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Dannie Marsden's book Desert Heat

I am waiting for the next book to come out! The story was a page turner and I also enjoyed the portrayal of a variety of lesbians and how we interact...
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Desert Heat

I know Dannie and was excited to hear she had written a book. When I first started to read Desert Heat, I did so with a critical eye because it was...
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Great People!

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Desert Heat

Our book club had the opportunity and privilege to meet and have a lively discussion of "Desert Heat" with Dannie Marsden...a great story with strong...
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Circus,Circus

Wow! Such a good story.I enjoyed it so much.I think what got me the most was that I don`t think most people would give a second thought to what kind...
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Say You Won't Go - Chapter 1

Chapter One

 

“God, what a dump. I hate this place.” Taryn Donovan scowled. At twenty-four, she was feeling trapped. She spent most every day of her life in the same place and the same town, seeing the same faces day after day. Even her job as a waitress in the only restaurant in town was a hand-me-down from her mother who still worked part time at the tavern. What she’d give to feel the wind at her back as she escaped from the confines of her life.

 

She lived a misfit’s life. If anyone paid her any attention in school she was often the butt of jokes and lewd comments, because of her father. Most of the time, she remained invisible while envying the popular kids who the teachers always called on first. They called her last, if at all. If any of them ever came into the Bourne Falls Tavern, they’d not look at her when they ordered, acting as if she didn’t exist. The only ones who paid her any attention were the afternoon drunks who always tried to cop a feel, which she found revolting. The one positive out of it all was the thick skin she developed over the years, although if she were truthful, it did hurt.

 

Taryn wiped a damp cloth across the scarred, wooden table then used it on the vinyl bench seats of the booth. Lunch was over, and she made her way to the couple sitting at the only occupied table. “Can I get you folks anything else? More tea?”

 

“No, we’re all set,” the man said.

 

Taryn knew them. How couldn’t she? Bourne Falls was a one-horse town on the edge of nowhere. She made it a rule never to call any of the customers by name. Now, she faced Ruben and Ada Blankenship who both had taught at the high school. He taught chemistry and she English Lit. Ada was a stout woman with snow-white hair braided around the top of her head. Ruben was a big man with a comb over that looked more like peach fuzz than hair.

 

“Here you go. Keep the change.” Ruben handed her a twenty. It would cover the bill and give her a one dollar and twenty-five cent tip.

 

“Thanks.” She walked the money over to Burt, the day bartender. In a little over forty minutes, happy hour would start for the day drinkers. She wasn’t looking forward to that. She’d seen every drunk in town at one time or another. It wasn’t a pretty sight. She cleared the last table and looked around to make sure everything was ready.

 

“Here you go, honey.” Rosie, the cook, passed her a ham and cheese sandwich through the kitchen window. “Seemed like we had more of a crowd today for lunch. I almost ran out of the special.”

 

“Thanks.” Taryn took the offered plate. “Yeah, all those hands from the Circle D came in at once, and they each tipped me a buck.”

 

“Gonna make you rich.” Rosie laughed. “Beef stew is the dinner special. I’d better go give it a stir.”

 

Taryn set her plate on a table and slouched into a chair. “This place sucks,” she muttered before taking a bite of her sandwich. It wasn’t long before she heard the door bang shut and looked up expecting to see one of the day drinkers—most likely Hank Meadows—come sauntering in.

 

 

The sound of a pig squealing for the thousandth time made Logan Perry grind her teeth, as she punched at the aircon button for the tenth time. I’m damn boiling, what’s going on here? She shook her head and saw a sign for a town. Bourne Falls. “Come on, girl, you can make it, I know you can.” She caressed the wheel, hoping this town in the middle of nowhere had a decent mechanic.

 

Fifteen minutes later and feeling like her body was on fire, she parked outside a building predictably signed Bourne Fall’s Garage. A boy—he looked barely eighteen—greeted her, wiping his hands on a greasy cloth. I only thought they did that in the movies. How bizarre.

 

“What can I do for you?”

 

“Shelia is in trouble, no air con and she’s squealing like a stuck pig.” Logan placed a protective hand on the hood.

 

The kid shrugged. “Sounds like it needs a fan belt.”

 

Logan towered within inches of the mechanic and snarled, “Shelia is not an it. Got me?”

 

The boy cowered. “Yeah, yeah.”

 

“Good. Can you fix her?”

 

“Yye…yes, two hours max,” the boy stuttered.

 

“That long? Damn.” She glanced at her watch. Almost two. “Recommend anywhere to eat?”

 

“The Tavern, it’s the best in town.”

 

Logan nodded, then turned to exit the building. “Where is this place?”

 

“Can’t miss it. Two hundred yards down Main street.”

 

Minutes later, Logan curled her lip as she approached the local tavern, unimaginatively named after the town. She glanced around, noting the peeling, green paint of the wooden exterior and several small windows, which were dark, almost black. Maybe they need a good cleaning. Inviting? Hardly. The only thing that had made her stop here was that her beloved 1993 Ford Ranger needed a new fan belt. So, here she was in front of the establishment and walking toward the entrance. A dog-eared menu, plastered on the cracked wooden door, greeted her. “Nice welcome.” She gave the menu a cursory read and pushed open the door. I’m here, so let’s see if the hick boy knows what he’s talking about or if I’m going to reduce his bill.

 

Logan perused the inner sanctum and laughed, uncaring if anyone noticed. The expression inner sanctum always made her laugh. She attributed it to religion, and there was no way she was religious. Not in this lifetime anyway. Appearing to be the only patron, she wondered how long it would take for someone to notice her. Her eyes scanned the dimly lit place, noting the waitress appeared to be having a break. That boy is going to pay.

 

Sitting at the nearest table, the cleanliness surprised her. Even though she knew what was on it, she picked up the menu—selections as bland as the name of the tavern. Her attention diverted from the menu to the movement of the waitress. She scrunched her eyes and inwardly grinned. Nice.

 

No one ever came into Bourne Falls Tavern that didn’t live in the town or its outskirts. Taryn shook her head. Her eyes traced the body of a woman with shoulder length, white-blonde hair. Wearing jeans and a tight-fitting tank top, she stood at the door and looked around. Wow, a stranger. Wonder what she’s doing here? The sandwich forgotten, excitement at speaking to someone new rushed through her body before she slid out of her chair. The day is definitely looking up.

 

Taryn stopped in midstride toward the new arrival. No one had ever looked at her the way the stranger was. The woman obviously hadn’t gotten the memo that Taryn was invisible, since she seemed to be undressing her with her eyes. A shiver ran through her body, as she forced herself to move forward. Once she arrived at the table, the woman’s emerald green eyes captured her and suspended life for a moment.

 

“What can I get for you?”

 

“Well, I can think of a lot of things, but I’m sure you meant from the menu.”

 

Taryn blushed and stammered, “Cc…can I get you something to drink while you decide?”

 

The woman stared at her then glanced down at the menu. “Black coffee and water, thanks.”

 

“You got it.” As Taryn walked away, she swore she could feel the woman’s eyes on her and when she glanced back, the woman winked. Shit, what’s that all about? At the coffee station, she poured a cup of the dark brew and filled a glass with ice and water before heading back to the table. “Here you go. Decided on what you want yet?

 

“Just the way I like it…hot.” The woman smiled slowly, as her lips caressed the edge of the cup. “Any recommendations?”

 

Taryn swallowed hard when she saw the woman lick her lips. Suddenly her body began reacting in a strange way, and she felt herself squirm. “Well…hmm,” she stuttered, “the burgers are good.”

 

Slim fingers with short, well-manicured fingernails tapped the menu. “You choose the type of burger for me and we will see how good they are. I trust you.” She grinned.

 

“Oh, okay.”  That surprised Taryn, as it wasn’t often that anyone asked her opinion on anything, not even the randy ranch hands. I think she’s flirting with me. No, that can’t be. Taryn didn’t really have any frame of reference for thinking that, but somehow, she knew it was true. She giggled.

 

“Is it that good?”

 

Flustered, Taryn only nodded and walked toward the kitchen window. “A burger with everything, Rosie.”

 

“Who’s the stranger?”

 

“No idea.”

 

“Want fries with that?”

 

“Sure, why not. She told me to choose.”

 

“Whoa, I like the sound of that. She might be a live one, and you know we could do with that around here, big time.”

 

“That we could.”

 

Taryn’s eyes fell on the stranger who was openly staring at her. She looked away when the sound of the door opening drew her attention. “Is it happy hour already?” She frowned as two of the town’s drunks entered.

 

Logan enjoyed the mild flirting with the waitress. She appeared naïve but was a definite looker. Smoldering brown eyes with a little-girl-lost expression always appealed to her. Her body wasn’t like a stick, either, with plenty of curves in all the right places. Hmm wouldn’t mind copping a feel of those breasts. She licked her lower lip at the thought then let out a sigh.

 

Her attention turned to the loud voices of the two men that had just entered. They were, she decided, in their mid-thirties with heavily bristled faces, wearing clothes that looked like they needed laundering. Gross. How the hell can any woman think that is attractive? She diverted her attention to the waitress who was heading in the direction of the two men. Now that’s what I call attractive.

 

Picking up her coffee, she overtly watched their exchange and it grossed her out again when the taller of the men tried to grope the waitress who grimaced and pulled away. Good for her.

 

“Taryn, come on, give me that kiss you’re always promising me.” Logan heard the smaller man say. The woman politely rebuffed him by shaking her head and retreating around the counter. Good move.

 

“You’re gutter crap. Don’t know why I bother. Our usual two beers and don’t expect a tip.”

 

At the derogatory remark, Logan moved upwards in her chair grasping her arms with fingers like limpets that prevented her body from moving toward the men. “Assholes,” she muttered. Settling herself back down in the chair, she gulped on the cooling coffee before replacing the cup on the table.

 

“Want a refill?”

 

She saw a cheerful smile. “Thanks.”

 

“You’re welcome. Your burger won’t be long.” The tinkle of a bell had her nodding. “There it is now.”

 

“Thanks.” Logan watched as Taryn sashayed away. At least she now knew the name of this attractive woman. Maybe she swings my way. Glancing at her watch and grimacing, she sighed. Even I don’t have time to make that kind of conquest. The more she thought of it, the more it irritated her that she didn’t have the time.

 

Taryn placed the plate on the table and smiled. “Hope you like it.”

 

“I’m sure I will. I see you do those curly fries, my favorite.” The woman picked up a fork and placed one in her mouth.

 

Feeling completely out of her element, Taryn knew her face was red. In all the years she’d worked at the Tavern no one, except for the drunks, paid her much attention. And that was fine with her. “I took a chance that you’d want fries.” She held her breath as she watched the woman take a bite and let it out when she smiled.

 

“Excellent choice. Are you the only person working today, other than the cook?”

 

“Well, there’s Burt, the bartender. We get another waitress for the dinner crowd.” She couldn’t help looking at the woman’s face. “Whatcha doin’ in town? We don’t get many strangers.”

 

The woman scratched the side of her mouth then smiled. “Car trouble. How good is the mechanic in town? He said Shelia would be ready in two hours.”

 

“Shelia, your car’s name is Shelia? Sounds like a great name for a vehicle.” Taryn grinned. “I guess you took your car to Bourne Falls Garage. Tommy is the mechanic, but I can’t tell you much. I don’t own a car.” She shrugged. “A bike is my transportation when I don’t walk.”

 

“A bike huh? I haven’t ridden one since I was in high school, used to be fun. If I had the time, I’d ask you if you wanted company on a bike ride to show me around town.” The woman wriggled her eyebrows.

 

Taryn opened her mouth, but the words wouldn’t come out. She now was sure that the woman was flirting with her. She took a deep breath and said, “Are you in a big hurry? I was thinking of going down to the old swimming hole for a dip later.” She held her breath again.

 

“Sounds interesting, but I have a room booked in St Louis, and it’s too late to change the booking without getting charged for the room. Although, I am tempted.” She took a bite of the burger and grease slipped out onto her chin.

 

Taryn held out her hand. “My name is?”

 

Wiping away the grease from her chin, the woman rose and took the offered hand. “Taryn, I know. I heard the guys over there call you by name. I’m Logan.”

 

“Hmm, that’s a pretty name.” Taryn grinned. “So, you’re tempted…what about going with me to swim?”

 

“Unless your break is in the next hour, I’m sorry. Maybe next time I come around this way I’ll stay longer.”

 

Taryn frowned. “Oh, okay.”

 

Just then, Tommy McGill entered the tavern and came to stand nervously next to her. “Hmm, about your car…hmm…it isn’t just the fan belt…. The compressor in the air conditioning unit. It needs replacing.”

 

“And that’s a problem?” The woman’s reply was stern.

 

“Hmm, well I have to send away for the part. Your vehicle is old, and we don’t have the part in stock. I’ll have to send for it.”

 

Logan stood in front of Tommy, who was sweating profusely. “How long, a couple of hours, half a day, what?”

 

“Well, it’s Friday, and the fastest we could get the part here is Tuesday.” He took a step back to stand behind Taryn.

 

“Just perfect, absolutely perfect,” Logan hissed. She looked at Taryn, who gave her a small smile. “Tuesday morning by ten the latest.”

 

Tommy nodded and shot out of the Tavern.

 

“Is that invitation for a bike ride and a swim still available?”

 

“Oh, yes, and there isn’t a motel for at least thirty miles, so you can stay with me.” She shrugged. “And Brenda. If you want?”

 

“Brenda?”

 

“My mother.”

 

“Oh. Well that’s an invitation I’m not going to ignore, thank you. When do you get off work?”

 

“After the dinner crowd thins out. Usually around six-thirty.” Taryn laughed. “They all come for the early bird special.”

 

Logan winked. “Guess I’ll be back for dinner too then. Want to join me when you finish your shift?”

 

Taryn could feel her insides turn to mush. Is this what falling for someone feels like? She shook her head at the absurd thought. “I’d love to.”

 

“Wonderful. Now, I’d better eat this burger before it gets cold. I have to say, it’s delicious…good call.”

 

With a blush, Taryn turned away when three more happy-hour men came into the tavern.

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