Friday, October 7, 2022

Revenge: Book 3 (Mayhem on the Mountain) by Taylor Lee



Wonder how vicious, make that malicious--a candidate for governor can be? Meet Whitney Chabot. Then know she has an eighty percent chance of winning the election. Unfortunately, in addition to secretly underwriting a human trafficking cartel, it doesn’t help that her choice of lovers is more than a tad too close to home.

Standing in her way is the arrogant county sheriff. Calian Begay knows just how bad the wicked woman is. Unfortunately taking her down puts him in the crosshairs of the insurrectionists. The gang determined to eliminate the Native American interloper who’s taken the state by storm.

The evil candidate isn’t Cal’s only challenge. Convinced that his lover agreed to keep him in the loop on her next exposé, he underestimated the depth of Scarlett’s passion for autonomy. When she accidently runs into a group of trafficked teenagers she knows she’s hit pay dirt. As long as she can keep Cal out of it.

Fortunately the formidable sheriff and his compelling police chief and FBI agent partners are able to take down the evil woman and the wealthy kingmakers and political zealots determined to turn his county into a raging inferno.

Now his only issue is convincing his go-it-alone lover that having a powerful, albeit arrogant champion, can make for a riveting, and passionate love affair.



            “Ah. Here you are, Sheriff Begay. I wondered if you were going to blow me off. Refuse to come to my ranch.” Gazing up at him, Whitney Chabot reached up and brushed an imaginary speck off his lapel. “Please, Cal, come in. I want to introduce you to some of my family members you may not have met.” Ducking her head, she murmured silkily, “I’m so glad you came. I was concerned you might still be angry with me.” When Cal merely shrugged, she tossed him a coquettish smile. “You have to admit, you brought it on yourself. After all, you did wrap me in your shirt that infamous night.”

            “So I did. Although one might think that rather than dispatching you naked into the elevator, it was gentlemanly of me to give you my shirt.” Remembering the hideous night, Cal conceded he’d given Whitney too much credit when she’d invaded his hotel room uninvited. He’d forgotten what a duplicitous bitch she was until she used his shirt to imply he’d slept with her rather than throwing her out on her naked ass. It had taken a concerted effort to convince Scarlett that they both had been played. By the witch who even now was shoving her bodacious chest against him as if he couldn’t resist her.

Pointedly removing her hand from his arm, he ignored her lush breasts that were doing their damndest to escape her skintight Nensi Dojaka dress. Acknowledging the extremely low scooped back and cutout on one hip of the outrageous garb, Cal wondered how the hell he could have slept with this shameful woman. Several times to be precise. Although to be more precise, “slept with” didn’t describe their various rendezvous. The correct verb was ‘fucked’ given that post-coitus, he couldn’t get rid of her fast enough. He turned to Scarlett and Boone Marshall, who were coming up the steps behind him. The rosy flush staining her cheeks confirmed Scarlett had seen Whitney’s not-so-subtle overture. Reaching for his lover’s hand, Cal tugged her next to him, then including her grandfather in his embrace, he nodded over his shoulder to Whitney. “You both know the secretary of state. No need for introductions.”

Whitney tossed her head and didn’t bother to temper her sneer. “Of course I know Mr. Marshall, the gentleman who has spent his life acquiring land if for no other reason than to annoy my grandfather.” She shot Scarlett a brazen once-over, then said sweetly, “And how nice that you could come to my party. Although I presume you don’t allow our studly sheriff to step out without a chaperone.”

Cal moved to the side, allowing the tall, white-haired man to approach the annoyed secretary of state. Not bothering to hide the amused twinkle in his eyes, Boone Marshall extended his hand. “Greetings, Ms. Chabot. It’s a pleasure to visit your ranch. Over the years your grandfather and I have sparred over who can accumulate more land. Perhaps in a decade or so, he might be able to match me acre for acre. That is if I decide to sell multiple hundreds of hectares. While we both know that my holdings far exceed his, no one can compete with the elegance of this impressive ranch house.”

            The large balding man treading toward them made a mildly successful attempt to hide the smile on his weathered mien. Settling for a grunt, he raised his hand in a curt salute. “Ever the antagonist, Boone? So be it. Although I admit your discovery of yet another vein of vanadium has become a record in the state. One that will likely stand for years. Enough legal tussling. Welcome to our ranch.”

            Ignoring the clearly angry secretary of state, Boone extended his hand to his old friend. “Thank you, Finley. May I introduce my granddaughter, Scarlett Comstock. And in the event you haven’t met him, may I also introduce Calian Begay, or as he is better known, Sheriff Calian Begay.” Smiling at Cal, Boone nodded at the elderly man. “While I usually refer to this old guy as an ornery son of a bitch, Finley is better known as Chief Justice Chabot.” He shook his head as if in explanation. “I’ve tried to convince the Colorado Supreme Court justice, that if his family hadn’t tried to buy every governmental office in Colorado, as well as the judiciary, he might have been able to accumulate more land.”

            Blowing out a hard snort, Justice Cabot pinned Scarlett with a thoughtful frown. Reaching for her hand, he nodded to her grandfather. “Well… well, Boone. I will ignore your questionable humor for the moment and instead note that you have outdone yourself, my friend. Putting aside your cantankerousness, I never thought anyone could be as beautiful as Gabriella, your beloved daughter who died much too young. However, your infamous granddaughter has achieved that remarkable status.” Turning back to Scarlett, he murmured, “Welcome, my dear.” Releasing her hand, the elderly man turned to Cal and nodded knowingly. “Ah, yes. While I’ve not had the pleasure, or shall we say, the opportunity to meet you, Sheriff Begay, like Boone, I know your grandfather, Chief Black Hawk. My understanding is that he is not well.”

Cal shrugged. “Don’t tell him that, sir, or he might be tempted to ignore those of us who are trying to convince him that twelve-hour workdays are no longer required for well-advanced septuagenarians.” He winked at Boone, then included the justice in his pleasant nod. “But then it appears that I am surrounded by distinguished men, yourself included, who have achieved that landmark and are still insisting on throwing their weight around.”

Chabot laughed aloud and shook his head in approval. “Your grandfather must be proud of you, Sheriff. Or may I call you Cal?” When Cal nodded, Finley snorted. “Chief Black Hawk is as gracious a man as I have known, but he’s also a crafty son of a bitch. I understand that you take after your storied grandfather. Although if the angst I hear from many of my colleagues and family members, while clever and handsome as hell, you are an even tougher motherfucker than your grandfather—and cocky to the core.”

“Guilty as charged, sir. Particularly when it comes to rooting out the ignominious reprobates who mistakenly believe that their wealth and, in many cases, elected offices, are powerful enough to wreak hell on our democratic way of life.” He held Chabot’s gaze in his narrowed one, then added, “As I’ve been wont to declare—not in my county, my state, or my country.”

“That’s quite a declaration. Particularly from a county sheriff, who unless I’m mistaken has jurisdiction over a relatively small county and has been in office less than a year.”

Cal turned to face the distinguished man who’d insinuated himself into the conversation, with a practiced jab, no less. Clearly accustomed to participating whether invited or not, the expensively garbed interloper extended his hand to Cal. “Pardon my interrupting what appears to be an interesting conversation. From the little I overheard, you come as advertised, Sheriff Begay. Putting aside what I’m confident are important issues, that we definitely will deal with, may I introduce myself. My name is Vance Palmer.” Acknowledging the chief justice, he said, “As Justice Chabot is aware, in addition to being vaguely related to an errant or two long-dead Chabots, his grandson, Briggs Chabot, is a partner in my New York based law firm, Palmer Rieves.”

Shooting the impressive man a narrowed gaze, Cal said pleasantly, “Long dead relatives are useful, particularly if they can open doors for you. And while you apparently know me—if only by reputation—may I introduce my mentor and the finest man I know, Boone Marshall. In addition to his many achievements, Boone is also the grandfather of this remarkable woman, Scarlett Comstock.”

            Apparently deciding that she’d been sidelined long enough, and not willing to allow Scarlett the spotlight, Whitney stepped forward. Her voice was crisp. “You are correct, Vance. Cal is a county sheriff, and while some of us question the range of issues he thinks he’s in charge of, apparently he believes his badge comes close to the sword of Damocles. A warning to those of us that, if we’re not careful, our wealth and elected positions will be our downfall.”

“An interesting assertion, Whitney. Let me be clear. It is not your wealth and the various positions, elected and otherwise, you and your questionable associates occupy that is a concern. For example, your grandfather has managed to use his position as a Colorado Supreme Court justice to adjudicate critical issues that come before the court. Whether I agree with his rulings or not, I honor his attention to the law.” Quirking a grin at Whitney and her brother, Briggs, who had joined the group, Cal added, “Would that his progeny be as respectful of the law as the judge is.”

A dark flush staining his cheeks, Briggs emitted a disgusted snort. “As you can see, Vance, our county sheriff has a vaunted view of himself.” He added, “Which would be amusing except that he sees himself as the second coming of Christ at least as it applies to people who have money and power. To be specific, our family.”

Cal lifted an insouciant shoulder and aimed a narrowed gaze at the fuming man. “That is too broad a brush, Briggs, your grandfather being the outlier. However, Whitney, you are on target. Cicero was definitely warning the too casual Damocles that the infamous sword, the one hanging over his head, was suspended by a single horsehair.”

At Briggs’ angry growl, Vance Palmer was contemplative, then said with a shrug, “I admit I’m impressed, Sheriff Begay. While I’ve heard that arrogance is your most compelling attribute, apparently wit cannot be ruled out.” Turning to Scarlett, the urbane man smiled in appreciation. “Just as tales of your extraordinary beauty, Miss Comstock, and I would add, your voluptuousness, cannot be overstated.” Reaching for her hand, Palmer lifted it and brushed it against his lips. When Scarlett startled and moved closer to Cal, Palmer nodded sagaciously. “Ah, so that’s how it is. In addition to lording it over his political opponents, the notorious county sheriff has staked a claim on the lovely young woman who is a star in her own right.”

Before either Cal or Scarlett could respond, true to form, Whitney entered the fray, her smile streaked with venom. “It depends on how one achieves their infamy. While the sheriff and I have achieved political notoriety, whether positive or negative is in the eye of the beholder, I’m impressed with you, Scarlett. Unlike the sheriff and me, who’ve spent years seeking advanced academic degrees and facing electoral challenges, you chose to ride your cup-size to a stardom of sorts.” Looking her up and down, she sniffed. “And why not? The string of bodacious blonde bombshells riding their appearance is a tried-and-true strategy to infamy. I applaud you. Not nearly as tiresome as the rigorous academic and electoral path the sheriff and I climbed.”

Feeling Cal’s hand tighten protectively on her arm, Scarlett laughed. “My goodness, Whitney, what can I say except thank you for noting my assets. Coming from a beautiful, talented woman, that is high praise.” Turning to Finley, Scarlett said, “Thank you, sir, for acknowledging my mother. She died when I was an infant. Fortunately, my beloved grandfather has ensured that I was able to know her through his eyes. It is a gift I treasure.”

His frown confirming his displeasure with his snarky granddaughter, Justice Chabot made a point of including Scarlett in the conversation. “Tell me, young lady, now that you have established yourself as a flamethrower, what challenging exposé do you have up your sleeve? Please tell me it doesn’t deal with the judiciary or legal landscape.” He added with a wink at Cal, “As a fellow lawyer, Sheriff Begay, I trust we agree. If ever there was a profession that has been legislated to death, it’s the legal profession.”

Cal grinned at the elderly man. “I’m more inclined to agree with Will Rogers, who said, “I don't think you can make a lawyer honest by an act of legislature. You've got to work on his conscience. And his lack of conscience is what makes him a lawyer.” When both Boone and Finley laughed, Cal added, “As for policing the legal profession, I think Mario Puzo confirmed how impossible that is when he noted, ‘A lawyer with a briefcase can steal more than a thousand men with guns.’” Extending his hand to the grinning jurist, Cal smiled. “It was a pleasure to meet you, sir.” He nodded to Palmer who was studying him and an irate Briggs Chabot who was openly seething. “If you gentlemen will excuse us. There are at least a dozen men in this room whose tongues are hanging out, hoping that they can meet this lovely woman I’m lucky enough to accompany.” He smiled down at Scarlett. “How about it, superstar? Are you ready to make more than a few of the Chabots’ guests’ day? If so, let’s be on our way.” Casting a sideways glance at the fuming Whitney and her equally irate brother, he added with a smile, “As for your next exposé, I can’t think of a better target to investigate than the legal profession. Especially practitioners like me and others who chose to double down and run for elected office, a surefire temptation to overreach.”

Waiting until Finley and Boone moved away to welcome newcomers, Vance Palmer was thoughtful. Watching the crowd of eager guests accosting Cal and Scarlett, he turned to the Chabot siblings who were glaring at the fabled pair, then said carefully, “A dangerous man indeed. Much more accomplished than I’ve been led to believe. But I concur with those of you who despise… and fear him. He does need to be taken down. Permanently.”


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