Serial Story: Rattlesnake Falls, Book 1, Ch. 12

This serial story is posted one chapter per week on Fridays, in unedited (draft) form. It may contain adult situations that might not be suitable for children. Thanks for reading, and enjoy! 

No, I still haven’t decided on the title. One should come to me eventually. Just gotta keep writing….

Rattlesnake Falls Book 1

Chapter 12

“Shelley. Hey. Time to wake up.”

Something nudged her thigh, and reluctantly she allowed herself to be pulled back to the present, but it still felt like a dream. Blinking her eyes until they would open all the way, she sat up and yawned. The road had turned to gravel, though the truck moved over it much more smoothly than her car had the day before.

“How long did I sleep?” She stowed the pillow back behind the seat and smoothed her hair as well as she could with her hands.

Dillon shrugged. “Long enough for us to be getting close to the spot where your tire blew. I can reach your car, if there are still things you need. It’s not going anywhere until a tow-truck can get out here. Andy, the guy who owns the garage in Rattlesnake Falls said he’d be out sometime later today or tomorrow.”

Shelley shook her head, not wanting to slow down for anything. “I’ve got my bag — thanks to you. Anything else can wait.”

Dillon nodded, and then pointed to her right. “There’s your car. Slid broadside right into those trees — you’re lucky the passenger side hit instead of the driver’s side.”

Shelley stared at the mangled mess as they drove by. It seemed so surreal, like it wasn’t even her car, but something tragic that had happened to someone else.

And now she was sitting here with someone who was still practically a stranger, going up into the mountains to rescue her cousin who was lost in the woods with another guy who was practically a stranger, on the stranger’s home turf.

If she’d been watching a horror movie with this plot, she’d have already left to avoid watching the whole killing-and-never-finding-their bodies scenario.

Considering she was living it, she had no choice but to keep moving forward. With any luck, it wouldn’t turn out to be a bloodbath.

The trees were getting denser and the road was climbing in front of them. Shelley felt like they were driving right into the mountain.

“So how does one go about buying a mountain resort?” she asked, leaning as far forward as she could to peer out the windshield at the thickening canopy above.

Dillon shrugged. “Knowing the right people helps.” The corner of his mouth turned up in a slight smirk. “And you may not have been completely wrong in your assessment the other night. I dabbled in a little IT work right out of college. In the bigger cities, it pays better than anything we could find around here. Spent a few years socking money away, came home, bought the camp.”

She nodded. “So you always knew that’s what you wanted to do though. Run the camp, I mean.”

“Yep. I never wanted to be stuck working in an office building somewhere looking at other office buildings. I always wanted to be outside, be close to nature and away from lots of other people. So I did as much time as I had to, and escaped.”

“I take it you knew the people who owned it before?”

He nodded. “Josie and Daniel Humbart. The camp started out as their homestead, and I spent a few weeks every summer up here with them when I was a kid. They always said that’s what gave them the idea to turn the place into a camp. So they could take more derelicts like me off their parent’s hands for a week or two every summer.” He turned to grin at her, and she could see the mischievous boy he’d been in those eyes and that knowing smile.

“Well that seems like an incredibly nice thing to do. I’m sure they were happy to pass it along to someone who would take care of it and keep it going.”

He nodded, eyes back on the road. “They lived up there with me for the first two years, showing me the ropes and making sure I could do okay with it. It was a sad day when those two took off. But we all knew it was coming.”

Shelley frowned. “They just packed up and left? Where did they go?”

“No one knows. They didn’t take anything with ‘em, not even a vehicle. Just stole away in the middle of the night and no one ever saw ‘em again.”

“Wow.” Shelley shook her head, watching as the road finally flatted out, and a huge green meadow full of green grass and white, purple and yellow wildflowers spread out in front of them, more mountains framing three sides. It was like driving through a gate into heaven, she thought, momentarily speechless.

“It is pretty spectacular, isn’t it?” Dillon pointed at something to their left and off in the distance. “That’s the main building right out there. There are small cabins up where the mountain swells, a kitchen and dining hall, a chapel, and an activities shed where we keep equipment.”

They were almost to the turnoff, and Shelley saw emergency vehicles parked haphazardly between buildings. As Dillon turned in, a uniformed officer stepped out of a car sitting just off the road.

Dillon pulled his wallet out of his pocket and set it on the seat before he brought the truck to a stop.

“Here we go,” he said, rolling down the window.

Thanks for reading! Check back next week for Chapter 13!

Like this post? Support your author (Amazon links):

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Serial Story: Rattlesnake Falls, Book 1, Ch. 11

This serial story is posted one chapter per week on Fridays, in unedited (draft) form. It may contain adult situations that might not be suitable for children. Thanks for reading, and enjoy! 

No, I still haven’t decided on the title. One should come to me eventually. Just gotta keep writing….

Rattlesnake Falls Book 1

Chapter 11

“How long will it take to get there?” Shelley looked anxiously out the window as she and Dillon cruised down the highway at a cool ninety miles per hour. They’d just left the city limits, and while technically the speed limit was sixty on this stretch, she appreciated Dillon’s willingness to leave that in the dust, so to speak.

She just hoped they wouldn’t find Tabitha too late.

“A couple hours, give or take. You should try to rest, if you can. There’s a pillow just behind the seat.”

Shelley shook her head. “I appreciate that, but I couldn’t possibly sleep thinking about Tabby. How long has she been out there now? It seems like forever.”

“It was yesterday morning when she took off — you were at the hospital all night. Mike found the trail this morning, so she was on her own for at least twenty-four hours. Hopefully Mike has found her by now. I’m sure someone will call if there’s any news.”

She nodded. “I know. I’m sorry. And I can’t believe I was out for so long. Or that I didn’t check my tires before I left home to come up here in the first place. If I had, we’d have been there already, and not lost nearly a whole day’s worth of light to look for her.” A stabbing pain shot through her side when she reached up to rub an eye. She didn’t make a sound, but couldn’t quite keep the sharp intake of air to herself.

“Does it hurt pretty bad?” Dillon glanced at her sideways, and she tried to play it cool.

“Not too bad, all things considered,” which was code, of course, for the fact that she wasn’t entirely sure she could raise her hand over her head again without passing out. “The doctor said it was just bruises.”

“Yeah, but they still hurt like crazy.” Dillon gave her a pointed look. “Do you always act this tough?”

Shelley narrowed her eyes at him. “I don’t act tough. Pain is mostly in our heads anyway — my dad said that once upon a time, so to speak. Guess I take him at his word for that.”

“There’s a certain logic to that,” he said, shooting her a lazy half-grin. “Is dear old dad still alive?”

“’Fraid not,” she said. “My dad died a few years back of a heart attack. The nurses say my mom died of a broken heart a few months later, but I’m not sure if I believe that or not. She did die, but they never could find a cause for her death.” Shelley breathed.

Dillon glanced at her with something other than the expected grief and pity.

“I’m sorry to hear that. It sounds like you loved them a lot.”

“Thank you.” Shelley looked out the window trying to figure out how to change the subject gracefully. The emotional stuff wasn’t her strong suit, and it was easier to avoid it when she could.

“I think I will rest for a little while, if you don’t mind.” She reached behind the seat, trying not to wince and found the pillow he’d said was there earlier. Turning away from him, she propped it against the door for her head and got as comfortable as she could.

Just a few minutes, she thought, and closed her eyes.

Thanks for reading! Check back next week for Chapter 12!

Like this post? Support your author (Amazon links):

Tempest | The Biker’s Wench (Fantasy Ranch Book 1) | MacKenzie Saves the World: A Comic Shop Romance

Poem-A-Day Challenge: Week 2 Poems

Our National Poetry Month challenge continues…don’t forget to check out Carol’s poems too!

This week, I tried to be more descriptive. Description is my personal writing “unicorn”, if you will. I’m not good at it for several reasons I’ll discuss once I figure out how to do so, but in the meantime, I’m working on it. These are definitely more descriptive, but some of them are still pretty rough around the edges. Not too bad though, methinks…

Saturday, 4/8: Spring Fever (also featured on the BSB blog – a prompt story)

Thick strappy leaves wave merrily
propelled by warm fuzzy bodies
under bright spring sunshine.

Happy tails move this way and that
sending the occasional loose petal
flying free of its cup-like structure.

Red and yellow dominate the field.
A pleasant breeze ruffles ear-fur and
delights busy noses that sniff and seek.

Is there anything happier than soft
wigglebutts and bright fresh blossoms
on a warm spring day?

Sunday, 4/9: Bookkeeping (because…taxes)

What have I done?
Slacked off here, left off there,
shirked responsibility.

Need to fix this,
but there’s so much to do.
Just want to chuck it all.

Promises, every year,
to do better than the last.
Never happens.

Maybe next year.

Monday, 4/10: Morning Noise

It’s so loud —
the six am meeting of the
finely feathered & famished.

Like old friends,
they greet each other with
soulful salutations & song.

The sun rises
and the joyous treetop choir
summons the sleeping to stir.

But…it’s so loud!

Tuesday, 4/11: Lost It

It’s gone.
I don’t know where or how or when,
but it was here, and now it’s not.
I can’t believe I lost it.

I seek.
At home, at work, the car, the bed,
it simply vanished, so it seems.
I don’t know what to do.

I pine.
It was so lovely, useful, perfect.
Not sure what I’ll do without it.
But I must move on.

I buy.
It will be shiny, new, and updated.
This one as perfect as the last.
Maybe even better.

Wednesday 4/12: The Dentist (because…fillings)

It starts with a “pinch”
to numb out the pain.
A brief, quiet wait
until no feeling remains.

The man in white comes
blue mask and gloves donned.
I try to relax,
put my best game-face on.

The drill starts to whine,
burnt enamel fills my nose,
my fingers clench tight,
water & suction whoosh through a hose.

Above me four eyes,
quarters are tight,
gloved fingers, small tools
and that big too-bright light.

My tongue tries to hide
from the chemical tastes,
and the bite of a tool
weilded in haste.

All eventually ends
and my head spins to adjust
when they tip the chair upright
and wipe off the dust.

A necessary evil
this nightmare routine
but it happens less often
with good dental hygiene!

Thursday, 4/13: Daydreams

A wisp of wind swirls through newly born leaves,
green grass swishes softly in a warm summer breeze.

Air fresh and sweet caresses her skin,
she closes her eyes as the daydreams begin.

The hammock sways gently ‘tween two big birch trees,
the afternoon’s quiet save the low hum of bees.

Restless, she shifts, dreams of her paramour.
Does he dream of her too, the one she longs for?

Her heartbeat is loud, her adrenaline flows,
the mere thought of his touch makes her tingle and glow.

It’s all in her head, a fairy-tale ode,
another time, another life, another untaken road.

She opens her eyes, watches shadows diffuse,
waits for the stars to wish for her muse.

Friday, 4/14: A Bad Day

The alarm was off and so was I,
that long and fateful day.
It’s been awhile, so I can scoff,
but things were really gray.

Late to wake and late to work,
nary a sunshiny ray.
A server was down, tempers were up,
and many a nerve set to fray.

Car broke down and dog got sick,
the money drained away.
Dinner was burnt, rain came down,
and left no chance to play.

TV was awful and so was the news,
all touting political sway.
Too fried to write, to tired to read,
but sleep was respite from the grey.

Thanks for reading…feel free to share your own poems below. And stop back next Saturday for another week’s worth of poetry!

Serial Story: Rattlesnake Falls, Book 1, Ch. 10

This serial story is posted one chapter per week on Fridays, in unedited (draft) form. It may contain adult situations that might not be suitable for children. Thanks for reading, and enjoy! 

No, I still haven’t decided on the title. One should come to me eventually. Just gotta keep writing….

Rattlesnake Falls Book 1

Chapter 10

“What did the sheriff’s office say?”

Dillon’s hushed voice was the first thing Shelley heard when she came to, and she instinctively turned her head toward him. He was pacing in front of a large window, cell phone to his ear and worry lines creasing his face.

Her throat was dry. She swallowed hard, and then reached for a cup on the bedside table, but only managed to knock it off. Dillon turned, and he smiled, though the worry lines didn’t quite go away.

“Hey  — Shelley’s up. I gotta run. I should be back in a few hours though. Have everyone stick close to camp until I get there, okay?”

“What’s wrong?” Shelley managed. Dillon got her cup from the floor, washed it in the sink and filled it with water from a nearby pitcher.

“Let’s start with the good news instead.” He grinned. “The docs say you’re perfectly fine, just took a hard hit to the noggin and a few other parts of your body. They want you to rest for awhile, but the good thing is, you can do that at home. They’ll discharge you in an hour or two, or so they say. I can set up a ride to take you home when you’re done, if you want.”

Shelley took a long pull on her water, and set the cup down. “What’s the bad news? Who were you just talking to?”

“That was Jerry — our foreman at the ranch. He oversees day to day operations when Mike and I aren’t there.”

Her heart nearly stopped right then and there. “Why isn’t Mike there? Did he find Tabby? Are they on their way home? Why isn’t that good news? What aren’t you telling me?”

Dillon sighed deep and crossed his arms over his chest. Leaning one hip against the side of her bed.

“I’m sorry, but they haven’t found her yet. Mike found her trail and went after her, but neither of them have come back.”

He reached out to lay a hand on her arm, but she pulled away.

“We have to go — we have to get out there and find them. They could be hurt or stuck somewhere! How fast can you get us to your camp?” She reached over and was about to pull the IV out when there was a knock on the door.

Not waiting for an answer, a tall, young guy in a white coat and full beard approached her bed. She thought he was smiling, but it was hard to tell with all that hair around his lips.

“Hi Shelley — I’m Doctor Grant. And you are one lucky lady to have survived that crash without any real injuries as a result. You’re going to be sore for a few days, but there’s nothing major to worry about.”

Shelley nodded, impatient. “So can I go then, Doc? How long does it take to get out of here, because we have a long drive ahead.”

The doctor looked at her strangely. “I didn’t know you were from out of town. Where do you live?”

It was Shelley’s turn to look confused. “What? No, I live here. If ‘here’ is Billings, anyway. So I can go, right?”

“Yes, but you need to wait for the nurse to get the paperwork done. She’ll be by to remove that IV line too — don’t pull that out yourself. But I’m releasing you to go home and rest, not to travel. Wherever you think you need to go really needs to wait.”

“They train you to put IVs in, right Doc?” She held the arm with the IV line out to him.

“Yes, but…”

“So either you take this out, or I will. I appreciate you guys checking me over, but since I’m okay, we need to get going.” She grinned, hoping it would take him off balance. “Come on. You know you want to. Cut through the red tape for once. We won’t tell.”

Dillon chuckled from a few feet away. “You may as well give in, Doc. I don’t know her that well, but she seems pretty stubborn. Do you really want to risk her pulling it out herself?”

Shaking his head, Doctor Grant put his clipboard down and grabbed a pair of gloves.

“So what’s so important, if you don’t mind my asking?” He got a piece of gauze and some bandage tape from a cupboard and pulled out the IV, putting gauze and pressure on the hole and tying it off with tape.

“My friend got herself lost on a mountain at his — “ Shelley gestured to Dillon “- camp.

“And my friend went to find her, and didn’t come back. Now we need to go find both of them.”

Doctor Grant lifted his eyebrows. “Wow. That sounds pretty serious. Are you sure you shouldn’t just call in the authorities?”

Dillon nodded. “Yep — just had my foreman do that. But the more people looking for them, the better. It’s pretty wild country — just hills and meadows and forest all over. Beautiful, but it can be dangerous at times.”

“Well then, you’d better get going. But do me a favor and drop Shelley off at home on your way out of town. She — “ he looked straight at Shelley — “ need to rest. You’re in no shape to be climbing around in forests or on mountains, much less trying to help bring other people out.”

Shelley sat up and swung her legs over the edge of the bed.

“Doc, I only have one question for you before you can leave and not worry about us one minute more.”

He nodded. “What’s that?”

“Where are my clothes?”

Thanks for reading! Check back next week for Chapter 11!

Like this post? Support your author (Amazon links):

Tempest | The Biker’s Wench (Fantasy Ranch Book 1) | MacKenzie Saves the World: A Comic Shop Romance

Serial Story: Rattlesnake Falls, Book 1, Ch. 9

This serial story is posted one chapter per week on Fridays, in unedited (draft) form. It may contain adult situations that might not be suitable for children. Thanks for reading, and enjoy! 

No, I still haven’t decided on the title. One should come to me eventually. Just gotta keep writing….

Rattlesnake Falls Book 1

Chapter 9

“Shelley? Can you hear me? Shelley — wake up!”

She groaned and tried to open her eyes, but couldn’t.

“Don’t wanna. Want to sleep,” she whispered, trying to roll over onto her side but her muscles wouldn’t cooperate.

Why couldn’t she move? And why was it freezing? And why did her entire body hurt like she’d been thrown off a cliff or hit by a truck or something?

With considerable effort, she forced her eyes open and quickly closed them against a bright light. Someone else pulled one eyelid up, and she tried to turn her head away as the blinding light flashed back over her eye. As quickly as that eyelid was released, the other was pulled back with a flash of light.

“Her pupils are responding.” The strange voice was close — too close, and Shelley tried to move away. Her muscles would just not work though. What the hell?

“That’s good, right? A good sign? Is she going to be okay?”

A voice Shelley recognized, finally. Thank God.

“Dillon? What happened? Why can’t I move?” She tentatively opened her eyes again, thankful that the bright light was gone. Dillon was staring down at her, along with another man she didn’t know, and a strange woman. Above them was an ivory ceiling of some sort, and the same ivory color continued down the walls where a bunch of metal cabinets were hung.

“You’re strapped to a backboard, ma’am,” the other man answered. “You were in a car accident, and took a nasty hit to the head. We need to take you to the hospital and have you checked out.”

She shifted her eyes to look at Dillon. “My car?”

He nodded. “You blew a tire. I got your bag, and I’ll see what I can do about the rest once we get you settled into the hospital. These guys are gonna knock you out for awhile — it’ll be a long ride to the hospital. I’ll be right behind you.”

She tried to nod, and then remembered she had to answer. But she remembered something else, too, and her eyes got wide.

“Tabitha! We were going to find her — she’s lost! You have to find her…”

She could feel him touch her arm, the warmth of his skin a welcome contrast to the cold of the backboard.

“Mike’s looking for her, and he’s one of the best trackers there is. He’ll find her, trust me. Might have found her already.”

Again, Shelley tried to nod, and her eyes welled up in frustration.

“Are you sure? I can’t…I can’t just leave her up there alone.” She blinked back tears, knowing he was probably right about Mike. Tabby wasn’t the kind to run too far — she’d hide first.


“Shelley, we need your consent to give you something to help you sleep during the trip. Trust me, you’ll want to sleep.”

She tried to shake her head no, and then tried to raise a hand to wipe the tears from her eyes. Unable to do either, she blinked fast to clear her eyes so she could at least look at the paramedic who was only trying to help.

“I don’t like drugs. Not even legal ones. I get weird side effects. Can I just have a couple ibuprofen? That will be plenty.”

The paramedic shook his head. “Sorry — we can’t give you pills orally while you’re immobilized. But as long as you’re not allergic to morphine, I can start a very light drip to keep you comfortable. It shouldn’t—“

“Cause any pain? Or course not. Give me weird side effects? Probably. But go ahead. Shoot me up. I’m already going nuts — might as well sleep through the rest.”

She looked at Dillon. “You really don’t have to follow me. I’ll be fine, and once they check me out and tell me that, I’ll be back up here in no time.” She felt the prick of the IV needle go in, and saw a bag with clear liquid hung up from the ceiling.

He chuckled. “Well, I’ll follow you anyway — if for nothing else than to give you a ride back to your car. Or what’s left of it, anyway.”

Shelley felt the fluid start flowing into her veins, an itchy feeling that wasn’t pleasant. Closing her eyes, she wondered how long the diagnostics were going to take. She had to get back as soon as she could.

For Tabitha.

Thanks for reading! Check back next week for Chapter 10!

Like this post? Support your author (Amazon links):

Tempest | The Biker’s Wench (Fantasy Ranch Book 1) | MacKenzie Saves the World: A Comic Shop Romance

Serial Story: Rattlesnake Falls, Book 1, Ch. 8

This serial story is posted one chapter per week on Fridays, in unedited (draft) form. It may contain adult situations that might not be suitable for children. Thanks for reading, and enjoy! 

No, I still haven’t decided on the title. One should come to me eventually. Just gotta keep writing….

Rattlesnake Falls Book 1

Chapter 8

“Shelley? Are you awake? We should get moving — I think your friend is about out of patience. She’s already called twice this morning.”

She groaned, annoyed that the excitement of hearing Dillon’s voice through the door was tempored by the fact that apparently Tabby was being even more needy than normal and bugging the poor guy. Not to mention his mom.

“I’m up now,” she called, forcing herself upright. “Give me twenty minutes, and I’ll be ready to go.”

She heard the faint ringing of the landline in the background.

“Fifteen would be better.”

Dillon’s footsteps faded as Shelley slid out of bed and got her bag from the floor. Swinging it up to the cozy spot she’d just vacated, she fished out clean clothes and hurried to put them on. Tabby had better hope the trip was long enough for Shelley to cool off, because that girl was going to get one hell of a lecture when they saw each other again.

Shoving the t-shirt and shorts she’d worn to bed into a corner of the bag, she slipped on her shoes and did a quick check to make sure she hadn’t left anything.

Giving the book she’d spent way too much time finishing last night a quick half-smile, she turned and walked out the door. Dillon was on his way down the hall again, his expression serious.

“I know she can be a horrendous pain. I’m really sorry for the—“ Dillon shook his head and put his hands on her shoulders.

“I just talked to Mike. They had a fight after the last call, and Tabitha ran off. He’s trying to figure out which way she might have gone. Do you know if she’s ever been up here before?”

Shelley shook her head. “Never — she told me before she left. Are there trails that lead out of camp? She’d probably stay on the trails. She wouldn’t want to get lost. But she doesn’t always use her head either…” she pushed past Dillon. “We have to get up there. We have to find her!”

Aware of him behind her, she stalked out through the small kitchen and into the living room where Diane was sitting in an easy chair, her brows drawn together. She got up when Shelley came in and reached out a hand. Decorum was the only thing that made Shelley stop and take it.

“I’m sure they’ll find your friend, dear. Now you two drive safely. You can’t help her if you get hurt yourselves.”

Shelley mustered up a smile, and then leaned forward and kissed the woman on the cheek.

“Thank you. For everything. I hope we’ll see each other again soon.”

Dillon pulled his mom into a hug.
“We’ll be careful, Mom. I’ll let you know when we get to camp.”

Shelley followed him out to the parking lot. “How long will it take to get there?” She opened the passenger door of her car and tossed the bag on the seat, shutting the door again.

Dillon reached for the door of his truck. “An hour and a half or so, depending on how your car takes the gravel. Don’t go any faster than you have to — I’ll slow down if you do, okay?”

She nodded and turned to go around to the driver’s side.


She turned at Dillon’s voice and cocked one eyebrow up.

“We’ll find her. Mike’s probably got her already.”

Shelley managed a wry smile. “Thanks. I’m sure you’re right.” She looked at him for a long, awkward moment and then half-turned, pointing to her door. “I…guess we should get going then.”

“I guess so.” He gave a rough laugh and managed to look both embarrassed and adorable at the same time. Shelley got in the car before he could see the warmth blooming in her own face.

Good grief, woman — get a grip! She followed him through town and out onto a two-lane highway, wondering just exactly where this trip would take her. She was attracted to the man, that was for sure. And it sure seemed like he was attracted to her too. But they were so different — their lives were so different. She knew people made that work every day, but she wasn’t sure how. It seemed like so much…work.

But relationships were always about work, she supposed. Lord knows her friendship with Tabitha wasn’t ever easy. She’d wondered on several occasions why she didn’t just move out and leave Tabby to her own devices. But she never went through with it. Maybe because Tabby was her oldest friend and the only person Shelley could pour her heart out to in the middle of the night and know that in the morning, her secret would be safe, and the best cure for a hangover would be sitting on her nightstand.

Dillon turned right onto a narrow gravel road and Shelley pulled her focus back to driving. The country they were passing through was beautiful, so green and lush with new spring growth. The fresh smell of rain still hung in the air, and she wondered if it had rained again this morning.

And if Tabitha was out in that forest somewhere, lost on the side of a mountain because she couldn’t control that damn temper of hers.

The constant vibration and shifting of the gravel road set her teeth on edge, and she gripped the steering wheel tightly for better control. Maybe Dillon was right. Maybe Mike had already found Tabby, and she was waiting at the camp already…

Shelley didn’t see the pothole, but she felt the front right tire hit it, and heard a loud pop.

Suddenly it felt like the whole right side of her car was sucked into a vortex of some sort, and she panicked, slamming her foot on the brake. As soon as she felt the back of the car slide sideways on the loose gravel, she knew that had been a collossal mistake. She yanked hard on the wheel, but it was too late. The world was spinning and she was at the center, hanging on to the wheel for dear life until the car slammed side-first into something hard with a jolt that smashed her body into the door before everything went dark.

Thanks for reading! Check back next week for Chapter 9!

Like this post? Support your author (Amazon links):

Tempest | The Biker’s Wench (Fantasy Ranch Book 1) | MacKenzie Saves the World: A Comic Shop Romance

Serial Story: Rattlesnake Falls, Book 1, Ch. 7

This serial story is posted one chapter per week on Fridays, in unedited (draft) form. It may contain adult situations that might not be suitable for children. Thanks for reading, and enjoy! 

No, I still haven’t decided on the title. One should come to me eventually. Just gotta keep writing….

Rattlesnake Falls Book 1

Chapter 7

Not Dillon.

Shelley expelled the breath she’d taken in all at once, and she wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry. She pulled the door open with a smile on her face just as Diane was turning away.

“I am awake – and that was so nice of you! You really didn’t have to go to the trouble, though. I could join you in the living room for tea, if you’ll have some too.” Shelley reached for the tray that the older woman held, wondering how she’d managed to carry it so far without dropping it.

Diane shook her head, a slight grin on her face. “Oh no. I have a cup in my room and a book waiting for me as well. So I’ll say goodnight, and sweet dreams.” She patted Shelley on the arm, and then made her way back down the hall with her careful, deliberate gait.

Shelley carried the tray to her bed and went back to shut the door, marveling at how competent her hostess was, even at her age. She wondered just how old Diane was, and made a mental note to ask Dillon the next time they were alone.

It was too cool to stay on top the covers, so she carefully moved the tray over and crawled between the sheets. The tea was a yellow-green color and smelled like mint, and there were two little lemon-yellow cookies sitting on the saucer. She smiled and shook her head. She’d never in her life met a woman who would serve a stranger tea and cookies before bed, much less make sure there was a book available to read. She honestly hadn’t thought people like that actually existed outside of books.

Her smile faded as she realized what kind of a role model Dillon had grown up with. And what he probably expected a woman to be like. Not that they had any kind of relationship of course, but…she was not the cook dinner every night and bake cookies on the weekend kind of girl. She could cook a little, of course, but she was much better with take-out menus. And baking…well, she hadn’t done that since she was a little girl.

Shelley fingered the quilt that Diane had loaned her. Handmade, of course. Her own mother hadn’t been crafty at all, and while Shelley always admired quilts and afghans and sweaters and rugs that people made, she’d never found herself with enough down time to even consider taking up any sort of hobby.

Leaning back against the simple, rustic wood headboard, she sipped her tea and wondered what it would have been like growing up in this environment, with this lifestyle. So different than the childhood she’d had in the city. Would she have been a good cook? Someone who could be fulfilled running the town post office, raising kids and making quilts?

She couldn’t imagine giving up her fast-paced life for such a small-town existence. Though the quiet of this little place was appealing, she had to admit. A little unsettling, perhaps, but definitely appealing.

It was at that very moment that a train rumbled by on the tracks that ran just outside the town. Her cup rattled against the saucer and she separated them, waiting for the bed to stop shimmying before she put them both back on the tray.

So much for peace and quiet.

She picked up the book and read the back, smiling as she realized it was a “sweet” romance from another era entirely by an author named Grace Livingston Hill. It was on the thinner side, and she leaned back and turned to the first page. One chapter, and then she’d go to sleep.

Maybe two.

The next thing she knew, someone was knocking on her door again, and sunlight was streaming in through a crack in the curtains.

Thanks for reading! Check back next week for Chapter 8!

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Serial Story: Rattlesnake Falls, Book 1, Ch. 6

This serial story is posted one chapter per week on Fridays, in unedited (draft) form. It may contain adult situations that might not be suitable for children. Thanks for reading, and enjoy! 

No, I still haven’t decided on the title. One should come to me eventually. Just gotta keep writing….

Rattlesnake Falls Book 1

Chapter 6

“You really don’t need to go to any trouble for me. I just appreciate you letting me stay.” Shelley followed her hostess down another narrow hall and took the quilt Diane handed her from a closet. It was thick and heavy, a patchwork of multi-colored squares sewn together and tied in the centers with yarn. How the woman even pulled it out of the closet would have been a mystery if Shelley hadn’t seen her take the roaster out of the oven earlier.

“My mother made that,” Diane said with a smile. She handed Dillon another quilt from the closet, and then motioned to a door on the right just a few steps past. “You can take that room, and Dillon will be right across the hall if you need anything. My room is just over there.” She pointed to a door they’d passed before reaching the closet. “Now, is there anything you want to get from your car? Dillon could fetch your bag, if you have one.”

Momentarily confused, Shelley blinked. Had she really forgotten that her car was still down the street at the gas station? It felt like a lifetime since she’d started walking through town, looking for signs of life. And a map. She’d been looking for a map. And now she had a human one. Standing right beside her, looking at her strangely, probably because she hadn’t answered Diane’s question yet.

“You really don’t have to,” she finally told Dillon. “I should bring my car over here anyway, so it’s ready to go in the morning. I can just walk down and get it.” She moved to go past him, but he stepped into her path, blocking the hall. He wasn’t that big, but he certainly had presence. She remembered how it had felt, that five seconds in his arms when he’d kept her from falling behind the bar…was it only twenty-four hours ago? Too soon to ask for a replay, she supposed.

“It’s really not a good idea for you to go out there in the dark. You could trip over something and get hurt, and that would make me look bad.” He leaned in, his cheek almost touching hers and his personal scent actually making her a bit light-headed. “Come on. Let me play hero for five minutes. The only person watching is my mom, and she loves it when I help a lady out. Makes her feel like she raised her son well.”

Considering how he affected her senses, Shelley could only think of two options at that exact moment. Choosing the safer one, she took a step back, pulled her keys out of her pocket and held them up between them for him to take.

“Well, I wouldn’t want to…uh…make you look bad,” she managed, the warmth of his fingers brushing hers as he took the keys sending yet another jolt of awareness skimming under her skin. Was he feeling this? Was she the only one apparently enthralled by this seemingly simple exchange?

He swallowed hard, and for a moment she thought he might pick the option she’d discarded and pull her in close for one of those amazing first kisses that really only happen in movies. Then he held his hand up and jingled her keys, looking just over Shelley’s shoulder.

At Diane, no doubt. For a few brief moments, Shelley had forgotten there was anyone else in the room. His mother! Thank goodness the hall was dim, so Diane couldn’t see the heat Shelley felt in her face.

“I’ll park your car out front. Which bag should I bring in and where is it?”

“Uh…the one right behind the driver’s seat, if you don’t mind. It’s…black. I think.” She frowned, looking away for a minute to regain focus because really…who could concentrate with this guy right in her field of vision? “Definitely black.”

He was grinning when she looked at him again. She looked at his mother, who also had a smile on her face.

“What? Did I say something weird?” Wouldn’t be the first time…

Diane patted her shoulder and stepped between them, pulling Shelley down the hall and out of the pheromone beam that emanated off Dillon. “Nothing at all, dear. Don’t you mind us. Let Dillon get your things and I’ll show you where the towels are so you can take a shower before bed if you’d like.”

Shelley made a point not to look back as she heard Dillon leave behind her. “Thank you – that sounds wonderful.”

Twenty minutes and a somewhat guilty conscience for the water usage later, she stood behind the bathroom door wrapped in a towel and wondering if it was safe to dash out and across the hall to her room. The thought of putting her clothes from the day back on was unappealing at best, but…what if Dillon saw her?

Because there’s no possible way he’s ever seen a woman in a towel before, right? Mentally rolling her eyes, she gathered up her clothes and made sure the towel was secure. She listened at the door for a few seconds, took a breath and opened it, then fast-walked across the hall to her temporary room. Once inside, she closed the door a tad bit harder than she should have.

Nothing happened. No one was in the hall, no one saw her, and she was alone in her room with the black bag she’d requested sitting on her bed next to the quilt Diane had loaned her.

It was kind of disappointing, really.

Opening her bag, she found the over-sized t-shirt she liked to sleep in, and pulled it on over her head. Setting the bag aside, she spread the quilt out over the bed, and drew back the covers just as there was a tentative knock at her door.

She froze, her heart beating a million times a minute. If that was him, and she opened the door, was there any hope of not throwing herself at him like a wanton of some sort? And since when had she become “that girl”, anyway? Good grief. Turning, she marched to the door and reached for the knob, taking a big breath and pasting a smile on her face.

“Shelley? Are you still awake dear? I brought you a book and a cup of tea.”

Thanks for reading! Check back next week for Chapter 7!

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Serial Story: Rattlesnake Falls, Book 1, Ch. 3

This serial story is posted one chapter per week on Fridays, in unedited (draft) form. It may contain adult situations that might not be suitable for children. Thanks for reading, and enjoy! 

No, I still haven’t decided on the title. One should come to me eventually. Just gotta keep writing….

Rattlesnake Falls Book 1

Chapter 3

The next morning Shelley padded out to the kitchen in her robe with a smile on her face and a slight headache that she didn’t resent one bit. A hot bath, several glasses of wine and a romance novel with a hero that she’d imagined looked a lot like one Dillon Riley had kept her up far later than normal. It had totally been worth it though, for the dream she’d actually remembered when she woke up.

She was waiting by the coffee pot, mug in hand when the apartment door swung open and Tabby blew in like a breeze, looking far more rested than anyone who’d spent all night out on the town had a right to. Her hay-blond hair wasn’t even stringy, and Shelley resented that as she brushed one of her own dark and in-desperate-need-of-shampoo-locks out of her eyes.

“Pack your bags, Seashell! I got an invite from the hottest guy on the planet to visit his family’s camp, and there’s a rustic little cabin with our name on it waiting and reserved. You have the next two weeks off, right?” Tabby stopped in the hall and looked back at her and raised an eyebrow. “What are you waiting for? We need to pack!”

“Coffee.” Shelley held up her empty mug and chose to ignore the hated nickname for now. “You do know that ‘rustic’ means tiny and probably without heat, right?” The coffee pot finally spit the last bit of dark liquid into the carafe, and Shelley grabbed it, filling her mug. Tabby didn’t drink coffee. Probably because Tabby wasn’t entirely human.

Her cousin waved off her concerns with a flick of the wrist. “Whatever. It’s summer – we won’t freeze to death. And besides, we know there’s at least two hot guys up there to keep us warm by the big campfire at night too. Now get packed – that’s an order!” She winked and went down the hall, where Shelley heard her rummaging around in her room.

Against her better judgement, Shelley followed, mug in hand. “We don’t know anything,” she said, leaning on the door jamb of Tabby’s room. “Two hot guys, huh? Do you even know anything about these guys, aside from whatever they told you last night…or this morning? I mean, it could just be a ruse to lure us up into the woods and kill us. Or scam us out of all the money you like to make people think we have.”

Tabby stopped tossing things into a duffle bag and peered over her shoulder.

“You are seriously demented. I mean, how do you come up with these things? What if it’s just two guys who want to get to know us better and happen to own a guest camp up in the mountains? And the worst case scenario isn’t that we’ll die, but that it’ll rain the whole week, the guys will turn out to be jerks and we’ll come back and never see them again?”

Shelley shrugged. “Well, they want to get to know you, anyway. I’m just the wing-girl. Do you know anything at all about these guys? Where is this camp? What’s it called?”

Tabby pulled a card from the back pocket of her jeans and flipped it at Shelley. “I don’t remember – snake-something-or-other. I think you met one of the guys last night – he was your last speed-date, if I remember correctly. His partner was partying with me and said we should come up for the week.” She finished shoving what looked like random items of clothing into her bag and zipped the top. “So unless you’re sure the other guy is a serial killer, let’s go have some fun!”

“Rattlesnake Falls?” Shelley looked at the card that was almost identical to the one in her bag, this one with the name Mark Ellis on it. She wondered if Mark was as good looking as his partner. It was pretty safe to say he was probably more outgoing, since he’d been hanging out with Tabby’s crowd last night. She took another sip of coffee and handed the card back to Tabby.

“Well, I can’t let you go alone,” she said finally. “But you have to let me finish my coffee and get properly packed. A couple of hours, minimum.”

“But they’re leaving in forty-five minutes, and if we hurry, Mark said he’d drive us up there. Save some gas, save some wear-and-tear on the cars…it’s a no-brainer!”

Shelley shook her head. “No way. We are not going up into the mountains without our own way of leaving if we need to. That’s just stupid. And you’re right, I did meet Dillon last night, and he gave me instructions. So just let Mark know we’ll come up later today. Excitement is no reason for stupidity.”

Tabby rolled her eyes. “You’re worried about nothing, cuz. I tell you what – you bring the car later, and I’m going with Mark now. I trust him, and a long drive is a great way to get to know someone.” She held up a finger when Shelley tried to interrupt. “My life, my choice. Besides, he won’t dare do anything if he knows you’re following right behind us, right?” She grinned and slung the bag over her shoulder, pushing past Shelley into the hall and moving toward the door as Shelley followed.

“These are nice guys. Not everyone in the world is out to get us.Try to remember that, K?”

And just like that, she was out the door again. Shelley went back to the kitchen and refilled her mug, leaning against the counter as she sipped the hot elixir. What were the odds that out of all the guys in her entourage last night, Tabby would hook up with Dillon’s partner? And what the hell was she thinking, just running off on a road-trip like that with a guy she didn’t know?

Yawning wide, she set her mug down long enough to get a blueberry bagel out of a bag on the counter and took it, and the mug down the hall to her bedroom. She couldn’t let Tabby just disappear into the wild with some random guy, so she had no choice now but to go check out Dillon’s camp.

Maybe Tabitha was right. Maybe it would be fun.

This was definitely going to require more coffee. And a shower.

Thanks for reading! Check back next week for Chapter 4!

Like this post? Support your author (Amazon links):

Tempest | The Biker’s Wench (Fantasy Ranch Book 1) | MacKenzie Saves the World: A Comic Shop Romance

Serial Story: Rattlesnake Falls, Book 1, Chapter 2

This serial story is posted one chapter per week on Fridays, in unedited (draft) form. It may contain adult situations that might not be suitable for children. Thanks for reading, and enjoy! 

No, I still haven’t decided on the title. One should come to me eventually. Just gotta keep writing….

Rattlesnake Falls Book 1

Chapter 2

“You know, I don’t think a woman has ever actually thrown herself into my arms before. It’s flattering, I guess, but kind of hard on the back. You okay?”

Thankful for the darkness, Shelley felt her cheeks warming and probably going bright red. Embarrassed as she was, her current location was far better than the one she’d been headed for a few seconds earlier.

“Not as hard as it would have been on mine if you hadn’t caught me,” she said, not entirely sure how to extricate herself from his grasp. “I’m sorry if I hurt you, but thank you, for catching me. I truly don’t go around just throwing myself into strange men’s arms.”

He grinned, the expression lighting up his face.

“You’re calling me strange now, on top of all the other things you called me in there?” The arm around her tightened briefly while he helped her up onto her feet, which were still on the top step. Gaining her balance, she moved away enough to look back at him. Was that a flicker of interest she saw? Couldn’t be. It never was, with her. Not once she’d spoken, anyways – and she’d done plenty of that with this guy.

“Ha. You know what I meant. Are you okay? Did I really hurt you?” Her bag had fallen down the stairs ahead of her, and she stepped down, kneeling to gather her things. He knelt beside her, picking up a few items that had rolled his way.

“I’m tough,” he said, holding out her coin purse and a folded oriental-style fan she wasn’t sure why she carried around except that she liked the idea of it. “It would take a lot more than that to actually hurt me.”

Shelley put the two items in her purse, and reached out for one more item he’d picked up. His own business card. She took it, holding it up briefly before putting it back in her bag.

“Outdoor enthusiast – right. Obviously I was way off in there, but you really don’t look like the outdoorsy type. Where is Rattlesnake Falls, anyway?” She wasn’t sure why she kept talking…there was a nice, hot bubble bath and a cozy bed in her immediate future, and she’d probably never see this guy again. Having a conversation was probably a waste of time.

Still, she was interested in what he might say next. And in hearing that voice for a little while longer, too. It was deep, but quiet, and even though his gaze was intense, his presence was somehow calming.

“Head up towards Big Timber, and then just keep going. You’ll see the signs.” His tone was friendly and when he stood up and offered her a hand, she took it with a grin.

“Maybe I should. I’ve been told by at least three people lately that I need a vacation.” A nervous laugh slipped out as she stood and reluctantly let her hand slip out of his grasp. She wasn’t serious, of course. The vacation part was true. Her boss had actually said he didn’t want to see her back for two weeks and that she really should consider a vacation out of cell range, but those weren’t details one normally shared with a stranger. At least not intriguing strangers who might think that sort of thing was odd.

He nodded. “Well, if you call the number on that card, they can hook you up with a room. I know we’re not full this week and next, but after that we’re booked for the rest of the summer.” He eyed her up and down. “We do have some nicer cabins, but you would still have to bring a sleeping bag, I’m afraid. Maybe a quilt, too.”

Reaching up to tuck a few errant strands of hair behind her ear, Shelly laughed. Dillon quirked an eyebrow up at her.

“Did I say something funny?”

She shook her head and started walking – slowly – to her car. “It was just the look on your face,” she said, her heart beating fast as he followed. “You don’t think I can handle ‘roughing it’, do you?”

He shrugged, the sides of his mouth quirked up just a tad. “Maybe you can, maybe you can’t. Won’t know until you show up and try, will we?”

“That sounds more like a challenge than an invitation.” She tilted her head to the side and smiled. Oh God. Was she actually flirting? She could never actually tell. Her smile wavered just a little and suddenly she needed to be in her car and heading toward the safety of home.

He turned away, looking back just far enough to wink over his shoulder. “Take it any way you want. You have a nice night now. It was…interesting meeting you, Shelley.”

“You’re an interesting man yourself, Mr. Riley. Maybe I’ll surprise you.”

“I get the feeling you’re full of surprises.” He laughed as he pulled open the door of his truck. “G’night, Ms.—”

“Frank. Without an ‘s’. Shelley Frank, that is. With an ‘s’, of course. Uh, I mean Shelley with an ‘s’, but Frank without one…” Shutupshutupshutup! Her face burned as he laughed again and held one hand up in mock surrender.

“Shelley Frank. With and without the ‘s’, respectively. Got it. I hope to see you up at the camp soon. We could use a bit of color this time of year.” With that, he climbed in his truck and drove off, waving one last time as he went by.

She opened her own door and stepped around it, her bag nearly getting caught on the edge as she watched him go, waving sheepishly and feeling ridiculous.

“Color?” She looked down at the black turtleneck and blue jeans she’d chosen for the night. Granted, her hair was a reddish-brown from the henna-based dye she preferred, but it certainly wasn’t bright, by any means.

“Just stop,” she murmured to herself. A handsome guy was no reason to go all hyper-analyst on every little thing he said or did.

“Especially not someone who lives half a state away and makes his living crawling around the mountains.” Nature was great and all, and she could handle a few nights of roughing it, but she really was partial to warm showers, late mornings and not checking her shoes for creepy things every morning before putting them on.

Shelley realized she was still standing half-in and half-out of her car, the door ajar, talking to herself.

Out loud.

She shook her head and slid behind the wheel, finally heading for home, a bubble bath and a big glass of wine.

Maybe a fantasy or two.

Thanks for reading! Check back next week for Chapter 3!

Like this post? Support your author (Amazon links):

Tempest | The Biker’s Wench (Fantasy Ranch Book 1) | MacKenzie Saves the World: A Comic Shop Romance