“I’ve always believed for every person there was only one love that would last a lifetime. I never understood quite what it meant until I met you though. You’re it for me, Lorrie. You are my love that lasts a lifetime.” ~Curtis Walker
A love story 50 years in the making…
Curtis Walker has lived his life to the fullest and he attributes that to the woman who has always been by his side. The one thing he knows with absolute certainty: he can’t live without her. Especially not now.
A love that has withstood the test of time…
It’s no secret that Curtis and Lorrie, the proud parents of the seven wild and rowdy Walker brothers, have found their happily ever after. Now, it’s time for the emotional journey of how they got there.
This author gives me a 5* book every time. You'll feel everything with the characters. Makes you feel like you're part of the family, that you are right there with them. You're going along for the ride.
Curtis (The Walkers of Coyote Ridge, 1) - Chapter One
53 years ago
“Curtis! Joseph! One of you boys answer the damn door!”
Curtis Walker frowned, his mother’s intoxicated shriek grating on his nerves as he moved through the big, empty house, heading for the damn door. The Patsy Cline record she’d been playing nonstop skipped momentarily, then, unfortunately, found its groove again.
Although there were ten of them who lived there—well, technically eight now—for some reason, the place felt hollow these days. Aside from the depressing music drifting throughout, plus the numerous liquor bottles that had become decoration as of late, there was a void that had taken up residence.
Could’ve been because his father had died, or because his older brother, Gerald, was a year into his Army career, stationed elsewhere, or perhaps it was his mother’s recently acquired drinking problem that was causing everyone to stay out of sight. Regardless, ever since Frank Walker Sr. had suffered a massive heart attack and gone and died on them just a couple of weeks back, Curtis’s mother had been on a downward spiral, becoming more and more irritable with every passing day. To the point Curtis didn’t want to be here, but he didn’t have anywhere to go today, so here he was.
He had no clue where his brothers and sisters were, and he didn’t much care. Still, he didn’t understand why the hell Carol couldn’t answer the damn door. She was the housekeeper. Wasn’t that what they paid her to do? Or was Carol taking care of the little ones, keeping them a safe distance from Mary Elizabeth and the bottle of hooch she’d commandeered from God knew where?
“I’m comin’,” he announced to the door when more knocks sounded.
Figuring it was another person bringing some foil-covered crap for them to eat now that his old man had kicked the bucket, Curtis steeled himself for an uncomfortable conversation. Not that he didn’t miss the old bastard, but truth was, with Frank gone, life wasn’t quite as bad as it had been. Even the little ones seemed less stressed.
A bottle crashed in the other room, jarring him momentarily. For a fraction of a second, he considered going to check on his mother, but thought better of it. She’d been drinking for the better part of the day, which meant she was close to passing out if they would leave her be.
Another knock had him gritting his teeth.
With a little more force than necessary, Curtis grabbed the doorknob, twisted, and then jerked it open, coming face to face with … air.
He glanced down and frowned, confused.
There, standing on his front porch, was the last person in the world he’d expected to see. Since most of the townsfolk had already been by—some more than once—he had figured the visitors would’ve stopped by now. But he suspected this blond-haired, blue-eyed girl wasn’t here to bring them food. It wasn’t a secret that her old man despised the Walkers. Still, he said, “If you’ve got a casserole, you can take it on back home. We don’t need no more food.”
Lorrie Jameson stared back at him as though he were speaking a foreign language.
He eyed her suspiciously, noticing her hands were empty. “You didn’t bring food?”
She shook her head.
“Then what d’ya want?” he grumbled to the girl now glaring back at him as though he’d kicked her dog.
She still didn’t answer.
“Come on, girl. You came to my house. What d’ya want?”
“I don’t like you,” she said haughtily, hands on her narrow hips as she pinned him in place. “I don’t know why I even bothered.”
That made him smile as he gave her a good once-over, starting at her poufy, golden-blond hair that sat atop her shoulders, and then slowly letting his gaze travel the length of her body. She was… She wasn’t the typical girl who caught his eye, but he liked what he saw. She was on the short side, and not as filled out as he would’ve preferred, a tad bit too skinny, too, but as he let his gaze roam up toward her face once more, he paused to admire her great boobs. A little small but nice. He fleetingly wondered what she would look like in a bathing suit, instead of that boring yellow dress that hid most of her and hung past her knees. Yep. He definitely wanted to know what she’d look like in a bathing suit. One of those two-piece numbers.
“Quit lookin’ at me like that,” she hissed, her soft voice laced with venom, eyes glittering with what he could only assume was frustration. Or perhaps hatred.
Nonetheless, she was feisty. He liked that.
He let his eyes travel up to meet hers, and she wrinkled her nose up at him. A laugh rumbled up from his gut, spilling out of his mouth as he stepped outside before his mother could get all nosy and ask who it was.
“How’m I lookin’ at you?” he asked, stepping right up to her, his much bigger body forcing her backward. Last time he’d been to the doctor, they’d told him he would be taller than his old man. That had been two years ago, and he’d succeeded last year after he’d turned sixteen, already six foot five. She had to have been a full ruler shorter than him. Maybe more.
Lorrie didn’t answer, but the irritation remained in her eyes, intriguing him.
“Why’re you here?” he asked, reverting to his original question as he moved over to the railing that surrounded his parents’ ranch house. Well, it was now his mother’s, he guessed.
As she watched him, he pulled out a pack of cigarettes and tapped one out, then put it between his lips.
“Because my daddy told me to come over here.”
“To do what?” The cigarette bobbed when he asked.
Lorrie shrugged, watching as he pulled a lighter out of his pocket.
The way her little nose flared amused him. She didn’t look at all happy to be there. Or maybe she didn’t like the fact that he smoked.
“So your old man forced you to come over here?” Curtis lit his cigarette and inhaled.
“To see one of my sisters?”
“My mom?” He exhaled slowly.
“My brother?” Curtis knew that she couldn’t possibly want to see Gerald, because he was off in the Army. And he doubted she wanted to see Frank Jr. or Lisa or Maryanne because they were still little brats. But everyone knew his brother Joseph had a mad crush on Lorrie. They were almost the same age, he guessed.
“Then who? Me?” Surely not.
That didn’t make any damn sense. “Well, what the hell for?”
“Didn’t you hear me the first time? I. Don’t. Know.”
Although they went to the same school—Granite Creek, with a population of 470, had only one school—Curtis hadn’t ever talked to Lorrie before. She was several grades beneath him. He’d sometimes had words with her older brother, Mitch, but never with anyone else in her family. And because their town was so small, he knew them all. He knew that Lorrie had two brothers and five sisters, the youngest only a few months old. He knew that her old man was a ranch hand at one of the places outside of town because he was too good to work for the Walkers, or so Curtis’s father used to say. And he knew the old bastard had a heavy hand with his kids and that her momma was too timid and quiet, and she got knocked around quite a bit, too. Well, the last part was a rumor, but some of her bruises had been talked about before.
“How old are you?” he questioned curiously when it was clear she wasn’t going to enlighten him.
“Why do you wanna know?” she snapped.
“It’s a safe question, don’t ya think? It ain’t like I asked what color your panties are.”
Lorrie’s cheeks went from pink to red in a heartbeat, and it was in that moment that Curtis realized how pretty she was. Huh. Strange that he’d never noticed. Maybe not as pretty as Helen Jenkins, but she was definitely a close second. Then again, he didn’t much like Helen because that girl wouldn’t leave him alone.
“How old are you?” she countered, ignoring his question altogether.
“Sixteen,” he said proudly. “But I’ll be seventeen in a coupla weeks.”
“Well, I just turned fourteen.”
“Fourteen, huh?” If he hadn’t already suspected she was the same age as Joseph, he never would’ve guessed. Lorrie Jameson definitely didn’t look fourteen. Curtis grinned to himself, leaning against the railing, bracing himself with one hand while bringing his cigarette to his mouth with the other. “You’re just a baby,” he goaded before taking a drag.
“Quit teasin’ me, Curtis Walker.”
“If you don’t want me teasin’ you, why the hell’d you come over here?”
“Don’t you swear at me!” Lorrie exclaimed. “And I told you. My daddy told me to.”
“I heard you the first time,” Curtis bit out. “But that don’t make no sense. What for?”
Lorrie shrugged, but Curtis got the impression that she didn’t want to tell him the truth. Or maybe, just maybe, she really didn’t know.