That Deep River Feeling (Alaska Homecoming #3) - Jackie Ashenden Page 0,1

I did,” he said. “Well, you don’t need it now. I’m right here.”

“Uh-huh.” Morgan’s stare narrowed. “So, are you going to tell me why you’re on my front porch? When your two friends, who’ve been looking for you for weeks, are back in the Happy Moose?”

Zeke had arrived in Deep River, the quirky little Alaskan town he and his two best friends had inherited after Caleb’s death, a couple of nights earlier. He’d made a camp for himself in a clearing in the bush just out of town—he’d preferred a bedroll to staying in a hotel since he always slept better on the ground. And yeah, he should have announced himself to Silas and Damon, the ex-army buddies that Morgan was talking about, but he wasn’t a man who charged into a situation without doing a bit of reconnaissance first.

Which was what he’d been doing. Reconnaissance. Of Deep River itself. Again, he was a man who took his time and didn’t like to rush into things. Especially given that oil reserves had been discovered underneath the town and he knew for a fact that those oil reserves were of interest to…certain people.

People connected with him.

Luckily, though, he’d handled that issue, so now the only things he had left to do were finish up his mission for Cal and then go see his friends.

He’d figured that finishing up his mission for Cal and taking care of Cal’s little sister was more pressing than seeing his friends, so here he was.

Zeke dismissed the question of said friends for the moment. “I’ll see them later. In the meantime, I’m here to make sure you’re looked after.”

Surprise rippled over Morgan’s pretty face. “Make sure I’m looked after?” she echoed. “Why would I need looking after?”

He shrugged. “Your brother asked me to.”

Morgan’s arms dropped. “Oh. How wonderful.” She didn’t sound as if she thought it was wonderful. She sounded extremely irritated.

“I appreciate it,” Morgan was saying, “but as you can see, I’m pretty good right now and I’ve been pretty good for a number of years, both with and without Caleb.”

Her response did not surprise Zeke. Cal had mentioned in his letter that his relationship with Morgan was a fraught one and that she wouldn’t appreciate someone muscling in on her territory, especially if she knew that Cal had ordered Zeke to.

Of course, Zeke could have just not told her that part of it, but he wasn’t a liar and he didn’t play games. He was straight up, and that’s the way he preferred everyone else to be too.

He eyed her. She did look pretty good, he had to admit, and in more ways than one. And it was also clear that she was annoyed about her brother. Then again, it had been his experience that people said one thing while meaning something else, so he could never take anything at face value.

“You are, huh?” he said.

“Yes.” She eyed him right back. “So you can consider your job done.”

At Cal’s funeral and afterward, at the crappy bar they’d gone to, she hadn’t seemed that great. She’d seemed small and vulnerable and folded in on herself with grief, which was why he’d offered to help her out.

To be fair, though, that had been a couple of months ago. Now it seemed as if the worst of that grief was over, and he couldn’t imagine a woman more competent and able to handle herself.

She was a West, like Cal, and the Wests had owned Deep River for over a century, so no wonder she didn’t need him. This was her town through and through.

Then again, the Wests didn’t own Deep River now, and Cal’s letter had been clear. And even though he was a man who preferred being alone in the great outdoors to being around people in cities, when the proverbial shit hit the fan, he’d be there.

Cal had been a good friend, and since Zeke could count the number of good friends he had on one hand, he wasn’t going to let him down.

“Place looks like it could use some work,” he said, ignoring her assurance. “Roof needs some shingles. Got a few cracks in the boards here.” He nodded his head toward the wall of the house. “Some of the trees need a prune too. I’ll start with those.”

“That’s very kind of you, but—”

“I’ve got a camp nearby. I won’t need to stay here. Though if you feel safer if I do, I’m happy to.” He’d seen signs of bears around the Wests’ property,