Yellowstone Deception(7)By: Peggy L Henderson
“Is the girl here?”
Dan frowned. He’d only answered the call because he thought it might have been Jana, wondering what was keeping him. He was already late. Tourists at the visitor center had him detained way after his shift, and he’d told Jana he’d pick her up at seven. It was well past that time already.
Dan clenched his jaw, and dropped his pants to the floor. “Yeah, she’s here,” he answered slowly.
“And? Is she going to help you?” The voice at the other end sounded much too eager.
“I’m not sure yet.” Dan drew his eyebrows together.
“Well, just use your charm and good looks to win her over. She’s not married, is she? Or has a boyfriend?”
Dan paused. He didn’t remember seeing a ring on her finger. “No, I don’t think so.” The thought bothered him. It wasn’t something he’d even considered before. He was fairly sure she wasn’t married, but did Jana have a boyfriend? Maybe if she did, she would have brought him along. If she were his girlfriend, he certainly wouldn’t let her rush off to meet another man a thousand miles away.
“Well, then it should be no problem. Remember, your future depends on this.”
Dan clenched and unclenched his jaw, running a hand through his damp hair. He yanked open the drawer of the nightstand next to his bunk, pulling out a fresh pair of boxers. The caller was getting on his nerves. Dan was well aware what was at stake here. He didn’t need to be reminded. He inhaled deeply, and expelled the air through his mouth, then ran his hand through his hair. “Yeah, I know,” he said slowly. “I gotta go.”
Dan didn’t wait for a reply. He tapped the disconnect button on his phone and stared out the window, absorbing the tranquility of the lodgepole pines beyond his barrack. Here at least, at the residential compound for the seasonal rangers, things were relatively quiet, as opposed to the city-like hustle and bustle around the commercialism of the Old Faithful visitor area.
Last summer, he’d been assigned to Canyon. He much preferred it there, even though it was also a busy tourist hub. Here at Old Faithful, it was even worse. He’d applied for a backcountry ranger position for the last three years in a row, but hadn’t been successful in landing one of those coveted positions. Four months of complete solitude, living in a cabin miles and miles away from anyone, would be a dream come true, almost as good as landing a full time ranger position.
Dan heaved a sigh. If things went the way he hoped, he just might get to experience peace and solitude real soon. His heart rate accelerated at the idea. To go back in time, live like his ancestors for a few days, or a few weeks. It all seemed too good to be true. And once he came back to this time, his future here in the park would be secure.
Quickly, he pulled on his boxers, jeans, and a green t-shirt, and ran a comb through his hair. For a moment, he stared at his reflection in the small mirror hanging over the equally small bathroom sink.
You’re nervous, Osborne. He grinned and shook his head. Hell, yeah he was nervous. The last time he remembered his heart pounding faster, thinking about going out with a girl, had been seven years ago when he asked Cindy Weston to the senior prom. This was a different nervous, he told himself firmly. Everything was riding on convincing Jana to help him find that time travel device.
Dan chuckled, and pulled his well-worn hiking boots on. When was the last time he’d gone out on a date? He didn’t have time for dating. Or the money. He was up to his eyeballs in student loans, and in a major that didn’t guarantee him a well-paying job later on. Girls wanted to be wined and dined, and he couldn’t afford that. He couldn’t remember the last girl who held his interest for more than a couple of dates. Until now. He hadn’t even actually gone out with Jana, but he hadn’t been able to get her out of his mind for the entire two months since he met her, and that had never happened to him before.
Most of the girls he’d dated in college could never see themselves with a guy whose idea of an exciting date was a weekend backpacking trip into the Yellowstone interior. The majority of the female seasonal rangers he met were either in relationships, or lived too far away once the summer was over to consider dating any of them.