Rural area of New York state, December 24, 2006
Logan walked into the bar with no expectations. It was just another night on the run and his only hope was to find a little peace in the bottom of a whiskey glass. He slid onto a barstool and motioned to the bartender.
“Set me up. Wild turkey and keep it flying.” To make his point he laid a hundred dollar bill on the smooth wood of the bar.
The man nodded grimly as if he could imagine Logan’ weight as he hauled his unconscious ass out at two am. Still with the c-note in his hand, he would be willing to help a stranger forget.
Thank god for greedy men. Without them his only source of comfort would have been shut off long ago. But with their aid, he was guaranteed a bit of solace at least once in every town he passed through. This would make town seventy two since the bank heist that had gone wrong.
Gone wrong… that was like calling a nuke, a teapot.
His brother, Owen, had talked him into joining their gang at the last minute because of his special magic with a particular vault style. The big surprise had come when Owen had betrayed him, intending to let him take the fall. As if that wasn’t bad enough, they also framed him for shooting the guard.
And like an idiot, the kind of idiot that only adoring little brothers can be, Logan had walked in and almost taken the fall to make their plan complete. But the stupidity hadn’t stopped there. Oh, no… it was to get much worse before he’d finally escaped.
They’d cornered him and the last guard, trying to force him to do their dirty work. He wouldn’t. He refused again. But the guard panicked and grabbed for his sawed off. As they fought over the weapon it discharged.
In all his days he’d never seen anything so terrible as the way Owen’s son, Benny, was hit by the blast. As horrific as it was, the boy hadn’t died right away.
Which was the only reason Logan was still alive.
He’d managed to run while Owen was still trying to save Benny’s life. The head start hadn’t been much. Now not only were the FBI after him but so was Owen and his friends. Of the two, Logan preferred the FBI by about a million. His brother’s thirst for blood was only tempered by his idealistic view of justice. And in this case, justice was his being tortured for eternity or worse.
The bartender lifted the drop panel of the bar and let a bleach blonde wearing an apron take his place. With a pat to her ass, he ducked out, grabbed his coat and left in a hurry. The man’s rush was suspicious.
He couldn’t keep his gaze from darting to the door and windows. He couldn’t help but wonder… Was this the night that Owen would catch him? Was this the night he would pay for his crimes?
“What can I get for you honey?” The barmaid’s sultry voice cut through Logan like ice through hot honey.
His gaze caught hers and fell into her lovely dark lager colored eyes. That rich brown was comforting and gentle. “I-” His voice stuttered on a low gravel. “Where’d he hurry off to?” He jutted he chin toward the door, toward the rumble of the departing vehicle.
“Oh, Harvey? His wife’s expecting. He’s off in a rush every night now-a-days.” She leaned forward against the bar, casually letting her blouse gap just enough to show the rise of her breasts.
Logan let out is sigh in relief and perhaps anticipation. Harvey wasn’t a threat, and this lovely woman might just be on the menu.
“You didn’t say. Can I get you a refill?” She reached up and released her pale ponytail, letting the swing of hair fall to her shoulders with a feather-light breath of movement. She might not be a nature blonde but the color suited her well. The contrast to her dark eyes, and smooth skin produced an almost unearthly appeal.
He met her amused gaze and realized he’d been all but mesmerized by the simple motion of her hair. “Please. Turkey, straight up.” Jeez, he was acting like a country bumpkin. He’d be surprised if he managed to get the drink without blushing, or drink it without choking.
“Relax, honey. Tonight should be a quiet one.”
He glanced around the bar and had to admit that the room did border on empty, but was that what she meant? It never hurt to push for details. “What do you mean?”
“The tavern next town over is having a Christmas shindig so most of our regulars are over there.”
“Christmas…?” Shit, he’d forgotten what day it was. Today was Christmas Eve. “So you have to work the holiday?”
“Don’t have to, but I don’t have anything better to do.”
“No family. I had one once, but it didn’t take.” Her gaze swept away from his, flowing over the room and settling on the sink of dirty dishes halfway down the bar. “I’d better get those taken care of before they turn to cement. If you care for company, you can slide down with me.”
If he cared for company? Usually that answer would be no, but the thought of drowning his memories alone on Christmas Eve left him hollow…lonely. He picked up his glass and slid from the stool, moving to the one nearest to the sink.
She’d already shed her long sleeved blouse, leaving her appealing top covered in a thin camisole and the too large apron. The round tops of her cleavage rose above the camisole and her nipples were obvious hard pebbles above the apron.
He downed the whiskey in a valiant attempt to divert his attention from his tightening jeans. The burn passed and did nothing more than leave him aching for her.
This time she didn’t bother to ask him if he wanted more, but instead, opened a fresh bottle and set it before him. “So do you have a name? Or should I just keep thinking of you as ‘the sexy stranger with a dark past’?”
More coming soon...