Bound, Branded, & Brazen(7)

By: Jaci Burton

“Supper is at six thirty,” Lila said again.

“Have you forgotten that no one misses supper around here?” Jolene whispered over her shoulder. “Better get unpacked in a hurry.”

“I heard that. And you, missy, had better go wash your hands and face before you sit your butt down at my table.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Jolene said, then winked at her sisters. “Guess I’d better get my butt upstairs to my room, then.”

Jolene sauntered off, leaving Brea to lug her suitcases up the stairs.

“Thanks for the help, sis,” Brea yelled after Jolene.

“Quit whining. It builds muscles,” Jolene hollered over her shoulder as she took the stairs two at a time, her boots leaving a trail of dust behind her.

“She thinks we’re lightweight city girls now. Little does she know how hard I worked during my internship and residency. You build muscles rolling bodies and running down hallways, always on your feet.” Valerie grabbed one of Brea’s bags.

Brea started up the stairs behind her. “I have an awesome gym membership and I work out two hours a day. Pool, weight room, running track. I’ll show her ass who’s not in shape.”

Valerie grinned. Wasn’t this month just going to be oh so much fun?


as soon as the obligations of supper and conversation were over, Valerie went up to her room to get away, until Jolene knocked on her door and told her Lila wanted them in the family room. Valerie blew out a sigh of frustration. She’d really hoped to hide in here for the rest of the night, but Lila obviously wanted to talk to them. And if there was one thing she’d learned over the years, it was that you didn’t tell Lila no.

She made her way downstairs and into the oversized family room complete with three sofas, five lounge chairs and a huge plasma television that hadn’t been there the last time Valerie had been home.

“Who bought the television?” Valerie asked when she walked in.

“I did,” Jolene said. “We have movie night every now and then when the weather’s too bad to go to Dirk’s bar in town. Anyone who’s around comes. Beer and snacks.”

“Fun.” Brea kicked off her grotesque sandals and pulled her feet up onto the sofa, tucking them under her skirt.

“What’s with those hideous flip-flops?” Jolene asked.

Brea looked over the sofa at her shoes. “What? They’re comfortable.”

Jolene scrunched her nose. “They’re horrible. Are you freakin’ homeless or something?”

“You could use a pedicure, too, Brea,” Valerie added, grimacing at the state of Brea’s feet.

“You guys are so funny. Just because I don’t dress straight out of the pages of a fashion magazine like Valerie, or as a cowgirl like you, Jolene, doesn’t mean I don’t have it going on.”

“Oh, you certainly have something going on, Brea,” Jolene said. “I just have no idea what it is.”

Brea shot a pleading look to Valerie, who shrugged. “I don’t like the shoes, either. And you need to do something with your hair.”

Brea frowned. “Who decided it was pick-on-Brea night?” She shot a glare to Jolene. “You dress like a man.”

Jolene rolled her eyes. “It’s my job, moron. You want me to wear a miniskirt to wrestle calves?”

“The guys would probably enjoy seeing that,” Valerie teased.

“Yeah, I’ll just bet they would. And having dust up my coochie would be oh so pleasant.”

Right now Jolene wore nearly coochie-baring shorts and a tank top that hugged her generous breasts. She’d taken the pigtails out and brushed her hair so the long blond strands lay in soft waves over her shoulders. Really, her sister was naturally gorgeous, even without a bit of makeup on. It was so unfair. Heart-shaped face, full lips, peachy complexion and hazel eyes with long lashes. She didn’t need to do a damn thing to look beautiful. She was country girl personified, and had the face and body to match.

“What are you staring at?” Jolene asked.

“I was just thinking how naturally beautiful you are.”

Jolene’s lashes swept down, then back up again. “Stop teasing me.”

“She’s right, Jo. You’ve always been gorgeous without trying.”

Jolene looked to Brea. “You could be beautiful, too, if you’d cut that mop of hair so people could see your pretty face. And put on some clothes that accentuate your body. Honestly, Brea, what are you hiding from?”

Brea shook her head. “I’m not hiding from anything.” She picked up a book and shoved her face in it.

Jolene looked over at Valerie. “Not hiding. Right. Have you ever known this girl to not have a book glued to her nose?”

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