The July Guy

By: Natasha Moore

Chapter One

“I can’t believe you’re doing this!”

Word traveled fast in a small town. The space behind the counter of Colburn and Sons Salvage normally felt roomy to Noah Colburn, but not at this moment. And being a foot taller and eighty pounds heavier didn’t seem to matter at all when his mother, Donna Colburn, got up in his face. “What were you thinking?”

“I was thinking someone needed to step up and do something.”

“But mayor?”

Noah crossed his arms. “Some mothers would be proud for their son to be elected mayor.”

“I would if you wanted to get involved in politics. But I know my oldest son. You don’t want to run for mayor.”

“Someone has to go up against Ethan Bradford and his entitled cronies. You taught me it’s our responsibility to step in wherever we’re needed.” Mom and Pop had always made it clear he was expected to step in.

“But we need you here.” His parents had started the salvage business before he was born. It was pretty much their life. It had kept a roof over their heads and put his brothers through college. Noah had gradually taken over more and more of the responsibilities of running the family business. Now that Pop couldn’t, it was up to him. The oldest child got stuck with everything.

Not that he was stuck. Of course not. He was happy to do it. Really.

“You don’t have time to be mayor,” his mom went on.

“Isn’t your favorite saying that if you want something done, you should ask a busy person?”

His mom narrowed her eyes. “Someone asked you to run. Who was it?”

Oh no, he wasn’t going there. “It doesn’t matter. Henry Brown had his heart attack. Ethan threw his hat into the ring almost before the word was out that Henry was stepping down. We can’t let him take over the office without a fight.”

“You’ve always been the calm and steady one of my boys. Carter and Beckett were the scrappers. I’ve never known you to fight.”

“Noah! Did you see Facebook this morning?” His cousin, Ginny, burst out of the back, her phone in hand. “Your candidacy declaration is up to three hundred likes!”

“You posted it to Facebook?”

“To the village page, yeah. How else will anyone know you’re taking on Ethan Bradford?”

“You mean I don’t have to have posters printed and go door-to-door?” he asked wryly. “I only have to type a few lines on Facebook?”

“You have to do it all. Do you need a campaign manager? I can manage your campaign. I’d be good at it.”

He hadn’t even thought about it yet. Ginny handled the website and advertising for the business. She’d probably do a great job. “Sure. Go ahead.”

His mother rolled her eyes.

“I’m taking a small crew out to the old Packard property, Mom. I won’t let this mayoral thing affect the business. But maybe you’d want to see if those scrappers of yours could help out a little more with the business end and not only with the fun stuff.”

The fun stuff. Noah didn’t get out to the job sites as often as he would like to anymore. It would feel good to swing a hammer or heave on a crowbar today. He’d never planned on spending so much time in the office. But Pop’s stroke meant Noah had even more weight on his shoulders. Colburn and Sons Salvage had to keep roofs over more heads, pay for more college educations, including his two daughters’. It was up to him to make sure the business continued to thrive.

If the other mayoral candidate had his way, village policies would soon be favoring the property owners wealthy enough to afford the expensive lakefront homes, most of whom were only summer residents. And Ethan Bradford was already promising to tighten the regulations for many of the small businesses, like service stations and salvage yards, that didn’t fit in with the elite, classy vibe he thought their village should project.

Noah strode through the workshop, where a couple of their guys were cutting some boards they’d rescued from an old Victorian home in Buffalo. The gorgeous oak would soon be part of a coffee table he’d designed. They’d display it in the showroom, and he was sure it would sell quickly. Wiry hair stuck out in bunches beneath Jimmy’s protective eye and hearing gear. Sawdust clung to the sweat on Pete’s bald head.

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