Alone on Earth (Signal Bend Series Volume 4)(9)

By: Susan Fanetti

the yanking, but with Bart’s ideas, for the most part. The things Bart knew about and could do set him in

stark relief, even to Isaac, who was pretty tech savvy, all things considered.

It had all started with his Kickstarter idea. After the fallout, when they were trying to get back on their

feet, it had been Bart’s idea to use Kickstarter to capitalize on the town’s renown. It had been huge success,

pulling in a lot of money to fund repairs to the town. But a lot of the Horde, even while they were

approving the idea, thought it ran against the grain of the club and the town. Maybe they were right. They

probably were. But change was necessary. It was that or continue dying. The Kickstarter and the movie

were making the public’s attention do something good for the town. Even if it also meant that they had to

run things in new and unfamiliar ways.

Even if it meant welcoming strangers to shop in their stores and stay in their bed and breakfast and eat

at their restaurants. Even if it meant letting Hollywood people come in and make a movie about the worst

and best day in the town’s long history.

He knew that most of the Horde—everybody but C.J.—hadn’t questioned his ideas because he had been

so instrumental in Lilli’s rescue, and he had been riding a high of his brothers’ regard. What he could do

with a keyboard was as much like magic to most of the Horde as it still kinda was to Bart himself. He hadn’t

known he could do half the things he’d done that awful day, and he’d done it literally with one hand tied up

—he’d been shot in the shoulder in the earlier firefight. He had some whiz-bang shine left over after that

success, and they hadn’t questioned his ideas.

But once those ideas were in place and doing exactly what he said they’d do, the Horde and the town

experienced some hard growing pains. They’d been dying, but they’d been doing it privately, just the few

hundred souls who’d been sticking it out. Now they were reviving, which meant that they needed to be

more open and welcoming, and they’d needed to cool it with some of the colorful local customs—like bar

fights as entertainment, for instance. That wore hard on the men of the town, the Horde especially.

They were working on solving that problem.

In the meantime, Bart, who was excited about the changes and openly enthusiastic about the movie deal,

was getting a lot of heat for bringing all this new shit into town. He was hoping one day that heat would

become credit. He knew everybody knew, deep down, that what they were doing was a good thing. Some

day they’d act like it and stop bitching about people wanting to take their picture. He hoped.

He let his thoughts wander around in that territory, feeling prickly and morose, as he worked on Bob

Sanderson’s tractor—his straight job these days, a mechanic at Keyes Implement & Repair. When he

finished, he was running later than he liked. He was grease to his elbows, and scrubbing with Lava soap

and the never-hot water in the squalid garage john wasn’t getting him clean. So he booked it to the

clubhouse and showered in his room, where he had a good hand brush.

He needed to get to the B&B to pick up the van—the club van was too ratty for the likes of Riley Chase

and Tanner Stafford—but he took a couple of extra minutes and put some goop in his hair, finger combing

it sort of messily straight up. Then he put fresh jeans and a clean white t-shirt on and shrugged on his kutte.

One more look in the mirror. That was as good as it got. He grabbed his watch from the dresser and

wrapped the wide leather band around his wrist. He liked wearing a watch. It was old school.

Bart took a look at that watch as he closed the buckle. Shit. Shit. He was going to be late.


The flight, for the most part, was uneventful. On the first leg, Riley and Pru sat directly across the aisle

from Tanner and his assistant, Mark. There were no direct flights from LAX to Springfield, so they laid

over in Dallas for a couple of hours. In the Dallas first class lounge, Tanner, who’d barely made the flight in

L.A., came over to Riley and Pru’s table with drinks and managed to send Pru packing in short order. She

wandered over to chat with Mark, and Tanner made himself comfortable on the bench seat next to Riley.