Not Really the Outdoor Type(2)

By: Paige Tyler

“Soooooo,” Gabby drawled, her eyes twinkling. “Are you going to stop by to talk to him?”

Kendall ignored her friends’ all-too-knowing smiles and took another sip of iced tea. “Maybe.”

After the other women left a little while later—Gabby to pick her two sons up from school, and Maryann to take her youngest daughter to piano lessons—Kendall’s thoughts turned to Jason Maxwell again. From where she sat in the diner, she had a clear view of Outdoor Outfitters across the street, and she watched a steady stream of tourists go in and out of the store. It was certainly busy. Maybe getting a job there might be just the thing to help her forget about her ex-boyfriend.

Before she could change her mind, Kendall grabbed her shoulder bag and hurried across the street.

The store was bigger than she thought it’d be, its wide array of clothing, camping gear and skiing equipment encompassing not one, but two floors. She shouldn’t have been surprised. With its crystal clear lakes and snow-capped mountains, Copper Canyon was a favorite with outdoor enthusiasts. Obviously, Jason Maxwell was benefiting from that.

Rather than wait in the long line for the register, Kendall looked around, hoping to spot Jason. Would she even recognize him after all this time? She hadn’t seen him in ten years. For all she knew, her high school crush could have a sizeable paunch and a receding hairline by now. The image made her frown.

“Can I help you find something?”

Kendall turned to see a teenage girl standing there. Athletic, with curly, red hair and freckles, she wore jeans along with a navy blue T-shirt that bore the name Outdoor Outfitters in the upper left-hand corner.

“I’m looking for Jason Maxwell,” Kendall said.

“Oh.” The redhead jerked her head toward the back of the store. “He’s in his office. Follow me.”

The girl led Kendall through the store to a door marked Employees Only. “Wait here. I’ll go get him for you.”

As Kendall stood there beside the racks of fishing poles waiting for the girl to come back, she realized she was nervous about seeing Jason again. Would he recognize her? Heck, would he even remember her?

Before she could speculate on an answer to either of those questions, the door opened and the girl came out, followed by a tall, well-built and even-better-looking-than-she had-remembered Jason Maxwell. One look into those gorgeous blue eyes and she felt like she was back in high school again. Jeans and a plaid shirt had never looked so damn sexy on a guy.

As he took in her long, blonde hair, gray eyes, and slender figure, Kendall thought she saw a flicker of recognition in his blue eyes, but she couldn’t be sure.

“Can I help you?” he asked.

Kendall wet her suddenly dry lips. “I don’t know if you remember me, but we went to high school together—Kendall Merriweather.”

He hesitated, as if trying to remember her, then nodded. “Oh, yeah. Your parents own the campground near the lake, right?”

A little hurt that the only thing her high school crush could seem to remember about her was that her parents owned a campground, Kendall nodded. “I heard you were looking to hire some extra help, and was wondering if the job was still available.”

Jason folded his arms across his broad chest and regarded her speculatively. “It is. But I usually hire high school kids for this kind of thing. I mean, it pays okay for what it is—stocking shelves and working the register—but it’s not like you’re going to make a career of it or anything. And there aren’t any benefits to speak of, unless you count all the live bait you can use.”

Make a career of it? She hoped not. “Actually, I’m just back in town for a while and could use the extra money. You can keep the live bait.”

He chuckled. “Have you ever worked in a store before?”

She gave him a smile. “Does the college bookstore count?”

“That’s good enough for me.”

Her smile broadened. “Does that mean I got the job?”

“If you want it.” He flashed her a grin. “I could use another adult around here anyway.”

After filling out the usual employment paperwork, Kendall left the store with a stack of navy blue Outdoor Outfitter T-shirts in hand. One thing was for sure. If working at the store didn’t help get her mind off Keith, having a boss as gorgeous a Jason would.

* * * * *

Jason couldn’t believe it when he’d walked out of the back to find Kendall Merriweather standing there. He’d heard she was back in town—hell, he’d spent the past two days trying to figure out a way to run into her without looking like he’d meant to—but there she was, wearing a tank top and snug-fitting jeans that reminded him why he’d lusted after her in high school. As if he needed reminding. She’d always been pretty, but now that her slender figure had all those lush curves, she was a complete and total knockout.

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