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The charges were in place. Everything looked good, and Knox was ready to clear the building and head across the street to his little box of fuses and watch it go.
The house had some serious-ass character, and it was a damned shame, but it had been allowed to deteriorate to the point where the city had foreclosed, and wanted it torn down to make way for a sleek new grouping of condos. They would fit into the neighborhood on the outside, looking semi-arts-and-crafts, but on the inside, damn. They were gonna have the shit.
"You got everyone out, Freddy?"
His crew boss grunted. "Had to kick Lopez out. He fiddled and fiddled. But yeah."
"Excellent. Let's get going then. We're on a schedule." Grabbing his hat, Knox headed for the door, checking the worst danger areas automatically one last time.
What the fuck?
There couldn't be.
There was a crazy bastard lounging--lounging--on the porch, fiddling with some of his charges.
"What the fucking Hell are you doing, asshole?" He advanced, putting his boot heels down hard. Knox knew he was a big, intimidating guy and right now he was gonna use that to his best advantage.
"This is my house and I don't want it blown up." The lounger never tensed, the long, lean body stretched out. Dark eyes looked up over a ski-slope nose. "I just returned to town. This is a most unpleasant surprise."
"You shoulda taken that up with the city. They waited six months. Freddy? Call the cops."
"I'll take it up with them, tomorrow. This building's been in my family's care forever. It can wait one more day."
"No, it can't. I'm on a schedule. I have to be in Atlantatomorrow." His teeth made a funny noise as he ground them. Freddy slipped away to make the call, and he moved in to slap those long fingers away from the wires. "That thing can go off, you know."
"So go to Atlanta. Or wait. Last time I checked the newspaper, it stopped burning decades ago." The long fingers slapped back.
Knox narrowed his eyes. "You're some piece of work. Brass cojones, I'll give you that. But ain't no way you own this place."
"I assure you, my familial name is on the deed."
"Then why is it rotting back into the ground? You like the organic look?" Hand on hips, Knox braced his legs, glaring down at the way too damned casual looking guy. Shouldn't he be even a little intimidated? Just a tiny bit? Knox wondered if he was losing his touch.
"I told you, I've been away. I haven't been in town in much too long. I only just arrived today." He got a long look, eyes traveling up his body slow as molasses.
Something went ping, but Knox ignored it. "Well this place has been rotting for maybe fifteen years. So if you gave a damn about it, the time is long past."
"And the history here? The words? The stories? They mean nothing?" He got a dismissive sniff.
"Who's here to hear them?" Why the fuck was he arguing? Just about the time he decided to assault the guy, though, the cops showed, having been nearby anyway.
Dark eyes just rolled. "Of course, default to the police. Coward."
"Coward! Man, I got a job to do. What the fuck did you think..."
"What seems to be the problem, Mr. Knoxville?"
"Knoxville? Named for a town, hmm?" One eyebrow rose. "There seems to be a misunderstanding, officer. This man is bent upon destroying my house."
The poor cop looked confused as hell. Knox couldn't blame him. "He says he owns the place, Dewey. But he hasn't shown me any papers, and hasn't talked to the city. He's just fiddled with my charges."
"Go look at the deed. Saur. S. A. U. R. This is my family home."
"Uh. Well, sir, if you have a claim." Dewey gave him an apologetic, and nervous, glance. "We have to hold off, sir. Until we can see if it's true."
"Jesus fucking Christ."
"I assure you he wasn't involved. Just history." Saur's eyes just danced.
Knox's eyes were probably dancing too, but from the steam building up. "You fucker. If you louse up my fucking blow..."
"Are you threatening me, Mr. Knoxville? Here, in front of these nice police officers?"
Baring his teeth, he backed off, hands clenching and unclenching. "No. Of course not. Dewey, take this man to whoever needs to look at his paperwork. Now. I want an answer in no less than an hour. Go or not."
"Thank you, sir." Those eyes pinned him. "I can trust you not to blow my house up while I'm gone, can't I?"
The "pup" was almost whispered, almost lost.
Knox glowered. "I won't do it until I get the word." His "asshole" was not whispered at all.