ear to ear, he turned to her. “I know, like they say Sparky you can pick your friends but you can’t pick your family.”
Finishing dessert and cleaning the table off, Tracy was the one to ask about something she had heard through the entire meal. Tim and Jerald had discussed it several times since they had come back from the wedding. Stevie and Mc didn’t call her by her name. They kept referring to her as Spark or Sparky. “Why do they call you Sparky?” as they began clearing the dishes off the table.
“Oh long story,” Bron groaned at not wanting to explain.
Jake sat at the table, “Liar, it’s a short story.”
“Jake,” Bron hissed. I’ll kill him if he says one word. It’s ancient history, she shouted in her head.
“Bron has a short fuse and a nasty temper. You should have seen her when her and Mc were actually an item.” Jake was smiling but Bron was horrified and it was written all over her face.
“You went out with Mc!” Tracy looked at her disbelievingly.
Tim looked at Jerald and grinned, “Told ya.”
Bron rolled her eyes at them, “Don’t remind me, it was the worst experience of my life and I am reminded of it every single day.”
“THANK YOU SPARK!” came from the living room.
Jake chuckled as Bron’s face crunched. “Nosey!” she yelled back.
“Why did you break up?” Tracy asked.
Bron really didn’t know what to say, “Um...”
“I dumped her, she’s a bitch with a capital B,” Mc snickered.
“Thank you dear,” Bron chimed back for helping her out.
Bron leaned over the table and winked at Jake. “The combat pay wasn’t enough to stay with him,” she whispered.
Finishing up the dishes Bron looked at the remaining bodies at the table. “I’m going to read my kid a story, see you in a little while.”
“Let’s go Bounce,” Bron held her hand out.
Bounce had become comfortable in Uncle Mc’s lap and it didn’t look like she was leaving too soon. “Ma,” she whined.
“Any story you want,” Bron smiled.
“Any story, cool I want to hear The Four Princes of Backstreet,” she squealed.
“No dear there are Five Princes of Backstreet,” Anne corrected.
Bounce looked at Anne, “UH-ah, Kevin’s the....”
Bounce’s sentence being cut off by her mother’s hand over her mouth, “If you want to hear it, you’ll close your mouth right now.”
Bounce quietly turned and headed for the stairs, not missing a beat, she laughed out. “The King!”
“Bad girl,” Bron laughed as she chased her up the stairs.
Bron retold the story for Bounce. As Bounce fell asleep it was always the same ending. Young princess Kaylin lived happily ever after with her Prince Nickolas.
Bron thought about going to bed but then she thought it might be rude she hadn’t said goodnight to anyone. It was a strange house and she felt insecure, even though it was full of people. Sighing she headed back downstairs.
Sitting in the living room she noticed Andrew was gone and Jake was sitting in the chair nodding off. “Jake where’s Andrew?”
“Went to bed,” he grumbled.
“Oh he left with Mc and Stevie?” Bron asked.
“No he’s upstairs Bron,” Anne answered from the doorway. “Telephone dear,” she smiled.
“Tell him I’m not here,” Bron winced.
“I don’t lie dear,” as she motioned her into the kitchen.
“Great, nothing like everyone hearing me get blasted off of the planet,” Bron muttered as she pulled herself out of the chair and headed in Anne’s direction.
Bron entered the kitchen see Jerald, Tracy, and Tim still sitting there.
Grabbing the receiver she grimaced, and spoke a shaky hello into the phone. This is going to be loud, she closed her eyes and waited for the yelling to start. Kevin’s brothers and Tracy were giggling right in front of her.
“Hey darlin’ I miss you, I’m lonely,” she heard Kevin speak to her sweetly.
“Kevin, I’m sorry. I’m really sorry,” Bron sputtered into the phone, thinking it might help. Kevin could turn on the charm when he wanted to. She just wasn’t sure if this was a fake out or not.
“Don’t worry about it,” he laughed into the phone.
Bron smiled at Anne, who gave her a wink back. Mama Richardson had a calming effect on her son. Grabbing a jacket Bron headed out the backdoor. She wanted a private conversation, not a family one.
A slow southern drawl crawled through the phone lines. “I hear you have a surprise for me?”
Bron sat just listening to it echoing in her head. God I love it when he talks like that, it just sets me right off.
“Hey ya with me,” she heard.
“I’m sorry, yeah I am,” she grinned in the dark.
“So what’s my surprise?”
“You know old man Bailey’s place, the one behind your place,” Bron bubbled with excitement.
“Ours,” he corrected her. “And yes I do. I really wanted that place. It goes half way up the mountain. It has a stream for fishing, a place to swim, it’s so cool. I love it, but he won’t sell it to me. I offered him triple market value and he won’t give it up. He’s a real pup to deal with.”
Bron sat listening to Kevin continue to rave about the place. The more he talked about it the more he got excited. It all boiled down to the fact that it reminded him of the camp. The camp where he was raised much of his life and loved very much. His memories of his father would always be attached to the outdoors.
“Okay Master that’s enough! Take a deep breath, it’s all yours,” Bron giggled into the phone.
“What no way,” came to her followed by dead silence.
She waited and waited, finally she couldn’t take it anymore. “Hey are you alive?” she questioned.
“AW DAMN WITCH! How did ya do that?”
The first part he screamed and then lowered his voice.
“Don’t worry about how. Just know that it’s yours, all of it, land, mineral, air, and water rights. Free and clear.”
“I love you,” was sung in a deep sexy voice to her.
“Oh I love you too,” she chuckled. Man, he knows how to get to me.
“I don’t know how to thank you,” he chuckled.
Bron’s mind took a sudden shift to the right. “I’m sure if you were here you know how to thank me Master.”
An amused voice came back to her, barely above a whisper. “I guess you’ll have to wait till I get home for a proper thank you.”
“I guess so,” she groaned, knowing how good her thank you would be was almost worth the wait.
“Hey are you going to sleep okay?”
She could hear the concern in his voice and knew why. It was a strange house with strange people. He wasn’t there for her. They both knew but never admitted to each other that Kevin had become Bron’s source for comfort. He was her security, protector, and her last line of defense from the outside world.
“I think so,” she whispered back.
“I’ll leave my cell plugged in. If you need me, call me. Jake is there too.” He answered her unvoiced concerns for her.
“It’s not the same. Jake can’t help me go back to sleep like you do,”
Kevin’s possessiveness came quickly into play. “Damn well better not.”
“Oh Master,” Bron said in a calming voice.
“Listen I have to go. I have an early wake up tomorrow. I have a photo shoot to do with Nick.”
“What for?” Bron asked.
“I don’t remember. We signed the papers so long ago. The contract is kicking around here some where.”
Bron could here papers being shuffled around on the other end of the phone. “Find your paperwork. I’ll talk to you tomorrow. Love you.”
“Love you too,” he spoke as they both disconnected at the same time.
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