Yellowstone Deception(6)

By: Peggy L Henderson



Jana groaned in frustration. Right now, she simply wanted to be back home, in her bed, and wake up from this nightmare. There would be no time traveling, no magical snake heads, no gorgeous mountain men from the past, or their equally gorgeous park ranger descendants. She and Aimee would go to work at the hospital each day, and plan their semi-annual backpacking trips.

Aimee had probably looked forward to those trips more than Jana, but her best friend’s sense of adventure had always been infectious. While Aimee was the bold and adventurous one, Jana was rather quiet and reserved. Too serious about everything, Aimee had always said. Smiling softly, she stared at the patterns on the wooden ceiling. Jana had certainly had a lot to say in Aimee’s defense months ago. Once, when confronting Zach Osborne at the hospital, after he came back from the past suddenly after forcing Aimee’s return to the twenty-first century. Aimee had been heartbroken after she was wrenched away from Daniel, and Jana remembered giving the old mountain man – Daniel’s father – a piece of her mind.

Another time Jana actually confronted Daniel Osborne himself. A rather unwise move, she thought now. If she hadn’t been so mad at the injustice dealt to Aimee when Daniel coldly rejected her and had accused her of lying to him, she would have realized that threatening a dark and formidable man like Daniel was not a good idea. Both times, Jana was defending her best friend. She knew without a doubt she would do anything for Aimee. Jana inhaled deeply and squeezed her eyes shut. How on earth am I supposed to help you now, Aimee?

Jana and Aimee had been best friends since early childhood. They complemented each other well. Aimee was pretty, outgoing, and popular with the boys. Everything seemed to always come natural to her. While Jana had her share of boyfriends in high school and college, she always felt it was more because she was Aimee’s friend. Aimee’s leaving had created a deep void in Jana’s life that she hadn’t been able to fill. Several break-ups with guys she had no interest in was all she had to show for her ten months of living on her own. She hadn’t even been able to get out of the city to do some hiking. The backpacking, the wilderness adventures, those were all Aimee’s passions. Not that Jana didn’t like the outdoors. She loved camping, hiking, doing all the crazy survival stuff Aimee enjoyed, but she wasn’t quite as passionate about it. She could just as easily find thrills and excitement sitting at a beach somewhere, soaking up the sun, reading a good book. In short, she was a boring person who liked doing boring things. She hastily swiped at a tear that rolled down the side of her face. She certainly lived an unexciting life now, since Aimee began her new life with Daniel.

Jana shook her head. Her quiet existence was certainly upended once again. The farfetched idea of going back in time didn’t scare her half as much as spending time with Dan Osborne. Chills of dread and apprehension ran down her spine. He was too ruggedly good-looking, and he was Aimee’s descendant. She couldn’t be attracted to him. It just seemed so . . . wrong.

Jana scoffed. She shouldn’t worry too much about it. Dan had only called her because of Aimee and the journal. Once they figured out what to do, if there was even anything they could do, she’d go back to her condo in California, and he would live his life in Yellowstone. Just like Aimee.

Jana squeezed her eyes shut, trying in vain to get the images of Dan’s heart stopping smile when he’d greeted her earlier out of her mind. Her palm where his thumb stroked her earlier began to tingle at the memory.

*****



Dan stepped out of the tiny shower that was no larger than a phone booth, and lifted a towel to his head, water running down his face and chest. The dull ring of his cellphone interrupted his attempt at drying off. He hastily wrapped the towel around his waist. His two roommates weren’t home yet, but just in case, he didn’t need to be running through the tiny barrack buck-naked. Pulling the door open to the bathroom that was barely the size of a closet, he stumbled to his room across the narrow hall. It took all of four strides from the bathroom, across the hall, and into his room to reach his bunk. Fumbling for his pants that he’d tossed on the floor earlier, he pulled his cellphone from the back pocket. “Yeah,” he answered, putting an end to the incessant ringing.

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