Fair Trade (Bold Brew #7) - Cate Ashwood Page 0,1

was the right decision, but that didn’t make the road getting there any smoother.

With one final wave goodbye, I set out, leaving Pacific Point and the friends who had become family to me behind.

Crossing the ancient bridge out of town was the first step, and I only half hoped it would collapse beneath my wheels. Mass bodily harm would only delay the inevitable, though. There was no avoiding my fate.

As if on cue, my phone rang just as I passed the final stanchion. I didn’t need to look at the screen to know who was on the other end. She’d called three times already that morning.

“Hi, Colette,” I said after a quick swipe to connect the call.

“Tell me you’re on the road,” she said, forgoing all greetings.

“I’m on the road.”

“Good. If my calculations are correct—which they are—you should be rolling into town in a little under forty hours. You’ll be taking breaks every twelve hours, yes?”

“If everything goes according to plan, yeah.”

“And why wouldn’t things go according to plan?” There was an edge to her tone that was as familiar as her voice itself.

I shook my head, grateful my sister couldn’t see me rolling my eyes from the other side of the country. “I’m sure the whole trip will go off without a hitch,” I assured her. “And if something comes up, I’ll be sure to let you know right away.”

“Tell me again why you chose to drive your death trap of a car across the entire country rather than boarding an eight-hour flight?”

Because I was delaying the inevitable. Eight hours was not enough time for me to mourn the life I’d had in California. Four days wasn’t enough either, but it was the longest I could stretch it.

“Because I don’t start work until next week, my stuff wouldn’t have fit in suitcases, and I wasn’t going to leave my car here.”

“Fine.” The hard edge softened a little. “Everyone’s looking forward to seeing you.”

“Me too. It’s been too long.” I was surprised by how much I actually meant it.

“And whose fault is that?”

Mine. Right. “Did I mention how much I’ve missed you?” If she heard the tinge of sarcasm, she didn’t let on.

“Drive carefully and keep us apprised of your location.”

“Will do.”

She hung up without saying goodbye, and I forced my hands to relax on the steering wheel. I loved my sister—I’d do anything for her—but she had a special talent for getting under my skin.


“I’m going to fucking kill you!” Spittle flew from the patient’s mouth, and I leaned back to avoid getting showered.

“Hold still, please, Mr. Mitchell.”

“I’m going to gut you alive… paint the sidewalk in your blood.”

“Such a gift for poetry, Mr. Mitchell.” Jody hauled open the side door of the ambulance. “Tell me you’ve been published in an anthology somewhere. I’d buy a copy for my mother’s birthday.”

“Shut your mouth, you stupid whore. Bitches think they can tell me what to do. I ain’t doing shit.”

So, this was how it was gonna be. Mitchell went one of two ways—he was either a mouthy-as-hell asshole who ended up restrained to the hospital bed or a sweet-as-cherry-pie old man who tried to charm anything that moved.

Tonight, he was going with option number one.

“Maybe you’d be happier to comply with one of our friendly neighborhood officers?” Jody said. “They’re just a phone call away, and instead of spending your night in a comfortable hospital bed being attended to by pretty nurses, the Laurelsburg precinct can provide you some accommodation in the drunk tank.”

Our patient chose that moment to shut up, giving me half a second of blissful silence. We’d been fighting with this jackass for a good twenty minutes. He should have known the drill by now. I was getting awfully tired of picking his ass up off the street. It’d only been two days since we’d seen him last, but he was apparently on a weeklong bender.

Still muttering under his breath, Mr. Mitchell finally stayed stationary enough for me to get the IV in his arm. The hospital staff would be hooking him up to a banana bag once we got there, but I’d gotten things started for them.

“Good to go?” Jody called through the window.

“All set,” I replied, lowering myself into the jump seat behind the patient where he wouldn’t be able to see me for the ride to the hospital.

An hour later, we’d triaged and unloaded Mr. Mitchell on the poor nurses, who were possibly more overworked than Jody and me. He was no longer our