Read Texas! Lucky Online

Authors: Sandra Brown

Tags: #Contemporary, #Fiction, #Romance, #General, #Love Stories, #Texas, #Western, #Families, #Arson, #Alibi, #Western Stories, #Fires, #Ranches

Texas! Lucky (10 page)

BOOK: Texas! Lucky
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Lucky endured the kiss because he recognized the difference between feminine wiles and real treachery. Susan Young exercised the latter. She would resort even to blackmail to get him to marry her.

As he went down her front walk, having made good a temporary escape, he wiped the remains of her kiss off his lips with the back of his hand.

It hadn't repelled him. It certainly hadn't stirred his ardor. It had left him feeling totally indifferent to it, something that hadn't happened since he first discovered kissing under the tutelage of the preacher's daughter behind the choir loft of the First Baptist Church during vacation Bible school. Between that first titillating mouth-to-mouth experimentation and Susan's ardent kiss, what had happened to immunize him against the effects?

A taste of Dovey, that's what.

* * *

The bartender groaned when he looked up and saw Lucky straddling one of the barstools. "I'd just as soon you take your business somewhere else tonight, Lucky, and give the place a rest."

"Shut up and draw me a beer. I'm not looking for trouble."

"As I recall," the bartender drawled, "that's what you said yesterday." He slid the beer in front of his customer.

Lucky sipped. "I'm in a jam."

"So I hear. It's all over town that you need an alibi for last night."

"Jeez, the grapevine around here is faster and more accurate than a fax machine."

The bartender's face split into a wide grin. "If you don't like the gossip, you shouldn't keep such a—what do they call it?—a high profile. Plain folks are fascinated by the activities of local celebrities."

Lucky cursed and took another sip of his drink. "You remember anything about that woman?"

"Not as much as you do, I'd bet," he chortled. His sappy grin faded beneath Lucky's warning glare. "Uh, well, let's see, natural redhead, wasn't she? And I don't mean anything lewd about that," he added hastily.

"Dark auburn hair, yeah."

"'Bout so tall." He marked a spot near his shoulder, holding his hand parallel to the ground.

"I don't need a physical description," Lucky said impatiently. "Do you remember anything significant about her?"

"Significant?"

"Did you see her pull into the parking lot?"

The bartender searched his memory. "I think so. Came from the south, I believe."

"The south." Lucky assimilated that. "If you saw which direction she came from, you must've noticed her car."

"Sure did."

"What kind was it?"

"Red," he announced proudly, glad to be of service.

"I know it was red," Lucky growled. "But what kind?"

"Foreign, I think."

"Make?" The bartender shook his head. "Model?" Again Lucky received a negative answer.

"Great," he muttered, his highball glass at his lips.

"Well, you followed her, Lucky. If you didn't notice, how could you expect me to?"

"Don't worry about it. I just thought you might've. You know I don't recognize the make and model of any car manufactured after 1970. Like you, I just remember hers being compact and red. Maybe under hypnosis I could remember the license number, but I've been racking my brain all day, and can't come up with a single digit or letter of it."

"Uh-oh."

"What?" Lucky swiveled around on the stool, following the direction of the bartender's worried gaze. Coming through the door were Little Alvin and Jack Ed. They paused momentarily when they spotted Lucky. An expectant hush fell over the bar. Then the duo ambled toward a corner booth and sat down.

"Two beers each. Right now," Little Alvin bellowed to the bartender.

He uncapped four long necks and set them on a cork-lined tray. "I'll take it," Lucky offered congenially, sliding off his stool.

"Now, look, Lucky, I just got this place—"

"No trouble. Swear." Lucky gave the man his most winning grin. Carrying the tray, he moved across the gritty hardwood floor toward the corner booth. Little Alvin and Jack Ed followed his progress with hooded eyes.

When he reached their booth, he set the tray on the table. "Drink up, boys."

Jack Ed sneered and suggested that Lucky do something to himself that was anatomically impossible.

Ignoring him, Lucky addressed Alvin. "Glad to see you can walk upright today."

Little Alvin glowered at him menacingly. "You'll get yours, you cocky bastard."

"Alvin, Alvin," Lucky said, shaking his head sorrowfully, "is that any way to talk to me after I've brought a peace offering?" He nodded down at the beer Alvin had almost guzzled in one swallow. "I put your drinks on my tab. Felt like it was the least I could do after our misunderstanding yesterday."

"You can't smooth-talk your way past me. Beat it."

The features of Lucky's face pulled taut. "
Listen
you—"

"Lucky!"

Chase's voice cut through the smoky, dense atmosphere. From the corner of his eye Lucky saw his brother weaving through the tables to join him at the end of Little Alvin's booth.

"Don't start anything else, for godsake," Chase warned him in a terse whisper.

"Well, if it ain't the rodeo star," Jack Ed said snidely, "come to save his little brother from another beatin'."

"That's not the way I heard it, Patterson." Chase had been a bull rider in his youth. He'd won a considerable amount of prize money, and had made quite a name for himself on the rodeo circuit. But the danger associated with the sport had always worried his parents. They were greatly relieved when he became engaged to Tanya and retired from it with all his faculties and all his body parts still intact.

Chase didn't let Jack Ed provoke him. His unexpected appearance had had a calming effect on Lucky, who said now, "I just wanted to ask them some questions."

"I wouldn't mind asking them a few myself," Chase said.

Feeling expansive, Little Alvin propped his arms, which were as big around as pythons, along the back cushion of the booth. "About what?"

"About the fire last night in our garage," Chase said.

"About the woman who was in here yesterday," Lucky replied tightly.

Alvin responded to Lucky's question. "Heard she ran out on you," he said with a malicious grin. "Too bad. Always suspected that your success with the fairer sex was overrated." Jack Ed thought that was hilarious. His giggle was almost as high-pitched as a woman's.

"I don't believe for a minute you were playing cards with your brothers all night," Chase said.

"Did she ever give you her name?" Lucky asked, miraculously quelling the overwhelming impulse to wipe the gloating grin off Alvin's beefy face.

"You balled her and you don't even know her name?"

Lucky lunged toward the larger man. Chase grabbed him by the shoulders and pulled him back. "Let's get out of here."

"You son—"

"Let's go!" Chase dragged his younger brother backward across the lounge, with Lucky struggling every step of the way. His bootheels thumped along the floor as he dug them in, trying to get traction.

"Too bad you lost the one woman who could keep you out of jail, Tyler," Little Alvin taunted.

Lucky gnashed his teeth and let out a feral sound, straining to get loose from Chase. Chase, however, held tight. "Dammit, I'll knock you out cold myself if you don't settle down. What the hell's the matter with you?"

Once they had made it through the door, Chase slammed Lucky against the exterior wall of the building. Lucky threw off his brother's restraining hands. "You have to ask what the matter is?" he shouted. "They were right. I might go to jail."

"So what does that have to do with what went on in there?" Chase hitched his chin toward the tavern.

"I was looking for information about her."

"Why?"

"Why?"

"Yeah, why?" Chase settled his hands on his hips and confronted his short-tempered brother. "You've been acting just plain weird all day. I think locating this woman means more to you than providing yourself with an alibi."

"You're crazy."

"Don't call me crazy. I'm not the one picking fights with Little Alvin two days straight over the same broad."

Lucky was ready with a vehement denial that she was a 'broad' when he caught himself. The protest would confirm Chase's suspicions. Belligerently he said, "Just leave me the hell alone and let me deal with this my way, okay?"

"Not okay. You're my brother. The Tylers stick together. If you're in trouble, we're all in trouble. And since you can't seem to stay out of it, you're stuck with me as your protector."

They looked away from each other, each trying to get hold of his temper. Lucky was the first to come around. "Oh hell, Chase, you know I'm glad you intervened. At least in hindsight I am. I couldn't afford to get my other eye pulverized."

Chase grinned and slapped him between the shoulder blades. "Follow me to our house. Mother's been so upset all day, Tanya offered to cook dinner for everybody."

"Her famous pot roast?" Lucky asked hopefully.

"That's right."

"Hmm," he sighed, smacking his lips. "Tell me—brother to brother—is she as good in the bedroom as she is in the kitchen?"

"You'll die wondering." He shoved Lucky in the direction of his car. "And we'll both die at her hands if we spoil her dinner by being late."

Lucky was tailing Chase's car into town when it occurred to him that his return to the place had gained him nothing. He was no closer to locating Dovey than he'd been when he first woke up that morning, finding her side of their shared bed empty.

Chapter 7

 
 

"
K
now what Susan Young is spreading all over town?"

In response to his sister's question, Lucky grunted with lack of interest from behind his morning newspaper.

"That y'all are getting married." Sage popped a fat, juicy strawberry into her mouth and chewed with sybaritic enthusiasm. "I've gotta tell you that if you marry the snotty bitch, I'm disowning this family for good."

"Promises, promises." Lucky lowered the newspaper to take a sip of breakfast coffee. "You've been threatening to disown the family ever since Chase and I hid your first bra in the freezer. So far, we've had no such luck." He retreated from her glare by burying his head in the newspaper again.

BOOK: Texas! Lucky
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