Brandon Wilkerson couldn’t believe the luck he was having. He had only gone to the auction for a table, but the house was too good a deal to pass up. It would be perfect if and when he ever found a family.
Shelby Maynard was as pissed as she’d ever been. Her ex, Allen, was late as usual bringing back their son, Kelly. She knew she’d made a mistake when she said she’d take him back to court for back child support. Allen was on her before she could even bring her hands up to protect herself.
Brandon saw it all. He only wished he’d been in time to stop Allen before he hit Shelby in the first place. Brandon wanted to hit Allen again, but the man was out on the first punch….
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When Marsden Wilkerson received the phone call that his mother had been in a car accident, he wasn’t letting anything get in his way to get to her. Not a pushy boss, and especially not his Aunt Eita. Then his world crumbled when the doctors told him that his mother, Holly, didn’t make it.
Gabriella Farley, Abby, could hold her own, and she wasn’t about to take any flack from a rich bitch like Penelope Wilkerson.
Amy Hamilton never had much of a home life growing up. Her sister Phoenix and her mother demanded all the attention, so much so that she and her father didn’t have a relationship at all. Now that her father was filing for a divorce, he felt guilty for not being a part of her life and wanted to make up for it, but Amy wasn’t sure she was ready for that.
Charlie had been gone from the small town for several years, attending medical school with Rayne. She only returned when she got the news that her mother, the sitting judge, had been murdered. Rayne convinced her to come back home. The town needed good doctors.
Pete Tolliver was doing just fine, and when a man came into the tavern she owned asking for a Pete Tolliver, all sorts of warning bells went off in her head. She went by Pete for a reason, to keep her identity a secret. She didn’t like people and didn’t want to be bothered. She was Petunia, a well-known romance author, but she didn’t like the attention her fame brought her, so she simply went by Pete.
The Wilkerson Dynasty
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Brandon was bored, and there was an auction going on close by. Calling up his dad, he
said he’d meet him at his house, and that was how they had ended up together at one of
the largest auctions he’d been to all summer long.
“You’re not feeling sorry for me, are you, son? I mean, if you are, that’s fine too, I
guess, but I don’t want you to have to mess up your plans when you’re thinking that I
need to get out of the house. All right?” He said he was bored just sitting around the
house waiting for someone to call and ask him a question about anything. “What about
the building that you’re having remolded? I was sure you were working on it or
something this week.”
“The contractors said that if I came by one more time, they were going to have
me arrested. Or they’d stop working.” Brandon laughed with his dad. “I know he
couldn’t and wouldn’t do that, but he said all the changes I was making were driving
them all nuts. So I’m staying away.” Dad laughed again and said he knew it was killing
him. Brandon grinned at his dad. “I think it’s going to be nice having a place just for
myself to work on what I want. I’ll know where my stuff is, and I’ll know when I have
to order things. Also, when and if I find myself a bride, she’ll not have a hissy fit with
me for having all my tools and equipment laying on the dining room table and wires
everywhere. Today is for trying to make my house a home. No matter how hard I try to
make it feel like it’s my place, it’s not a home. It’s just a place I lay my head at night. So
today, I have a list of things I’m still missing. At least a dining room table so the guys
don’t make fun of me as much when I have them over, and they have to stand up to eat
pizza. I thought we could get a couple of them today.”
“Good plan. I’m looking for a better desk than the one I got last month. It’s all
right, but it’s not nearly wide enough for what I need. I still write checks, and there isn’t
enough room on it for the keyboard and whatnot.” Brandon told his dad he needed to
get an online account to pay his bills. “I know. But you have no idea how seeing only
my name on the checks and then putting them in an envelope is freeing to me. I don’t
think, even after being as old as I am, I ever had the chance to have my own bills and
my own checking account. I just charged everything and then had an accountant pay
the bills. You know something? Mars made fun of me for giving him a check for my
rent. He said that he didn’t want us to pay anything. But I don’t care if he tears the
checks up. I just feel good about doing this on my own.”
“He’s a good guy.” Dad agreed. “Okay, remember the rules for buying things at
an auction. No, lingering on something you want so someone realizes you want it too.
You don’t take the first bid because that’s way too high for the item. And most
importantly, you never have a gun pulled on you.”
Dad laughed. “I like that last one the best. All right. You hang around with me
for a bit so that I can get things straight in my head.” They got out of the truck and
wandered around the items that were still being brought out. It was early yet, so they
could look all they wanted. “Do you suppose they ever get the first price they toss out
“They do. A lot. Because someone usually jumps in then and gets it. Excitement
will have you paying way too much for something.” Brandon saw just what he’d
wanted when he’d found the auction online. He made a beeline for the dining room
table. Making his way around it, he could see that the table looked much larger than he
had expected. There were even extra leaves to make it even longer. “Dad, can you see
us all sitting around this sucker around the holidays? Or better yet, when a game is on,
and this table is loaded with snacks and drinks? I’ll have to figure out something for
chairs, I guess, but I love this table.” Dad said that he did as well.
The men who were bringing out the other items looked like they were exhausted
already. It was only nine in the morning. One of them asked Brandon if he was
interested in the chairs as well.
“It didn’t say that it had chairs in the description. Yes, I’m interested.” He
followed the man into the house when he told him he’d show them to him. “Do you
know how many there are?”
“No. We stopped trying to count stuff last night when we got here to look things
over. It wasn’t until we started pulling stuff out this morning that we found the chairs
in a couple of the upper bedrooms. This place is a mess, not trashy, mind you, but my
goodness, it sure is big and filled with furniture. Had I known this when I took this on, I
might not have done it. It will take a second auction to get it all sold.” Brandon asked if
he was allowed in the house. “Yes. It’s going to be sold too. Today if I can get enough
people around here to want it. This auction was a late sale, and I didn’t have time to
advertise it all that well.” The man stopped and turned to Brandon. “Go on. Make me
an offer on it, and I’ll see what we can do.”
Brandon didn’t need a house. The one he had was big enough for him and a wife
if he found one, and a couple of kids. Maybe. When he was looking for a place to live
around here, that’s all he thought of. Just a house and that’s exactly what he got. Now
that the other cousins were having their dads live with them, he wished he’d gone
larger rather than smaller. Live and learn, he supposed. But he was tempted to make an
offer on the house, just for its size.
As soon as he walked into the home, he was blown away by the amount of
furniture and other items just in the front hall. But as he let himself adjust to the things
around the place, he saw that the house was beautiful. The front hallway alone was
enough to make him want to put in an offer for it. But he’d wait for the auction. He
thought he’d get a better price.
Finding the chairs, he was happy to see there were fourteen of them plus two
armed ones that went on each end. It was much larger than he thought anyone would
need, and then he remembered that he had a very large family now. Thinking of how
he’d get it home, his dad joined him in the room. He was sitting in one of the chairs and
offered for his dad to have a seat in one too.
“My goodness, son. I don’t think I’ve ever sat in a more comfy dining chair
before. I was just walking around the place. There is a lot of stuff here. The man
downstairs who told me where you were said he was going to have to do a second day
of it. These chairs match that table downstairs beautifully, don’t they?” Brandon agreed
with him and told him about the house being for sale. Dad sat back in the chair and
looked around the huge room. “It’s a big home, son. You going to be all right with
Brandon grinned at his dad. “If you come to live with me in it. It will be the
perfect size for the two of us.” Dad hugged him. “Have you been thinking about that
“Yes. All the others, they live with their sons. I knew your other home was
smallish in comparison, so I thought I’d be the odd man out.” Brandon told him never.
“I’m glad to hear you say that, Brandon. I’d love to live with you. What will your future
wife say you think?”
“She’s not going to be mad about it. I’m thinking that the way the other wives
are about their fathers-in-law, she’ll be begging you to live with us. Or perhaps beating
you to a pulp for not being there.” Dad laughed, and they both got up to look at the
rooms on the upper floor. “This house has four floors, Dad. Have you ever seen
anything so big around here?”
Finding a baby’s room filled with all kinds of things for a child, he decided he
might get the furniture if he could for Shawn and Pete. There was not just a crib but a
couple of dressers, changing table, as well as an old rocker that he fell in love with. He
told his dad his plans.
“Oh, I like that idea. Yes, I do.” The auction was set to begin in a few minutes,
and they made their way down to the yard. Looking in the kitchen, Brandon couldn’t
believe it was in the same house.
It was devoid of clutter. Other than the large center butcher block table, there
was no other furniture in the room. And it had recently been updated, like in the last
couple of years. Making his way out into the yard after getting himself a number, he
was ready for this to begin. Dad had seen a few things he wanted, so they were set to
have a wonderful day.
The box lots were first. He figured they’d be going first thing just to get them out
of the way for the other things they were bringing out. There were a lot of them too. On
top of the tables and under them, too. He’d never seen so much in one household
Brandon got some of the boxes to go through, and Dad was getting into it as
well. Between the two of them, they ended up with twenty box lots and all for less than
ten bucks. There were only a few people there, and he thought that was the main reason
they weren’t selling all that well. The second and third table of boxes was tools, and
they both looked around at the other things as they were coming out. When the
auctioneer said he was going to sell off the house at noon, Brandon pretended not to
care. Christ, he wanted this home.
After another hour, they started on some of the furniture with a second
auctioneer to move things along, Mr. Pettiford told the people lingering still. Dad was
too nervous to bid on the desk he wanted, so Brandon did it for him. Twenty-two
dollars for it, and Dad was nearly doing a dance he was so happy. In addition to the
desk, they found that it was filled with office supplies too.
There were other pieces that Brandon bid on. Mostly he won what he wanted
and wasn’t too terribly disappointed about the things he didn’t win. One of the things
that he did bid on and won was a workbench made of steel. He was going to use it in
his business as a work table. It was just big enough, he thought. It would come in handy
with several projects he had going at one time.
The house was up for bidding next, and he looked around at the people that
seemed interested in it too. However, when he began talking about the home and how
it was going to need to be emptied before anyone could take possession, some of the
crowd moved away. He knew it could have been a ploy, so he didn’t read much into it.
Brandon had called Mars, someone he knew he could trust on not telling anyone
what he was thinking to ask him for a guessing price for a home this large in this
neighborhood. He told him he’d not go over fifty grand for it if it needed to be updated,
especially the kitchen. After telling him that the kitchen seemed to be the only updated
room, he asked about the furnace and such.
“It’s newer, but that could be anything from ten years old.” Mars pulled the
specs up on the house while he was talking to him and told him it was only four years
old. That it also had a new roof. “How many bedrooms does it have?”
Mars was able to answer all his questions about the house and some that he
didn’t know to ask. There were about forty acres that went with the house. He told him
that someone might be buying it for the land.
“I guess I can see that.” When he was ready with an amount, Mars told him good
luck, and they hung up. The more he thought about it, the more Brandon was excited
about bidding on the property, but being a seasoned bidder, he knew he’d have to hide
his interest from everyone. After Mr. Pettiford was finished with the specs on the house
and land, he started the bidding out at a hundred grand. Mars had told him to go no
more than seventy for it. It wasn’t a good bargain after that. It went lower and lower, and no one was bidding on the house.
When it got down to five thousand, several hands went up. He still waited. Brandon was sure people would start to drop out when the bidding got to the fifties again.
When the bidding stalled at twelve thousand, he finally raised his hand. Two
people were left in the bidding war, and he didn’t think his chances were going to be in
his favor the way one of the men held his card up without putting it down. Bad sign, he
Just when he thought he would lose the house to the other bidder, the other
bidder dropped out. The amount was stalled again at nineteen thousand, and he was
the winning bid so far. He didn’t smile, not even when his dad came to stand with him.
But he did keep an eye on the man doing the bidding. Pettiford was a good auctioneer
and tried to get someone to bid just a bit more. When the man with the card said he’d
go to twenty, he easily said he’d go twenty-two-five.
The bidder said it was too rich for his wallet, and Brandon was declared the
winner. He smiled now. Looking at his dad when he whooped it up, he hugged him
tighter than he had before. He was a homeowner. Twice over, as a matter of fact.
The rest of the morning was box lots, and the balance of the furniture had been
brought out earlier in the day. Dad pointed out that the men who had been bringing the
things out had disappeared at some point, and he wondered if it was because the
auction was going to have to go for a second day. Brandon thought that would be
cutting it close. Box lots alone would take another whole day of bidding, he thought.
Brandon not only got the table and chairs that he wanted, but he also got a China
cabinet that matched it. He also bid on the large rug that he’d been told had been in the
dining room and a couple of large planters that still had ferns in them. There were other
things too that the two of them got. He thought it was the best day he’d spent with his
dad in a really long time.
When Pettiford came to speak to him, Brandon was sort of weary about what he
was going to tell him. He’d been to auctions with Holly when the family wasn’t happy
with the price that the house went for and were reneging on his bid.
“I’m happy you got the house, Brandon. Mr. Millner was going to tear it down
and plow up the fields for his farm. You can see for yourself that we made hardly a dent
in the things we’re pulling out of here.” The man sighed and shook his head. “I don’t
really want to have another auction, and I’m sure you don’t want people walking all
over your property, either. So I have a question for you. You make us a deal on what’s
left inside and the things that don’t sell out here, and we’ll call it a day. I’m not going to
make enough on this auction as it is. It’s an estate, and the judge told me to get
whatever I could. It didn’t matter because there wasn’t any family to care.” He asked
him to give him a price. Brandon shook his head.
“You tell me what you want for it all, and we’ll work from there. That way, you
don’t have to pay rent to us for storing your auction things in our home, and we’ll take
care of it all.” Brandon laughed; he’d not do that to the man. “You tell me what you
want to make it worth your while, Mr. Pettiford.”
“You’re a Wilkerson, aren’t you? The people that have that second chance place
that we auctioneers drop stuff off at that’s not far from here.” Dad said that he and his
brothers did. He wasn’t keeping it from anyone. “No, I didn’t mean that. I only
mentioned it because I’ve been dropping things off there for a while now, and you guys
are always honest and pay well for the stuff. I’ll make you a good deal, sir. Just because
you have me in the past. How about ten grand? That’s about how much I’d probably be
able to make after selling all this when it comes down to it. But this way, I’d not have to
pay anyone working for me and use up my gas coming out here. Because I know it’s
going to take at least two to three more days, like today, to get this stuff sold. Does that
sound good to you?”
“Yes, it does. We’ll take it.” The man whooped it up louder than his dad had
when he got the house. “You’re a good man, sir. And it’s been a pleasure doing
business with you.”
They were still looking around the house when their purchases were brought
inside. Brandon hadn’t thought of that, just storing his and dad’s things in the house
while they got things taken care of. Mars called him while he was in his new kitchen,
having a look around. He told him what he’d paid for the house.
“Great job. My goodness, that’s wonderful news. And you got the household
furnishings too. I might have to take some lessons from you sometime. I was just
thinking of Mom and how she’d get the best prices on things when she went to
auctions. I know she helped a great many people out while she was having fun.” They
were both laughing when Dad found an entire room of box lots to go through. “Sounds
like your dad is in heaven. Box lots were always Mom’s favorite thing to get, too.”
“I remember spending hours going through them and figuring out what pieces
were. She always seemed to know what items were a good flipping price and was
junk.” When Mars said he and Abby were out, did he want to have dinner with them,
Dad was all for it. “But come by the house. I got Shawn and Pete a nursery set.”
“Oh, buddy, they got one today. I’m sorry.” He was disappointed but not overly
so. Brandon told him that he was going to keep it as a good luck charm to raise his own
children with. “That’s the spirit. But you really need to find a wife first, I’m thinking.”
They both laughed.
Ending the call to Mars after making arrangements for them to come to the
house, he told his dad to pick out the rooms he wanted. After hugging him again, he
went off to find himself a place to call his own.
“Hello?” Brandon looked at the elderly woman that came into the house. He
asked her if he could help her. Everyone from the auction had left about an hour ago. “I
was wondering if the house sold yet. I had it in my head that it was too large for me,
but I had to see.”
Brandon told her it had sold, but he didn’t say he’d purchased it. He didn’t know
her, and while she did look elderly, there were scams every day that someone would
get hurt or killed by someone they underestimated someone. Brandon felt stupid as
soon as he thought that this eighty-something-year-old woman was going to be able to
wrestle the house from him.
“I’m sorry you didn’t get here in time to bid.” She said it was all right that it was
too big for an old woman anyway. “I don’t think you look a day over forty. Or
younger.” Brandon prided himself on his ability to flirt with any woman.
It was obvious to him that she was closer to eighty, but she grinned at him,
thanking him for halving her age. He asked her if she was from around here. She shook
her head and said she’d moved here a few months ago to get away from her family.
“That bad, huh?” She said that they weren’t really hers, but they were the worst
of the lot. “I’m so sorry to hear that. Do they know where you are? Or have you cut ties
with them all together?”
“My great-grandson knows where I am. He’s just a kid, but he’s brilliant. I’m
waiting on him and his momma to come back from getting him from his daddy. Sorrier
man than I’ve ever seen that man is. Kelly is my great-grandson’s name. He told me he
hates spending time with his father during the summer. All they do is have parties, and
he has to stay in his room because of the way they party. I’m not sure what he means
about that, but I’m going to have Shelby, my granddaughter look into it when she gets
home. She’s been working overtime at her job for the past month to take Kelly on a
special trip this summer.”
“That’ll be nice.” He offered her a chair to sit in, and he pulled a box toward him
while waiting on Mars. “I do hope you have an attorney looking into things for you. I
would hate to hear that you got yourself or your granddaughter in trouble over this.”
“Yes, that’s what Shelby said to me. She’s forever scolding me about this and
that. She would have had of had a fit if she knew that I was looking for a different place
to live. I was hoping that this might have been a good place for her and Kelly to live
with me. But even with that, it’s too large of a home, I’m thinking. Oh well, I’ll just have to keep looking.”
Mars and Abby showed up when she spoke of looking for a little
house she could call her own. Brandon introduced her to his cousin and his dad when
he came down from the upper levels.
“Mrs. Cartwright? My goodness, I’ve not seen you in years. How are you?” Abby
hugged the older woman. “You look amazing. How is that nasty family of yours?”
“The same. Abby, you look beautiful as ever. This must be your new husband?”
Abby explained how she knew the woman. “She was my student when she got herself
hurt one day. Oh, the times we had, didn’t we?”
“Yes. You taught me a great deal that summer. Things that I’ve never forgotten.
You’ve heard about Holly Wilkerson, didn’t you?” She said that it was a terrible loss.
They all agreed with her. “Mars, my husband is her son.”
“Oh my goodness, how wonderful. You are the most perfect pair.” While they
were preparing to leave the house, Dad invited Mrs. Cartwright to have dinner with
them. She agreed, and they loaded up in their cars and trucks after locking the house
up. Brandon didn’t know how it happened, but he was thrilled to be spending time
with the family and Mrs. Cartwright.
Getting in his car, he turned back to look at his new home. Knowing he’d have
no trouble selling the other house, he thought of himself living here. With all the land
and the trees, he was almost too excited to have dinner with everyone. He wondered if
now that he had the home of his dreams would his dreams now be fulfilled by having
himself a wife and someday children. He hoped so with all his heart.