Friday, November 20, 2009
Issues, Issues, Issues
The people at The Welcome Inn have issues, big issues. Take Buck Abercrombie for example. Buck’s the head of a successful construction company, people in the community respect him, and many of his dreams for the future are coming true. So, what could possibly be wrong in his life?
For starters his attraction to The Welcome Inn’s manager, Julianna Martin. After his marriage failed, Buck’s leery of women. He fights the attraction with everything he’s got, but it gets harder every day.
Across the courtyard Buck saw the door of Julianna’s apartment swing open. Julianna stood in the door to say goodbye to her boyfriend. Buck’s heart skipped a beat or two. She wore a green satin kimono that revealed some beautiful, womanly curves and some very shapely legs. Her glorious hair looked charmingly disarranged, and Buck wondered if it would feel as silky as it looked. He imagined running his hands through those beautiful, rich curls and wondered how it would feel to taste those pretty, pouting lips.
With chagrin he realized that the rest of the crew stood there watching him watch Julianna. “Get back to work,” he snarled, ashamed of his momentary weakness.
He saw a few smothered grins, but the men did as he said. Nobody felt brave enough to defy his order.
Buck’s brother Travis also causes him a headache. Travis got into trouble awhile ago when he tried to blackmail the mayor. Imagine Buck’s surprise when Travis ends up on his door begging for a job.
“Travis isn’t giving you any trouble, is he?” Buck asked.
“No, I don’t even see him very much.”
Julianna hated to be nosy, but like everyone else in Martin’s Crossing she felt curious about the Abercrombies. Eighteen months ago Travis ran Abercrombie Construction while Buck worked in Alaska. Desperate to close a deal, Travis had tried to blackmail the mayor to gain his cooperation. The mayor had refused to play ball, and Travis had made good on his threats. At the last minute the mayor’s marriage and career had been saved when Travis’s cohort confessed the scheme and proved the mayor innocent of any type of wrongdoing.
Buck had left Alaska to run the company founded by their father, and Travis had only stayed out of jail by a miracle. He was, however, a pariah in h is own town.
“Where did Travis work before you hired him?” Julianna asked.
“He didn’t have a job. He’s been living off his savings, and when that finally ran out he started looking for work, but nobody would hire him. He has to eat, so I took him on.”
“Is he doing a good job?”
“Strangely enough, he is. I’ve given him the dirtiest, hardest work we have, and he hasn’t complained. He does it right too.”
“Maybe he learned his lesson.”
“Maybe, but he still has a lot to prove to me.”
Buck isn’t the only one with issues. Julianna Martin The Inn’s manager has a few issues of her own.
“Melanie, why does Julianna dislike Buck so much? He’s nuts about her.”
“Oh, that’s Mrs. Martin’s fault.”
Melanie nodded. “When Julianna was just a little girl her father ran out on them, and Mrs. Martin had a real hard time. She filled Julianna’s head with all sorts of nonsense.”
“I can just imagine what,” Travis muttered.
“Oh, yeah. She thinks men are all immoral jerks who’d like nothing better than to take advantage of a woman. She encouraged Julianna to be independent so she wouldn’t need a man to support her, and Julianna followed her advice. She worked hard and turned the Inn into a moneymaker, and then Buck came along and bought it and started giving her orders. She automatically resented him even though she was attracted to him.”
Someone is stalking Julianna. She doesn’t know why, and neither does Buck, but he makes it his mission to watch out for her.
She wasn’t alone in the bedroom. She saw a shadowy figure silhouetted against the drapes and supposed he must have made a noise that wakened her.
She broke into a cold sweat. Should she scream or pretend to be asleep? She quickly made her decision as the dark figure approached the bed. “Buck, help me,” she screamed.
She had hoped that the noise would frighten the attacker away, but instead he crossed the room in two big strides and grabbed her. Julianna struggled mightily, but the bed covers hampered her, and the intruder was a strong man.
His hand clamped over her mouth, and when she refused to stop struggling, he drew back his fist and hit her solidly on the cheek. Momentarily stunned, Julianna relaxed into the bed. The attacker ripped the covers off and dragged her from her bed. Seconds later her limp body hit the floor with a thud as the intruder turned to face an enraged Buck Abercrombie. Buck’s fist smashed into the man’s face twice, and he lay still.
“Julianna! Are you okay?”
Of course dodging bad guys can lead to complications.
Julianna slid gingerly under the covers and Buck reached for the lamp. He plunged the room into darkness, and both he and Julianna lay tensely in the bed. Both were careful not to touch the other.
Eventually, Julianna turned on her side and spread out, assuming her favorite sleeping position. Buck’s legs were in the way so she gave an impatient kick to scoot him over.
“Stop kicking me,” Buck protested. “You’ve got most of the space anyway.”
“I do not.”
“Yeah, you do. I’m barely hanging on over here.”
Julianna sat up and reached across Buck to measure the space. “You have all kinds of room left.”
“I don’t,” Buck argued. “If I turned over I’d fall off the bed.”
A short silence fell on the room.
“I can’t sleep on this side of the bed,” Buck complained. “You’ll have to change with me.”
“I like this side. I’m not going to move.”
Buck turned over heavily, causing the bed to rock and shake.
“Be still,” Julianna smartly commanded. “How can I sleep if you keep bouncing me around?”
A minute or so passed, and Buck turned over again, bumping Julianna with his knees. Nerves on edge, Julianna kicked him again. This time he kicked her back.
War broke out with a flurry of shoving, kicking, and struggling that ended with Buck on the side of the bed that he favored with Julianna molded to his side. She shoved against the bed with her feet in an effort to root him off the edge, but Buck held fast.
The Welcome Inn is now available at http://www.wings-press.com or http://www.amazon.com Please leave a comment to be entered in the drawing for a copy of The Welcome Inn.