“Yeah, Tessa Stanton. You sent me her resume, if you can even call it that. I don’t see why you hired her unless she’s a hot piece of ass that you simply want to fuck.”

I couldn’t help but smile at my crass editor’s comment. Yes, she was a hot piece of ass, and definitely fuckable, but I had no intention of doing so nor was that why I hired her. I had a weakness for big blue eyes and long blonde hair, which Tessa had, but it stopped there. My head wasn’t in the game for anything else. “She’s cute. She’s genuine and not pretentious like that Joseph fuck. I see honesty in her eyes, and she sure as hell won’t get offended when I ask her to make me a sandwich or get me a cup of coffee. She really seemed to want the job. She was hungry for it.”

In fact, I got the impression the poor girl was hungry period. It was clear she had a rough go at life so far, and for some reason it all fascinated me. Her drive to improve her situation was the reason I spontaneously hired her. That and the fact that I couldn’t possibly do another interview. I was sick of it and ready to get to my book.

“I’m sure everyone who interviewed wanted the job. Who wouldn’t?”

“Yeah, well, she seemed to want it for different reasons. She was honest… almost to a fault. All the other candidates made me want to stab my eyeballs out thinking of spending six months alone with them. Either that, or they only wanted this job to use me for their own career. Tessa seemed different. I could actually stand her, which couldn’t be said for the others.”

“And you are sure you want to bring her up to the cabin?” Brett asked. “You haven’t brought anyone up there since…”

“Molly,” I finished the sentence for him. “You can say her name, you know. It’s not some dirty word, or some deep hidden secret. And yes, I am aware that I haven’t brought anyone up there since Molly, but again, I’m not bringing Tessa up there for the same reasons. She’s my assistant and nothing more.”

I didn’t have time for women and relationships in my life. A lonely existence, but my life regardless. I had tried to bring a woman up to the cabin with me as I wrote. Thinking she could be my muse and it would help inspire me to make my writing a little more sexy and appealing to the female reader, but it had been an epic fail. Poor Molly had been ignored, fucked on occasion, then ignored some more. After that failed attempt at normalcy, I decided that I needed an assistant, not a fuck buddy.

“Yeah, tell me that in a month when you are buried balls deep in her tight ass.” Brett chuckled. “Whatever. Just get that book done. No more extensions are allowed or you have to pay back that advance. So get busy and don’t get pulled into all that pussy bullshit.”

“Great talk,” I mumbled as I continued to pack. “I’ll text you when we arrive, and I’ll stay in touch.”

“Don’t let the bears eat you. And I need words, Price. Words!”

* * *

Tessa

My life had trained me for this moment. My mother and I had never stayed in one place long. Hopping from one motel to another, or even from one homeless shelter to another, I had learned to pack fast and not hold on to possessions that couldn’t be crammed into a backpack at a moment’s notice. So, when Price wanted to leave right away for the mountains, it wasn’t hard for me to make that happen. I was packed, standing back on his doorstep with a suitcase and my trusty backpack in hand, and ready to go before he was.

As we began the journey to his isolated house, I wondered if the entire trip would be in silence. It was awkward, and I couldn’t help but wonder how I would be able to live with this man for months alone when we couldn’t even have a conversation. There were so many questions I wanted to ask, but I couldn’t drum up the courage to do so. Maybe he liked the silence. Maybe he wouldn’t want me talking to him at all while we were there. He did say his book would be his focus, and it was very likely he was plotting it out as we drove. I certainly didn’t want to upset him by breaking his concentration, so I just remained quiet.

Price wore a red flannel long-sleeve shirt, jeans, and brown boots, giving off a completely different aura than the more businessman attire he wore during the interview. He seemed more casual and warm on the outside—far less stuffy and uptight than he’d been when I first met him, yet he still sat straight and acted cold and distant. I had packed every item of clothing I had, and the warmest jacket I owned really wasn’t cut out for snow or mountain temperatures. I didn’t own heavy duty boots either, but figured that I would just borrow a coat from Price if I had to go out in the snow for some reason. Though it did sound like we would be spending most of our time indoors.

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