My eyes narrowed as I crossed my arms. “And what do I get out of this deal?”
“I don’t know. You can rub it in my face and mock me for the rest of forever?”
“Well, that does sound satisfying, but I want one more thing.”
“And what’s that?”
“You help me in the pigpens. You take half of them to clean yourself.”
He groaned. “I’m more of an overseer of the pens. I haven’t cleaned them in years.” That was one of the perks of being a manager on Eres Ranch, I supposed. You handed out the jobs, but you didn’t have to get your hands too deep in the dirty work. But if Ian wanted my help, he’d have to come down to my level.
“Well, that’s my deal. I’ll help you with the lyrics if you help me with the pens. How bad do you want that dream of yours, Ian?”
I could tell from his stare how bad he wanted it.
Really freaking bad.
I held my hand out toward him and smiled. “Do we have a deal?”
There was a moment of pause until he walked over to me and shook my hand.
“Deal. Just promise me one thing.”
“And what’s that?”
“No lady boners in the pens.”
If my face could turn any redder, I’d be a dang tomato.
“Trust me, we’ll be fine. But before we move on, can you say that one thing again?”
“What one thing?”
I pushed my tongue in my cheek. “That I was right.”
He rolled his eyes so hard that I was certain he was going to damage his vision. “Shut up, darling.”
Before I could reply to his comments, the doorbell rang, and Ian hurried over to answer it. “Can I help you?” he asked.
“Yeah, rumor has it Hazel Stone is crashing here,” a deep voice said, making me look up toward the front door.
Garrett stood there in all black, looking moody as ever. My stomach flipped as the two of us made eye contact. A fire blazed in his eyes, and within seconds, he barged into Ian’s place and gripped my arm. His embrace was tight. Too tight.
“What the hell, Garrett? Let me go,” I hissed, trying to pull my arm free, but he wouldn’t let it go.
“Heard the craziest rumor today,” he sneered, his voice coated in anger and alcohol. “It seems someone snitched on Charlie. You wouldn’t know anything about that, would you?”
My heartbeats sped up as I kept trying to rip my arm away from his hold, but I couldn’t. “No,” I lied, feeling my emotions building more and more with each second that passed.
My plan . . . it worked. It really freaking worked.
“Why do I feel like you’re full of shit right now?” he asked.
“Let me go,” I ordered once more, cringing at his tight hold against me.
“That was my uncle, my family. All of us were a unit, and you went and fucked that all up.”
“He beat her! He beat my mom all the time, Garrett. He was going to kill her!” I cried, mostly from that truth, slightly from the pain of his fingers digging deeper into my skin. What was happening? Garrett wasn’t like Charlie. Never once had he hurt me physically, only mentally; he’d never laid his hands on me. Not until now. Now, he looked so wild in the eyes that I hardly even recognized him.
“Yeah, well, sometimes a bitch needs to be handled.”
Acid rose from my stomach and sat in my throat as I built up enough strength to shove him away from me. “Fuck you, Garrett.”
“I did you a favor giving you a minute of my damn time. You think anyone else would’ve put up with dating your disgusting ass? And then you go ahead and screw over the only family you ever had. Only three people in this town outside of Charlie knew about the drop location.” He grabbed both of my wrists in his hand this time and pulled me in closer to his body, pressing himself against me. His hot, intoxicated breaths brushed against my cheek as tears burned at the backs of my eyes. “Do you know what happens to snitches, Hazel Stone?”
It felt like a threat, but I knew it was more. Garrett didn’t come from a family who offered empty threats. They always turned out to be more like promises.
Before I could reply, Ian rushed over and shoved Garrett, knocking his hold away from me.
“What the . . . ? Back the hell off,” Ian ordered, his chest rising and falling.
Garrett stumbled back a little, taken by surprise. Yet when he regained his footing, he rolled up his sleeves and cranked his neck. “You know, I’m real sick of you preppy bitches thinking you own this town. Hazel and I were having a conversation that was none of your business.”
“Yeah, well, it looked like Hazel wasn’t really in the mood for talking, and seeing as how it’s happening in my house, that makes it my business.”
Garrett’s hands formed fists, and he moved in closer to Ian. “Well, if she’s not down for talking, maybe you and I should have a conversation, asshole.”
Ian rolled up his sleeves. “I’d love to hear what you have to say.”
“You guys, stop. Please,” I begged, stepping between them both. “Just leave, Garrett.”
He huffed. “Fine, but don’t think we’re done here, Hazel. You’ll be hearing from me again.”
That thought alone terrified me.
As he began to walk away, he turned back and flipped his lighter on and off in his hand. “Whatever your plan was with ratting Charlie out went sideways. He wasn’t the only one busted, you dumbass. Your mom was there too. So congratulations. You got your mother locked up too.”