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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!

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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!

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Priorities & Forced Balance

Last week wasn’t nearly as bad as the week before in general, which is kind of odd since work was decidedly difficult. The difference is, I dealt with it much better, and while I didn’t stay caught up all the time, I did prioritize a lot better. It’s amazing how much just setting solid priorities can alleviate so much stress – and allow us to get more done than we might otherwise.

The poetry challenge was especially “challenging” this past week, but I managed to end Saturday caught up for the week (I’m behind a poem again as of right now, but I’ll catch up tonight). Poetry is all about “flow” and ironically, fitting it into my schedule has been exactly that. Looking for the proper flow, so I can slot it into each day at some point.

I think I mentioned that I was trying to use some of my nightly knitting/crochet/TV time to catch some of the overflow, and my body told me very quickly that it was just not going to happen. My eyes went downhill again, my brain refused to work, and pretty much every night sitting there with the computer on my lap, I eventually just gave up and shut it while I finished my hour-long TV show.

Incidentally, we’ve been watching Iron Fist and Wynonna Earp on Netflix. Iron Fist is entertaining, but I highly, highly recommend Wynonna Earp. So, so good!

In any case, that hour is very necessary down-time, and my body & brain were quick to correct me when I tried to use it for work. So…it would appear that time is just as sacrosanct as my writing time. This week, I’ll get the knitting back out while watching TV.

My neck is healing, but very slowly, and I’m kind of to the point where it feels like it just needs gentle stretching and then to build up the muscle around that nerve to protect it from being pinched again. I have to be careful, as it still won’t really “work” at several angles, but I’ve started doing light weight training in my shoulders/arms again. We’ll see how that goes, but hopefully it will be helpful. Stupid neck.

In any case, my writing output increased again last week, and no matter how much this poetry thing stresses me out, I am *loving* what it’s doing as far as just getting me back in the daily writing habit. That right there was worth the cost of the workshop (though I’m obviously learning so much more…).

And for those who have been following along weekly – yes, my taxes are done and will be in the mail on April 18th. I’m not efiling because I owe the feds money, and they can just wait for my check to get there, thank you very much. This coming Friday night, I’m adding some dedicated bookkeeping time to my weekly business hours.

I’ve been thinking lately of pulling a couple of shelved drafts out and reworking them for publication. The basic plot is sound enough, but they need revision/additions to work. I do believe that might be something to work on after poetry month is over. I’m excited at the prospect, and I hate revising with a passion. So there’s gotta be something there, right? We’ll see.

Serial story chapter coming Friday, and another week’s worth of poems Saturday. Stay tuned!

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.

Still…

“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.

“Hey.”

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.


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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. 5

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 5

“Thank you, but I really can’t stay.” Shelley took a step toward the door. She wasn’t exactly sure why she shouldn’t stay, but it just didn’t feel right sharing a meal with this person she hardly knew. The mother of a guy she barely knew who’d invited her to his camp – which kind of made it even more…weird.

Then again, it also seemed impolite to decline. Small town people tended to get offended if you didn’t stay for supper. And she was hungry.

“Nonsense,” her would-be hostess said. “At least let me make you a sandwich for the trip. You’ve got a good drive ahead of you, and I can tell you from experience that the camp kitchen closes at six. I can also tell you that the guy who runs it is a scary fellow if he catches you raiding the food supplies after closing.”

“I take it you’ve had experience with that too.” Shelley laughed, moving back to the counter. “Maybe I will take you up on a plate. I’ve been eating junk food all day, and that roast smells divine. If you’re sure you’re up for company, that is. I don’t want to be a bother.” It didn’t seem polite to eat and run, especially given how difficult it clearly was for Mrs. Riley to get around. She checked her watch. Tabby and Mike should be at the camp by now – had probably been there for a few hours already. Hopefully everything was okay.

“I’m always up for company – we get so little way out here. Come around, dear – we’re not gonna eat standing up at the counter. And flip that closed sign on the door, will you? Then we’ll call the camp and make sure your friend is safe.”

Shelley flipped the sign over and locked the door, then went through the door at the end of the counter and followed her nose through a doorway near the back of the workroom, stepping into a warm, cozy living room with a galley kitchen at the far end where her hostess was opening the oven.

“Here Mrs. Riley. Let me help you with that. It looks heavy.” Dropping her purse on the couch, Shelley rushed over and grabbed a pair of potholders from a hook beside the stove.

The woman chuckled and shooed her off. “You can call me Diane. And I need to keep doing this for myself, or soon enough I won’t be able to. Gotta work these ol’ muscles to keep ‘em!”

Shelley smiled, trying not to worry too much as Diane lifted the roasting pot from the oven to the stove with little effort – no small feat with her back as hunched as it was.

“I see your point, but it’s okay to accept help sometimes. I’m Shelley, by the way. Shelley Franks.”

Diane closed the oven door and put the potholders aside. She wiped her hands on a towel and turned around with a smile.

“It’s nice to meet you, Shelley. Your parents were fans of the author, I take it?”

“Yes they were,” Shelley answered. “Not many people get the connection, but my mom loved reading Mary Shelley. And Frankenstein was my dad’s favorite. So when I was born, choosing a name was easy, or so my mom said.” She took the plate of steaming roast beef, vegetables and a baked potato gratefully. “Why did you make such a big meal for yourself? Isn’t that an awful lot of leftovers?”

“Of course!” Diane filled her own plate and joined Shelley at the good-sized table between the kitchen and living room. “That’s the whole point, dear. Some to share, some to save for another meal or three. If you’re going to go to the trouble of cooking when you live alone like I do, might as well make it worthwhile, I say.”

“Very smart. I should try that,” Shelley commented. “I’ve never liked to cook, so I do it as little as possible. I honestly can’t remember the last time I had a home-cooked meal, so thank you.” She took a bite of roast and mashed potato, all too aware of Diane’s watchful gaze. Luckily it was good. Really, really good, and Shelley closed her eyes for a moment just to savor the flavor.

“Oh wow,” she said, opening her eyes to see a look of pleasure on her hostess’s face. “That is amazing! Where did you learn how to cook?”

Diane laughed. “Oh honey – when I was a girl, that was all we were allowed to do. Cook and clean and keep house. I learned from my mama and grandma just a few houses that-away.” She gestured in the direction of the gas station with one hand.

“Were you born here then? What was it like growing up in such a small town?” Shelley wasn’t sure why she was so fascinated with this woman’s life, but she was. Life out here in the foothills was so foreign to her. She’d driven through small towns before, but the thought that this woman had been living in this same small town all of her life was just…mind-boggling for some reason.

The bell on the front door rang, and Shelley jumped. “I know I locked that,” she said, just before a somewhat familiar voice called out from the front room.

“Mom! Did you see a short woman with long black hair come through town awhile back? Her cousin said she was coming out to the camp by herself and asked me…”

A man came through the living room and Shelley recognized him right away. His lips perked up in a grin when he saw her.

“…to find her. And I just did. I see you two have met.” He gave his mother a peck on the cheek and a squeeze around her shoulders before he got a plate and helped himself to dinner.

“Dillon!” Diane clasped her hand over her heart. “I’m so glad you’re here. We’d planned to call the camp and make sure Shelley’s cousin got there okay before she headed up there herself, but got a little sidetracked with dinner.”

“I guess we can assume the answer is yes,” Shelley said, returning his smile. His whole demeanor was different from what it had been at the bar – more relaxed and at ease. She wondered if it was his mom, or just the environment.

“I’m sorry they sent you to find me, though. I can’t be late, because I didn’t actually tell Tabitha what time I’d be there.”

Dillon shrugged, finishing the bite of food he’d been chewing. “They got to the camp pretty early today. Tabitha was just worried your car broke down or something. She wanted to call highway patrol, but I convinced her to let me drive down here and see if you’d made it this far, at least.”

Shelley rolled her eyes. “She can be rather dramatic at times. How’s she getting along with Mike?” Tabby wasn’t always the easiest person to deal with – she tended to be a steamroller and if you didn’t roll with her, you got rolled over.

Dillon picked up the handset of a phone hanging on the wall. It was one of the older landline styles, and there was even a rotary dial on the base.

“I think she’ll be fine once she knows you’re safe.” He dialed a number and waited. From across the table, Shelley could hear ringing on the other end of the line before a garbled male voice came on.

“Hey Mike,” Dillon said. “Yeah, she’s here. I found her with Mom, actually. Can you put—” Dillon yanked the phone away from his ear and winced. “You talk to her,” he said, passing the handset and its long cord across the table. “You might want ear plugs, though.”

Shelley grinned, holding the phone away from her ear as her cousin rambled on about how worried she’d been. Which they both knew wasn’t strictly true. She may have been somewhat concerned, sure. But Tabby was excellent at acting and she rarely missed an opportunity to make herself look good.

“Slow down, Tab. I’m fine, I just stopped to get my bearings and ended up running into Dillon’s mom. Totally random.”

“Everything happens for a reason, honey,” Dillon’s mom stage-whispered. Shelley smiled and nodded.

“Oh good. I was so worried,” Tabby said, her voice so low Shelley could barely hear. “When you didn’t show up, I thought maybe you weren’t coming…” A long, low rumble outside the post office provided the perfect ominous backdrop to her tone. Of course it would threaten to rain just when she was getting ready to leave.

“You worry too much,” Shelley said. “How’s the camp? Are you and Mike having fun?”

“Sort of.” Tabby sighed. “I mean, mostly. I’ve never actually talked to one guy for this long before. It’s weird. I might actually run out of things to say – and I never do that.”

“I really doubt you have to worry about that.” Shelley laughed as the thunder rolled again. It sounded closer. “Hey look – it’s thundering here, so I should let you go so we can get on the road, okay? But we can talk about it as soon as I—” Lightening cracked hard somewhere outside at the same time Shelley heard Tabby screech on the other end of the line. “Tabby? Tabitha – are you okay?”

Dillon took the phone from her and held it up to his ear. “Hello? Anyone there?” He hung it up and turned back to Shelley, his brow furrowed.

“I don’t like our odds of making it up that road tonight – especially if the camp lost power. That’s normally the second thing to go after the phones. Your friend will be fine with Mike tonight, but I think we should stay here in town. We can head up early tomorrow morning.”

Shelley nodded. “There’s no way to let Tabby know? She’ll be anxious enough with the storm – she hates them. But if I don’t show up, and she’s expecting us…”

“Mike will know I wouldn’t drive up in this. He’ll tell her not to look for us until morning.” He put a hand on Shelley’s shoulder and squeezed lightly, the warmth contagious. “She’ll be okay. Mike will take good care of her.”

“It’s settled then.” Diane got up from the table, a wide grin on her face. “I’ll get some heavier blankets out for you two. The spare rooms haven’t been heated in awhile, but that should keep you both warm until the registers catch up.”


Thanks for reading! Check back next week for Chapter 6!

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. 4

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 4

Two hours later, Shelley tapped the location for ‘Rattlesnake Falls Lodge and Resort’ into the GPS in her car and watched the suggested route show up on the screen. Tabby gave her crap for not just using her cell phone like everyone else, but she liked the GPS unit. It was simple, didn’t drain her cell batteries, and it had been the last Christmas gift her dad had given her before he died. He’d loved to take road trips, and often told her she should get out more, so using the GPS on the rare occasions she went out of town made her feel like he was traveling with her.

After she checked the route for potential problems and road construction, she drove to the nearest convenience store to fill up the gas tank and stock up with a couple bottles of juice drinks and some trail mix packets. Cranking up the tunes and settling her sunglasses on the bridge of her nose, she merged onto the highway and headed for the hills.

Four hours later, she pulled into the tiniest, grungiest gas station she’d ever seen, cursing her GPS, lack of cell service and Tabby too, for not at least driving with her so they could share the pain of being hopelessly lost in rural Montana. A big Closed sign mocked her from the front door of the shop when she walked up, and so did the rack of Montana highway maps that sat near the lonely front counter. Why they were closed at four in the afternoon was anyone’s guess.

At least the pumps accepted credit cards, or she’d be lost and stranded with an empty tank.

Several small run-down houses dotted the landscape around the station – a town of sorts, though there hadn’t been a sign on the road. Hoping that it wasn’t completely abandoned, Shelley finished filling the gas tank and went across the road to knock on a door she wasn’t sure would hold up to the abuse. Something scuttled around inside, but no one answered. She tried another door, and a third before she finally noticed a house two buildings down from the gas station with a flag in the yard and a small, wood-burned sign that said “U.S. Postal Service” hanging by the door. There was a light on in the window, and Shelley hurried over and pulled the door open, thankful it was still unlocked.

The front counter was flanked on either side by a wall of mailboxes, and on the ceiling beam above the counter there was another painted sign that read, “US Postal Service, Rattlesnake Falls, MT.” Maybe she wasn’t as lost as she’d thought.

An elderly, hunched-over woman leaning heavily on a thick branch carved into a cane came out of a room in the back and ever-so-slowly moved toward the counter. Her gray hair was pinned in a loose bun on top of her head, but not a single strand seemed out of place.

“I was just getting supper on – don’t usually see anyone this late in the day,” she said, her voice surprisingly strong given her physical state. “You the one who bought the old Burnstead place? I suppose you’ll be wanting a room for the night if you did. Place is infested with all sorts of vermin, I hear. Maybe a ghost or two, too. My son wanted to buy it, but I told him not to bother. He’s got enough going on without a project like that to deal with.” She cackled, and Shelley had a hard time keeping a straight face because the sound was so very ‘quintessential witch’.

“No, I’m just passing through,” Shelley said with a smile. “I was wondering if you could give me some directions. The gas station is closed, and I’m afraid I got lost looking for a camp – The Rattlesnake Falls Lodge and Resort. Dillon Riley is one of the owners – do you know him?” Everyone tended to know everyone in these small communities, so she figured there was at least a chance.

“Well of course I do – Dillon is the son I talked out of buying the Burnstead place. I don’t know why he put such a hoity-toity name on that camp of his, but he claims it gets the city folk out and spendin’ money.” The old woman leaned heavily on the counter and looked Shelley up and down. “I suppose you’re one o’them, though, so I shouldn’t be spoutin’ off. That’s what Dillon always says.”

Shelley chuckled. Her dark jeans and tangerine fitted t-shirt did look at little too polished for the boondocks.

“I am from the city – Billings, to be exact. But I like to think I’m not too hoity-toity. Can you tell me how to find your son’s camp? Like I said, I’m a little lost.”

The woman looked out the window and frowned. “It’ll be gettin’ dark soon – sure you want to go driving out there so late? It’s still a good jaunt down the road, most of it gravel and some steep. Might be safer to stay here in town for the night.”

Considering what most of the buildings here in town looked like, Shelley figured she’d be camping either way.

“I really do need to get there tonight, if possible. A friend of mine is waiting – she drove up earlier with Dillon’s partner. So if you could just point me in the right direction…”

Shaking her head and clicking her tongue, the woman – Mrs. Riley, Shelley supposed – got a piece of paper from under the counter and held up a pen with a shaky hand.

“Follow the road through town past here and out about five miles. There’s a turn to the right – it’s just a gravel road, but you’ll see a big sign for the camp pointing up that road. Take that, and it’s about twenty miles back. There’s another big sign at the entrance, which will be on your left. You won’t see ‘nuthin else out there – can’t see the buildings or anything until you get back a ways on the property. Just keep goin’ until you see lights.” She drew a rudimentary map with the instructions on the paper, and slid it across the counter to Shelley.

“There ain’t no cell service out there, so if you get stuck, you’ll have ta walk either in or out, whichever is closer. So I hope you have good shoes and a coat. Follow the road and make noise so the bears don’t bother you.”

“Bears. Right. Are there a lot of them around?” Once again, Shelley was reminded of how long it had been since she left the city. Even longer since she’d been out in the wild. She glanced at the paper before slipping it in her purse.

“A few. Some black bears and a few grizzlies, though they tend to be better behaved in these parts than some farther north.” The woman smiled. “Don’t you worry, dear. There’s plenty of food this year, so unless you get between a mama and her cubs, they’re not gonna bother you.”

Shelley returned the smile, though she suspected the woman was just trying to make her feel better.

“I’d better get going, I guess. Thank you for all your help – I really appreciate it. I’ll let you get back to your dinner now.” She tried to ignore the smell of cooked beef wafting from somewhere in the back, but her stomach growled, traitor that it was.

“You should stay for dinner, dear. I’ve got more than I need, as usual. Let me just fix you up a plate.”


Thanks for reading! Check back next week for Chapter 5!

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