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Authors: Sidney Bristol

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Personal Adventures

BOOK: Personal Adventures
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Personal Adventures

Sidney Bristol

 

Carey’s had the hots for his best friend and outdoor adventures coworker Elise for two years, but the timing has never been right. Now they’re both single, and Carey wants to entice her into an adventure for just the two of them. In the bedroom, in the hot tub, under the beautiful Colorado sky…

Elise doesn’t buy into the idea of love, but lust she understands. Carey’s friendship is important, but a relationship doesn’t fit into Elise’s five-year plan. She isn’t looking to repeat her parents’ mistakes.

With secrets coming out from under every rock and desire unchecked, this adventure might make more than the water on their rafting trips rush.

 

Personal Adventures

Sidney Bristol

Dedication

 

This book would not be what it is today without my editor, Jillian. She pushed me for more when I didn’t know there was anything left to tell. There isn’t a word strong enough to express my thanks.

Team Awesome, Suzan, Carolyn, Ally, Linda, Rebekah, Jodie and Jess, you make me a better writer.

And for Danielle, without you, this book would have never happened. Thank you for inspiring me.
Ayor anosh'ni.

 

Chapter One

 

Carey was so nervous his balls were sweating. Today he was going to do it. He was going to stop acting as if he were a mooning teenager and ask her out.

Grabbing another set of oars, he slid them onto pegs mounted into the barn wall. The scent of fall, crisp, with a hint of wood smoke and cooling pie, was thick on the air. All they needed were warmed mugs of apple cider to make the day complete. It was the short lull in Colorado between the summer white-water rapid and hiking tours ending, and when they would begin prepping for the winter cross-country and snowmobile tours. If he wanted to set the foundation for a relationship with Elise, he needed to get his act in gear and do it now. While they had time to enjoy being together.

Nerves still eating at him, Carey struggled to refocus his thoughts on storing the summer gear instead of day dreaming about his best friend. He recited dollar amounts that would need to be spent fixing the summer equipment, not to mention the winter gear they hadn’t had the cash to repair at the end of the last season. Not that learning how to shoulder the business was relaxing, but he loved his job. Which was a far cry from where his life had been headed two years ago. Before Adventures and Elise.

Licking his lips, he glanced over his shoulder at her. She was bent over, gathering oars and humming along to the radio. The alluring visual of her ass was one he’d admired all summer.

He ducked his head as she straightened. The nerves were back. He couldn’t help it. If she said no, if Elise wasn’t interested, their friendship would never be the same. But he was getting too old to waste his time. Turning thirty hadn’t been so bad, but something about rolling over to thirty-one at the beginning of the summer had done a number on him. He wasn’t a kid anymore, and he needed to man up and ask her out.

Squeezing his eyes shut, he sucked in a deep breath of the air perfumed with fresh straw, newly cut grass and burning leaves. He’d been here two years. Two years during which he’d found himself. It was time to do something else. Take a chance.

“What are you doing tonight?” Carey briefly closed his eyes. He sounded so lame.

“I need to get an oil change on the Jeep.” Elise appeared at his side, her arms burdened with oars. “Mom called me this morning, probably wants me to come up to the reservation for something.”

That got his attention. He scooped the oars out of her arms, relishing the light brush of her skin against his. “Your mom’s back with your dad? On the reservation?”

She threw her arms up. “I know, don’t ask me.”

“So are they back together as in married, or—?” He pushed the oars onto the pegs and turned to face her. He couldn’t imagine a family life like hers. While his family came with their peculiar brand of baggage, they loved and supported one another.

Elise turned to gaze out of the shed at the Arkansas River. “I think they got remarried in Vegas. Does it sound bad if I say I don’t care anymore?”

“No,” he said quickly. He didn’t know much about her family, but what he knew didn’t speak of weekends spent making cookies or snuggling by the fire while the snow blanketed the ground.

She went back to the pile of oars and picked up another load. “Yeah, well, you don’t get to pick your family, I guess, do you?”

“No, you don’t.” Carey took a deep breath. He had to go for it. Taking the oars from her, he tried to sound casual. “Go out with me tonight instead.”

She wrinkled her nose and shook her head. “Nah, I don’t feel like going to the bar.”

Fat drops of sweat rolled down his spine and chest. He was going to have to spell it out. He bought some time rolling the oars onto the pegs before turning to face her. “No, I mean go out. With me. On a date.”

Elise’s almond-shaped eyes widened, giving him the full impact of her dark gaze. The combination of her Native American father and Asian mother was stunning. Proud cheekbones tapered to a delicate jaw. The sun baked her skin to a deep golden brown that begged to be sprinkled with brown sugar and licked. Compared to him she was small, maybe five three, but Elise was one tough cookie. He’d struggled to keep up with her climbing some of the peaks. It was one of the reasons he didn’t want to screw up something that could be good on so many levels. She challenged him.

“Why?” she squeaked.

“Because, this is the first time we’ve both been single. I think we could be good together.” That was an understatement. Carey knew they had chemistry, but the timing had always been off.

She bit her lip. “I don’t see a point in us dating.” Each word punched a hole in Carey’s ego. “We already know each other.”

Every nerve in his body went on alert. He lifted a hand to grasp one of the pegs and squeezed. “So what are you saying? We skip the dating and jump into the sack?” He forced a grin at the intentional misunderstanding.

Shaking her head, Elisa let out a burst of nervous laughter. “This is more awkward than the conversation about foot fungus.”

“Oh come on.” He pushed her shoulder lightly, keeping his smile firmly in place. “Talking about anal sex was worse.”

“Oh god, I try to forget that whole night.” She pressed her hands to her cheeks. He’d rarely seen her off balance.

While thoughts of dirty sex with Elise appealed to him, Carey wanted more than a roll in the sack. She hadn’t said no, which meant she’d thought about being with him too. He wasn’t alone. He’d always been the kind of guy who went for what he wanted, and this would not be the exception. “So what do you say, Elly? Do you want to go on a date with me? Or do you want to skip that and—”

“Stop,” Elise yelped and spun away.

She went back to the pile of oars and retrieved the last armful. He watched her cross to him and stop. When he didn’t reach out automatically to take them from her, she shoved the oars against his chest. He had to bring his arms up quickly to catch them.

“I’ll talk to you later.” She spun on her heel and practically ran away.

He watched her go. She might not have said yes, but she hadn’t said no. He grinned and set about finishing up the day’s work. He’d figure out his next move later.

* * * * *

 

Elise paced along the side of Lou’s Garage. She’d gone to some pretty crazy lengths to avoid this situation with Carey. Even hanging on to her dead relationship with Greg these last few months had been more about being unavailable than the fizzling romance.

She’d held on to Greg thinking that any day now, some other girl would catch his interest. Waxahachie wasn’t a big town, but located as it was on the Arkansas River not too far from Monarch and several other resorts, there was a healthy traffic of new blood in and out. And not one of the new hussies hanging out at the bar had captured his attention. She would know. She’d gone with him enough out of some sad desire to torment herself by watching him flirt and buy drinks for some girl with delicate skin and perfect hair.

He was right when he said they could be good together. So what was the problem?

Carey was the problem. The youngest son of a well-to-do Denver family, he had a business degree and a fancy future. When he’d shown up at Rocky Mountain Adventures wanting to be an assistant guide for white-water rafting tours, she’d been suspicious. He wasn’t like the other guides. He wasn’t like her. She’d known he would leave someday, and go back to whatever his family did in Denver. Not getting involved with him was the safest avenue for her heart, because not falling for Carey wasn’t an option.

Elise was already in love with him.

But he didn’t fit into her five-year plan. In five more years, she would own Rocky Mountain Adventures. During the summers they ran white-water rafting tours. In the winter, they taught ski lessons and did snowmobile tours. On the side, they also ran outdoor adventure trips. Allen, their boss, had agreed to sell her the business, but she needed five more years to raise the money, on top of two years’ worth of savings. Five more years of living in a dump with three crazy women and eating Ramen for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

“Hey, Elly.” Lou walked around the corner of the garage wiping his hands. “Jeep’s done.” Lou had aged a decade in a year. His blue eyes were sad and there were dark circles under them.

Her problems momentarily forgotten, she leaned up against the garage, shoving her hands into her pockets. She’d gone to high school with Lou, and they’d been friends. “How are you?”

Lou shrugged and glanced away. “Coping.”

They stood there in awkward silence. She hadn’t intended for her question to bring up memories. Maggie had passed away from cancer a few weeks shy of their first wedding anniversary. Lou had known when they’d married their time together would be short, but still he’d reached for what made him happy.

“Can I ask you a personal question?” She stared at the ground, her hands clenched in her pockets.

“Aw, Elly, we’ve known each other too long for you to beat around the bush.” Lou put his back to the building and tipped his head up, staring at the clear blue sky. The smell of oil and grease clung to him, mixing with the mountain aroma. “You want to ask me about Maggie.”

“Yes.” And no. She didn’t know if she’d like the answer.

“Go ahead.”

“Would you do it again? Knowing she would—you know?”

He looked at her, his gaze sharp. “She died. You can say it.”

Elise’s cheeks burned. “Sorry.”

Lou shrugged and relaxed against the building. “I miss her. I wake up and I reach for her, but she’s not there.” He scratched at a day’s worth of stubble. “I know people thought I was crazy for falling for her, but she was amazing. I wouldn’t change anything. I’d still love her every day I could.” His eyes narrowed. “What’s this about? Did that ass you’ve been dating—”

“No.” She shook her head. Greg hadn’t made any friends in her circle.

Lou’s eyebrows lifted. “Oh, I see.”

“What?” It was her turn to narrow her gaze.

“That guy you work with. Casey?”

“Carey.” She looked away, the blush returning. “And yeah.”

“About damn time.” He thrust her keys into her hands.

She took them and glared at him. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Answer me this.” Lou braced himself against the wall with one arm, looming over her. “Who did you spend your birthday with?”

“That doesn’t mean anything—”

“It does. That guy Carey, he treats you like I’d treat my wife. Greg, he was an ass. I don’t know what twisted woman thing you have going on upstairs,” he tapped his temple, “but cut it out. You and your overthinking, you wear us men out.” He shook his head, a pained smile on his face. “I need to get back to that radiator. You good?”

Elise nodded. “Yeah. I’m good. Thanks, Lou.”

“Don’t mention it.”

As she watched him disappear around the corner, Elise rolled his words around in her head. Maybe she was a coward, but she didn’t have faith like Lou. In her experience, love was not always enough.

BOOK: Personal Adventures
13.9Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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