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Always for You:Jack

By:Alexis Morgan

Always for You:Jack
Alexis Morgan

       (Sergeant Joe's Boys #1)


Twenty-one shots rang out, and three men in uniform snapped to  attention. As the sound faded away on the breeze, a solitary bugler  slowly lifted a brass horn to his lips. Within seconds, the haunting  strains of Taps brought tears to the eyes of more than a few of the  people gathered around the new grave.

A small woman sat front and center, her shaking hands clasped in her lap  while soldiers carefully folded the flag that had draped her husband's  coffin. When they were done, they saluted and then presented it to her  along with the heartfelt gratitude of the nation and its commander in  chief. She clutched the symbol of her husband's service to their country  and held it close to her heart just as she had the man himself.

As soon as the soldiers moved away, the sons of her heart relaxed their  stance and gathered her into their arms. She was so proud of the men  they'd become, each in his own way a reflection of her husband. They  were Joe's true legacy, the source of the greatest pride in his life.  He'd gifted each of them with a sense of purpose, a place to belong, a  family.

Now it would be her job to help them find the one last thing they each  needed: someone to love them as she'd loved her Joe. If she could do  that for her boys, then she would count her own life well lived.

Chapter 1

Two days had passed since the funeral when Jack McShane and his two  brothers walked into the office of a local law firm. After they  identified themselves, the receptionist led them into a conference room  dominated by a heavy wooden table surrounded by ten chairs. "Gentlemen,  please make yourselves comfortable. I'm sure Mr. Beaumont will be right  in. While you're waiting, can I offer you some coffee or bottled water?"

Jack answered for all three of them as they took seats at the far end of the table. "Coffee. We all take it black."

Actually, he didn't know how his siblings took their coffee these days,  but he wasn't in the mood to listen to a lot of discussion about  flavored creamers and sugar versus sweeteners. If there was one thing  he'd learned while serving in other parts of the world, it was that the  people in the Pacific Northwest took their coffee a little too  seriously.

Since neither of the other two protested, either he'd gotten it right or  else they also weren't in the mood to hassle with meaningless details.  Within seconds of sitting down, Tino started shifting restlessly in his  seat. Jack figured it was the situation and not the chair that was  making his middle brother so uncomfortable.

Predictably it was Mikhail who gave voice to their concern. "I wish we  knew why this lawyer guy wanted to meet with just us. I still think we  should've insisted Mom come with us."

Jack didn't bother to respond. They'd had this same conversation  multiple times since the attorney had called to ask them to come in  today. He had assured Jack that their mother was aware of the situation,  and they were free to discuss it with her if they felt the need. Hell,  yeah, they'd felt the need. There was no way any of them would go behind  Marlene's back. To their surprise, she'd simply verified what the  lawyer had told them and said it was best they go alone.

The door opened a few seconds later, and Mr. Beaumont entered with a  stack of files tucked under his arm and carrying a small tray containing  four cups and a coffee carafe. Jack wasn't sure why he felt compelled  to stand, but at least his brothers followed suit.

"I appreciate your patience, gentlemen, and may I start off by  expressing my condolences over Joe's death. He was one hell of a man,  and I was proud to call him my friend."

Once again, Jack took the lead. "Thank you, Mr. Beaumont. I know he thought highly of you as well."

One by one, they shook the attorney's hand before resuming their seats.  After passing around the coffee, Mr. Beaumont handed each of them a file  folder. Jack noted his was specifically labeled with his name.  Interesting.

"Inside those folders you'll find a copy of your father's trust or at  least the portion that applies to the three of you. We'll go over the  high points here in a minute. Regardless, I would recommend that you  study it for yourselves, and Marlene has the complete document for the  trust at the house as well. She has already indicated that you are  welcome to read over it in its entirety. I will be glad to answer any  questions you might have, either now or after you've all had time to  mull things over."

He paused to sip his coffee. "To begin with, you will find a sealed  envelope in those file folders, which contains a letter from Joe. While I  am not privy to the actual contents, he did tell me he had a few things  he wanted to tell each of you individually, stuff he thought you should  know. He was afraid that something might happen that would prevent him  from doing so at the right time. This was his way to ensure he got the  job done."                       


Jack jerked upright in his chair. "Dad knew he was dying and didn't tell us?"

Because if Joe had known and hadn't told them, that would piss off his  sons big-time. But the attorney was already shaking his head. "No, he  didn't. His heart attack took everyone by surprise. I assure you that  I've had these letters in hand for well over two years now. Joe gave  them to me the last time he and Marlene came in to do a routine review  of their trust to make sure everything was up-to-date."

Okay, then. Jack's blood pressure returned to normal. He nodded to encourage the attorney to get on with it.

"He said that the letters were not meant to be read immediately, but  that each of you would eventually figure out when you most needed to  hear what he had to say."

The lawyer smiled briefly. "You all knew Joe better than I did, but I'm  guessing those envelopes contain the kind of advice a man wants to share  with his sons when something major is going on in their lives. My  recommendation would be to put your letters someplace safe, and when you  most wish your old man was there to talk to, read what he wanted to  tell you."

Evidently that was all he had to say on the subject, because he opened  the file in front of him and said, "If you'll take out the excerpt from  the trust, I'd like you to follow along with me."

When they each had the papers laid out in front of them, he continued  talking. "Now, I'll give you a brief summary of what your father wanted  me to discuss with you at this meeting. As you all know, after Joe  retired from the army, he took over his father's construction company.  All told, the company has been in existence for close to sixty years  now. I'm sure you'll all agree that's an amazing accomplishment,  especially considering the ups and downs of the construction business."

Where was the man going with this? He seemed to be waiting for some kind of response.

Jack made brief eye contact with his brothers before speaking. "There  were definitely some tough times along the way, but Dad always managed  to keep the company in the black and food on the table. He took great  pride in that."

The attorney smiled. "He did, indeed. While I won't go into detail, be  assured that Marlene's future is secure thanks to their hard work and  careful investments. She should never have to worry about running out of  money in her lifetime."

That was good to know. But even if Joe had left her penniless, her three  sons would have stepped up to make sure she was provided for.

"So, now we come to the real reason for this meeting. As you will see in  the trust, it was Joe's fervent hope that his family business would  continue on into the next generation. In short, he has left each of you  an equal share in the company. The transfer of ownership will begin  immediately. Again, Marlene was deeply involved in this decision, and it  meets with her approval. While she is willing to assist in the  transition, she has no desire to maintain an active role in the business  once you three have had a chance to get situated."

After that little bombshell, whatever else the man had to say was little  better than gibberish to Jack. He suspected it was the same for Tino  and Mikhail. Why the hell wouldn't Joe have asked them if any of them  wanted the business before tying them up with all this legal mumbo  jumbo? As far as Jack knew, both of the others planned to make a career  of the military. Tino was part of the army's military police, and  Mikhail was a recon marine.

Until recently Jack had himself been in the Special Forces. He'd left  the service three months ago because of an injury to his right knee that  would make a return to combat unlikely. Since then, he'd been working  for a friend whose company provided security forces and bodyguards for  companies with business interests in unstable parts of the world. These  days, that was pretty much anywhere. The work was lucrative, but that  wasn't why Jack had taken the job. He needed the discipline that it  provided because … He cut off that line of thought when he suddenly  realized the meeting was breaking up.