Leigh opened her eyes after riding another four hours to find the car was parked in front of a motel. She pulled her visor down to shield her eyes from the neon sign and looked to her right and saw Rafe at the front desk handing the clerk a credit card. So the Terminator decided it was better to get some rest. She looked around at the dinky property. Surely the security company that worked for the Blakes could afford more lavish accommodations than the set of a low-budget horror movie. If an ax-wielding maniac ran up to the car it wouldn’t surprise her one bit.
She pulled her cell phone out of her purse and saw she had a missed call. She looked at the call log and it was Chance, who’d called while she was napping. Chance was definitely going to pitch a fit about her current quagmire but he’d be there. She could count on him. She opened the voice mail app and the sound of her brother’s voice made her immediately feel at ease.
“Hey baby girl. It’s your big brother. We’re doing a hiking expedition that’s also a photo shoot for the store. The cell reception isn’t really good up here and George forgot to pack the satellite phone. I’ll hit you up in a couple of days. I hope everything’s OK. Give ‘em hell in Nashville. I know you’re going to make it someday. Love you.”
It felt good to get a response back from Chance. She expected nothing from Jimmy and was hopeful that her dad would call her soon.
She thought of planning her escape again. Rafe couldn’t stay awake all night. But she thought better of it because she was pretty tired herself and wanted to stretch out in a big bed and rest her aching body. She’d pretended she didn’t strain herself climbing that fence but truth was her arms were tired. Who knew scaling a chain link fence would be that hard? But if she grabbed some shut-eye, she could wake around five in the morning and bolt before he knocked on her door. She turned back to look at the highway and squinted to see the sign posted. It was a notice for an upcoming weigh station for trucks. Good, she’d be able to hitch a ride from a passing trucker.
When he came back to the car she straightened up. “I see you took my advice and decided to get some proper sleep.”
“Your fence climbing wore me out.” He shifted into drive and made right turn into the parking lot. “Let’s go.”
“I hope you got the best room they had available. I chafe when my skin gets in contact with cheap linens.” She opened her door and climbed out as he opened the trunk and retrieved both their bags.
“Uh huh.” He said as he stopped at room eighteen and used the key to open the door. “After you.”
“Thanks.” She walked in and was pleasantly surprised to find the room was spacious and looked clean. It had a Jacuzzi, fireplace and red satin bedding. “This looks like a honeymoon suite.”
“It is the honeymoon suite.”
“It’s very romantic. Don’t get any ideas.” She raised an eyebrow.
“Don’t flatter yourself, songbird. You’re not my type.” He dropped the bags in a chair and looked around. “I asked for the best room they had for outlaw divas.”
“Not bad for a middle of nowhere establishment. And I’m not a diva.”
“I didn’t want to hear you complaining all night. Apparently the honeymoon suite is kept pristine so folks will give them good reviews.”
“What is your type?” She stuffed her hands in her back pockets. Not his type. How could she not be his type? He was a red-blooded male. She was having a very good hair day, was wearing her best bra and had on her traffic stopping jeans that hugged her in all the right places.
“Not that it’s any of your business.” He opened the door to the closet and inspected it. “But I prefer law-abiding women. You know it’s an indication of their character.”
“It just means they haven’t been caught committing a crime.”
“Or haven’t thought about committing any.” He countered.
“So you like boring women? I bet they’re dentists and bankers who have apps to keep track of their biological clocks and hint about a ring after the fourth date.”
“Not every bride-to-be wants a shot-gun wedding.” He mused.
“You wish you could find someone like me.” She walked to the bathroom and flipped on the light, giving it a thorough examination. “Nice. I don’t think I’ll get a rash from that shower. What time do you want me to be ready in the morning?”
“OK.” She nodded. “What room are you in? Just in case I need to call you or something.”
“You won’t have to.” Rafe walked over to her and slapped a handcuff on her wrist.
“What the hell are you doing?” She tried to jerk away and immediately regretted it.
“Pardon me for being paranoid but I don’t trust you.” Rafe placed the other cuff on his wrist. “The second I close my eyes, you’re going to do something crazy like sneak out and start hitching down the road.” He held up a hand to stop her verbal protest. “Not only is that foolish but I could show you statistics of women who go missing along highways. It’s not safe no matter how pretty and cunning you think you are. Some maniac with no regard or respect for women could scoop you up and keep you locked in a steamer trunk or worse. Now can we get some sleep?”
“Do I have any choice?” She scowled.
“Good.” Rafe jammed the handcuff key in his front pocket then led them both over to the bed and lay on the left side.
“Wait.” She followed, clumsily scooting onto the right side. “How do I know you’re not some kind of perv who’s going to grope me in my sleep?”
“Because I don’t have to grope a woman in her sleep. When I want a woman, I want her fully awake and focused on the experience.”
“Can I at least turn on the television?”
“Knock yourself out.” He reached over on the nightstand next to him and passed her the remote.
“What if I have to go to the restroom?”
“The better question is what if I have to go?” He drawled and closed his eyes.
“Exposing yourself is a crime Mr. Straight Lace.”
“You’d be so lucky.”
Leigh grabbed a pillow with her free hand and thought about smothering him but instead stuffed it behind her head. The nerve of him handcuffing her! OK, trying to ditch him at the restaurant was a silly move but she had to give it a shot. She wanted to get to her dad before Tate and the Blakes descended on him. He’d had enough grief from them over the years. It was bad enough Tate had distanced himself but that powerful family made sure Joe couldn’t contact him. She really needed her brother Chance right now and couldn’t wait to talk to him when he got back from the hiking expedition.
She channel hopped for a half hour but there was nothing interesting to watch. Times like these she’d strum on her guitar and do some songwriting. She prayed Jimmy was taking good care of her guitar. She was restless and chained to a man who’d somehow gone to sleep despite her tossing and turning. She glanced at Rafe. He was handsome and all sculpted muscle from head to toe. She’d checked him out a few times and noticed, as her cousin Bree would say, he had an ass you could bounce a quarter off.
She started to hum, it was the only thing she could think to do. Suddenly a tune popped into her head, so she turned off the television and decided to do something constructive. She clicked on the lamp, grabbed the notepad and pen from the night table and song lyrics about temptation and a handsome stranger flooded into her head. She wasn’t writing about Rafe of course, but she couldn’t deny he was the inspiration. An hour later she had half a new song written and it felt good to get rid of some of that pent-up energy. She placed the pen and notepad back on the nightstand, turned off the light and nestled into the bed. Rafe’s steady, even breathing was barely audible. The stillness in the room began to lull her to sleep.
“Such a beautiful voice for such a pig-headed woman.” He grumbled.
Leigh smiled and closed her eyes.
Rafe & Leigh’s love story begins! I hope you enjoyed the pre-edited excerpt! Find out what they’ve been up to on their road trip! Release date September 15th!
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