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The Monkey Jungle (The Bennt, Montana Series), страница 1


The Monkey Jungle (The Bennt, Montana Series)

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The Monkey Jungle (The Bennt, Montana Series)

  The Monkey Jungle by Taylor Ryan

  Copyright November 2011 Taylor Ryan

  All rights reserved. With the exception of quotes used in reviews, this book may not be reproduced or used in whole or in part by any means existing without written permission from Taylor Ryan Publications.

  ISBN 978-0-9848137-1-1

  Published by Taylor Ryan Publications

  United States America

  Electronic editions: Dec 2011

  Revised Electronic editions: March 2013

  This book is a work of fiction and all characters exist solely in the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. Any references to places, events or locals are used in a fictitious manner.

  This book was formatted for e-pub by Greenebooks.com

  Thank you, Jason.

  Cypress St. Press of Fort Bragg, Ca.

  Thank you, Stephanie!

  Cover art by: Taylor Ryan Publications

  This story is dedicated to Garth and Mary Kathryn. You know who you are. Thank you, I couldn’t have done it without your cooperation.

  - Taylor Ryan

  Chapter One

  They met in Bennt, Montana

  “I DON’T WANT TO go into my own house, Geraldine.” Mary Kathryn stared out the car window toward the porch light, then turned back to her friend. “There’s a Boogie Man in there just waiting to jump out and irritate me with a man-boy tantrum because I’m not afraid of him.”

  Geraldine Winston laughed. “Get out of my car, Mary Kathryn. I have to work in the morning.”

  “But it’s my birthday—don’t make me go in there,” Mary Kathryn’s overly dramatic whine was pleading.

  “It’s not your birthday, you’re lying to get sympathy. You birthed the little boogie man, you deal with him—spank him.”

  Intrigued bright eyes met amused brown ones. “Spank him? That’s a good idea, Geraldine! I’ll spank him with the overflowing garbage cans. I’ll wallop him with the dirty dishes he leaves everywhere. I’ll use the crusty spoons to dig into his brains, then bang on them with pots and pans until he moves out again.” Mary Kathryn unbuckled her seat belt and opened the door. “Spare the rod on the child’s bottom, but pummel the adult child to the curb—whoa—” She grabbed for her purse as it fell from her lap to the concrete.

  “Good Lord, Mary Kathryn, be careful—” Geraldine’s words were lost in the slam of the car door. A moment later Mary Kathryn jerked it back open, her face illuminated by the interior light, her thick black curly hair coming out of its ponytail. “Gerry, can you believe Henry is still pissed about our name? I can’t help it if his father’s last name was Kathryn. Henry brought it up again, this morning, how he was teased in grade school. For twenty-five, he’s so silly. Geraldine, is it okay to say out loud that if I hadn’t lost my hamster in high school and asked Henry’s father to help me look in my bedroom this wouldn’t be happening?”

  “Adult children move home all the time, Mary Kathryn. You’re lucky Henry moved out in the first place. Now, get in your house. I’ll see you next Monday.”

  “Thanks for the ride home, Geraldine.”

  “Don’t forget it’s your turn to drive next week.”

  “I can’t drive anywhere!” Mary Kathryn lamented. “Henry is using my jeep. My life as I knew it these past seven years is over and I’m ashamed to admit I liked my alone time. Bye.” Mary Kathryn walked with dignity up her sidewalk onto her porch only to stumble over a boot her adult son had carelessly discarded in the doorway.

  “Dang you, Henry,” she muttered. “We’ve a perfectly good boot room.” She wanted to kick the boot, send it flying from the porch, but instead tossed it to land with its partner under the porch swing. Inside, Mary Kathryn pulled out her hair tie as she toed off her comfortable black flats then tossed her socks toward the back of the couch, missing by a wide margin as she walked through the dimly lit living room toward the stairs. Her tabby cat came meowing toward her and she scooped the purring cat into her arms. “Hello, Pest. Be quiet. Don’t wake Henry—he’ll probably boot us both outside.” Her voice lowered as she stroked the cat until something in her peripheral vision caught her attention.

  She pivoted, inhaling sharply as the dim light coming from the kitchen illuminated a man rising from the floor in front of her couch. He appeared to be a very fit naked Greek God—no—he was wearing shorts—fitted boxer briefs. Not so naked as—looked just as good as if he were.

  Mary Kathryn looked her fill, then more. Her eyes roamed from the healthy brown hair on the top of his head to his well shaped bare feet then traveled back up thickly columned thighs to linger with appreciation on fitted boxer style green underwear which clung wonderfully on his well shaped thighs. She drank in the mat of hair on a muscled chest, chest hair whose path tapered down a trim belly to disappear under the darker green waist band of those intriguing short legged form fitting briefs. He was...eye candy for a sexual diabetic, insulin for the sexually abstinent. She greedily drank in the sight. Alpha Man! A perfectly acceptable mature male model had stepped from the pages of a magazine to feed an appetite she had kept banked.

  All she could think was, yippee!

  Somebody, one of her wonderfully thoughtful friends had generously sent her a gift, perhaps an early birthday present? Maybe a stripper just for her? It wouldn’t be like her son to send her a gag gift. Henry didn’t know she was a woman. It would disturb him to find out she had urges just like fifty percent of the world’s population. Was it fifty percent? Mary Kathryn flipped on the electric switch next to her elbow, casting the surprised party into soft overhead light.

  “Happy Birthday to me,” Mary Kathryn sang, hugging Pest closer to her chest. “Merry Christmas, Pest, would you look at this?” She gawked freely. “Look what Santa brought in May because I’ve been such a good girl. Or is this the Easter Bunny without his costume—I always wondered what he was hiding.”

  Her surprise was tall, his hair cut short to enhance ruggedly attractive features—more than attractive. He was handsome beyond belief. Somewhat bemused, watchful green eyes were still, riveted on her as if he wasn’t certain what he was see seeing.

  “Where’s Santa?” Mary Kathryn grinned cheekily at the mature Adonis before glancing around the room, looking for the trademark red and white costume. “For dropping you off, he gets cookies. If you’re nice to me—” Those sharply intrigued green eyes blinked when she continued merrily, “I’ll even give him a glass of milk. And maybe, if you’re really, really good, a muffin!”

  He remained oddly silent. Mary Kathryn froze when she noticed the miniature baseball bat in his hand. Abruptly sober, she realized the threat. The small bat and his silence seemed to confirm some nefarious purpose. He was after all, in her house without clothes. Instantly, her dander rose at the idea of an invasion.

  “Doesn’t it just figure?!” She scoffed disgustedly. She warily eyed the bat, dropped Pest and rummaged in her purse to whip out her pistol. She aimed it toward the broad chest.

  Adonis the Delicious opened his mouth, raising the bat slightly, his eyes going wide.

  “Drop that puny baby little leaguer!” Her aggravation was compounded by disappointment he might be of criminal element and not a gag gift. She waved the pistol feeling it would be a shame to damage those sweet acres of man chest, but she was philosophical. Survival of the fittest. He was fit, but she had the gun, which in her case only meant how big a hole she could put in him before he attacked. Didn’t this just beat all!—she’d just had the carpet cleaned. The abstract thought was instantly dismissed. Where were Henry and his girlfriend Alison?

  “Drop your
weapon!” She held the gun steadily.

  The small bat hit the floor with a distinct thunk.

  “You ridiculous pervert!” Mary Kathryn accused in a mean tone as he opened his mouth to speak. “I’m so disgusted I could cry,” she exclaimed, not giving the man a chance to speak. “No—don’t you move!” Her pistol waved. “I’ll blow your head off. Mister, which head first, is entirely up to you.” The barrel of her weapon went down to point at his groin then rose to settle in the vicinity of his chest. “Now, kick that ridiculous weapon against the wall by the stairs.”

  He kicked the bat with his bare toe, wincing as it went flying and banged against the paneling. He didn’t move other than that, opening his mouth to speak again, as she interjected loudly, “Assume the execution position! Get down on your knees and lace your fingers behind your head.”

  He didn’t move a muscle, his hands at his side, his finger relaxed. He didn’t obey, staring at her as if confused.

  “Green, my favorite color.” She eyed the skin tight boxer briefs then the strongly columned masculine legs. “At least you aren’t wearing my panties,” she observed. “You’re not as big a pervert as you might have been.

  “Henry, where are you?” Mary Kathryn screamed, never taking her eyes from the thief. “Henry, if you can, call 911—” A panicked yell came from upstairs as a door banged against a wall, solving the mystery of her son and his girlfriend’s whereabouts, much to her relief. “Henry,” she yelled again, “I’ve caught a perverted burglar in the living room—I’ve got my gun on him—call 911!”

  Her pervert twitched as a cacophony of thuds and shrieks came from the second story.

  “Mister,” Mary Kathryn said drolly, “I specifically ordered you not to move. This is the second time you’ve disappointed me. You naughty, naughty man.”

  She fired the gun. The explosion reverberated throughout the house, deafening her. “Move again, it’s your knee!” The man’s hands raised quickly, halting at shoulder level, his watchful emerald eyes wary as she aimed the pistol at his head.

  “Sit down!” Mary Kathryn barked.

  When he blinked uncomprehendingly, she used the gun to indicate the floor. “I said, on your knees!”

  He immediately complied, dropping to the floor next to an unzipped black leather overnight bag, his hands still up.

  Overnight bag? Mary Kathryn instantly knew the ramifications of what she was seeing.

  A neatly folded shirt and a tooth brush holder sat on top of the bag. A quick survey of the couch and the blankets caused her eyes to fly back to his face. The face that had sent her into a feminine flutter. He had a vague resemblance to her son’s fiancée, Alison.

  “Well, hell!” she muttered, her jaw tightening, her eyes narrowing.

  This was going to be—awkward.

  In more ways than one. Probably four: Him. His daughter. Her son. And the local sheriff’s department. And calling him a pervert would surely come back to haunt her.

  Mary Kathryn considered her options as Henry and Alison scrambled down the stairs, yelling. The object of her overzealous confidence sat on the carpet, appearing somewhat relieved as his daughter came into view, screaming, which was probably good because Mary Kathryn wouldn’t have heard them otherwise due to the ringing in her ears from the gunshot.

  “She shot him! She shot him—she’s killed my father! Daaaadddy—” Alison screamed hysterically.

  Mary Kathryn immediately noticed Henry’s girlfriend wore the same t-shirt Henry had been wearing only hours earlier. Alison’s hair was messy, her lips red and swollen, her legs bare.

  And they claimed they weren’t having sex. They must think she was an idiot.

  “Mother, don’t shoot him again!” Henry bellowed as he fell down the last step, his dark hair tousled. “What the hell have you done now—Oh my God!” Henry saw Alison’s father kneeling on the floor and hollered toward Alison, “Call an ambulance!”

  “He’s fine,” Mary Kathryn raised her voice to be heard over the noise her son and future daughter-in-law were making. “Alison, put the phone down. Henry James Kathryn,” Mary Kathryn turned to face her son. “What is the meaning of scaring this poor man half out of his mind?”

  She heard herself. Maybe not so righteous, but she was too irritated to care about being righteous.

  Henry stumbled. “Me?” he gaped at his mother wide-eyed. “Me scaring him?!” Henry went slack-jawed as Alison frantically checked her father for bullet wounds.

  “Yes, you!” Mary Kathryn felt more than a bit put out. “You never told me you invited anyone to stay. Good grief, Alison, stop that caterwauling, I can barely hear myself think. As you can both see, I didn’t shoot him.” She said sourly, “If I missed what I’d been shooting at, he’d be dead.”

  Mary Kathryn turned her aggravation back to her son. “You’re paying to get the floor fixed, Henry. I just had the carpet cleaned. And if he needs therapy, if we get sued by Victim Witness Protection and lose, you’re reimbursing me.”

  “Daddy—” Alison hugged her father. “Oh, Dad, I’m sorry—”

  “Alison, be quiet.” Mary Kathryn’s head cocked. “Do you hear something?”

  They all heard the sirens in the distance.

  Garth remained silent, still recovering from his first sight of Mary Kathryn and the amusing things coming out of his hostess’ mouth.

  “Well, mother—” Henry’s face flushed. “Now you’ve gone and done it! This is Garth Morley, Alison’s father. Garth, my mother, Mary—Mary Kathryn. And those sirens—one of the neighbors obviously called the police.”

  “Ma’am,” Garth managed.

  “Hello, Alison’s father,” Mary Kathryn said absently as the wailing sirens grew closer. “Nice to meet you. Henry, there’s a thousand dollars in the cookie jar if you need to bail me out. If you need more than that, go ask Aunt Heather.” When Henry gasped she sighed, glancing at the hunk of masculinity Alison was hugging. “Sorry, Alison’s Daddy. They never told me you were coming.” Mary Kathryn waved the pistol as the sirens fell silent, glancing with resignation at the door then back to her new house guest with plucky humor. “This could get awkward, Mr. Morley. You should probably get some pants on or Deputy Beth Harper might just take you away from us on principle alone. Although I doubt you’d ever make it to jail.” She made not effort to hide she was ogling his thickly muscled chest, her gaze traveling down. He really did have nice feet.

  “Mother!” Henry squawked, interrupting whatever Garth had been about to say.

  “Oh, Henry, be quiet. This is your fault,” Mary Kathryn accused briskly. “Haven’t you caused enough trouble by not telling me Mr. Morley was coming for a visit?”

  Mary Kathryn couldn’t tear her gaze away from the green eyes watching her over the top of Alison’s head. Awareness flared between herself and Alison’s father. It took effort to tear herself away and focus on the problem at hand.

  “Henry, I still have my pistol,” she said lightly to her son. “If Mr. Morley wants to stay, we’ll put up a fight with the cops—and be rowdy about it.” Mary Kathryn was cognizant of those masculine lips quirking as she blazed onward. “Henry, it’s the least we could do for you screwing up his visit. This really isn’t the type of first impression one wants to make on one’s future in-laws. Son, you really botched it this time.” Mary Kathryn smiled easily toward Garth Morley, not the least concerned about any good impressions he had—it was too late, no sense wasting energy. And on that note, she said to him: “It’s a good thing you didn’t have a bigger bat, Mr. Morley—I could really have hurt you.”

  Once again he opened his mouth to say something only to be interrupted by hard banging on the front door and the calls of, “Sheriff’s Department!”

  Mary Kathryn tossed her hair over her shoulder, tsking irritably at her son. “This is going to be awkward.”

  Those oddly crystalline blue eyes settled on Garth briefly then moved to Henry.

  “Son,” Mary Kathryn said, “I swear, sometimes your
thoughtlessness makes me want to smack you. You owe us both an apology and I’m not likely to forget it. You’ve completely ruined a very pleasant evening.” Mary Kathryn pivoted, casually tucking her pistol in the waist band of her jeans at the small of her back as she strode barefoot toward the source of the fuss on her front porch.

  Garth stepped forward, concerned about the concealed weapon. “Ma’am, it wouldn’t be wise greeting them carrying a concealed weapon...” She was already opening the door. Whether she heard him or not was moot.

  “It’s okay, sir,” Henry assured Garth with a long suffering expression as they heard the calm voices through the open door. “They won’t shoot her. They’ll strangle her. We, uh, know each other,” he said in quick response to Garth’s searching look.

  “You told me you moved in here to take care of your mother,” Garth said to Henry. He wrapped a blanket around his shaken daughter, aware of the two sheriff deputies on the porch. They looked inside the open doorway as Mary Kathryn allowed them to see for themselves nobody was hurt.

  “We are—I am,” said Henry sullenly as they watched his mother gesticulate. “I can’t believe she’s blaming this on me.” He muttered petulantly, “She’s lost her mind.”

  Garth Morley actually agreed with Mary Kathryn that the situation was largely Henry’s fault. “Henry,” he said. “you implied your mother was much older. Infirm. She’s younger than I am. She certainly doesn’t need any help, doesn’t appear to need in-home health care. She’s—” Garth shook his head, at a loss for words. He glanced with interest toward the door, deciding Mary Kathryn looked like a pagan witch with all that curly black hair. Henry’s mother was lovely. Vitally healthy. Vibrant energy radiated from her, she appeared to be in her late thirties. Had she recently been diagnosed with some terminal illness, was that why Henry had moved home?

  “Alison,” Garth’s coolly accusing tone took in both Henry and Alison as the voices from the porch lowered, “why did I have the impression Henry’s mother was in her late seventies? Because you two deliberately misled me, that’s why. And why didn’t you tell her I was coming?”

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