Never Too Hot
- Text Font:
- Text Size:
- Line Height:
- Line Break Height:
“Don't worry about it,” he said. “I'll figure something out.”
Damn it, he should be sleeping at Poplar Cove. He could just imagine Ginger's face if she found him kicking his feet up with a beer on her porch when she got off work, how her eyes would get big, the way her cheeks would flush with outrage.
What was he thinking? He'd just met her. He didn't know her at all. And beyond getting her to agree to let him work on the cabin, he didn't plan to. She was just some random woman who happened to be living in his family's lake house.
The fact that there was something intriguing about her — he hadn't expected a woman as soft and artsy — looking as her to have such backbone-was irrelevant.
But Stu's fiance clearly couldn't stand to think of him being homeless for the night. “I'm sure Stu wouldn't want you going all the way to Piseco. If you wouldn't mind sleeping on his couch, you could stay with him until a room opens up when this wedding is finally over.”
He knew a good offer when he heard one and after she brought him upstairs and showed him into Stu's suite of rooms and his couch for the night, he quickly changed into his running gear. Five minutes later he was sprinting away from Main Street.
He should have known this trip would turn into a total clusterfuck. For twenty-eight years, everything he'd wanted had come right to him. The perfect job. Gorgeous women. Life had been easy. Fun. Exhilarating.
Two years after his accident everything should be back on track. Not unraveling more every day. So many times in Lake Tahoe he'd wanted to get in his car and just drive. Anywhere. Just to get away. To get out of his head. To leave what had happened on the mountain behind. Especially on those nights when sleep didn't come, when all he could do was replay those sixty seconds in Desolation Wilderness when everything had changed.
But that was the wimp's way out. So he'd held tight. Waited for the Forest Service to get it right and put him back with his crew. Waited until this morning, when he'd gotten on the plane to New York.
Was it too much to ask for a little peace and quiet? For some space to get his shit together and push his body until it finally gave up the fight and did what he goddamned wanted it to do? Was it too much to want to help his brother with his wedding and bring his great-grandparents' cabin back to its former glory?
His lungs were burning, but it was the good kind of burn, the kind of pain that reminded him how lucky he was to be alive. Sprinting like this was what had gotten him off that trail in Lake Tahoe with nothing more than a couple of f**ked-up hands and arms, some nasty scars on his shoulders and neck.
And that was why he was going to run past the pain, run until he was too exhausted to notice it anymore.
Two hours later, he limped upstairs in the near state of exhaustion he'd been shooting for and found a message on Stu's fridge telling him to grab whatever he wanted. He downed one beer before his shower and was already halfway through the second as he made his way out to the end of the Inn's long dock. Searching for a spot with cell service.
Ginger had been right about one thing. It was long past time to check in with his grandparents.
Standing out on the edge of the dock in the fading light, he watched a small sailboat drift by. He'd just spent a couple of hours running through cedar and poplar trees, but he hadn't really taken in his surroundings yet.
His whole life he'd been a doer, a mover. But sometimes as a kid, late at night after the campfires were out and the moon was high in the sky, he'd learned to be still. To sit quietly and listen for the call of the loon. To watch the water lap softly at the shore.
Right here, in this moment of perfect silence on the lake, he should be feeling it in his solar plexus.
But he didn't. Couldn't.
Pulling his phone out of his pocket, he dialed his grandparents in Florida. “MacKenzie residence.”
“Who? I used to have a grandson with that name. But I haven't heard from him in so long I've forgotten all about him.”
He wasn't in any mood to give his grandmother the apology she was fishing for. Not after she'd gone and rented Poplar Cove out from under him.
“I'm at the lake. At the Inn. Where I'm going to be sleeping on Stu Murphy's couch.”
“Get over it, Connor. You and your brother haven't used the cabin since you were kids. And is that any way to talk to your grandmother?”
He should have known she wouldn't let him get away with being an ass. Hell, she'd single-handedly controlled two crazy-active kids every summer for eighteen years. A tiny woman, she was deceptively tough. She didn't care if he was three or thirty. She wasn't going to put up with his shit.
“The young woman we rented it to came highly recommended by the Miller girl. You know, the one who manages all of the summer places? In any case, it's been a blessing knowing someone is there to make sure the place doesn't fall down.”
Her admonishment was loud and clear. Given that his grandparents now lived full-time in Florida and had stopped making the drive back and forth to the Adirondacks every six months, it made sense to rent the place out. Not because his grandparents needed the money, but because the log cabin hadn't been built to remain empty for years on end.
Poplar Cove was the kind of place kids should be running through, dripping on the porch in wet bathing suits, leaving a trail of sand from their feet all the way up the stairs to the bedrooms. And, on a more practical note, it certainly didn't hurt to have someone in residence who could alert the owners if something broke and needed fixing.
“Have you met our tenant?” she asked. “Is she pretty?”
“Yes, I've met her,” he said, not bothering to answer the second question. His grandmother would get far too much satisfaction from knowing just how pretty Ginger was.
“What does she think of you?”
“Not much. Told me to get off her porch.”
“Good for her. Sounds like a girl with a good head on her shoulders.”
“The place needs work, Grandma. Lots of work. Far as I can tell, it'll take me most of the next month to get it all taken care of.”
His grandmother made a sound of irritation. “Here's the deal, kid. Ms. Sinclair has a lease with us through Labor Day and I intend to honor it.”