Not Really the Outdoor Type

By: Paige Tyler

Chapter One



Kendall Merriweather had been in town less than a week and she was already going stir crazy. Maybe she should have dipped into her savings and gone to a therapist instead. It was what everyone else in LA did. After getting dumped by her boyfriend and losing her job—in the same day, no less—, heaven knew she could probably use a psychiatrist. But she’d thought going back home to lick her wounds in Copper Canyon, Idaho where she’d grown up would be more therapeutic than talking to a shrink who’d charge her two-hundred-and-fifty dollars an hour. Silly her.

On the upside, her parents were thrilled to have her home, regardless of why she was there. She almost hadn’t told them the reason behind her visit, but they loved her so there was no embarrassment in admitting she’d been “let go” from her job because the advertising agency had downsized to “meet current market conditions.” Her mom and dad been more than supportive, even insisting she use one of the cabins they rented out to tourists so she could have privacy. The only problem was that it also gave her lots of time alone to sit around and pine over Keith, damn him. Even after two weeks, it still hurt to think about the break-up. Maybe because she’d been so blindsided by the whole thing. One day, Keith was asking her to move in with him, and the next he was telling her things were moving too fast and that he needed “space.”

What the hell?

She groaned inwardly. Maybe if Copper Canyon had more than a mini-mart, hardware store and laundromat, she’d have something else to occupy her time. Okay, so maybe that was exaggeration. The town did have a bowling alley. And a diner.

She chewed on her lip, watching the waitress pour coffee for a man seated at the counter. Tucking her long hair behind her ear, Kendall looked across the table at her two friends.

“Do you think this place might need some extra help? Like another waitress, I mean.”

Gabby Ryan stared at her in surprise. Dark-haired and petite, Gabby had been her best friend since kindergarten, and even though Kendall had left Copper Canyon and moved to LA after high school, they talked or emailed each other almost every day. If anyone knew Kendall, it was Gabby. Which, now that she thought about it, was probably why her friend was looking at her like that.

“Why do you ask?”

“Because I’m thinking of getting a job while I’m here.”

Gabby lifted a brow. “As a waitress?”

“Why not?” Kendall frowned. “I did it in college…”

“And hated it from what you told me.”

Kendall couldn’t argue with that. She was definitely not made for the food service industry. Waiters and waitresses deserved every tip they got, and then some. That work was hard. “I know, but I need something to do or I’m going to go insane. Besides, I could use the money.”

“Outdoor Outfitters is looking for help, if you’re interested.”

Kendall glanced at the other girl sitting in the booth beside Gabby. Maryann Conners had moved to Copper Canyon with her family during their freshman year of high school. She’d hated it at first, but after a few weeks, the redhead had completely fallen in love with the place. Or maybe she’d just fallen in love with the captain of the football team. Either way, she hadn’t left after graduation.

Kendall sipped her iced tea. “Outdoor Outfitters?”

She’d seen the town’s newest store, but hadn’t gone inside yet. No reason to, since the great outdoors really wasn’t her thing. And Copper Canyon was smack in the middle of the great outdoors. Yet another reason not to like the town.

Maryann nodded. “I think it’s pretty much just stocking shelves and working the register, but at least it’s something to do.”

“You left out the best part, Maryann. That Jason Maxwell is the owner.” Gabby gave Maryann a sidelong glance. “Kendall had a huge crush on him in high school.”

Maryann blinked at Kendall in astonishment. “You did? I never knew that.”

“Kendall was very good at hiding it.” Gabby grinned. “From everyone but me, of course. Every time Jason walked by, I’d look over at Kendall, and there she’d be, gazing at him longingly over the pile of books in her arms.”

Kendall blushed. “I did not!”

Gabby snorted. “Come on. You practically drooled over the guy.”

Kendall opened her mouth, but then closed it. Gabby was right. Despite the fact that high school had been a lifetime ago, thoughts of Jason Maxwell still had the ability to bring a rush of color to her cheeks. Tall, with dark hair and the most beautiful blue eyes she’d ever seen, Jason had been the cutest guy in school, not to mention one of the most popular. She always hoped he’d ask her out, but he didn’t, and by the time senior year rolled around, she’d been too preoccupied with college and the prospect of getting out of Copper Canyon to think about him much. She’d always wondered what he’d done after graduation. Now, she knew.

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