Coming Home:Baytown Boys Series(2)By: Maryann Jordan
A knock on the front door sent him walking past the dining table and through the cozy living room with the overstuffed sofa and chair filling up much of the space. He had left the front door open when he finished moving the boxes in earlier in the afternoon, making it easy to see through the screen door at the visitor standing on his front porch.
The blue eyes of the beautiful blonde met his, a wide smile filling her face. “Well, hello, stranger!”
Throwing open the screen door, he braced as his cousin, Jillian, bolted through, hurling herself at him.
Hugging her closely he smiled, having wondered when she would make an appearance. “What took you so long?” he teased.
She stepped back, slapping his arm and said, “Hey, some of us have to work for a living!” Winking as she headed into the living room, she tossed her bag onto the floor before plopping down into the chair, draping her long legs dangling over one of the arms.
Following her lead, he settled on the sofa, placing his feet onto the well-worn coffee table still sporting the dents from the many games they played as children.
Looking around, she smiled, “The old place still looks the same. You gonna change it? Make it your own bachelor pad?”
Chortling at her goofiness, he said, “Think I’m a little too old to have a bachelor pad, cuz.” His gaze drifted around the room, assaulted by the memories of many family gatherings in the cottage. “I’ve got some furniture I put in storage and figure I can use it at some time if I move to another house.”
The quiet of the evening settled over the pair.
“So what’s new?” he asked, knowing if anyone had the gossip of what was going on in the small town, it would be her.
“New?” she scoffed. “Baytown has hardly changed!” She twisted a long lock of blonde hair between her fingers and added, “Honestly, Mitch? Since you Baytown boys all left after graduation and joined the military, it’s been kinda boring.”
“Graduation was thirteen years ago, cuz. I know things have changed,” he protested. “I’ve been back for family visits enough to know that!”
“Well, I guess I just meant that not much has changed over the years. Have you seen anyone since you got in?”
“I saw Aiden and Brogan when I visited the town council a couple of weeks ago, but I just got moved in today.” Aiden and Brogan MacFarlane owned Finn’s pub, handed down to them by their grandfather, Finn MacFarlane. Brogan graduated with him and Aiden one year behind; both joined the Marines as Mitch went into the Army.
“Did you hear Callan was back?”
“He’s still with the Coast Guard and stationed here.”
“Anyone else?” Mitch inquired, wanting to find out more about his old friends who had left Baytown.
“Well, Zac is with the Fire Department, but I know you talked with him the last time you were here. He took over as chief about six months ago, so now he gets to be the boss of the volunteers.” Her gaze dropped to her lap as she added, “And of course you and Grant will be working together on the force.”
Mitch smiled, thinking of the gang he hung out with as a teenager. Baytown Boys. That was what they referred to themselves as, all itching to leave one of the poorest counties in Virginia. All of us wanting something…to go somewhere. Anywhere but here, he thought ruefully.
Jillian and Mitch smiled at each other for a long moment, the silence comfortable between them. Finally, Mitch asked, “You come all the way over here just to sit and stare at me?”
Throwing her head back in laughter, Jillian cried, “Jerk!” As she sobered, she wondered aloud, “You okay? About everything?”
“Wow…way to ask a million dollar question,” he joked. Noticing her eyes were not sparkling, he added, “Hey, I’m good.”
Swinging her long, tanned legs back to the front of the chair, she leaned forward resting her forearms on her knees. “Mitch, I know you. You couldn’t wait to move out of this podunk town. Hell, you left for boot camp the day after your high school graduation. And these last several years? You’ve been a big-shot FBI agent.”
“Hardly a big-shot,” he interjected.