That morning, waking up alone in the motel room, she'd thought maybe Derek was getting a cup of coffee. Maybe a paper. She'd showered and dressed. Walked outside. The Honda Civic was gone. Still, she'd waited. She'd waited until checkout time, and when she went back in the room to gather her stuff she discovered her leather jacket was missing. That and all the cash in her wallet.
So maybe asking a guy she'd gone out with one time to drive her from Oregon to Florida hadn't been the smartest idea. But what else could she have done? Even the cheapest airfare would have taken more money than she had. Whereas Derek had a car and no job and he hated Portland. Plus, he still liked her.
It had been a good plan. It should have worked.
She lucks out—well, she doesn't think of it as lucking out, but she does—and is taken in by the staff of a local veterinary clinic. The receptionist gives her a place to stay and the veterinarian gives her a temporary job so she can earn enough money to finish her journey. All of her calls to Maeve go unanswered.
It's a solid read. A bit draggy in parts, but solid overall. She reminded me of other authors: a bit like Joan Bauer, in that girl-has-a-job-that-is-a-huge-part-of-her-life-oh-and-there's-a-boy-who-works-there-too kind of way, a chunk of the Crutcher grittiness, a bit of Sarah Dessen's talent for creating a likable but imperfect main character.
But Tallulah Falls doesn't have the same Bauer gentleness or Dessen's everything-is-eventually-going-to-work-out-don't-worry-too-much feel. Or, for that matter, a Chris-Crutcher-totally-lovable-good-guy hero. It's harsher and much darker. As the book progresses, there's an impending doom sort of feel.
If you're worried about spoilers, by the way, don't read the Booklist review that is posted at Amazon: A) They got plot points wrong, and B) They give away something rather major in the first sentence.