—Southern Scrimmage Book 3—
Judah Brody meets William Slater and it’s loathe at first sight.
Jude had spent his whole life in his famous brother’s shadow. Returning to New Orleans seemed like a good idea now that Levi was back home. But Jude couldn’t turn around without something of Levi’s getting in his way. In this case it’s Levi’s best friend, a three hundred pound knuckle-dragger named Slayer, who likes strippers, football, porn and making Jude’s life miserable—not necessarily in that order.
William Slater’s season couldn’t get much worse. He lost his house to fire, his contract was set to expire, and his prospects of getting picked up by another team were slim to none. House sitting for his best friend was the only bright spot in an otherwise bleak New Orleans winter. Until Levi’s stuck up nerd of a brother came to stay.
A freak winter snow storm, deep familial secrets, and a whole lot of male/male bonding wasn’t exactly in the game plan. But bragging rights were on the line and there wasn’t an offside chance in hell of this game going into overtime.
The taxi pulled up in front of Levi Brody’s Royal Street townhouse. Jude leaned out the window to take in the old building he’d helped Levi…Liv buy. Though, not in one of the more affluent areas of the city, the long, narrow, three-story home echoed the old world charm of the neighborhood. Like its neighbors, the house façade was built with antique brick that now showed through what remained of a layer of coral stucco. This house was almost identical to the houses lining both sides of the street save for the small, gated court yard that led to the narrow stoop.
The house hadn’t changed much in the six years since Jude had last been here. Levi kept the garden tended or rather he paid to have someone keep the garden tended and the walk clear. The front door was now painted a dark shade of blue green and a pair of antique cast iron urns filled with left over Christmas poinsettias sat on each side. He felt for a moment as if he’d never left.
“Good to have you back in the city, Levi. Pity you aren’t in time to pull the season out of the toilet,” the driver said as he carried Jude’s bags to the door.
Jude stood on the stoop and sighed, this wasn’t the first time he’d been mistaken for his famous brother. Though lately he was sure people were wondering why he didn’t have a pink mohawk or the diamond earrings that Levi…Liv, fuck he’d never get used to thinking of his brother by that name—favored. He was trying. Jude tipped the man with a smile and a nod; there wasn’t much he could say about the football season one way or another since he didn’t follow the team or the game. The driver thanked him without asking for an autograph, thankfully, and went on his way.
The downstairs entry was just as narrow as Jude remembered it. He hadn’t been here in years but the size hadn’t changed. The foyer was large enough to contain one small console table with a mirror hung above as the only decoration. To the left was the stairs leading to the two upper floors and straight ahead lay the long narrow corridor that led past the parlor and into the kitchen at the back of the house.
Since Jude had moved back to Alabama, Levi had gutted most of the top two floors to fit his needs. When Jude purchased the house the second floor was one large open space with no walls, a fire place dominated one wall and a set of French doors leading to the balcony the other. Levi had created two functioning rooms from that, a weight room and an entertainment den. Which made sense. The small parlor would not be conducive to football viewing parties or entertaining Levi’s oafish teammates. The third floor had the two bedrooms and one full bath. He remembered Levi recently mentioning having a powder room installed under the stairs on the first floor. The place was, indeed, small, but Levi seemed to love it.
Tired from his trip, Jude left his bags in the entry and went through the first floor to the kitchen—he’d take the grand tour later. Right now he needed a glass of water at the very least and a couple of aspirin to dull the throbbing in his temples. He really hated flying and the trip this morning, no matter how brief, had proved once again just how much flying hated him. He stopped just inside the room. Considering Levi had been content to live in the dilapidated trailer they’d grown up in Jude expected to find something resembling the kitchen in every frat house he’d ever been in. What he didn’t expect to find was dirty dishes everywhere, or food spilled on the floor. A blender sat in the middle of a very nice round glass top table with what looked like green ooze slopped down its side. Fresh green ooze. Jude froze. He started to pull his phone from his pocket to call the cops when the plumbing made the familiar rattling noise that he remembered from when he lived here years ago.
He wasn’t alone.
Phone in hand he unlocked it—only to notice the missed text messages, all from Levi. He opened the last one. Dammit Judah just don’t freak out when you get there. He’s a friend and I forgot he was staying there. Don’t call the cops. And for fucksake don’t pepper spray him or whatever it is you might do.
He hit the call Leviticus button and waited. “Fuck, Levi, that would have been helpful a couple hours ago,” he said the moment his brother answered the phone. “You drove me to the airport and you couldn’t remember you were letting someone house sit? Come on Levi, you know I hate living with people.”
“Judah?…we’re breaking up…” and they were, Jude could hear the static over the line now. “I’m in the middle of fucking nowhere looking for I have no damned idea what and I might lose you.”
Tracy was taking one of his boys up to T-town to tour the school. They were driving. Jude had forgotten that in his haste to board the private plane he’d hired to fly him over. No commercial flights flew from Mobile to New Orleans. He didn’t know that when he decided to leave his car at home. He knew from experience that it was easier and cheaper to take public transportation here, and he didn’t want his car going missing from the street…again.
“Just tell me his name and that he knows I’m coming.” The distinct sound of a gun cocking from nearby told him that was a negative. “Levi, he has a gun,” Jude shouted into the phone. “There’s a big, wet, knuckle-dragger in your kitchen with a gun aimed at my head.”
“Sounds like my idea of a Saturday night,” Liv said. He could tell it was Liv and not
Levi. In the months since he discovered his brother had a split personality the shock of Liv was nowhere near wearing off. “His name is William Slater. We call him Slayer. Put me on speaker and hold it out so he can hear.”
“I’m putting Levi on speaker. Please don’t shoot me.” He held both hands up like on television and pressed the button on his phone so that Levi could talk his friend into putting down the gun.
“Slayer, this is my brother. Jude this is Slayer. Slayer’s house burned down the day after Christmas. I told him he needed to get the wiring checked but he didn’t listen. He’s staying. And
Slayer, Jude is taking a class at Tulane this semester. He’s staying. Please don’t kill him. He kept me out of prison,” Levi said over the crackling distance, but the gun pointing at him didn’t waver.
“And tell him to put some clothes on.” Jude kept his eyes straight ahead at a spot over Slayer’s shoulder. Because he was naked. Completely naked.
“Come on Jude, it’s just man meat, it won’t hurt you, sweetie. Maybe do you some good.
Take the stick out of your ass and maybe find something more pleasurable fits just fine.”
“Goddamn it, 501, shut that shit up. I ain’t no fudge packer.” The knuckle-dragger finally spoke, and more importantly, he lowered the gun away from Jude’s face. It was still cocked and his finger still hugged the trigger as if he wouldn’t hesitate to act if Jude gave him any reason to think he was a threat.
“But, Slayer, my friend, you have a beautiful dick,” Levi laughed on the other end of the line.
“Don’t antagonize him, Levi. He doesn’t look happy about the compliment.” The knuckle-dragger’s face screwed up in a silent scowl, his skin flushed with anger.
“Straight boys. I have never understood straight boys. Can’t even give them a compliment without them getting all offended. Except there are those that come looking for a little “sumpin sumpin” on the side. They still have no sense of—“ Jude’s phone went dead mid crackle. Or Levi disconnected—Jude wouldn’t put it past his brother to hang up on him. His Liv personality was unpredictable at best.
“Please put the gun down.” Jude waited for the hulking behemoth to do something.
Anything. He finally lowered the gun and without saying a word turned and walked back the way he came. For a man that size he moved almost silently and with a fluid grace. Jude caught himself watching the muscles in his ass as he walked away and forced himself to look at his cell phone for new messages.
When he heard the plumbing rattle again he pulled out a chair and slumped over the table. His heart was racing ninety to nothing. There were just so many shocks a person could handle in one life. And this one was nothing less than he expected in New Orleans, sin capital of the south.
What the hell was he thinking coming back here?