Twist:A Dive Bar Novel(6)

By: Kylie Scott



Water dripped off his beard, soaking into the T-shirt already plastered against his body. I suspected he was carrying off the storm-drenched look better than I was. Bastard. Even by streetlight it was obvious he was fit and strong. A big guy. More barrel-chested where his brother was lean. “My point is that we work as friends and that’s worth saving. And also, I get that you would not have been interested in talking to me if Eric’s photo hadn’t been attached. Would you?”

“I guess we’ll never know.”

“Bullshit.”

“Fuck you,” I spat straight back at him, stabbing him in the chest with a finger. “You lied to me. Over and over again, you lied. You let me believe you were someone else. Does that really say ‘friend’ to you? Blame it on your insecurities, your loneliness, sibling rivalry, whatever. I don’t care. But you made the choice to do that. Not me. You. The end.”

And I meant it. I strode on, leaving him standing there, scowling up a storm. Pun intended.

Lumbersexuals were clearly the worst. Truth was, I’d never been especially into beards. At best, I’d been indifferent. Now, however, I outright despised them. Horrible hairy frames for lying lips and duplicitous tongues, that’s what they were. Loathsome whiskery bastards. Burn them all in a fire.

* * *

“It’s late at night in the middle of a storm,” Captain Obvious bellowed out after me. “Where are you going, Alex?”

I ignored him and kept walking. Midtown, where the Dive Bar was located, didn’t offer many options. A couple of shops, all currently closed. Coeur d’Alene itself, however, was a decent-size place. As soon as I escaped my stalker I’d pull out my cell and call an Uber. Find the nearest hotel or something.

“Downtown’s another six blocks. You seriously going to walk all that way in the rain?”

And now I knew I was heading in the right direction.

“At least let me help you with your suitcase.”

I gripped the handle of my half-rolling, half-bouncing suitcase harder, and ignored him.

A steady flow of grumbling punctuated by more than the occasional profanity followed along behind me. It was pretty much just him, me, my rattling suitcase, and the sound of the rain. He had to give up and go away eventually. Surely.

But he didn’t.

When I at long last trudged up the steps to the Lake Hotel, it was with him still in tow. All the way I’d ignored him. Now he stood, waiting patiently out in the rain, as I entered the building. The place was nice. A glowing fire pit with a leather lounge, and big floor-to-ceiling windows looking out into the darkness.

“Can I help you, ma’am?” A polite young man stood behind the front desk, smile frozen in place.

“I’d like a room, please,” I said with as much dignity as I could muster. Not easy with me dripping on their tiled floor. Oh, and my legs were splattered with drops of mud. The designer suede heels had turned a sad sort of brown from walking through puddles along the side of the road. Lovely. The cold rain had almost frozen me solid and blisters covered what remained of my feet. I couldn’t have felt more sorry for myself. “If you have one available?”

“Of course.” It took a moment longer than it should have for his gaze to move from me to the computer. Fair enough. “I have a Classic or we also have a—”

“Does it have a hot shower and a mini-bar?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Then I’ll take it.”

He blinked. “Ah. Yes, ma’am. I’ll arrange that for you right now.”

I almost wept with gratitude. But the boy behind the desk looked weirded out enough by my sodden self already. Ever so subtly I peeked over my shoulder. The street was empty. He was gone. Phew.

I wondered how long it would take for this whole little adventure to turn into some funny story I told people. Except no part of me was amused. Not even a single cell. My Eric, the beautiful man from the Internet, didn’t exist. Not really. Because the guy who’d charmed me with long, rambling emails about life and everything was a liar. And everyone knew, you couldn’t trust a liar.

Again I gazed over my shoulder, out into the rain. He was still gone. I’d probably never see him again and that was for the best. It was. Tomorrow I’d go home. Back to the safety of my apartment and my neatly organized, uncomplicated life. Eventually I’d forget all the things we’d shared in those emails, the sense of companionship and the excitement of seeing that name in my inbox. The way I’d started to shuffle my life around reading his nightly missives. For not the first time tonight, I blinked back tears, ignoring the sting of saltwater in my eyes.

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