This is a work of fiction. All concepts, characters and events portrayed in this book are used fictitiously and any resemblance to real people or events is purely coincidental.
Copyright Evelyn Hively, 2014
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means without prior written permission of the publisher, nor be circulated in any form of bind or cover other than that in which it is published without a similar condition being imposed on the subsequent publisher.
Mace kept on glaring at Lacy. The human woman was cleaning things up for company. It wasn’t often that Lacy had friends come into town since she had moved to the cabin, but when Jason had called and said him and five of his buddies needed a fireplace and some good home-cooked food on their way home for leave, Lacy had insisted.
“You can glare all you want, you can’t actually talk back to me,” Lacy teased the cat. Mace huffed a final time at her and made her way upstairs to where Gnobin was curled up on the bed and nudged him over. He huffed at her himself and resettled back into the warmth that was Lacy’s afghan.
Lacy sang along with the radio thinking back to how she had met Jason and three of his friends Jack, Ronald and Robin. She had been out with friends on the Tennessee river fishing. They had come by in canoes just as she had lost a huge catfish on her reel and fallen off the boat into Jason and Robin’s canoe. They got launched onto the boat she had just fallen off of, but ended up flipping the canoe. Everyone had lost it and were dying laughing. She had shrugged and managed to empty the canoe of water then get herself back onto the boat.
Jason had been so impressed with her he had gotten her number. It had been four years but Jason and her had stayed friends outside of a few spats. The other three had hung out frequently as well, but Jason had two new buddies with him. She hadn’t seen him in over two years. He had gotten a new assignment and she had lost all contact with him. His call had come out of the blue but it had been a welcome one as he had been on her mind heavily for a few days.
Three trucks found their way down into the area outside of the cabin and Lacy grinned as she recognized the older Ford that Jason had always favored. He doted on that truck, despite serious teasing from his mates. Lacy tossed a couple more logs onto the fire and glanced over at Katana and Uchi. They were lounging nearby and would be staying around. Lacy ducked outside and gave them a warm grin. Jason caught her up in a bear hug and set her back down with a smile.
“Lacy, meet my two new friends Joseph and Charles. Dudes from my new unit,” Jason said gesturing to the two new faces. Lacy gave them both a warm smile but a firm handshake. She had learned men tended to not be as much trouble if they got such a handshake. Charles gave her a smile back but it was Joseph who actually surprised her.
“Jason you didn’t mention she was attractive,” he said meeting her eyes and smiling. Lacy gave him a shy grin noting his eyes were a lovely blue and then glared playfully at Jason.
” Just as long as he warned you I was a witch, have a cat and will be most insulted if you leave my home hungry,” she said with a chuckle.
“Nah, Robin warned us of that. I can’t wait, I’m starving,” Joseph quipped. Lacy found herself pleased with the men’s eagerness but very quickly ushered everyone in. The men scattered exploring the common area of living room and kitchen. Jason nodded approvingly.
“You won’t get to keep this place will you?”
“No, I thinking about moving back with my parents and working towards setting roots down there. I can’t seem to get a break here.”
Jason nodded continuing his exploration. Mace peaked out from the upstairs but stayed out sight of everyone until Joseph and Charles happened meander up a few steps to look around upstairs. She mewed at the two and they grinned, Joseph sitting down so that he could love on the cat. Lacy noticed out of the corner of her eye and took note. Last time a guy had tried to pet Mace, his hand came away looking like it had been in a shredder.
“What’s outside La-La?” Jason asked, using her old nickname. Lacy didn’t let him see her wince, but Joseph and Charlies caught it as did Robin. They traded looks sensing something was wrong.
“Go take a look if you’re so curious silly. It’s another ten minutes before the food is ready anyways,” she teased him over her shoulder. He laughed and headed towards the door then hit the brakes.
“Before I forget, me and Jack have to head north though in a couple of hours, we have to be at the…. oh I can’t remember the name of it, but one of the bases in Indiana by tomorrow night and I’d rather get as much of that driving done tonight as I can,” he told her.
“That’s fine, but you ain’t drinking then,” she informed him.
“Only folks drinking tonight are those chilling here.”
Ronald and Robin chuckled.
“We have to head southeast tomorrow so we’re going to be heading out about the same time as Jason but getting a hotel room down in Knoxville. Heard some rumors about some wicked clubs down there,” Robin said as he sat to the food that Lacy was serving.
She just laughed. Clubs weren’t her thing and Robin and Ronald had been banned from coming over after being at the club all night, year’s ago. She looked at Joseph and Charles.
“And for you two?”
Joseph glanced at the futon.
“Nowhere to go myself, but Charles’s home in Atlanta and I promised to get down him there,” Joseph said. Charles snorted.
“My folks aren’t expecting me for another three days. I saw you eyeing the ridge trail behind here. We would be pleased if we could stay the night or two here Lacy, it’d help a couple of broke grunts out,” Charles finally spoke to her.
“Dig in then gentlemen, dinner is served!”