Genre: Contemporary Romance
Hart Richards has never found home.
Sure, he was raised in a house...but it was far from a home.
He thought heâd found it in the Army, only to have his world shattered along with his band of brothers.
Hart settled in a small-town in Montana until the inevitable happened.
The call he dreaded the most...
His mom was dying and he needed to return to the place he grew up.
Leaving his business behind to his best friend Cub, he set out on a long road trip back to Nashville.
The endless road, his only solace as the miles ticked by.
His soul in his pocket travelled aimlesslyâ¦
Hart had no idea what was waiting for him back in Nashville. The Travellerâs adventure may turn into his reality.
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â EXCERPT â
Londa, who Iâm sure used to wipe my nuts clean, sends me a wink while balancing a tray of drinks. Then Liza, who Iâm also sure cleaned my crack, hugs me, but I do my best to follow the queen to the bar. I saddle up to a stool while she rounds behind the bar. She goes straight into bartending mode while checking on the rest of the bar. Her entertainment is up on the stage singing away, the crowd is legit, and sheâs slinging out drinks.
Peaches slides me a whiskey neat then another. Before I know it, the tip of my black work boot is tapping to the country music blaring throughout the small, crowded bar. Being perched at the end of the bar where the waitresses put in orders has its own perks.
Hello, cowboy boots and shorty shorts while slinging drinks. My mind eases, wiping away all the worries and real life stress as each drink goes down. Peaches leans in every once in awhile letting me know my drink tab, but I just wave her on like Iâm going to pay. Her pussy jokes are about to backfire and I smirk as I down the fourth drink.
âExcuse me.â A shoulder nudges mine.
When I look up to the movement, I come eye to eye with a raven-haired beauty. Iâm clearly in her space, but the foggy cloud in my judgment is overpowering. Sheâs pretty, like a shiny nickel pretty.
I stare like a stark ass fool. Her emerald eyes hypnotize me something fierce. I should speak, but it seems all I can do is stare. I know what Tristan, the well-hung hero in the romance books, would do and I know what that badass biker, Trace, would do, yet, I just stare at her, getting drunker on her looks.
âSit up.â She bites down on her bottom lip to stifle the rest of her message.
I guess dickhead, asshole, or fuckface would follow, but she refrains from using any of these terms all the while plastering on her poker face while trying to get more drinks from the bar.
âHelp me.â I can Goddamn right sit up on my own, but her touch would be nice.
âOkay.â She shakes her head, apparently not amused by me.
Thatâs when I see her tits and my God are they a perfect set of tits. Motherfucking titties. I need my palms, lips, and mouth on those arts of perfection. Itâs all about admiration for the perfect work of art. Iâm all about being a professor of art and respecting the subject.
My clear admiration of the beauty before me is abruptly interrupted when the stool my ass is perched on is kicked out from underneath me. My ass lands hard on the wood floor. Peering back up at her I finally catch a smile gracing her lips.
âDid that help?â she asks, picking up her tray filled with drinks.
âGot the job done. I guess.â I stand slowly, cupping my nuts and hoping her next move isnât to jab me there.
Peachesâ cackles join the conversation. âSee you met Vannie, Hart.â
I narrow my eyes at the dark-haired goddess. âVannie. Nice.â
She rolls her eyes with no desire to entertain me any longer. Her ass is entertaining enough as she sways out onto the floor. Iâm a tall man, easily over six feet, and this woman in front of me is tiny in stature, but her attitude more than makes up for it.
âLeave her alone.â Peaches places another whiskey neat in front of me.
âSheâs the one that knocked me on my ass.â I pound the entire drink in one long gulp since Little Miss Hot Ass killed my buzz.
âIâm serious, Hart. Sheâs a roamer. Donât know her story, but if I had to guess itâs as dark as her black hair.â
âWhat? Did you hit on her and she turned you down?â I smirk over the glass.
Peaches shakes her head, but she has a glimpse of a smile dancing on her face. âNo, too young for me. Sheâs my best worker so donât scare her off, asshole.â
âWhatever, Cougar Cakes.â
The band up on the stage isnât half bad even though country music tends to make my ears bleed. Theyâre upbeat with an original sound and music. I notice three or four big suits enjoying a drink and listening while tapping their fingers on the table.
I slow down on the drinks knowing my limit. Drinking was my one vice to get me through life after returning home from my deployment. Our band of brothers was hit hard. We had lost a handful before we returned. I saw shit I can never forget. Booze numbed that ache until Izzy came screaming into our world. Then it was all her and keeping up the bed and breakfast Iâd bought.
It was a fixer upper at best and super cheap, but it was more therapy to restore and turned out to be a profitable business even though at one point I could only afford air to eat. It was all worth it. Cub and his family now run it for me. They own it. I left the papers behind because I knew heâd never accept.
Iâm a roamer like that. My heart grows wild and the desire inside me flairs up with the need to move on. Iâve quit wondering when Iâll strike gold in life and find the one person or place that can keep me rooted. Instead, I float with the breeze and enjoy life as it comes.
âThank you, everyone. Up next for your entertainment is the very talented Miss Savannah Ray.â
The voice booming over the microphone catches my attention. I look up to see the girl Peaches calls Vannie take the stage with a guitar strapped to her front. I have no idea how much time has floated since our first encounter. Sheâs changed into a white sundress with dainty straps. Her feet are covered with worn, brown cowboy boots.
Sheâs pulled her hair up into a ponytail. Her defensive, badass aura has disappeared leaving behind a timid woman up in the spotlight. No band members surround her. Itâs just her up there.
âWatch this.â Peaches nudges me in the shoulder.
The moment Vannie opens her mouth, magic happens. Her voice is haunting, delicate, soothing, and beautiful. Iâm in awe of the way she sings into the microphone, blocking out the rest of the bar. Itâs by far the best voice thatâs ever graced my ears.
Itâs my new favorite song even though I have no idea what it is. The bar grows eerily silent with everyone hypnotized by her honey-laced voice. The blush that creeps on the apples of her cheeks is adorable. She ducks her head once the song is finished and the bar goes wild with cheers. Some even stand on their feet cheering away.
She removes her guitar for the next song. I recognize it since itâs been played on the radio several times. âLet Her Goâ by Passenger has never sounded so seductive. Her voice controls the entire song with her hips swaying softly from side to side. She never makes eye contact while deep in the lyrics. Itâs as if sheâs pouring all of her soul into the words.
Song after song streams from her and never once does the bar go back to socializing. She keeps their attention the whole time. You could hear a pin drop between songs.
âThank you.â She drops her head and moves off stage.
Peaches hollers out last call and then sits next to me with a drink in her hand. âSo, what do you think now?â
Too stunned to talk, I remain still and quiet.
âWell, thatâs a first, somebody finally shut you up.â
âSheâs so different up there.â I point to the empty stage.
âYeah.â Peaches nods sipping from her drink. âLike I said, I donât know her story, but could guess sheâs street smart, but shy when it comes to being on the stage.â
âSheâs fucking talented. Why hasnât she been scooped up yet?â I ask.
âShe doesnât want it.â
Peaches doesnât get the chance to reply before weâre interrupted by Vannie herself.
âHey, need help closing up?â She tucks her hands into the front of her shorts pockets.
Sheâs changed again. Odd.
âYou can head home, Vannie, got it covered here.â Peaches hops from the stool and hugs her. âSee you tomorrow night.â
I donât miss the fact that she doesnât make eye contact with me this time. Youâd think I had on an invisibility cloak, but it doesnât stop me from studying that sweet little ass as she waltzes off. She stops near a table, sets down her guitar, and proceeds to put a hoodie over her head. Her dark hair blends into the material of the pitch black hoodie making her allure all the more powerful.
âVannie,â Peaches hollers out.
She pivots slowly, grabbing her guitar once again and giving Peaches her attention.
âYou get your car fixed?â
Shyly she shakes her head.
âGirl, Iâm going to beat your ass.â
âIâm only five blocks away.â
âItâs dark. Youâre young and gorgeous. I donât care how close you live.â
Without thinking, I hop up from the stool. âIâll walk her home.â
âNo.â Vannieâs defensive attitude flairs right back up with no hesitation.
âHey, Iâm a good guy.â I hold up both of my hands. âYou can even frisk me to make sure I donât have any weapons.â
I wink at her. Iâm beginning to think she has no personality at all. But her voice just a few minutes ago convinced me otherwise.
Peaches convinces Vannie that I will be walking her home. âIâll apologize in advance, Vannie, but Hart is a good guy. You shouldnât be out there walking alone.â
âIâve seen scarâ¦â
Peaches lays her hand on Vannieâs forearm. âIâm sure you have, doll, but not a hair on your head is getting hurt on my watch. Now get going, you two.â
â ABOUT THE AUTHOR â
HJ Bellus is a small town girl who loves the art of storytelling. When not making readers laugh or cry, she's a part-time livestock wrangler that can be found in the middle of Idaho, shot gunning a beer while listening to some Miranda Lambert on her Beats and rocking out in her boots.