The Assignment: A Dark Midlife Romance

Sneak Peek of my Newest Vella - The Assignment: A Dark Midlife Romance

Being three beers in already by lunchtime isn’t weird when you’ve been on the night shift for almost twenty years.

Trying to flip-flop between the normal flow of daytime folks and how my life worked out didn’t appeal to me. So I hovered over reality like a ghost and went about my business when I wasn’t asleep, waiting for someone to pull me into their world for a while.

The exhaust popping on the motorcycles pulling in the parking lot made me flinch to life, and I peeked up in the window just as my newest obsession pulled off his helmet. Unlike his round-bellied friend getting off the bike beside him, the man in the snug black t-shirt was a wall of solid muscle from head to toe.

Whatever kind of twisted face I made when I ducked down to find out what his face finally looked like in the mirror had the barkeeper tapping the countertop to apologize. “Don’t worry. All those bikers are only here through the weekend. This place will be a ghost town again by Sunday night.”

The green metal door opened, filling the whole room with light and obscuring him entirely in the reflection. “It’s all good.” Blinking my eyes to adjust to the room’s darkness again, I wiggled my fingers by my ear. “I have those noise-canceling headphones if they get too rowdy.”

Rubbing the second coat of polish into the bar since I’d sat down, he shrugged back at me. “They come once a year to party by the lake, but they never cause any problems.”

I felt someone moving behind me, and the bartender smiled as he shot whoever it was with his finger gun. “Except for this troublemaker right here.”

A hint of a cool lavender-rosemary cologne mixed with motor oil seeped into my space, and my entire body switched on. An arm covered in tattoos came into the corner of my eye to shake the bartender’s hand. “Hey man, can I get a round of beers for everyone over here?”

Like a deer about to be smashed by a truck, I froze completely when the man in the black shirt sat on the stool beside me. So deep and soft I barely heard him, he leaned a little closer to my ear. “How are you doing?”

I glanced in his direction, coming face to face with the most beautiful human being I ever met — or maybe it was just the lack of sex talking. “Just wonderful. How about you?”

Staring me down with that uncomfortable way his eyes bounced between my eyes and mouth, he finally cracked a smile. “It just keeps getting better.” His fingers wiggled for me to grab them. “My name’s Swede. And you are?”

I flipped my hand back away from my bottle. “Maddie Savage.”

His pale blond eyebrow flicked at me as he gave my hand a squeeze. “That’s a badass name, Maddie Savage.”

I was all alone and half drunk mid-day in the middle of the week, and I snorted a laugh as I went back to peeling the label from my bottle with my thumbnail. “Yep. That’s me. Miss Bad Ass.”

He crossed his arms on the bar, leaning over them slightly so we were side by side. “How are you enjoying your stay in Pine View, Miss Bad Ass?”

Honestly, the highlight of my time here so far was sneaking peeks at him through the curtains of my room as he hung out with his buddies in the parking lot. But I just shrugged back at him as I brought the bottle to my lips. “I haven’t been out of the inn since I got into town. So...”

One of his fingers left his arm and rubbed along my elbow. “I know this place pretty well. You should let me take you for a ride so I can show you around.”

I kind of had a rule about the men I let myself be alone with, and I was breaking it all to hell even speaking to him. “Um, that sounds fun and all.”

I leaned away enough to check out his body, from the top of his longish blond hair to the bottom of his brown boots. But as soon as I saw that long-ass knife hanging from his hip, my entire body sank as I put up my hand to him. “You might be a serial killer or something. So, I think I’ll have to pass.”

Rocking his head back at me slowly, he scratched his chin under his scruffy, dark blonde beard. “That’s true. I could be.”

While the bartender stacked bottles on a tray, Swede unfolded his arm and tapped it. “Zach, you’ve known me a while now.” His thumb pointed back at himself. “Have I ever killed or otherwise harmed another human being?”

Turning down his lips, the bartender shook his head as he tossed the remote control for the television on the back wall on the tray. “Not that I’m aware of. No.”

Swede smacked his fingers against the bar in front of me. “Well, there you go. So, what’s your excuse now?”

I peeked between us to the window he parked his bike in front of. “Okay. How about I’ve never been on one of those before, and my palms are already sweaty just thinking about it?” I turned my seat toward him and laid out both my hands. “Go on. Feel them.”

Pulling his brows together, he used his middle finger to check one, softly rubbing it across my palm. “You know,” — using all his fingers, he worked farther across my palm with every stroke — “the only way to get over fear like that is to face it head-on with someone with tons of experience.” His thumb beat against my wrist when he finally closed his fingers around my hand. “And I just happen to be an expert.”

What could I do? He was straight out of heaven and giving me fairly clear signals I was guaranteed to get laid by someone who knew what they were doing. “Alright, then.”

Six foot three if an inch, it was almost a given whatever he had in his jeans would be worth me shaving my legs this morning, too. “Whenever you’re free, I guess.”

His eyebrows jerked up as he spun me around and pulled me from the stool. “Great. I’m free now.”

Ducking out from their table to see us, his friends laughed as he dragged me with him.

Bending down to mumble something to the guy he came with, he bent his arm behind him, holding me by the wrist when I tried to pull away from him. “Hey, I’ll be right back. I’m going to go grab my bag.”

Releasing me enough that he could slide his hand around the back of my neck, he shook his head as he urged me to the front door. “Whatever you need, I have. Let’s go.”

In gray Bermuda shorts, a black tank top, and ballet flats, I wasn’t dressed like any of the chicks I’d seen riding up and down the main street with them for the last two days. So, when he backed into the door to open it, I pulled out the seam of my shirt. “You sure I’m dressed right for a motorcycle?”

The side of his mouth curled at me as he held the door open, his eyes falling down my body while he nodded. “You’re looking damn good to me, Savage.”

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