Wasted Summer

By: Cathryn Fox

Chapter One

Speed walking along the pebbled curb leading up to Stone Cliff Resort, a popular tourist retreat in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, Melody Spencer sidestepped a deep puddle and cursed under her breath. How she’d managed to miss the last afternoon shuttle from town to the resort was beyond her. She gave a hard shake of her head, realizing that wasn’t entirely true. Mr. Johnson, the elderly pharmacist at Deerfield Convenience liked to chat, and since he was one of the few people in town who was nice to her, she couldn’t bring herself to cut out on him—even if it did mean missing her ride. But seriously, hadn’t she learned that nice girls finished last? Or in this case, had to hoof it up Mount-Frigging-Everest because her next shift started in fifteen minutes. She couldn’t be late, not again. The summer vacationers were all beginning to pile in, and if she wasn’t dressed and in the dining room for the first dinner seating, her boss would have her ass—and her apron. Mel’s full-time summer job might be running camps for kids, but she needed the money from this second job if she was ever going to get out of this God-forsaken town and move to a place where no one knew her, or her past.

Dark clouds knitted together overhead. Thunder rumbled with a deafening boom that shook the ground beneath Mel’s feet, making her jump. Damn. Damn. Damn. Not only was she going to be late, those black clouds were seconds from opening up and soaking her to the bone. She looked at her thin tank top and frowned. The last thing she wanted was to show up in the staff lounge and have her boss think she’d participated in a wet T-shirt contest. There were enough rumors circulating as it was.

She clutched the small brown paper bag she was carrying closer to her chest. Her purpose was twofold: Shield herself from the imminent downpour, and keep the contents inside the bag dry. Mel wasn’t one for luxury or brand names—every penny counted toward getting out of Deerfield—but when it came to her feminine needs, she had no problem forking over the extra money. She’d be damned if she’d borrow another Maxi pad from her friend Jaelyn. How anyone could wear those God-awful things was beyond her. Cripes, she might as well slap on a diaper, right?

She sucked in a breath as lightning zigzagged across the dark sky, and she glanced up in time to see the tall, metal spire on the resort’s main registration building puncture the low hanging clouds. She exhaled a breath of relief at seeing the familiar landmark, now confident that she could make it back without getting drenched. Just then, a very expensive, very posh sports car sped by. The flashy vehicle swerved toward the rocky curb, aiming for the deep puddle ahead of her.

The wide tires split the puddle, sending water into the air. Mel gave a little yelp, but before she could dodge the deluge, cold rainwater splashed up and fell over her in a wave, soaking her from the top of her head right down to the soles of her rubber flip-flops. Sputtering and gasping for breath, Mel’s feet slipped around in her shoes and it took all her balance to keep herself from landing on her ass. Her arms flailed and when she finally managed to stand straight, she worked to blink the fat droplets from her eyes. She pushed her long, wet hair from her face and looked at the boys hanging out the windows, laughing and pointing as they sped by.

Fury raced through her. She wanted to scream, she wanted to hit something, hell, she wanted to throw her bag of tampons at them. Instead, she took a breath and reminded herself that soon enough she’d be away from this place, away from all the snotty rich boys who vacationed at the resort every summer and looked down their noses at her—until they wanted to get into her pants. And eventually they all wanted to get into her pants. She hadn’t met a guy yet who didn’t want to go a round with the town slut.

She cursed under her breath and gathered a handful of hair. She squeezed out the excess water, breaking a fingernail in the process. Taking deep, concentrated breaths as a cold shiver wracked her body, she closed her eyes and wiped her face with her palm. When she heard another car approaching, she cringed, wishing she had a place to hide. The last thing she wanted was to get doused again. She inched closer to the embankment when a black Jeep slowed beside her. Keeping her focus on the ground, she tried to hurry to get ahead of it. She gripped the squishy, rubber flip-flops with her toes for traction, yet with each flop, water shot up the back of her legs and she slipped a little more.

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