Chapter Four

Astrid

I’m in a foul mood by the time I park myself outside the arrivals entrance at the airport. I hate traffic, I hate parking, I hate people, and I hate the chaos and noise that comes with a combination of the three.

There’s really no acceptable reason for me to have agreed to spend the next few weeks with another human being. I will fuck this up.

I’ve learned over the years that my expectations don’t line up with what people can deliver. I want too much, too hard, too precisely. Those traits have helped me in my art and in business, but hurt me in love, and cost me in human relations in general.

I’m not an ogre, of course. I work well with Marcus, because our goals align and we have similar personalities. Maybe it helps that we grew up together, spending summers together on our grandfather’s ranch in Idaho. He taught me about computers and supported me when I decided to move to Canada, much to the ire of our family.

He was also the first relative I came out to.

And now he’s sent me a lost soul, so I need to set aside the curmudgeon persona I usually embrace and be a decent hostess to a smart kid.

I take a deep breath and grab my sign with her name scrawled on it. Brianne Fischer. It should come with a warning that I’m the worst chauffeur ever, and she might just want to turn around and get on the next plane back home. Whatever she’s escaping there probably isn’t worse than spending three weeks with me.

The screen inside the terminal informs me that her flight arrived ten minutes ago. Yikes. I hold the sign up, but I don’t see any lost young adults. And it’s a big airport. It might take her some time.

I watch the people arriving, listen to their conversations, to try and pick up on clues as to which flights are now spilling out the doors. One flight is obviously from the United Kingdom. Another from South Asia. Others are harder to figure out, so I stop trying, because that’s less fun than it sounds.

I see her backpack first.

She couldn’t be that cliched, could she? It’s a massive pack that rises above her head, but as soon as I see the edge of it around the side of a large man moving between us, I know.

I’m not prepared when the rest of her comes into view. She’s taller than I expected. I’m a tall woman, just a few inches shy of six feet, and she’s not much shorter than me. She’s also gorgeous.

Dark pixie bangs over a heart-shaped face, slim body, wide hips, long tanned legs in hiking boots with wool socks peeking out the top.

Yes, she’s exactly that cliched. She’s my hiking hippie-girl wet-dream come to life.

Oh, Marcus. What have you done to me?

I drag in a deep breath and hold up my sign. She scans the crowd, her eyes bright, and her mouth splits into a wide, happy smile when her gaze lands on me.

She jumps in the air—while wearing a massive pack—and waves at me like we’re long-lost friends.

Damn it. Why does Fantasy Girl have to be so damn happy? Well, that will get annoying soon, and I’ll stop imagining what the tops of her thighs taste like.

It should be annoying now, though, and it’s not.

Fuck, fuck, fuckity fuck.

 


Keep reading in chapter 5

copyright Ainsley Booth, 2017

Ainsley Booth is an alter-ego of Gigi Ford. All rights reserved.