2017 Jewel Donovan
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Stone hit the brakes on his black pickup as a deer ran out across the
road ahead. Years of experience with driving on icy roads allowed him
to maintain control as the vehicle skidded a little before coming to
grey compact car coming the other way wasn’t so lucky. The driver
must have panicked and swerved to avoid hitting the deer. The car’s
wheels locked up as it went into a skid, sliding on the ice-covered
road, brakes squealing, until it went off the road into the ditch,
coming to a hard stop against a utility pole.
cursed and pulled his truck over as far to the side of the road as he
dared, threw the vehicle into park, and turned on his four-way
flashers. He knew that this road was a dead spot for cell service, so
he didn’t even bother to check for a signal as he got out and ran
as fast as was possible on the ice towards the other vehicle. The car
hadn’t been going too fast when it had hit the pole, and he
mentally crossed his fingers that the other driver wasn’t badly
hurt. The deer had escaped injury, darting away and running through
the field that bordered the side of the road.
radiator was steaming, the bumper crumpled. The airbags had deployed,
and he could see someone slumped against the one on the driver’s
side. It was a woman dressed in a dark blue coat with a green knit
ski hat pulled over shoulder-length dark brown hair.
climbed down into the ditch as quickly as he dared and tapped on the
window. “Hey! Ma’am, are you alright?”
was still for a few moments, making him worry she might have lost
consciousness, before she sat back, looking stunned. She blinked a
few times, shook her head slightly, then looked through the window at
him with wide blue eyes.
okay?” he asked, tugging at the door handle. It remained shut. The
door must be locked.
shrank back a bit when she saw him before lowering the window a few
scant inches. “Did—did I hit the deer?” she asked, her voice
felt his eyebrows rise. The woman had just been in an accident. While
she didn’t appear to be hurt, she had to be feeling shaken, and her
car was likely no longer driveable, yet she was worried about the
deer? “No, it ran off.”
let out a breath of relief. “Good,” she said.
sure you’re okay?” he asked. “You hit a pole.”
god,” she exclaimed, as if just realizing what had happened to her
vehicle. “Is my car okay?”
glanced over at the hissing radiator and crumpled front end and shook
his head regretfully. “I think it’s toast.”
no.” She bit her lip, looking on the verge of tears.
as long as you’re okay, right? Nothing seems to be broken? You
didn’t hit your head on anything?”
the airbag count?” she asked, pressing a hand to her temple, then
said, “No, nothing feels like it’s broken.”
turned off the ignition, then pulled out a cell phone before Will
said, “Don’t bother. There’s no service out here.”
didn’t respond as she tapped in a passcode and checked for herself.
She waved the phone around at different angles for a few moments
before muttering, “Damn it,” under her breath.
Will thought, but instead only said, “Need a ride back to town? You
can call for a tow from there.” When she looked undecided, he
added, “This road isn’t used much and it might be a while before
someone else comes by.”
nibbled on her lower lip for a moment, considering. “Maybe you
could call in a tow for me when you get there?” she asked, most
likely wanting to avoid getting into a stranger’s vehicle.
wouldn’t feel right leaving you out here alone. It’s going to be
dark soon, and it’s too cold. The temperature is already well below
freezing, and it’s supposed to drop another ten degrees tonight.”
As if to prove his point, a blast of icy-cold late November wind blew
across them, making them both shiver. “You could freeze to death
out here.” When she still looked reluctant, he cracked what he
hoped was a reassuring smile. “I swear I’m not an axe murderer,”
he said. “I’m Will, by the way. Will Stone.”
Am—” she cut herself off before finishing, “Lily.”
he trailed off, waiting for her to supply her last name.
seemed awfully suspicious. He wondered where she was from. Probably a
bigger city. People tended to be a lot less trusting in bigger cities
than where he was from, which had a population of about five thousand
people. “Okay, just Lily, it’s only about a ten-minute drive to
Haven,” he said, referring to his hometown. “You passed the
turnoff a couple of minutes ago.”
appeared to wrestle with the decision before reluctantly saying, “I
guess. Thanks.” She opened the car door and climbed out, revealing
that she wasn’t properly dressed for an Alberta winter. Her
navy-blue peacoat was too thin for this wind. While she had a ski hat
on, her hands were bare, and she was wearing a pair of well-worn
jeans and ankle boots that looked more fashionable than practical.
They all but disappeared into the snowdrift. She pressed her lips
together in a grimace, and Will guessed that her footwear had
probably filled with snow the second she’d stepped out of the car.
She obviously wasn’t from around here, or she’d know how to dress
for this weather. He doubted she had thermals on underneath those
What the hell was he doing thinking about her undergarments? This is
what came from going without sex for over six months.
now what the hell was he doing thinking about sex? If Lily could read
his thoughts she’d probably run screaming down the road. It was
clear she didn’t want to spend any more time in his company than
she had to, much less get any more intimately acquainted. He felt his
face heat, hoping she wouldn’t notice, or that if she did, she’d
think his cheeks were just red from the cold and wind. He had to stop
thinking like that. She was clearly afraid he was a creep. Better to
not act like one, even if it was just in his own mind.
reached back in to grab a stuffed duffle bag, and that was when Will
saw that her car was packed full of suitcases and boxes.
on a trip somewhere?” he asked.
looked at him sharply, then quickly slid her glance away. “Something
like that.” As she slung the handle of the bag over her shoulder,
it banged against her side and she winced.
sure you’re okay?” Will asked. “Maybe I should take you to the
hospital first. Get everything checked out.”
she exclaimed abruptly, before her voice softened and she added, “I
mean, no thanks. I’m fine.”
sure? I don’t want you passing out on me.”
sure I’ll be fine. It’s just a fender bender.”
was a bit more serious than a fender bender, but Will refrained from
saying so as Lily locked the car and began to climb out of the ditch.
impractical boots slipped on the snow-covered ice, and Will reached
out a hand to catch her. “Careful,” he cautioned.
jerked away from his touch, which only made her slip again.
woman was as jumpy as a mouse in a snake’s cage. “Hey, I’m not
going to hurt you,” he said. “I just don’t want you to fall.”
she said quickly. This time she let him take her arm to help her back
onto the road, but he could feel that she was shaking. From the cold,
or because he was touching her? He released her as soon as they were
out of the ditch. His truck was sitting where he’d left it, still
running, the driver’s side door open. He led her around to the
passenger side, opened the door, and took her duffle bag, tossing it
up onto the bench seat before saying, “You might need a boost to
get in.” He didn’t think she’d want him touching her again, but
she was a small woman, maybe a few inches over five feet, and his
truck was high. How many times had his sister Abby complained that
she practically needed mountain climbing gear to get into the
again, Lily looked reluctant before she accepted his help. Though he
only touched her for a few seconds to help her in, he felt a prickle
of awareness in his hands even with his gloves on. It had been too
long since he’d touched a woman, he thought. This woman obviously
had no interest in being touched by anyone. Or at least not by him.
He knew some people found him intimidating given that he was six feet
tall and muscular from years of manual labor.
had no business feeling a spark of attraction for her. He was just
helping a stranded motorist get back to town. Just a good guy doing
someone a favor. He’d have done it for anyone.
but you wouldn’t be feeling the beginnings of a hard-on if she
weren’t so darn attractive.
time he made a delivery trip to Edmonton he was going to stay
overnight, hit up a bar, and put an end to his current sexual
drought. Then next time he found a pretty young woman stranded on the
side of the road, he wouldn’t think inappropriate thoughts about
This was going to be a long drive back to Haven. Even if it was only
going to take ten minutes.
winced as the truck door slammed shut, the loud noise making her jump
as he closed it and headed around to the driver’s side of the
vehicle. What more could go wrong today? she wondered as she fastened
her seat belt. She’d known that leaving in the middle of winter
probably wasn’t a good idea, especially when she’d been taking
the Coquihalla mountain pass from British Columbia, but she’d felt
she’d had no choice. She’d had to leave. She’d been planning to
leave next spring, but things had gotten much worse in the last few
days, and Lily had been afraid that if she didn’t leave now, she
might never get out of there alive.
all the rotten luck. She’d made it through the terrifying drive of
the mountain pass just before they’d shut down the highway due to
poor road conditions and reduced visibility from blowing snow, only
to be taken off the road by a stray deer. The accident had left her
so shaken she’d almost slipped up and given her rescuer her real
name. A name she had left behind her in BC. From now on, she was
determined to think of herself as Lily Smith, the name on her fake
driver’s license. Amanda Sullivan was dead. Gone. Along with the
long blond hair that she’d hacked off and dyed a dark brown. It
would be just her luck to have come this far only to screw up and
give her real name.
would bet Will was suspicious already, the way she’d reacted to his
suggestion that he take her to a hospital. While she had a fake
driver’s license, she had nothing else. No health-care card, no
insurance. To say nothing of not wanting to leave any documentation
behind that could be followed. It wasn’t like she had enough money
to pay out of pocket for x-rays or whatever other tests they’d want
to run at the hospital. She didn’t have much cash on her, just the
bit she’d managed to save over the last few months and what her
best friend Jane had been able to spare. She hadn’t wanted to take
her friend’s money, insisting that Jane had done enough with
helping her to get a used car that couldn’t be easily traced, to
procuring her a fake ID. But her friend had insisted, and Lily had
known she hadn’t had much choice. She needed money for gas and food
if she was going to get away. She’d pretty much planned to drive to
the biggest city her money would take her and then try to find a job
from there that would be willing to pay her in cash.
if her car was damaged enough to be a write-off? She didn’t have
the money to replace it. Or for much in the way of repairs, even if
it was salvageable. She could perhaps take a bus out of town, but
then she’d have to leave a lot of her stuff behind. Not to mention
the fact that she’d planned to sleep in her car until she could
afford a place to live.
eyes stung with unshed tears and she furiously blinked them back.
Crying would solve nothing. She’d learned that a long time ago. It
was bad enough that she’d had to accept a ride from a stranger. And
not just any stranger, but a guy who looked big enough and strong
enough to knock her into next week without even breaking a sweat. Why
couldn’t she have been found by a nice couple or some sweet little
old lady? Not by a guy with a slightly crooked grin that made her
feel a tingle she hadn’t felt in a long time. She ruthlessly
squelched it. The last thing she needed right now was to get tangled
up with a man. Any man, but especially not one who looked like he
outweighed her by a hundred pounds.
truck rocked a bit as he climbed in. She tried not to jump when he
slammed that door shut, too.
fastened his seat belt, then cranked the heat. “It’ll warm up in
here pretty quick. If you stick your hands in front of the vent, they
should thaw out by the time we get into town.”
he’d noticed that she didn’t have any gloves on. Just what she
needed, to be rescued by someone observant. If anyone came asking
questions, she could be in trouble. And asking him not to tell anyone
anything about her would only make him suspicious. “Thanks,” she
said quietly, holding her cold fingers up to the hot air blowing out
of the vent. They stung as the circulation returned to them.
where are you headed?” he asked, as he got the truck moving.
passing through,” she said quickly.
from around here, are you?”
shot a glance at him. “What makes you say that?”
you’re not dressed for this weather for one thing, and your car has
What was this guy, a detective? Just her luck, he’d probably turn
out to be a cop. “Anyone ever tell you that you ask a lot of
glanced over at her and flashed a wry smile before turning his gaze
back to the road. “Hazards of living in a smaller town. We tend to
be a bit nosy. Sorry.”
nodded, then pointedly turned her gaze out the window, hoping to
avoid more conversation.
take you to the coffee shop on Main Street and I can call Paul from
there,” he said.
guy who runs the best garage in town. He’s a pal of mine. He’s
the one I’d trust to not try to cheat you.”
can call him myself, thanks.”
you even know what range road we’re on to tell him where your car
damn, the man had a point. She’d had no GPS and had been following
the highway signs. She must have taken a wrong turn off the main road
and had been wondering where she was just before the deer had run out
in front of her.
Thanks. After you call him, you can just drop me off at the coffee
shop, and I can take it from there,” she said, hoping he’d take
the hint and leave her alone after that.
problem, I was planning to stop there anyways. I’ll even buy you a
cup of coffee.”
he was persistent. “You don’t have to do that,” she said
quickly. “I already owe you enough as it is.”
don’t owe me anything. Just being friendly.”
guys often seemed friendly. At first. Right up until they had you
trapped. Then they accused you of cheating on them for being ten
minutes late getting home from work and backhanded you to the floor.
“I’ll buy my own coffee, thanks,” she said, her voice clipped.
just a cup of coffee, Lily. I really don’t mind.”
felt like protesting some more, but realized she might appear weird
or shrewish if she continued. And he was right. It was just a cup of
coffee. It wasn’t like he’d asked her for a blow job.
crap! Why the hell had she just thought that? He hadn’t made a
single sexual innuendo towards her. Why had her mind gone there?
Maybe because she’d felt a spark of attraction for him since the
moment he’d knocked on her car window, asking if she was okay. And
she’d felt a tingle when he’d touched her, even through the
fabric of his gloves and her clothing, a tingle that wasn’t just
fear. She could still feel where his hands had been on her when he’d
helped boost her up into the truck. Lily felt her face heat and
ducked her chin down, hoping to hide her furious blush behind her
hair. The last thing she needed was for him to guess that she’d had
a moment’s thought of giving him a blow job. So far he’d seemed
friendly, but she would be daft to forget that she was in his vehicle
and at his mercy. He could drive her off to some remote area if he
wished and do whatever he wanted with her. While she had pepper spray
in her pocket, it wasn’t enough to make her feel safe.
pulled her hands away from the vent and tucked them into her pockets
so he wouldn’t see them shaking. And closed her hand around the can
of pepper spray like it was a talisman. “Okay. Coffee sounds good.”
was saved from trying to make more small talk by their arrival into
town. The sign proclaimed the town’s name as Haven, claiming it was
the friendliest town in Alberta. Though it was the last week of
November, the place was already decorated for the holidays, with
wreaths hanging off lampposts and trees twinkling with colored
lights. Lily had to admit it looked pretty. Will pulled into the
parking lot of a diner. Lily was getting out of the truck almost
before he had turned the engine off. It was a bit of a jump down, and
she let out a grunt as she landed harder than she’d expected,
having not accounted for the added weight of her duffle bag.
you okay? I’d have helped you down,” she heard Will protest from
she’d just bet he would have. The guy was way too helpful for her
comfort level. She wasn’t going to let him put his hands on her
again if she had any say in the matter. She wasn’t sure what she
was more afraid of, the fact that they looked like strong hands that
could snap her arm with little effort, or the fact that she didn’t
want to feel any of those disconcerting tingles again. “I’m
fine,” she assured him before shutting the truck door and hurrying
towards the diner, more than ready to put some distance between them.
tinkled as she opened the door to the diner. The place was decorated
for Christmas on the inside as well. On the sound system, someone was
singing about rocking around the Christmas tree. A middle-aged woman
wearing a festive apron and carrying a coffee pot said, “Sit
anywhere you like, honey, I’ll be right with you.”
slid into an empty booth, placing her duffle bag between her and the
wall to ensure that no one could grab it easily. A few moments later
Will took the seat opposite, already talking on his cell phone,
telling the person on the other end where to find her car. “Her
name’s Lily, you can call her back at—” he looked at her, brows
raised, waiting for her number.
Lily pulled out her phone and tapped in her passcode. She’d had to
leave her old one behind and had bought an untraceable pay-as-you-go
phone to replace it. She’d only had it for a day and didn’t have
the number memorized yet. She pulled up the necessary information and
read it out to Will, who relayed it, asked a few more questions, then
ended the call.
says they’ll be able to get to your car in about half an hour, but
they probably won’t be able to give you an estimate on repairs
until tomorrow afternoon.”
bit her lip. It wouldn’t matter how much repairs cost, a couple
hundred dollars or a couple thousand. She wouldn’t have enough cash
to cover it, and she had no credit cards. It looked like she was
stuck here for the time being. She’d have to find a job to pay for
repairs. She hadn’t put nearly enough distance between herself and
Vancouver to feel even remotely safe, and especially not in a smaller
town. It was much harder to disappear in a place where people knew
the mechanics by name. Why couldn’t she have at least made it to
now she had no place to sleep. With the temperatures as low as they
were, sleeping in her car wouldn’t have been comfortable, but she’d
figured if she ran the engine every few hours to warm up, she’d
planned this escape for months. She thought she’d prepared for
every contingency. Who would have guessed she’d be derailed by a
waitress came over and asked, “You need menus?”
two coffees, Joleen, thanks,” Will answered, stripping off his
gloves before pulling off his knit hat to reveal hair that was some
color between blond and brown.
added cream and sugar to her coffee before wrapping her hands around
the mug, absorbing the welcome warmth.
is there somewhere I can take you?” Will asked after Joleen walked
off. “You got a place to stay?”
don’t know,” Lily replied, once more feeling the bite of tears.
Stupid, useless tears. She forced them back and took a sip of coffee
so she could hide behind the mug. “Is there a motel in town?
Something inexpensive?” she asked hopefully, although she doubted
it. The place looked like a tourist trap. There probably wasn’t
anything from a major chain in it. And no matter what, it was money
she could ill afford to spend. And would any place around here accept
cash without a credit card for a deposit?
was silent for a few moments before saying, “I just had a thought.
Looks like you’ll be stuck here while you’re waiting for your car
to be fixed. Are you interested in a job?”
job? You know someone who’s hiring?” Please
let it be for some sweet harmless little old lady,
she thought. She needed to get away from him and his intimidating
size and smiles that made her stomach do funny things. Or maybe that
stomach thing was because she hadn’t eaten since that gas station
bagel four hours ago. She hoped.
stifled a laugh. Could she cook? She’d wanted to be a chef since
she was a little girl, maybe open her own café or run a catering
business. And she’d spent the last six years working at Jane’s
Diner as a cook. And at another restaurant before that. “I can
She felt her hopes rise for the first time since she’d lost control
of her car on that icy road.
looking for a housekeeper.”
felt her stomach sink. She’d been hoping he was asking on behalf of
someone else, not himself. No such luck.
includes room and board and pays three hundred dollars a week. I can
pay you in cash.” He lifted his coffee and downed nearly half of it
all at once.
job and a place to stay? That would mean that she could pay off her
car repairs even faster without housing costs to eat into her wages.
She knew she should jump at the chance. It was like a gift—except
it came with him attached. An altogether too-attractive man who made
her nervous in more ways than one. Was this even a legit offer, or
had he made it up to get her to go home with him? Maybe he just
wanted to get her alone. Although she supposed he could have done
that earlier, when she was in his truck. “I don’t know…”
last housekeeper left a week ago, and there’s only so long my
younger sister and I can live on grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato
soup out of a can.”
sister?” Maybe this could work if they had a chaperone, even a
pint-sized one. “Is childcare involved?”
gave a bark of laughter. “Don’t let Abby hear you say that. She’s
seventeen going on thirty.”
see.” Lily took another sip of coffee to give herself time to
think. “So it’s just the two of you?”
been just the two of us for the last ten years, since our parents
I’m sorry,” she said reflexively.
was a long time ago.”
that meant he must have been taking care of his sister since she was
seven, all on his own. That couldn’t have been easy. He must have
been very young when his folks died. He didn’t look like he could
be more than thirty, if that. He probably was close to her age of
guy had to be too good to be true. He rescued stranded motorists,
offered much-needed jobs to them, and now she found out he’d been
orphaned and had raised his kid sister all by himself.
sure it’s not a problem that I’m not planning to stay long term?”
fine. I’m sure I can find someone else by the time you want to
should stop protesting before he changed his mind. It wasn’t like
she had any other options.
can give it a try for a week. If you hate it, you can move on to
something else. What do you say?” he asked.
stared at him silently. “Why are you being so nice to me?” she
blurted out before she thought better of it.
looked surprised. “Why not?”
don’t know.” Except in her experience people tended not to go out
of their way to help others. Apart from Jane, no one else had
bothered. People had pretended not to notice her makeup covering a
bruise, her long sleeves even when it was hot out, or the fact that
she “walked into doorknobs” or “fell down the stairs” or was
“sick” a lot. And before that, her mom had taken off when she was
eleven. Her dad had drowned his sorrows in the bottle, then taken his
anger out on her. She hadn’t had much kindness in her life, and
most of the time, what seemed like kindness at first came at a price
what we tend to do around here. If you stay here long enough, you’ll
find that out.”
wasn’t planning to stick around that long, but she refrained from
I said before, I’m not an axe murderer. Joleen will vouch for me.
Won’t you, Joleen?” he said, raising his voice a little.
I what?” Joleen asked as she came over to their table.
Lily here that I’m not an axe murderer.”
laughed. “Very funny, Will. Everyone in town knows you wouldn’t
hurt a fly. He’s not an axe murderer, honey,” she added to Lily.
shook her head no, while Will had Joleen add more coffee to his mug.
Lily’s planning to be your housekeeper?”
seemed that the job was legit, not a ruse to get her into his house.
If the waitress already knew about it, then he’d probably been
asking around town for someone to fill the position.
hasn’t said yes. Yet,” Will grinned. “Maybe you can convince
a great guy,” Joleen said. “If I was you, I’d take the job.”
wasn’t like Lily had any other options. If he turned out to be a
creep, well, she’d just have to find a way to deal with it. And
hopefully the fact that he had a sister living with him would act as
a buffer. “Okay. I guess I’m your new housekeeper.”
He gave her another smile that made her stomach flip.
boy, she was in trouble here.
this?” A young lady asked as soon as they stepped into Will’s
home, a two-level rancher on the edge of town. This must be his
sister Abby. While the girl’s hair color was a few shades darker
than his, a deep rich brown, and her jaw narrower, they had the same
cheekbones and chocolate-brown eyes. Anyone would guess from just a
glance that they were related.
where Will was all smiles and easy, open friendliness, his sister had
her arms folded, her expression guarded and a touch hostile. Not even
a hint of a smile to be seen.
new housekeeper,” Will answered. “Her name’s Lily. Lily, this
Lily said, her voice hesitant. Was this why they were currently
without a housekeeper? Had Abby’s cold attitude driven the last one
didn’t respond to the greeting. “I told you we don’t need a new
housekeeper,” she said to Will, pointedly ignoring Lily.
we do. You’re too busy with your midterms and college
lower lip thrust out in a pout. “I said I could handle it.”
shouldn’t have to,” Will responded. “And anyway, the decision’s
shifted from foot to foot, feeling awkward standing there while they
had a family argument, but not knowing what else to do. It wasn’t
like she knew which room was going to be hers so she could escape
while Will and Abby had it out. She looked around, taking in the
slightly cluttered home, and pretended she didn’t hear them.
glanced over at Lily, giving her a once-over before looking back at
Will and asking, “Where’d you find this one? Wandering along the
side of the road?”
Will exclaimed. “That was rude.”
girl’s face flushed with a mixture of anger and embarrassment. Her
gaze dropped to her feet. “Sorry,” she mumbled, not sounding at
found herself studying her feet as well. Abby couldn’t know how
close to the mark she’d been. Will had
found her on the side of the road, after all, even if she hadn’t
been actually wandering along it at the time.
only going to be here for a short time. We can try to get along for a
little while, can’t we?”
Will said. “I’ll show Lily around, let her get settled, and then
she can maybe rustle us up some dinner.”
looked like she wanted to say something else, but instead just turned
and stalked away. A few moments later a door closed with a bit more
force than necessary.
looked chagrined. “Sorry about that. Teenagers, you know?”
alright,” Lily hurried to reassure him. “Seventeen can be a
difficult age.” How well she knew that. When she’d been seventeen
she’d been counting down the days to her eighteenth birthday, until
she could leave home, all the while trying to juggle a part-time job
and keep her grades up. To say nothing of dealing with hormone
think about hormones!
Right now hers were a little too active for comfort. She’d like for
them to take a nice long hibernation for the rest of the winter. Or
perhaps the rest of her life. Those things caused nothing but
shed their outerwear and shoes before Will showed her around. The
lower level had a rec room, a laundry room, and a door that he said
led to his workshop. Apparently he made a living building furniture.
a cop, then,
she thought. Thank
On the upper level there was a basic kitchen that had a few dirty
dishes in the sink and on the counters, a small dining room, a cozy
living room, a bathroom, and three bedrooms, hers located at the end
of the hall. It was a small room that had a sleigh bed made of
caramel colored wood and was made up with a red plaid quilt. A
matching dresser and a nightstand with a lamp on it completed the
set. Lily wondered if he’d made the furniture.
a lock on the door,” he said, showing her the slide bolt on the
inside, making her breathe a small sigh of relief that she hoped he
hadn’t noticed. With a lock on the door, she might sleep a little
separate bathroom, I’m afraid, you’ll have to share the main one
with Abby. I’ve got an ensuite, so at least it isn’t three of us
to one bathroom.”
only public bathrooms and the prospect of having to shower at a gym,
even a shared bathroom sounded heavenly. “That’ll be fine.”
so while you get settled, I’ll head over to the garage and get your
don’t have to do that,” she protested automatically before he cut
no problem. Besides, how would you get it here? Plan to carry it
across town?” he asked with a laugh.
gave a small laugh in return. It felt strange, laughing. She hadn’t
laughed in a long time. “I guess that wouldn’t be very
practical,” she said, dropping her duffle bag on the bed. “Thank
you,” she added, feeling like she’d been saying that to him a lot
since she’d met him. “I’ll get started on some dinner. Any
no one’s allergic to anything, and we’re not into any of those
fancy diets. Just basic home cooking is fine. I’ll need your keys,”
course. Lily dug them out of her pocket and dropped them into his
waiting hand, careful to not let their fingers touch. “Thanks
he said before walking out.
sat down on the bed. What had she gotten herself into? She was now
living with a man when she’d sworn off all men. Not that she was
living with him in that sense, but still. She’d planned to stay far
away from men from now on. She was through with the lot of them. Yet
here she was taking help from one, and now she was living in his
sister didn’t appear to be too keen on the idea, either. Lily hoped
Abby wasn’t going to make her life hell.
just for a little while,
she reminded herself. Once she had the car repairs paid off and maybe
a bit extra for gas and food, she’d be out of here, as far away as
she could get. Some big city where she could disappear. Someplace
where she’d hopefully never be found. She just hoped Trevor didn’t
catch up with her in the meantime. Maybe it was a good thing this was
a smaller town. He might not think to look here. And it was named
Haven. Maybe a sign?
snorted, then pressed a hand to her aching ribs. Though she didn’t
think they were broken, they were badly bruised from where Trevor had
kicked her that last time he’d gotten angry. The last time he’d
beaten her, calling her a cheating whore. What a joke that was. She’d
never been with anyone but him. They’d been together since she was
sixteen and he seventeen. She’d had stars in her eyes when he had
asked her out. The captain of the basketball team interested in her,
the socially awkward girl with thrift-store clothes and hardly any
friends. It had seemed like a dream at first. She’d moved out the
day she had turned eighteen to live with him. Her dad had called her
a whore, too, as she left. Along with a bunch of other names, before
he told her to never come crawling back to him for anything.
gave herself a mental shake. That part of her life was over. It
didn’t bear thinking about. She’d better see what she could fix
kitchen hadn’t been well stocked, but Lily had found enough to make
a ham frittata and cheese biscuits, something she could have on the
table in half an hour. She had just pulled a barstool up to the
kitchen counter to eat her portion when Will came into the room.
you going to join us, Lily?”
I hadn’t thought…I mean, you’re my employer. I didn’t want to
intrude.” Plus she didn’t think Abby would be thrilled by the