Good Girl Page 5

I glare down the length of my body as a tasseled shoe kicks lightly at the sole of my work boot. “Well, how the hell did you think a sink got fixed, Vaughn?”

My best friend—one of them—kneels down so that a preppy, Kennedy-esque face comes into view along with the tasseled shoes. Somehow I’m not even the least bit surprised to see that friend wearing a suit, even though we’re currently in a decrepit mansion about forty minutes outside of Baton Rouge.

This place doesn’t have a single bar of cell service, but Vaughn’s wearing a purple tie.


For God’s sake.

“Here’s the thing, Preston. I don’t think about how sinks get fixed. People do that for me,” Vaughn says.

I grunt. “Don’t call me that,” I say, directing my attention back to the rusty pipe directly in front of my face.

“Why shouldn’t I call you that? It’s your name,” Vaughn counters.

“Teddy, Teddy, Teddy. We’ve been over this. My boy’s name is Noah.” This from my other best friend, Finn Reed, who’s right about most things, but not the name.

Well, he is right. But not entirely so.

I’m Noah Maxwell and Preston Walcott Jr.

It’s tricky as shit.

“Remind me again what you two clowns are doing here,” I say as I lever the wrench to tighten the new bolt I’ve inserted to replace the rusted one.

“Well, one of us can actually be useful,” Finn says. “The other”—he hitches his thumb toward Vaughn—”wouldn’t know a hammer if it was shoved up his ass.”

“Spoken like someone who probably has had a hammer shoved up his ass,” Vaughn counters.

“Hey, at least I’m getting some sort of action. Bet the only pearl necklace you’ve ever given is to your great-aunt Maude,” Finn says.

“Fuck you.” Vaughn’s face disappears as he stands.

I close my eyes and drop the wrench to my side for a moment. “Jesus. Ladies. Would you knock it off?”

“Just don’t know why you brought Country Club,” Finn mutters before he sets his hands on the knees of his jeans and pushes into a standing position and out of view.

I maneuver out from under the bathroom sink that I’ve been lying under for the better part of half an hour to see my two friends glaring at each other, as they’ve been doing for the past decade.

“I didn’t bring either of you,” I say as I drop the wrench back into the beat-up toolbox. “I can’t figure out which part of ‘I’ve got shit to do’ equated to an invitation.”

Even in my shitty mood, I don’t fail to miss the look Finn and Vaughn exchange, which means trouble. These two have hated each other forever. If they’re joining forces, it means absolute shit for me.

“Sorry,” Vaughn says slowly. “But when my best friend tells me he’s headed out to a remote property he didn’t know he owned to get it ready for a tenant he’s never met…I’m going to tag along.”

“Never thought I’d say this,” Finn says, reaching into his back pocket for the ever-present cigarettes. “But ditto to what Country Club said. You really didn’t know this place was out here?”

“If I did, you think I’d’ve let it turn into this?” I say, halfheartedly lifting a hand to indicate what must have once been a rather impressive master bathroom but is now seriously run-down.

“Why not just tell this chick no? That the place wasn’t available?”

I shrug. “Apparently she came here for some musician’s retreat thing when she was a kid. She wants to come back now that she has some money. Sentimental bullshit, sounded kind of desperate.”

Vaughn’s eyes narrow. “What’s her name?”

“Don’t remember,” I lie.

Every man knows the name of Jenny Dawson. Every woman too. Even if you don’t like her music, you can’t escape the fact that she’s a household name. She’s one of those nightmares that crosses all genres. Whether you like country music or hate country music, you can’t turn on your radio and not hear her.

And more recently, you can’t turn on the TV and not see her.

The spoiled little princess apparently got caught in a married man’s bed and thought that Glory, Louisiana, would make for a nice hideaway. She’s probably right. Glory had a population of 991 at last count.

Any other day, I likely would have ignored her email. I have zero interest in playing savior to a pampered princess, and certainly have no need for her money. But, although she couldn’t have known it, spoiled Jenny Dawson had impeccable timing.

Her email came on the exact day I was desperate for a distraction from my real life. And getting a mansion I didn’t even know I’d inherited ready for a tenant seemed as good a distraction as any.

Still, as I look around at the fading wallpaper and well-worn floorboards, I realize I might be a little out of my depth. I sent out a cleaning crew yesterday, and they called to tell me that they’d done what they could, but that their services don’t include fixing leaky plumbing and broken windows.

At least the place will be sparkling clean if it collapses.

Which it very well might.

“Somehow I can’t see Preston Walcott Sr. hosting a bunch of kids at a musical retreat,” Finn says snidely as he pulls a lighter out of his back pocket.

“Dude. Not in the house.”

He gives me an incredulous look as he waves his lighter around. “Yeah, because cigarette smoke is really the problem here. I nearly broke my neck on a half dozen missing stairs.”

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