Small town siren, p.1
Small Town Siren, p.1Part #1 of Texas Sirens series by Sophie Oak
Small Town Siren
Texas Sirens Book 1
Small Town Siren
Texas Sirens Book 1
Published by DLZ Entertainment LLC
Copyright 2018 DLZ Entertainment LLC
Edited by Chloe Vale
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.
This is a work of fiction. Names, places, characters and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination and are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or establishments is solely coincidental.
Way back in 2010, I was a nervous author trying to get published. I’m still nervous—about everything—but Small Town Siren was published in July of that year. Later, I found Bliss, Colorado and wove the two series together in that way I enjoy. I built a little universe filled with cowboys who liked to share, women who don’t mind shooting a son of a bitch, and several small towns that formed the basis for this world. A few years later, for legal reasons, I made the difficult decision to leave behind my original pen name and the worlds I’d built. I moved on and became Lexi Blake. There was this start-up company called McKay-Taggart that I decided to double down on and the rest is my own personal history.
But I never forgot my cowboys—my Jack and my Sam, my Max and my Rye. I didn’t forget Willow Fork or Bliss, and in my head, I saw all the ways these babies of mine were tied together. I can’t help it. We tend to write what we know and the stories of my childhood came from science fiction and comic books—a place where even the oddest of characters can have ties you never expected. In my head, McKay-Taggart and Texas Sirens, Bliss, CO and Lawless, Thieves and Faery Story all fit together.
Fast forward to 2017 and the joy of being able to finally bring my family together. Over the course of the next year, I’ll be revising all the Sophie Oak books to bring them into the Lexi universe—as they always should have been.
Small Town Siren was my first and going back over it has been more of a joy than I would have thought. I sort of cringed at the thought of reediting. What could I have to say about characters who’ve been around for seven years? Turns out there were a few things I’ve learned since that first book and I hope it shows in this second edition. What I realized was, while the story itself hasn’t changed, there was certainly more to show the reader. So I hope you enjoy some of the new scenes and a fresh take on the small town that started everything for me.
It’s good to go home, even more so when you know your whole family is waiting for you.
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Table of Contents
An excerpt from Siren in the City, Texas Sirens Book 2
An excerpt from Nobody Does It Better, Masters and Mercenaries Book 15
About Lexi Blake
Other Books by Lexi Blake
Willow Fork, Texas
20 years before
Abigail Moore held her plain white T-shirt up just under her breasts as she stared at herself in the mirror, trying to see any sign of the change to her body. Shouldn’t she be able to see some kind of alteration? After all, her whole damn life had changed with a single pee.
Pregnant. She was pregnant and Adam was dead, and what the hell was she going to do?
She let the T-shirt drop. There was zero change to her body yet, but she could see it in her face. Seventeen years old. She was seventeen and her life was over. Everything they’d said about her was true. She was reckless and stupid and she was going to pay the price.
She heard the door to the trailer open and braced herself. Her mother was home. It was time to tell her mother that she had screwed everything up.
Abby wiped away her tears. She had a high school diploma and roughly three hundred dollars from her summer job saved up. She could work through the pregnancy and try to start community college classes after she had the baby.
She would go slow. Slow but steady.
It would be easier to tell her mother about the baby if she had a plan. It was a shitty plan that mostly involved hoping and praying everything went okay, but it was something of a plan.
Bright smile. She would convince Momma that everything was going to be all right.
The smile died on her face when she realized it wasn’t her mother standing there in the living room.
It was Ruby Echols. Adam’s mother. She was standing in the middle of the trailer Abby had grown up in wearing one of her best Sunday suits and looking around the place like she was trying not to touch anything.
She wasn’t alone. The sheriff was standing with her. Behind her, really. The sheriff was in full uniform, his hat on his head and that Colt at his side in view.
“I’m sorry, dear,” Ruby said, her voice calm and even, as though she was here to talk about the church charity function. “I knocked, but no one came to the door.”
Because Abby had been crying in the bathroom. “I didn’t hear you. My mom isn’t here. She’s still at work.”
Abby glanced at the clock. Her mom wouldn’t be home for another half hour. Her stomach twisted. Ruby would likely know that. Abby had come to understand that Ruby Echols knew absolutely everything that went on in Willow Fork.
A serpentine smile curled up Ruby’s lips. “Oh, when she comes home is up to you, dear.”
God, Adam had hated his mother. Don’t look her in the eyes, he would say. You might turn to stone. I can’t wait until we blow this town, baby. We’re leaving and never looking back.
Adam Echols. So beautiful. So reckless.
She would never love another man. How could she? Adam had been the love of her life and now she had to face it all alone.
“What does that mean? And you, Sheriff Lyle? Are you suddenly interested in enforcing the trailer park home owner’s association codes?” She wouldn’t put it past them.
Since she’d started dating Adam, Ruby Echols had done everything in her power to make Abby’s life miserable. She’d made sure the only grocery store in town wouldn’t sell her anything. Abby had to drive forty miles to find a fast food place that would hire her. She’d gotten more tickets for traffic violations than she could keep up with. It wouldn’t surprise her at all if the sheriff started ticketing her for not keeping the grass a certain height.
“Don’t you turn that smart mouth on me, missy,” he growled her way. “I’ll have you in a jail cell and I promise you won’t like it.”
She turned her chin up. “You can’t arrest me. I haven’t done anything wrong.”
He stared her down. “I think I can come up with something.”
Ruby held a hand up. “I don’t think that will be necessary today, Sheriff. I think Miss Moore will prove not to be a problem after today. Tell me something, Abigail. Was the test positive?”
She felt her eyes widen. “What?”
“The pregnancy test you had that whore friend of yours buy for you this morning. Was it positive?”
Her hands started to shake. God, she’d just found out about her baby. Mere moments before she’d been considering all her options and now fear rushed through her system as icy cold as the stream that ran on the outskirts of town. “That’s none of your business.”
“It doesn’t have to be,” Ruby said, her tone entirely too reasonable for this conversation.
“What is that supposed to mean?”
“It means that you can make this easy on yourself or it can be hard on everyone.” She clutched her bag in one hand, patting her helmet of icy blonde hair with the other. “You can leave this town and never come back and your mother will continue to have a job and a pension and a home, or you can decide to stay and she will lose all of those things. Right now her employer is waiting to hear from me. If I call before five, he’ll fire her today. Imagine that, Abigail. Your poor, uneducated mother trying to find another job that pays even half as well. And she’s a diabetic. I’m afraid her health care will go.”
The thought turned her stomach. “She didn’t do anything to you.”
“Oh, but she did. She gave birth to the slut who killed my son.”
Abby could argue that Adam had done that himself. Adam had been the one who’d driven away in the middle of a thunderstorm. She’d begged him not to, but it wouldn’t make a difference to the Echols family. Everything was Abby’s fault.
Ruby wasn’t finished. “In addition to your mother suffering if you don’t leave this town, I promise if I see you walking around here with a bastard in your belly, I’ll come after it. I won’t love it. I won’t consider it mine. I’ll make sure that child knows every single day what a whore its momma was. You really should have taken me up on my former offer.”
Her former offer had been five thousand dollars if Abby would leave Adam and never see him again. Abby had turned her down flat.
“And if I leave?” It took everything she had not to run back to the bathroom and throw up. How was this happening? How was Adam dead and gone and his child growing inside her? How was her world falling apart?
She’d fallen in love with a boy. That was her only crime.
“Like I said, I don’t want that bastard. I’m not even certain it’s Adam’s. Probably not given that everyone knows you spread your legs for half the county.”
She hadn’t. She’d given herself to Adam because she’d loved him, but Abby knew it didn’t matter.
And she knew one thing. All that crying in the bathroom and trying to figure out what to do about her pregnancy had been silly. She knew now. All it had taken was Ruby Echols’s threat to make her understand she was going to be a mother.
She would never let anyone hurt her child.
“I need a few days to settle things.”
Ruby shook her head, though that helmet of hers moved not a centimeter. “You leave today. You have ten minutes to pack, not that there’s anything in this hellhole that’s likely worth having. I’ve got an envelope containing a bus ticket to Dallas and one thousand dollars. The bus leaves in thirty minutes. You’re either on it or I’ll start paperwork to ensure that baby in your belly comes home with me.”
“But my mom.” Her head was whirling. How could this be happening? Maybe this was all one long bad dream. She would wake up and Adam would be alive and they would go off to Austin for college.
“Leave her a note, dear. She can’t be surprised. After all, you’re the town whore. Her life is going to be so much easier without you around,” Ruby promised. “Now hurry. This is a one-time offer that goes away if that bus leaves without you.”
She wanted to stay and fight. She wanted to tell that bitch to fuck herself.
The Echols family ruled this town. They owned most of the businesses and the bank. Every charity in town depended on their goodwill.
If she fought, she would lose.
Abby turned and went to pack her things.
Thirty minutes later, she looked out the window of the Greyhound bus that would take her to Dallas. She’d already decided that once she was there, she would take another to Fort Worth. Her aunt lived there. She would show up on her Aunt Rita’s doorstep and promise to pay her back for the help Abby needed.
She was going to college and then she would see what the world had in store for her baby.
She would never give up.
As she rolled out of Willow Fork, she vowed not to come home again.
She put her hand on her belly. “All right, baby. Let’s go see the world.”
Willow Fork, Texas
Ten years later
Jack Barnes looked out over the spread he’d spent every dime he had on. Ten thousand acres of prime Texas ranch. It was quiet in the early morning light, a fog rolling in over the land.
In a few hours it wouldn’t be so quiet. In a few hours they would receive eight hundred head of prime cattle and then they would be in for it.
Jack took a sip of the coffee he’d made, noting how it steamed against the cool morning air.
God, he hoped he knew what he was doing. Life had been easier in Dallas, but he thought he could see where that lifestyle was going to take them. Him and Sam. He couldn’t lose Sam. His best friend.
So here he was. Barnes and Fleetwood. Cattle ranchers. Organic cattle ranchers.
“Hey, Jack,” a familiar voice said.
Sam walked out, his golden hair hidden under a beat-to-hell Stetson he’d found at a garage sale.
“Morning,” Jack said, turning back to the land. He couldn’t quite take his eyes off it. His. It was all his.
No. Theirs. It was his and Sam’s.
“How was your night?” Jack asked.
Sam’s shoulders drooped a bit. “I don’t know. It was weird. The town is very closed off. Did you know they don’t even sell beer at the grocery stores?”
“We’ll have to stock up then,” he offered. He put a hand on his best friend’s shoulder. “Don’t worry about it. I doubt you’re going to have time to think about beer for the next few weeks. We’ll be working way too hard getting this place ready to go.”
A smile lit Sam’s face, reminding Jack so much of the kid he’d first met in foster care. “We have a cattle ranch, Jack.”
Damn straight they did, and that look on Sam’s face was exactly why he’d taken them out of Dallas.
“We do indeed,” Jack agreed. “You ready for this?”
Sam hustled off the stairs and moved toward the stables. He held his arms out as though embracing the world around him. “To be a cowboy? Hell, Jack, I was born to do this. I’m going to ride the fence line one last time before our babies get here. Wouldn’t want to lose one.”
They’d been training for this for months. Julian had found them a mentor, though they’d both worked as ranch hands before. They knew how to work a herd, but running a business was new.
He had to make this work. He’d gambled everything on this land and this ranch.
Jack set the mug down and hustled after Sam.
Couldn’t let his friend have all the fun, after all.
Jack breathed in the early morning air and promised that he would conquer Willow Fork, Texas.
This was going to be his kingdom.
Sam pulled up behind the old sedan that was parked in front of Christa Wade’s three-bedroom ranch house. She lived in town, a few blocks off of the square where her diner was located. The front yard was littered with kids’ bikes, proving this was probably the place where all the kiddos liked to spend their afternoon.
He could believe that. Christa was a nice lady and her husband Mike was just about his best friend, outside of Jack, of course.
His cell phone trilled and Sam picked it up. “Hey, Jack.”
“Hey, when you grab the order from the hardware store, could you run by the grocer? Benita says we’re out of olive oil. She’s texting you a list.”
“Sure thing.” He wasn’t sure what they would do without Benita Wells. She’d been their housekeeper since two weeks after they’d moved into the ranch house and figured out that while they were pretty good with cattle, neither one of them could cook for shit. They’d put an ad out but one of the ranch hands had come forward, offering for his wife to take the job while they looked for a permanent solution.
Benita was the solution and now her husband was their foreman.
“Tell her I’ll be back well before din… Holy shit.”
Sam stopped, the phone suddenly not important at all as that crap-ass sedan’s door opened up and the single most luscious thing he’d ever seen in his life stepped out.
She had vibrant auburn hair that ran like a waterfall down her back. So much hair. And that wasn’t the only thing that hot honey had been blessed with. She wore a V-necked T-shirt and jeans that clung to her body the way he clung to a cold beer after a long day.
She bounced out of the car, proving those amazing breasts were real.
He could feel them in his hands, practically see her nipples tightening under his gaze.
Lust hit him hard and fast and in a way he’d never really known before. Not that he hadn’t wanted a woman at first sight before. Hell, men were wired that way, but this one…oh, this one was damn near perfect.
Damn it. He picked the phone back up. “Sorry, Jack. I’m going to have to call you back. I’ll get the oil. Hey, why am I going to the grocery store for oil? I can get some from Mike. He’s gotta have a couple of quarts in his garage.”
Small Town Siren by Sophie Oak / Romance & Love / History & Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes