WAY TO GO
by Mandy Colton
Veronica Lane works in the travel industry in her dream job when she experiences a hellish travel day ending in the loss of her job and stranded far from home. To make the situation even worse, she drowns her sorrows in the hotel bar, and wakes the next morning to a big surprise.
Gathering up the remains of her dignity along with her travel bags, she returns to her hometown in Peachtree City, Georgia. A community similar to a progressive Mayberry, except with golf cart paths and carts. A lot of them. Her family is kooky. The parents are sexually free and liberal, her brother is a golf cart cop with more good looks and brawn than brains. Her grandparents, one from each side, live in the same retirement community and maintain a constant battle while entertaining the other senior citizens. The Grandmother on her dad's side is stuck in the 1960’s, and the Grandfather on her mother's side served in WWII and thinks that the Japanese are still trying to kill him.
She calls inquiring about a job in the newspaper, a group escort for a small tour company in Atlanta. She is hired immediately and leaves the next day with her first group to Jamaica. First, she meets a handsome pilot with the charter airline they use, and then there is one unusual group participant that doesn’t seem to belong. He leaves the group for periods of time and when things happen, he uses MacGyver like skills to get them out of the situations. She is aggravated and knows something is fishy and the bad thing is, the man is very charismatic and she’s not just a little attracted to him.
Upon their return, she finds out that the man is friends with her rather unconventional boss and after a second unusual group excursion to Puerto Rico; she knows for sure that the little tour company in Atlanta is not really what it seems on the outside. When the truth is revealed, she finds herself unintentionally dropped into a new career that she can't exactly add to her resume.
Veronica finds herself in uncomfortable and hilarious situations, surrounded by crazy tour participants, family, friends, neighbors, and pets. After a long dry spell, she finds that there is suddenly an overabundance of romance, drama, and intrigue in her life. Her life is now a sometimes very bumpy, yet exciting ride.
Way to Roll
Secure your seat belt and get ready for another bumpy ride.
Some time away, deep thought, and her own misadventures have her gathering up the remains of her dignity and returning to her job with its interesting group of colorful and charismatic cohorts...with one big change. She’ll no longer just be a tour escort this time. Milton Porter, the owner of Cavalcade Tours, owns another company with secrets.
With her mind made up, new skills, passport in hand, and her bags packed, Veronica is ready to roll out for new destinations. Things get hairy as she tackles the dual roles her new job demands, dodging wild animals, nasty foes, and sometimes even the new men in her life.
Surrounded by kooky tourists, Veronica’s adventures place her in some dramatic and hilarious situations, and each return home to Peachtree City, Georgia has its own drama with her family of oddballs, nutty bunch of friends, and their pets. Her new life is sometimes bumpy and filled with turbulence, but it stays an intriguing and exciting ride.
And now for an excerpt:
When Nash came back, he was naked, having shed his own wet clothes, and he was carrying a tray full of food.
That made me giggle. I pointed at his man parts. “Ha! A naked waiter. That’s pretty hot. I wanna place my order right now.”
He snickered and sat down in the floor next to the tub with the tray and began spooning me soup. That’s when I got a really good look at him in the light. He was almost blue!
I giggled again. “You look like a Smurf.”
He laughed. “So do you. We’re working on that.”
He fed me another bite of soup.
“You have to take some bites too,” I said touching his cold face.
He did and then smiled at me, and we continued to eat until the food was gone. He set the tray aside and then warmed up the water, stepping into the tub behind me and wrapped his arms around me.
“We did it, and we’re safe now, right?”
“Yes, we did, and we are safe.”
Feeling warmer, I was really getting drowsy again, thinking about the way he always seemed to come through and save us, keeping me and others around him safe. The sweet way he took care of me. The thoughts were giving me the warm fuzzies again. I picked up the hand on my stomach and grazed his fingers with my lips. Without thinking, I whispered, “Nash, I really love you.”
His body instantly tensed and minutes went by. Then he finally said in a very monotone voice, “Let’s get out of the tub and go to bed.”
I became more alert as we dried off, and when we crawled into the bed, he put his arm around me, but that was it. It was only a double bed and the cover was thin making me feel like the gesture had been made more out of necessity than affection. He never said a word, he never touched me further, and I felt the uncomfortable void that had suddenly grown between us like the Grand Canyon. And there was definitely emotional distance involved, he didn’t desire me anymore. When Nash was this close, he was always aroused. Not so tonight. It was what I’d said in the bathtub. I hadn’t really meant to say those words, meaning that I…that I really… I sighed. Fudge. They’d just sort of tumbled out and were hanging there for those awkward moments, and now something had changed in Nash. Guess I knew a sure fire way now how to repel him. Mentally and physically exhausted, I closed my eyes and quickly fell asleep.
Nash was up early and had already reported to WIC, and uploaded photos, and a map of the militia location. He had called the lady at the front desk about our wet clothes, and she’d been nice enough to stop by the room and take them for laundering. There wasn’t much we could do about our leather boots and jackets, as they were pretty much ruined. Nash gave the nice lady at the motel a generous tip, and thanked her for all she’d done for us when we left. We headed out, stopped quickly for some food, and moved on toward Crater Lake.
Nash had been unusually quiet all morning. He’d been polite, but curt, and avoided eye contact. It had stung the first time I put my arms around him on the bike and he’d gone nearly rigid like he couldn’t bear my touch. I was left with no doubts about how he felt regarding emotional ties, and I really wished that we could just go home now that we’d completed the mission. The rest of this trip was going to be miserably uncomfortable.
We caught up with the group at Crater Lake at the end of their hike. They were heading to a natural hot spring to soak, relax, and have some beers before dinner. Nash went with them, and I told Jemah to wake me to help with dinner and then headed to the coach for a nap. A while later, when I woke up and stepped off the coach, I noticed that the motorcycle was gone. Damn, the company I worked for had connections.
Nash set up his tent and sleeping bag for me that night, but he never joined me. He was up early, had breakfast with other tour members, and at the next coach stop, he disappeared. Although I wasn’t really surprised, it still hurt that he’d left without saying goodbye again.
The next two nights and days passed quickly. It had helped that I was in a mindless fog most of the time. We toured the caves of Lava Beds National Monument, a place where the U.S. Army and the Modoc Indians faced off at Captain Jack’s stronghold, and then Lassen National Park, currently a quiet volcano. The park had enough cracks in the earth and thermal activity to make the average man nervous and excite a volcanologist. Was supposed to be one of the wonders of the world. Made you wonder when it was really going to blow its stack again and hope you didn’t happen to be the dodo standing in the middle of it like we’d been.
Regarding blowing stacks… We had one more moment of excitement during the tour, and it came in a surprising form the last morning of the trip. I hadn’t slept much since Nash had left and was up early, had already showered and even helped in the breakfast line. Nash surprised the heck out of me and walked off the coach during breakfast, turning to give me a slight smile. I couldn’t believe he wasn’t already back in Atlanta. TI
This camp had a nice shower house, and Jemah donned her vintage swim cap again and headed that way after breakfast with her clothes and big scrub brush in hand while the rest of us finished cleaning up.
We had packed up the coach, and I was sitting at a picnic table talking to a few members of the group when we heard a hair-raising, high-pitched shrieking, followed by a sound like a squealing pig on the move. The door slammed open on the bathhouse, and out blasted a dripping wet and au naturel Jemimah, who was moving like the Roadrunner similar to that day after the bear encounter, scrub brush still in hand. We watched her squeal all the way to the coach and hop all three steps at one time like a mad bullfrog. Right before that door slammed shut, we heard a male scream, and Sully’s face appeared, plastered against the door window, looking freaked out with mouth agape. Suddenly, the door opened and he tumbled out onto the ground with a grunt, and then the door slammed shut again behind him. He just sat there on the ground, dazed and blinking, kind of like he was in shock.
After the rest of us had recovered from our own shock at that scene, some of the guys at the picnic table actually formed a plan and donned weapons and gloves to go in the bathhouse like they were expecting to find a killer or rapist like in the slasher flicks. They grabbed a cooking fork, a chopping knife, some big sticks, and a hammer and went to investigate. They came out several minutes later with Jemah’s clothes, howling with laughter. The only thing that they’d found was a tiny little deer mouse with a litter of babies.
Later, when we asked Jemah about it, she swore that it had raised up and tried to attack her like a momma bear with cubs. Poor Sully grumbled that his eyes burned and his butt was bruised for the first fifty miles heading back to Frisco. Nash pretty much stayed clear of me during the trip back
About the Author:
Mandy Colton is from Louisville, KY, and lives a very quiet life with her husband and teenage son. She’s a fan of romance, fun adventure stories, and some occasional sci-fi or paranormal thrown in. Veronica Lane and the idea for her adventures came from her own experiences and career working in the travel industry.
She claims that working in the travel business could be horribly stressful but was equally laugh-out-loud funny at times. She enjoyed many priceless and comical experiences with groups, friends, and peers. Even her clients shared humorous adventures of their own. Her opinion is that there just are no better stories than those that involve true life.
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