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Mountain Darkness (Wild Mountain Men 1) Vanessa Vale 2022/7/22 14:36:53

His jaw clenched. “It’s not only my career on the line.”

I frowned. “What are you talking about?”

He shrugged. “The District Attorney’s going to want the killer behind bars just as much as I do. That falls to your shoulders.”

“Meaning don’t fuck this up.” While the DA was in charge of the office and dealt with politics, like meetings with my father, I dealt with the actual cases, did the time in the courtroom. If things went south, it was on me.

This meant I shouldn’t have fucked a prime suspect’s pussy while she sucked the lead detective’s dick. And planned to do some other variety of that later tonight.

He lifted a hand in a stop gesture. “I didn’t say that.”

I stood, set the paperweight back down.

“You didn’t have to.” I was used to his passive aggressiveness.

“You’ll be the DA within five years if I have my way,” he said to my back as I made my way to his office door. He had aspirations for me that had never matched my own. If he were mayor and his son DA, the power he’d have. Nash and Nash, like some kind of TV show.

He smiled, saccharine sweet. “Donnie, having power means you control lots of places in the government, not just one seat. Imagine what the Nash boys can do if we’re running Cutthroat.”

I hadn’t cared all that much about his aspirations for me, until now. But this was the first time he’d practically admitted being heavy handed in my career. Had he pushed cases my way to build up my resume? Did he know things about the DA to get him tossed out of office?

Fuck. I knew we weren’t close, but I’d never imagined being my father’s pawn.

I hadn’t thought about it much at all. Until now. Until there were more important things. I’d been going along for the ride because I’d been able to put bad guys away. I’d been content with that, clearly not knowing what Pops had been up to. But there hadn’t been much to stand up for. To protect. Now there was Kit.

I didn’t want to throw away three years of law school because my dad was power hungry, but I didn’t want any puppet strings either. I wanted to be the man Kit turned to. In the middle of the night, when she was sad. Happy. Horny. I needed her to be able to look me in the eye and be proud of me. And I needed to do the same with myself.

I turned, looked at the man I once looked up to. Now, I didn’t like anything he stood for. “I want justice, Pops, not to be DA.”

He looked at me as if he wondered if we shared the same DNA. “It’s the same thing.”

It was like talking to a fence post. No matter how many times I said it, he wouldn’t understand. I’d gone into law for Mom, not for him. “It’s not the same thing at all.”

“Look who the cat dragged in,” Dolly said, her usual smile on her face, a coffee pot in her hand as she walked by where I stood at the hostess stand. She didn’t stop to say more, but worked her way down the row of booths by the front windows offering refills. I’d rarely seen her out of the diner’s uniform of jeans and a T-shirt with a drawing of the building on the back and sturdy black shoes.

Once done, she turned on her heel and worked her way back to me.

“Give me some sugar,” she said and I hugged her. Hard. She was taller than me by a few inches and bony, although she was strong from lugging heavy trays of food about all day. She smelled like cooked onions and rose water. A familiar combination that had me blinking back tears. I’d missed her.

Dolly’s Diner was one of the only places that was frequented by all of Cutthroat. Tourists and truckers passing through as well. Open twenty-four hours, everyone liked a greasy, late-night breakfast after hard drinking or an early morning business meeting. The rich liked good food in large portions as much as those on a budget. Her parents had started the place back in the sixties—and obviously named it after their only child—when the highway first opened. While they’d retired to Florida when I was a little girl, Dolly and her husband, Clyde, took over the running of it.

“I heard you were back.” She walked around the lunch counter and put the coffee pot back on the warming plate. Reaching beneath, she pulled out a box of sugar packets and began tucking them into the plastic holders.

“I’ve been working with Erin Mills.”

“Heard that, too.” She shook her head. “I can’t believe what happened to her.”

Her hands stilled and her shrewd eyes met mine. “Kit.”

I pasted on a fake smile and leaned against the counter. “I’ve been staying with her, saving up some money for a place of my own.”