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Cabin for Two

Cabin for Two

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Cabin for Two

Bewertungen:
4.5/5 (6 Bewertungen)
Länge:
183 Seiten
3 Stunden
Freigegeben:
Nov 17, 2020
ISBN:
9781094415031
Format:
Buch

Beschreibung

Combining a steamy romance with all-too-human characters, Cabin for Two is a contemporary love story of finding what you need amidst unexpected times.

Kayla Lake loves her work and her privacy, fighting to have her space just the way she likes it. Her secluded mountain home and rental cabin makes that easy, especially during quarantine. That is, until she feels a spark for her newest renter, Greg James.

Bearded and handsome, Greg proves to be surprisingly thoughtful. But Kayla is at odds about someone entering her space. Greg is a dangerously delightful distraction from Kayla’s latest deadline. And Greg’s own suspicious work call looms over the cabins along with approaching storms.

Freigegeben:
Nov 17, 2020
ISBN:
9781094415031
Format:
Buch

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Buchvorschau

Cabin for Two - Elle Driver

Chapter One

Kayla

Ellijay, Georgia

10:23 p.m.

Monday, September 14

Tapping her stylus absentmindedly on the dark surface of her desk, Kayla Lake felt a small brush of optimism, something she hadn’t felt for weeks. Those weeks had felt like months, though— a pit of endless virtual calls and conferences; relentless trauma fed to her through news channels, Twitter, email, Instagram. There wasn’t an escape if you didn’t really purposefully unplug.

Unplugging was something she’d always done, but in the middle of a pandemic, caught in the maelstrom of a nation in denial about its deep-seated racism, it was becoming more than self-care. It was like taking a blood-pressure pill, or her anxiety meds; it was a need, a medical recommendation, like another, reluctant prescription for Lexapro.

Even up here in the out-of-the-way mountains of northern Georgia.

But looking at the completed website she’d designed for a client, she felt light, she felt good. Being productive always did that for her, but it didn’t hurt that this project came with built-in aid for those affected disproportionately by concerns over mental health issues or illness. Or both, considering the two were overlapping a lot of late.

Kayla took one more scroll down the cool-hued page, then closed all of her tabs and opened her email, glancing out of the long bank of glass windows and doors to the left of her desk where she sat, back against the wall.

The wooden furniture on the gray stained deck shone dimly in the afternoon light. Bright stabs of sun reached through the soft overcast in the sky. There must be more rain on the way, Kayla thought. The rainy season had really been dramatic this year, but why wouldn’t it be, considering how everything else was going?

Kayla had ended up having to hire someone to dig troughs around her property to help with drainage. What she hadn’t been able to keep up with created little floods everywhere that made everything a little bit harder. But beyond the extra work and extra money, Kayla loved the rain. It was calming. Even thunderstorms were lovely, if they didn’t get out of hand; and as if to warn her of a visit, a distant roll of thunder gave a rumble, bringing her attention back to her email. She shot a message to the clients saying the site was awaiting their approval, and to send her any notes, corrections, or ideas after they’d had a chance to check it out. If they were satisfied, they were welcome to make it live as their earliest convenience.

Email sent, Kayla took off her glasses and rubbed the bridge of her nose, crossing to the window. She reached up with both hands to stretch, bending backward to undo the effects of hunching at her desk. Her crop top rode up and revealed a glimpse of underboob to the outside. Fortunately for her modesty, she was isolated enough not to worry about flashing any neighbors. The closest dwelling was a cabin that she usually rented to campers, and it was far enough away that no one looking out in the growing dusk would see anything other than a vague figure in her window, even with her house filled with light spilling out onto the deck, and down to the big, unruly yard.

But the cabin was empty, anyway. Kayla had set the minimum stay for an entire month, and there was hardly anyone who wanted such a long stay in general; they certainly didn’t want it during a full pandemic. So no one had rented since the shitastic kick-off that was the coronavirus, which she totally understood and encouraged. She didn’t really need the money, after all; it simply was a nice cushion if she had a lull between clients, which all conceit aside, was rare. Owning her own graphic design company was challenging, but successful, with enough repeat clients and exposure that she wasn’t often without work.

The recently completed website had been good work, with a good payout. Kayla smiled at her phone as a notification appeared; it was an email from her client. She picked up her phone and padded softly to the kitchen, bare feet quiet on the worn wood.

Kayla, the website is literally perfect…

Kayla thumbed through the rest of the email with one hand, her other on the fridge handle. The stainless steel almost managed to show a clear reflection of her— complexion like burnt umber, round doe eyes atop a wide nose, with softly flared nostrils. Her mouth bowed a bit when she wasn’t thinking about it, almost like her full lips were always a little disappointed or irritated by something, which wasn’t entirely off the mark.

She opened the refrigerator and grabbed a half-empty bottle of chardonnay. She deserved to go to bed high, with a big glass of wine and a big, fat orgasm. Or two. Or three depending on how she felt after the first one.

Greg

Atlanta, Georgia

11:15 p.m.

Monday, September 14

Gregory James’s alarm went off. 11:15 p.m. It was time to call it quits. Whatever he hadn’t finished putting together could wait until tomorrow, even though the files he was compiling were literally a matter of life or death. Or rather, they had been.

Greg was an accountant and financial advisor. And he was damned good at every part of his jobs… as well as some things that weren’t exactly part of his job. And it was that ability that had originally caught the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s attention.

Greg knew how to smudge the lines a bit, and he knew smudged lines when he saw them. So the GBI asked him to see if anything looked a little off about the finances of a few companies owned by a wealthy businessman in Atlanta named Jonathan Kirk. This wealthy businessman also happened to be one of the biggest drug lords in the Southeast.

Not surprisingly, there were some questionable transfers and deposits. And once the thread had started to unravel, it wasn’t too hard to uncover money without a legitimate explanation in sums that were more than suspicious. In general, Greg didn’t subscribe to the idea that being law abiding necessarily made you a good citizen or person. But he still felt a bit like a hero as the weeks passed and the team he was working with built and fortified a legal case that could actually make a difference.

Well, someone with Jonathan Kirk’s best interests at heart was very serious about that difference not being made. So one night a week or so ago, while Greg was working with his team, there had been an attack with two agents and one accountant killed. Greg and two others escaped, which felt like a miracle. He still felt like his brain hadn’t caught up yet. He realized it was a reasonable response to a legitimately traumatic experience, but he didn’t have time to spare recovering. He couldn’t fumble any part of this.

Greg glanced back at his computer screen, forcing his eyes to focus. 11:23 p.m. He’d lost a few minutes, just staring at the lit rectangle in front of him. He closed the laptop and glanced around the hotel room, which was pretty nice. The Waldorf Astoria was a nice hotel. The GBI had stashed him here with a security detail since it was defendable, ignoring all his protests about wanting somewhere more comfortable and familiar when he felt so entirely out of touch.

He got up from the ornate, wingback chair, finished the finger of whisky in his glass and trudged slowly to the bathroom. He placed the empty glass on the counter and stood in front of the toilet, unzipping to take a piss.

He stared at his face in the mirror-fronted medicine cabinet, which he supposed was considered typically handsome. Icy blue eyes, chestnut hair and eyebrows that many women assumed were painstakingly groomed— which they weren’t. Hell, he couldn’t even maintain a neat beard at this point. He’d let it get thick, and the shadow under his chin was becoming a nearly equal partner to his beard.

He bared his teeth. When Greg smiled, it was a genuinely open, infectious thing, but he hadn’t smiled for real going on a week now. He didn’t feel like any would be coming soon. He felt like he was shackled to the ocean floor, a weight keeping him pinned beneath the waves. And he was so far down that sunlight had no chance of reaching him in the murky depths of his little, living nightmare.

Greg finished up and rinsed the whisky tumbler out, before refilling it with water. He drank the entire glass and left it on the bathroom counter. He stopped in the doorway and surveyed the silent room. Expensive beige carpet; three huge windows flanked by heavy, dark curtains; a sitting area; and a dark, wooden desk. The bed was a king, a Mondrian print hanging above it.

Initially, he’d appreciated the luxurious room; a reassurance that things weren’t entirely inside-fucking-out. But now it was just a glaringly empty reminder that he was very alone. He realized suddenly, and with rising panic, that he didn’t want to spend the next month or so hiding out in a cold, empty hotel room.

Greg strode across the room in three big steps and grabbed his laptop to bring to bed. He dropped it on top of the coverlet so he could strip, and slid naked between the cold sheets to open the machine one more time for the night. He needed to go somewhere out of the way, but also comfortable; a place where he could shake off the darkness crossing inside his head and eyes.

As horrific as it sounded, a cabin in the woods was the first place he thought of. He’d enjoyed staying in some cabins in north Georgia years ago, when he’d regularly visited Blue Ridge for a couple of years. Those trips had stopped when time off began seeming like a luxury he couldn’t afford. Now nothing else sounded better than being stuck in the remoteness of Helen or Ellijay or some other small town that hardly anyone mentioned unless they were trying to vacation, where nobody knew (or cared) who he was.

Greg scrolled through endless houses and nothing quite caught his attention except a small cabin with bright new furniture and old, southern charm. The description was succinct, but endearing. The tiny picture of the host showed her to be… well, cute. Big brown eyes and a smirk more than a smile. The minimum stay requirement was for a month. He needed almost exactly that. The Bureau wouldn’t like him making his own arrangements but he would just remind them that his participation was voluntary and to keep it, they’d have to play ball.

Chapter Two

Kayla

Ellijay, Georgia

9:13 a.m.

Tuesday, September 15

Enjoying the feeling of sleeping in without a looming deadline, Kayla rolled around under her sheets for nearly 30 minutes before finally sliding out of bed.

The very first email in her inbox was a request to reserve her small, cozy cabin. The prospective renter had agreed to the additional cleaning fees due to widespread disease, the minimum required stay, and the no-contact clause. He’d signed every dotted line already, submitted a driver’s license (okay, he was oddly attractive) and deposit, noting he’d pay the entire stay and additional fees upon approval.

Kayla chewed her lip and got a glass of ice water from the dispenser in her fridge door. She drank it down before returning to her laptop, and tapped her nails on the desk.

Fuck it, she finally said, accepting the reservation. A little extra cash would be nice. She could start payments on a generator for the cabin, as her current generator had only enough power to support the main house; or she could have the fences fixed, since plenty of places were beginning to show wear from the lack of maintenance over the years.

She sent a greeting to the renter — his name was Gregory James — stating that the cabin would be ready for check-in by three p.m., and noted that he could contact her via text for any concerns. The lockbox had the key for entry, though he could just use the passcode. There was a binder with laminated sheets, color coded, to explain where everything was in the house and how everything worked.

It was only around nine a.m., so she had plenty of time to check the cabin over, turn on the lights and drop off a diffuser with some calming scent choices. That gave her plenty of time to masturbate and have a long, hot soak before she had to become a reasonably accessible host.

In a way, being able to rent the little cabin fulfilled her adolescent desire to run a hotel or other lodging that provided people with a home away from home. She’d gone to school for hospitality, but it hadn’t lasted. Once she got a taste of graphic design, she’d been head over heels. Creating images and digital spaces that she wrought just from people’s intentions and her imagination was satisfying in a way that nothing else had ever been.

Kayla’s parents had given her the house and cabin in Ellijay when they decided to move to Fernandina Beach, just over the Florida state line. They no longer wanted to live in Ellijay, and wanted to drive twelve hours round trip to prepare for guests even less. Kayla wasn’t exactly in love with Ellijay, but she loved privacy and not being bothered. She didn’t need a hairdresser every month like her mother, because she twisted and maintained her own locs. She didn’t mind big grocery trips every two weeks, either. It was a quiet, lonely place, but she liked quiet and she could stand lonely a lot better than she could stand exasperated. And tortured.

Kayla went to the green dresser in her room; it had five, narrow drawers. One of her jewelry trees sat atop the dresser. And in the top drawer she kept her stash. She normally kept a grab bag of stuff— a little bit of everything, because she never knew what she’d be in the mood for. And dealers in the mountains were few and far between, so it only made sense to keep a sample box.

She mostly was in the mood for weed. In this case: a blunt she’d rolled a week ago and had waited to smoke in celebration of her completed project. Kayla typically didn’t smoke in the house. Who wanted their house to smell like weed? But a blunt in the bath sounded too relaxing to give up, and she liked to give herself… well, whatever she wanted. Most of what she wanted, anyway.

Kayla shuffled a quiet playlist on

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  • (4/5)
    Good read with fresh characters - he is not the usual buff man and her habits have intensified during Lockdown. Reason it was not rated higher was due to the abrupt ending.