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Powerless: Chapter 29


Jasper: We’re home safe. How is Beau?

Harvey: Oh, good. Relieved you two are back. Beau is in good spirits, all things considered. He wants to call you. He’s sleeping right now though.

Jasper: We’re here. Anytime. When will he come home?

Harvey: It might be awhile. He’s in good hands here.

The first thing I did when we got back to the big empty house at Wishing Well Ranch was drag Sloane up to my teenage bedroom and fuck her while she wore my jersey.

It’s all I’ve thought about since she waltzed out of that dressing room wearing it with a teasing little grin. Harder for her to grin with my dick in her mouth. Major fan of the satisfied smile she shot me after though.

Then we passed out, limbs tangled in the tiny bed. Dead to the world. It seems like it has been months since her almost-wedding day.

Now we’re unpacking our bags and enjoying a nice cold Buddyz Best, Sloane is downstairs starting the laundry, and I’m feeling really fucking domestic and happy about the entire situation as I fold the basket she just brought up.

I can see us doing this forever. Taking trips together. Napping together. Doing chores together. Me walking up and pressing a soft kiss to her cheek, just because I can, and then carrying on with my shit. Even doing boring stuff is infinitely less boring with Sloane by my side.

“Jas! Harvey is FaceTiming! Can I answer?” she calls from downstairs.

I freeze midway through folding the ugly T-shirt Cade gave me shit for wearing.

“Yes!” I call back before dropping the shirt and striding out of the room, covering as much ground as possible without running. We’ve gotten the odd text update from Harvey but not a lot of information. I know he’s trying not to worry us, but the less-is-more strategy really isn’t reassuring with the way my brain works.

“Hiiiii!” I hear Sloane’s sunny voice coming from the kitchen as I approach her from behind. “Look at you, Beau! God, it’s good to see you.”

When I get close enough to see the screen, my chest cracks wide open. Harvey is sitting beside Beau and they’re both grinning back at Sloane.

The closer I get, I can see how thin Beau looks, that his expression is a bit drawn. But he’s there. Breathing. Talking. Alive.

“Oh! There he is!” Sloane can see me in the little rectangle at the top of the screen as I approach. I push up close behind her, and without even thinking, I wrap one arm around her stomach and take my friend—my brother—in.

He and I are tight, but we aren’t sappy. Beau isn’t a sappy guy. Sometimes I think he’s just as dark as I am and just hides it better. Aka, he isn’t a sullen dick when he has a bad day.

But I’m me, so I open with, “Hey, asshole. You look like shit.”

Beau chuckles, a wry grin twisting his mouth. “When I get home, I’m gonna kick your ass, Gervais. No helmets and pads allowed though.”

“If that’s what it takes to get you home, I’ll allow it. Missed you, man.”

He forces a smile now, his eyes a familiar brand of haunted. “Missed you too.”

Sloane glances over her shoulder at my face, like what she sees reflected on the screen just isn’t enough. Our eyes catch for a moment. She smiles at what she sees there, and just as she turns back to the phone screen, Harvey lets out a loud whistle.

“Well, I’ll be . . .” His head shakes.

Beau snorts.

“What?” I ask, stepping away and crossing my arms over my chest. Because I’m not stupid. I know what they just saw.

Harvey’s grin is just a little too wide when he says, “Y’all went and made that kissing cousins saying a real-life thing.”

My eyes close and I take a deep breath. I’ve never had immunity from Harvey and his bad jokes, but I’ve always flown under the radar enough to not be his prime target. I momentarily wonder if this is how Cade feels.

Sloane gasps. “We’re not cousins!”

Beau elbows his dad, playing off of him like he always does. “I think they might be doing more than kissing. Look how red she is.”

I glance up at the corner of the phone to see her face, and sure enough, Sloane’s doing her best tomato imitation.

“We’re not cousins.” I back her up but my lips twitch. We’re going to get this joke for a long-ass time, might as well roll with the punches.

“I mean . . . sure. Not the type that’ll make a baby with a tail or something,” Harvey starts in, gaining momentum the more we all react. He’s like an over-grown child. “But still cousin-y if you ask me.”

“Literally no one asked you, Harv.”

“Hey, Dad.” Beau’s head inclines toward Harvey, and he reaches out to palm the back of his son’s neck. Harvey looks both exhausted and relieved. I twitch my nose a little to chase away the sting that crops up there.

“Yes, son?”

“On a scale of one to tail-baby-cousins, where would you put Jasper and Sloane?”

“Oh my god.” Sloane collapses onto the counter, holding the phone over her head, shaking it like I should take it from her.

“Like a five, probably.”

“Beau,” I cut them off with an amused shake of my head, taking the phone from Sloane’s hand. “How badly injured are you? Because I’m gonna make you pay for that joke.”

I meant it in a teasing way, but I can tell my comment sobers them both. I have a real knack for being a buzz kill. Sloane stands back up and leans her shoulder into my chest to appear back on the screen.

Beau clears his throat. “Some minor burns.” He gestures to his legs. “I might need a few months. Then I’ll be able to take you.”

I notice the IV line that disappears at the top of his hand. “What’s the deal?”

“Gotta stay here for a bit. Then they’ll be able to transfer me home. All you complainers will be happy to know that my days moonlighting as James Bond have ended.”

Sloane’s head nods in understanding. He doesn’t seem keen to disclose more, and I’m not one to push when someone wants to keep things under wraps, so I don’t. I default to our regular friendship.

“Yeah, but Bond gets pussy.”

Beau barks out a laugh and I smile at the sound. Fuck, it’s good to see him, and hear him laugh.

“Dude, you’re hooking up with your cousin. Don’t even talk to me about that.”

Sloane pushes up on her tip toes in front of me, like a fiery little dragon, all protective and shit. “Beau Eaton! Never mind Jasper. I’m gonna kick your ass when I see you. Right after I hug the hell out of you and tell you how much I love you.”

Beau smiles, more natural than I’ve seen on his face for this entire conversation, but I can see he’s getting tired. “I’d like to see you try, Sloaney. But I’ll take the hug.”

Harvey must notice the way Beau is fading too because he cuts in, “Okay, we’re gonna give Cade and Willa a call next, so I’m gonna jump in here. You two lovebirds have fun. It’s about dang time you two figured it out. Jasper’s been creeping on ya from under the brim of that dang hat for years. So just be safe. Know that Grandpa Harvey will love the baby, tail and all.”

“Harvey! Are you—”

Beau is laughing when Harvey cuts me off. “We love you two hooligans! Bye!”

And then the image cuts out with a monotone whoosh.

When I glance down, Sloane is laughing hard enough that tears are gathering in her eyes as she wipes them away with the back of her hand. “Goddamn. Harvey is a beast.”

“Never mind Beau. Harvey is dead,” I joke, knowing I’ll never follow through on it.

“Hey, Jas?”

“Yeah?” I tip my head and look down at the woman who has rotated to press her body against mine.

“Have you really been creeping on me from under that cap?”

I shrug and pull her head against my chest. In the same spot I always do—pressing her to my heart and dusting my lips over her hair. “I mean, Sunny . . . have you seen your ass?”

“You’re not supposed to be here, Gervais. Hasn’t been two weeks. I’m gonna pretend I didn’t see you.” Roman drops his attention back down to the papers in his hands as he tries to edge past me down the back hallway of our practice facility.

“Well, I am. And you need me, Coach.”

“Don’t tell me what I need, Jasper. That’s not your job.”

“We’ve been on a losing streak.” Like he doesn’t know. He’s the one who sits on the bench, watching it all happen. For me, I haven’t been able to bring myself to watch. Too hard. Too maddening.

“Yup.” He pops the p, still not giving me his attention. “And we were losing when you were playing too.”

“I need to play. You need me to play—”

The older man stops right in front of me, his brow quirking speculatively as he cuts me off. “No, I need the better version of you who has his head screwed on straight. And you need these last few days on your time out to do it.”

“Time out? What am I? A seven-year-old?”

Roman shakes his head, glancing back down at whatever super interesting shit must be on the paper in front of him. “Sometimes it feels like all of you are just a bunch of seven-year-olds.”

I almost laugh.

“They found him. He’s alive.”

At that, Coach’s head snaps up. “Yeah?”

“Yeah.” I can’t stop the bashful grin that twists my lips.

“Well, heck yes, Jasper.” Roman smiles, crinkling the skin at the corners of his eyes. “That’s the best fucking news I’ve heard in ages.”

He claps my shoulder once. Twice. And tugs me in for a gruff hug before pulling away, one hand on each shoulder to really look me in the eye.

“I want to play.”

He nods. “You been training?”

I doubt Roman would consider a boys versus girls game of shinny—plus a record amount of fucking—training, but exercise is exercise so I say, “Yeah.”

He eyes me speculatively, and I train my face to not give anything away. It’s not the first time I’ve bent the truth with management.

They tell me not to ride horses in my contract too. Doesn’t stop me from getting up and helping with the branding every summer and working cattle for the family reunion in the fall though.

I’m not as good as Rhett or Cade—or Violet—but I’m still a country boy at heart. I can saddle a horse and herd a cow.

“Alright. You come to practice and training for the next three days. Show me your focus is back and I’ll let you play.”

“Yes, Coach.” I steel my features, trying not to give away that I really wanted to play tonight. Right now, if possible. I had hockey pushed out of my mind. Didn’t feel like I needed it, didn’t miss it, because my brain was too full of grief and self-pity. But now? Now my fingers itch with it.

With a nod, I turn to walk back out the doors to where Sloane is waiting safely in my SUV.

“Hey, Gervais?”

Roman’s words turn me around right as I near the metal push bar on the exit door. “Yeah?”

He gestures at his head. “Where’s your hat?”

I blink once, putting his question together. I reach up and run a palm over my hair to check for it. Wearing my team hat has been a part of my identity for the better part of my life.

“I don’t know. I guess I forgot to put it on.”

The man quirks his head at me and smiles before walking away.

I told him the truth that time. When we got ready, I didn’t even think about putting my hat on this morning.

I guess I didn’t feel like I needed it.


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