A Long Goodbye
agenda after all. The two guys were staying several feet behind probably planning their mode of attack to get Ashton to agree on their nightly endeavors. Using my binoculars, I briefly zoned in on the men before focusing back on the girls. Ashton was shaking her head at whatever Lu was saying, but she didn’t seem to want to give in to these rednecks.
    They seemed to accept her response, but I could tell by their demeanor that they were hesitant. Unsure if Ashton picked up on their indecision, I turned my truck on from the other side of the parking lot. The guy she was dancing with finally relented and gave her a slow, lingering kiss. When Ashton didn’t pull back, my hands tightened on my binoculars, trembling some. Seconds later, Ashton was shoving Lu in her car before she hopped into the driver’s side. Once she hit the road, I stayed back some because they had more than just me following them tonight. And I didn’t like where this was heading.

    Dang! They were following us back to the hotel. I tried to be nice and tell them we’d meet up again tomorrow night, but I didn’t think Johnny bought it. I had never been a good liar. I glanced at Lu who was just about passed out from too many shots of Patron. I tried to stop them from buying them for us, but Lu kept tossing them back like we were back in college. I refrained from having too many since I was driving. She leaned her head against the window, and she was mumbling on and on about Butch and his kisses. Grandmamma always said, “If you can’t run with the dogs, Ashton, stay off the porch.” I had a feeling this might be ones of those times she was talking about. I was in way over my head.
    Taking a deep breath, I sped up some to see if they were actually tailing us, or if maybe they were just heading in the same direction. Surely, a lot of people took the main road home from a bar at the end of the night. Parts of me warned my own mind that I should duck off and head to a different place, or hell, maybe just keep driving ‘til we hit the Kentucky border, but I didn’t.
    I wasn’t stupid. I knew there were bad men out there, but something told me they were semi-harmless and were just looking for a good time. So, instead of listening to my better judgment, I pulled into the hotel. It was late, so the valet was closed, and we needed to park in the garage. That thought scared the hell of out me because Lu would be no help. She was the shit kicker out of the pair of us while I could barely swat at a mosquito while it was biting me.
    Once I found a spot, I pulled in just as their taillights had come right behind us. The loud roar of his truck echoed through the garage as he kept it idling, blocking us in. “Hey, Grace.” Johnny stuck his head out the window, his hand drumming on the side of his door. “I thought maybe we could have a nightcap. You have one of those fancy minibars in your room?”
    My eyes shut briefly before stepping out. I took one quick peek at Lu who was now out cold. “Not tonight, boys.” Plastering on a big old fake smile, I strolled over to his window, leaning my arms on the edge of the window trying to pretend like it was no big deal. “Lu’s had too much. How about you just meet us tomorrow ‘round eight at the same place? I want to go out dancing the whole time we’re here.” I had no plans on being there when they come to get us, but right now I’d say just about anything to get them to drive away.
    Johnny grinned, took one look, and nodded to Butch. “Sure thing, sweetness.” Johnny’s finger slipped under my chin, pulling me in for a goodnight kiss. I relented, trying to keep up my little show I had going on. The touch of his tongue on my lips had me pulling away faster than he liked. Johnny groaned, and then made a deep growling noise before he finally shifted it into drive.
    I breathed a huge sigh of relief as they pealed out of the parking garage, honking once as they turned around the corner. I

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