Story Excerpt
John Henry's Beautiful Charlie

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"Sheriff? Come in, Sheriff."

Sheriff John Henry Harrison picked up his receiver and replied. "Yeah, Maggie, what's up?"

"We have a disturbance out at the McAdam's place, Sheriff."

"What sort of disturbance?" As far as he knew, the McAdam's place was empty. Maybe it was kids playing games or something. The place had been vacant for over five years but every once in a while, kids like to have parties there.

"The new owner called in. He said he has trespassers. He's holding them off with a shotgun."

"Shit." John Henry tossed his coffee cup in the trash. It probably was a bunch of kids. "All right, I'm on my way." The sheriff hit his lights and spun his bronco around, heading toward the McAdam's ranch.

"New owner? When did the place sell, Maggie?" he continued his conversation with the dispatcher on his shoulder mic as he pressed down harder on the gas. He didn’t want to deal with dead teenagers because they were out for a bit of fun. People around here protected their property with a vengeance.

"Cheryl sold the place a couple of months ago. The new owner moved in last month."

"Huh." John Henry was surprised. He never thought that the McAdam's place would sell. Once upon a time, the old rolling southern mansion and its surrounding five hundred acres had been worth a butt load of cash. Now, it was just a rundown old house in the middle of the country. He wasn't even sure the barn was still standing.

It didn't take John Henry more than a few minutes to reach the place. He could see several cars pulled up in front of the colonial style house when he pulled into the driveway. Four people stood out in front of one of the vehicles—a very fancy looking vehicle.

And one man stood on the front porch with a shotgun in his hands.

That wasn't good.

John Henry cautiously climbed out of his bronco and stuck his cowboy hat on his head. He shut the door loud enough for everyone to hear it. The four people yelling at the man on the porch turned to stare at him.

Strangely enough, the man standing on the porch with the shotgun leaned it against the side of the house as soon as he saw John Henry. He took several steps away, putting enough space between him and the shotgun that John Henry didn't feel in danger of his life. He was grateful for the gesture.

At least he was dealing with a reasonable man.


"I'm Sheriff John Henry Harrison," he stated as he stepped around the front of his bronco. "What seems to be the problem here?"

The man on the porch crossed his arms over his chest and leaned against one of the large round white pillars on the porch. He didn't say a word. He just turned his gaze to the other people gathered in front of the vehicles.

John Henry blinked in shock when everyone except the man on the porch started talking at once. He counted four people talking all at the same time—an older man and woman, a man in his mid-forties, and a young woman. His surprise quickly turned to a low burning anger when they all pointed fingers at the man on the porch and continued shouting. He couldn't understand a word that they were saying. They were shouting over each other.

John Henry raised his hand to stop everyone but it did no good. They all just continued shouting, pointing fingers, and glaring toward the porch. John Henry glanced at the man on the porch. He still stood there, only this time he had an amused smirk on his face. He arched an eyebrow when he saw John Henry looking at him.

John Henry wanted to roll his eyes but it wouldn't be very professional. He put his fingers to his lips and let out a loud whistle. Everyone yelling stopped to stare at him. "Who's the owner here?"

"That would be me."

John Henry's eyes snapped over to the man on the porch. "You're the new owner?"

"I am."

John Henry walked in his direction, keeping his eyes on the others gathered. Until he knew what was what, he wasn't taking his eyes off of any of them. "And who are you?"

"Charlie Pennington."

John Henry shook the hand the man held out to him, his eyes widening a little when he felt a small zing shoot through his palm when their hands touched. "Sheriff John Henry—"

"Harrison." Charlie smiled, showing a perfect set of white teeth. "Yes, I heard."

"Did you put a call in to the sheriff's department?"

"I did." Charlie nodded toward the others. "I've asked these people to leave and they refused. As this is private property, my property, they are trespassing and I want them gone."

"I see." John Henry glanced at the four people standing there shooting glares of pure hatred at Charlie. They were scathing looks, almost burning. John Henry didn't know what was going on here—yet—but he didn't think these people were from around here.

This was the country. Most people dressed in jeans and T-shirts, like Charlie was dressed. It was unusual to see people dressed in fancy duds. It was instantly clear that the four people trespassing were from the city.

"Folks, if the owner of the property has asked you to leave, then you have to leave."

"I'm not leaving here until I see my grandchildren," an older man in a three piece dark blue suit shouted as he wagged his beefy finger at the man on the porch. "You can't keep them from us, Charles."

Grandchildren? John Henry glanced over his shoulder. The sexy man standing behind him had children? Damn. What a fucking waste.