The company liked using this modern, high-rise hotel to start and end trips because customers always seemed surprised to find such luxury in Alaska, and it made a nice contrast to the more spartan accommodations that would follow. The huge multistory atrium lobby was tastefully appointed in greens and browns and was about as far from Griff’s vision of a perfect little cabin in the middle of nowhere as one could get. All the high ceilings and metal artwork made his eye twitch.
A concierge who knew Uncle Roger on sight from all their repeat business helped them to set up a welcome table with a sign with their company logo. Al- most immediately two middle-aged women came over to check in, and in Dutch accents, they fussed over Uncle Roger’s crutches and his injury. Griffin immediately gathered that they were a couple—the matching red sweaters were his first clue as were their hyphenated last names. But his attention was quickly diverted by a...creature unfolding itself from one of the over- sized leather chairs in the middle of the lobby.
It took a moment before he placed the gender as most likely male, distracted as he was by a pair of the longest legs he’d ever seen encased in dark purple, skintight jeans. Bright blue hair topped a surprisingly angelic and youthful face, with an equally unexpected square jaw with the barest hint of stubble. A leather jacket that probably cost more than the engine Griffin had been working on earlier topped a T-shirt that advertised some band that he’d never heard of. Please, don’t let this be...
Griffin didn’t even get the prayer out before the elegant person sauntered toward their table.
“River Vale,” a melodic voice announced. Hint of New York to it, with just enough of the sort of lilt that always did something to Griffin’s insides. He wasn’t sure why he’d always been so attracted to musical voices, and this was an incredibly bad time for the libido he’d put in deep freeze to remind him about what he liked. His turn-ons were irrelevant here—he needed to be focusing on how completely unsuited for their ten-day trek this River person was.
Designer clothes. Thin frame. Delicate leather shoes better suited for a night of clubbing than any outdoor activity. High maintenance hair. Rich, floral smelling aftershave. Pants so tight Griffin seriously worried about circulation on a long van ride. Everything about River screamed trouble, the sort of trouble Griffin absolutely did not need.
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