“Oh, there was a big to-do when he came home. He graduated to officer in the military, survived combat. Then came home to take care of his family after his mama’s heart attack.”
Sadie murmured a few encouraging words, even though Gladys didn’t need them.
“But then all those plants got poisoned earlier this year—”
That made Sadie’s ears perk up. “What plants?”
“Cotton fields.” The older woman leaned toward Sadie over the high desk in what Sadie had learned was Gladys’s favorite position. “One of the things Zach did to earn money was crop dust. Early this spring he dusted nigh on half the county in a day. By morning, the plants were dead. Boy, did that cause an uproar.”
“I bet.” Probably more like a riot. Killing the cash crop of choice for the area... “Did the police get involved?”
“You bet. Quite a spectacle it was, though I wasn’t there. Handcuffs and all. But they released him the same day.”
Gladys lowered her voice, though they were the only two around. “Them Blackstone brothers got involved. And they obviously believe in him, because he’s the biggest news story around here...besides the bomb, of course.”
“You mean his new job?”
The woman nodded, her tight gray curls bouncing. “He don’t have to work three jobs now, that’s for sure. I hear his business is taking off like hot cakes.”
See, he doesn’t need the money.
Sadie pushed away the seductive thought. She wouldn’t sugarcoat what she was doing. Regardless of his current circumstances, Zach deserved the inheritance her late boss had wanted to give him. The one she had denied him because she had lied and told Victor’s father that Zach wasn’t, in fact, the son he sought. She’d been afraid he would corrupt Zach the same way he had everything else around him.
Still believing his firstborn was out there somewhere, Beddingfield Senior had willed him his inheritance. The only way for Victor to get it was to ruin Zach. Because he knew the truth...the truth behind the lies she’d told.
Desperate times called for desperate measures.
Gladys had just given her a place to start looking for Zach’s dirty laundry. And if Sadie succeeded in her mission, she’d steal away every last dime.
“I heard there was an incident at the mill yesterday.”
Of course she had. Zach glanced over at his sister. Despite her engagement to the richest man in town, KC had kept her bartending job, and she heard everything. “You mean besides the fire?”
“Well, this was a bit more interesting than a bomb, in my opinion. It was about you...and a woman.”
Only KC would find that more interesting. But since there was never any gossip connecting him to any women in town, he could see her point of view.
Zachary hated that he paused before answering, practically admitting his guilt. “You heard about that?” His sister was too smart for him to bother pretending he didn’t know what she was talking about.
Her sassy attitude was displayed in a raised brow and hand on her hip. “Seriously? This is a bar. In a small town. People in here have nothing to do but talk all day...” She studied him in a way that made him want to squirm. “Did you really throw her off the property?”
“You make it sound so much worse than it was.”
KC’s eyes widened. “Zach! Why would you do that?”
He wanted to use his lame security excuse again, but he seriously needed better lines. Instead, he focused on pulling a beer. “Let’s talk about it later—we’re kinda busy right now.”
“That we are,” KC said, filling her tray with drinks for a rowdy table of off-the-clock firefighters. The dinner hour was just approaching, and Lola’s bar was already filled to capacity. “But you’re not off the hook,” she warned him.
He wanted to let his rare bad temper loose and tell her to mind her own business, but knew his sister’s fiancé, Jacob Blackstone, wouldn’t pull any punches putting him in his place if Zach made his own sister cry. Besides, it wasn’t KC’s fault.
It was Sadie’s.
He hadn’t been able to stop thinking about her, to the point that he wished his brain had an off switch. Even sleeping hadn’t given him any relief. Ever since seeing her two days ago, he’d dreamed of the single night they’d been together, and the glorious sensuality of her body.