I know it seems like a lot of rambling at the minute but it will get better and it will have a story. Please stick with it.
2. Maple Grove
Day dreaming was part of the job. Not that my Dad could really moan after all about two people every thirty minutes came to the desk and most of them wanted Darren the Concierge's help rather then mine. At least I got paid for it, even if 'family rates' as my Dad called it meant I didn't even scrape minimum wage. Well more fool him seeing as he was paying my way through college either way.
"You were right, the steak was very good. So what would you recommend for breakfast?" I looked up to see the odd boy from before standing in front of the reception desk. What was his name? Jacob, that was it, Jacob Black.
"Hi, Jacob right?" He nodded and smiled at me as he leaned against the counter; I noticed he was still wearing my father's clothes. "Well the bacon sandwich is to die for but if you're more of a cereal man the chocolate covered cornflake things are amazing."
"Chocolate covered cornflake things- the technical term." He laughed and I couldn't help laughing in agreement. "Don't worry you'll get your father's clothes back tonight. I'm going to get some new one's today if the town has any clothes shops."
"You'll be lucky." I snorted at the prospect of any decent shops in Pipers mount. I'd been born in the town, in this very inn, I loved it here but the town was the smallest place I'd ever known. We had an inn, a diner, a tourists shop, a small convenience store, a town hall (actually an old barn) and a florist. "But there is a bigger town just down the mountain about thirty minutes away. Maple Grove."
"Maple Grove? How come all these places have such..." He paused as he tried to think of the right word.
"I was going to put it nicer but yeah."
"We're trying to put Osama Bin Laden off moving here." An elderly women sitting in the reception area by the desk raised her eyebrows disapprovingly but Jake grinned at me.
"There was something else I was wondering but it's kind of cheeky." He refused to meet my eyes and began tapping his foot incessantly on the counter.
"Go for it."
"I want to stay here longer then I said yesterday. Maybe a few months but I can't afford it. So I thought I could work for my pay, you know odds and ends?"
"Yes definitely. I'll put you on the staff rota now although the people who own this place are right stooges- they'll only pay about minimum wage." Jacob wasn't the first person to ask for a job. Many bag packers came here and liked it so wanted to stay on. The rules were simple- if they look like dead beats, scroungers or bad news then say no but if they look decent and promising then I was to refer them to my Dad. Never, ever say yes but with Jacob the rules changed. He looked so broken and depressed; like he needed a break in life. I guess he reminded me of me.
"I thought you said your parents owned it here?"
"Oh they do. Look I need to go to Maple Grove for some school stuff. I could give you a lift?"
"You don't have to, you don't even know me."
"No but sometimes in life we all need a break. Plus I have a German shepherd so if you try anything he will eat you."
I met Jacob outside the Inn with my car and Cindy (I hadn't been kidding about my German shepherd) after his breakfast.
"He's sweet. Aren't you a good boy?" He bent down and scratched Cindy's head.
"Her name's Cindy."
"Sorry about the gender confusion Cindy." He laughed as he straightened up. "Oh my God a rabbit! I have this exact same car at home! I built it myself." His eyes took on this whole new animation that seemed to light up his entire face. He walked over to my car and rubbed its sides lovingly.
"Eh that old piece of junk." I shrugged but then took a step back at the appalled expression on his face.
"This car is a piece of art!"
"Right, then. Let's get going before I seriously regret offering the car freak a lift."
"Just because I appreciate good cars." He sighed as he got into the passengers seat. I drove through the familiar streets I couldn't help watching his expression as he looked at the small town. It made me wonder about where he came from.
"You come from a big city?"
"No, a place called La Push in Washington State. It's a Quileute reservation- total population about 700 people." I laughed at the thought of there being a place smaller then Piper's Mount. We sat silently as I navigated the sharp bends that led down the mountain and towards civilisation.
"You don't like it here do you?" He asked as he continued staring out the window.
"It's not that I don't like it here, it's my home but sometimes I want to be in a place where not everyone knows my name and my life story. Even in Maple Grove half the people know me. I want the anonymity of the big city."
"Anonymity is good." He agreed `with a sigh.
"Is that why you ran? To be in a place where no ones knows your story." He nodded before sighing again. "I tried to run away once, when it first happened but I only got as far as the train station when I realised it couldn't leave."
"I think you have to be it has to be a spur of the moment decision. I was in such a state when the wedding invitation came I just got up and left." He froze for a second, he'd obviously said more then he'd intended. I wanted to reach out and tell him it was all right: I had told too.
"Do you want to know the reason I gave you the job? You reminded me of myself. I think we gravitated towards each other because we need someone who understands how it feels." He nodded but still kept his eyes firmly on the road. "I hate it when they ask if you're okay twenty times a day and..."
"Look at you with those sympathetic eyes like you're such a loser."
"Exactly!" I nodded finally glad I had found someone who understood what it was like. A kindred spirit.
"Just sit there and read your mechanic magazine." I growled at Jacob as he tried to find another excuse to leave. "I haven't spent hours finding you clothes, shoes, toiletries and all that crap to let you walk around with your hair like that. Plus I want to have some pampering time upstairs."
"Ok, ok!" He threw his hands up in defeat and sat on the leather sofa in the reception area. "I do appreciate everything you've done for me."
"Aww you are so sweet." I laughed as I followed my hairdresser upstairs to the women's area.
"Now he was cute, much better then the old one who used to wait for you. What was his name again?" I sighed; I guess I should have seen it coming after all. Who wants privacy now a days anyway?
"Brad." Saying his name felt like a knife was twisting in my back and I was glad when she pulled out the chair for me to sit on. She tried to ask me more questions about Jacob and Brad but I stayed tight lipped. Unlike the women sitting beside me who was telling her hairdresser- and anyone in the vicinity- her entire life story including her messy divorce I preferred to keep my secrets private.
"You look lovely. Do you want to see the back?" The hairdresser showed me my new slightly shorter hair from the back before letting me stand up. "Pay downstairs and I'll see you next month. Have fun!" She giggled in an unusually high, peppy voice.
"Oh my God!" I giggled as I stared in disbelief at Jacob's new, short hairstyle. He looked so different in his new clothes and new hair- almost civilised.
"You don't look too bad yourself." He smiled and went to open the door for me but my eyes were glued on someone else. He was sat in the barbers chair facing away from me but the blond locks were impossible not to recognise.
"You ok, Red?" Jacob's hand on my arm brought me out of the trance.
"I have to go." Was all I said before I raced out of the shop with the receptionist yelling that I hadn't paid.
"What the hell happened in there?" Jacob asked as he came rushing after me and grabbing my arm, spinning me around where he could see I was crying. "Red? Was it something to do with the blond guy?"
"That was THE guy. That was Brad."