Kennick:A Volanis Brothers Novel

By: Meg Jackson

Damon bristled again, and caught Cristov’s eye. A smile spread across Cristov’s face as he moved behind Jenner, out of his line of vision, and crouched down.

“Keep talking, Jenner,” Kennick hissed, seeing his brothers’ movements and approving. “You keep on talking about dead men, I dare you.”

Jenner took another half-step forward, and Cristov shuffled in close.

“Your fuckin’ father may have been halfway decent leading our clans,” Jenner hissed, “but we need a new chain of command. Surry’s been in this kumpania just as long as Volanis. About time you saw your reign’s running out. You’ll see. First time these townies get the taste of gypsy in their mouths, it’ll be a damn war zone. And you’ll be the one to blame. You and your woman-murdering daddy.”

That was all Damon needed. Pushing past Kennick, he advanced, and Jenner instinctively shrank from the massive form closing in on him. The back of his knees met Cristov’s body as he knelt behind Jenner, and when Damon pushed hard on Jenner’s shoulders, he lost his balance, toppling over Cristov and slamming into the ground with a grunt. Cristov scrambled to his feet, cleaning the dirt from his hands by slapping them together. Jenner sneered, red on his cheeks, before getting up, haggard from having the wind knocked out of him.

“You…” he said, wagging a stiff finger at the three brothers, shaking with pure fury. “You’re gonna fuck it up. I don’t have to do shit. Just sit back and wait.”

“Do that on your own time, fuckwad,” Cristov said.

“And leave me alone,” Mina chimed in, a wicked smile on her cherubic face. Jenner straightened his shoulders, throwing them back as he turned and stalked away, hiding the pain in his lower back – though not very well.

“Dick,” Damon muttered.

Kennick merely shook his head.

“This is bad news, boys,” he said. “Division like this…it’s not good for our kumpania. We don’t need to lose sight that we’re all one. Maybe I should have…”

“Don’t,” Damon interrupted. “If it was a Surry whose name needed to be cleared, you would have brought us here, anyway. Jenner doesn’t understand that. But you know his familia would be embarrassed to hear what he’d just said to us. He’s the only bad blood.”

“For how long,” Kennick wondered aloud. “How long ‘til he gets his fingers into them…”

“They’ll stick by you the way they stuck by our father. You know, no one really wanted to come here. You didn’t even want to come here. But everyone agreed to – for Pieter. For you. For us. Jenner…he’s not a team player. He’d lead this kumpania right into hell if it was in his own best interest.”

“Still,” Kennick said, looking at the last trailer in the park, set right next to the woods. “We need his cousins for the plants.”

“We don’t,” Cristov scoffed. “I got that covered, Nick.”

Cristov was the only one who ever called Kennick by his childhood name, Nick.

“And Sam and Nal aren’t exactly Jenner’s biggest fans,” Mina pointed out. Sam and Nal Surry were Cristov’s right-hand men when it came to tending their stock of medicinal products. Cristov grew it, and Mina prepared it into teas and edibles. It was high-quality, medicinal grade product, and it beat shit out of the synthetics that were flooding the market. Synthetics were dangerous, the exact opposite of medicine. There was no question; most of the buyers weren’t exactly looking to cure their rheumatoid arthritis, but at least they wouldn’t get addicted and go insane because of the chemicals and impurities of low-grade synths.

“You worry too much,” Cristov said. “Aren’t we supposed to be getting ready to go?”

Kennick grunted and nodded, but his mind was still stuck on Jenner's accusations. It was true, there had been some reluctance when Kennick pressed the issue of coming to Kingdom. The town, small and rural, had left a bad taste in many a mouth. But it had been agreed, in the end, that it would be right and just to fulfill Pieter's final wish.

He remembered the growing unease he'd felt as the caravan of trailers approached the town. With a population just under 10,000, the whole town of Kingdom seemed like it was on the outskirts. Small farms dotted the Delaware landscape before yielding to a more suburban area of one-story shotguns and split levels. The town's schools, one elementary school and one high school, sat kitty-corner to each other just off the main road.

Two miles down, the suburban part of town broke open onto a small Main Street that was more shuttered than not. Kennick had done his research in advance, already making offers on a number of properties to lease in the town center as well as further out towards the highway. But reading about Kingdom's bleak financial state paled in comparison to seeing it: it looked like a ghost town in the making. Of the few shops that still looked to be open, most were actually bars or pubs.

All the same, it was still a rather beautiful town. The large swaths of forest that surrounded the town, edging into every backyard, were lush and green in the early summer heat. Two streams sandwiched the town between them, now running fast and high with the spring's abundant rainfall.

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