���� The Sunset Inn was a modest looking hotel.� It was a two story red brick building, with room access available only from the outside.� Perfectly lined palm trees in identical size, decorated a cement walkway leading to the front door.
���� Kaycee stepped out from the backseat of the taxi and shut the door.� She walked down the pleasant path, opened the front door and walked inside.
���� The lobby was rather plain.� Tropical plants gave the atmosphere a heavy floral scent and took up room in every available corner.� On the left was a single desk, a silver bell resting on top.� On the right was a doorway leading into what appeared to be a restaurant.� No one was behind the counter so she rang the bell and waited.
���� After what seemed like several minutes, a small elderly lady hobbled her way to the desk, using a cane for much needed support.� She appeared to be in her seventies and looked as though every step she made was a struggle.� She had gray hair thin enough to see her scalp shining through.� Her skin was paper thin, nearly transparent and age spots took up sufficient amounts of space on her exposed flesh.
���� "I'm sorry," Kaycee nearly cringed just looking at her and felt bad that she had disturbed the frail old lady "I didn't mean to disturb you."
���� "Oh that's nonsense child," She waved her hand through the air as if she were swatting at a pesky fly.� "I have been running this hotel for over forty years now.� I may look worse for wear, but my mind is as sharp as fiddle, I can assure you.� Now, what can I do for you?"
���� "I need a room."� Kaycee answered.
���� "How many?"
���� How many what? Kaycee wondered.� Rooms?
���� "How many people?"�
���� "Oh, I'm sorry.� It's just me, myself and I."� Kaycee laughed.
���� "And how many nights will you be joining us?� Kaycee thought about for a moment unsure herself, but before she could answer, the lady continued, "Our special for this month is rent a room for six nights and the seventh one is on us.� But you have to pay in full to take advantage of it dear."
���� "That sounds perfect."� Suddenly realizing that she had no cash, she quickly added "you do take credit cards don't you?"
���� "Of course we do dear.� It's no secret that I'm older than dinosaur bones, but I do keep up with the times dear!"� She took the card from Kaycee and made the proper authorization.� She handed the piece of plastic back to Kaycee, along with a key to room 27."
���� "That's on the second floor.� The steps are on the side of the building.� Your room is about halfway down."
���� "Thank you," Kaycee said and took the key.� She turned to walk away and was immediately stopped by a speech.
���� "Now then, the rules are simple and any idiot can understand them.� No loud parties and no wild sex orgies.� I won't tolerate the likes of these hoodlums coming here and raising ten shades of hell in my hotel.� It's a respectable business and Charles-that's my husband, been married to that fool for sixty-years now, mind you-and we aim to keep it that way."
���� "Yes ma'am."� Kaycee said.
���� "One more thing dear,"
���� God, will she ever stop?
���� "We do have a nice restaurant across the room.� You can dine in or we do offer room service, for a price."
���� Do you have a liquor store close by?� As though she read her mind, the old lady said "we also have a fully stocked bar available."
���� "Thank you."� Kaycee once again then turned to leave.
���� "Oh…and dear," Kaycee suddenly had the vision of shoving a sock in her overworked mouth.
���� "Yes."� Kaycee answered.
���� "There's a very handsome gentleman right next door to you.� Pardon me for saying so, but, it looks as if you could use a man in your life dear."� Kaycee wanted to smack her, instead she turned and walked away, "Thank you," she sardonically tossed over her shoulder.
���� Outside, Kaycee walked around the building and easily found the steps.� Halfway to her room she passed an ice machine and two vending machines.� One was filled with a variety of sodas, the other displaying several types of snacks; potato chips, pretzels, popcorn, and many kinds of candy bars.� She put the key in the door and let herself in.
���� The room was as typical as any average hotel. It came equipped with two full-size beds, a dresser and desk; tightly secured to the wall.� A television set was firmly attached to the desk.� A large beach print hung on the wall above the dresser and a single light fixture was firmly attached to the each headboard.� There was a coffee pot for one in the room along with a hair dryer and sample-size toiletries.
���� The effects of the valium were starting to wear off and she'd quickly decided on two more.� After swallowing the tiny yellow pills, she decided on a hot shower and then, she promised her growling stomach, she would take full advantage of room service.
��� �Nick Thomas was in the room next door.� He had watched her from behind a self-made gap in the thick red curtains; a sinister grin covered his face as he watched her leave the taxi and enter the lobby.� He watched her walk by his room.� She was so close he thought he could hear her breathing on the other side of the brick wall.�
���� How much luckier can I be?� He silently cheered.
���� Things were going even better than he'd planned.
���� Although the effects of the vodka and valium were taking effect and blurring her vision, the hot shower was deeply penetrating.� Her growling stomach once again reminded her she was hungry.� Even though she had eaten lunch not quite three hours ago, the pills, once again were having a staggering effect on her eating habits.
���� After reading the menu, she finally settled on the house sirloin, a baked potato, and a small garden salad with Thousand Island dressing.� From the bar she ordered three vodkas, straight up.
���� While waiting for her drinks and food, she grabbed the plastic bucket from the desk and left the room.
���� Nick Thomas was still at the curtains watching.� When he saw her walk by he was deeply gratified.� His heart began to accelerate in excitement.� He grabbed his own ice bucket and followed.
���� "Sometimes you have to kick it."�
���� "Excuse me?"� Kaycee impatiently turned around, and was absolutely stunned to be looking into the most provocative eyes she had ever seen.� They were a dark shade of green and seemed to sparkle in the fading sun.
���� "Sometimes you have to give the machine a little kick to get her started."
���� "Thank you." she said.� To her own astonishment, she found herself easily laughing, and took his advice.� She kicked the side of the machine and immediately, it roared to life.
���� "Sounds like you have a personal relationship with the ice machine."
���� "I guess you could say that."� He laughed.
���� "I'm Nick by the way, Nick Thomas."� She took his extended hand.
���� "Kaycee Beaumont."� She introduced.
���� He was impressively handsome.� His head was clean shaven, and his cheek bones appeared to be chiseled to perfection.� His entire body was rippled in muscle and he no doubt had a perfect six pack under his black tank top.
���� "Are you planning on staying here long?"
���� "I guess I'll be here for as long as it takes me to buy a house."� God, she silently scolded herself.� You've known this man for all of five seconds and you're already talking about personal matters.� Maybe the old lady was right.� Maybe I do need a man.�
���� Was it that obvious?� She wondered.
���� She hadn't been with anyone since Todd had died.� She hadn't had any desire to be.� It was as if her libido had been killed right along with him.� Then again she thought, locking her own self behind the private doors of Whispering Pines for three years didn't exactly scream available.� Nick seemed nice enough and she certainly couldn't complain if she just so happened to be attached to him.� Maybe the vodka was making her see him in a different light.� Whatever the case may be, it had been a long time since she had felt that quiver of excitement in her own heart.
���� "I'm sorry; I didn't mean to get personal."
���� "No, its okay," she reassured him, "besides if I thought it was too personal I wouldn't have answered.
���� Liar!� If he'd asked you your bra size you would have answered him.
���� "It was nice meeting you Nick and as much as I'd like to stay and chat with you I have room service on the way so I really need to get back."
���� "What a coincidence," he said "I'm waiting on room service too.� Maybe, if you'd like the company we can enjoy it together."
���� "Yeah sure, that would be nice."
���� God, where did that come from?� She wondered.� You don't even know this man and you're already inviting him to your room!"�
���� "I'm in room 27."�
���� "I know."� He smiled.
���� It was as if a quick spark suddenly ignited in her and she found herself uneasy.� How does he know what room I'm in?
���� Suddenly realizing his mistake and seeing the nervousness fill her eyes he immediately said, "I saw you going into your room this afternoon.� I was looking out the window when I saw you walk by.� Don't worry," he assured her "I'm not a raving lunatic on the loose, stalking you.� I'm just someone who wants to share a dinner with a beautiful lady."� His smile nearly liquefied her insides.
���� "Am I that obvious?"
���� "You just seem a little nervous is all.� I guess I can't blame you.� You never can be too careful these days."
���� "I guess you're right."� She said.
���� "So, I guess I'll see you in a few minutes."� She accidently brushed against him when she walked by.� The immediate contact sent her heart into another exciting tremor.
���� "It's the valium.� It's definitely the valium."� She conveyed to herself when she walked back into her room.
���� After he was safely inside the confinement of his own room, Nick dropped to the bed and rested his head in his hands then let out a deep breath.� Things were happening much quicker than he'd expected and he knew he couldn't screw up.� Not now.� Not when everything was going so unbelievably good.
���� He picked up the telephone, dialed the number for room service and quickly ordered his dinner, advising them to deliver it to room 27.
���� He could clearly see that her eyes were a little glassy and assumed that she had either been drinking or under the influence of some sort of mind altering drug.� Which he decided, is probably why she had accepted his invitation in the first place.� Women were all the same.� Get some alcohol into their bloodstream and they would soon be good and ready to spread their legs.� He wouldn't let it get that far.� Not yet anyway.� First he needed to plant himself deeply into her heart.� This is exactly what he intended on doing and some more alcohol would no doubt help him succeed.� Then she would open up to him and trust him completely.� There would be no limits to their kinship and he would then go on to the next phase of his plan.�
���� He only prayed that he himself didn't get into deep with this one.� It wouldn't be hard.� She was rather beautiful.� Her face was exotic looking and unblemished, her lips full and pouty. And just by looking at her he knew he could be easily smitten.
���� He had to be very careful.
���� He quickly changed into a pair of Levi's and white tank top, exposing his dark tan and newly enhanced biceps.� He then �slipped his bare feet into a pair of brown flip-flops and walked out the door, locking it behind him.