Status Update(5)

By: Annabeth Albert



He straightened his shoulders, pressing his back into the edge of the wooden picnic table. Trent had to be coming back. Adrian dialed his number again, but it went straight to voice mail. He left another angry “Call me this minute” message, then thumbed through his messages. Nine zillion work emails, all reminding him of the mess waiting for him after his vacation. Nothing from Trent, not that he was expecting him to text an apology.

“Some vacation, huh, baby?” he said to Pixel. “Next time, you and me are going to an island. Just us.”

A deep chuckle cut into Adrian’s monologue. “That would certainly be warmer.”

Great. Now you look even more pathetic. Noah stepped down from his RV, holding a blanket, an expectant look on his face.

“I’m sure Trent’s already on his way back.” Adrian tried to sound way more confident than he felt. Damn it, he was not the kind of guy who got into these situations. Well, okay, clearly he was, but he didn’t have to like looking helpless in front of Mr. Outdoors.

Noah looked totally ready for the climate in a parka and hiking boots and a pair of those camping pants with all the pockets. His closely cropped beard and plaid shirt only added to his very well-kept mountain-man air. And he didn’t seem any too thrilled to be rescuing him. A frown creased his face as he tossed the blanket.

“I brought you a blanket. I’m going to go hunt down Billy. It’s already dark. You can’t sit there all night.” Noah leaned down to give Ulysses a pat. The dog kept tugging on his leash, no doubt eager to play with Pixel, who was wriggling to get down. Adrian was in no such hurry to go search out the elderly campground manager.

He’d met Billy when they’d checked in, and the man had pulled a two-tequila-no-chaser sour face when he’d realized Adrian and Trent were a couple. No doubt the man would be only too happy to be rid of them.

“I should wait here. I’m sure this is all a misunderstanding. All my stuff’s in the RV. He’s got to come back.”

Noah gave him a skeptical look and gestured at Adrian’s phone. “I’d be canceling my credit cards.”

“I trust Trent,” Adrian lied. He didn’t need to air all his misgivings to this guy.

“Suit yourself. I’ll be back.” With that, Noah strode away.

Adrian snuggled into the blanket, creating a little nest for Pixel and covering up his frozen feet. He rubbed them, trying to get a little circulation back.

His brain felt equally frozen, clogged with too many conflicting thoughts and feelings. Instead of using the time to cancel his cards or to call his family, Adrian got involved in a work discussion over email—talking about misbehaving octagons and things failing to render was so much better than thinking about what an epic mistake he’d made with Trent.

Beep. Beep. The battery warning signal sounded. Craptastic. He’d forgotten how fast his battery drained out here.

Looking up, he saw Noah headed back to the site, dark hair ruffled by the cool breeze. He was probably eight or ten years older than his own twenty-five, but he was a good-looking man. Not hot as much as classically handsome—the sort of long regal nose and deep-set eyes in a narrow face that gave him an almost aristocratic air despite the beard and rugged clothing. And he was almost certainly straight and Adrian had only been broken up with Trent for a whole half hour, so he had no business cataloging Noah’s appeal. Ulysses pulled at the leash, looking far more eager to see Adrian than his owner. And that wasn’t saying much seeing as how the dog was rather standoffish—curious, but not playful.

“Billy’s gone for the evening. I was going to have him take you into Green River, but he’s already there. Business’s been so slow, he left a note on the door of the house. Said he’d check in new arrivals in the morning. Too darn trusting, that man.” Noah looked right at Adrian as he said that last bit.

Okay, message received. Did everyone have to have an opinion about Adrian’s taste in men?

“He can just leave like that?” Adrian asked.

“There’s a whole six vehicles here. It’s winter. Most of the RV places nearby are closed for the season. This isn’t exactly a high-class joint.” Noah gestured. The campground was on the outskirts of the national park, more amenable to long-term campers like Noah, but close enough to attract the park tourists like Adrian too.

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