Town of Chance: Fight for Freedom

By: Dixie Lynn Dwyer

The Dare Series 6


“Oh my God, they are so scary-looking,” Eliza Grace whispered to Shelby Ann. At first Shelby thought that Eliza was talking about her cousins, the Pace men. But one glance at Eliza’s line of sight and she saw exactly what caught her friend’s attention. Tazer and Lynch Hayes, two military buddies of Sam Pace and Hunter Mantle. Shelby and Eliza had only met them a couple of months ago at the hospital while C.J. was recovering from a gunshot wound. She couldn’t believe that had only been six weeks ago.

“I feel like throwing up, they’re so intimidating,” Eliza added. Shelby chuckled.

“You like them, huh?” Eliza Ann swung her head toward Shelby. Her eyes were wide and her mouth gaped open and she began to ramble. “I do not. What makes you say that? I mean, yes, they are very attractive but they’re my cousins’ friends and they’re older. Much older than me. Besides, they see me as a little sister or something.”

Shelby looked Eliza over. She was wearing a pretty slim-fitting pale-green dress that brought out the green in her eyes and also complemented her tan complexion. She was close to Shelby’s height and had a great figure on her. She exercised all the time and even did a little modeling for a boutique a few towns over near the city.

“One look at you, Eliza, and any man could see you’re all woman.”

Eliza blushed. “I wouldn’t know anything about that. Besides, what about you? You’re drop-dead gorgeous and have an amazing personality besides body. How come you won’t give my cousins a whirl?” she countered and Shelby tightened up. It seemed a lot more people were trying to push her into a relationship with the Pace men, Caroline included.

In fact, Shelby considered not coming to this celebration party for C.J.’s recovery. But she knew Caroline would have been upset. It had been such a tragic and dangerous experience Caroline and her men had gone through. Coming here tonight to celebrate C.J.’s recovery and just be happy to reside in the town of Chance and be grateful for all the help from the community members and friends said so much about the town.

It was just difficult to pretend that she was happy, too, and especially at a party meant to be uplifting and fun. She just couldn’t let her defenses down to even enjoy a few minutes of feeling safe. That was the craziest part. She did feel safe here. With all their friends and especially with the Pace brothers nearby. But she wasn’t stupid or selfish. She wouldn’t let the Pace brothers get hurt. Not over her and the stupid mistakes she’d made.

“Hello? Earth to Shelby Ann?” Eliza teased.

Shelby Ann shook her head and chuckled, covering up her lost train of thought. She was getting good at this. Too good to feel pride over it.

“Haven’t we been over this before?” Shelby Ann asked.

“Maybe if you explained in greater detail what specifically happened to make you not want to trust a man again, then we’d all would drop it and let you be?”

Shelby exhaled and when she looked away from Eliza she locked gazes with Kenneth, who immediately squinted his eyes and seemed concerned. He glanced at his brother Sam and then placed his drink down by the bar. He was coming over.

“I need to use the ladies’ room. I’ll be right back,” she said and grabbed her purse and headed down the hallway.

She wouldn’t look over her shoulder until she got to the door to the ladies’ room. When she did she spotted Kenneth following her and then some guy stopped him to talk. She quickly headed out the back door, exhaling in relief as her blonde curls bounced around her shoulders.

“Going somewhere?”

She gasped and turned to the right to see Bender standing there.

“Oh God, Bender. You scared me. What are you doing out here?” she asked him.

“Getting some fresh air. How about you?”

“Same,” she said and then looked around the back parking lot and the small bit of grass and trees.

Bender was rough around the edges. Hard core and always looking ready for something bad to happen. Even his stance, the way he stood there looking so capable and ready to draw his gun, was intimidating.

“It’s a nice party. I think C.J. appreciated the celebration.”