“And then what? If Hale tricks Raymond into selling, it might give that fucker more leverage to do…whatever he threatened to this morning”
“Wait. Hale called again and threatened you?”
“Not me…the land. He said he was sorry that we’d reached an impasse and that he was going have to pursue other avenues to acquire our land. I don’t know what he’s got up his sleeve, but I suspect it’s nothing good or maybe even legal.” Austin blew out a breath and tried to find a sliver of calm.
“I hope that cocksucker shows up here. I’ll put a bullet in his head, drag his dead ass to Perkin’s farm, and let his hogs take care of the evidence,” his dad snarled.
“We’d all like to kill him, but we can’t. That’s why I was dancing with Paige last night. Since Raymond refuses to have a civil conversation with me, I’m trying to get Paige to act as a go-between, so he’ll think she’s the one saving his ranch.”
“This bullshit’s getting way out of hand.” With a heavy sigh, his dad tugged off his hat and scrubbed a hand through his silver hair. “Will he even listen to her?”
“I don’t know. Since you two grumpy old men don’t want Paige and me to even acknowledge the other exists, it’s a little hard for us to communicate.”
“That’s to protect you. The son of a bitch is crazier than a shithouse rat.”
“I know he is. But his land’s been in his family as long as ours. Friend or foe, it’s not right to let some slick-talking lawyer pull it out from under him.”
Austin’s words took the wind out of his dad’s sails.
Shoulders slumping, Duke shook his head. “Why on earth did you have to inherit my stubborn streak and your momma’s big heart?”
“Just lucky, I guess.” Austin shrugged as a ghost of a smile tugged his lips.
While he didn’t have his dad’s blessing, he hadn’t told Austin to stay away from Paige. It was both a blessing and a curse.