hell, Jem? Who is she anyhow? She has to be a freak if she’s hanging out with Everly.” She shivered dramatically. “Can’t hardly stand to look at her with that shriveled up arm.”
I zipped up my pants. “And that comment, sweetheart, just assured me that we’re done here. Go find someone else to sit under your daddy’s rifle rack.” I opened the door.
“You fucking lowlife, ex-con bastard,” she shrieked as she shoved both hands against me. “Everyone knows your dad murdered all those girls just like he killed his high school girlfriend. Just a matter of time before all of you, including that crazy brother of yours—” Her rant continued as I slammed the door in her face, leaving her sitting alone and pissed as hell in the backseat of her dad’s truck. With the daggers she was shooting at me from her scowl, I figured I was lucky that her dad’s gun rack was empty.
I headed across the parking lot wondering just what the hell I was doing. It wasn’t just because Tashlyn was fucking amazing to look at. Something else, something I couldn’t put my finger on, kept chipping at me, telling me that I needed to stay near her.
Dane was leaning at the bar counter talking to a couple of girls when I walked back inside. I ordered a beer and surveyed the room. Everly and Tashlyn had carried apple martinis to a counter high table at the back of the bar. There were already three guys circling them, Sam and Ace, ratchet-setters at the mill, and the third, Drake, a dickwad who was real good at losing money to me in poker. They were just standing with their beers and talking to Tashlyn, but I couldn’t stop from clenching my fists.
I walked over and placed my beer down hard on the table, causing the girls to startle. Everly raised her brow at me. “Can we help you?”
“Nope. Just resting my beer.”
Sam forced a friendly smile. “Hey, Wolfe, we’re just getting acquainted with our newest workmate. Maybe you should rest your beer somewhere else.” Sam had obviously strapped on his steel balls for his night out. Ace, a guy who always had way more sense than his buddy, looked at Sam as if he’d grown a pair of horns right out of his head. Ace’s shocked look seemed to make Sam rethink his original request. “Of course, it’s a free world and everything. So whatever,” he blurted so fast I thought he’d choke on his own tongue.
Ace wisely picked up his beer and walked away. Sam and Drake stuck around, looking a little less confident than when I’d first walked up.
Everly was standing between Tashlyn and me, but my attention went right to Tashlyn, my sole reason for making the trip across the bar. “You going to sing, Woodstock?”
Tashlyn shrugged. “You sure are interested in me competing up there. I figure either you want me to make a fool of myself or you’re thinking of trying for the money.” Sometimes she was flustered and shy when I was talking to her. Other times, like tonight, she was mouthy and sure of herself. I was liking both sides of the coin and wondering which girl would surface if I had her naked in my bed.
“What happened to Katy?” Everly piped up, making her usual disgust of me clear. I’d never had a problem with Everly. In fact, I had huge respect for a girl who’d braved roaring flames to save a friend’s life. But her Uncle Landon’s hate for the Wolfe family always showed on his niece’s face. She’d been preprogrammed to despise me her whole life, and that brainwashing wasn’t going away anytime soon.
Everly grinned at me. “Guess I always figured you for a minute man, Jem.” Sam and Drake got a good laugh out of her comment.
“Well, Ever, as usual, you have me figured all wrong.” I looked over at Tashlyn again as if she was the only person standing in the bar with me. Hell, as far as I was concerned, she was the only person in the whole damn place worth talking to. And I couldn’t take my eyes off of her.
She dropped her face, pretending to focus on the