Monday, April 15, 2013
(brain went blank today, so it’s late and it’s short. Them’s the breaks.)
Lee Northridge had only one good thing to say about Montana: he didn’t have to change clothes. His boots, jeans, hat and sheepskin coat helped him blend right in with the locals. Only trouble was, the woman he sought dressed the same and would blend in as well.
No matter. He’d find her if he had to hit every damn bar in the state. He only had to listen for that voice.
Six counties and uncountable honky-tonks later, Lee rolled into Talbot’s Peak. Normally he would have bypassed the biker bar, but something about this one made him pull his pickup into the lot. He could picture her here, belly to the bar, or bent over a pool table with her butt in the air and that innocent, Mister, I ain’t never played this game before look on her face. You had to really listen to a woman like her. You only got the one warning before she struck.
His instincts paid off. There she was, just as he’d pictured her, hustling pool with a couple of wolf shifters. She has those old boys all turned around, batting her mile-long lashes at them while beating the pants off their asses.
He waited until she had a tricky shot lined up, then with expert timing said, “Howdy, Rosa.”
Poor girl damn near ripped the felt. Her pool cue sent balls scattering.
Instantly the wolves closed ranks to protect their new best friend. She waved them off with a careless flick of her hand. There was nothing careless about the look in her eyes. That was venom, pure and undistilled.
Lee tipped his hat. “Rosa.”
“Lee Northridge. As I live and breathe.” She nodded to the wolves. “It’s good, boys, I got this.”
The two wolves continued to glare at him. “Yell if you need a hand.”
She shrugged. She wouldn’t. He’d let her believe that. For the moment it suited him.
In the meantime, he caught his breath. Hot dayum.
Rosa Terranova hadn’t changed a hair in the year in a half she’d been gone. Still all curves and glossy hair and hips a man wanted to take hold of and a body that begged to be dragged against a man, or pressed again a wall, or bent over a barstool. She could handle ‘em all. Sidewinders were limber as all get out, and they liked a rough, hard ride. Too bad the second you turned your back, they sank their fangs into your neck.
Rosa bared those white, shiny teeth at him now. “I’ll save you the trouble, sugah. I don’t have it. It’s gone.”
“I don’t believe you.”
“It’s the truth, for once. If you came all the way to Montana for your brother’s money, you just wasted a road trip.”
She started to undulate away. Lee grabbed her arm. She turned on him in a flash, her red lips pulled back to let a hiss escape. The bracelets adorning her arms rattled a warning.
“What if I told you,” he hissed back at her, “that I wasn’t after the money?”
“Then you still wasted your time.” Rosa shook him off with ease. She’d always been stronger than she looked. “Hit the road, sugah. You ain’t wanted here.”
Rosa glided away without a backward glance. Lee started after her, but the wolves got in the way. He backed off. He knew where she was now. He could bide his time. But he wouldn’t bide long.
Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes?
Why did it have to be her?