Home > At Peace (The 'Burg #2)(7)

At Peace (The 'Burg #2)(7)
Author: Kristen Ashley

“She’s drivin’ which means you had her, what, when you were fifteen, sixteen?”

“Eighteen.” By the time of her birth, of course, her conception was another matter but I didn’t share this with Joe.

He just looked at me then again he didn’t really need to say more, his point was made.

“Can I have my shovel back?” I asked.

He didn’t give me my shovel back.

Instead he said, “Come to J&J’s tonight, I’ll buy you a drink.”

This wasn’t really a question but I decided to treat it like one. “Thanks, but, no.” Then I repeated, “Can I have my shovel back?”

He turned fully to me and again stepped into my space. It took a lot but I held my ground and tipped my head back to look at him. I had to tip it back far; he was that close and he was that tall.

“I’m tryin’ to be neighborly,” he said quietly.

“Neighborly would have been not draggin’ me into your house and treatin’ me to that scene.”

“I needed a witness and you were the only one available.”

“A witness?”



“Because Kenzie’s a pain in the ass, if she can make trouble, she will and the bitch can make trouble for me. I got a witness as to the way things went down, and I’m guessin’ she’s not hot to share that scene with anyone, she’ll keep her mouth shut. I don’t, she can share whatever she wants to share, make the whole thing up. I was right, she’s keepin’ her mouth shut. She doesn’t then I produce you who says it like it was.”

“Produce me?”

“It’s not gonna happen, she’s not gonna say shit.”

“Produce me to who?”


“Who would you produce me to?”

His head cocked slightly to the side and his brows drew together. “Clients.”

“What clients?”

“Potential clients who might be swayed into not hirin’ me if they hear some bullshit Kenzie cooked up.”

“What kind of clients?”

He got closer and I really wanted to edge back but I didn’t when he asked, “Buddy, you serious?”


“I’m in security.”

“Security?” he nodded and I went on. “What kind of security?”

“Kenzie Elise security.”

I stared at him, feeling my lips part and my eyes get wide.

I had Security to the Stars living next door.

Wasn’t that just the shit of it? There I was, in my predicament and I had Security to the f**king Stars living next door and I hated him because he was a huge jerk. I couldn’t have made him a plate of cookies when I saw the shiny, black, new model Ford pickup in the drive and charmed him with my rapier wit. No. I had to get embroiled in a situation when he was scraping off a movie star who had fallen in lust with her mysterious, rugged and interesting-looking bodyguard at the same time finding out myself during said situation that he was a huge jerk and falling in instant hate with him.

“So, seeing as you do what you do, and considering Dane’s reaction to you, I guess you’re pretty famous around here?” I asked and he shook his head.

“Not famous, people just know what I do and sometimes who I do it for. They’re famous, not me.”

“That stuff rubs off.”

“Not really.”

“Dane looked pretty impressed.”

“He’s seventeen. That ain’t hard to do with a seventeen year old.”

“Still I’d guess, around here, you don’t often hear no either.”

“I’m not ‘round here often.”

God, he had an answer for everything.

“Even so, no on the drink, okay Joe?” I said. “Now, can I have my shovel back?”

Just like he’d done that night, he studied me for awhile, something happening behind those blue eyes, something I didn’t get.

Then he gave me my shovel, turned and walked away.

I gave up on the drive, it would take forever and there was a tall, strapping boy-man in my daughter’s bedroom. Therefore, I shoveled the sidewalk at the front of the house and went inside and did all sorts of things loudly, such as make dinner or call questions to Keira even when she was right in the living room so Kate and Dane couldn’t forget I was close.

When Dane left after he ate dinner at our house and I found out I kind of liked him, I watched out the window as Kate walked him to his pickup.

Then I forced myself not to watch because firstly, I didn’t want to see and secondly, I was not an un-awesome, uptight Mom who would watch her daughter and her new boyfriend out the window.

But as I was turning away, my head whipped back and my eyes narrowed on the drive.

Except for under my car, Kate’s car and Dane’s pickup, the drive had been shoveled clean of snow.

I stopped looking out the front window to look left, out the window at the side over my kitchen sink facing Joe’s house.

The house was dark and there was no shiny, black, new model Ford pickup in the drive.

There wasn’t one the next morning either.

Or the next.

Or the two weeks after that.

Chapter Two


I drove home from the garden shop thinking a variety of things.

First, I was thinking that full-time paychecks didn’t mean much of a change to part-time ones, especially when taxes and insurance were deducted.

Second, I was thinking that I spent an awful lot of time while Kate and Keira were growing up wishing I could do things. Things like go to a movie whenever I wanted. Things like take a long, hot bubble bath when the spirit moved me. Things like reading a book without the word “Mom” shouted over and over again (as in, “Mom, where’s my backpack?” and “Mom, Keira’s bothering me,” and “Mom, I’m hungry”). Now, with Kate out with Dane all the time (or in with him at our house, which I preferred seeing as I could keep an eye on them, however I still didn’t see much of Kate during these times) and Keira, who seemed to be attempting to make an art form out of socializing, they were never home. I could go see a movie, have a bubble bath and read a whole book if I wanted to. But, of course, since life mostly sucked and not a whole helluva lot worked out for me, I didn’t want any of that anymore. All I wanted was my girls to be home.

I could have probably handled this better if Tim was at home or I knew he was coming home instead of knowing I was going to an empty house, a one-woman dinner and nothing but aloneness until weeknight curfew hit (eight o’clock) or weekend curfew hit (ten o’clock for Keira, eleven for Kate). Unfortunately, this wasn’t an option.

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