I Get What I Pay For
Welcome to Red Grove. Population 200
“Now, two hundred and one,” I murmured as I passed the painted wooden sign in my trusty red Jeep. Small towns like Red Grove always made me think of horror movies as if a gap-toothed, overall-wearing butcher might hobble out of his deep woods shanty, pitchfork in hand, at any moment. The town had an off the charts creepy factor. On my right, a dark forest worthy of the Brothers Grimm. On my left, a cemetery edged in a weathered wrought iron fence. I think there were more than two hundred headstones. More dead than living. Nice.
There must be some mistake. I came here to start over. Could a new life be hiding behind the unappealing rural exterior? My promised house remained a mystery. I double-checked the notebook with my father’s scrawled directions resting on the passenger’s seat next to me. Technically, I’d lived in Red Grove as a child, but we’d moved before I turned two. I didn’t remember the town at all or the residents, living or dead.
I shifted my attention back to my driving. “Holy shit!” I proclaimed as I overcorrected the wheel, and my foot drifted from the gas.
The man on the side of the road was so attractive I could’ve died—literally. He was planting something. A tree, I think. Every time his shovel hit the dirt, a ripple coursed through his shoulders and down his stomach. I raised an eyebrow at the glint of sun on tanned, shirtless skin. Dark hair, low slung jeans. I tried not to gawk, but the best I could do was to keep my head inside the window.
I was thinking he belonged in a museum, a chiseled-by-the-gods man museum, when my brain was hijacked. I forgot about the road. I forgot where I was going. A fantasy hit me so fast and hard, it could’ve been a memory.
We were in the shower. I stood behind him, my arms wrapped around his torso, rubbing lather circles down his chest, over his rock-hard abs, and lower. In my daydream, he moaned my name, and I was...