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Rangers Lodge Saga - Breakfast at Dawn

In the lodge kitchen, Adam sat with a mug at his elbow and a crossword puzzle in front of him. Country music drifted from a nearby laptop. In a grey t-shirtt and jeans, his sock clad feet propped on the opposite chair, he looked relaxed and homey. She thought of her own hours of alone time, relished before work or before her boyfriend woke up on weekends, hours spent in almost the same way.

“Good morning,” he said with a warm smile, looking up just as she would have retreated. Kristen struggled not to wince as she watched the lines of his face lose their boyish softness, saw his eyes go focused and flat as he shifted into host mode.

“I’m disturbing you,” she floundered, twisting the ends of her ponytail with uneasy fingers. “Just give me directions to the rose garden and I’ll – “

“Nonsense. Sit,” he insisted when she hesitated. He pushed to his feet. “Would you prefer a scone or toast with your tea?” He poured tea in the mug he’d set out for her and topped off his own cup.

“Just tea, thanks. Really, you don’t need to – “

He placed the mug and a saucer with a scone in front of her. “I’ve been up for a bit, Was just grinding my teeth over this thing.” He pushed at the discarded crossword.

“Mind if I have a look?” Kristen took a bite of the scone. It tasted fresh from the oven, all butter and warm jam. When Adam shifted the paper obligingly, she studied the clues and the squares he’d filled in. She reached for the pen, absently tapping it against a square. “You were on quite a roll,” she said.

“Hmm, then I got stuck here…and here.” He indicated the centre of the puzzle and the left corner. As he leaned back in his chair mug in hand, Kristen hunched over the puzzle, long strands of her curly ponytail falling over her shoulder, scone in one hand, pen in the other. She hummed the song currently playing under her breath.
She looked up and caught him watching her. “What? Oh, sorry.” She covered her mouth and blushed. The effect his smile was having on her, not the flirt from the night before or the over courteous host smile this time, made her squirm. Turning back to the crossword, she stabbed at a row of letters. “This answer’s wrong. It should be canoe, not kayak, which makes king czar and the rest should fall in line.” She passed him the pen.

“You might as well complete it.”

“And add insult to injury? I’ve already made you start your work day early.”

“This is my job. No apologies for the next…” he glanced at his watch, “hour. Deal?”

The ultimatum was delivered in clipped tones but Kristen heard impatience there, not annoyance. A smile played at the corners of her mouth. “I feel like I should say yes sir. Do you boss all your guests around like this?”

“I don’t usually have to convince our guests to relax.”


 (c) Kristy Kassie, 2016

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