The Rebel Daughter(10)

By: Lauri Robinson



She snuck a peek his way, where he stood next to Slim.

Rumors, mostly started by those who’d been in cahoots with Galen Reynolds, claimed Galen had gone to California for his health. Others said he’d run away with his latest doxy. Only those close to Twyla’s family knew Roger Nightingale had been behind Galen’s move. She wondered if Forrest knew that, and what he thought about it. From the tidbits she’d heard—because her father didn’t ever let them hear much of anything—the film company Galen bragged about owning in Hollywood was nothing but a front for something much more illicit.

Exactly what, she didn’t know, but considering the mobsters who used to frequent the Plantation, she assumed bootlegging was involved. It was behind most everything that went on anymore. From small towns to big cities, there was rarely a person who wasn’t somehow and in some way involved in making, selling or running booze.

Apart from Forrest. Word was there hadn’t been any booze served at the Plantation since his return.

He hadn’t even bothered to let any of them know when he’d returned home. That would have been enough for her to knock him off the pedestal she’d put him on in her early years if she hadn’t already. It was a good lesson to learn. Never trust a man. Never believe anything could last forever.

“Twyla?”

She spun around. The look on Forrest’s face suggested he’d said her name more than once. Huffing out a breath, half wondering, half knowing why her mind had wandered so far from the present, she asked, “Where’s Slim?”

As soon as the words left her mouth she heard the music, and certainly didn’t appreciate the way Forrest lifted his brows and grinned.

“Lost in thought, were you?”

“More like plotting,” she answered. It had always been like this with Forrest. The two of them never fought or argued; they just tried to outwit the other one. It was a game she’d missed.

He laughed. “If every woman thought they were as smart as you think you are, this world would be one dangerous place.”

Twyla didn’t have time to tell him it was dangerous, that she’d grown smarter during his absence, because her father chose that moment to walk out the door and cross the wide balcony.

“Forrest, I want to have a word with you.” Dressed as he always was, in a maroon three-piece suit, black shirt and shining black-button shoes, Roger Nightingale’s presence was strongly felt. However, as formidable as he might appear to others, her father was the one man Twyla did trust. She knew fully what was in his heart. Not even while being banished to her room as soon as the lights had come on had she ever doubted that her father loved her and her sisters. Sure, he spoiled them, bought them anything they wanted from cars to clothes to cosmetics and all things in between. But none of that assured his love. The way he protected them did. Even when he thought they didn’t know that he was doing it.

Forrest used to be like that, always watching over them. Until... She grabbed his arm. Her father would want to talk to Forrest, find out his plans. As wonderful as her father’s protection was, it was not what she needed right now. Not when Forrest might squeal about the kissing booth and everything else he knew.

“It’ll have to wait, Daddy. Forrest and I are heading for the dance floor. We need to get this party started. George will only turn fifty once, and we want it to be a party he’ll remember,” she said, hooking Forrest’s arm with hers. She tried to tug him toward the door, but his feet were planted firmly and he didn’t even wobble.

Twyla cringed inwardly, and when Forrest’s gaze left her father and landed on her, she knew her eyes were full of pleading. She was virtually begging him to leave. She really, really didn’t want him talking to her father.

Her stomach fell, along with her eyelids when he turned his somewhat regretful gaze back to her father.

A thundering laugh snapped her eyes open. Her father slapped Forrest’s shoulder playfully. “You never could say no to my daughters any more than I could.”

Forrest chuckled, too. “That was true.”

Twyla picked up on the was and Forrest’s tone.

Her father however, laughed again. “That may be the downfall of us both.”

Forrest turned to her again and a glimmer of a smile crossed his lips before he said, “Or it could be a crutch, which—” he turned back to her father “—isn’t always a bad thing. A crutch can allow a man to walk when he otherwise couldn’t.”

Twyla caught a double meaning behind his statement but couldn’t fathom what it was.

“Ain’t that the truth,” her father said. “Go on. You two hit the dance floor. I’ll catch up with you later.”

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