Brooke was stunned by what Joey had told her. Although, maybe it shouldn’t have surprised her, considering how Ron acted lately. Ron hadn’t always been the lowlife he was now, at one time he was a really sweet and caring gentleman.
His mom though, she had always made Brooke feel...strange. She just had that look about her and was always asking weird questions.
Like, “what do you think about my son?”
Or “Ron’s one of the best don’t you think?”
Or she’d say things like, “treat my boy right”.
And, “don’t believe everything you hear about my boy”.
She always said those things with a creepy look on her face, or at least it had been creepy to seventeen-year-old Brooke.
At the time, she had chalked the woman’s reactions to her to the fact that her own mom was a well know man-hater. Most people knew it, and she’d had learned to hold her head up, trying to ignore the whispers about them.
“Did you go to sleep on me?” Joey asked softly.
Brooke looked up at him from where she lay on his chest.
After their talk he had turned the TV on and found a random show they both liked for them to watch.
“No, just thinking about what you said, and how much Ron has changed. You know though, the only time I remember seeing Andrew was at Mr. Lawson’s office. I don’t ever remember meeting Misty at all. Of course, Andrew was a lot older than me, and I’m assuming Misty was also.”
“Mm... she would have been only a couple years older than you though,” he said.
“Which might as well have been decades in high school,” she told him. “Anyway, I met him once and he seemed like such an angry man.”
Joey snorted, “Oh yeah, he was angry, all the time in fact. Angry at everyone, his parents included, according to Misty. He hated me for being a biker, yet I recently found out his lifestyle is so much worse than mine.”
“So, what will you do tomorrow when he comes?” Brooke asked.
Joey turned the TV off and turned onto his side. He was now hovering over her where she now lay on her back.
“I’ll take care of things like I always do, calmly, unless he makes me mad,” he informed her.
Running his forefinger down her cheek, she shivered in delight.
“Right now, I have a beautiful woman in my bed,” he murmured close to her ear, “and the last thing I want to do is talk about Andrew.”
So, reaching up, she put her hands on his neck, pulling him down for a kiss. She breathlessly whispered, “Then let’s not talk.”
He smiled at her, his eyes sparkling with love and desire, his lips barely touching her. He whispered, “I agree, let’s not!”
Then, he kissed her.
Josiah got up early the next morning. It was due partially to the fact that he couldn’t sleep, and partially because he had so much to do.
He and Brooke had ironed out their wedding plans, and she would be coming to Rose’s later to go over them with Promise. It seems his bride-to-be had become good friends with everyone at Rose’s while he had been gone, so they all wanted to pitch in and help with the wedding.
Jem caught him at the café door. “Mr. A!”
“Yes Jem,” he answered.
“When is Mrs. A coming in? I found her the perfect dress and I wanted to show it to her!” She said excitedly.
He had to chuckle at her. She had come a long way from the rude girl she had been. All she had needed was a firm, yet gentle, hand to guide her, and Promise had done that.
“Mrs. A?” Josiah had to question that one.
“Well, yeah. I was calling her Miss B, but she won’t be a miss much longer now will she?” Jem asked him smartly with a hand on her hip.
He grinned and wiggled his eyebrows just to be funny. “No Jem, no she will not!”
“Eww! TMI, Mr. A, TMI!” She yelled while covering her face with one hand.
He just laughed, and she soon joined him.
“She’ll be here soon, and good luck getting her in a dress,” he told her as he turned to go.
“What do you mean? Don’t all brides wear a dress?”
“Yes, most do,” he agreed. “For some reason though, she keeps mumbling something about leather pants.”
“Maybe she wants you to wear leather pants,” Jem said. “I’ll admit Mr. A, you have the bod for it, front and back!”
Josiah stopped walking and turned his head to find Jem staring at said backside and biting her lip. He cleared his throat and she looked up, a guilty look on her face.
“Sorry!” She squeaked then hurried away.
Shaking his head, he continued to his office.
The morning went by fast, and at almost eleven o’clock, Promise came knocking. Opening his door, she said, “Um, Joe? Two men just walked in and are looking around. I think they might be the ones you said to watch for.”
Josiah nodded and picked up his phone. He called Lucas, telling him to come over here now. He stood up then, straightening his shoulders, and went to confront Andrew.
As he walked down the hall toward the front, he saw Andrew.
Andrew was talking to an older man who kept nodding.
“Well, well, well Andrew, it’s been a long time. I would say it was a good to see you, but that would be lying,” Josiah drawled as he came to a stop at the end of the hallway.
Andrew turned to face him.
Josiah could see that time had not been kind to Andrew. The once full head of blonde hair was now gone leaving him mostly bald. His face was haggard and pale, showing years of hard living. His once athletic physique was gone also, leaving him with a large gut that strained the buttons of his shirt.
“Anderson,” Andrew spit out, as if Josiah’s name was rotten fruit. “What brings you here since my sister and my parents are dead?”
“I’m here to run my newly acquired businesses,” Josiah replied. Then playing dumb, he asked, “What brings you home?”
Glancing over as the bell on the door went off, he saw Lucas come in with his father. They quickly headed his way.
Andrew raised an eyebrow. “You, run a business? And what business might that be hm...? Has to be drugs or guns, because filthy outlaw that you are, I know it isn’t anything legitimate.”
“This one,” Josiah told him, trying to stay calm after his slur.
Andrew’s face turned red, then purple in his anger. He almost screamed when he asked, “What?”
The whole café became silent.
Mr. Lawson stepped forward.
“Andrew, let’s go to my office. A crowded café is not the place to discuss this,” Mr. Lawson said calmly, trying to make peace.
Josiah gave a silent sigh because he knew he and Andrew were like oil and water. There would be no peace, unless Andrew got what he wanted.
Andrew turned to glower at Mr. Lawson.
“You knew,” Andrew spat angrily as he pointed his finger at Mr. Lawson. “You knew he was here and didn’t tell me! You know how I feel about this murdering outlaw! He may not have pulled the trigger but it’s his fault my sister is dead, and you didn’t have the decency to tell me he was here in my home town?”
“I tried more than once to tell you, but you kept shutting me down and...” Mr. Lawson began.
Andrew turned his back on Mr. Lawson then. He didn’t even bother to let the man finish, instead he turned his glare back to Josiah.
If looks could have killed Josiah would have died right, there.
“EVERYONE knew I wanted this place,” Andrew gave a humorless laugh. “The whole town probably knew I wanted this place! So, knowing how bad I wanted it why would my mother leave it to you? Why? What’d you do? You had to have done something because you are a conniving dog! Did you come buy it as soon as you heard they were dead? Was it put on the market without my knowledge? Or did you come sweet talk mom out of it while she was devastated over dad’s death?”
Josiah felt like snarling as he stepped closer to tower over Andrew. He then said, “None of the above! No, I didn’t buy it, and no, I didn’t ask for it, but it was left to me. Unlike you Andrew, I respected your parents, and I will run their businesses the best way I know how, so that their hard work won’t have been in vain.”
Andrew turned back to Mr. Lawson then. His face was once again red in his anger, the vein at his temple bulging.
“Businesses, plural? You mean my idiot father left him his shop too?” He screamed at Mr. Lawson as spittle flew from his mouth. He was huffing and looked about ready to pop a vein!
“Excuse me sirs, but what exactly is going on? I came here under the impression that this place was for sale.” The older man who was with Andrew spoke up to say.
Josiah turned to look at the man, it wasn’t his fault he had been duped. So, Josiah politely said, “I’m sorry your time was wasted sir, but this establishment belongs to me and I’m not willing to sell.”
“Hm..., well I’m sorry to hear that because it looks as if it would have been and excellent investment. I was expecting it to be a bit more out-of-date.”
“That’s because we just remodeled,” Josiah informed him.
“Well, if you change your mind...” the man began.
“He won’t change his mind! He got this business just to spite me and will keep it for the same reason!” Andrew yelled at the man, who looked startled, then almost scared before quickly heading for the door.
Josiah turned on Andrew then as he felt his body fill with anger. He then coldly said, “That man did nothing to you Andrew; and neither did I. Your parents thought I could do good with something they enjoyed, the café and the motorcycle shop. So, they left them to me.”
“Joe, keep your cool.” Promise said from somewhere behind Josiah.
Andrew glanced at Promise and snickered, “One of your biker hoes Anderson? How many have you replaced my sister with huh? Probably too many to count. I bet your gang is full of them, just waiting to be passed from one of you to the other after they have a snort of whatever you’re selling!”
Josiah’s anger sky rocketed! Andrew could talk trash all he wanted about Josiah, but he better lay off Promise and the club! He snarled, “Don’t go there Andrew! Don’t bring Promise and my MC into this, and don’t talk about Misty either.”
“Joe please...” Promise said again.
Promise could tell Josiah was losing it because she knew him so well.
The next words out of Andrew’s mouth had Josiah’s hands clenching into fists.
“Oh please, “don’t talk about Misty”,” Andrew mocked. “She was my sister, so I’ll talk about her if I want! I tried to tell dad to make you hit the road and leave her alone! They didn’t see you for the filthy low-life thug you are, and it got my sister killed! My parents were broken because of it and it killed them too! It’s your fault my parents are dead!” He shouted enraged as he pointed his finger at Josiah.
If someone had dropped a pin right then, you could have heard it. There was no sound at all in the café, not even the sound of breathing.
Rage poured off Josiah in waves as he glared at Andrew. Guilt had eaten at him since the moment Misty had died and even now, three years later, it still ate at him sometimes because he felt it was his fault.
He had wished many a night in his grief-stricken state that he had never stopped here that day or had just enjoyed her company for the summer and left. If he had, perhaps she would still be alive, but then he wouldn’t have had those five wonderful years with her.
With Brooke’s help during their talks, he had finally laid his guilt to rest. He had realized that he wouldn’t have wanted to miss that time with Misty for anything in this world, and Andrew wasn’t going to make him feel guilty for having loved her!
“You should have shut up when you had the chance Andrew,” Josiah told him through gritted teeth.
“Joe...” Promise said.
Josiah vaguely heard the bell tinkle as the café door opened, but he was too far gone to care.
“What’s going on?”
Josiah’s fist came up and slammed into Andrew’s face.
Andrew’s eyes rolled back, and he hit the floor.
“Night, night Andrew,” Josiah said with a growl.
“Says the Sandman,” Promise and Terry said together.
Pulling his gaze from the knocked-out Andrew, Josiah focused on Brooke.
“What happened?” Brooke asked glancing down at Andrew.
“He went too far in his accusations,” Josiah told her calmly.
Brooke nodded and said, “Okay, so you saw it necessary to knock him out? What happened to talking to him calmly?”
Josiah shrugged and stepped over Andrew’s body to her side. “It started calm enough but then he wouldn’t shut up.”
“Wow! So that’s the meaning behind the nickname.”
Josiah looked up to see Jean still standing in the doorway.
“One hit that’s all it ever takes,” Promise answered.
Josiah ignored them all as he pulled Brooke into his arms and breathed deeply of her sweet womanly scent. He now had her in his arms and that’s all he cared about.
“I really don’t do a lot of fighting Brooke, I really don’t, but I won’t back down from one if it’s needed. He crossed a line he shouldn’t have; and I wasn’t going to let it pass. I’m sorry if it upsets you in anyway but this is who I am. I’m called Sandman for a reason. If you cross me it’s night, night, lights out,” Josiah told her softly.
Brooke just stood there looking at him with those big green eyes of hers, and he felt as if she was looking into his soul. Then she gave him a sweet and loving smile.
“Joey, I love you, and I trust you to do the right thing. If Andrew needed a time out, then I’m glad you gave him one. Just don’t expect me to let you do the little ones that way when they’re naughty,” she told him with a straight face.
Josiah blinked, once, twice, three times.
Brooke, her friend Jean, and Promise all burst out laughing.
What can a man do? Josiah thought. Nothing but join in their laughter, so that’s what I did!