Unyielding Surrender:Montana Double Riders 2By: Elle Saint James
Enclave, Montana—ten miles out of town
Suzanna Creighton watched as smoke came rushing out from beneath the hood of her car, and decided right then and there that her horoscope had been completely full of shit. This was not the week to be adventurous or take a long, exciting trip.
Not that the newspaper’s Sunday prophecy had actually put her on the road. No. Marcus had done that soon after his open hand had connected soundly with the side of her face. Bastard left a mark, too. She adamantly refused to be a punching bag, or more accurately, to be bitch slapped.
Foot retreating from the gas pedal, she slowed down, pulled to the side of the lonely, empty road, coming to a complete stop, and slammed the gearshift into park. A knocking sound erupted from her engine, and another billow of smoke escaped. She turned the key off, sent up a silent prayer that she’d gotten far enough away that Marcus couldn’t find her, and stepped out of her car.
Since turning onto this road, she had seen a total of one vehicle, and it had been going the opposite direction. Sunglasses firmly in place, hiding the small bruise beneath her eye, she looked first to her left and then to her right, searching the horizon in either direction for any sign of life. Seeing nothing more exciting than dry grass moving in the early-afternoon breeze, she leaned her butt against the side of the car and wondered what in the hell she was going to do now.
Her recently purchased disposable cell phone currently had no signal. Which was not really a big surprise. The last road sign she’d seen a while back had said Enclave about twenty miles away. If she couldn’t flag down a car to at least get someone to call in a tow, she’d have to walk. A glance at the deepening afternoon sky put that scenario directly into the I hope I don’t have to pile. Likely she’d arrive in Enclave after dark.
This exact time two days ago she’d been in such a good place. Not great, not perfect, but good. Solid. Manageable. Her job as content editor of an up-and-coming women’s fashion e-magazine was on track. She didn’t make a zillion dollars, but enough to live on. Especially when supplemented with her other online job as editor for an e-publisher. The other part-time work she scrounged up now and then online—primarily helping upload files or managing websites—rounded out her modest income. All of these part-time jobs kept her from living on ramen noodles like a starving college student.
She had a good life. Had being the operative word here. In the trunk of her car rested her faithful laptop. The one instrument she needed to do the bulk of her work. In a pinch, she could do her work from anywhere with an internet connection.
Yesterday evening she’d stopped in the last large city at a chain restaurant with a free Wi-Fi hot spot. She had caught up on a few work-related loose ends while she sucked down a large coffee to stay awake before hitting the road again. She hadn’t slept much in two days. However, adrenaline still pumped through her veins, keeping her alert at the mere prospect of being caught by Marcus.
That fear had helped as she’d driven for the better part of the last two days.
Forty-eight hours of straight driving. That was far enough, right?
She sent her gaze upward. There wasn’t even a single wisp of cloud in the big blue Montana sky above her. The town of Enclave was in the middle of nowhere, which appealed to her. She’d seen the listing for the small town on a crude map, but would get a better sense of the place, if she ever got there.
Suzanna looked to the right and wondered if Enclave had a single high-speed internet connection anywhere. She could dream. If they did, maybe she’d stop there and stay for a time. Glancing at the smoke still drifting from beneath the hood of her car, she realized stopping for a while was likely exactly what she had to look forward to.
Luckily, she was ahead with her various work projects. She’d turned in several book edits for the e-publisher the other day, and had finished the work on the article deadlines for the e-magazine at home that last night before her plans had drastically changed.
She had been serenely drinking a cup of hot tea with real sugar as a reward. Just before the pounding on her front door rattled the hinges. Just before the shouting and accusations started. Just before the humiliating slap that brought immediate tears to her eyes and spun her head to one side, eventually sending her on the run.
Suzanna pushed that scene out of her head, thinking instead of the scenes in the romance novels she’d recently edited inside her mind. The romantic stories she read regularly fueled her imagination of what love should be but had never been for her. Illustrating very clearly the reality that rich, gorgeous, and completely honorable, fictional romance heroes were just that—fictional.