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
“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.
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!
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