Copyright © 2016 by Cathy Pegau
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews. Please contact the author as needed.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author's imagination or used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Thank you to readers Shae, Ella, Malin, Emily, Michele, and Alyssa.
Extra special thanks to Cori for the additional information and comments.
Callie Flores pushed through the doors of the HighFlyer outside of Vancouver, Washington, just after ten p.m. The HighFlyer was like any other truck stop on her western route-diner style seating, heart-attack-on-a-plate menu, endless coffee, men and women who would do anything for their fellow drivers-and Callie felt at home here as much as she did anywhere along I-5.
Most of the diners raised hands in recognition and greeting as Callie swept the Stetson off her head and raked her fingers through her hair. She waved back, but didn't join any of them, feeling too tired to hold up her end of a conversation or try to one-up a fellow trucker on the weirdest shit they'd seen on the road. She'd had her share of unbelievable antics of other drivers and strange sightings, though she didn't feel much like chatting tonight.
After hanging her thick, quilted jacket on the coat rack, she took a seat at the counter, several stools down from the nearest patron. Kim, the lone nightshift server, was at the other end, taking an older man's order. She nodded to Callie to let her know she'd be right there. On the other side of the pass-through into the kitchen, Darryl concentrated on the grill, stirred pots, and checked the green order slips hanging from the edge of the window.
Callie didn't bother looking at the menu. Pretty much whatever she wanted to eat at the moment, short of escargot or lobster, Darryl would whip it up on demand. She was only in the mood for Darryl's signature bacon double cheeseburger and spicy tots. The meal would come fast, allowing her to get back to her rig sooner for some much needed sleep.
Kim snagged the coffee pot and a white mug on her way to Callie. She set the cup down and poured without asking if Callie wanted coffee, because everyone who came into the HighFlyer drank coffee. Good thing caffeine didn't keep her awake anymore.
"How's it goin', hon?"
Callie took a couple of packets of sugar from the square ceramic dispenser on the counter and flicked them. "Good. How 'bout you? How's Richie?"
Kim rolled her eyes. "Tried to do a wheelie off a ramp he and his buddies set up. Broke his arm. That boy'll be the death of me one of these days."
"Kids are like that." Callie added sugar to the cup. "You stickin' around for the holidays?"
From their many encounters over the years, Callie knew Kim and her son often spent a week at her parents' place in northern Washington. The guy who replaced her on those occasions was okay, but didn't have Kim's efficiency or sense of humor.
Kim's cheeks pinked as she smiled. "Rick'll be in town. We'll do the family thing at my place this year."
Callie didn't understand the on-again-off-again relationship Kim had with her ex, but if it worked for Kim that was all that mattered. Hell, she was no expert on relationships, not by a long shot. Callie raised her mug in salute. "Good for you guys."