River's Escape (River's End Series, #2)

BOOK: River's Escape (River's End Series, #2)
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River’s Escape

 

By

 

Leanne Davis

 

River’s End Series, Book Two

www.leannedavis.net

 

Copyright

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

River’s Escape

COPYRIGHT © 2015 by Leanne Davis

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the author except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.

Contact Information:
[email protected]

Publishing History First Edition, 2015 Digital

Digital ISBN: 978-1-941522-16-5

River’s End Series, Book Two

Edited by Teri at The Editing Fairy (
[email protected]
)

Cover Design by Steven Novak (
[email protected]
)

Dedication:

For Septembers at Wolf Creek

 

 

Acknowledgement: To my editor, Teri (
www.editingfairy.com
)

Thank you for yet again another amazing book. Looking forward to many more!

Other Titles by Leanne Davis

 

Diversions

 

River’s End Series

River’s End

River’s Escape

 

The Sister Series

The Other Sister

The Years Between

The Good Sister

The Best Friend

The Wrong Sister

 

The Zenith Trilogy

Zenith Falling

Zenith Rising

Zenith Fulfilled

 

The Seaclusion Series

Poison

Notorious

Secrets

Seclusion

Chapter One

 

Kailynn Hayes slammed the door on the loud, obnoxious rumble of the unmuffled old Camaro her boyfriend drove. She kicked at the tire when he suddenly gunned the engine, spinning the wheels, and spitting dirt and gravel as he peeled away from her. She stared after the taillights until the dark mountains seemed to swallow it up. There were no streetlights. There was nothing really anywhere in River’s End. The mountains around were big and hulking, while the stars spread forever like glitter blown over the earth. There were less than a dozen lights of houses in the entire vista. She bit her lip and blinked rapidly to keep her tears back. She would not cry. Not now. Not over him. Not when she had to go into her house and face her father and brothers.

She shook her head. “I should just get pregnant now and save myself the time and energy. It’s all I’ll ever end up doing anyways,” she muttered out loud to the pine trees. And the empty land. As well as her hopeless future. Of course, she would end up barefoot and pregnant to some loser. Wasn’t that all that ever happened to girls from River’s End? What else was there to do or be? What exactly did her mother do?

“Probably not the best plan,” a voice, deep and quiet, spoke from behind her.

She froze.
No.
Who was it? Who was on the porch? Who heard her? Shane?
Oh God
. No. Not Shane. Not Shane Rydell. Slowly pivoting on her heel, she faced her house. It wasn’t much. God knows it was nothing like the Rydells’ beautiful, two-story, eight-room, ranch house that she saw below them. The Rydell River Ranch took up a thousand acres of prime riverfront property, a river named after their family. The same family that had occupied River’s End for far more than a century.

Kailynn lived in a double-wide mobile home in the hills above the ranch. Their small clearing of land looked out over the valley and the ranch, which was practically the only pretty thing about her home.

She peeked at the makeshift porch her father added on a decade ago.
Ian.
It was Ian who sat there and heard her stupid comment. Ian was probably better than having her brothers hear it, who’d have used it to tease her mercilessly. And if it had been Shane, she would have disintegrated right there into the dusty ground.

Shane was her older brother’s best friend. He was in his mid-twenties and had been a part of her life as long as she could remember. And as long as she could remember, she had been in love with Shane. He was nothing like any of the other men around there. Instead of horses, cattle, or growing freaking
fruit,
Shane Rydell was into mechanical things. He had his own shop on the ranch and fixed everything for everyone. And he was a biker. He wore leather, and his hair was too long and he even had tattoos. He went to far places and did things. She didn’t know exactly what he did, or where he went, she just knew he did. And she knew in her heart, that she was meant to go with him to those places and do those things. He was what she wanted to be: wild and free and living life anywhere else, but at River’s End.

Okay, he was the complete opposite of her. She went nowhere, and did nothing, but live and work in River’s End. However, he was like she wanted to be. He was like she would be in her heart if she could have been. Someday, he’d see that and when he did, she would finally be more, so much more than the little sister of his best friend, or the waitress at the café, or the housekeeper who washed his clothes.

Oh yeah, to top off her so-not-glamorous-life, she spent her weekly afternoons working on the Rydell River Ranch. There were four brothers. Jack was the oldest and the one who hired her. Then Ian, Shane and Joey. Jack had, of course, offered her the job over four years ago not long after she graduated high school. Why wouldn’t he? They had known her all her life. She was quiet, hard-working, responsible, and they knew they could trust her. So what if she worked for Shane? One of the perks was that she could keep track of him, and see him more often than ever before. But it also meant she was his housekeeper and washed his underwear. Somehow, she guessed that was not the way to make a man like Shane Rydell notice her.

But it was Ian now on their porch. Ian didn’t come there as much. Her father was best friends with the Rydells’ father before he and his wife were killed in a car wreck. Her dad grieved long and hard over losing the Rydells. And since that day, the brothers had always looked out for them, and her as well, by extension. Her dad, as most people knew, was laid up with a bad heart and a lame leg. It was a struggle for him to walk, work and basically function. Her brothers, Jordan and Caleb, weren’t much better. Although there was nothing physically wrong with her brothers, they were incorrigibly lazy.

Ian sometimes hung out with Shane, Jordan and Caleb, but he was way older. Like thirty or something. So she usually didn’t give him much thought. He never talked. Ever. He could be in a group setting and not say a word for hours. She tilted her head. Hearing him speak to her now was quite unusual.

“What are you doing here?”

Ian shifted his foot from the railing to the plank boards and stood up. He pushed back the cowboy hat he wore. Unlike the rest of the modern world, a cowboy hat and boots were freakishly fashionable there. In fact, more men wore them than not. A fact that was as tragic as her address. Ian was a tall man, a half head taller than his brothers even. She figured he stood close to six and a half feet. He was reed-thin and sinewy. No surprise he didn’t answer her. She walked up the steps of the porch.

“You don’t need to repeat what you heard to my brothers. They’ll just torture me with it. I was just, you know, frustrated. I don’t really intend to get pregnant by him,” she said pointing her thumb towards the empty road her boyfriend took out of there. She was babbling. Ian didn’t say another word to her so she snapped her mouth shut.

Ian’s gaze flickered to where she pointed and she swallowed. “That was Drew Nichols. I went to high school with him. He’s…”

“I know who he is.” Right. Okay. Of course, Ian knew who he was. Drew was a friend of his brother, Joey. Drew also worked just down the road at the tack store. So, of course, anyone from around there knew him, as they all knew everyone. There were only a few thousand people who lived in River’s End.

She straightened her back. She was not at work and had nothing to be ashamed of. She had not broken any rules or misbehaved or anything. Ian had no right to voice any opinion of what she did or didn’t do. She licked her lips. Why was she nervous? She’d known Ian and all the other Rydells, her entire life. She was in their home nearly daily. Why would she let Ian’s prolonged, almost disapproving, silence faze her? Yet… was he disapproving? Really, she didn’t know. Or was he that dour and apathetic? He was her least favorite of the four brothers. Jack, the oldest, was who paid her and whom she considered her boss. Shane was, well… Shane was Shane. And Joey, though nearly her same age, was too pretty for words and knew it. She couldn’t stand his ego, or that all the girls wanted him. He was their obvious first choice.

“Right. We had a fight. I didn’t want to… do the things he wanted.”

Ian’s eyebrows rose and she licked her lips. Why was she still talking? He asked nothing. He wanted to know nothing. She knew that much about him. He never inquired about her or after her, and rarely spoke directly to her. She realized then what she said and how it must’ve sounded.

“By things, I didn’t mean sex,” she blurted out, wanting to bite through her tongue. That was even worse. “I mean he wants me to go somewhere with him, and I didn’t want to. So he got mad and made me get out. Wait. How long have you been standing there?” She turned suddenly and stared into the darkened yard. There was a single yard light. And shit! Ian must have had a clear view into where the Camaro was parked. Had he been watching them? Her?

“I just came out.”

She blew out a breath and flushed as she realized what he nearly witnessed. He didn’t see that. Thank God. Because it was just as she nearly described. Drew had tried to have sex, right then, right there in the
car.
Who did that? And in her own driveway? He thought she’d simply straddle him and do it right there. He hadn’t even considered going into the back seat. Or that,
God
, she would never do it there. Besides, they had only been dating for a few months. Why were all men the same? Sex was all they ever wanted. She sighed. She was the freak. And the problem. As always. At twenty-three years old, she’d never had sex. No one knew that, of course. She had a reputation to uphold, which was funny, considering she hadn’t done anything more than kiss some of the boys. But they talked, and exaggerated the stories. There were a few drifting cowboys she got mixed up with, and voila. Kailynn Hayes got around. As Drew so eloquently accused her, she did everyone else, so why not him?

She didn’t, but no one believed that about her anymore. Even her own brothers thought so and constantly made fun of her. They talked about their sex lives all the time, inserting details she never wanted to know, and making her skin crawl and her cheeks turn strange colors. Yet, they never noticed how she didn’t add anything to the conversation; and sometimes, didn’t know what they were talking about. She had grown up far too soon, listening to her brothers and their friends. Some brothers were protective of their little sisters. Not hers. Unfortunately, she’d always been considered one of them. Even Shane discussed his sex life right in front of her. It was horrifying to hear about how he… got around. And it broke her heart when she heard the callous details. She was sure though, whenever they got together, he would be completely different. He would be only with her. He would love her, so it would all be different.

There again, Ian was the one guy who never said the word, “sex” in her presence. She had no idea if he even dated. She wasn’t sure anyone else knew. It was a constant source of ribbing from her brothers and a query to Shane.
Was Ian gay?
Was that why no one knew whom he dated? Is that why he never talked about whom he was screwing?

Of course, if he were gay, she had no problem with it. Live and let live. But the problem was that this was a rural, red-necked, sometimes completely backwoods place, and another tragic feature of River’s End, in her opinion. So if Ian were gay, that was reason enough to keep so quiet about it. She turned her head regarding him. Was that it? Was that why he was always intensely quiet and private? She felt a sudden kinship filling her. She could understand what it was like feeling different. Hadn’t she always felt different here?

“You are so lucky.”

He frowned, clearly puzzled by her. “Yeah? How so?”

Wow, he answered her. He engaged with her. Sometimes, he completely ignored her and she was left flushed with embarrassment and biting her tongue when he so clearly didn’t want to partake in whatever lame comment or conversation she initiated. “You’re a Rydell,” she said simply. That said it all. He had money. He had family. He had backing. He had choices. He had all the choices in the world that she would never have.

“So?”

“So, you don’t have to stay here in River’s End. You can escape. You can go anywhere. You can be… anything.” She almost said,
whoever you need to be.
But that might have been going too far. If he were gay, he was keeping it strictly to himself and she could respect that. Her brothers, on the other hand, respected nothing and no one. Nothing about her life, nor any of her secrets were respected. So she could easily understand the need for privacy with something you were sensitive about.

“Why would I want to go anywhere?”

She flushed. “Oh. Maybe you don’t. But I would. I would leave here and never, ever look back.”

“Why?”

Wow, he was so curious about her today. She stepped closer to him on the porch and leaned into it, her gaze drifting off to the lonesome, void of darkness. “Because I’ll end up married to some rancher with kids who won’t appreciate me. No doubt, I’ll end up in a trailer the equivalent of this one. Look around you, there are no options here. Not for me. Not for a girl with no education, no money, and no means to get either.”

“Quit dating losers like Drew Nichols.”

She bristled and jerked her gaze up to his. He was staring at her. His face seemed closed and expressionless.
What did the man think about? What did he feel?
She could never guess and she saw him frequently enough to know.

“Drew isn’t a loser.”

Ian straightened his posture and his eyebrows rose. “Drew’s an asswipe that just tried to feel you up in your own driveway. And he wasn’t too inclined to take your no, was he? So yeah, Drew’s a loser and you need to steer clear of him.”

He
had
seen it all. She closed her eyes. Oh, so not cool. She blinked and drew in a breath. “You said you just came out here.”

He shrugged as his eyes left her again. He was done. She shook her head. He was truly the most frustrating person she ever dealt with. Reaching for the front doorknob, she started to head in, but his voice stopped her.

“Don’t be alone with him anymore. He’ll try it again.”

She stopped and turned slowly. Ian met her gaze for a split second before he swung his eyes away. “Drew is harmless.”

“He’s not harmless.”

She shook her head. He was so odd. She couldn’t begin to comprehend what he thought about anything, but this was the most he’d said to her in a month. What the hell? She snapped her spine up. “I wasn’t in the mood right now. I might be next time.”

BOOK: River's Escape (River's End Series, #2)
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