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The Most Eligible Bachelor Bella Winters 2022/7/22 14:15:20

“I’m not sure if that’s such a good idea,” she said.

“Sure it is,” I insisted. “Besides, what do you have to lose? I’m going to be leaving town in a day or two anyway. It’s not like I’m going to be spreading gossip or anything.”

“You don’t seem like the gossip type,” she smiled.

“I’m not,” I replied. “I could just really use some coffee right now.”

She smiled softly, and it was good to see the cheerfulness in her eyes. “Fine, coffee it is.”

For some reason, I told Chance everything. It took two pots of coffee and several hours, but I spilled it all. He just smiled and listened and held my hand and let me talk. It felt wonderful.

I told him about Earl and my miserable marriage, about Earl’s family money and its influence in Ludwig, about Earl harassing me and his daddy thinking his money could make the problem go away. And of course, I told him about Earl breaking in and trying to rape me.

Chance listened quietly and intently, only interrupting me to ask for some clarification before letting me continue. He was appalled by the Sheriff’s inability to do anything, or refusal thereof. I knew that Earl would walk away that morning with only a slap on the wrist, and although that had pissed me off, it angered Chance even more. He had also been confused as to how news of this morning hadn’t reached the motel. With a town this small, he or Chuck should have heard something. But, as always, the Sheriff had snuffed out any news from spreading before it had even reached the station’s front door.

Through it all, though, I had started feeling much better. It was good to have someone to talk to who wasn’t directly involved. It was different than talking to anyone else in Ludwig, who, in one way or the other, was associated with the Greene’s. And telling Chuck would have probably resulted in a fist fight at the bar and the eventual wrath of the Greene’s on his motel. Both of which I did not want.

With Chance, though, opening up just felt right. It was awkward at first, but by the time my story had gained momentum, I was talking freely and without remorse. There was no judgment in his eyes, no look of pity that I usually got from everyone else. There was only intent interest and a warm air of concern.

By the time I was done, the sun was sinking low in the afternoon sky, and we had fallen into a deep silence that was both comforting and a little uneasy. I had expected some sort of reaction from him once I was done, but all he did was hold my hand, squeeze it and offer a comforting smile. I began to wonder if he was looking at me in a different light, if maybe he was thinking that being with me here was a little too much of a liability, especially since he was supposed to be gone within a day or two. He didn’t need trouble, and I certainly didn’t want to be the reason for it.

He surprised me, though, when he finally spoke up and told me that he would spend the night on the couch to keep me safe. I thought it was probably the stupidest idea in the world, and told him that, too. He wouldn’t let up, and although I continued to protest, he just shook away my resistance and told me that he had already made up his mind.

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“I already called my lawyer,” I said. “Another incident like today and he said he could have Earl picked up and sent to jail for thirty days.”

“And I’m supposed to wait for him to do that again?” Chance asked, frowning at me as if I were a child who had just made the most ridiculous statement ever.

“You don’t have to do anything,” I said, frowning at him. “This isn’t your fight.”

“Whatever,” Chance said. “I’m staying. I just need to get Hank’s truck back. Do you mind following me into town so we can drive back together?”

“I’m not going to do this,” I protested.

“Yes, you are,” Chance replied. “Or I’ll just stay here, and if Hank asks, I’ll tell him it’s your fault he was down one truck for the night.”

I sighed, bit my lip and finally nodded. “Fine.”

“I need to pass by and get some stuff for the night.”

I shook my head quickly. “If Chuck sees me, he’ll know it was Earl who hit me, and he’ll try and do something about it. I don’t want that to happen.”

“Then wait for me at Hank’s and I’ll walk to the motel and back,” he said. “I’ll be back in five minutes and we can drive up here right away. No one has to know you were in town.”

He smiled. “Hank’s good at keeping secrets, don’t worry.”

How he knew that, I had no idea.