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Rangers Lodge Saga - A Welcome Gesture

After dinner, Kristen had intended to pop into her cabin, load up an audiobook and head back to the lodge where a few girls had settled into one of the sitting rooms. She was waging war against the tiredness spreading through her like a wet blanket. A good deal of the weight of that wet blanket had to do with Adrian, she knew and she felt terrible for feeling that way.
Halfway back to the lodge, the lights and the cascading tinkle of fountains drew her to the arbor.
The criss-crossing paths were edged with LED light strips, making it easy for her to get her bearings but not detracting from the quiet beauty of shadowy shrubs and trees decorated with pinpoints of white light. The silver arcs of the fountains shimmered with blue and green from lights sunken into their bases. It was blessedly quiet after the constant activity of the day.

She could just read out here, Kristen thought and the rush of relief made her realize that she hadn’t been alone all day. It felt good that no one was waiting on her. It felt safe for her to do her own thing. Just for a little while, she told herself. Then she would go be social again.

On a bench a few yards away, Adam saw Kristen check her watch. Giving herself permission to take a break, he sensed. Jake had practically booted him from the lodge because Adam rarely gave himself permission to do that. Not in the past five years, anyway. What was the point? He came home for the summer to work at the lodge and to spend time with his father. Why should he need a break from things he liked doing?

When Kristen checked her watch for the fourth time, Adam approached her, hands jammed into his pockets. “You know, it doesn’t count as relaxation if you time yourself,” he joked.

“And you’re not on a break if you’re on guest patrol,” she shot back. She shoved her earbuds off and into her purse. She nodded when he looked questioningly at the bench and then back at her. “Why do I feel like I’m in detention even though I’m in such a beautiful place?” And why had she said that out loud? Kristen fretted.

“Because you’re finally alone and have no clue what to do with yourself.”

“You sound like you’re speaking from experience.”

Adam wasn’t prepared to go there, not even in humour, so he changed the subject. “So where would you like to go for tomorrow’s dawn tour?”

“Ha, I’m not the only one who changes the subject when it suits me,” Kristen mumbled. She shifted to face him. “But I’ll bite. I don’t know, Mr. Nice Tour Guide, where do you suggest?”

“If you’re up for a little hike, we could do the quarry. Meet me same time, same place.”

Kristen marveled at how suddenly light she felt.

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