Sequel to Got the Blues
Beau Watkins and Vin Reyes have mended their differences, but that doesn't mean everything is back the way it was. When Beau's teenage niece shows up with her son in tow, Beau is thrown unexpectedly into a world of adult responsibilities and adult decisions, all of which could have disastrous consequences. Reconciliation with his family is complicated by an overseas internship with a predatory business woman.
Vin still struggles with his alcoholism, with finding his place in a world after college, and with establishing relationships with his newfound father and sister. The last puzzle piece of Vin's mysterious past clicks into place when he comes face-to-face with his mother's ex-fiancé. His relationship with Beau has never been stronger ... until an unexpected email threatens to topple everything they've build together.
Beau grabbed a bottle of water out of the fridge and tossed it in his gym bag. Outside, David laid on the horn.
"Coming," Beau muttered to the empty room. Vin was off touring yet another one of his grandfather's facilities in the endless, looping discussion about what he was going to do with his life. Beau locked the door behind himself, and skipped most of the bottom half of the stairs with a one-handed rail-jump. He waved to the Escalade, knowing David would see him behind the tinted windows. Beau felt a flutter of pleasurable nerves in his gut; it had been a while since he'd gone out dancing -- avoiding the bars was in Vin's best interests for the time being -- and he really needed a workout. David had suggested a trip to the gym, where he'd teach Beau some of the basics in kick-boxing.
Beau just reached the door when someone grabbed his shoulder. He dropped his bag, whirling, heart in his throat, breathing hard. He knocked the offending limb aside. The passenger side door of the Escalade flew open and David slid out, gun already in hand.
"Back away from Mr. Watkins, sir," David advised, his voice low and firm.
"I am Mr. Watkins," the man said, confused. "Beau?"
"Lee?" Beau's legs almost gave out from under him and he leaned hard against the side of the SUV, feeling the black painted metal heating his skin. "Jesus Christ."
"Are you all right, sir?" David didn't look away from his target, his gun still trained on Beau's older brother.
"Parking lot," Beau said. David knew about his panic attacks. David had been there when Vin found Beau, beaten and bloody, on the asphalt, two years ago.
"Back. Up." David slid the rest of the way out of the vehicle. "I consider you a threatening individual."
"My God, David," Beau said. David wasn't wearing his typical three-piece suit, probably the first time Beau had ever seen him dressed casually, in black sweatpants and a white tank top, his gun holster buckled to his chest like some sort of kinky lingerie. Beau had always suspected the raw strength underneath the tailored coats, but he'd never actually seen it. David was cut from a block of wood, hard muscles overlaid with tanned skin, marred here and there by scars, one of which could have been caused by nothing less than a bullet wound. "Lee is my brother."
"Which does not negate the need to protect you from him, sir," David said. "I've heard about his letters. Not only that, but I saw Mr. Reyes's throat after spring break. This is a dangerous individual."
"I kinda dislocated his shoulder for that," Beau admitted. "Seriously, David, put the gun away and put on a shirt, you're makin' me horny."
"Yah, you're cute, kid, but not that cute." David gave Lee a particularly fierce look. "I am very fond of your brother. I will shoot you if I even think you're about to do something stupid. Are we crystal on this?"
"Yeah, clear, man," Lee said. He took a cautious step backward. "I just wanna talk to him. I'm not here to pick a fight."
Beau nodded. "Right. We'll go talk on the steps," he said.
Lee waited until they were out of earshot. "What the hell is that guy's problem?"
"David and Vin saved my life a few years back," Beau said. "I think David takes it personally that he wasn't there to keep Contreras from beating the shit out of me. And you did try to crush Vin's throat." Beau's legs were still wobbly and he collapsed onto the stairs gratefully.
It was barely worth the effort to glare at Lee. "What are you doing here? What do you want? How the hell did you even find our place?" Beau leaned his head against the brick wall. He would probably kill someone for a cigarette, but he was trying to quit -- again -- and didn't currently have any on him.
"I got the address from Sheila, down at the post office. I asked her where Momma was sending all your packages."
"Well, that's just a little bit creepy," Beau said. Not that it wasn't typical; small towns did not hold with big federal laws about privacy. It wasn't private, between kin, and half the town was related to most of the other half. "Sit down, Lee. My head already hurts."
Lee dropped onto the porch, leaning his weight back on one arm. He looked older. There was no better word for it. His usually needs-a-haircut curls were gone, close clipped in an almost military style, and he'd finally shaved off the soul patch under his lip. Lee wore a button down shirt and jeans. Near his knee, there was a red smear of something that might have been dried jelly.
"How have you been, kid?" Lee asked.
"Are we being nice? Is that what we're doing here? Nice? After ... well, after everything?"
"I didn't think you'd listen to me if I called." Lee raked a hand over his scalp, his wedding ring glinting in the sun.
"I suppose you think I'm being unreasonable, all things considered?" Beau asked.
"Look, I'm sorry about the letters," Lee said.
"Don't apologize to me about them." Beau snorted. "I didn't read 'em after the first two. Broke my hand on the wall wishin' it was your skull. Ann-Marie read them for me, to see if you'd stopped being an ass. Haven't gotten one in a while. Something change in your life?"