Tater demanded their new home be decorated country cabin style, with exotic and domestic animal heads from his various hunting expeditions mounted on the walls and the space littered with his collection of mostly tacky Western art.

Starla ignored Tater’s demands and decorated the house in the style of an English country manor, with chintz-covered chairs, plaid and floral couches, lace doilies, ruffles and bows.

The result was pretty hideous, an interior decorator’s worst nightmare—Laura Ashley meets Conan the Barbarian. The horse scenes painted on velvet clashed with the velvet draperies. The rusted barbed wire folk art sculptures did not complement the classic Greek marble figurines. The grizzly bear skin rug clashed with the Oriental carpets. Trevor and Chassie were on the same page for how they wanted their home to look. Hard to be picky when money was an issue. After they’d first gotten married, she’d jokingly suggested they decorate in the theme of cowboy versus Indian to keep with their heritages.

What Brazilian pieces would Edgard add to their eclectic mix? Had he even brought any of his personal stuff over from Brazil?

While he was lost in thought, pondering the changes he wanted to make in his life even as he wondered if he had the guts to follow through with it, his mother had somehow snuck up behind him. “You always were a damn daydreamer.”

“Only way to escape from the shitty reality in this family. Besides, I always got my chores done on time. Can’t say the same for anyone else.” Trevor turned around. “I’m ready to see Pa.”

“You sure? He ain’t his old piss and vinegar self.”

“Like that’s a bad thing.” An emotion close to worry briefly appeared in Starla’s eyes. “How serious is this?”

“Serious enough for him to call you home.” She sniffed with disdain. “I’ll let you judge for yourself.” Cigarette in hand, she pushed open the door to the den without knocking. “Get up, you old bastard, Trevor is here.”

“Jesus, Ma.” Trevor brushed past her. The room was dark except for a lamp in the corner and the glow of the big screen TV mounted on the far wall.

Tater Glanzer was in bed. Trevor didn’t remember ever seeing his dad in bed past eight in the morning. Tater wore plaid pajamas, his face was pale and his yellowed hair stuck up like sections of straw.

At one time everyone commented on the resemblance between Trevor and Tater. As years passed and his father packed on weight, the likeness was less pronounced. But for Trevor, the only differences that mattered were those on the inside.



“Come in, boy. Starla, shut the goddamn door behind you.”

“If I leave I ain’t comin’ back in here to wait on you.”

“After thirty-six years you think that’s a big surprise to me? Send Lianna in here after a bit. Make sure she knocks first.”

The door shut hard enough to rattle the DVDs on the end table. His parents’ sniping and the door slamming barely registered. Trevor pulled up a folding chair, spun it around and straddled it, propping his arms across the back. “So I’m here. What do you want?

Now that I can plainly see you ain’t gonna die.”

“Ain’t got much sympathy for me, do ya?”

“Should I?”

“Hell yes. I’m your father.”

“Yeah, well, that’s something you said embarrassed you on a daily basis, so try again.”

Tater looked away. “We’ve all said and done things we ain’t proud of, son.”

That admission was the closest he’d ever get to an apology, but it didn’t soften Trevor toward the ornery SOB one iota.

“Speaking of…why didn’t your wife come with you? Ain’t none of us met her yet.

Makes me wonder if you’re ashamed of her.”

Rage erupted inside him, precisely the reaction his father goaded him into, so Trevor refused to grant it to him. “Leave Chassie out of this. You spewed a buncha racist bullshit about her once and you ain’t ever doin’ it again. So if you can’t be civil when you speak of my wife, I’ll walk out the fuckin’ door right now, old man, understand?”

The outburst appeared to have pleased Tater. “See? That’s why you’n me didn’t get along. You don’t have no problem speakin’ your mind.”

Trevor laughed bitterly. “Don’t you mean I ain’t never had a problem talkin’ back to you? And if I recall, my face met the back of your hand every goddamn time I was stupid enough to speak my mind.”

“Didn’t do no good. You’ve still got that same smart mouth.”

“I piss you off, you piss me off, old news. If you called me here because you needed someone new to fight with, I’ll be hittin’ the road. I’ve got lots of stuff goin’ on at home that I’d rather be doin’.”

His father considered him in silence.

“Good luck.” Trevor stood.

“Sit your ass back down. Now.”

Trevor sat.

“Fine. You’re right. I ain’t ready to lay down and die. But this little spell has shown that I’ve been short-sighted in decidin’ the future for the Glanzer Ranch.”

“Again, I ain’t a lawyer. What does this have to do with me?”

“Simple. I’m askin’ you to move back here and take over. For real. No bullshit. No head games. I’d put you in charge one hundred percent.”

“In writin’?”

His dad squirmed, but he nodded. “In writing.”

“Why me?”

“Because you’re the only one with guts. Brent has no initiative. He’s no better’n a trained monkey; he’ll do whatever your mother or I tell him to do. Same with Lianna, though she’d like to tell us off, she don’t have the balls. And Molly and her husband are both dumb as damn posts so they ain’t any help.”

“What about Tanner? I thought he raced back here to prove his loyalty, abidin’ love and concern for you.” Trevor couldn’t stop the sarcasm.

“That’s what he’d like everyone—includin’ me—to think. Truth is, he sucks in the arena, he’s pissed away any chance to compete in nationals yet again, and he thinks I’m so damn dumb I don’t know it.”

“Which tells me why you didn’t pick Tanner, but it don’t tell me why after I’ve been considered a fuck-up my whole life, that all of a sudden you’re offerin’ this to me.”

“Because you grew up, boy. No more whorin’, drinkin’, chasin’ the rodeo dream.

You’ve shown you can be responsible. By makin’ your own way you’ve shown I can trust you.”

“So by me leavin’ here…now you’re offerin’ me everything I ever wanted?” Why did that scenario seem familiar? Because his situation with Edgard had gone along those same lines?


“What’s the catch?”

“No catch. I’m serious. As a heart attack.”

Trevor didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. He stood and paced. “Who else knows about your change of heart attack?”

His dad’s rusty chuckle pieced the air. “I ain’t told no one, not even your ma. But I’m sure Lianna and Brent suspect. Tanner thinks by suckin’ up, I’ll be swayed by his so-called charms.” Tater harrumphed. “Goddamn idiot. He knocked up another chick in Oklahoma right before Thanksgiving.”

“Another?” Trevor scowled. “How many is that now?”

“Four. Three bastard grandbabies spread from California to Florida. Tanner ain’t got a pot to piss in after he gets done payin’ child support every month. And he could give a shit about any of them kids. The mothers don’t want nothin’ to do with him so the closest me’n Starla come to seein’ them is in pictures.”

And yet Trevor didn’t feel sorry for Tater. He’d paid no attention to his own kids unless he was whipping them, so Trevor didn’t know how Tanner was supposed to have turned out any differently as a father with Tater as a role model.

“So I’m also hopin’ when you and Cassie start havin’ babies you’ll be close by so we can get to know ’em.”

“My wife’s name is Chassie, not Cassie, Pa,” Trevor said tersely.

Tater waved him off. “Don’t matter just as long as them kids have the Glanzer last name.”

His father started to cough. He kept coughing. Trevor handed him a glass of water and his dad choked on it. Just as he was starting to panic, the door flew open and Lianna raced in. She yelled, “Move,” and Trevor did.

Lianna rolled their dad to his side and slipped an oxygen mask over his face.

Immediately, Tater calmed down and closed his eyes. “Slow and deep, Daddy. I’ll be right back.” She jerked her head toward the door as a sign for Trevor to leave.

His sister stormed to the dining room and spun around so fast she clipped him with her big belly. “Do you see now? How he pretends to be fine but he’s not?”

“Yeah, I see. What’s the coughing from?”

Lianna rested her hands on her protruding stomach. “Emphysema.”

Trevor lifted both brows. “And yet Ma is still smokin’ around him?”

“Like that oughta surprise you. She’ll damn well smoke in her own goddamn house if she wants to.” Lianna looked over his shoulder. “Ma’s words not mine.”

“She puffs away while she’s takin’ care of him?”

“She don’t take care of him. Guess who gets stuck takin’ care of him? Me. Tanner’s gone most the time. Molly is a coupla bricks short of a load and Brent wouldn’t rock the boat for nothin’. I’m not supposed to be doin’ half this shit anyway.”

Lianna practically invented martyrdom, but it was her own damn fault. “Then why are you doin’ it?”

“You see any other able-bodied family members lining up?”