I'm posting a new excerpt from my WIP set in the fictional southern city of Atalanta. Here, Estelle, the protagonist, meets hunky Toby.
Finishing her chores as fast as she could, Estelle dashed into the house to wash. She changed into shorts and a tank top with a small shoulder bag for her purse and phone. Jumping down the stairs from the bedroom, she shouted into the kitchen, “Aunt Maisie, I’m going for a long walk. Don’t worry about me. I’ll grab lunch in Lost Springs.”
“Dinner’s at five. Make sure you’re back in good time.” Busy chopping vegetables on the counter, her aunt scarcely glanced at Estelle.
Estelle walked sedately to the gate, slipped through, and paused in the lane to decide which way to go. Straight ahead, the rutted farm lane led to a paved road going straight to the small town of Lost Springs. On the left, the narrow track leading under the trees enticed her with its promise of cool shade. She chose the wooded path, although it added a mile to her journey.
Tree branches arched overhead, forming the roof of a green tunnel over the dirt track. Eager to reach the town and connect with her friends, Estelle increased her pace to a steady jogtrot. At that rate, she could run the three miles to town in less than an hour.
A mile further on, she heard an engine in the distance. The drone of the motor increased to a roar and Estelle halted. She backed onto the verge of the path under the tree trunks and waited for the vehicle to appear.
A mud-stained motorbike shot into view, the rider bent over the handlebars. The bike screeched to a stop a few feet away, spraying clouds of dust from the wheels. The rider’s steel-toed boots dug into the dirt. The biker was a stud of a man, a little older than Estelle. He wore a tight black vest, accentuating the muscles of his broad chest. The tattoo of a black cat leaped up his bare biceps. His long black hair was tied in a ponytail, and his dark eyes glowered under thick black brows. His wide mouth angled in a sullen down curve.
Estelle’s eyes widened. A good-looking hunk, his whole attitude reeked of a tough gangster. Not someone to oppose lightly.
For a long moment, they stared at each other in silence.
He spoke first, “You’re new around here. What’s your name?” His voice had an attractive nasal twang.
Cocking her head, she said, “Estelle.” She hated her name. Estelle sounded like somebody’s grandmother. She pointed up the track. “I’m staying at the Dawson’s farm.”
“Estelle’s a sweet name. Makes me think of stars.” The sudden smile transformed his face from sullen to handsome.
She blushed. “What’s yours?”
“Toby.” He grimaced. “Old fashioned name, ain’t it?”
She grinned at his woeful expression.
“Do you run here often?” he drawled.
“Yeah, most days when I’m staying at the farm,” Estelle admitted, unsure if she wanted to meet him again. She preferred to jog alone on quiet trails without disturbances from rough strangers on noisy bikes.
“Want to come for a ride?” He cocked an eyebrow and patted the seat of his motorbike invitingly.
Estelle shook her head, wary of riding with a stranger. “No thanks. I’m jogging for the exercise.”
His dark brows lowered. “Not scared are you?”
Jutting her chin, she snapped, “No way!” Glaring at his fake expression of dismay, she sniffed, “Bye.” She turned away and trotted down the dirt track.
The engine roared and he drove the motorbike in a tight circle around her, throwing up clouds of dirt. Then, Toby zoomed off and disappeared behind a bend in the track.
Estelle stomped out of the dust cloud, coughing and shaking the dust off her clothes. She glared in the direction he had gone. Stupid boy! Did he think his antics and noisy bike would impress her? The rumble of the motorbike faded into the distance, restoring peace to the countryside. Her annoyance eased.
She walked away, considering her new acquaintance. Arrogant attitude, but Toby had a nice smile. And, she loved the black cat tattooed on his muscular biceps. For a second, she imagined those strong arms wrapped around her and Toby murmuring in her ear. She snickered. Not likely! He probably spent half his time exercising in the gym and the rest disposing of gang rivals. Mom would be horrified if Estelle brought a tough gangster like Toby home for tea. Mom would hate his tattoos. Shaking off his disruptive influence, she ran down the narrow lane and resolved to forget the hunky biker.
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