Everywhere is nowhere.
REECE GILMORE smoked through the tough knuckles of Angel’s Fist in an overheating Chevy Cavalier. She had two hundred forty-three dollars and change in her pocket, which might be enough to cure the Chevy, fuel it and herself. If luck was on her side, and the car wasn’t seriously ill, she’d have enough to pay for a room for the night.
Then, even by the most optimistic calculations, she’d be broke.
She took the plumes of steam puffing out of the hood as a sign it was time to stop traveling for a while and find a job.
No worries, no problem, she told herself. The little Wyoming town huddled around the cold blue waters of a lake was as good as anywhere else. Maybe better. It had the openness she neededall that sky with the snow-dipped peaks of the Tetons rising into it like sober, and somehow aloof, gods.
She’d been meandering her way toward them, through the Ansel Adams photograph of peaks and plains for hours. She hadn’t had a clue where she’d end up when she started out that day before dawn, but she’d bypassed Cody, zipped through Dubois, and though she’d toyed with veering into Jackson, she dipped south instead.
So something must have been pulling her to this spot.
Over the past eight months, she’d developed a strong belief in following signs and impulses. Dangerous Curves, Slippery When Wet. It was nice that someone took the time and effort to post those kinds of warnings. Other signs might be a peculiar slant of sunlight aimed down a back road, or a weather vane pointing south.
If she liked the look of the light or the weather vane, she’d follow, until she found what seemed like the right place at the right time. She might settle in for a few weeks, or, like she had in South Dakota, a few months. Pick up some work, scout the area, then move on when those signs, those impulses, pointed in a new direction.
There was a freedom in the system she’d developed, and oftenmore often nowa lessening of the constant hum of anxiety in the back of her mind. These past months of living with herself, essentially by herself, had done more to smooth her out than the full year of therapy.
To be fair, she supposed the therapy had given her the base to face herself every single day. Every night. And all the hours between.
And here was another fresh start, another blank slate in the bunched fingers of Angel’s Fist.
If nothing else, she’d take a few days to enjoy the lake, the mountains, and pick up enough money to get back on the road again. A place like thisthe signpost had said the population was 623probably ran to tourism, exploiting the scenery and the proximity to the national park.
There’d be at least one hotel, likely a couple of B and B’s, maybe a dude ranch within a few miles. It might be fun to work at a dude ranch. All those places would need someone to fetch and carry and clean, especially now that the spring thaw was dulling the sharpest edge of winter.
But since her car was now sending out thicker, more desperate smoke signals, the first priority was a mechanic.
She eased her way along the road that ribboned around the long, wide lake. Patches of snow made dull white pools in the shade. The trees were still their wintering brown, but there were a few boats on the water. She could see a couple guys in windbreakers and caps in a white canoe, rowing right through the reflection of the mountains.
Across from the lake was what she decided was the business district. Gift shop, a little gallery. Bank, post office, she noted. Sheriff’s office.
She angled away from the lake to pull the laboring car up to what looked like a big barn of a general store. There were a couple men in flannel shirts sitting out front in stout chairs that gave them a good view of the lake.
They nodded to her as she cut the engine and stepped out, then the one on the right tapped the brim of his blue cap that bore the name of the storeMac’s Mercantile and Groceryacross the crown.
Looks like you got some trouble there, young lady.”
Sure does. Do you know anyone who can give me a hand with it?”
He laid his hands on his thighs and pushed out of the chair. He was burly in build, ruddy in face, with lines fanning out from the corners of friendly brown eyes. When he spoke, his voice was a slow, meandering drawl.
Why don’t we just pop the hood and take a look-see?”
Appreciate it.” When she released the latch, he tossed the hood up and stepped back from the clouds of smoke. For reasons she couldn’t name, the plumes and the fuss caused Reece more embarrassment than anxiety. It started up on me about ten miles east, I guess. I wasn’t paying enough attention. Got caught up in the scenery.”
Easy to do. You heading into the park?”
I was. More or less.” Not sure, never sure, she thought and tried to concentrate on the moment rather than the before or after. I think the car had other ideas.”
His companion came over to join them, and both men looked under the hood the way Reece knew men did. With sober eyes and knowing frowns. She looked with them, though she accepted that she was as much of a cliché. The female to whom what lurked under the hood of a car was as foreign as the terrain of Pluto.
Got yourself a split radiator hose,” he told her. Gonna need to replace that.”
Didn’t sound so bad, not too bad. Not too expensive. Anywhere in town I can make that happen?”
Lynt’s Garage’ll fix you up. Why don’t I give him a call for you?”
Lifesaver.” She offered a smile and her hand, a gesture that had come to be much easier for her with strangers. I’m Reece, Reece Gilmore.”
Mac Drubber. This here’s Carl Sampson.”
Back East, aren’t you?” Carl asked. He looked a fit fifty-something to Reece, and with some Native American blood mixed in once upon a time.
Yeah. Way back. Boston area. I really appreciate the help.”
Nothing but a phone call,” Mac said. You can come on in out of the breeze if you want, or take a walk around. Might take Lynt a few to get here.”
I wouldn’t mind a walk, if that’s okay. Maybe you could tell me a good place to stay in town. Nothing fancy.”
Got the Lakeview Hotel just down a ways. The Teton House, other side of the lake’s some homier. More a B and B. Some cabins along the lake, and others outside of town rent by the week or the month.”
She didn’t think in months any longer. A day was enough of a challenge. And homier sounded too intimate. Maybe I’ll walk down and take a look at the hotel.”
It’s a long walk. Could give you a ride on down.”
I’ve been driving all day. I could use the stretch. But thanks, Mr. Drubber.”
No problem.” He stood another moment as she wandered down the wooden sidewalk. Pretty thing,” he commented.
No meat on her.” Carl shook his head. Women today starve off all the