This story is based on a story titled Shotgun Relationss, but it is by no means the same book. Parts have been eliminated and replaced with completely new material--more story, less incredibly kinky, overly descriptive BDSM sex scenes, and sanitized language that no longer smacks of crude profanity that hardly fit Jack Duval, a Harvard-educated attorney, or Liz Wolfe, a gently reared rancher. I hope you'll pick up THE BASTARD, whether or not you read its predecesso--and that you'll review it if you find it
It still has BDSM elements, just not all the overly detailed club scenes and repetitive coarse description that never furthered the story, other than conforming to requirements of such crass elements required by its original publisher.
You've seen Book One, THE HEIR, which still has a cover that's not as pretty as its original--here are the new o
ne for it and Book Three, THE BRAT, improved over my first efforts but still not up to the standards set by Original Syn in the first covers.Look for an awesome cover for the print collection of all three books--and perhaps one for a Sbargain-priced boxed set!
WHAT IS THE BAR C LEGACY?
The Caden family history in Texas began in the late 19th century, when the first of the Cadens came to the high plains of northwest Texas, seeking their fortune from the wild land where law was still enforced at the point of a gun and property often changed ownership on the turn of a card at the local saloon.
Yes, those were wild times, made wilder when a gunslinger named Oakley won a piece of land adjacent to the Caden's fledgling Bar C. A Caden son and an Oakley daughter fell in love--forbidden. When the girl died birthing a stillborn child, her gunslinger father took revenge by killing the son, leaving Byron Caden the first to grow his family legacy.
Thus the feud began, through a series of events that perpetuated hatred on both sides. The Bar C grew, swallowing up neighboring ranches by purchase, gambling, or marriage, while the Oakley's spread deteriorated, its owners attributing their bad luck to their greedy Caden neighbors.
WHO ARE THE CURRENT GENERATION OF CADENS AND OAKLEYS?
Byron Caden V, only legitimate son of "Four" Caden, who felt no threat from Slade Oakley. When "Bye" fell in love with Oakley's only daughter, he knew the feud must end so he and Karen could find happily ever after.
Deirdre Caden, only daughter, a spoiled, wild child determined to have local attorney Jack Duval--until a secret is revealed that can tear the family and the town apart, determined to make her father and Jack pay by being wilder and crazier even than her two brothers..
Jack Duval, newly revealed as "Four" Caden's bastard son, who must resolve his resentment against his mother as well as "Four" and discover love with another neighboring rancher, Liz Wolfe, to resolve the conflicts that threaten them all.
CHECK OUT A SHORT EXCERPT FROM THE BASTARD--the prologue
So this is going to be home. Jack Duval stopped his car and got out. There certainly was no need to use the GPS app in his phone to find his way around tiny Caden, Texas. He saw a barber shop and general store, a saloon/barbecue restaurant, a feed store, a roughly hewn doctor’s office, and a couple of small stores that apparently catered to women and children. In the center of what wasn’t actually a traditional square—it was open on one side—stood a venerable three-story courthouse built of native stone, the upper floor of which he understood housed the Caden County Jail.
The office upstairs over The Corral still had Dan Merriman’s shingle neatly painted on the window. Jack would have to change that right away, since he was now the proud owner of whatever he might be able to salvage from Merriman’s defunct law practice.
Merriman had been disbarred for life. Jack had only been fired from the Lubbock firm where he’d hired on after coming home with his law degree and passing the Texas bar. It had been merely coincidence that the two events had coincided in time, causing Jack to be here now. Apparently being discovered as a member of Lubbock’s only BDSM club had ended Jack’s career in Lubbock but hadn’t drawn the attention of the Texas Bar Association.
His firing had affected him enough, however, to make him seek out a more rural setting where his taste in recreational activities wouldn’t become a topic of conversation for every attorney and paralegal who hung out around the Lubbock courthouse.
Yeah, Jack could become an anonymous country lawyer, dabbling in locals’ problems with real estate and skirmishes with the local sheriff. The idea of working in a general practice appealed to his always-inquiring mind, and he could hardly wait to open up shop and sort out the garbled mess left of his predecessor’s files. For now, he’d settle in at home. And go meet some of his new neighbors.
Yeah, everything would turn out okay. Jack would see to it. A fellow member of the club in Lubbock had even hooked him up with a former honky tonk turned BDSM club and put his name up for membership. Since the Neon Lasso was an hour’s drive from Caden, out more or less in the middle of nowhere at the crossroads of two little-used farm roads, Jack figured he’d be safe from prying eyes when he felt a need to indulge his taste for kinky sex. His buddy had mentioned the club had a rudimentary sort of landing strip so members could get there in their planes.
Too bad airplanes weren’t in Jack’s budget and wouldn’t be for a long time, if ever.
A few elderly locals sat on wooden benches outside The Corral, drinking coffee or Dr. Pepper, paying no apparent mind to Jack as he unloaded the trunk of his silver Toyota and started hauling boxes into the neat house he’d bought, sight unseen, based on a cyber-tour he’d taken with Caden’s only real estate agent, a fortyish redhead who’d kept shooing off a pair of six year old twins during the tour.
After all, Jack had to sleep somewhere and it made no sense to rent when the down payment on this place, one of a trio of similar modest bungalows within easy walking distance of “downtown,” had been easily workable considering how cheaply he’d been able to buy the law practice after its owner had been disbarred.
Caden was a far cry from Cambridge, Massachusetts, where Jack had spent three years earning his very prestigious law degree some of his professors had insisted would be wasted in the backwoods of northwest Texas. It was almost as great a contrast with the bustling cow town of Lubbock, where Jack had been raised until he’d gone east to prep school and then Harvard.
Setting down a box marked “kitchen equipment,” he sank onto a wood-slat rocker on the porch and surveyed the scenery.
In the distance, oil wells pumped and a wind farm towered on the western horizon. They were parts of the Bar C Ranch’s extensive holdings. Jack had passed through the Bar C on the way into town—mile after mile of lush pastures, fat cattle, and outbuildings that looked in better shape than most folks’ houses. Smaller ranches spiraled out from the Caden family’s property, blips on the landscape where folks had lived and worked for generations on the high plains of northwest Texas.
Thirty years of living, and all Jack owned was this house and what was in it. Newly purchased furniture, cooking gear, a few mementoes of happy times with his babysitter’s bustling household—and a newly purchased wardrobe of clothing suitable, he’d been told, for work in court or office in this vast expanse of land where few, whether rich or poor, put on citified airs. He glanced down at the jeans and t-shirt he’d chosen for comfort during the drive, noting the coat of Texas dust that had already dulled the jet-black finish on his brand-new cowboy boots.
Maybe he’d brush up on his riding skills and buy himself a horse, he thought, recalling the fun he’d had during riding lessons he’d taken at a stable back home. The half-acre lot that came with his house had a lean-to stable and storage shed under a cottonwood tree in the backyard. Yeah, he’d settle in first, then see what routine amusements were to be had in this sleepy town.
This was going to be home, a place to put down roots and develop friendships. He recalled Hortensia, the sweet Mexican lady who’d taken care of him while his mother did her thing, whatever that was; the teachers who’d encouraged him to excel academically and not to pay any mind to the taunts from classmates about his nonexistent father and his mother who never seemed to hurt for money even though she’d never held down a job as far back as Jack could remember.
Marianne Duval had put food on his plate, clothing on his back for the first twenty-eight years of his life. Unfortunately, she’d never provided much in the way of emotional support—mothering wasn’t one of her strong points, either when Jack had been a child or now, when he’d hoped they might form a friendship as adults. She was still a polite, vague stranger with a big sense of entitlement and a huge parcel of Creole pride that Jack had observed from childhood.
Why the attitude, he never understood, since Marianne hadn’t lived in N’Awlins as she called it for over thirty years. No, the strangely pretentious Tudor-style brick home in one of Lubbock’s nicer neighborhoods didn’t qualify as a mansion, but Marianne’s high-end Mercedes and designer wardrobe practically yelled “big money” in a way the elegant but average-sized house could not. Lubbock had been his mother’s hangout since before he was born. Now that he was a grown-up, he understood why the neighbors had looked askance at them. Anybody with a brain could tell Marianne, always pretty and stylish looking and always there for the prosperous looking stranger who visited her once a week like clockwork, was a rich man’s mistress and had been, probably, since before Jack was born.
Jack had often wondered if the tall, burly looking stranger was his father, but he’d never dared to ask. Put it this way—Marianne had seen to it that he wasn’t around when her benefactor came to visit. She’d shunted him off to a babysitter when he was little and to boarding school out east before he’d hit his teens. More recently, after Jack had grown up to resemble his patrician looking mother, he’d quit imagining the burly stranger coming up and claiming him as his long-lost son.
It felt damn good, after nearly thirty years’ worth of impersonal but socially acceptable care, he was out from under Marianne’s stifling influence—free to live as he wished. Now he wouldn’t feel a need to disabuse folks of what were most certainly his beginnings on the wrong side of a rich man’s blanket. He’d rise or fall on his own merits.
Stretching out to full six foot-two in the cowboy boots, Jack got up, took the box of dishes inside, and made his way on foot to The Corral, whose aroma of beef and barbecue sauce had tempted him for the past hour or so. He lowered the brim on his hat, filtering the summer sun from his eyes, murmuring quick hellos to strangers he hoped would soon call him friend.
“You’re Jack Duval, aren’t you?”
Jack turned and squinted into the eyes of a burly cowboy, maybe three or four inches taller than himself. A football player looking sort, he had light-brown hair kept in place by a tan, straw Stetson. His short-sleeved shirt revealed well-developed muscles. Young—maybe twenty-five at most—he carried himself with the sort of self-assurance that let him feel perfectly comfortable in worn, faded jeans and boots that had obviously spent time working instead of posturing. “Yes, I am.”
The cowboy stuck out his hand and grinned. “Hey. I’m Bye Caden. Welcome to town. We’ve been short a lawyer ever since Dan Merriman decided to play in his escrow funds. Don’t want to rush you, but I have some legal work I’d like to toss your way. I’ve just opened a wind farm on some family property, and I need to know where I stand, legally, because Four’s not about to cut loose the lead rope.”
“Byron Caden IV. My esteemed father. I may look like a grown man, but to Four, I’ll always be twelve years old and none too bright. Anyhow, are you willing to take a new client on?”
“Sure. It’ll take me a few days—maybe longer—to sort through the mess I bought into, but after that, I’ll be welcoming new clients.” The son of the local patriarch would be a good start toward developing a real law practice out here on the plain. “Where did you hear about me coming to take over Merriman’s practice?”
Bye grinned. “Would you believe, the Neon Lasso? Buck Oakley mentioned you’d been sponsored for membership over there, last time I went to play.”
“Yeah. There’s not much around here to do, once you get tired of drinking beer and dancing the Texas two-step weekend nights over at The Corral. Unless you’re into three times a week church or competing in the local rodeos—church suppers are mostly for the ladies, and Four doesn’t like to see his heir riding broncs and bulls, which is why I sometimes do it. Speaking of rodeos, do you ride?”
“Some, but I haven’t for a long time. I went away to school early—missed out on the local pastimes.” Jack could see himself, flying through the air only to hit dirt hard, with nothing like the grace he imagined Bye would demonstrate on the back of the huge black stallion tied up in front of The Corral. “That your horse?” he asked, gesturing toward the pawing stud.
“Yeah. His name’s Vampire. I rescued him down near College Station—his owner had fallen onto hard times and couldn’t take care of him the way he deserved. I boarded him down there until I graduated last spring, then brought him home. He’s a Thoroughbred—you don’t see many of them out here in the boonies. Vampire’s no good for working cattle, as Four will tell you, but he’s a hell of a good friend. I raised him from a six month old colt, broke him to ride. Love him almost as much as I do my little sister. Come on, I’ll buy you your first beer and barbecue in Caden, Texas.”
Jack found himself surrounded by Bye’s friends—young and old, the locals all seemed to love the heir to the storied Bar C Ranch. From little old ladies in The Corral to buy a loaf of the homemade bread the cook made daily to sop up barbecue sauce, to cowboys old and young, to Caden’s doctor and pastor and the guy who ran the barber shop, they all gravitated toward the heir to the Bar C Legacy—a tale that grew in the telling, about pioneers and gunslingers and century-old feuds that apparently had lasted over a hundred years—all centering around the Cadens past to present.
It was going to be an interesting experience, living and working in the shadow of what seemed very much like an updated version of the old west. Jack had his first client before he finished his beer—a cowboy who’d run afoul of the law last night and ended up in jail. Saying his goodbyes, he followed the sunbaked cowboy who’d handed him a wrinkled hundred-dollar bill toward the sheriff’s office in the courthouse basement, where he hoped to arrange for his new client’s release.