Jamie sat across from his boss with a practiced face. Not able to give any emotion away in this business, he kept his hands folded in his lap and his leg crossed over the other with a relaxed smile. Even though Jamie knew the words that were coming out of his boss’s mouth next were anything but relaxing.
“Shermin Heights, Kentucky,” Jerry laced his fingers together and put them on his desk. That damn piece of furniture was five times the smug bastard’s size and Jamie hoped they buried it on top of the old crab ass one day.
“I thought the city was taking care of that. Didn’t you make the offer to them before Christmas?” His nostrils flared but Jamie kept his composure. Don’t you dare ask me, Jerry. I swear to God, I will haunt you one day, Jamie swore to himself.
“Yes and they said they’d handle it but it seems they can’t. That old as shit mayor doesn’t have the balls qualified to get the job done it seems. He’s gone through five appointed representatives but that damned fool Pierson won’t sell.” Jerry unfolded his hands and laid them on the desk. “I’m done wasting time and money because this guy has some moral code and family ethic. Everyone has their price. Get your ass down there and find out what Noah Pierson’s is. You leave tonight.”
Jamie couldn’t help but wonder what the hell kind of guy refused millions of dollars for a few acres of overgrown brush. Looks he was the lucky jack ass who got to find out. Oh you just wait, Jamie thought with an award winning smile, I’m gonna get you back for this Jerry.
“Phew. It’s hot as hell fire in here Noah. Ain’t you got a fan or something lyin around all this junk?” Noah’s younger brother Mason started rummaging over a heap of random clutter covering a metal table in the barn. A stack of old license plates fell onto the ground and he grinned up at Noah with his good old Pierson charm as he bent to collect them.
“What I ain’t got is patience to be cleaning up after your sorry ass. I got enough to clear up around here without you making this dang on mess multiply. Pick those up.” Noah shook his head and turned back to the collection of rusted tools and chains that his daddy had left behind. None of this crap is worth anything, Noah sighed. But he didn’t really care about any money anyhow. He held up an old wind chime made out of mismatched spoons and smiled.
“You think daddy was crazy with all this crap? Making wind chimes and rusty butterflies for them old blue hairs at church? Sure seems crazy to me.” Mason flicked a dangling spoon and shook his head at the tinkle of clanging silverware. “You regret not sending him to that place in Frankfort? Maybe he could have…”
Noah grabbed his brother’s shoulder and looked into Mason’s big blue eyes. “He didn’t want to go no home with those dyin buzzards. He was happy here Mase and you got that to get you through. And…” Noah grinned. “Daddy was the least crazy person in Shermin Heights. Wind chimes and butterflies don’t hold a candle to Mrs. Hubbard and her monthly rain dance in the middle of town.”
Mason snorted and grinned up at his big brother. “Or Mr. Jones and how he thinks Jesus is actually that stray tabby that lives under Henrie’s porch.” Both men roared with laughter and Noah dropped the wind chime on the table to clap Mason on the back.
“The feline messiah!” Mason gasped and tears ran down his cheeks. “All hail the chosen one.”
“Oh my Lord, stop it!” Noah wiped his eyes and stretched his arms out above him. His laughter died off and he slung an arm around his brother’s shoulders. “Daddy wasn’t crazy, Mase. He just saw things a little different is all…and frankly? I liked his view just fine.”
Mason eyed the old wind chime and picked it up. He held it up by the hook and looked at his big brother. “Yeah, me too.”
Jamie Ford watched field after field sweep by from his taxi’s back seat window. His reflection glinted in the fading sun and pressed a hand to the glass to lean closer to the outside. Even for as bumpkin as Shermin Heights was, he had to admit the scenery was like something he would download for a desktop. Pretty as a picture, the silhouette of a water tower sat off in the distance and a farmer waved from the top of his passing tractor rig. It was like Jamie had stepped off the plane and landed right in Mayberry.
“You can open the window if you want. Ain’t got one of them buttons but it rolls down all the same.” The elderly driver up front nodded into the rearview mirror and Jamie sighed.
“No thank you. How much farther? I need to make a call.”
“Oh this here road leads straight into town. About five minutes I’d say. If you have one of them mobile devices, can’t you call here? Ain’t that what they’re for?”
“It’s a business call.” Jamie rolled his eyes at the window and started to plot another way to torture Jerry when he got back.
“A call is a call, boy. Unless…are you callin one of them phone sex girls?” The driver slapped the steering wheel and laughed with the uneven sound of a donkey.
“I beg your pardon?” Jamie scoffed. “Why don’t you just drive like I’m paying you to and you can keep the comments to yourself.”
“City slicker…” the old man muttered and Jamie jerked his head to the driver’s seat.
“What did you say to me?”
“Oh nothin.” The driver smiled big. “Had a bug in my throat is all.”
“I’m sure.” Sitting back in his seat, Jamie endured the next five minutes of hell and a quick story about the driver—who went by Buzz—and how he ate an entire meatloaf to himself last night when his wife was at her quilting circle. It was captivating…not, Jamie groaned and cursed the day he ever signed on at Budgette and Dalley Oil Works.
“Here we are,” Buzz pulled into a semi-circle gravel drive and Jamie’s eyes felt heavy from just looking at the lavish white bed and breakfast. Merna Collins stepped out front and leaned against a pillar of her front porch. Wrapping her shawl around her shoulders to chase away the cooler evening air, she checked out the young man she would be housing. City boy, she smiled and took a few steps down from the porch and sank her sandals into the gravel. If she was twenty years younger, Merna mused, she would be all over those dark eyes and her fingers would be all up in that slicked up blonde hair.
“Miss Merna. Evenin,” Buzz greeted her and she gave the old fool a kiss on the cheek.
“Well honey, you gonna get out of the car or you gonna make Buzz stand out here all night? I’m sure his wife won’t be happy about that and she’s a whip cracker. I wouldn’t want her after me.” Merna laughed and Jamie looked between the two country mice.
“Yeah, just let me get my stuff. Seeing as how Buzz here isn’t going to,” Jamie countered with a sarcastic grin.
“Oo Buzz, did you hear that mouth? Talking to an old man like that?” Merna shook her head with a secret smile at Buzz. “Step back honey before the lightning strikes and we’re too close to him.”
Jamie peered around the open trunk and his brows furrowed. “What is that, some kind of voodoo curse? Did you just hex me or something?” Oh hell no, he had to get out of here. He’d call another cab and get a taxi to the nearest city and rent a car tomorrow. Jamie was done with this hickerbilly nonsense. A loud laugh followed by a chorus of chatter and giggles came from across the street. Jamie’s held his breath as a group of men clattered loudly down the stairs of the local bar. Of the four men, one stood out the most and like he knew he was being watched, the tall, muscled male looked up—right at Jamie.
Jeans that were poured on, a soft looking button up and a mess of dark brown hair had Jamie spelled and he couldn’t bring himself to look away. But fate wasn’t in the mood for matchmaking today and the hot ass country boy shook his head and got into his big boy Ford with a slam of the door. The other three clamored into the truck bed with a bunch of rowdy noise and swear words. Once every one seemed settled, country boy put his wheels into reverse and rolled down the window in front of the bed and breakfast. Slowly he put his arm out the window and with his hand, he flicked Jamie off.
The truck bed choir howled with laughter and the hottie roared off down the road—leaving Jamie stunned. What the hell just happened, Jamie’s eye went wide as he turned around to Merna and Buzz.
Merna giggled. “Honey, you didn’t honestly think you were some kind of secret did you?” She looked at Buzz who quirked his lip to keep from laughing. “He thought he was being sneaky riding into town all late and what not.”
“What are you talking about?” Jamie slammed the trunk shut and tried with frustration to pull his rolling suitcase through the god awful gravel.
“She’s talking about you city slicker. Only one reason they come a knockin around here. You’re here about the Pierson land ain’t ya?” Buzz stretched his neck with a squint of his eyes.
“That is none of your business. Besides, even if I was, that asshole had no right to go and flick me off.” Jamie huffed and gave up on trying to roll his case up the walk.
“Oh honey. He had every right.” Merna howled with laughter.
“Oh yeah? Why’s that?” Jamie rolled his eyes and parked his case on the porch.
“Because you silly city boy. That was Noah Pierson.”