Home > The Tourist Attraction (Moose Springs, Alaska #1)(12)

The Tourist Attraction (Moose Springs, Alaska #1)(12)
Author: Sarah Morgenthaler

Zoey felt her eyes widen. “You’re joking, right?”

“You did attack me.”

“You had a chainsaw,” she hissed. “People get ax murdered all the time.”

“But less often chainsaw murdered.” Graham seemed to be entertained by the whole situation. “The survival instinct is strong in this one. I’m lucky she didn’t kill me.”

Jonah stood there, eyed the situation, and like any other intelligent person, decided he’d rather be somewhere else.

“Why don’t you two sit in here for a while and work out your differences? I’ll just run out and get us all some lunch.”

“The diner is supposed to open at eleven,” Graham reminded Jonah.

“I’m sure no one will mind.” Taking a fresh ice pack from the station’s freezer, Jonah handed it to Graham, closed the drunk tank door, and left them there.


Behind bars.


At least Zoey still had her cell phone in the Alaska bag she’d been allowed to keep after a quick search by the officer. They might have been inside a drunk tank, but at least she could still call for help. Theoretically. Fifteen attempts to try to connect a call through the cement block walls of the makeshift jail only left Zoey ready to screech in frustration.

“How hard is it to get service in this town?” Stuffing her cell back into her pocket, Zoey paced in front of the door.

“Depends on your provider.” Graham watched her pace. “Only a couple of them work up here.”

“Something that would have been nice to know about before being incarcerated.”

Seated on the holding cell’s lone bench, Graham lounged against the wall, one arm folded across his chest and the other holding a strategically placed ice pack. Obviously, he was more comfortable with the idea of being incarcerated than she was. Annoyance replaced guilt beneath her rapidly beating heart. A man capable of looking so content in this situation wasn’t half as injured as he pretended to be.

“We’re technically not locked in.” Jutting his chin toward the door, Graham said congenially, “If you want to go all Bonnie and Clyde on this place, I might be willing to be convinced.”

“Yes, because breaking out of jail is exactly how I can improve on this experience.”

There was only one bench, and it was only four feet long. Given the choice of sitting next to the toilet and sitting next to Graham, Zoey placed herself exactly in the middle, trying not to smell or look directly at the toilet while putting as much distance between herself and the man with an ice pack in his lap as she could.

Stress had brought her headache back full force. Pinching the bridge of her nose, Zoey rubbed the insides of her eyes to relieve the strain.

Calm thoughts. She wasn’t in jail in Alaska. Calm, soothing thoughts.

Tilting his head to catch her eye, Graham chuckled. “I bet you’re regretting that Growly Bear right now.”

“I’m regretting a lot of things.”

He saw her looking at the ice pack. “It hurts. A lot.”

“Then don’t attack people with loud objects,” Zoey groaned. “I’m very sorry I hurt you, but you’re the one with the chainsaw and a dismembered body box. How hard is it to not be terrifying?”

“You’re the one who trespassed onto my property,” he reminded her. “How hard is it to not assume everyone is going to dismember you? Did it ever occur to you maybe I’m more discerning about who I dismember than to take any random stranger who trespasses?”

Forgetting to stare straight ahead, she turned away, got a glimpse inside the toilet, and shuddered. Facing Graham was the lesser of two evils. “I was on a hiking trail.”

“You were on my private hiking trail, and you owe me at least two dollars for the use of it. Maintaining that trail for lost tourists doesn’t come cheap, you know.” His eyes sparkled. “Since we had a misunderstanding, I’m willing to give you half off.”

“You want a dollar? I will give you a dollar.” Digging through her bag, Zoey growled under her breath, stuffing her glasses higher up the bridge of her nose. “Where’s my coin purse?”

“Maybe you threw it at my head.” Graham wasn’t being helpful.

Another cheerful grin from him, and Zoey was done. Sparkly frog coin purse in hand, she ripped the frog’s mouth open, pulling out several dollar bills from her carefully arranged money. “Here. Here’s your scaring the ever-loving crap out of me dollar. Here’s another. Here’s all the dollars, because I’m so sorry for not turning left!”

Throwing each one at his stupid, smug face, Zoey made her displeasure rain.

All the dollars was only five dollars. Graham watched her glare at him for a count of three, then huff a breath of distress as she picked them up from the floor and stuffed them back into her frog purse. “These are my dollars. You can’t have them. Put up a sign next time.”

Graham’s grin only widened. “You are a strange one, aren’t you?”

If Officer Dubious didn’t return soon, Zoey wasn’t responsible for what would happen to him.

Eventually, Jonah did appear, his arms full of plastic-wrapped gas station ham and cheese sandwiches. Too sick to her stomach to do more than hold her sandwich in her lap, Zoey tried to make another call. Lana would know a lawyer. Rich people always had lawyers ready and waiting.

Eyeing the police officer’s offering, Graham didn’t look impressed.

“I mean, Frankie’s is open, Jonah. I could have gone for a cinnamon roll.”

“Aww, Graham, you know I’m on a tight budget. Kelly’s pregnant again.”

“Really? Congrats, man.” Leaning over without looking away from his meal, Graham stuck his knuckles through the bars. “I hadn’t heard yet.”

Puffing up with pride, Jonah bumped his fist against Graham’s. “We’ve been keeping it quiet. It’s gonna be a girl this time. Kel’s got a feeling.”

“Or maybe she’s tired of being outnumbered,” Graham predicted.

Watching the exchange, it occurred to Zoey that of the three of them, she was the only one with any significant amount of concern here. Except for wincing a little when he adjusted his ice pack, Graham could have been sitting at Jonah’s kitchen table having this conversation instead of in a drunk tank.

“When can we leave?”

Both men looked at her, Graham’s lips curving upward in clear amusement. “You got somewhere better to be?”

Pulling a stool over to the door of their holding cell, Jonah settled in with a file in his lap. “Here’s what I’m going to do. Ms. Caldwell, I’d like to think this was just an accident, but I’ve got your police records here. And it’s concerning.”

“You have a rap sheet?” Graham’s eyes widened, like someone had handed him a candy bar unexpectedly. “Oh, I have to hear this.”

“No, you don’t.” Horrified, Zoey made a grab for the paperwork in the cop’s hand, but he kept his arm out of reach, leaning back from the bars.

“Indecent exposure—”

“That was not my fault.”

“Destruction of property—”

“That wasn’t even property! It was just a stupid garden gnome—”

“More indecent exposure.”

Sinking down onto the bench, Zoey hid her face in her hands as Jonah continued to list her shame. With every addition to her crimes, Graham’s clear enjoyment of the situation grew.

Clearing his throat, Jonah finished the last bite of his sandwich. “Ms. Caldwell, I’d love to let you go on your promise this was all a misunderstanding, but I’m just not sure if it’s a good idea to let you run loose up here. We’re a small town full of good people, and—” Jonah lowered his voice. “Public nudity just isn’t something we feel comfortable with.”

“Someone please kill me,” Zoey whimpered into her hands.

The officer’s cell phone rang, pulling his attention. “Excuse me.”

Disappearing outside to conduct his call privately, Jonah left Zoey alone in her humiliation, face so hot it hurt her skin. She refused to glance over, hiding from the look she just knew would be on the face of her cellmate.

“So…what kind of indecent exposure are we talking about here?”

If she glanced his way, Zoey knew Graham’s eyes would be all sparkly and gorgeous. So Zoey refused to answer, just like she refused to look at him.

“Strip poker?”

It was possible she hated him.

“No, I bet it was a classic teenage streaking gone wrong. Why do people always have to lock the doors just when the neighbors notice?”

“Do you have to enjoy this so much?”

“I’m sitting on a bench with a pretty girl. Of course I’m enjoying this.”

Risking a glance at him, Zoey was met with—yep. Waving her hand in front of his face in a circular wiping motion, Zoey scrunched her nose and glared at him. “Enough with the sparkle eyes. This is not a meet-cute. This is not a—you know.”

“I literally have no idea.”

“Oh, you know. And it’s not.” She gestured at his general personage. “Aim all of that somewhere else.”

“Incarceration brings out your feisty side.”

Shoving to her feet, Zoey resumed pacing the cell, sandwich squishing in her hand as her fingers clenched in an involuntary fist. “You do realize I have a very impulsive friend who thinks I’m out on a hike right now? On the off chance she actually tries to find me instead of hiring someone to do it, the last thing we need is her lost in the woods all by herself.”

“I would agree on that.” Leaning forward, Graham rested his elbows on his knees, T-shirt hugging his muscled shoulders. “You’re much better at being lost than L could pull off.”

“Could you just be ugly for a moment?” Zoey asked, aware her voice was a mixture of plaintive and panicked. “You’re not helping.”

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