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Archive for March 7th, 2024

The Opening of WHAT HAPPENS IN BOZEMAN (Excerpt)
Thursday, March 7th, 2024

What Happens in Bozeman

Kelly Willis was a good girl by anyone’s definition. She’d never dated around, having gone steady with her star quarterback boyfriend since her sophomore year of high school. He’d been her first kiss, her first experience with sex. Her parents had adored her boyfriend and had delightedly set about planning her future so she didn’t screw up a good thing.

To make sure she was ever-present to their goal for her, she’d headed to college with him, wearing his promise ring, and had never once looked astray for attention from other men. Further, she’d gained her degree in a perfectly respectful, acceptably feminine profession.

She’d gone to church every Sunday of her life, never once doubting that God saw that she was good and would reward her for her virtue.

So, for her to be contemplating doing what she was now would’ve shocked the panties off her dear mother, her white-haired pastor, and her high school sex-ed teacher, who’d been long on abstinence and short on understanding a younger woman’s hormones. But then again, where were they all now?

Not here, stuck outside a hotel in Bozeman, Montana, while she waited for the snowplows to clear a passage through the mountains so she could get to her destination.

She hadn’t wanted to stop, and if the roads hadn’t been blocked by traffic barricades and a police officer directing vehicles to the nearest exit, she’d have kept driving—the winter storm be damned. By now, she’d had plenty of time alone with her thoughts.

Crazy, mixed-up thoughts of revenge and retribution filled her imagination with images of the fiery pit of Hell. Not for her. No, the person who deserved to be cast down into its depths wasn’t even here to feel the anger that had her fuming hot despite the chill, near-zero temperature.

While every curse word she’d never uttered aloud flitted through her mind, she felt her ire burbling like acid in her belly until it had to find its release.

“Fuck,” she whispered, then glanced around to make sure no one else standing in the parking lot had heard her. No one was looking her way.

And once she’d said it, she felt disappointed in herself. Not because she’d uttered that coarse, forbidden word but because she’d said it so softly. Was she gutless? Hadn’t she earned the right to rebel against a lifetime’s strictures? She’d been the Queen of Pristine, or so the boys at her high school had labeled her behind her back.

He had thought that title was hilarious, given what they’d done after the Friday Night Lights dimmed. He, who shall not be named. Ever again.

She sniffed back a sob, tamping it down deep.

“That fucker,” she said a little more loudly this time.

She stood straighter. No bolt of lightning had struck her. In fact, her chest felt a little lighter now. She could finally draw a deep breath.

Again, her gaze went to the man on the edge of the group, standing outside the hotel’s diner while employees were scurrying inside to open for a bunch of stranded, hungry travelers.

He’d do. Not that he’d given her so much as a glance. It didn’t matter that she’d decided for him. He was in the right place at the right time—although “right” and what she intended had nothing to do with each other. She turned up the fur-lined collar of her puffy jacket and strode in his direction. For the moment, she was filled with confidence because she’d earned this. Years of servitude to a single, hallowed goal would have their reward.

She didn’t even care if he was handsome. Good looks hid ugly flaws, or so she’d discovered. She hoped he had a big nose and was missing a tooth—just one. She’d want to kiss him after all. She was sure he’d have calluses, given he was wearing a cowboy hat that looked like it actually served a purpose, with its faint ring around the crown. His jeans were faded by actual use, not some weird fashion statement. His boots were scuffed and a plain brown. No nonsense. A working man’s footwear, not a poser’s.

The closer she drew, the more confident she felt about this plan. First, she’d insinuate herself into sharing a table with him. She’d smile and flirt, then drop her extra key card on the table when she excused herself.

She was almost there; he was turning toward her…

No, he turned and smiled at a grinning woman who was waving her keycard in her hand and rushing to his side.

Well, shit. She only just managed to keep the words inside her mouth.

The doors to the diner swung open, and she was caught in the crowd of twenty or so individuals who flowed inside the heated space.

Tables filled quickly, and she eyed an open stool at the counter, but a man whose large bottom nearly swallowed the stool laid claim before she could.

She stood with her shoulders drooping, looking for an empty table, when she heard a throat clear to her left.

Glancing sideways, she saw a man with a lop-sided smile waving a hand to the open seat across from him. “I don’t mind sharing, ma’am.”


What Happens in Bozeman arrives on March 19th. Pre-order your copy now!