Home > Bounty (Colorado Mountain #7)(11)

Bounty (Colorado Mountain #7)(11)
Author: Kristen Ashley

“About an hour ago, I closed on a house,” I shared.

Krys turned her glare back to me. Bubba smiled huge. Tate kept studying me.

“Well, shit, woman, that’s a celebration. Welcome to the neighborhood!” Bubba cried, lifting the bottle of champagne in a salute before he set it down by my now-filled glass.

“If you want, you can all share it with me,” I offered, tipping my head to the bottle.

“Do I look like I can suck back a glass of champagne?” Krys clipped.

“No. Though you act like you need one,” I retorted to Bubba’s choked-back guffaw and Tate’s lips twitching. “But I wasn’t offering it to you. I was offering it to the guys.”

“On-duty, darlin’. But thanks for the offer,” Bubba said.

“Sweet, but I’m not a champagne kinda guy,” Tate put in. “And I second what Bubba said. Welcome to the neighborhood.”

I nodded to him.

With one last look at me, he wandered away.

I looked back to Bubba and Krys who were now attached with Bubba’s arm around her shoulders.

“So, just sayin’, good news,” Bubba noted. “Not a lotta folk been movin’ here past few years. Lotta folks been movin’ out, not a lot movin’ in. Nice to have a fresh face around.”

“And a new ass to sit on a stool,” Krys put in. “That crazy lumber guy in Gnaw Bone, hirin’ hits, kidnappin’ people and shootin’ folk. Dalton, our own personal serial killer. Fuller and his pig cops keepin’ everyone under their thumbs, framin’ Ty for murder, extraditing his ass to LA to rot in prison for five years.”

I was blinking rapidly at all her words, but Krys didn’t notice.

She was still talking.

“Thought we hit enough extreme to last a lifetime, then we had those lunatics who lost their shit thinkin’ it’d be exposed and buryin’ Faye alive. Bigger lunatic church lady holdin’ those two poor kids hostage in her basement for years. And if that wasn’t bad enough, then came those fuckin’ crazy teachers brainwashing kids into robbin’ houses. All a’ that goin’ down, no one wants near Carnal, Gnaw Bone or Chantelle. It’s the fuckin’ Bermuda Triangle of the Rockies.”

I’d thankfully stopped blinking but I knew I had my mouth hanging open, I just didn’t have it in me to close it.

Real estate agent Joni hadn’t shared any of that with me.

That house didn’t sell for ten months because it was over-priced and incomplete.

Serial killers? Hired hits? Brainwashed kids?

A woman buried alive?

What the fuck?

At least it brought to mind how I knew that Tate guy. He’d been on the news about that serial killer.

I just didn’t recall that all happened in Carnal.

Until now.

“Don’t worry, girl,” Bubba said, leaning himself and Krys toward me. “Been least a year since any of that kinda shit’s gone down.”

It would need to be two years. Better, three. Even better, twenty.

“I’m Bubba,” he stated, jerking a beefy mitt my way.

I took it and shook it and let go.

“This here’s Krystal, regulars call her Krys,” Bubba went on.

“And you’ll be a regular ’cause unless you wanna drive twenty miles to Gnaw Bone, only place to get beer and bourbon is Bubba’s. You with me?” Krys shared her invitation in a way that was more a command that I be a customer.

I nodded since that was the only thing I thought prudent to do.

“Man gave you the glass, he’s Tate Jackson.” Bubba jerked his head Tate’s (and Deke’s) way. “End of the bar, you’ll always find company with Jim-Billy. Spirit moves him, you’ll also find it with Deke.”

I suppressed my intake of breath.

“Happy to introduce you around,” Bubba offered.

I didn’t want him to introduce me around seeing as that round of introductions would include Deke.

“I’ll take you up on that offer,” I said, wrapping my hand around my glass and lifting it. “After I get a little of this in me.”

“You got it, darlin’,” Bubba replied on a smile, gave Krystal a squeeze and then moved down the bar.

Krystal kept staring at me.

“Didn’t say your name,” she noted.

I wondered if she’d figured out who I was with the way she was now staring at me. Some people did. Most people, luckily, didn’t.

“Jus—” I cut myself off.

“Jus?” she asked when I didn’t continue.

I nodded since that was true. Lots of folks shortened my name to Jus and friends and family called me Jussy.

“Jus,” she stated like she wanted it confirmed.

“It’s short for something, nickname. Prefer it.” That last was a lie.

But new house, new town, new bar, new life.

And if they knew my real name, they’d put two and two together a lot faster. There’d be time enough for that to come out.

Now was just not that time.

Now was the time for me to just be Jus.

And anyway, if they mentioned me to Deke, he might remember me (maybe).

I didn’t want that anymore. I wanted to go my way and do my best not to see Deke at all.

I did want to know older guy with a ball cap. And Krystal and Bubba were seriously crazy, but I’d known crazier and at least they weren’t boring and Bubba was very friendly. Not to mention, he didn’t hang around long, but Tate seemed to be a good guy. Strangely watchful, but when you’d run down a serial killer that worked at your bar, I figured that shit happened.

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