Free Spirit

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Chapter 15

Alexis

I rolled over, stretching with a satisfied moan when I glanced at the clock. Eleven was a respectable time to get up. We didn’t have anything planned that morning, so Paddy agreed to let me sleep in.

Things had been a bit weird between us since his confession on the bird-watching trip the day before. When we returned to the lodge, I spent the evening watching movies and playing board games with Lucy and Cleo in their suite. Madeline was out until almost midnight. When she returned, she had the unmistakable after sex glow and rumpled look of someone who’d had the balls put to her.

The thought of seventy-somethings doing the horizontal tango was high on my cringe radar. But I was happy for them. Old people should fuck on the regular. With the lights out though. I shivered at the unwelcome images that popped into my head.

Paddy and his new best buddy, Osk, went on a nighttime owl hike with the bird slut. If it was just the three of them, I would’ve been pissed. But ten other guests went, eliminating any chance of a middle of the woods threesome.

I showered and dressed before heading to the main lodge to find Paddy. It was creepy walking through the woods alone, even in the daytime. Arthur walked me back to the cabin the night before. There was no way I was going by myself in the middle of the night. It wasn’t dark, but it was twilighty. The perfect atmosphere for a serial killer to jump out of the bushes and grab me.

The lodge was a hub of activity, with wedding guests milling about, getting ready to go off on whatever adventures they had planned for the day.

I spotted Paddy sitting on a sofa by the massive fireplace. But he wasn’t alone. Bird girl was with him! They were looking at something on his phone and laughing. Eliza’s hair was loose, her gorgeous red locks tumbling over her shoulders. She was a very pretty girl. And she was snuggled up to my man.

Paddy was there as my boyfriend. How embarrassing! Just because I wasn’t present, that didn’t mean he was allowed to step out of his role. This was a private function. Every person staying at the lodge was a wedding guest. Paddy was on duty whenever he left our cabin.

I spun on my heel and darted out a side door before they saw me. Tears flooded my eyes, my confused heart aching as I ran through the woods.

Miles and Hannah were staying in an A-frame cottage that overlooked the lake. They were probably in bed. I understood they were on their honeymoon, and trying to get pregnant, but they could’ve made an appearance once in a while.

I climbed the steps and rapped on the glass of the patio door. Miles appeared, looking freshly showered, his trademark spiky hair perfectly coiffed.

He opened the door, cocking a brow when he took in my tear stained face. “Is everything okay?” he asked when I pushed past him.

“Is Hannah here?”

“She’s in the shower.”

“I really need to talk to her.”

“Have a seat,” he offered, gesturing to the black leather sofa.

I plunked down, picking at some loose polish on my thumb.

“What did Osk do?” Miles asked with a heavy sigh.

“Osk didn’t do anything,” I replied, glancing up at my new brother-in-law. He was leaning against the door frame with his arms folded, studying me with a concerned frown.

“Can I give you some advice, Alexis?”

“Sure,” I said slowly, glancing toward the stairs. I could still hear the shower running. Hannah wasn’t coming down anytime soon.

“Forget about Osk.”

“That’s your great advice?” I laughed. “I guess Dear Abby doesn’t have to worry about you taking her job.”

“I’m a man of few words,” he muttered with a shrug.

“You’re a songwriter!”

“Osk is never gonna make a commitment to a woman.”

“He’s committed to Silicone Princess! She’s his girlfriend.”

“Silicone Princess?” he chuckled.

“Yeah. We don’t know her name. Do you?”

“No idea.” He sat down in the chair across from me, stretching out his long legs. “I doubt he’s honouring any so-called commitment he may or may not have agreed to with her. In fact, I know he isn’t.”

“They have an open relationship.”

“And she’s okay with that?”

“Apparently. She knew he was sleeping with me. He just didn’t bother to tell me about her.”

“I wonder if she knows he fucked a tour guide last night.”

“What tour guide?”

“Some chick that took him on a nighttime owl hike. Dean’s wife was on the tour. She said they were flirting the entire time. And Osk told Lance he fucked her.”

“They probably had a threesome. Osk’s girlfriend keeps pestering me to have one. And she asked Paddy if he was interested.”

“I don’t think she knows. Osk asked Lance to cover for him.”

“That’s not good,” I said, relieved to know Osk was keeping the red-headed slut busy and away from Paddy.

Shit.

Did I just decide I wanted Paddy?

“Oh boy,” I mumbled to myself.

“What?”

“Nothing.”

Miles frowned when I stood up. “I thought you wanted to talk to Hannah?”

“I did. I do.” I flopped back down, my mind buzzing as it tried to make sense of my epiphany.

“Are you okay, Alexis?”

“No,” I whispered.

“I’m a pretty good listener.”

“You are that,” I agreed.

I’m sitting in a cabin with a famous rock star. In the middle of nowhere in Alaska. He married my sister. And now he’s giving me advice on my love life. I’ve just come to the realization that I want to fuck Paddy. And it’s about more than just sex. If that’s all I wanted, I would be in Osk’s bed right now.

“You look a little pale,” Miles observed with a knowing grin.

“I’m waiting to wake up from this crazy dream. I must’ve slept in Cleo’s bed, surrounded by posters of you. There’s no way any of this is real.”

“Hey, Lex,” Hannah called out as she descended the stairs.

“You married Reefer?”

“Yes,” she said slowly, crinkling her brow. “Did you bring a stash of Daisy’s brownies with you?”

“No.” Paddy’s parents liked to indulge in a little pot from time to time.

“You have that same glazed look you get when you’re high.”

“I’m not high,” I snapped.

“I think your sister just realized it’s not Osk’s cock she wants,” Miles explained. “It’s a certain mortician who’s got her all hot and bothered.”

“It’s about time,” Hannah chuckled.

“I’m so confused,” I admitted.

“Paddy is a great guy,” she said, sitting next to me and pulling me in for a hug. “And he loves you.”

“It would never work between us. And I’d end up losing my best friend.”

“Why?”

“Because we want different things.”

“When you fall in love, your priorities change. Things you thought you never wanted, you might find yourself yearning for.”

“I’m not going to turn into a baby factory.”

“Nobody is asking you to, Lex,” she said softly. “Just open your heart and your mind, and let him love you. Everything else will fall into place naturally.”

“I suppose.”

“I can’t believe Paddy convinced you to go on the crazy bear trip,” she said.

“Me either.”

“What time do you leave?”

“Three.”

“Dean and his wife are going,” Miles said. “Lance too, I think.”

“It doesn’t make sense,” Hannah said, shaking her head. “They instructed us on how to avoid bears, and gave us bear spray, but they’ll take their guests hiking to look for bears.”

“I don’t know,” I laughed. “I want Paddy to enjoy himself, so I’m trying to be flexible. But you’re right. Looking for bears isn’t really my cup of tea.”

“You’ll be fine,” Miles said. “I’m sure the guides are wilderness experts.”

“I certainly hope so.”




“We’re going on a seaplane?!” I whined when the bear hike people led our small group down to the dock.

“That’s our only mode of transportation up here,” the guide explained.

“I thought we were hiking.”

“We are. But the bear viewing spots are not within walking distance. We’re actually going to an island that is heavily inhabited with brown bears.”

“An island?”

“What if we’re chased by a bear?” Silicone Princess piped up. “How will we get away? Jump in the water?”

“Greg and myself are very experienced guides,” he explained. “I’m Gavin, by the way. And we both grew up in the Alaskan interior. You’re safe with us.”

I didn’t know they were coming until they showed up at the meeting spot in the lobby. Paddy and Osk were deep in conversation about birds on the walk down to the lake. He’d barely said two words to me since I interrupted his snuggle session with Eliza. I couldn’t believe it when I returned to the lodge from Hannah’s cabin, and they were still there. At least the bird slut wasn’t coming on the tour.

“Are you excited?” Paddy asked once we were settled in our seats on the float plane.

“If you wanna sit with your new best friend, go ahead,” I muttered, fiddling with my seatbelt.

“I want to sit with you, Alexis,” he informed me. “And I want to enjoy this amazing, once in a lifetime experience with you.”

“Why? I’m no fun.”

“Stop it,” he warned. “You’re lots of fun when you want to be.”

“I’m sorry,” I whispered. “I promise not to ruin this for you, Paddy.”

He smiled before leaning in to press a soft kiss to my lips, waking up my sleepy vag. She hadn’t had much action lately, and she was jonesing for a fix in the form of a big cock.

I grabbed the back of Paddy’s head, pushing my tongue past his lips. He responded with some tongue action of his own, his fingers skating over my rib cage as he took control of the kiss.

“Wow,” I panted when we came up for air.

“Paddy Wagon,” Osk moaned. “Keep it in your pants, dude. Not everyone on this plane enjoys porn.”

I stared out the window as the plane lifted off the lake, climbing slowly until we reached enough altitude to soar over the trees and mountaintops.

“Alaska is beautiful, eh?” Paddy whispered, resting his chin on my shoulder.

“It sure is.”

We landed on the bluest lake I’d ever seen. The calm water lapped softly against the rocky shoreline when the float plane glided in next to the dock. A bald eagle swooped down, dipping his beak below the surface to search for his dinner.

“We need to go over a few rules before we get off the plane,” Gavin announced. “First and foremost, do not wander off on your own. Please listen carefully while we’re hiking to the platforms, and follow any directions we give. It’s for your own safety.”

“Do not feed the bears,” Greg said. “If you encounter a bear, keep your distance. If you don’t bother them, they won’t bother you. They’re used to humans on this island. Never get between a mother and her cub.”

I glanced nervously into the trees as we followed the guides down the well-worn trail. And I didn’t believe their bullshit about the bears not bothering us. Why did they have rifles then?

“Relax,” Paddy whispered, capturing my hand. “I won’t let you get eaten by a bear.”

“What are you gonna do?” I snorted.

“Protect you, baby,” he said. “I’d sacrifice myself to save you.”

“You would not,” I laughed.

“I would so,” he said, his expression dead serious.

“Don’t be getting any ideas,” Osk grumbled to his girlfriend. “I’m not being a bear’s dinner for anyone. If a bear comes out of those woods, it’s every man for himself.”

“I know,” she scoffed. “You already tried to sacrifice me to a moose.”

“Fucking right,” he muttered. “That mother fucker wanted to gore me with his antlers.”

The viewing platform was basically just a big deck with a railing. No real protection against a hungry bear. We climbed up and gazed out across the clearing.

“Where’s the bears?” I whispered.

“Patience, Alexis,” Paddy sighed.

“There,” Dean said quietly, pointing to the tree line.

I watched as the gorgeous brown creature emerged from the forest, glancing toward us with casual indifference before she ambled to the stream and reached a massive paw into the water.

“What are those treehouses for?” I asked, glancing behind us.

“Overnight tours,” Greg explained.

“People come here and spend the night?”

“They sure do,” he said.

“What stops the bears from climbing the trees and eating them?” Silicone Princess asked.

“As long as you keep all food secured, they won’t bother you,” Gavin said. “It’s no different than sleeping in a tent, except you have wooden walls instead of canvas.”

After three hours of watching bears, I was done. Short attention span and all. I mean, a bear is a bear. Seen one, seen them all. But apparently nobody else shared my viewpoint, because they all expressed disappointment when Gavin announced that it was time to head back to the plane.

The bright sunshine disappeared behind the thick cloud cover rolling in, making it downright chilly on the hike back to the dock. A heavy fog blanketed the lake.

“That rolled in outta nowhere,” Gavin muttered, glancing at Greg with a look of concern.

“Sit tight, folks,” Greg said, pulling out his radio. “It’s too foggy to fly right now.”

“What are we gonna do?” I whispered to Paddy, the first twinges of panic niggling in my gut.

“I’m not sure,” he said, staring up at the sky.

“Well, guys,” Greg called out. “The tower says no more flights tonight. Fog is too thick. Looks like we’re gonna be spending the night in the treehouses.”

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