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Rangers Lodge Saga - A Father's Intuition

Through the kitchen window, Jake Ranger watched his son amble across the lawn. How long since he’d seen Adam walk with such ease, especially with a guest?he mused with a touch of sadness. His mother’s death had hit Adam hard, Jake knew, as had the discintegration of his relationship with Sarah a year later. The losses had changed Adam, causing Jake not only to grieve for his wife but for his son as well. He watched now as Adam paused to show his pretty guest a bird feeder. They were both smiling and, for the first time in a long while, Jake noted the smile reached Adam’s eyes.

Under the trees, Kristen followed Adam’s finger to a bird perched on a feeder. “I have a bird feeder on my balcony,” she breathed. “Always hope I’ll get a crowd like this.” She raised her camera. “Sorry, I’m slowing us down,” she said, biting her lip and quickening her stride. She’d come back later for a better look, she told herself.

“Three hours without an apology,” was Adam’s light response. “I have a feeling that’s a record for you.” He took the camera. “Put that gleeful look back on,” he chided and she giggled as she tilted her head to watch the birds.

“Thank you for sharing your you time with me,” she said quietly as they neared the kitchen.

Adam turned to face her. “I could say the same to you.”

True, Kristen agreed to herself, taken aback by Adam’s insight. She nodded to a wooden sign that cheerfully reminded guests: Don’t just tip your hat to the tour guide! “You definitely deserve a tip. It was a wonderful tour.”

“Lots more to see,” Adam shrugged away her offer. “Just promise you’ll be up at sunrise tomorrow and we’ll call it even.” He put out his hand and Kristen smiled into his eyes as they shook on it.

In the kitchen, Kristen took one look at the chopped ingredients piled neatly on cutting
boards, the cast iron skillets heating on the stove and flushed with mortification. “Oh no, the breakfast prep! I’m sorry…it’s my fault he’s late.”

Jake simply raised his eyebrow at Adam. “Sorry, Dad,” he said contritely but his sheepish grin reminded Jake so much of when Adam had been a boy that he only
laughed. “Just give me a few more minutes…” Adam hooked Kristen’s camera into his laptop. He scrolled through the photos, selecting a few of his favourites.

“Whoa!” Kristen protested, looking over his shoulder at the screen. “You just asked for two.”

“Since you’ve agreed to more morning excursions…and, no, I won’t let you back peddle on that,” he warned as she began to speak, “I’m thinking a Dawn Adventures album is a better idea than individual posts.” He saved his selections and passed the camera back to her as he stood and reached for an apron hanging on a hook. “After all, I did have to start my workday extra early and all,” he added with a wink.

“That’s so not fair,” Kristen tried to sound offended but she was smiling. “Can I at least help?”

“We prefer guests to simply enjoy themselves, but…” Jake thought of his son’s easy stride out in the yard and caught the twinkle in Adam’s eyes now, “who are we to refuse the help of such a pretty girl?” He retrieved an extra apron. “My boy here gets stove duty since he skipped the prep. You can slice and butter scones if you’d like.”

With an exaggerated sigh, Adam returned to the table to crank up music on his laptop. “Time for a little Shania,” he declared. “Country music gets me going as much as tea does in the morning.”

“Wish I’d known that when he was younger,” Jake complained as he took fruit from the fridge and began to wash apples in the sink. “Wild horses couldn’t drag him in here to do chores.”

“there were so many more fun things to do back then,” Adam countered.

“Country music’s fine by me,” Kristen agreed, setting to her task. Feet tapping. “I might start singing, though, so be warned.” She’d finished prepping the scones and was about to offer to start on the dishes in the sink when she caught both men staring at her in bemused fascination. “What?” she asked, nervous fingers going to her hair. Adam was starting to find the gesture adorable.

“Sign this girl up for the singoff,” Jake told his son.

Kristen looked quizzically at Adam. “It’s a community singing contest we’ve been hosting for the past five years,” he explained. “The first round, coming up this Thursday, attracts more bad karaoke than talent but it’s a lot of fun. We get a larger crowd for the finale which features the top three performers.”

“I’m not a performer,” Kristen countered, reaching for a dish sponge and dish soap.

“Given what we just heard, and your dance moves,” he grinned as her fingers twisted in her hair again, “you’ll be awesome.” He gestured to the dishwasher. “No need to do that the hard way.”

“This will be faster. And I like washing dishes.”

Kristen almost had the sink cleared when she looked through the kitchen window to see the first guests wandering into the garden. She had no idea where the time had disappeared that morning, had to admit that she had enjoyed every minute of the walk through the roses, Jake and Adam’s banter as they cooked, their stories about lodge guests and events. The kitchen was a warm and delicious mix of coffee, eggs and fruit.

“Brekfast and dishes done, good job, recruit,” Adam gave her a friendly pat on the shoulder as she hung her apron beside his. “And not a moment too soon.” Both he and Kristen laughed as Bella, coming through the garden gate in Ollie’s arms, spied Kristen and pointed excitedly. Kristen blew her a kiss. Squirming away from Ollie, Bella made a beeline for the kitchen.

“Morning,” Brooke said, following Lucy. “Was wondering where you were until Ollie told me you might have headed out early to the rose garden.” She reached out to hug Kristen. “Morning Jake, Adam.” She cast a look at the food. “This what they do to guests who get up early around here? Put them to work?”

“She volunteered,” Adam and Jake said in unison.

“Should have known,” Brooke smiled, picking up two plates as Bella tugged impatiently at Kristen’s shorts. “Getting you to relax is like pulling teeth.”

“You don’t say,” Adam piped up dryly as he wiped down a counter.

Kristen swung Bella up and kissed her loudly on the cheek. “Morning, sweetie pie. You tell Mommy and Uncle Addie to be nice to me.” To Brooke, she said with a grin, “Or you won’t get to enjoy breakfast with your hubby.”

“Mom and Dad are taking Bel after they eat so we can do our workout.” Brooke glanced accusingly at Kristen’s red shorts, wispy ivory top with its watercolor red flowers and her red sandals. “You’re still coming, right?”

“Yes, just have to run back to my cabin. To change,” she emphasized when Brooke narrowed her eyes. “Thought I’d have been back there before now.”

“Don’t you even think of waiting around on my dumbass brother,” Brooke warned.

“Your mommy’s bossy,” Kristen complained to Bella, rolling her eyes. She turned Bella towards Jake and Adam as Brooke ducked back into the garden.

Bella pointed shyly. “Addie?”

Adam groaned when Jake’s belly laugh drowned out Kristen’s giggle. “Encourage her,” he groused at Kristen, “and it’s no more Mr. Nice Tour Guide for you.”

“And you’ll be stuck doing dishes,” she replied flippantly before she walked off, cooing to Bella.

“She certainly lights up a room,” Jake remarked, watching his son’s eyes linger on Kristen as she joined Logan, Ollie and Brooke at a table. He felt a glimmer of hope when Adam turned, his face still glowing with that vitality that had been so much a part of his mother. Then he sighed as Adam merely shrugged and offered to check on the staff in the poolhouse.

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