Home > The Care and Feeding of an Alpha Male (Bluebonnet #2)(6)

The Care and Feeding of an Alpha Male (Bluebonnet #2)(6)
Author: Jessica Clare

“Yes!” Finally, she was getting somewhere. “Have you seen her tonight? Where?”

Again, the girl gestured into the thick woods. “Back at the Templar camp.”

Beth Ann gave her a thumbs-up as the rain picked up once more. “Thank you.”

All right, she’d find this damn Templar camp once and for all.

What a way to spend a Friday night, Colt thought to himself. His mouth curved in a cynical twist as the man in front of him seemed determined to try and back his car out of the parking lot that had turned into a bowl of mud. The tires spun uselessly as Colt crossed his arms over his rain slicker.

The man finally turned and looked back at Colt. “It’s stuck.”

“I know.” He gestured at the parking lot full of cars. “They all are. Entire road’s washed out.”

“Even the dirt road?” The man seemed clearly skeptical. “We can’t walk out to the highway?”

“You can,” Colt said lazily. “Mud’s two feet deep along the way.”

“What do we do?” said the half-naked woman at the knight’s side.

Colt gritted his teeth. He kept getting the same damn questions from all these people. He knew it was because they were all drunk—or high—but it was getting tiresome. “I’m with the local fire department. We’re here to evacuate the campground and take you somewhere dry until the situation with your cars can be assessed.”

“The fire department?” the woman exclaimed in surprise. She gave him an appreciative look that made him uncomfortable. “Really?”

Damn it. He was tired of babysitting a bunch of drunks. When they’d called him to help out this evening, this was not what he’d had in mind. He’d volunteered, of course, since he’d thought there were people in danger. Not really—turned out that there were just a bunch of idiot teenagers that needed to be fished out of the mud. “Leave your vehicle and head out to the end of the main road. An all-terrain vehicle will be swinging by shortly to pick up more people.”

They’d already taken several loads of the group—drunk and obnoxious to a nearby motel under renovation. The owner had generously volunteered his rooms for the group at no charge, and Colt wasn’t entirely sure the man knew what he’d gotten into. He pulled a label off a sheet and handed it to the guy. “Put this on your windshield. Leave your keys with me, and your name. We’re making arrangements to have your vehicles removed once the road is safe again.”

The fire department wasn’t used to dealing with this sort of thing. Getting a cat out of a tree? Fine. Hauling a car out of the mud, sure. Hauling a hundred drunk teenagers out of the mud? Not so much. After watching the fire chief scratch his head for a few minutes, Colt had suggested that they get the keys from the teenagers, tag the cars, and organize a list of who needed to be towed. They could deliver the cars once they were freed from the mud. Problem solved.

The fire chief had liked that idea. In fact, he’d liked it so much that he’d given Colt the job. And Colt? Well, someday he was going to learn to shut up so he wouldn’t have to deal with idiots like the one standing before him, protectively clutching his keys.

The man—who was dressed as a barbarian, if the Conan hat was any indication—slapped the sticker on the inside of his windshield and gave Colt a suspicious look. “How can I trust that you won’t steal my car?”

Colt eyed the 1992 Pontiac the man had been determined to move. The tires were bald, the paint peeling, and he was pretty sure there was a foot of trash on the floorboards of the vehicle. “Not interested, I assure you.”

The man gave him another skeptical look until another volunteer showed up. Mike. He looked at the barbarian, and then at Colt. “How’s the evacuation coming, Waggoner?”

“Just about done rounding up keys,” he told Mike. “Then I’ll do one last sweep of the woods to make sure we have everyone.”

Mike nodded, adjusting in his rain slicker. He glanced over at the kids, then back to Colt. “The rain’s not letting up. Entire campsite’s just about washed out. I was told that a hundred fifty people signed in at the gate, and we’re rounding up the last few right now.”

Colt nodded, staring into the deep woods, wet and dark with rain. The trees were barely discernible with no moon out and a steady downpour. “Sweep shouldn’t take long, then.”

Mike nodded. “We’re almost done here. Then you boys can head back home.”

The barbarian handed his keys to Colt suddenly, and Mike paused, waiting while Colt tagged the keys with the man’s information, and then added them to the pile in the bucket he was carrying. As the two walked away to the main area where the teens were being evacuated, Mike snorted and looked over at Colt. “Isn’t this the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever seen?”

“It’s pretty up there.”

“My one night alone with my wife and I get to spend it pulling Frodo and his buddies out of the mud.” He nodded at the helmet of the man walking away. “What’s he supposed to be?”

“Don’t know. I’m afraid to ask.” Colt double-checked the tags on the keys and slapped a sticker on the inside window of the car, away from the rain. The sticker marked that the vehicle had been noted and the keys collected for eventual towing. That vehicle taken care of, he moved farther down the swampy parking lot, his rain boots sucking in the mud with every step. He checked the cars for more of the emergency stickers, making sure that each one had been taken care of. The last thing he wanted was to miss a car and have to hunt down the owner at a later date. This needed to be a one-and-done scenario.

There was a small car he’d missed, sunk into the mud between two trucks. The sides of the vehicle were heavily splattered, as if it had arrived after the rain had begun and had to plow through the mud. The two trucks next to it were sunk deep, the owners having tried to move their vehicles when they realized the rain was coming down so heavily. Tried, and failed, succeeding only at swamping the car next to it with even more mud. Even through the coating of filth, he recognized the light lime green of the car, and the make. A Volkswagen. Curious, Colt ran a hand over the back windshield, wiping away the splatters of mud.

The window read california dreamin’ and the salon phone number. Underneath the logo, it read HAIR NAILS WAXES TANNING.

Well, he’d be damned. Snobbish, prim Beth Ann Williamson was here in this drunken mudfest? That didn’t seem right. He scratched his chin, scowling at the sight of the car. No way she’d be here with this crowd. She thought she was too good for this sort of thing. If a leather-kilted barbarian—or whatever he was supposed to be—approached someone as proper and high-maintenance as Beth Ann, she’d probably call the cops. He peered into the back of the car.

“What are you doing?” A girl’s voice called at him, accusing.

Colt turned with a scowl, staring down at the bedraggled blond head of what looked like Beth Ann Williamson’s younger sister. Patty, he thought for a moment. No, Lucy. A local girl. He knew the Williamsons—everyone that had grown up in Bluebonnet did—even if they didn’t know him. Or want to know him.

He gestured at the car. “That your sister’s ride?”

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