Home > Choose Me (The Lindstroms #4)

Choose Me (The Lindstroms #4)
Author: Katy Paige

CHAPTER 1

 


Lars Lindstrom had drawn the short straw.

It was a feather in the cap of Lindstrom & Sons to be contracted by Trend magazine for such a high-end job, but the fact that Lars was saddled with picking up some lowly assistant at the Bozeman airport and chauffeuring her around all weekend while she did errands and whatnot was infuriating. He was a capable tour guide with sought-after park expertise, not a glorified taxi driver.

At thirty years old, Lars had been working with his father and older brother for over a decade, and both would agree that Lars knew Yellowstone better than anyone. Almost as if Lars and Yellowstone had a personal, symbiotic understanding, the park cooperated with him in ways that it didn’t for other tour guides, who often surrendered their business to the Lindstroms without a fight:

You’d like to see grizzlies? Lars Lindstrom will know where they are.

Wolves? Yup. Lars Lindstrom again.

Looking for hidden waterfalls? Look up Lars Lindstrom when you get to Gardiner; he’ll hook you up.

Part of this expert knowledge was due to the sheer number of hours Lars spent in the park, familiarizing himself with every nook and cranny in the northern parts, particularly around the Grand Loop. But it was more than that: his connection to the park felt visceral, palatable. Like the tree in the children’s story The Giving Tree, the park almost seemed to want to please Lars as much as possible, in exchange for Lars’s sheer love for it.

With the park as his partner, Lars grew adept at leading tours throughout his adolescence into adulthood, careful to ensure a sense of adventure without compromising safety. He was requested specifically for corporate fishing tours—ice and fly—which he handled with equal savvy. He was also the tour guide of choice for the all-female groups…especially since his little brother Erik had gotten hitched and moved away to Kalispell.

Still, despite everything Lars offered to Lindstrom & Sons, he was continually relegated to what he considered the drudgework, and he blamed this on two factors, one static, and one long past due for review. He was the youngest employee, which he couldn’t do a thing about, but more irritating to Lars was that his father and older brother, Nils, each owned forty-five percent of the business. That left Lars, who was a teenager when the original papers were drawn up, a paltry ten percent.

It smarted to be treated as the youngest when in fact he wasn’t the youngest of his siblings. And while his salary was good, his stake wasn’t, and it bothered him. He was treated like the lowest man on the totem pole because, well, that’s exactly what he was.

Lars glanced out the window of the van, following the signs for Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport. He knew the way by heart. Not more than a week of his life in the past ten years had been spent without at least one trip to or from Boze to pick up or drop off tourists. There was no public transportation from Bozeman to Gardiner, which worked to the Lindstroms’ benefit. If you wanted to get to Yellowstone from the airport, hiring the Lindstroms for a transfer was a good way to go.

“Heya, John.”

Lars waved to the gate attendant at the short-term parking lot, stopping the van to exchange hellos.

“Heya, Lars. Who’ya got coming in today? More pretty girls?”

“Nah, not today. But, one very pretty girl coming in soon. You ever heard of Samara Amaya?”

“Who hasn’t? Dated the Viking’s QB last season, right?”

Lars nodded, grinning. “That’s the one. She’s coming to do a magazine photo shoot in the park, and guess who’s in charge of getting Miss Amaya everywhere she needs to go?”

“Lucky Lars, I’d wager.”

“You got it!”

“What I wouldn’t give to have your job, brother. She’s smokin’ hot.”

“Tell me about it.” He winked at John, who chuckled. “But, I’m a professional.”

“So, who’s comin’ in today?”

“Location assistant. Gotta babysit her until Miss Amaya gets here. She comes early to get everything set up, I guess. You wouldn’t believe the kind of things these famous people ask for. Water cooled to such and such a temperature. Organic, no-salt peanut butter and Hendrick’s Gin. Like it would kill her if she had Jif and Beefeater. Goose-down pillows with no feathers.”

“Down without feathers? How do ya do that?”

“Beats me. Couldn’t stay in any of the local hotels either because they weren’t fancy enough. We had to rent a cottage for her and get it all fixed up. But with the kind of money she’s paying? I don’t ask questions.”

“You got that right. When you coming back for the supermodel? I’ll be sure I’m in the terminal getting a cup of coffee that day!”

“She’ll be here on Tuesday, after the long weekend.”

“Alrighty, then. Park it wherever you want, Lars. And have a good Labor Day weekend!”

“You too, John. Hope you see some fireworks!”

“I don’t know about me but it sounds like your fireworks are on the way!”

Lars saluted the parking attendant and pulled into the lot, but something about John’s parting words stuck around in Lars’s head.

Fireworks? With Samara Amaya? Talk about reaching for the stars. Lucky me, I’m just stuck with the location assistant.

Lars pulled into a parking space and cut the engine on the tourist van, resting his hands on the steering wheel in thought.

As much as he griped about the job of babysitting Miss Amaya’s assistant because it hurt his pride, this job intrigued him. Last night, he’d had a very vivid dream—one of those dreams that feels so real, you’re shocked when you wake up to find out it wasn’t. It faded quickly. He didn’t remember much—just a blurry-faced girl with dark hair, wearing a poodle skirt. She’d made him laugh—made him feel something more than attraction, something greater than lust. And he had woken up breathless, hard as a rock, confused by the realness and intimacy of the images, and melancholy to realize they weren’t real.

As he made his way through the parking lot to the terminal, he couldn’t shake the feelings brought on by the dream—like this was more than just a job, like it was something more important.

Rationally, he knew his intuition had nothing to do with Samara Amaya or her location assistant, but the timing of the job and the dream had gotten all mashed up together in his head today. He couldn’t help it. There was something that felt…possible about the dream. Almost as if—if Lars had believed in such nonsense—it was more of a premonition than a dream. His heart pounded a little faster as he walked through the sliding glass doors.

He checked his watch. 11:42. Her flight would arrive from New York in thirteen minutes, and then she would have to deplane and make her way down to baggage claim. He stopped in the men’s room to check himself out in the mirror, running his fingers through his short, thick blond hair and giving his reflection a wink and a winning smile before heading back out to the terminal. Assistant or not, she’d get the full Lindstrom & Sons treatment that Trend had booked and paid for, and that included Charming Lars, her flirty, friendly tour guide.

As he sauntered over to the escalator adjacent to the baggage carousel, he took the cardboard sign out of his back pocket and unfolded it. He looked down at the neatly penned sign in his hand, thinking “Jane Mays” was about as plain as a name could get, and shuttling her around for the next few days wasn’t exactly the stuff of fireworks.

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