From the WiP, TIMBER LAKE…
Michael Brooks, bad boy back country Warden, runs on a short fuse.
Sonny Rydell, well connected and career-minded, likes playing with matches.
Michael’s living in a metal box at the KOA, keeping it simple, if not exactly real. With most folks he comes across as a surly sumbitch, but not everyone buys it. Especially not the gals running the office.
The two women stared at him like he’d just risen from the dead. They weren’t far wrong. Sally greeted him with, “Mr. Brooks,” mindful of the customer whose eyes naturally sought out what the other two women were looking at. She grimaced, mid-count, expression dulling into shock. Sally pressed the keys into the woman’s hand, wished her a good stay. The spiel was rote and well-rehearsed. Sally never took her eyes off him.
Michael wondered if he was bleeding instead of just dripping a puddle of water on the linoleum. He nodded at the woman in capris, said, “Ma’am,” and stepped aside so she could exit, dragging the kid behind her.
They all waited a heartbeat or two until the door soughed shut.
Sally said, “What happened to you?”
He held up the scissors. “I need a haircut.”
“Do we look like a fucking salon to you?”
Dolly chirruped, “Let me, Ma. I done it before.” She set the hoagies down on the counter, leaving a greasy spot on the fake wood.
Michael said, “I’ll pay.”
“Don’t need yore money, boy. Just need to know what’s up with you.”
“Ma, let me.”
“No.” She pointed to Michael and barked, “In there,” and motioned for him to go to the back office. To Dolly she said, “You, sit here. You know what to do.”
He dutifully walked into the cubicle and pulled a folding chair out from behind the desk, sat down and perched the scissors on his lap.
“Boy, you ever think about wearing swim trunks? You ain’t leaving much to the imagination.”
Michael blushed, the heat shooting to the roots of the tangled mop he desperately needed trimmed. After driving nearly thirty miles on autopilot, not allowing himself to cogitate on how he’d lost his mind that morning, the trailer had hit him like a bad cramp. The countdown to his meeting with his boss, and whoever was so important they had to ruin everyone’s weekend, loomed like a ticking bomb.
Sally picked up the scissors, asked, “You bring a comb or am I supposed to provide that too?”
“Sorry, ma’am.” He pulled a hairbrush from the pocket of his still soaked fleece pants.
“Why’d you jump in the pool, if you don’t mind my asking.” Snip snip.
She looked out the window. “Ain’t raining.” Snip.Yank.
“Ow. It was Fox Creek.” To her uh-huh, he said, “Got stung.” Liar, liar…
“Did you now.” Snip. “Some say cold’s good for that. You had swelling, right?”
She came around front, giving him stink eye, the tips of the scissors running a line down his neck to the notch at the base of his throat. “Bet that hurt like a sonofabitch.” He nodded, acknowledging the imprint Sonny had left on his neck. He was relieved she couldn’t see where ragged nails had split his skin, twisting his nipple, and rendering him nearly mad with lust.
He assumed his cheerful face, the one that usually sent women and small children running for the hills. “Yeah, but it’s good now. I took care of it.”
“I’m sure you did.” Sally brushed at his shoulders, moving fringes of hair onto the floor. “You want me to shave that?” A finger flipped at the unkempt condition of his face.
“Thought I’d keep it.” If he was heading into the mountains, he’d let it grow out anyway. No sense fussing at this point in time.
Patting his shoulder, Sally said, “Ain’t perfect but it’s better ’n it was.” He dug in his pants pocket for his soaked wallet, but she stayed his hand “Keep it, boy. You already gave an old lady her thrill for the day.” She pointed to a door at the rear of the office. “You go on out that way. I don’t need for you scandalizing good Christian folks with your considerable assets.”
He thanked the woman again, promising to help her with some maintenance work once he was back in Laramie. She countered with, “Sure as hell hope he’s worth it, Michael.”
Fuck fuck fuckity fuck. Dolly must have put two and two together and blabbed to her mother.
With a grim smile, he said, “Jury’s still out on that one, Sal.”