The Cowboy & The Showgirl

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Chapter One


Val fumbled under the bumper of the truck. Damn. The key wasn’t where Connie had said it would be. Maybe the other side of the big pickup? The dust didn’t hide the dings or its age.

She checked over her shoulder praying that any cameras on the lot wouldn’t see a showgirl with white-blond hair, nice boobs, and long legs. Instead, they’d see a teen in a black hoodie with baggy black pants and a backpack. She used a teen-boy shuffle to move around the truck. Damn. Not here either. Maybe she’d misunderstood?

She made herself walk, not scurry, to the large RV trailer that had been new the year she was born. There she felt the magnetic box. Success. The key.

The trailer was dark as she entered, but she didn’t dare turn on the lights or even use her phone as a flashlight. She watched CSI and knew someone might see her. She inched her way to the back. Her friend said her brother who owned the RV would leave in half an hour. His final destination was Texas, and he was in a hurry to get there. From there, Val would find her sister and then figure out how to pay off the man she was supposed to have married four hours ago.

It’d seemed so easy. Marry Gustavo and pocket the rest of the promised cash. He hadn’t told her until 15 minutes before the ceremony that she’d have to move in with him and live as man and wife to fool immigration, which would be showing up an hour after their ceremony. She had not signed up for that. She’d also already spent the money he’d given her. So, she’d told him she’d needed the bathroom and ran.

A dull light shone in through the crack in the drapes in the bedroom, enough for her to see the bed, messily made. She didn’t care. She was exhausted. She’d danced two shows, before going to the chapel to get “married.”

She put her measly backpack in the bedroom. She hadn’t had time to take anything more than what was in her locker backstage. That’s where Connie had called her brother and got Val a ride. Gustavo might look for her at the casino where she was the headline dancer at the Copacabana Spectacular, a recreation of Barry Manilow’s song about the famous club, although Mr. Manilow had no affiliation with the show — they had to announce that at the beginning of each performance. Gustavo would never think tall, blond, and lover of everything sparkly Val would run away with a cowboy. Plus, he didn’t know enough about her to know Connie was her best friend.

The plan she and Connie had come up with was for Val to stay hidden in the RV. As soon as she could get the money back to Gustavo, he would stop looking for her. So, she had to do that fast. Until then, she’d hide like the scared bunny she was.

Val used the bathroom in the dark. She couldn’t go to bed without washing her face and brushing her teeth. She just couldn’t. By the time she’d done that, the adrenaline had given out and she fell into bed, making sure the curtains were tightly drawn and the flimsy bedroom door blocked by her backpack in case Gustavo showed up, not that she thought he would, but again she’d seen enough CSI to know better safe than sorry. She also kept on her black clothes to make her blend into the shadows of the room. And Connie thought she was wasting her time with those CSI marathons.