The hot, heavy darkness, as cloying as dusty velvet, pressed relentlessly upon the two struggling figures.
“Let me go you pig, you…you…pervert!”
Two well-placed kicks and a jab of the elbow later, Julianna Martin broke free.
“You swine,” she raged. “How dare you come to MY motel and attack me!” She shoved the man’s chest with all of her strength, and he stumbled backwards and fell against the stairs leading into the pool.
Julianna waited for him to get up, but instead he gave a loud snort, mumbled something, and curled up into a ball on the side of the pool, presumably to sleep it off, since he reeked of alcohol.
She approached him cautiously, but when he still didn’t move, her temper flared, and she aimed a swift kick at the prostrate, drunken figure by the pool.
“Really, Miss Martin, that’s not very nice,” a voice protested from the shadows near the office door. “Do you make a habit of kicking a man when he’s down?”
Julianna whirled around to confront this new and unexpected danger. The man threw his hands into the air, palms out, and backed up a step. “Hey, I promise you’re safe with me. I was in my room reading when I heard the commotion, and I came out to see if you needed my help.”
“Do you know this…this…thing?”
“Oh, you mean Tim. He isn’t a thing, Miss Martin; he’s a man. He’s one of my best workers. Unfortunately, he had a little too much to drink tonight and tried to steal a kiss from a beautiful woman, but he’s harmless. He wouldn’t have hurt you.”
“That’s what you say. Are you his boss?”
“I don’t care who you are. I’m calling Sheriff Mitchell to hold him until he sobers up.”
“Please, don’t do that. I’ll see to it that he doesn’t cause any more trouble, and he’ll apologize to you tomorrow.”
Julianna hesitated, but it was late and she was tired. “Oh, all right,” she crossly conceded. “Get him back to his room, and I’ll let it go this time.”
“Thank you. I appreciate it.”
“Until Mr. Abercrombie shows up and says differently, I’m the manager of the Welcome Inn, and I don’t allow drinking around the pool. It doesn’t matter if your construction crew works for Abercrombie or not, I still don’t allow drinking at the pool, and you’d better see to it that all of your men know it.”
“Yes, ma’am I’ll be sure to tell them, but…”
“Good night,” Julianna interrupted, and she silently vanished into the manager’s apartment.
A smile played across the lips of her would-be rescuer, who shook his head before dragging his fallen comrade back to his room.