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Authors: Cheyenne McCray

Branded for You

BOOK: Branded for You
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Riding Tall:

Branded For You

Cheyenne McCray

 

Copyright © 2012

Branded For You by Cheyenne McCray

All rights reserved. No part of this e-Book may be reproduced in whole or in part, scanned, photocopied, recorded, distributed in any printed or electronic form, or reproduced in any manner whatsoever, or by any information storage and retrieval system now known or hereafter invented, without express written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.

E-book conversion by Bella Media Management.

Published by Pink Zebra Publishing.

13-Digit ISBN: 978-0-9858534-2-6 

First Edition e-Book 

Chapter 1

“I think you should just kill the bastard and be done with it.” Tess ran her fingers through her chin-length wavy blonde hair and opened up a small notebook she always carried in her purse. She set the notebook on the kitchen table and drew a hangman with X’s for eyes and its tongue lolling out to the side of its downturned mouth. She wrote BART in block letters beneath the stick figure.

Megan Wilder braced her elbow on the table as she looked at the drawing, her chin in her palm as she looked at her sister’s simplistic drawing. “You think?”

Tess gave an emphatic nod, fire sparking in her cobalt blue eyes. “I’ll help you hide the body.”

“That would solve a lot of problems.” Megan raised her head and leaned back in her chair. “What about that woman?”

“They both deserve the same fate.” Tess drew a hangwoman with long straw-like hair, the figure hanging from a post by a noose. Beneath the figure she wrote BITCH in block letters. “We’ll bury the skinny witch in the same grave.”

“Works for me.” Megan wanted to laugh even though she usually had a hard time smiling about some things, like her ex-husband, Bart. “But for now we need to get back to packing so that we can get out of this place. I’ve had enough of it here.”

“You’re no fun.” Tess gave Megan an evil grin as she closed the notebook and tucked it back into her purse. “I think we should plot the jerk’s demise first, then finish loading all of your stuff into the moving van.”

“De-mize?” A little girl’s voice came from behind Tess’s chair. “What’s de-mize?”

Megan leaned sideways to get a peek at Jenny, Tess’s five-year-old daughter, as she rounded the chair where her mother sat. The girl had slashed red lipstick around and across her lips and held a naked baby doll with a blonde frizzy ponytail and one eye glued shut. The doll had red lipstick across her face, too.

“Where are Bette’s clothes?” Megan asked her niece as she tried not to laugh.

“I packed them.” Jenny came closer and stood between Tess and Megan as she pointed toward the bedroom. “In your little pink suitcase with all of your makeup.”

“Ah.” Megan wasn’t sure she managed to keep a look of amusement off of her face. “I see you found my lipstick. You look pretty.”

“Thank you, Aunt Megan.” Jenny looked at her mother who didn’t look as amused. “What’s de-mize?”

“It means that if we don’t get all of this stuff packed up, we’re going to be late.” Tess pushed her chair away from the table. “You need to stay out of Aunt Megan’s makeup. Let’s put Bette’s clothes in your suitcase so that Aunt Megan has room for the rest of her toiletries.”

“Okay.” Jenny took her mother’s hand. “I put Bette’s magic bottle in with the makeup too.”

“Let’s make sure you put it in your baby bag,” Tess said, as they walked away.

For a moment a sense of sadness went through Megan as she watched her niece take her mother’s hand. Megan had wanted children so badly but Bart had put it off and then had destroyed their marriage. Now she was in her thirties with no relationship and no children in sight.

Tess and Jenny entered Megan’s bedroom. Which had been Bart’s bedroom, too.

A sick feeling clenched Megan’s belly and tears pricked the back of her eyes. It was the way he’d left her that had cut so deeply, the way he’d told her he was leaving her for another woman.

Barb’s not fat like you.

The words kept ringing in Megan’s ears.

Barb’s not fat like you.

Megan gritted her teeth and got up from her chair then shoved it up against the table. She forced tears away before they could leak from her eyes. It had been just over two months since the divorce was final, seven months since he’d left her for the other woman. But sometimes the pain still felt fresh. She knew she was better off without Bart, but that didn’t mean it hurt any less.

A lifetime of not being thin enough to be popular in school, of not being slender like everyone else in her family, and being blindsided the one person who should have had her back—her ex. It was no wonder that the scars never seemed to heal. She’d think she was fine and then bam, she’d get sideswiped once again.

“I’m thirty-two years old,” Megan had said to her counselor after Bart left her, when the woman wanted to talk about Megan’s past. “I should be over what was said to me while I was growing up by my parents and the kids I went to school with.”

“Don’t minimize what you went through,” the counselor had said. “Those kinds of scars run deep and you need to face them and recognize them for what they are.”

Megan had stopped going to counseling when she’d decided to follow her parents and sister to Arizona. There was nothing left for her here in New Mexico. She wondered if she should find a counselor once she got to Prescott, but then thought it was more fun plotting Bart’s death with Tess. A counselor might not find that amusing.

Sometimes Megan wondered if she was making the right choice. Her parents weren’t easy people to be around and she’d never lived up to their expectations, despite the fact that she’d been successful in her career as a graphic designer. It wasn’t good enough for them.

She relaxed her jaws and her fingers. She wasn’t going to continue to second-guess herself.

A new chapter started in her life now, at this very moment, and she intended her book to end up with a happy ending. She was worth it. She deserved it.

She took a deep breath and closed her eyes then slowly exhaled. When she opened her eyes again she shook off all of the negativity and started toward the kitchen.

In the divorce settlement, she’d kept the house in Albuquerque and Bart had taken the cabin in the mountains. First chance she’d had after the divorce, she put the home up for sale and a buyer snatched it up almost right away. It was a cash transaction, so they hadn’t had to deal with a lender. The sale went through smoothly. Now she just needed to get out of the house so that the new owners could move in.

She grabbed a small cardboard box and metal clinked against metal as she packed up the silverware drawer. Once it was full, she marked the box kitchen using a Sharpie, then taped the box shut with clear plastic packing tape. When that was finished, she packed another box with the pots and pans that she’d left out to use until moving day.

“Are you all right?” Tess walked up and set a stack of fluffy bathroom towels on the kitchen table. “You look like you’re pretty deep in thought.”

Megan gave her sister the brightest smile she could muster. “Just coming up with new ways to dispose of what’s-his-name.”

“Good.” Tess blew loose strands of hair out of her face. She couldn’t help but look adorable with her petite frame, slender body, and heart-shaped face. Her blonde hair was fluffed around her face, and she appeared younger than her thirty-seven years. “Once we get a plan down, we’ll do away with the bastard.”

Megan laughed. She adored her older sister who’d always been there for her from the time they were young. There was a five-year age difference, but Tess had always watched out for Megan. Tess had been her defender when they were young and her staunch supporter. Megan had been equally protective over Tess.

That didn’t mean they hadn’t fought or argued as kids. At times Tess would get impatient with her younger sister who followed her around as much as possible. But all in all, they’d always been good friends.

Tess pushed her fingers through her hair. “Once we get you settled in Prescott, we need to find you a man. You have so much going for you.”

“Like what?” Megan shook her head. “I need to shed a few pounds first.”

“You look terrific.” Tess put her hands on her hips. “You’re just down because of that ass you married. Don’t let him have that kind of power over you. You’re curvy and sexy and you just need to feel good about yourself.”

Megan smiled at her sister. “You always know how to make me feel better.” Megan wasn’t given to pity parties, but at this moment it was hard because memories of the last few years kept slapping her in the face every time she looked around the house she’d called home. She was truly glad she was no longer with her ex but that didn’t mean the memories of what he’d put her through didn’t still hurt.

“Older sisters know best,” Tess grinned. “While we’re at it, once we get to Arizona, we need to go shopping and get you some cute clothes, like jeans that will show off your beautiful ass-ets.”

Megan laughed. “So now my ass is beautiful.”

“You betcha.” Tess nodded.

“Speaking of finding a man.” Megan taped the box shut as she spoke. “You should follow your own advice. Maybe you should find yourself a hot cowboy.”

“There are plenty of those in Arizona.” Tess smiled. “A lot of nice eye-candy.”

Tess might be noticing the sexy cowboys, but Megan was sure she wasn’t letting anyone pursue her. Ever since her husband, Steve, had died in a car accident, Tess had remained closed off when it came to men. She’d loved Steve with a passion that mad Megan envious. After her husband’s death Tess had followed their parents from Albuquerque to Prescott to help with the family restaurant.

“I need more than just eye candy.” Megan leaned against the counter. “Bart was as good looking as any man. That didn’t get me far. I would settle for eye broccoli. These days I need a little more substance.”

Tess laughed. “Just keep a positive attitude. There’s a meal-in-one out there for you, which would include dessert. Just stay positive.”

Megan looked around the kitchen and at the living room. “Everything is close to being finished.”

Tess gestured toward Megan’s room. “Jenny’s busy with her dolls on the carpet in your room, and I’ve put the makeup out of reach. So for now, the little monster is busy and not underfoot. I’m going to start taking what little is left in the house out to the moving van.”

Megan went to her sister. “Thank you. For everything.”

“That’s what sisters are for.” Tess took Megan’s hands. “You were there for me every step of the way when Steve died. I want to be here for you just as much.”

“You have been.” Megan hugged Tess and caught her soft honeysuckle scent. “You’re the best sister a girl could want.”

“Ditto.” Tess kissed Megan on the cheek. “Now, let’s get a move-on,” she said before she headed outside with the silverware box.

Megan bounced back to her old self, pushing aside painful and negative thoughts to enjoy her sister and her niece as they helped her get ready for her move to Arizona. It was a new day filled with exciting possibilities.

“Why Mom and Dad picked such a small area in Northern Arizona, I’ll never understand,” Tess said as she came back in the house for another box. “I’d hoped they’d move somewhere like the southern part of the state. Maybe Tucson, as opposed to the Prescott area.”

“I liked the place when I visited,” Megan said. “With a hundred thousand people in the area, Prescott is not really small.”

“It’s okay.” Tess shrugged. “I would just like something even bigger. Tucson has about a million people, close to the same population as Albuquerque.”

“But you don’t want anything as big as the Phoenix metro area,” Megan said.

“No, four million people is too much for me.” For padding, Tess scrunched the bathroom towels around the dishes Megan had just packed.

Megan grabbed the box tape. “Maybe you just need to get used to Prescott.”

Tess folded the flaps on the dishware box and held them closed while Megan sealed it. “Yeah, you’re probably right.”

“Do you miss New Mexico?” Megan asked her sister.

“Not really,” Tess said. “Like you, there’s nothing left here for me but memories too hard to bear.”

Megan rested her hand on Tess’s shoulder a moment before she picked up the dishware box and took it out to the big yellow rental truck that she’d be driving soon. It was still early morning and they were close to hitting the road. Last night they’d carried out most of the boxes with friends helping to load what little furniture Megan was keeping. Tess and her daughter had caught a flight to Albuquerque a few days ago in order to make the road trip to Arizona with Megan. Tess would be driving Megan’s red Toyota Camry.

BOOK: Branded for You
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