Home > Deacon (Unfinished Hero #4)(7)

Deacon (Unfinished Hero #4)(7)
Author: Kristen Ashley

That was pretty much all Grant got around to doing before I kicked his ass out.

“Eleven open?” Priest asked without greeting.

Eleven, by the by, had turned into the Pinto Cabin, seeing as all the prints on the walls there were of pinto horses.

I didn’t offer this information to John Priest.

“Indeed it is,” I answered, stopping in front of him.

As ever, he didn’t look me up and down, not that there was much to see. Still, we were having a warm Indian summer so I was in cutoff jeans shorts, a babydoll tee, and flip-flops. My shorts weren’t Daisy Dukes or anything but I fancied they looked okay on me. My legs were tan, though, and everyone knew that anyone looked better tanned.

Then again, I’d lost a ton of weight.

Not meaning to do it, I’d hit on a no fail diet plan. Unfortunately, that included finding out the love of my life wasn’t the love of my life but instead a guy whose greatest skill was breaking promises.

This caused a woman to throw herself into work—a scary thing when she already threw herself into work—and thus she forgot about eating.

Further, when she wasn’t working, she was moping and going over every moment of the last year that she could remember, trying to figure out where she went wrong, which was emotionally taxing and utterly fruitless. Still, it was an excellent appetite suppressant.

She did, however, drink tons of wine through this.

And tequila.

She’d also find she had a taste for bourbon.

Priest took me out of these thoughts when he looked beyond me into the cabin then he twisted his neck to look over his shoulder up the lane toward my house. Finally, his eyes came back to me.

“You need me to come back to check in?” he offered.

I shook my head. “I’ll walk up and get you your key. I can finish in here after.”

He said nothing and the only way I knew he’d heard me was that he shifted out of the door.

I moved out of the cabin, closing the door behind me, and heading to the steps that led off the front porch.

Surprisingly, when I got to the bottom of the steps, John Priest didn’t go to his truck, a colossal, black Suburban that had mud streaming up its sides, more caked on the wheel wells.

He fell in step beside me.

Unsurprisingly, he didn’t speak.

So I did.

“We have a website now. I don’t know if you noticed coming in, but I had the new sign put up at the top of the lane so people can see it from the street. I finally decided on what to call the place. Glacier Lily Cottages. That’s our web address too. There’s a phone number and e-mail on the site if you want to contact me ahead of time to make sure eleven is open. We’re not full up very often but we’re getting busier.”

As I was speaking, I put one foot in front of the other. So did he. I quit talking. He didn’t start.

So I kept going.

“I can’t take bookings on-line yet but that’s hopefully coming. It’s just a little more complicated to pull things like that off. I can do web design but that kind of thing requires a professional. Or, at least for me it does. But an e-mail is the same thing, if the unit is free.”

He made no comment.

I had nothing more to say.

We arrived at my house and I felt him move in a way that wasn’t walking so I looked up to see him scanning the area outside the house.

“Grant’s gone,” I shared, guessing at what he was looking for, and his eyes tipped down to me. “It didn’t work out.”

“Not a surprise,” Priest declared. “He was a dick.”

I blinked.

“A lazy one,” he went on.

“I…” I began but trailed off, shocked not only that he noticed but that he had something to say about it, and further, he said it.

“Eleven?” he prompted when I said nothing.

I pulled myself out of my surprised stupor, nodded, and jogged up the steps to my house.

He followed me, came inside, and did the registering thing while I got his key.

When he was done, he turned to me.

“Still sixty?” he asked and I shook my head.

“Seventy.”

He said nothing, just pulled out his wallet, took out some bills, and handed me five of them. Four of them hundreds. The fifth, a fifty.

“Five days,” he stated.

“Right,” I muttered, not even bothering to offer him change. I knew the drill. A drill which included him shoving the key through the mail slot in my front door as his means of checking out.

“You want my ID?”

I smiled at him. “I think we’re good with that.”

He didn’t look at my mouth to take in my smile. He also didn’t speak further. He reached toward me, took the key from my hand, and walked out the door.

I walked out behind him, stood on my front porch, and watched him move down the lane.

He wasn’t graceful, he was too big to be graceful, but he was athletic.

Men walked the way he walked when they approached the place they’d throw a javelin or when they positioned at the line of scrimmage or moved to the top of the tennis court prior to serving. Loose but prepared. Alert but at ease. It was strange.

It was also hot.

And as with all things John Priest, it was a little scary.

I put John Priest, my top patron and still my only return customer, out of my head, turned to my door, closed it, and then walked across my porch. I hopped down the steps and headed to cabin four to finish stripping the sheets.

* * * * *

“Coming!” I shouted from the kitchen after I heard the knock on the front door.

I hustled out and into my softly lit foyer, going straight to the door. I saw the hulking shadowy figure that was silhouetted by the outside lights through the filmy curtains that covered the windows in the door and knew who it was immediately.

I turned the locks, threw off the chain, and looked up into John Priest’s aloof but handsome face.

“Hey,” I greeted.

“Yo,” he replied.

“Come in out of the cold,” I invited, stepping aside for him to do just that.

He did and I caught a glimpse of his Suburban, stark black against the white tufts of snow in January in the mountains of Colorado.

I closed the door on the chill and turned to him to see he was standing, facing the registration book, but his head was turned toward the kitchen.

“Cookies,” I explained the scent in the air as I rounded him and his eyes tipped down to me. “I’m in the mood. Christmas does that to me. I’m an extreme baker at Christmas and it doesn’t wear off until after Valentine’s Day.”

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