Chapter Eight

Love Your Dreams, Chapter 08

Astrid

That was the wrong thing to poke at, and I know it. But her youth is just so…tangible. So bright and effervescent and dewy. 

Brianne the Kid.

Fantasy Girl.

Maybe I need to stop thinking of her as the sum of a nickname. My stomach twists. Brianne the Kid, the Fantasy Girl, the Rebel With a Cause. How many other layers does she have?

And how many of those layers will turn me on and make me ache?

All of them.

Damn it. I hate that that’s true.

We don’t talk as we drive through the village of Whistler and then up, higher, until the houses thin out and the trees take over again.

My cabin is nothing like my house in the city. That was…I don’t know what that was. A splurge, a protest, a declaration that I’m fine.

This little two-bedroom retreat, though…this is who I really am. As I turn into the lane, I wonder what Brianne will think.

She doesn’t let on. Her face, which has been nothing but expressive to date, is now shuttered tight.

Well, yeah, you called her a child. 

Only a twenty-three-year-old wouldn’t take that as a compliment. I would love to be called a kid again.

Except no, I wouldn’t. Fuck.

That’s the kind of knee-jerk reaction I was just chiding her for, isn’t it?

“I’m sorry,” I say as I turn off the truck. I twist sideways and give her my full attention. “You aren’t a kid, either. You are a smart, capable, grown woman who is still figuring some shit out, like we all are. I have no doubt you will be an able assistant on this shoot.”

Her eyes go wide and her sweet, soft mouth falls open. “Thank you,” she says softly. “And thank you for the perspective, too. I’m…it’s easy to howl right now.”

“Oh, I’m familiar. I may not be on Twitter, but I watch the late-night comedians and read the newspaper on the weekend and make my weekly phone calls.”

“I bet your phone calls get heard, though.”

She’s not wrong. I don’t need to call a senator’s constituency office. “How about I show you inside, and then you can tell me more about your last eight months on Twitter?”

She waves her hand at the same time as she averts her gaze, turning her head to look at the cabin. “I’d rather prep for tomorrow.”

I can’t blame her. I’ve hardly made myself out as the safest confidant. “All right. Let’s get unloaded.”

The cabin is small, so unlike at my home in North Van, I hear her constantly as we unpack and get re-packed for the morning.

The plan is to make the same ascent four times, each time starting a bit earlier. We have a back-up fifth day, just in case we can’t get up there in time for sunrise, or if I decide we need to go up in the afternoon and camp in order to get the sunrise.

“What time should I set my alarm for?” Brianne asks as she emerges from the second bedroom.

“I want to be in the truck at five-thirty, so it depends on how much time you need in the morning to shake off the fog of sleep.”

“I’m a morning person,” she says brightly, now back in her element of planning for a day in the great outdoors.

I fully recognize the irony here, because I’m the one who’s dragging us out of bed at the ass crack of dawn, but…of course she is. I am very much not. “I’ll be up at four-thirty,” I say as I prep the coffee maker. “And not really functional until five. Work around that.”

“Will do.”

I’m tempted to offer that we can drive into the village for dinner, but I don’t want to. I’m not up for waiting for food to arrive at our table, and dancing around conversation that isn’t about how cute and young and smart and fearless she is, because no good can come from that conversation. We had enough of that while trapped in the truck, and I’m sure it’ll come up again on the mountain tomorrow. And the day after that. And the— 

“Honestly, we’re going to spend a lot of time together over the next few days,” I announce, cutting off my train of thought. “I’m going to head out and grab us some takeout for dinner. Do you need anything while I’m out?”

She gives me a cautious look. “No. I’ll just hang here. I’ve got a book or two.”

Good. Great. I nod and grab my keys. “Any requests?”

“Whatever you want is fine,” she says softly, leaning against the door of her bedroom.

No, it’s really, really not. “I’ll get Italian. We can use the carb-loading.”

Plus pasta makes me sleep like the dead, and I’d rather not dream of pixie haircuts again.

I stomp out to the truck and leap into the driver’s seat.

What the hell is wrong with me? I’m rapidly developing a full-on crush for someone, and all I can do is snap at her, like it’s somehow her fault I find her compelling. That’s not how it works, Astrid. 

I know that.

I do. I just… I turn the key as my heart bounces around in my chest. 

Nope, I don’t want to finish that thought. I just nothing.

I just need to climb a mountain and take four hundred pictures. That’s all.

Nothing more.


 

Keep reading in chapter 9

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