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Trouble(12)
Author: Samantha Towle

“I’m not going to change my mind.”

I sit down at the basin and lie my head back into the sink.

“You okay to remove the sunglasses, sweetie?” Shirley asks.

I freeze.

It takes me a moment to gather the courage to reach my hand up and slowly slide them off.

I hear her gasp of breath, and I’m thankful that I can’t see the expression on her face.

“Sit forward, sweetie. I forgot to put a towel around your shoulders.”

I do as she asks.

Shirley slips a towel around my shoulders, then I feel her hand gently squeeze my shoulder.

It feels like support. Solidarity.

It brings a lump to my throat.

Maybe she knows what it’s like to get a black eye. It’s not the pain on the outside that does the damage; it’s the effect that bruise has on the inside that does the worst kind of damage.

The black eye heals. The pain never does.

“Right, lay yourself back,” Shirley says. “Let’s make a new woman of you.”

***

An hour later and I’m back in my car. My purchases on the backseat. The new me in the front.

I tilt the mirror to look at my new hairstyle. My bangs sweep across, hanging in my eyes a little, and it’s just long enough to tuck behind my ear, but it is short.

I look completely different, just like I wanted.

Suddenly, laughter bubbles up and out of me. I’m laughing, and I have no clue why, then without warning I burst into tears.

I’m laughing and crying. What the hell is wrong with me?

Maybe I’m having some kind of breakdown.

A woman walks past my car, giving me an odd look, and I realize I must look like a crazy person, sitting here laughing my head off with tears streaming down my face.

I dry my face with my hands, start my car up, and begin my long drive to Colorado.

Chapter Four

Mia

It’s early evening.

Two and a half very long days since I drove out of that Walmart parking lot, but I’m finally here, driving across the city limits and into Durango.

I’m stiff, tired, hungry and beyond crabby.

Apart from two nights spent in horrid motel rooms, all I’ve done is drive. Thank god for the radio is all I can say. I’ve spent entirely way too long in my car – more than any person ever should.

It’s my own fault. I could have taken a little longer to get here, but I’ve been on a mission to put as much distance between me and Forbes as possible.

I just need something to eat, then I want to lie down on a comfortable bed and sleep for a week at least, then I’ll put my big girl panties on and go to this address that I have for Anna Monroe and find out if my mother still lives there. After that…

I have no clue.

I’m leaving that one down to fate.

Sticking to the main road, I follow it into the center of town. I lean forward, which stretches my back out nicely, and peer through the windshield to take a look around.

It’s a really pretty place. Quaint with a homey feel to it. I can see why someone would want to live here.

Why my mother would want to live here.

Lifting my eyes to the skyline, I see the backdrop of the mountains.

Wow. Stunning.

Leaning back in my seat, I catch sight of a diner. It looks nice and clean. I’ll grab a quick bite to eat here, then find a hotel.

Checking the road is clear, I pull across and park up front the diner. I put my sunglasses back on before exiting my car. My black-eye is still looking noticeably bad.

Locking my car, I stretch my aching body out, then make my way toward the diner.

I push the door open and step inside. Glancing around, I see a lot of the booths are already taken, so I’m praying they can seat me right away. I’d skip eating tonight if I could, but I’ve not eaten much these last few days, and I can feel the toll it’s taking on my body.

A girl walks over to greet me. She is about my age, but half a foot taller with long straight brown hair.

“Hi, welcome to Jo’s. I’m Beth, I’ll be your server. Just a table for one?” she asks, glancing behind me.

“Yes. Just me.” I smile awkwardly. I hate the discomfort that comes with eating alone.

Beth grabs a menu from the hostess stand, and I follow her over to an empty booth at the back of the diner. She places the menu on the table in front of me as I slide in the booth.

“What can I get you to drink?” Her pen is hovered over her notepad.

“I’ll have a diet coke, please,” I answer while my eyes make quick work of the menu. I just want to put my order in so I can eat quickly and drive to the nearest hotel. “I’d like to order my food now if that’s okay?”

“Of course.” She smiles. “What would you like?”

“Cheeseburger and fries.” I was never allowed to eat this kind of food growing up. Oliver wouldn’t allow it, and of course, Forbes has an issue with it. He says the sight of a woman eating a greasy burger is disgusting. Or maybe just the sight of me eating one is what disgusts him.

This is the kind of food I eat in private. And now I’m about to eat it in public.

Freaking thrilling.

Tragic, I know, but nonetheless true.

“Sure.” She takes the menu from me. “Your food will be ten minutes. I’ll be right back with your coke.”

“Thanks. Um, I was wondering … if you could help…”

She gives a curious look.

I twist in my seat a little to look at her. “I literally just arrived in town, and I need a place to stay, so I was wondering if you could recommend a decent hotel?”

   
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