Breaking Bailey's Rules

By: Brenda Jackson

Hugh Coker closed his folder and looked up at the five pairs of eyes staring at him.

“So there you have it. I met with this private investigator, Rico Claiborne, and he’s convinced that you are descendants of someone named Raphel Westmoreland. I read through his report and although his claims sound pretty far-fetched, I can’t discount the photographs I’ve seen. Bart, every one of your sons could be a twin to one of those Westmorelands. The resemblance is that strong. I have the photographs here for you to look at.”

“I don’t want to see any photographs, Hugh,” Bart Outlaw said gruffly, getting out of his chair. “Just because this family might look like us doesn’t mean they are related to us. We are Outlaws, not Westmorelands. And I’m not buying that story about a train wreck over sixty years ago where some dying woman gave her baby to my grandmother. That’s the craziest thing I’ve ever heard.”

He turned to his four sons. “Outlaw Freight Lines is a multimillion-dollar company and people will claim a connection to us just to get what we’ve worked so hard to achieve.”

Garth Outlaw leaned back in his chair. “Forgive me if I missed something, Dad, but didn’t Hugh say the Westmorelands are pretty darn wealthy in their own right? I think all of us have heard of Blue Ridge Land Management. They are a Fortune 500 company. I don’t know about the rest of you, but Thorn Westmoreland can claim me as a cousin anytime.”

Bart frowned. “So what if they run a successful company and one of them is a celebrity?” he said in a cutting tone. “We don’t have to go looking for any new relatives.”

Maverick, the youngest of Bart’s sons, chuckled. “I believe they came looking for us, Dad.”

Bart’s frown deepened. “Doesn’t matter.” He glanced at Hugh. “Send a nice letter letting them know we aren’t buying their story and don’t want to be bothered again. That should take care of it.” Expecting his orders to be obeyed, Bart walked out of the conference room, closing the door behind him.

Sloan Outlaw stared at the closed door. “Are we going to do what he says?”

“Do we ever?” his brother Cash asked, grinning while watching Hugh put the papers back in his briefcase.

“Leave that folder, Hugh,” Garth said, rubbing the back of his neck. “I think the old man forgot he’s no longer running things. He retired a few months ago, or did I imagine it?”

Sloan stood. “No, you didn’t imagine it. He retired but only after the board threatened to oust him. What’s he’s doing here anyway? Who invited him?”

“No one. It’s Wednesday. He takes Charm to lunch on Wednesdays” was Maverick’s response.

Garth’s brow bunched. “And where is Charm? Why didn’t she attend this meeting?”

“Said she had something more important to do,” Sloan said of their sister.


“Go shopping.”

Cash chuckled. “Doesn’t surprise me. So what are we going to do Garth? The decision is yours, not the old man’s.”

Garth threw a couple of paperclips on the table. “I never mentioned it, but I was mistaken for one of those Westmorelands once.”

Maverick leaned across the table. “You were? When?”

“Last year, while I was in Rome. A young woman, a very beautiful young woman, called out to me. She thought I was someone named Riley Westmoreland.”

“I can see why she thought that,” Hugh said. “Take a look at this.” He opened the folder he’d placed on the conference room table earlier and flipped through until he came to one photograph in particular. He pulled it out and placed it in the center of the table. “This is Riley Westmoreland.”

“Damn,” chorused around the table, before a shocked silence ensued.

“Take a look at the others. Pretty strong genes. Like I told Bart, all of you have a twin somewhere in that family,” Hugh said. “It’s—”

“Weird,” Cash said, shaking his head.

“Pretty damn uncanny,” Sloan added. “Makes the Westmorelands’ claims believable.”

“So what if we are related to these Westmorelands? What’s the big deal?” Maverick asked.

“None that I can see,” Sloan said.

“Then, why does the old man have a problem with it?”

“Dad’s just distrustful by nature,” Cash answered Maverick, as he continued to stare at the photographs.

“He fathered five sons and a daughter from six different women. If you ask me, he was too damn trusting.”

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