Home > Finders Keepers (Lost and Found #3)

Finders Keepers (Lost and Found #3)
Author: Nicole Williams

Chapter One

TRYING TO IGNORE her was like trying to ignore a bull charging me. Especially when that was her fifth fake laugh in fifteen minutes. How did I know that laugh, along with the smile and the whole damn act she’s trying so hard to put on, is fake?


I’ve known Josie Gibson since before I figured out girls like her were disastrous to guys like me. Girls who could give a boy one look and make him feel it all the way into his boots were ones for me to avoid at all costs. Girls who could give a boy a look and make him feel equal parts irritation and infatuation were ones I didn’t only need to avoid but have permanently erased from my mind.

Girls like Josie Gibson spelled one thing for me: doom. The only thing I was more sure of was that I spelled even more doom for her. Doom was too soft a word, actually.

I would infect Josie like a virus, spreading until I’d done so much damage it went way past the point of repair. That was more like it. I was a virus to Josie Gibson. A toxic one.

I tried to ignore that for too many years. After the past couple years, I couldn’t ignore it anymore. Josie and I should stay on opposite corners of the planet. Unfortunately for her, we lived in the same state. In the same region. So we’d just have to figure out how to live in opposite corners of Missoula County.

Sitting across the bar from one another wasn’t exactly staying in opposite corners.

I’d had too many drinks, and she’d thrown too many glances my way, for me to stay quiet any longer. “You might want to step it up a few hundred notches, Mason, because you’re exciting Josie about as much as cow shit on the bottom of my boots.”

When Josie’s eyes flickered to mine, they narrowed into a glare. “Control yourself, Black.”

“I might if I could, but since I can’t, it’s kind of a moot point.” Lifting my once-again full shot glass, I downed it in one easy drink. I could hold my liquor—kind of a side effect of drinking like a fish since age thirteen—but when whiskey tasted like water, I knew I probably had enough alcohol sloshing through my bloodstream to kill me.

The Jack had started tasting like water three shots ago.

When Colt Mason finally noticed who was propped into the bar stool across from them, he bristled. “Come on. Let’s just go, Josie.”

Hell, I would have bristled too if I’d seen me sitting across from myself. I had something of a reputation for getting into bar fights, and the only reason Brandy still let me in her joint was because I was her best customer. Plus I gave her a little after-hours action when she was feeling lonely and I was feeling drunk.

“No.” Josie shook her head emphatically. When it came to me, she did everything emphatically. It was my curse. “If I left every time Garth Black started running his mouth, I’d never have a chance to get comfortable. He can leave.”

If I’d had a dozen shots less, the look on her face would have made me squirm. “No can do, sweetheart. You see those bottles?” I waved my finger in the general bar area. “They’re still full, and I’m not leaving until a good bunch are empty.”

“Your liver must be jumping for joy right now,” she snapped before grabbing Colt’s shot. She downed it in one drink, but to Josie’s light-weight credit, her whole face puckered up.

“Come on. We’re leaving.” Colt nudged Josie and slid out of his stool.

She shook her head and lifted her finger at Brandy. Like the bar-tending elite she was, Brandy had another shot in front of Josie in under ten seconds. Josie downed it, her face grimacing less that time. I didn’t miss the lingering look Colt gave her chest while she was mid-whiskey wince.

“Let’s get out of here,” he said.

I might have felt my anger flaring when he’d run his eyes all over her, but when his hands moved to her, that anger exploded. I was out of my seat and moving toward them before Colt noticed me coming. Josie knew enough to expect my next move. The rule was simple: whatever normal, sane people did, I went with the opposite.

Anyone else would ignore the couple across from them and let them get on with their Friday night. Me, on the other hand? I was less than a foot away and ready to break the guy’s jaw if he didn’t stop tugging on her arm. Anger management candidates had nothing on me. “I don’t normally give warnings, Mason, but you’re with my friend whose judgment in people, up until recently, I’ve never doubted. So I’m going to give you the benefit and issue one.” I tried to ignore the look of horror on Josie’s face. “Take your hands off of Josie, or you’re going to be slurping your steak through a straw from tonight on.”

That horrified look on Josie’s face? Just went up a few notches instead of down.

“Get lost, Black. Josie isn’t your daughter, your sister, or your girlfriend, so you have no place to order me about what I can and can’t do.”

He was right. And he was wrong. I wasn’t a blood relation, and I sure as shit wasn’t her boyfriend. The man applying for that position was the one who couldn’t look me in the eyes. Since her dad wasn’t there to see Colt Mason all but manhandling her out of her stool and her only brother was on the opposite side of the country, I was temporarily filling both positions.

Moving in front of him, I butted my chest into his. “Josie’s been my friend since before you and your Hollywood family moved out to Montana and insulted us all with your flashy trucks and poser-itis. That gives me the right to put you in your place when I see you put a finger on Josie.”

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