Guest Post ~ Houston Havens

Character Interview

Lynn Tyler stands to welcome two of her handsome guests, Logan and Arlo Abán. “Gentlemen, thank you for coming.” She reaches her hand out in greeting.
Logan smiled. “Thank you Miss Tyler. It’s kind of you to invite us here today.”
Arlo scooped her hand away from Logan’s grip, causing Logan’s brow to arch in acquiescence as he withdrew. Instead of placing a soft peck atop her knuckles, Arlo turned her hand over and pressed his warm lips to her palm. Raising his deep brown eyes to hers, he scanned her face. “It’s our pleasure to spend an afternoon with a beautiful woman like you.” He inclined his head for her to sit first.
Feeling weak-kneed Lyn sat and her guests took their seats across from her. “I can’t help but notice Drakker’s missing. Will he be joining us later today?”
Logan swallowed hard. “Ah, he was with us a minute ago. He’s a little tied up at the moment, but—”
“Oh, he’s tied up?” Arlo guffawed rolling his eyes. “That’s an understatement. He’s got your assistant—”
“Arlo.” Logan frowned.
“Well, it is.” His express was one of intolerance. “Who does that kind of sh—”
“Aah … the familiar whine of my little brother’s voice.” Drakker strutted toward them, looking a little disheveled, tucking in the hem of his unbuttoned shirt. A raven lock of hair dangles over his forehead like a woman recently raked her fingers through it in hungry passion.
Logan laughed. “I wouldn’t cast stones, Arlo. You’re guilty of a few sins of your own.”
“I am not. Name five things I’m guilty of.”
Drakker sharp blue eyes held a challenging glare as he raised his hand to stop Logan from answering. “Let me have this one.”
“Ah, gentlemen.” Lyn injected before an argument could ensue. “I asked you here today to tell me five things about yourselves even Ms. Havens doesn’t know about you.”
Logan chuckled. “Nice save, Miss Tyler. I’d say one of the things Ms. Havens doesn’t know is Drakker broke Arlo’s leg.”
Drakker smirked at Arlo’s frown as Logan continued with the story. “Naturally, Arlo was just a kid—”
“He still is,” Drakker muttered causing Arlo’s back to stiffen.
“And being the youngest, he wanted to do everything his older brothers were doing. Drakker rigged up some kind of box with wheels and rode it down a hill.

When Arlo saw him enjoying himself, he insisting Drakker let him ride in it—”
“Yeah, he was a whiner then too.”
“I was not.”
“You stil—”
Logan cleared his throat at their interruption. “As I was saying, Drakker finally gave in and put Arlo in the box and gave it a shove.” He chuckled. “The dang thing suddenly took off. It gained momentum until it was out of control—”
“He did it on purpose.” Arlo glared at Drakker.
“I did not.”
Lyn smiled. “What happened?”
“I’ll tell you what happened.” Arlo frowned. “I hit a tree. I’m lucky I still have a chest. I hit the tree so hard it shoved my knees into my torso and—”

Drakker laughed as Logan finished.
“Arlo fell out of the box. He got up but slipped on the wet grass and tumbled down the rest of the hill and rolled into the lake.”
Drakker’s laughter grew. He slapped his hand on his thigh with the memory. “H-he looked like a limp noodle coming out of that lake. He was soaked.”
“I was covered in thick mud. It wasn’t funny.” Arlo tried to hide a smirk. “And the bank was steep for a four year old.”
“We finally got him out, but he slipped trying to get up the hill. That’s when he fell again only to land between a fallen tree trunk and a boulder—”
“That’s how I broke my leg.”
“And he cried!” Drakker laughed.
“He was a baby.” Lyn offered Arlo as sympatric glance.
Drakker grimaced. “He was four.”
“Yeah,” Arlo’s back stiffened. “What about the time you stupidly let a mutant handcuff you to the cellar door and left you there. That took brains.”
“Hey, she robbed me.”
“You let her do it because you thought you’d get lucky.”
“I told you a hundred times. There was no hanky-panky going on. She robbed me.”
Logan laughed. “Even I don’t believe that one.”
“Well, how did you get out of the cuffs, if you don’t mind my asking?”
“Come on, Lyn.” Drakker slumped into his chair looking a little flushed. “Move on…to the next question.”
“Yeah, move on, my ass.” Arlo piped up, obviously feeling pumped. “He wasn’t robbed; he was doing that kinky stuff he does.”
“No I wasn’t. I wasn’t into BDSM at that age. Lord Almighty, Arlo, I was like sixteen.”
“Well, that was the beginning of it then.”
Drakker remained silent.
Arlo fessed up. “It was our mom who found him.”
“Arlo.” Drakker’s voice hardened with the sound of warning but it didn’t stop him.
“He was naked as the day he was born. Mom was so shocked, she fainted.”
Drakker shifted uncomfortable in his chair. “Yeah well, Houston doesn’t know about how Arlo and his friend Nikias are guilty of letting Dad’s best horse out of the barn.”
Logan sat up straighter. “Wait. The one that took me three days to find?” His glance slid to Arlo then to Drakker for conformation.
Drakker nodded. “Or the time he put the honey in your boots.”
Logan’s jaw dropped as his head snapped back to Arlo, who was smirking. “You did that?”
Arlo laughed while nodding his head. “With Drakker’s help.” He lean in and muttered to Lynn, “He wore sticky socks for a year.”

Logan’s head twisted around to Drakker. “Why?”
“Why else?” Drakker’s eye twinkled with the devil’s light. “You’re our big brother … it’s the unwritten little brother law—”
Logan frowned. “Which is?”
Drakker shrugged. “We’re obligated to prank you whenever and wherever we can.”
“Bastards!”
The three of them broke into laughter while Lyn turned to her viewing guest and said, “And there you have it…the secrets of the Abán brothers. Thanks for joining us today.”

Excerpt

(1267 wc)

Twenty minutes later, they strolled back into camp. Fay’s gaze found Mr. Tall, Dark, and Handsome sitting on the ground near the fire with his back supported against a log, one leg stretched out in front of him. His other leg was crooked, foot flat on the ground, knee raised with his arm draped across it in a lazy hang. He looked comfortable and appeared to be enjoying a rich, aromatic drink. He looked their way and held up his tin cup in greeting.
“Coffee!” Arlo strolled to a log near the fire and grabbed a cup. Squatting down, he tipped the cup against a taller can sitting in the embers of a smokeless flame. He poured a black liquid into the tin. “I hope you made enough for all of us.”
Drakker squinted his steel-blue eyes. His right eyebrow arched, and his jaw clamped in a hard flex. The cool, calm exterior she had observed for most of the day looked ready to crumble. So, there is a sensitive side to this quiet man. How interesting.
In an accusatory tone, Drakker asked Arlo, “Why would you assume I wouldn’t?” At Arlo’s shrug, Drakker got up and tossed the last of his coffee out. He rinsed his cup in a large pot next to the fire and refilled it with the black liquid. Leaning over the fire, he handed the cup to her. “Have a seat and try some.”
Seeing the exasperation in his eyes, she chose to obey and sat before taking a sip. Oh my God! She wanted to spit. It was bitter and foul tasting. She swallowed hard.
Turning back to Arlo, Drakker griped, “That’s the one thing about you that irks me. Why do you always assume the worst of me? I could understand it if I were guilty of being incompetent or always forgetting something, but I’m not.”
Arlo waved Drakker’s temper down. “That’s not what I meant. You know that.”
“Yeah, well anyone listening doesn’t know that.” He jutted his hand out to indicate Fay was the anyone he was talking about. “It gives the wrong impression, and you’re always saying shit like that. It irritates me.”
Arlo gave Fay a devilish wink before looking back at Drakker. “You’ll live.”
“You might not.” Drakker strode across camp and propped his foot on a stump. He rocked it forward as if he were going to roll it closer to the fire but immediately jumped back. A loud rattling filled the air. “Holy shit! It’s a fucking diamondback.”
Arlo jumped up and rushed over to the leather bags that had been on the horses but now lay on the ground near some blankets. Hooked to one of the saddlebags was a long metal tool he grabbed and tossed to Drakker. “Here’s your rifle. I hope you loaded it.”
Drakker gave Arlo a cold and accusing stare. “There you go again! Have you ever known me not to have my guns loaded?” He jumped back when the long, wormlike thing lunged at his leg and missed.
The worm recoiled itself quickly and lunged again, making Fay more than nervous. “Is it dangerous?” She got up keeping the skinny, long animal in her view.
Drakker held his hand out, indicating she should stay back. “It’s a poisonous critter.”
“Oh my God! It can kill you?”
Arlo smirked. “Pretty much.”
“A little thing like that?”
“Yep.” Arlo pulled her several steps back. “Size doesn’t matter—”
“That’s not what I’ve been told.” Drakker’s grin was impish. He raised the weapon and pointed it at the snake. The loud, unexpected, exploding pop startled her, causing her to jump into Arlo’s arms. It was the safest place she could think of. She hid her face against his chest when she saw the top six inches of the slithery thing was separated from the rest of its body. He held her tightly against him. When she finally found the courage to look back, Drakker frowned at her, grabbed the remaining body part by the tail, and carried it over to the fire.
Drawing the knife he wore tucked at his lower back, he sliced the critter down to the part that made the rattling sound. After cutting the rattle off and wrapping it in a small rag, Drakker cleaned the rest of the snake before tossing it on the fire.
“What are you doing that for?” Fay couldn’t resist the urge to ask and prayed the answer wasn’t what she feared it might be.
“This reptile’s our supper.”
Damn, she knew he was going to say that. “Ah, no. I’d rather starve.”
“Suit yourself. It tastes like chicken, you know.”
“Well, since I don’t know what that is either, I’ll pass on both.”

***

The morning came fast and Fay woke to Drakker making sure everyone knew it was time to get going. Even before the coffee brewed, he was ordering Arlo to get things packed while he fixed them a quick breakfast of apples, black walnuts, and a side of jerky.
Of course, all of Fay’s jerky and half her apple went to the coyote. The darn mooch had decided to be her self-appointed protector.
Drakker grunted. “You named him didn’t you?”
“I’m calling him Moochy.” She stroked the coyote’s muzzle before placing a kiss on top of his furry head. He returned the affection by pawing at her arm until she let go of his nose. He manipulated her with his big golden eyes until she caved and gave him her last bite of apple. She got up holding her lower back. “Though I should call him Breaker—”
“Drakker? Why would you name him after me?” Though he questioned her reason, Drakker had a look on his face that said but of course you’d name him after me.
Fay shook her head. “I said, Breaker not Drakker. This beast was on top of me the whole night.”
Drakker smirked then muttered behind his tin cup of coffee, “Can’t say I blame him.”
Arlo must have noticed her rubbing at her lower back because he started messaging her shoulders. “I forgot your backrub last night.”
“Ooh,” she cooed in pure pleasure at the soothing of her tender muscles. “Now that feels awesome.” Moochy was faithful. She had to give him that, but her back was killing her where he’d leaned his twenty plus pounds against her the whole night. “Do you know this animal had the nerve to push me out from under my blanket with its cold nose?”
Drakker snorted, pulling up the collar of his duster. “You mean just like you had the nerve to set me out from my own warm bedroll last night?”
Arlo broke into a hardy laugh. “She did, didn’t she?”
“I offered you a blanket.” Fay gave him her most innocent, wide-eyed stare. “Least I didn’t come over and take your coat.” She smirked. “After I managed to get my covers back from this guy…” She thumbed an accusing finger at Moochy. “Why, he had the audacity to paw at my blanket until I allowed him to get under the covers with me.”
A seductive grin spread across Drakker’s face. “Hmm.”
His gaze captured hers, holding her attention hostage as his soft-spoken words caused her body to respond with a lusty heat.
“So, all I had to do to get in last night was to paw at you?”
Arlo’s mouth dropped wide at Drakker’s innuendo. His glance crisscrossed from her to Drakker then back to her. Arlo regained his composure faster than she did and politely changed the subject.

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