Chapter Twelve

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The late hours at the bar meant that most mornings I didn't wake up till well after sunrise. Or if I did, I spent the first couple of hours clunking around the hotel, yawning and cracking my knees into every article of furniture with a sharp edge. That Friday was a rare exception; one of those freak of nature days when I was up before the alarm and actually feeling human.

There was an old Zenith on the dresser in the guest bedroom that still worked; a chrome and fake wood number with the tiny sliding knobs. As I pulled on clothes, the voice in the box promised sixties and clear skies before launching into a live recording of Desperado. Dressed and out in the kitchen a few minutes later, I was amazed to find it so. The sun was back in town. Ha cha cha.

A little sunlight after a week of drizzle is scary shit. Uncut ultraviolet crack, kind of shit. Just a couple minutes of it, even filtered through the Worth's grimy windows and I was so wired I could've chewed my coffee beans into submission. 

Taking into account my new lack of dental insurance though, I settled for a run.

I'd made a point of running every day in Seattle. An hour on the treadmill or the street, however I could fit it in; more on those too frequent nights I hadn't been able to sleep.

After a brief search I located the box containing my exercise gear; shorts, shirts, Nikes. Folded up in a pair of sweats I found the armband for my cell and was pissed all over again. It occurred to me I'd never called in to report it lost.

"That's great," I said, pitching the armband back in the box. "That's just goddamn perfect."

Ten to one, a trucker had found it and was racking up charges on kinky, Taiwanese phone sex hotlines right that very minute; asking some forty-year-old woman with an exaggerated accent, what color of sailor suit she was wearing. Or whatever the hell it was that desperate straight guys got up to on 900 numbers. Good thing I no longer had a valid mailing address, because that final bill was going be a horror show.

I was mulling that over, lacing up my shoes when Dana stuck her nose through the partially open door and shoved her way in.

"Isn't there something you should be guarding?" I asked, edging back on the bed.

I was giving it a little longer before I wrote off her apparent disinterest in eating me as anything other than cunning subterfuge. Probably just waiting to make her move when I was separated from the rest of the herd.

Tail swish swishing behind her, she padded over and nosed my leg.

I wiped at the wet smear of dog snot. "Stop that."

The tail only waging intensified.

She'd been in a funk since Jamie had left; spending all day in the lobby, staring forlornly out the door. Regular Little Orphan Annie. Erin took her out a few times a day, but that didn't stop her pouting with all her puppy-dog-eyed power.

"What are the chances you go all Cujo," I asked, "if I take you for a walk?"

She perked right up.

Outside, the weather was even more intoxicating. Lower sixties maybe, but it felt warmer in the sun and there wasn't a cloud in sight. The skies were the brightest and clearest I'd ever seen; cerulean blue with nary a wisp of haze. Pristine. Like a scene pulled right off the canvas of a Payne painting.

Just another of the many things I soon discovered that the locals didn't take much notice of. In time, I wouldn't either. When you live in it every day, Eden's just another garden. That morning though, I was mesmerized.

I headed south, then west, starting slow, cutting around Pine Street so I didn't have to jog passed the morning coffee crowd at Katie's in my lycra shorts. That early the town was quiet. Lights were on in the houses we passed, but me and my canine sidekick made it to the end of Maple Street without meeting a single car.

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