Shut up. Your voice has no business in my head, Renner Jackson.

“So, are you the big cheese up at the Split Rock?” came from across the coffee table. Hard not to ogle the woman whose orange hair clashed with the sleek silver jumpsuit from the disco era. The high-topped tie-dyed sneakers were an unusual touch, as was the rainbow-striped scarf she’d jauntily looped around her neck. The woman was eighty, if she was a day.

Before Tierney could respond, a grandmotherly type whapped the disco escapee on the knee with a steno pad. “Garnet Evans, behave.” She offered Tierney a sweet smile. “I’m Maybelle Linberg, reporter for the Muddy Gap Gazette, and I’m so very pleased to officially meet you.”

“Me too,” the woman getting a haircut piped up. “I’m Tilda O’Toole. We’re all friends of Harper’s.”

Garnet leaned forward, resting her forearms on her knees. “I notice you didn’t answer my question. Who’s in charge up there?”

Good question. “I work for the financial management company that invested money in the resort.”

The youngest of the group, a distinction Tierney made because the woman in question wore a short denim miniskirt, said, “So you are the big boss,” as she continued to flip through a fashion magazine.

“One would be hard-pressed to boss Renner Jackson around in any capacity.” Tierney almost clapped her hand over her mouth. What on earth had possessed her to blurt that out to total strangers?

“I wouldn’t mind being pressed hard against Renner Jackson,” Garnet said with a soft rowr. “He’s a sexy hunk of real man. Have you seen him in chaps?”

“Garnet, are you tryin’ to make Tierney run outta here on her very first visit?” Bernice tossed over her shoulder.

“What? The girl’s got eyes, don’t she? Surely she’s let them wander over that hunkalicious bod a time or two?”

You have no idea how many times I’ve eyeballed that man’s ass. And his abs. And his chest. And his arms.

A gasp. A throaty laugh. Then silence.

Tierney glanced at Garnet’s self-satisfied expression. “What?”

“Bet you didn’t mean to say that out loud.”

Her face flamed and she stuttered, “N-no. I didn’t.”

“Don’t make it less true,” Pearl said.

“I can believe that man don’t like to be bossed around. But I bet he does plenty of bossing in the boudoir.”

“Oh, don’t be too sure, some of those macho men prefer a woman with a firm hand and a soft whip. Or so I’ve read,” Maybelle said.

Pearl and Garnet laughed.

The miniskirt woman lifted her head and crossed her long legs. Tierney reassessed her earlier age assumption. With spiky auburn hair, vivid green eyes, killer bone structure and flawless makeup, the woman could’ve passed for fifty, but the truth was, she was probably closer to seventy. She held her hand out to Tierney and smiled. “I’m Vivien Edwards.”

“Vivien’s got a date tomorrow night,” Tilda announced.

“It’s just coffee,” Vivien demurred.

Garnet patted Vivien’s knee. “It’s a start, sweetie.”

“I know. It’s just . . . I haven’t done this for so many years.” She sipped from a can of V8 juice and looked at Tierney. “What the gossip girls here haven’t said, is I’ve been widowed for five years. I spent the first three years traveling to the exotic places all over the world Bill and I never did. The next year and a half I bounced between our kids’ houses until I drove them and my grandbabies insane. I decided I was ready to come home to Muddy Gap last month.”

“And she’s already got a date! Can you believe it?”

Tilda seemed really impressed with Vivien’s date. Tierney wondered how long it’d been since Tilda had a date.

Maybe you should think about how long it’s been since you’ve had a date.

“At least somebody’s dating. I don’t remember the last time I saw a live penis,” Garnet complained.

Maybelle whapped Garnet on the knee again. “You saw several last week when we went to the ‘Crash with the Past’ all male revue in Casper, smarty.” Maybelle confessed in a loud whisper, “It was research for an article I’m writing for the Gazette.”

Tierney grinned.

“Oh, them penises don’t count,” Garnet scoffed. “Them penises were in captivity. I was guaranteed to see at least one when we shelled out for the show. That’s not like finding a penis out there in the wild. Where at the end of the night when that zipper comes down you discover if he’s hung like a horse or just dangling a worm.”

“I’ll bet Tierney dates a lot,” Pearl said, interrupting Garnet’s musings on penises.

“Not a single date in the time I’ve been here.”

“But you’ve been asked out, right?” Maybelle pressed.

She shook her head.

Silence. Exchanged looks. More silence.

Great. These seventy- and eighty-something women pitied her. Her. A woman in the prime of her dating life. A woman who’d seen exactly one live penis out of captivity in her twenty-six years—and only recently by accident.

Now she pitied herself too.

“Girl, you oughta start askin’ guys out. Hit Buckeye Joe’s. Flirt a little. Dance a little. Drink a little. Have some fun!”

Vivien squeezed Tierney’s knee. “Don’t put off living the life you want, waiting for the ‘right time’—the right time is now.”


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