Snowed In (Hope Falls #7)

By: Melanie Shawn

Chapter One

“So tell me,” asked a portly middle-aged man with salt-n-pepper hair and a lusty gleam in his eye, “are you a card carrying member of the mile high club?” His breath reeking of whiskey, he leaned forward, causing the barstool he was teetering on to squeak loudly. He leered at her, “Because I am, and I wouldn’t mind initiating you into it on the flight tomorrow.”

Oh, good lord. The “mile high” pick up line. Couldn’t he at least try to be remotely original?

If Nikki had a dollar for every time she’d been asked that, she’d be a millionaire. Okay, well maybe not a millionaire, but very, very well off.

“Wow. That is one tempting offer. Still, I am going to have to decline,” she stated flatly.

Nikki looked back down at her phone, hoping the drunk saddled up next to her at the hotel bar would take the hint. She typed in the password to access her Cal State academic profile. She only needed a seventy percent on her statistics final to complete her B.S. in Psychology. Once that was finished, she could start working on her Master’s degree. Her stomach knotted as the page loaded.

“You know, you sure were a lot sweeter to me on the flight earlier today.” The man, obviously not taking the hint, leaned even closer.

“Yes, I was. Because that’s my job,” Nikki pointed out the obvious. “But, in case you hadn’t noticed, we are not on a plane. We are in a hotel bar. I’m off duty.”

“Oh, come on, I thought we had a connection,” the man’s voice dropped to a lower octave, in what she assumed was his pathetic attempt at seduction.

Nikki lifted her head, looking straight into his beady black eyes. “Yeah, and I bet you think strippers like you, too.”

“Hmm, I’d sure love to see you strip,” the man said as he placed his hand on Nikki’s thigh.

Okay. That’s it. Nikki had tried to be nice (well her version of “nice” at any rate!), but this was crossing a line.

“If you don’t take your fat, greasy fingers off of me this second I will break every last one of them.” Nikki spaced her words evenly so that he didn’t miss one. She did not break eye contact or move a muscle.

For a moment the man just stared at her, presumably in shock, before finally removing his pudgy hand. “You don’t have to be a bitch about it,” he slurred before grabbing his glass. It was filled with amber-colored liquid which sloshed over the rim, landing on the bar as he awkwardly schlepped off the barstool.

Right, I’m the bitch.

Shaking off the insult, Nikki immediately returned her attention to her phone. Her eyes fell on the screen and her heart sank. Shit. Disappointment and frustration rioted through her.

She wanted to cry. She wanted to scream. She wanted to throw her phone at the wall.

She didn’t cry because she wasn’t a crier, and screaming wasn’t an option because, as empty as this bar was, she really didn’t think the few patrons here would appreciate it.

As far as throwing her phone? Well, that wasn’t going to happen for a couple of reasons. One, she liked this phone. Over the last six months she had traveled to six different countries with this phone, and she’d gotten attached to it. Two, it wasn’t her phone’s fault that it mockingly displayed the score of her Statistics final…which was a dismal sixty-eight percent.

Nikki knew that she had only herself to blame for failing to receive a passing score. After breezing through last semester taking only Social Psychology and Physiological Psychology, earning a ninety-five percent in one and ninety-two in the other without putting in that much work, she had gotten out of the habit of disciplining herself to put in the hours to study. That lackadaisical schedule had not worked with Statistics, which she’d been putting off for years now. If there was any class she should have studied for, this was it. Now she was going to have to take it again.

Great. Finishing this degree should have taken her one year tops, not three. Why, why had she dropped out half-way through senior year? She was such an idiot.

“Can I buy you a drink?” a man’s voice interrupted Nikki’s pity party.

Nikki turned her head and saw a decent looking guy, probably early to mid-thirties, around six-one, blonde, blue-eyed, well-built, well-dressed…and with a wedding ring on. Of course.

“I don’t think your wife would appreciate that.”

“My wife’s not here,” the slime ball smirked cockily, “and what she doesn’t know won’t hurt her.”

“Not interested,” she said firmly, leaving no room for argument.

Nikki again looked down at her phone, this time pulling up her sister’s name on the contact list, and tapped it. She needed to check on her Chihuahua, and this conversation was so over.

Mr. Cheater let out a forced laugh before delivering his parting shot, “Your loss, Sweetheart.”

Gimme a break. Nikki rolled her eyes and sighed as the phone rang in her ear.

“Hello,” Amy answered with a giggle as she picked up on the fourth ring.

“Hey. I was just calling to check on Scrappy and let you know that we got grounded in Dallas due to bad weather. So I won’t be by to pick him up tomorrow morning.”