Cord fussed and Carson set him down. "What ranch business?"
"Something I wanna run by you before I tell Casper and Charlie. The Ingalls place I'm buyin' has a house. Since you and Cal work so well together, I'm leaving you both here and I'll be sendin' Casper down there. Charlie too. Eventually."
Carson had a brief flash of anger. That house was way nicer than the trailer he and Carolyn lived in. Now with a baby on the way and a busy two-year-old it'd be an even tighter fit for four. Why hadn't his father considered giving him the house?
Because he's punishing you for moving out after your mother died.
He knew better than to complain, so he deflected. "When we have this discussion, I don't want you to let on that I'd heard about these change in plans before they heard it from you."
He watched Cord picking up rocks. "Because they already accuse me of getting special treatment from you."
"They meaning Casper."
"Last I checked I'm still makin' the decisions for the ranch. It ain't favoritism if I decide it's what's best."
"So will I be headin' down there to work those new sections? Will they still be comin' up here?"
"We'll do what needs done."
That was his dad's answer to everything. We'll do what needs done.
Meanwhile Casper would skate by with the minimum amount of work and get paid the same amount as Carson did. And now he'd be adding travel to his day.
Doin' what needs done, my ass.
He'd make sure the new sections of land were ready for cattle, but he would not help Casper get his house ready for his bride.
Just then Casper and Charlie pulled up with Cal following behind them in his truck.
"Now's as good a time as any to talk to them."
"You plan to pull Casper aside afterward?"
"Nope. He done what he done. Ain't no reason to hide it."
Fuck. This day just got better and better.
As soon as Casper, Charlie and Cal were out of their vehicles, their dad said, "Meetin' in the dining room."
Carson felt his brothers' curious gazes but he focused on Cord. "Come on, son, and leave the rocks. We're goin' inside."
I know how you feel, kid.
He held his hand out and Cord took it.
Once they were seated at the table, their father zeroed in on Casper. "What kind of fool are you? Man named Patrick Tellman paid me a visit today, informing me that you knocked up his daughter, Joan."
Casper's face turned bright red and for a second Carson worried his brother was about to have a stroke. "She's pregnant?"
"So it seems. She swears you're the only man she's ever been with."
"She says she was a virgin, but I don't see how that could be. She's one of those women who'll do anything in bed. And I mean anything. She had to learn that kinky shit someplace."
"How long have you been dating her?"
"I never dated her," Casper shot back.
"Fine. How long have you have been proddin' her?"
"I met her five months ago. But I ain't been with her for over a month and a half."
"You just f**ked her when you felt like it and walked away?"
Casper glared. "I wouldn't be the first man to take what was offered."
"You'll be the last man when it comes to her."
"What are you talkin' about?"
"You're doin' the right thing for once in your life and marryin' her." He looked at Cal. "Seems you're the only one who hasn't impregnated a woman, so let that be a lesson to you to keep your goddamned pants zipped."
Carson shot Charlie a questioning look and Charlie seemed equally confused.
But Casper interrupted before Charlie could speak. "You can't make me marry her."
"Yes, I can. You will take her as your wife or you're out."
"Out. Out of what? Out of favor?" He aimed his glower at Carson. "Too f**kin' late for that."
"I'll kick you out of the house. You're off the ranch and on your own. Since I own your truck, pay your wages and you've been livin' in my house your whole life, you got a lot to lose by thinkin' you can get around this. I'm done putting up with your laziness and lies. It's time you own up to your responsibilities, Casper."
"So I'm bein' punished."
Yeah, some punishment. By being a f**k up you're giving him a house and land of his own? Maybe I oughta f**k up.
"Since you'll soon have a wife and a child, you're movin' down to the Ingalls place. Charlie will eventually live down that way too, but for now he'll be makin' the drive every day from here."
Charlie stood. "This is bullshit. What'd I do? Nothin'. Now you're sendin' me thirty miles away?"
"Like I told Casper. Your options are to do what you're expected to or you're out."
"Yeah, yeah, I get you've got the biggest set of balls in the McKay family. But I also know why Casper is such a big prick. He gets it from you." Charlie left.
Carson's eyes met Cal's. Charlie had been in a funk since his jailbait girlfriend had suddenly moved away a few months ago. With the way Charlie talked, they half-expected to show up one morning and find him gone. Their youngest brother was the smartest of the lot. He owned his truck so he did have the means to leave if he so chose.