Ford is coming – How about a chapter or two?
I’d like to share a couple of chapters of Ford with you. I just love this book and can’t wait for you to read it. Let me know your thoughts, won’t you?
Pulling his pickup truck into a parking spot at the edge of the lot, Ford inhaled deeply as he looked at the majestic brick building which had stood longer than any other building in Lynyrd Station. A tornado had swept through town twelve years ago and wiped out most of the town. Few buildings were left fully standing, the courthouse being one of them. Others were partially destroyed and now had new additions added on to the formerly standing walls. So, the courthouse was revered in a special way as indestructible. Today, he only hoped it ended this black chapter in his life.
Spotting his sister, Emmy Lou, and his brother, Dawson, waiting for him at the top of the steps in front of the entrance, he pulled his keys from the ignition and exited his truck. Swallowing the lump in his throat as he neared them, the somber looks on their faces told his story. They were scared, worried, and sick to have to be here today but eager to get on with life. Their new life.
His boots made soft thumping sounds as he ascended the steps to greet his siblings. The sun beat down, already creating a bead of sweat on his temple, and he could feel moisture gather at his back. Another scorcher today.
He hugged Emmy first. Her long, dark hair was pulled back into a ponytail at her nape, her dark eyes so much like his held the emotions of a hundred people in them. He wrapped his arms around her tighter and pulled her closer, whispering in her ear, “We’ll be okay. We can do this.”
“I know. I’m not used to being on this side of the courtroom, and I’m nervous as hell.”
“’Bout time you see what some of your clients have to go through. It’ll make you a better lawyer for them.”
She scoffed and slapped at his shoulder, but the weak smile she gave him said it all. She thought so too. She was a damned good lawyer, though she often found herself working for the worst clients. Drug dealers and pedophiles—as a defense lawyer, she got them all. But she always believed a fair trial kept these scumbags from getting an appeal and kept them in jail where they belonged. Good thing they didn’t know she felt that way.
Turning to Dawson, Ford wrapped him in a warm embrace. “Love you, man. It’s going to be all right.”
“I know, Ford. We’re finally going to see this piece of shit go to jail for killing Mom and Dad. I haven’t been able to sleep, thinking we’d finally be getting justice for them.”
“It’s all I’ve been able to think about for the past four years.”
“Yeah, I get that.” Dawson, the youngest of the three of them and the most emotional, blinked away the wetness gathering in his eyes. Dawson’s sandy brown hair and blue eyes were just like their mom’s, and Ford had to swallow the lump that had grown in his throat at the thought. Their parents had been killed in a fire set by Bobby Ray June just over four years ago; he’d been tracking Bobby Ray ever since. Then, Bobby Ray was a suspect in the fires that burned through Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, and Ford had been so damned mad that he hadn’t gotten to him. He stepped up his efforts which required him to be away from home for five months and finally brought him in eight months ago. Getting to this trial had seemed like an eternity, and his heart was heavy that he hadn’t been able to get justice for his parents. That is, until now. Finally.
Stepping back, he inhaled deeply and asked, “Shall we head inside?”
They turned to enter the old brick building, the sun still high in the sky. The cloudless day seemed a good omen for them.
“Ford! Hey, wait up.”
He turned to see Detective Rory Richards briskly walking toward them. Leaning forward to shake hands with his high school friend, Ford could see the trouble in his eyes.
“Hey, I hate to be the one to tell you this, and I’m so sorry.” He cleared his throat. “Bobby Ray June escaped as he was being transported to court this morning.”
“What?” Emmy yelled. “Honest to God, didn’t you have that animal chained up in every way possible?”
Tears instantly raced down her cheeks as she looked to Ford for their next move. His jaw clenched, and his heart dropped to the bottom of his stomach, threatening to spill the meager contents inside.
“He had help. We’re thinking Waylon June.” Rory’s fingers shook as he handed the grainy pictures to him. “We’d like you on this, Ford—if you think you want to track this asshole down again.”
It was hard to make out distinct features, but the resemblance was certainly the mark of family. Sliding each picture off to Emmy and Dawson as he looked them over, the last one was a gut punch. Both Bobby Ray and Waylon giving the camera on the prison escort van the finger and wearing smiles on their disgusting pudgy faces.
Emmy gasped as she saw the last picture. Dawson swore and choked back a sob. Emmy grabbed Ford’s arm and turned him toward her. “You have to go. You have to go and get that motherfucker again.”
“Good morning!” she cheerfully said to no one in particular but to all who were within earshot.
“Morning, Megan. I’ve got your breakfast all ready. It’s chicken day, so you’re gonna be busy, need to eat to build up your strength.” Nila’s deep, gravelly voice could be heard over the clatter of dishes and frying foods. A large woman in her early sixties, Nila had hired Megan when she needed a job, and they’d been together for the past four years. Everyone in town loved Nila’s broasted chicken and her apple pies. Megan loved that Nila took care of her, and she returned the favor. It wasn’t uncommon for Nila to forget to eat herself—especially on chicken day.
“Thank you. I’ll just do a quick sweep of the dining room with the coffeepot before I sit.”
Tying her spring green apron around her waist, she breezed through the double swinging saloon doors to the dining room and quickly assessed the capacity. About half full now. It wouldn’t be long before it would be impossible to hear herself think as it filled with customers, all chatting, laughing, and enjoying the atmosphere. Small town meets southern charm meets the best deal in town—and the best food too. It was a business gold mine.
“Morning, Ralph. Ed. More coffee?” She filled their cups without waiting for them to respond. They always wanted more coffee. Regulars came in at six in the morning and sat through the better part of breakfast, gossiping about who was where and when they came and went. Gossip central right here.
Edging her way through the tables set for four, the red and white upholstered chairs in shiny vinyl and chrome legs resembled a fifties diner. She continued chatting and pouring until she came to a booth in the corner. Stopping short of the table, her stomach plummeted as her eyes caught those of the occupant. Lazar blue eyes trapped her, causing her throat to go dry as her heart sped. Not again. This was the fifth day in a row. Why wouldn’t he believe her and go harass someone else?
“Marcus. I don’t suppose I could hope that you’re actually here for the food today?”
Slowly pushing his cup to the edge of the table, she gritted her teeth as she concentrated on filling it but fantasied about dumping the whole pot over his head.
“I think we both know why I’m here.”
Lifting her eyes to his, she slowly inhaled and held her breath for a moment before exhaling.
“I don’t know where Waylon is. We’re divorced. Have been for over six damned years. He doesn’t check in. He doesn’t call. He doesn’t write. He doesn’t visit. And I like it that way. I want nothing to do with him or you or any of your cohorts. Now, if I need to call the police about the harassment, I certainly will.”
A smile spread across his face in a slow slither, as if he were a snake—which was the perfect way to describe him. He was a drug runner, and unfortunately for her, so was Waylon. Also, unfortunately for her, Waylon seemed to have stolen a very valuable something from Marcus, and he wanted it back.
“I think you’re blowing this all out of proportion. I’m sitting here drinking coffee, not unlike those gentlemen over there you chatted so nicely with, and I simply ask you a couple of questions about a mutual friend. Don’t think the cops are going to be too interested in that story.”
She clenched her jaw tightly as her breathing increased.
“Plus, with your record, I don’t think the police are going to believe you over me. I don’t have a police record.”
“Yet,” she spat out.
Turning abruptly, she hustled back to the kitchen, more to get away from him than anything else, but also … well, to get away from him. Ramming her fists into her apron pockets to hide the shaking from Nila, she walked past the table set with her plate and a fresh glass of orange juice, intending to use the restroom.
“Hey girl, you need to eat,” Nila called after her.
Giving a quick wave of her hand and a glance over her shoulder, she replied, “Just gotta use the bathroom. Be back.”
Locking the wooden door behind her, she leaned against it, wrapping her hands around her stomach, hoping to quell the roiling. He was right in that he didn’t actually do anything to her other than ask questions, but she knew for a fact that he’d followed her home yesterday and the day before. He watched her house most of the night too. She’d gone onto her front porch to water all of her flowers, and there he was, not even hiding the fact that he was watching her. In the middle of the night, she could have sworn she heard footsteps on the porch. Her heart beat so fast, she thought it’d take off and fly away. Listening for the jiggle of the door handle or the rattle of one of her old windows, she was finally able to relax after about an hour when no such sounds reached her ears. She didn’t mention it today because she wanted to pretend it wasn’t happening, and he wasn’t getting bolder. She was probably being stupid. These weren’t people you messed with. If she knew where that jackass ex-husband of hers was, she’d turn him over in a heartbeat.
“Megan, honey, time to get rolling. You okay in there?” Nila knocked softly.
“Yes. I’ll be right out, Nila.”
Washing her hands, she breathed in and out a couple times and told herself it would be all right. Leaving the bathroom, she smoothed down her apron, shoulders back, head high and forced herself to be brave. Then she heard Chad, the busboy, say, “Huh, never seen that guy before.”
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