As Per Usual Chapter 94
As Per Usual Chapter 93
Home > The Gamble (Colorado Mountain #1)(12)

The Gamble (Colorado Mountain #1)(12)
Author: Kristen Ashley

Then I decided, poison.

Then I answered, “Yes, I’m Nina.”

“Max said you been down with flu, girl, you need to rest,” the woman advised me.

“I thought I’d check into a hotel room in town.”

She hooted in my ear but said no actual words.

“What?” I asked.

“Girl, Holden Maxwell quarantined me to his house and he was in it, I wouldn’t go lookin’ for no hotel room.”

I felt my brows draw together. “Who’s Holden Maxwell?”

“Who’s Holden Maxwell?” she repeated.

“Yes. Who’s Holden Maxwell?”

“Girl, you’re livin’ with him.”

His name was Holden? What kind of name was that? No wonder he called himself Max.

I decided not to ask about the origins of Max’s name or explain the fact that I was not living with him and told her, “Well, he isn’t actually here, so I’m quarantined alone.”

“Oh, he’ll be back.”

I didn’t doubt that.

“Since you probably know where he lives, will you please send a taxi?” I asked.

“Nope,” she answered.

I was silent a beat, mostly shock, a little anger then I repeated, “Nope?”


“Why not?”

“’Cause Max says you need to rest.”

Yes, definitely poison.

“I’ll pay double.”

“You still gotta rest.”

I was seeing red again, I ignored it and offered, “I’ll pay triple.”

“Triple shmiple. You gotta rest.”

“Listen –”

“Come into town with Max when you’ve recovered. I’ll buy you a beer.”

Did she just tell me she’d buy me a beer? How did we get from me ordering a taxi to her buying me a beer?

“What?” I asked.

“Name’s Arlene. Come to The Dog. Show you the town only locals know.”

“But –”

“Gotta go. Get some rest, you hear?”

Then she hung up.

I stood staring at the phone buzzing at me. Then I beeped it off and put it in the receiver.

The internet advertisement didn’t say word one about nutty townspeople. Not word one. If it did, I definitely would not have hit “book now”.

I looked back through the phonebook. No more taxi companies. There were three rental agencies but they rented ATVs and snow mobiles. I didn’t think that would help.

It was either walk, when I felt like taking a nap, or I was stuck.

Which meant I was stuck.

Which meant I needed to take a nap so I could be energized and clearheaded when I plotted Holden Maxwell’s murder.

Before that, I had one more thing to do.

I went to my purse, grabbed my cell and saw the battery was low. I also saw I had a number of texts, all from friends, not one from Niles.

I climbed the spiral staircase, went to my overnight bag beside my suitcase, dug out the charger and the converter, attached them and plugged them into the wall. Then I pulled the cord and phone with me and sat on the bed. Then I went to my contacts and hit Niles’s number.

He answered on the third ring. “Hello?”



I tried to figure out how I felt about his voice coming at me over the phone and I couldn’t figure it out. It wasn’t relief or welcome familiarity it was just… well, familiarity.

Then I tried to figure out how I felt about his voice coming over the phone not sounding relieved that I was calling from half a world away. Just sounding like Niles and I was at the store asking him what he wanted for dinner. I couldn’t figure that out either.

“Hi, I’m here,” I told him.

“That’s good.”

“I’ve been here for –”

“Listen,” he cut me off, “I’m about to go into a meeting.”


“I’ve got a meeting.”

I shook my head. “Niles, I just wanted to tell you, I’ve been sick.”

“Yes, you said you thought you were getting a sinus infection.”

“Well, it was worse than that.”

“You sound fine.”

I did. Miraculously, outside of being tired, I felt pretty good. My throat didn’t hurt, I wasn’t coughing though my nose was still kind of stuffy.

“I’m better now.”

“That’s good.” He sounded distracted. “They’re waiting for me.”

“Okay,” I said. “Do you want me to call later?”

“Later?” Now he sounded perplexed, as if he didn’t understand the concept of later.

“Later, tonight, when you’re home.”

“I’m working late.”

“Yes, but your late is my afternoon.”

I heard his sigh then he said, “If you want.”

If I want?

I felt anger again, surprisingly anger at Niles. I never got angry at Niles. He never did anything to get angry at mostly because he never did anything.

“Niles, I’m half a world away.”


“I’m half a world away!” I said louder.

“I don’t understand.”

And he didn’t. Because he wasn’t the type of man who cared if is fiancée needed a timeout and took it half a world away.

And I wondered what he’d think if I told him I was staying in the beautiful home with breathtaking views with a amazing looking man who’d seen me na**d (mostly), made me breakfast, teased me, flirted with me and who I’d kind of slept with.

“Are you there?” he asked me.

“I’m here.”

“I need to go.”

“Of course.”

“Call me later, if you like.”


“Are you okay?”

No, I was not.

I didn’t tell him this, instead I said, “Tired.”

“Rest, that’s what you’re there to do.”

No it wasn’t. I was there to take a timeout.

“Right,” I said again.

“Talk to you later.”




Then he disconnected.

I stared at my phone, hit the button to turn it off and set it on Max’s nightstand. Then I flopped back on the bed. Then I bit my lip so I wouldn’t cry.

Charlie had never met Niles and I wished he had. Charlie had always been sharp, good at reading people. Charlie would have given it to me gently but he would have given it to me straight.

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