Unrivaled Pleasure [Montana Double Riders 4]By: Elle Saint James
Trail’s End Tavern, outskirts of Enclave, Montana
Lilianna Brenner pushed several quarters into the coin slot and listened as they dropped into the old-fashioned jukebox, waiting patiently as they bounced through the various metal pathways so she could dance her way onto the lap of any man willing to take her home tonight. She unbuttoned the top three buttons of her shirt, revealing the edge of her lacy, black bra, and readied herself for the coming performance. She called on every memory of the pole dance exercise class she’d attended last year to help her pull off this daring feat of public seduction.
The tricky part would be getting someone interested in leaving with her, but without having to sleep with a perfect stranger. She just wanted a safe escort out of this bar.
The tavern she’d seen in the distance—while standing next to her broken-down, useless car—made her believe in miracles for the first time in her life. The place was fairly lively, and luckily filled with lots of men, given that it was at the edge of a small town smack dab in the middle of nowhere Montana.
She rolled her neck, loosening her body and readying her limbs for what was to come. She couldn’t stop her heart’s frantic beat, and didn’t try. She was afraid. There was no getting around that.
Maybe the fear would help her get through this. The shot of tequila she’d downed at the bar before stepping over to find an appropriate song for her needs also helped both with loosening her up a bit and with the nagging dread.
Inhaling a deep breath and letting it out, Lilianna was likely as ready as she’d ever be. Fright was an incredible motivator, and with an enraged, vicious loan shark on her tail, the fear she had was well founded. Sammy Heller’s top bone breaker had just tracked her down.
In the mirror behind the bar, she glanced in the direction of the man who’d just entered the lively drinking establishment. His name was Ted. And while his name sounded harmless enough, Ted was anything but.
Entering through the bar’s front door ten minutes after she had, Ted had glanced around the busy place as Lilianna’s heart nearly leapt from her chest. How he’d found her so quickly, she didn’t know, but she was grateful he hadn’t been so close on her heels that he’d run her down after she abandoned her vehicle by the side of the road.
That lonely hurried jog had saved her, even though abandoning her car had been very difficult. She’d left a few things behind, hidden in the trunk’s spare tire compartment. A few important things she didn’t want to lose.
Another glance in Ted’s direction made her coming task much easier.
She didn’t know what Ted’s official title was, but she’d seen him around her former hometown of Winston several times. She’d always thought of him in the more practical terms of what he did on a regular basis. He broke bones to get people to bend to Sammy’s will. She’d only learned Ted’s name last week. Because unfortunately, she’d recently been placed on Sammy’s radar. He wanted her to pay a particular debt.
Lilianna felt strongly that she owed Sammy nothing. He, however, disagreed.
Sammy called himself a businessman, but everyone knew what he was. A loan shark with connections to an organized crime syndicate a couple of states away. Worst of all, he had a legendary reputation for brutality in the town of Winston where they were both from. No one messed with Sammy and walked away untouched. He had Ted to put the fear in clients who’d overextended their gambling habits.
It wouldn’t be long before Ted spotted her here, if he hadn’t already.
Hiding in plain sight wasn’t going to work in this situation. As a former waitress in two different popular restaurants back in Winston, she’d seen Ted in action more than once.
Unfortunately, he’d seen her before, too.
With him hot on her trail, her brief plan to settle down in some anonymous little town and get another waitressing job to let things cool off was now out the window.
She knew Ted’s typical method of getting someone to “cooperate” was to lure them out of whatever building they were in with a weapon shoved against their side. Not elegant, but very effective. He’d propel his quarry to a quieter place for an unforgettable chat to help show those foolish enough to borrow from a connected loan shark how things in the business truly worked.