And for right now, for this small moment in time, nothing else exists.
There's no pending fight to keep my farm. There's no intense burn in my gut from the girl who stole my heart when we were kids. There's no fear that if I make the wrong choice, it will change my little sister's life forever.
Right now, it's just me and my horse.
Standing in the parking lot outside the entrance of the motel, I look up at the building. The white paint is chipped and flaking off. Only five of the letters are lit and glowing. It doesn't say Pitt Motel like it should, it says It Moe.
The crazy thing is, it still looks the same as I remember. It's more rundown, but the familiarity is there.
Walking inside, a small bell jingles above my head. Glancing around, I see a young girl slouched behind the front desk, her face buried in a magazine.
Moving to the counter, I say, “Hello.”
She pops her eyes up to me from behind the magazine, and has this look on her face like I just ruined her day. “We're full,” she says instantly, lifting the magazine back up over her face.
“Excuse me?” I ask. Did she really just dismiss me like that? Arching a brow, my lips fold into a heavy scowl.
“I said we're full. Sorry,” she says with a little snotty pitch in her tone.
Scoffing, I purse my lips. “I'm sorry, that can't be right.”
“Yeah? You're saying I'm wrong? That I don't know what we have available in the place where I work?” Her tone is harsh, and I'm not really in the mood to argue. I just want a bed, a bath, and maybe a couple of martinis. That's it.
“Look, I don't know what's going on here, but let's start over. I'm only here for tonight, and I don't need anything super fancy. Can you just double check for me? I'm sure you can find at least one open room.”
Her eyes look me up and down, and she chuckles to herself. “By the way you're dressed, I highly doubt you even remember what dirt is, let alone accept something that isn't fancy.”
My mouth hangs open, eyes wide as I stare at the young receptionist behind the front desk. “The sign outside says there are vacancies,” I snap. “So do your job and find me a damn room.”
I'm done being nice. Any courtesy I had left is gone. I don't care if I sound rude, this girl will renting me a room tonight.
The girl is staring up at me as she chews on bubble gum, blowing a small bubble and popping it with her teeth. “I think I already made myself clear, we're full.”
“No, that's not right. I don't know what your problem is, but how about you tap on that little keyboard there and check again.” Pointing down, I'm not even trying to hide my annoyance.
This town isn't a popular vacation spot. No one willingly comes here for anything. There's no way every single room is full when there are only two other cars in the parking lot. I don't believe her. She's obviously lying.
Her eyes roll to a sign posted on the wall beside the computer. “Do you need me to read it to you? Or can you do that on your own?”
Glaring at the girl, I flick my eyes to the plaque. Management and staff reserve the right to deny service to anyone at any time.
“You've got to be kidding me? That can’t be legal,” I say sharply, darting my eyes back to the receptionist. “There's no reason to deny me a room. Why in the world would you do that? This shithole is probably barely staying afloat, and you want to willingly drive away a paying customer? Are you serious right now?”
She smiles with sinister sweetness, tilting her head against her shoulder. “You really don't remember me, do you?”
“Remember you,” I say, studying her closely.
Curly red hair, green eyes, petite, with a small scar running across her left brow. I'm trying to remember her, obviously I should, because she knows who I am. But I can't for the life of me remember who she is.
“I'm sorry, I don't.” Shaking my head, I dig through my mind, but keep coming up empty.
“My name's Melody.” Arching both my brows confused, she says, “Melody Jamison.”
As if a lightning bolt strikes me from above, images of her come flooding back into my head. It's Ryder's little sister. I can see it now. The hair color, the shape of the eyes, the high cheek bones.
Images of her as a kid flash through my head. Even the one where she got that scar. She was about five, and I was helping her dad wash down the horses. Melody was running back and forth through the barn, when she startled one of the horses. The horse kicked back, knocking a bucket with his hoof.