Rough & Tumble

Rough & Tumble by Kristen Hope Mazzola Read Free Book Online Page A

Book: Rough & Tumble by Kristen Hope Mazzola Read Free Book Online
Authors: Kristen Hope Mazzola
guess you’re right.”
    “Are you from around here, Holt?” I twirled a long curl between my fingers and stared into his dark brown eyes.
    “Born and raised.” His drawl was thick as he wiped the bar top with a wet towel. “What about you?”
    “I’m from a few states over. Making a break for it.” I chugged half my beer.
    “Running ain’t always a bad thing. Vilas is a good town. Hopefully you’ll like it here.”
    “How much do I owe you for these?”
    I bit my lip slowly and watched Holt’s cheeks flare as he rubbed the back of his neck and stuttered a bit. “It was taken care of.” He held up his hand to stop me from taking my wallet out of my purse.
    I raised my eyebrow at him. “Really?”
    He nodded. “Abel told me to put it on his tab. So you’re good to go.”
    Wow. Sweet, mysterious, and hot. I might have to give this town and Abel a trial run.
    “Thanks, Holt. Maybe I’ll see you around.”
    He nodded. “Hope you get some rest.”
    “I look that bad, huh?”
    Holt smiled sweetly as he shook his head. “Nah, you just look like you’ve been traveling for a while and need a hot shower and a bed.”
    “Well then I look the way I feel. That Abel guy, he’s all right?” I should have been more subtle, but I was worn out and beating around the bush seemed more draining than what it was worth.
    “Yeah, he’s one of the best guys I know. Tough skin but a fucking heart of gold.”
    “Good to know.” I chugged the rest of my beer and threw a couple dollars on the bar. Holt’s sweet smile spread wider as the guys came back out from the backroom, or abyss, or wherever they’d all run off to in such a hurry. To my dismay, Abel was not in the group that filed back into their bar seats. I waved goodbye to Holt and made my way to finally get the shuteye that I desperately needed.

    Chapter 2.
    Rounding the corner, I saw the neon vacancy light shining bright above the motel’s front office door. The dimly lit gravel parking lot crunched under the tires of my crying car. It was time to put more power steering fluid in for sure. I grabbed the plastic bottle of fluid from the floorboard of the passenger side and fixed the problem. At least there were a few things I could do under the hood of my car to make it run at a somewhat decent level. Growing up where most of the guys around built mud trucks had its perks from time to time.
    Looking around as I made my way into the office, I noticed a few cars scattered around the lot, all with out of state plates. It was nice to know that other out-of-towners stopped there. It shouldn’t have made a difference, but it comforted me to know that other travelers felt safe enough to crash there too.
    The bell chimed above my head as I walked into the small office that smelled like mothballs and stale pizza. A sweet girl peeked up from a school book the was laid out on the counter. “Hey miss. Lookin’ for a room?”
    I nodded. “Sure am.”
    “Smoking or nonsmoking?”
    Even though I was a smoker, the thought of stale cigarette smoke embedded in the pillows made me want to hurl on the spot.
    “All right. I just need a credit card to hold the room. How many nights will you be our guest?”
    For not being more than thirteen, she was very articulate and polite. I was pretty impressed by her.
    “I’m not sure, actually.” I dug my hands into my pockets; it felt unnerving as hell to not have any plan whatsoever.
    “Longer than a week?”
    I shrugged. “Possibly.”
    “We have weekly specials, you’ll save fifty bucks that way.”
    “Sounds like a plan to me.”
    “Perfect.” She punched a few keys on the dinosaur of a computer that was in front of me. “If anything changes, just come on in and let us know.” Her kind eyes and sweet smile settled down my growing nerves as she handed me a key with a giant red plastic ornament-looking keychain on it.
    “You’re on the first floor, three doors over on the left.”
    I handed her

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