Make it a double, p.3
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       Make It a Double, p.3

         Part #2 of Last Call series by Sawyer Bennett
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  “Hey, Jethro,” I say softly, watching his ribs move up and down as he breathes. He doesn’t respond, so I know he’s deeply asleep. After watching him for a few more minutes, I stand up, noticing with a wince that my knees are creaking more and more. This job is physically demanding… cleaning cages, hauling forty-pound bags of dog food, dealing with wily animals, and bathing said wily animals. I have a few volunteers that help me out, one in particular that comes every Saturday so I can have that day off, but I run this place mostly on my own. I work between twelve and fifteen hours a day, six days a week. So while my young twenty-three-year-old body is already having creaks and groans, damn if it isn’t worth it. I go to sleep every night with a smile on my face, thankful for the opportunity to do something that means so much to me.

  My phone rings and I hastily pull it out of my pocket, hoping it’s Frank.

  Sadly, it’s not, although the person calling always puts a smile on my face.

  “Hey Casey,” I chirp when I connect the call.

  “Hey. Ready for tonight?” she asks.

  “Hell yeah,” I tell her enthusiastically. “Are you sure she has no clue?”

  “She’s oblivious,” Casey assures me. “Meet me there about six o’clock to help me decorate, okay?”

  “Sure. ”

  “And don’t forget the cake. ”

  “I won’t forget the cake,” I assure her, although I had completely forgotten about the cake. Now along with my stress over the hay and new horse, I had to go get Gabby’s birthday cake.

  Because tonight we are throwing a huge surprise party for her. Her birthday isn’t until next Wednesday, but we figured she’d never see it coming if we did it a bit early. Hunter is in charge of getting her to Last Call under some pretext, and I’m tasked with the cake. Casey is handling decorations, so we should have it covered.

  “Okay… peace out,” she says with a giggle and hangs up.

  I quickly pull up the calendar on my phone and set myself a reminder to get out of here at five so I have time to run home for a quick shower and to get the cake.

  Just as I finish my calendar entry, the phone rings. I see it’s Frank.

  Thank God.

  “Frank… you better have a good excuse,” I warn when I answer.

  “How about the fact my wife went into labor, and I’m at the hospital,” he says flippantly.

  “Holy shit… are you serious?”

  “Yeah, I’m sorry. I just now saw your messages and honestly, I completely forgot about it. When Jeannie’s water broke this morning, I wigged out. ”

  “It’s no problem,” I assure him, my brain spinning, trying to figure out what the hell I’m going to do.

  “The hay and bags of pine shavings are already on the trailer, Alyssa. If you think you can get it hooked to your truck, you can go haul it yourself. I’ll cut the price, of course. ”

  Bingo! That would work.

  “Awesome. I’ll head over there now. And I hope all goes well with Jeannie,” I tell him.

  “I’m sure it will,” he says before he hangs up.

  Shoving my phone back in my pocket, I leave the kennel and head toward my truck. I’ve never hooked up a trailer before, but it can’t be that hard, right? My bigger concern is how to unload it all by myself, but I figure I can push the bales and bags off and drag them in. All I need are a few to get the stall ready.

  I open the door and step up into my truck. Of course, I have the seat pulled completely up as far as it will go because I’m so short. Taking a deep breath, I turn the engine and put it in drive.

  I have things to do.

  Chapter 3


  Glancing at the clock on the wall, I sigh and pace back and forth across Hunter’s living room. I can hear the plumber in the back, clanging around. He’s installing a new water heater, and I’m tasked with the job of waiting here while he does the job. Hunter had far more important things to do today, like getting Gabby out of Dodge while preparations were underway for her surprise birthday celebration. As such, he drove her down the coast to New Bern to have a late, lingering lunch and a slow drive back up to waste time.

  That left me on water heater duty. It had apparently blown last night, a fact that Hunter had woken up to this morning. He called and asked if I could come over and meet the plumber, a chore I didn’t mind because I didn’t have anything else to do. Jimbo had just left and I wasn’t scheduled to work today, so the only other thing on my agenda was Gabby’s birthday party tonight.

  Which I am not looking forward to… at all.

  Don’t get me wrong. I love Gabby… adore her.

  And I love that she and Hunter have found each other. My guess is it won’t be too long before they are engaged, then married, and then have little rugrats running around.

  But a party means socialization. Casey said she invited half the island, which means I’ll stand in the corner and brood while I sip on a bottle of water. I’ll have to pretend I don’t see people staring and whispering about me, or I’ll have to fend off those that really don’t give a shit what I did and want to make small talk.

  I can’t stand that shit either.

  “Hey man,” I hear from behind me. Turning, I see the plumber. What was his name… Robby? Bobby?


  “This is going to take a bit longer than I thought. Maybe another hour. Cool?”

  Sighing, I say, “Sure. No problem. ”

  Grabbing the remote control off the coffee table, I decide I might as well watch some TV, when there’s a knock at the door. I walk over and undo the lock, opening it wide.


  Standing before me, looking more beautiful than the last time I saw her, is Alyssa Myers. She is a sight to behold, and a complete contradiction. She’s extremely wealthy… I know this, but I don’t know to what extent, nor do I care. But she stands there in a pair of dirty jeans, cowboy boots, and a dark blue t-shirt that is worn and threadbare, with a logo on the left breast pocket so faded I can’t even read it. She’s small, barely coming up to my shoulder, and she wears her hair really short, no more than a few inches all the way around, with soft wisps that hang slightly over her forehead, around her ears, and the nape of her neck. Most women can’t wear that hairstyle and still rock the sexy factor, but Alyssa manages to do that and then some. Her eyes are large and brown, surrounded by lashes that are as thick as caterpillars. Her facial features are absolutely perfect… straight nose that tilts slightly at the end, high cheekbones that always look tinged with blush, and full lips. Her beauty is classic, her short hair just emphasizing those features.

  Like I said… absolutely gorgeous and yet, I still can’t stand the sight of her.

  “What do you want?” I ask her, my voice harsh and unyielding. Whatever she’s here for, it doesn’t concern me, and I want her to get going as quickly as possible.

  “Is Hunter here?” she asks, her eyes looking slightly worried.

  “No. ”

  “Will he be back soon?” she asks, her voice hopeful.

  “No. ”

  “Do you know where he is? I’ve tried to call him and Gabby, and they aren’t answering their phones. ”

  “I don’t know, but they’ll be gone all day. ” Satisfied that I’ve answered her questions, I actually start to shut the door, but I stop because her face crumbles into a vision of despair. It’s such a forlorn look that I expect her to burst into tears and, for some reason, that doesn’t set right with me.

  Yet, Alyssa does just the opposite.

  Her eyebrows slant inward in anger, and she kicks out at the doorjamb with her boot, yelling, “Fuck. ”

  I just stare at her in shock, but she doesn’t look at me. Rather, she looks left and right, not really looking at anything in particular but clearly trying to decide something. Bringing both of her hands up, she rakes her fingers through her hair and curses again, “Shit, shit, s
hit, shit. ”

  Spinning away from me, she starts down the porch stairs, calling a hurried, “Thanks” over her shoulder.

  I watch in disbelief as she hits the ground and runs to her truck. I’m stunned over her display, because… frankly, well… she’s a spitfire. I expected someone of her background to be more genteel, soft spoken… well mannered. The fact that she just unloaded a stream of curses that would cause most of my prison mates to blush, because something clearly bad has happened, has caught me a bit off guard.

  And the fact that something is distressing her is causing my gut to churn. She’s not my problem and I don’t want her problems to be my problems, but f**k… she came to Hunter for some type of help, and now I’m feeling the need to be his proxy.

  Running down the front stairs, I make it to her truck just as she starts to back out of Hunter’s driveway. She doesn’t see me because her body is turned with her arm slung over the cab seat so she can see behind her. I give a sharp slap on her hood with my hand, which gets her attention and causes her to slam on the brakes.

  As I walk around to the driver’s side, she rolls down the window and looks at me expectantly but with impatience.

  “What’s wrong?” I ask her.

  “It’s nothing,” she says, turning away to look behind her again so she can resume backing up.

  “It’s clearly something,” I tell her calmly, placing my hand on the door. She turns, glances down at it, and then back up at me.

  “Look, Brody,” she snaps. “I don’t have time and I’m in a world of shit right now, so step away so I can get going. ”

  I don’t know what possesses me to do it because just two minutes ago, I couldn’t wait for her to leave and get out of my sight. Two minutes ago when I looked at her, I saw a brutal reminder of my past and couldn’t wait for it to get gone, because my past f**king hurts. And she reminds me of that hurt.

  But now… for some reason, I just see a woman that is frustrated, a tiny bit scared, and in desperate need of help. So I reach into the window and turn her truck off.

  Alyssa opens her mouth, I’m sure to lay into me, but I cut her off. “Just tell me what’s wrong, I’ll help you fix it, and you can be on your way. ”

  Warring emotions flicker through her gaze, but resolve is where it ends. “I have a horse due to be delivered to The Haven in forty-five minutes. I have to pick up a load of hay and pine shavings and have the stall ready, but when I tried to get it… I couldn’t figure out how to hook up the freakin’ trailer to my truck. I was hoping Hunter could help me. But I’m just going to head back and try it again. Hopefully, I can get it this time. ”

  I don’t know anything about horses, and I don’t know why it’s so important to have the hay and pine shavings there, but clearly, it’s important because Alyssa looks to be on the verge of panic right now.

  “Give me thirty seconds, and I’ll be right back. I’ll go with you and get the trailer hooked up. ”

  I don’t even wait to hear her response, just turn toward the house. I need to give the check that Hunter left Robby or Bobby, or whatever his name is, to him and ask him to lock up behind himself when he’s done.


  Alyssa didn’t talk at all on the way to hook up the trailer, which was fine by me. I’m not sure what we would have talked about anyway. Last time we had a conversation, I called her a rich, snot-nosed heiress, or something to that effect. Let’s put it this way, it was bad enough to have her running from Last Call practically in tears and earned me an ass reaming from Hunter, Gabby, and Casey.

  Since then, Alyssa has steered clear of me and vice versa. I’m sure she wants nothing to do with me because I was a rude f**k, and I don’t want anything to do with her because she reminds me too much of Stacy. Well, at least the rich, snot-nosed heiress part does, and frankly… I can’t seem to look past that.

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