Most Eligible Baby Daddy(4)

By: Chance Carter


“What is it?” Faith said.

“Let me open it,” Lacey added, handing her daughter to Faith.

Forrester let out a small grunt, barely audible, but Lacey and Faith both heard it as if it was a scream from the bottom of his lungs.

“Sit down,” Lacey told him as she took the letter and ripped open the envelope with a knife.

Faith poured him some more coffee.

“Do you want me to read it?” Lacey said.

Forrester nodded. “Thank you,” he said, and even though he was only a few years younger than her, he reminded her then of the boy who’d been brought to the mansion by her father from a Montana juvenile detention center many years earlier.

She scanned the words of the letter as if searching it for hidden traps. She knew there was nothing that could hurt Forrester as deeply as the things that came to him periodically from Montana.

“It’s from your father’s lawyer,” Lacey said.

Forrester shut his eyes and waited for her to continue.

“He’s dead.”

Forrester didn’t say anything to that. The man was old and he’d no doubt prepared himself for that piece of news some time ago.

“The lawyer wants you to return to Stone Peak to settle the estate. It says the funeral is to be held tomorrow at the Good News Cemetery.”

“Good News?” was all Forrester said, and he got up from his seat and left the kitchen.

The two women looked at each other, and then hurried after him.

“Forrester,” Lacey said, and Faith had no difficulty detecting the stress in her voice. Lacey had known Forrester since he was a teenager, in fact, they both had, and they looked at him as if he was their younger brother. They would both do anything in their power to protect him from that sort of pain.

They climbed the sweeping staircase to the upper level of the mansion and found Forrester in his room, hurriedly packing a leather overnight bag with a few things, underwear, a clean shirt, a razor, soap and deodorant.

“You don’t have to go back,” Lacey said.

“You owe that man and that town nothing,” Faith added. “That’s what they gave you, and that’s what you’d be entitled to give them back in return.”

“I know,” Forrester said, gratitude and love in his eyes as he looked at them, “but it’s like you both said earlier. It’s past time I became a man. It’s time I stepped up to the plate. If I wait any longer, I won’t be a hot-headed bad boy with a troubled childhood, I’ll be a man who failed to face his past.”

“It was a little bit more than a troubled childhood,” Lacey said.

“That don’t make any difference,” Forrester said. “A man’s got to face his past. He’s got to face his demons. If he doesn’t, he’s no man at all.”





Chapter 3

Elle

ELLE WAS LOW ON GAS, low on food, and freezing her butt off when she saw the turn off that led into the mountains and the remote town of Stone Peak, Montana. She’d never heard of the place, she’d been driving all day, and hadn’t even ever been to Montana before, but something about the name of the town attracted her. It was twenty-five miles from the highway, and the road looked like it wound precariously through dense forest, high up into the icy peaks of the mountains. The route wasn’t her best bet. It was covered in snow and she lacked winter tires. The way would get progressively more frigid and treacherous as she ascended into the mountains, and there was something seriously wrong with the heater on her battered old car. Maybe she’d damaged it when she rammed the Camaro. If she had, it was worth it.

She looked at her gas gauge. Less than a quarter tank left. She’d make it. She had to.

Another town, another life, she thought to herself as she rounded the dangerous bends leading ever higher into the Rockies. She was only twenty-three and she’d already lost count of all the towns she’d lived in. The last stop, the three year stint she’d done with Gris, had been the longest of her life. She wondered apprehensively what this next town would have in store for her. Would it be the place that offered her a lasting refuge? Would it be the place she could finally settle down in for good? Would it be a home to her?

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