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Take Me As I Am Chapter 1

Chapter 1

“Get the fuck out of my car now you useless bitch,” a man bellowed before forcibly pushing a woman hard against the handle of the door.


Jo Lackerly, wincing in pain, scowled in hatred of the man who was yelling at her. “Screw you, Jed. I hope your sorry ass rots in hell,” she screamed.


“Bitch, you’ll rot in hell way before me. I guarantee it.” He sneered and revved up the engine of the car. “Now get the hell out of my car.”


“I hope I do. That way I get to be the welcome party,” Jo sarcastically threw the words at him. She pushed open the door and hastily placed her pride and joy—her guitar and case—on the concrete sidewalk. Without getting out, she reached in the backseat for her suitcase and swung it over the seat before placing it next to the guitar case. She wouldn’t put it past the bastard speeding off, leaving her with nothing but the clothes on her back. As she cleared the car by a mere two inches, he sped off at a pace that left behind a cloud of dust that covered her.


Jo brushed herself off and looked around the small town that she was now stuck in. She was alone in the middle of the sidewalk with only her guitar and a strong voice to help her make a living. She was assuming she could find a bar that needed or wanted her brand of entertainment. She learned long ago that life held no guarantees and finding work in one-horse towns usually meant she had to consider something less savory to make money. She hadn’t done that in a while and hoped she wouldn’t have to again.


She looked toward the shabby entrance of the motel situated at the end of the town’s seemingly only street aptly named Main Street. “Danvers Motel. Can this get any better?” Joanna picked up her belongings and began walking in that direction.


From the outside, the motel looked like the typical run down place she usually stayed in wherever she went. The creaking door with dingy peeling gray paint opened to a neat looking lobby, which was in total contrast to the outside fascia. She could smell the fresh scent of cut flowers—carnations—and gave herself a pat on the back as she saw several vases scattered around the room full of different colored carnations. It looked quite cozy and rather unusual. Bet this is gonna cost me. There were two well-worn but clean and comfortable looking easy chairs next to a coffee table with several magazines neatly spread on its polished surface. To the left of the motel desk was a long table with a coffeepot full of what appeared, by the smell of it, freshly brewed coffee. Joanna was sorely tempted to go over, pick up a china mug situated in neat rows next to the machine with what was clearly fresh milk, and cream next to it. Alongside that was a machine that she could tell by the faint, fragrant aroma was a fresh brew of tea. The place was so out of the ordinary that she was certain a figment of her imagination was playing tricks on her.


Shaking her head she heard voices getting closer and the door marked private opened slightly and Jo saw the back of a small woman with short blonde hair waving her arms around as she spoke to an elderly woman.


“Daisy, it isn’t my decision anymore, it’s the banks. What do you want me to do?” If the tone of the blonde’s voice was anything to go by, she was distressed.


“I want you to go and tell that good for nothing George Andrews that you need more time. If your papa were alive this wouldn’t be happening.”


The old woman who was shouting in a passively aggressive voice looked toward the opening and Jo could feel her eyes boring into her.


“I…oh, I know that, but if it hadn’t been for papa in the first place, none of this would have been happening anyway.” the blonde said.


“Little girl, keep them thoughts to yourself and go see what that tall stranger wants.” The older woman gave her pat on the head and turned on her heel slowly before walking away.


The blonde turned around seemingly startled by the stranger being in the lobby. She appeared off balance to Jo as she turned green eyes up toward her.


“Oh no, why did this always happen when there’s a potential customer about?” she muttered, loudly enough for Jo to hear. The woman walked toward the reception desk, swallowed a couple of times, and then smiled politely. “Hello. What can I do for you?”


Jo looked at the considerably shorter woman and gave her a thorough examination. “I need a room, nothing fancy. What are the rates?” Jo once again felt the urge to take up the coffee invitation to her right hand side.


“Twenty-five a night is the cheapest room I have. It’s very basic with a twin bed and a small bathroom. There’s a small television but no cable or internet.”


Jo quickly added up what she had on hand and thought she had enough money to see her through to the end of the week without a job. She nodded. “I don’t need much. I’ll take it.”


“Would you sign the register for me and how would you like to pay Ms.…?”


Jo arched an eyebrow in the other woman’s direction and saw the faint blush appear on her face. “Lackerly, Joanna Lackerly. I’ll pay with cash.”


“Well, Ms. Lackerly, I’m pleased to have you stay with us. Your room is number five.”


Jo signed the register and looked at the coffee, which was causing her nose to twitch in response to its aroma. “Is the coffee and tea a perk of staying here?”


“No. We charge fifty cents a cup.”


Thea Danvers gave the woman a once over and smiled slightly taking in the worn clothes that were relatively clean, but probably could do with replacing. Her midnight black hair that was hanging loosely around her shoulders could do with a trim and a washing since it looked rather lank to her. The most captivating feature of the woman was her deep blue eyes. She wondered what brought Joanna Lackerly to Danvers but politeness stopped her, at least for now, from being too inquisitive.


Thea smiled at the rather dour expression on the face before her. “Would you like coffee, Ms. Lackerly?” She looked at the woman and watched as she ran her tongue over her lips.


“No. Not right now. Maybe later. Where do I pay if no one is here?”


“There’s a jar behind the cups. We go by an honor system here,” Thea said briskly. She removed some keys from under the counter of the reception and the jangled them. “If you follow me, I will show you to your room.”



Thea hadn’t wanted to sound overly friendly and offer the woman a free cup of coffee. She’d learned that being friendly wasn’t what the customers wanted, although in the case of the men that stayed there, they would prefer the personal touch—a little more personal than Thea was ever going to offer.


Thea stopped at the door marked five and placed the key inside the lock and heard the snick as the lock was released on the turn of the key. “I hope you will be comfortable Ms. Lackerly,” she said handing a key over to the woman behind her.


Thea had felt the light breath of the woman on the back of her neck. When she turned, she noticed that the blue eyes were searching her face before the dark head nodded and accepted the key. She moved aside to allow the woman to move by her.


“Enjoy your stay,” Thea said with a smile before quickly moving back down the corridor.




Jo had followed the woman down a small corridor lined with the motel rooms. Damn. I could have used a coffee but I need to watch my pennies until I can find a job. She had noticed when she looked at the old brochure on the reception desk that there were ten rooms. The place was certainly well looked after and the decoration was tastefully done. All the furnishings along the corridor looked old and worn, but remarkably expensive in style. She speculated that they must have bought them at a house sale or something.


She opened the door to her room and took a step inside. Her eyes widened considerably at the sight and she turned back to the corridor. “You’ve made a mistake,” she shouted. The blond was no longer there.


Not really knowing what else to do, she went back inside, put down her things, and glanced around the room. The decoration was in pale blues and lilacs and it was so light and airy that it made her feel welcome as if she were coming home. She could smell fresh cut flowers and saw lilacs on the small table next to the window. Outside she saw what looked like a small patch of grass along with numerous flowers in several stages of growth.


The bed was a king-sized monster draped at the headboard with filmy translucent satin of the deepest royal blue with matching bed linen. There was a small television on a shelf, which made viewing easy from the bed or from the easy chair that was next to the table. The dresser had a large mirror and the local newspaper with a few flyers indicating what was available in the area rested on the dresser along with a basket of fruit.


When she opened another door, she was amazed at the bathroom. It was a Victorian style bath with an overhead shower and a lilac shower curtain. Several toiletries were in a basket on the sink along with fresh smelling towels. Joanna shivered at the thought of feeling soft clean towels after a long luxurious bath filled to the brim with bubbles.


It had to be a mistake for the woman clearly said there was a single bed. She was there for now and decided that she could treat herself to one night of luxury before moving to a cheaper room. Thank you, God.


After putting the plug in the bathtub and turning on the taps, she watched the water immediately steam and begin filling the tub. She smiled in satisfaction. It had been long time since she felt hot, hot water. Most places she stayed had lukewarm water at best. Joanna grinned when she saw aromatherapy bubble bath on a glass shelf positioned over the washbasin. For the first time in ages, she laughed genuinely as she saw the names of the two products—’sensual’ and ‘exciting’. It was a hell of a combination. Selecting the one marked ‘sensual’ she liberally poured it into the flow of water and watched in pleasure as the bubbles began to rise.


“I wonder if I can get work around here. If it turns out that this is what I get for twenty-five dollars a night, I would stay here forever.”


Stripping off her clothes, which she knew needed laundering badly along with all the other clothes in her bag. Do I even have clean underwear? It was a depressing thought. Nevertheless, she wouldn’t let the opportunity of having her body clean pass her by even if she couldn’t quite manage to extend that to her clothes. That was a task for later. Right now, she was going to soak in that old bathtub, which had her name written all over it.


Jo lowered her lean body into the hot water and bubbles along with the strangely familiar aroma surrounded her. A decadent purr escaped her lips as she settled down into the depths and closed her eyes to everything. Everything that is, but the pleasure of the next half-hour or more. 


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