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Bad For Me(4)

By:Codi Gary

Everett stood up and headed for the kitchen of his three-bedroom modular to grab a soda. His brother, Justin, had actually wanted to build a home for Everett on their land, but Everett hadn’t needed a stick built. He was happy with his picked-from-the-lot manufactured home. It had cost him about fifty thousand for the house and all the amenities, but his place was serviceable and perfect for him.

“Hey, Rhett,” Everett’s dad called as he poked his head in through the open door.

Everett’s gut clenched just hearing the nickname. Justin and his father were the only people who called him that, but now it was just a reminder of his crash-and-burn with Callie.

He’d started listening to the Kat when he moved home and had especially loved listening to Callie Jay in the mornings when she took over the show five years ago. She was funny, and the music she played wasn’t just your run-of-the-mill modern country rock; she mixed in the old-school eighties and nineties. He had no idea what she looked like, since the station website only had a cartoon avatar for her instead of a photo, but he didn’t care. Her voice, which was a low, husky rasp, was sexy as hell, and he found himself addicted to hearing her over the line.

Finally, a little over a year ago, he’d been unable to resist calling in to her all-request hour. And again the next day. And the next.

But despite how friendly their conversations had become, he’d had no intention of pushing for more. It was just fun. Besides, there was no guarantee that she’d be able to see past his scars. None of the other women he’d gone out with since his divorce had.

Which is why he’d been just as surprised as her when he’d subtly asked for her number this morning, but he hadn’t wanted to say good-bye. If her reaction was any indication, though, he would not be calling the station again. She no doubt thought he was a creeper.

Realizing he’d left his dad hanging without answering, he called, “Yeah, what’s up?”

“You mind going to the grocery store for me? I’ve got a meeting in Twin Falls in an hour and don’t want to be late.”

Fred Silverton was weathered and craggy, but his shoulders and arms told the story of a man who had worked hard his entire life. His alcoholism had spiraled out of control just after Everett’s mom had died eighteen years ago, and it was only in the last six months—since he’d been diagnosed with pancreatitis—that he had begun seeking treatment. Things had been going well, so far, but while Everett believed their father was truly committed, Justin had his doubts—and it showed.

Justin had every right to his anger and resentment. Everett had spent two years picking up his dad at whatever bar he’d passed out at, but Justin had had it worse after Everett enlisted. But despite what Fred had put them through, they were still family, and family had each other’s back.

“Sure, Dad, just give me your list.” Everett abandoned his soda and stepped outside, only to be treated to a smack of cold air on his face. The wind blew crisp and hard this time of year, and he reached back inside to grab his jacket.

“Here,” Fred said, handing Everett a scrap of paper.

“I’ll head out now. I was going to go for a hike, but I can push that back until later.”

“Well, I will probably go for coffee with my sponsor after the meeting and maybe have dinner with some of the guys after, so don’t wait on me for supper.”

Everett smiled and slapped his dad on the back. “Are we ever going to meet your sponsor? This woman who steals you away?”

Fred Silverton’s leathery face flushed, and he grumbled, “It’s not like that. She’s too young for me.”

His father was in his sixties, but Everett had a hard time believing a woman in her forties or fifties was too young for him. At least, that was how old he assumed his dad’s sponsor was. It seemed crazy that someone any younger would be mature enough to be a good example for his father.

“Well, still, you should have her over to the house,” Everett said. “Anyone who has your back and that you respect so well is welcome here anytime.”

“Thank you, son.” Fred cleared his throat. “I appreciate that.”

Everett watched his father head to his truck. He definitely looked better, but he still seemed worn out. His pancreatitis flared up every once in a while; plus, he was just getting too old to work as hard as he used to. Which was where Everett and Justin came in.

Silverton Farms was running smoothly and successfully, but it had more to do with Justin’s passion than Everett’s. Everett had too much to do with his nonprofit, Stateside Support, than with the farm.

Right now, Everett’s organization was active only in Idaho, but the hotline counseling was statewide, and he’d partnered with several other national organizations where he could direct vets for job and housing assistance. He spent anywhere from five to eight hours a day counseling over the phone, and although he avoided any kind of interviews, he’d hired a publicity crew just before Stateside Support had launched. They went on air and handled the TV appearances and radio interviews. He just wasn’t big on parading around in front of strangers. Even though the people of Rock Canyon treated him with respect, he felt their pitying stares whenever he ran errands in town. If that was the way people who knew him reacted to his scarred face, how would an on-air interview go? And if they started asking questions about the fire . . .