Home > Mistletoe and Mr. Right (Moose Springs, Alaska #2)(14)

Mistletoe and Mr. Right (Moose Springs, Alaska #2)(14)
Author: Sarah Morgenthaler

Lana’s father, Langston, was almost—almost—the powerhouse his wife was. The fact that both were on this call had everyone sitting up straighter.

“I might be on a delay.” Her father’s voice was the same calm, authoritative baritone that commanded the attention of those around him. “We’re flying near the Andes.”

Of course he was. Because it only made sense for her mother to be in Chicago while her father was somewhere in between Buenos Aires and Lima. Next week, he’d be in New York, and she’d be in Paris. The following week? No one knew except their assistants.

Even though her parents loved each other, Lana never understood a life where the person you were supposed to come home to was always thousands of miles away.

“We’re discussing Lana’s pet project and how much her current level of distraction is costing the company in man-hours,” race car Killian informed her father in a lazy drawl.

“Woman-hours, dearest.” Lana knew he was teasing her but was unable to keep from rising to his bait. “And I’m handling my business fine. Good morning, Father.”

He was a man who rarely showed his feelings, but she knew him well enough to know the watch on his wrist was a birthday present from her when she was seven. The tie was from her mother last Christmas. The affection was there. They just struggled to show it to one another.

“Lana, Jessica.” Langston nodded, his sharp mind focusing instantly on the heart of the problem even from half a world away. “Lana, tell me why you’re physically in Moose Springs. All this could be handled remotely.”

Rattling off her many responsibilities was easy. Convincing her parents someone else wasn’t equally fit to cover those responsibilities was harder. By the time her father’s plane began to descend in altitude on approach to Lima, she was ready to throw her hands up in disgust.

“It’s the holidays,” Lana said, her tone indicating she wasn’t willing to discuss this anymore. “No one is doing much until the start of the fiscal year. I’m going to stay and attend to affairs in Moose Springs until Christmas, then I’ll reevaluate where I’m needed by the first.”

“They must really like you in this place,” Travis said, tapping his pen against the side of his laptop.

Race car Killian almost managed to cover his laugh. “Something like that,” he said.

He’d spent time in Moose Springs too, and he was more than aware of Lana’s lack of supporters in town.

As soon as the video call ended, Lana’s laptop immediately pinged with a second—entirely expected—call. “Yes, Mother?”

“You look tired,” Jessica said. The words weren’t meant unkindly and instead were an expression of concern. Still, Lana forced herself to ignore an instinctive reaction to touch her hair in response to the comment.

“Really? I thought I’d paid the beautician enough to make sure I never look tired again,” Lana quipped. Free of other eyes, she leaned back in her chair. “Do you agree with them?”

“I agree your Moose Springs project is distracting you, which is a concern in the long run. We need you in the European markets. You know how well you and Killian work together.”

“Silas is doing fine.”

“Silas is a snot. If he sighed one more time, I was going to have Travis duct-tape his mouth shut.”

Lana laughed. “Someone needs to.”

“Did you meet someone?”

Lana blinked. “I’m sorry?”

“It would explain some things. I know you’ve always loved Moose Springs since we were there on vacation when you were a child, but you keep finding reasons to stay around. I don’t mind diversification of your portfolio, but these condominiums require very little hands-on attention. Your father and I think you may have met someone.”

Of course they did. Because they somehow always knew everything.

“I’m here for the town. This place is important to me, and I want to handle things right.” Lana drummed her pen against the desk, waited a moment, then admitted softly, “And I think ‘met’ is a strong word. I may have made a new friend in town, but as much as I travel, there’s no point in starting a relationship with anyone right now. It’ll just lead to disappointment and hard feelings.”

Jessica shrugged. “True. But it isn’t healthy to spend all your time alone. Casual dating isn’t the end of the world.”

“Zoey’s here now,” Lana added. “If I get lonely, I go bother her.”

“It’s not quite the same.” Intelligent eyes looked right through her, even from thousands of miles away. “This person isn’t Jackson Shaw, I’m hoping?”

“Oh goodness, no. He’s more overdramatic than Silas and runs through money worse than Killian.”

“Which Killian?” Jessica asked.

Groaning, Lana said, “Why? Why do they have to have the same name?”

“Because your father’s relatives are insane, darling.”

They shared a grin.

“So tell me more about this someone you’ve haven’t quite ‘met.’” Jessica leaned in, her interest piqued.

He was sweet. He was kind. He was really good at pool and really bad at meeting her eyes, but when he did…his were the prettiest eyes she’d ever seen. Lana opened her mouth to say it all, but she gave her mother a little smile instead.

“His name is Rick.”

Chapter 4

Jackson Shaw was new money.

As she sat across from him at a little bistro table in Dirty Joe’s, Lana hated that the thought had popped into her head. Her opinion of him wasn’t affected by his wealth, not in the least. But the reality was new money approached business differently than old money. At most, Jax was third generation and probably the first to have grown up thinking he could live off a trust fund. Unfortunately, business wasn’t good, and his parents had made mistakes with their investments. Whether he liked it or not, Jax had to work for a living.

Considering every Montgomery was put to work for the family business from the time they were old enough to stand, Lana didn’t have too much sympathy for him.

“Someone needs to take care of the penis,” he said. “It’s bothering the guests.”

Lana wasn’t buying that. “I’m surprised you have such little appreciation for snow art, Jax.”

She’d heard more than one comment about the penis on the mountainside, and after mulling it over, she said, “Most of the guests are convinced it’s a serious piece of art from a local artist.”

Jax rolled his eyes. “You’re kidding.”

Lana took a sip of her drink. “I don’t suppose you know how it got up there, do you?”

His smug smile was all the reply she needed.

She could easily believe Jax would be party to snow graffiti next to his own family’s business. What was harder to buy was the idea that Jax would invest the effort in creating it. Jax had access to the equipment needed for such endeavors, but he probably hadn’t put in a full day’s work in his life. Most likely the idea was his, and he’d outsourced the labor.

“Anyway,” Lana continued, resting her hand in her lap to hide the fact that it had started to tremor lightly. “I doubt the other guests are so prudish as to care. I’ve attended enough parties in your hotel to know a little debauchery isn’t uncommon.”

“The folks want to make a push toward being more family-friendly.” Jax shrugged one strong shoulder, his eyes flickering over the room. “I don’t make the rules around here, Lana. I only enforce them.”

Jax was a smart man and more than a little easy on the eyes. But he would rather be lounging in his flat in New York or drinking in town than sit in a business meeting. Which made keeping his focus on the matter at hand more than a little annoying.

Lana was very appreciative of Rick’s tip about Dirty Joe’s. They’d managed to procure a table, but the tiny coffee shop was constantly crowded with tourists and locals alike. It was beyond clear that allowing tourists into a business was the key to financial success in town. By the harried expressions of the baristas, it was also deeply stressful.

Apparently, when one was a business owner in Moose Springs, one could either drown in debt or drown in stress. There was no in between.

Every few minutes, someone would bump their arm or purse into Jax’s shoulder. Even though the accidental nudges were met with a “sorry, Jax” or a “hey, Jax,” she could tell that he was getting annoyed.

“Have you thought about my offer?” she asked, shifting away from snow art and back toward the reason for this meeting.

“The folks want at least four percent more for access to the resort amenities.”

“That’s five and a half percent higher than the standard.”

Jax sat back in his seat, an indulgent look on his face as he crossed his arms behind his head. His elbow was promptly bumped again, and Lana had to hide her amusement behind her drink.

“We’re not the ones with something to lose, honey,” he told her. “The guests are already coming here.”

Lana raised an eyebrow at the endearment but otherwise let it pass. “And when they aren’t anymore?”

He tilted his head, the smirk shifting to confusion. “Why would they stop?”

“Because it’s overcrowded, and the locals are dead set on keeping everything out. Do you see a fast food restaurant in sight? A gym?”

“There’s a gym at the resort.”

“In the basement? The one that hasn’t been updated in over twenty years, since the resort was built? It doesn’t count.”

“How do you know about that?”

“Because I stay here all the time, Jax. I have eyes. It was a clever idea, limiting access to indoor sports to encourage money spent on outdoor activities. But it backfired. People want a place to get their CrossFit on.” Lana took a sip of her coffee, recrossing her legs. “Trust me. There’s very little about this town I don’t know.”

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