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The Most Eligible Bachelor Bella Winters 2022/7/22 14:15:16

My mouth bobbed open, which made Hank laugh so hard he started to cough. “Did you think that just because I got grease between my fingers and dust between my ears I wouldn’t know who you was, Mr. Ridder?”

I sighed, ran a hand through my hair and scratched the back of my head. So much for trying to be inconspicuous. I wouldn’t be surprised if the guy milked me for every penny I had just to get the Chevy fixed. I was probably better off ditching it here and just calling someone from the office to come drive me the rest of the way. Only, I didn’t want anyone to know where I was going, and calling Alice or Dennis meant I was admitting I couldn’t take care of myself without their help.

“Oh, I see,” Hank said, giving me the eye.

I frowned. “See what?”

“Escapin’ the city life, are we?”

I smiled. “You’re a lot smarter than you look, Hank.”

“It’s easy to play the fool when you’re stuck in the asshole of Texas,” Hank chuckled. “Makes it easier for people to ignore ya when you’re noticin’ everythin’.”

ooth, huh?” Hank asked. “You got family there?”

“My mother,” I replied. “Grew up there.”

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Hank nodded. “Well, I’m more than willin’ to drive ya there, if you want. But if ya ask me, Ludwig’s just as good a place to run away to as Booth. Probably got more goin’ for it. Got a nice motel, good diner, cold beer.”

I raised an eyebrow, doubting that very much.

Hank chuckled. “Suit yourself,” he said. “Motel’s only a few minutes away, and no one’s gonna know you’re here.” He made a zipping gesture across his mouth and smiled.

“How do you figure? You made me.”

“I’m a bit late into the tech game, but I got my interests,” he said. “Besides, ever since Lowe shut down last year, I’ve been getting more business my way. Had to upgrade my system to keep up. Got your software set up on my old PC in the back. The Neptune 2.0, the one with all the tracking and stuff.”

“Well, good for you,” I said, smiling and nodding.

“Rest of the town’s still in the stone age, if ya ask me,” Hank said. “They wouldn’t know you from a stack of hay. I guarantee it. My guess is, every Tom, Dick, and Harry in Booth will spot you the moment you hit town. Not much to get away there, if you ask me.”

I looked around, taking in my surroundings. From where I stood, the motel looked a lot closer than just a few minutes away, and there weren’t enough people around to make me feel like I’d bump into someone else who recognized me. A part of me thought that this might not actually be a bad idea. The town seemed like a good enough place to start my vacation.

“A few days to get the gasket?” I asked Hank, looking at the Chevy and silently cursing it for breaking down on me.

“Yup,” he said. “UPS delivers once a week.”

“Alright,” I said, nodding. “I take it I won’t have trouble finding a room at the motel?”

“You might just be their only customer,” Hank laughed. “Slow time of the year.”

“Is there a busy time of the year around here?”

Hank just shrugged and flashed me a smile that was missing a few teeth.

I grabbed my duffle from the back of the truck, shook Hank’s greasy hand, and made my way to the motel.

I walked into the motel lobby and rang the bell on the desk. A large man walked out, easily towering over me, with a beard that would have made ZZ Top jealous. His smile, though, was warm, and I could see from the sparkle in his eye that he was just glad to have someone walk through the door. His nametag read Chuck, and when I was sure he didn’t recognize me, I felt my nerves ease up a bit.

“Welcome to the Ludwig Motel. What can I do you for?” Chuck asked, giving me a pristine smile that made me want to ask him who did his dental work.

“I need a room,” I said, dropping my bag by my feet and running a hand through my hair. I was sweating like a pig and killing time. I was born and raised in Texas, and still couldn’t bear the heat for too long. I just hoped the rooms had air conditioning.

“Well, you’re a lucky one,” Chuck said. “We’ve got fifteen rooms here, and thirteen of them are up for grabs.”