Dead Girl Running – Christina Dodd

Washington State’s Pacific Coast Yearning Sands Resort September of last year Before Priscilla Carter came to Yearning Sands to be the resort’s assistant manager, she supposed her life here would involve a blend of poetry, nature and wealth. She imagined long walks among the towering pines, evenings spent in the luxurious lobby, sipping a cocktail while watching the sun set across the restless Pacific, and a wealthy, interesting man who would catch sight of her and rush to her side, drawn by the rhapsody of their souls. That hadn’t happened. When a wealthy, interesting man did show up—and they did, on a regular basis, because Yearning Sands was a destination resort—he was usually married to someone smart, pretty and young. If a single guy caught her gazing at the sunset, he would inevitably tell her his room needed to be cleaned. Her two seemingly good prospects bought her a couple of drinks, gave her a quick grope and rushed for the finish line, and when she demanded romance and promises, they couldn’t be bothered. Every viable candidate treated her as if she was a slave, and not the kind they wanted to handcuff and spank and have wild sex with, either. More like a faceless vehicle who lived to make their lives easier. That was so not her. The man she considered her best prospect, actor Carson Lennex, had reported her brazen behavior to the resort owners. In forceful terms, Mr. Di Luca had reminded Priscilla that her role here was to assist Mrs. Di Luca, the resort’s manager. He’d used words like probation and trial period and suggested she might consider chasing her dreams elsewhere. Elsewhere? She didn’t have another position—or a runaway marriage—lined up.

So she went to work and got her chores done…mostly. Priscilla was in training to take over from Annie Di Luca when Annie had one of her sick spells— Annie was really old and suffered from rheumatoid arthritis—or when the Di Lucas went on one of their rare vacations. The main hotel building resembled a European castle with towers and turrets, and 592 rooms. Forty-eight cottages were scattered around the property. The resort hosted whale-watching tours and fishing expeditions off their dock, hiking trips to the nearby Olympic Mountains and expertly led scientific treks seeking local flora and fauna. They rented all-terrain vehicles, bicycles and small launches. They had four bars, twenty-seven miles of running paths and a beach access that led to the second-longest beach in Washington State. Luxury-inclined guests indulged in the infinity pool, the fine restaurants and the top-notch spa services. When the hotel was at capacity, they had two thousand guests, and ordering and organizing for the resort required hours and hours. Priscilla got tired and impatient and sourly commented that it seemed as if all of the guests were complaining all the time.

But surely no sane person could expect her to do it all and do it all with a smile. Apparently someone did, because that someone complained about her sullen attitude and Mr. Di Luca called her in again and gave her another tedious lecture about being polite to the guests and even the rest of the staff. Like they mattered. He made Priscilla so mad she couldn’t sleep. That was the night it happened. The resort had lodged her in a rustic cottage at the farthest end of the property, supposedly so when she was off duty, she’d have privacy. Priscilla suspected it was to keep the lowly employees away from the privileged guests. She went upstairs to the bedroom to try to sleep. No luck.

At midnight, she got up and poured a glass of wine. She went out to the front porch and paced and drank. She got another glass, sat in the porch swing and rocked and drank. She got madder. She put her foot up on the arm of the swing, looked at her silver toe ring, at the Celtic knot with a purple topaz. That ring was the only memento she had from her mother. It kept her safe. Finally, she abandoned the wine and headed along a path toward the beach, walking fast and angry and muttering curses on the entire Yearning Sands Resort staff. Off in the distance, she heard a motor, a boat on the ocean. Probably someone illegally fishing… But it wasn’t illegal fishing.

A person clad in dark clothing ran the path from the dock and toward the wind-warped pine the locals called the One-Finger Salute. Belated caution made Priscilla duck into a nearby pile of boulders. In the moonless night, she couldn’t see who it was or if the person was male or female. She only knew whoever it was bent to place a package at the base of the tree and then ran back to the dock. The motor started again and the boat raced away. She saw no one lurking in the darkness. Fueled by curiosity, recklessness and wine, she scurried to the tree and groped for the package. She found it in a shallow hole—an oblong box wrapped in paper. For its size, it was heavy; she knelt in the dirt and lifted it free. Hugging it to her chest, she got to her feet and ran toward her cottage.

She arrived out of breath and out-of-proportion excited, as if she had been given a late birthday present. She scurried inside, locked the door and hustled through the cottage, closing the blinds as she went. She climbed the stairs to the bedroom, turned on a lamp and placed the box on the bedside table. She stared at the dirt-smudged package and wondered what she had gotten herself into. Whatever this was, someone had smuggled it onshore in the middle of the night. Logically, someone was now scheduled to pick it up. So it was valuable, and she was an idiot for sticking her neck out to grab it. But her hopes of a rich husband had been crushed, she’d been working hard and gotten nothing for her labors but a reprimand, so why not open this in the hope of finding treasure inside? Tearing off the paper, she lifted the lid. Inside, she discovered Bubble Wrapped packages of various sizes, and when she unpacked the largest and heaviest, she discovered the red stone figure of a man squatting on his haunches, an immense penis protruding between his legs. She was so startled she dropped the grotesque thing.

It landed on the mattress, and she stood breathing hard. What was that? She opened another, smaller package and found a similar stone carving of a woman’s naked pregnant body. Then a series of broad-cheeked faces with glaring eyes and ferocious scowls. Finally, a flat stone carved with weird symbols. She lined everything up and looked at the hideous things. Someone was sneaking around for this? Her knees were wet and dirty for this? For a bunch of ugly rocks? She went into the bathroom and brushed her teeth. She intended to go to bed, damn it, go to sleep, and… Okay. Those statues looked old. They were worth something to somebody. One quick online search and she found photos of those very statues in an article about Central American tomb looting.

In Guatemala, armed thieves had held archaeologists at gunpoint and stolen statuary worth millions on the private collectors market. “Holy shit,” she whispered. She stared at the ugly statues lined up on her nightstand. Millions. She double-checked to make sure the blinds were tightly closed. One of the archaeologists claimed the symbols on the flat piece of stone were a tomb curse that had been chiseled out, and whoever possessed that would be doubly cursed. Yeah, sure. Cursed with money. She should turn this find over to the authorities. Maybe there was a reward.

Or maybe she’d be in trouble for…for stealing the statues. Millions. That meant someone around here was going to be plenty mad not to find the box by the tree. Better return these at once. Except…she’d never before been this close to anything worth millions. She deserved something for knowing about the smuggling and keeping her mouth shut. This was her opportunity. If she had the guts. Getting the resort stationery and the resort pen, she wrote, “Leave $2,000—” She threw that note away and started again. “Leave $5,000 in a—” She threw that note away.

She took a photo of the stolen tomb treasures. She printed the picture, put it in a plastic bag and wrote, “I know what they’re worth. Leave $25,000 in cash here in an envelope on Sept. 12. When I have the money, I’ll return the box to Ocean Notch Park beside the high schoolers’ painted rock.” She’d make the drop-off in broad daylight, on her way out of town, when there were people around. She’d be safe. She reread the note. The handwriting was shaky, but she sounded clear and tough. She knew the smuggler—who could it be?—would follow directions.

Because…millions. All she had to do was put the letter in the bag with the photo, return to the tree and drop them off, and not get caught by someone who… Briefly, she shivered. Someone who might be violent. She would not chicken out. Better do it now. She donned dark clothes, pulled a dark wool hat over her blond hair and ran in a crouch back to the tree. She put the plastic bag in the hole at the base and a rock on top of it. She raced back to her cottage, and every moment she felt the back of her neck crawl. When she was inside, she locked the doors, checked the rooms, sat on the bed and stared at the collection of statues. They stared back, solemn, angry, cruel.

They gave her the creeps, so she packaged them up again and stashed the box in the closet. The next morning, the sun was shining. She went to work and apologized for being late. Annie was, as always, a sweetheart. That skinny exercise freak and spa director, Mara Philippi, invited her to attend the new self-defense class. One of the pilots who flew guests into the airstrip confided that he was a war hero and hinted at a tragic disposition that only a woman’s true love could cure. As Priscilla worked on the resort’s supply orders, she began to think she had a future here. She began to have second thoughts about demanding money from a smuggler who, well, might be willing to kill for a fortune. Millions. Maybe she shouldn’t have sucked down that entire bottle of wine… At noon, she returned to her cottage, got the box, brought it to the resort and stashed it.

But now what? She couldn’t give those statues to the authorities. She had incriminated herself by writing that note. She needed to retrieve the note. Then she would take the box of horrors to Mr. Di Luca and tell him…tell him what happened, but say she forgot about it. Or she didn’t realize what was in it. No, not that. Better to pretend she hadn’t opened it. Whatever. She’d figure it out.

She spoke to Sheri Jean Hagerty, the guest experience manager, and volunteered to lead a tour of the property. Sheri Jean was surprised, but civil. She gave Priscilla a stern lecture about how to behave to the paying guests, then anointed her official Yearning Sands expedition guide. Priscilla promised to do everything precisely right. She put on the charm for the guests, made a point of taking them to the tree and explaining why it was called the One-Finger Salute and glowed when they laughed. She directed their attention to the nearby stack of boulders and explained it was called the nut sack, because the rocks were shaped like walnuts, and she pulled a disbelieving face. They laughed again. With some surprise, she realized she could be good at this. She directed them to the path leading to the Butler Lighthouse Viewpoint, told them it was a great spot to watch for whales. While they were off exclaiming about the panorama, she checked on the plastic bag.

It was gone. In its place was something that looked like… She leaned down and brushed at the dirt. Something mostly buried… She brushed a little more. A finger. A hand. A woman’s hand. With polished nails. And a ring. A hand. Dear God, a hand, a hand, a severed hand.

Priscilla didn’t scream or throw up. She had enough sense for that. Head swimming, she stood, wanting to get away from the vile thing. That threat. That promise of death and dismemberment. What should she do? Run away. Now. “Are you okay? You look ill.” She jumped, looked up at the older woman, a guest with concern on her plump face. The hand in the ground was revealed, crumpled in death’s agony, so Priscilla made eye contact with the woman and started shoving dirt into the hole with her shoe.

“I don’t feel well. A sudden sickness… Flu season has started…” The woman took a step back. “You should head back.” “You’re right. I should. I’ll call the other guests…” “No!” The woman took another step back. She didn’t want to be infected. “Send somebody from the resort for us.” “Thank you. I’m sorry.

” Priscilla must look bad. White. Sweaty with fear. She was going back to her cottage to pack. Now. Put everything in her car and run away. And whoever found that box of cursed statues could keep it. I have three confessions: 1. I’ve got the scar of a gunshot on my forehead. 2.

I don’t remember an entire year of my life. 3. My name is Kellen Adams…and that’s half a lie. 2 Washington State’s Pacific Coast Yearning Sands Resort January of this year On January 27, a low tide revealed ocean caves normally submerged by water, Leo and Annie Di Luca left on vacation, a woman’s mutilated corpse was found on the grounds and it rained. The rain was business as usual. In early November, US Army veteran Kellen Adams had accepted the position of assistant resort manager. Annie had warned her she had arrived at the beginning of what the locals called the Monsoon Season. Kellen had chuckled. But they weren’t kidding. In winter, on the Washington coast, wind blew.

Rain fell. The sun rose late and set early. Every day was an endless gray. The holiday season had been busy and full of guests and lights and cheer, but when the decorations came down and January trudged on, their few guests came for discounted prices on meals and rooms. The resort used the downtime to paint, repair and clean, and Annie practically pushed the hospitality staff out the doors, telling them to go somewhere sunny and come back refreshed and ready to face the Valentine’s Day rush. Everyone snatched at their chance to vacation elsewhere, and they knew where to find deals. They were, after all, in the hospitality business. They had connections. Kellen told Annie she had nowhere to go, no relatives to visit and no desire to smell coconutscented sunscreen. She stayed, reveling in the isolation, determined to learn everything Annie could teach her, and kept so busy she fell into bed at night and rose early in the morning.

She loved the schedule; it left her little time to think, to remember—and to not remember. Then on that dark, cold, rainy morning of January 27, Annie followed her own advice. She and Leo prepared to fly to warm and sunny Bella Terra, California, to celebrate their family holidays at the original Di Luca family resort. Under the hotel portico, a group of elderly tourists climbed into a tour bus, so Annie rolled in her wheelchair through the rain toward the limousine. Her assistance dog, a black Lab named Hammett, trotted beside her. Kellen walked on the other side, holding an umbrella and protecting Annie from the windblown blasts of rain, her brain’s little quirk kicking in, her mind subconsciously scrolling through its catalog of data on the elderly woman: ANNIE DI LUCA: FEMALE, WHITE, ELDERLY, HEIGHT UNDETERMINED. TOO THIN. CURLY WHITE HAIR, GREAT CUT, BROWN EYES. WHEELCHAIR BOUND. RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS.

RESORT MANAGER. BRILLIANT WITH STAFF AND GUESTS. KIND TO A FAULT. FRAIL. HUSBAND: NAPOLEONE (LEO) DI LUCA, MARRIED “SINCE THE EARTH’S CRUST COOLED.” “We’ll be back in two weeks,” Annie said. “After my last experience with an assistant, I was determined not to hire a replacement. But Leo insisted, and you know the only reason I relented was because you were a wounded veteran.” “I wasn’t that wounded.” Kellen rotated her shoulder.

“Enough that the Army discharged you!” “Men were killed.” I was unconscious for two days. Had an MRI to discover the cause of my coma. Tricky things, land mines. Woke to find myself being discharged; I hadn’t realized the military could process paperwork that fast. “I’m sorry, dear, about the deaths. I know how you feel about your comrades in arms.” They reached the car where Mitchell Nyugen waited to drive the Di Lucas to the airstrip. Again her mind spun and Mitch’s info popped up, like a little index card: MITCHELL NYUGEN: MALE. VIETNAMESE AMERICAN, SECOND-GENERATION, 26, 5’9”, 160 LBS.

, EXCELLENT PHYSICAL CONDITION, NEEDS LITTLE SLEEP. NO AFFECTIONATE ATTACHMENTS. ARMY VETERAN, HONORABLE DISCHARGE. EXPERT LICENSED DRIVER—MILITARY VEHICLES + COMMERCIAL DRIVER’S LICENSE (CDL) (TRACTOR TRAILER). EMPLOYED 79 DAYS—DRIVER, MECHANIC, ELECTRONICS. FRIEND. Mitch was one of Kellen’s men. Skilled woodworkers, electricians, maintenance and handy workers didn’t have to come to Washington in the wettest, darkest, most miserable time of the year, so when Annie appealed to Kellen for a chauffeur, Kellen had in turn appealed to Mitch. Mitch, who had been driving long hours for a trucking company, leaped at the chance to work at the resort. He was the first of her people to arrive at Yearning Sands.

Now he opened the door and Hammett hopped onto his cushion on the floor. Mitch dried the dog, then picked Annie up and deposited her on the seat. “Thank you, Mitch. When Leo comes out, will you help him with the bags?” she asked. “Of course, Mrs. Di Luca.” Mitch backed out of the car. “That boy is so formal,” Annie said to Kellen. “I’ve told him to call me Annie, and he won’t.” “He’s from the South.

Houston. Things are more formal there. He still calls me captain.” “Half of the staff call you captain.” Annie patted the seat. “Won’t you come in and sit for a minute?” Kellen shed her rain poncho and handed Mitch the umbrella before easing inside. She took a second towel and dried Hammett some more, then scratched him under the chin. As she stroked his soft head, the anxiety she felt about taking charge of the resort faded. Mitch shut the door, encasing the two in quiet leather luxury, and walked around to put the wheelchair in the trunk. Annie shivered, and Hammett abandoned Kellen to snuggle closer to Annie’s legs.

Annie took Kellen’s hand in her cold, fragile fingers. “Every day you’ve been a blessing. I never dreamed anyone could pick up the hospitality business so quickly.” Kellen couldn’t explain. She didn’t even understand herself how she could meet a person and forever after see them as a list of attributes, or view two timelines and mentally integrate them, or take four spreadsheets and shuffle them through the circuits of her brain and instantly come up with ways to improve operations. It was a gift. She touched the scar on her forehead. A gift that had come at a great price. “Business I understand,” Kellen said. “The guests and the staff are the challenge.

” “You are very private.” For good reasons. “Yet you handled people when you were the officer in charge of moving men and goods around a war zone,” Annie said. “No one’s shooting at you here. This has to be easier.” “The people I managed in the Army had one thing in common—they were soldiers. We were united in one goal—to come out alive.” Annie laughed. Probably she thought Kellen was joking. “We—my military friends and I—are all of us grateful that you’ve welcomed us so generously.

” “Leo says I take in strays.” Annie looked startled at her own insensitivity. “I’m not trying to say that you’re a…” “It’s all right. I understand. Since my discharge, I have been adrift. It’s difficult to go from being part of a close-knit military community to being…alone.” “I can promise, you’ll never be alone again.” Another odd statement from the normally diplomatic Annie. Perhaps leaving on vacation made her lose her usual delicacy. “The staff we left in place for you to manage is well trained.

Everyone is upto-date on their first aid certifications, and they can handle all the jobs—although some better than others. We have very few scheduled guests incoming, so hopefully difficulties will be few and far between.” With an expression of dismay, she knocked on the limousine’s rosewood interior. “Now, why did I say that? I’ve doomed you to difficulties.” Kellen shook her head. “I’m not superstitious.” I’m simply afraid of the darkness that stalks me in my own mind. “At least there are not too many children scheduled as guests,” Annie said. “That will make it easier for you.” “Wrong time of the year.

Not many school vacations. But it doesn’t matter. I don’t mind children. I’ve just never learned how to handle them.” No point. Annie asked, “Who do you foresee as your greatest challenge?” Kellen promptly said, “Sheri Jean.” “Ah, yes. Sheri Jean.” Annie sighed softly. “The best way to handle Sheri Jean is to accord her the respect she deserves.

” “As I always do.” “Her personality is split between her mother and her father, and the two halves are constantly at war. She terrorizes her staff, yet no one makes the guests more comfortable than Sheri Jean.” “She’s good at her job, but it’s hard to decipher when she’s going to take offense. Most of the time, I don’t know what I said, and I was raised by my aunt and uncle, and my aunt is a delicate flower.” “Really?” Annie’s eyes gleamed. “So you do have relatives?” Mistake. Uncomfortably, Kellen admitted, “My uncle and cousin are deceased. My aunt and I don’t communicate.” Annie’s kind face grew distressed.

“I am sorry. Family can be a blessing and a trial. Like marriage.” Kellen’s strained smile faded. Why had Annie introduced the topic of marriage into the conversation? Kellen never wanted to talk about marriage. “When I hired you,” Annie confided, “Leo didn’t trust you.” Oh. This was about Leo. “I suspected he didn’t trust me when he demanded my records—” birth certificate, undergraduate degree from University of Nevada and business degree from Vanderbilt, honorable discharge from the Army “—be examined to see if they were original and investigated their authenticity.” He had uncovered no deception, of course, but even when he was satisfied, he had continued to watch Kellen like a hawk.

“It was because of that girl. A nice young woman, but misguided.” Was Annie rambling? “What girl?” “The girl I hired first. Priscilla Carter.” Kellen had heard mutterings about Annie’s first attempt to hire an assistant manager. “The one who left without notice?” “She didn’t have to do that. We had already realized she was unsuited for the job and intended to help her find another position. We’re not without heart!” Annie’s cheeks flushed. “You’re lovely!” Kellen pressed those cold fingers. “Leo says I give too much.

I don’t think that’s true, but I did hire Priscilla…” Annie stared out the side window at the wide spread of lawn and the ring of rhododendrons that tossed with each gust of the storm. “Priscilla imagined the resort would be her stepping-stone to a life as a rich man’s wife. Leo reprimanded her twice. I should have reprimanded her myself, but I’m a coward. Then she volunteered to take guests on a tour of the property—and left them out there on the cliffs. It’s one thing to make the resort look bad, but she abandoned elderly guests out there. No compassion!” Annie sounded so hurt. Kellen barely knew what to say. “She sounds like a piece of work.” “The guests said she fell ill, promised she’d send someone out after them.

Sheri Jean didn’t realize the guests had been left until one called. They were worried about Priscilla! We were all worried about her until Leo discovered she had packed her bags, gotten in her car and headed south. She never even contacted us for her final paycheck.” “I promise I would never do that.” With a fair amount of humor, Kellen added, “I like my paychecks, and anyway, I don’t have a car.” Annie’s brow knit fretfully. “So I should worry when you buy one?” “Not even then.” “Thank heavens. I…I don’t know what I’d do if you disappeared, never to be found, and I hadn’t told…” Annie seemed to drift off. “Told…?” Annie’s rambling was so unlike her, Kellen was concerned.

“Told him… He’s suffered so much. He’s fretted. He’s searched…” “Who? Who’s searched? For what?” Kellen leaned forward, her eyes fixed on Annie’s, and in her brain, a new slot lit up, empty of information and hungering to detail this new person. In a normal tone, Annie asked, “Do you have any final questions?” “Um, I…I don’t think so. Just, you know, what you were talking about before. Or who you were talking about.” Annie brushed her hair off her forehead. “I didn’t sleep well last night. So excited. To go to California, to see the family.

But I want to make sure you feel comfortable in your role as resort manager.” Because Annie suddenly seemed to need reassurance, Kellen said, “With Mr. Gilfilen to handle security, with the tight staff and the small guest list, this is a great way to introduce me to handling the job of resort manager.” Annie fussed with the folds of her long black velvet skirt. “Yes, Vincent Gilfilen. He’s a difficult man, you know. Obstinate. A little odd.” “I do know that.” “He does things his own way.

He’ll always do the right thing.” Annie avoided Kellen’s gaze. “You go along with whatever happens. It won’t be so bad.” “I’m glad to hear that.” Kellen felt as if she’d missed something. Like the point. Annie leaned forward and affectionately took Kellen’s face between her palms. She looked into her eyes, and in a dreamy voice, she said, “I told Sarah and June about you. They could barely believe you’d come back.

” “Came back?” Kellen pulled out of Annie’s clasp. “Came back from where?” Annie blinked as if trying to clear a fog from her brain. “What?” “What did you tell Sarah and June about me?” Sarah and June were Annie’s sisters-in-law and best friends. But Kellen didn’t know she’d been the topic of discussion and she didn’t like the sound of They could barely believe you’d come back. “Is this to do with the man you didn’t tell about me?” “What man?” “You said you didn’t know what you’d do if I disappeared and he hadn’t been told…” Kellen trailed off enticingly, exactly as Annie had done. “My head aches.” Annie closed her eyes and rubbed her neck. “I’m so old and creaky.” She opened her eyes. “Could you hand me a bottle of water?” Kellen realized Annie’s eyes were too bright.

“Are you all right?” Kellen placed her hands over the top of Annie’s. “You feel warm.” Even with the heated seat, even with Hammett pressing close, Annie shivered. Yet she sounded sensible and prosaic when she said, “Don’t make trouble, dear. I just need water.” Kellen pulled a bottle out of the cooler, opened the top and pressed it into Annie’s hands. “I’ve looked forward to this celebration for months.” Annie took a small sip, then put the bottle in the cup holder. “It’s the Di Luca family Christmas, you know. We’re a large family and all so busy with the resorts and the wineries, this is the only time we can get together.” “I know.” Kellen got a throw out of the warmer and slid it around Annie’s shoulders. “But you feel as if you’re running a fever.” “I’m fine. Look, there’s my darling Napoleone headed our way with our overnight bags rolling behind him. The dear man will not let the staff do their job. He is so stubborn.” “Like someone else I know,” Kellen muttered. “Hmm?” Annie raised her eyebrows. “Dear, we can’t leave him standing out in this weather. I’m not the only one with creaky bones!” She offered her cheek. Kellen kissed it. It was warm, too. “Have fun.” “Believe me, we will. We Di Lucas always have a riotous good time.” Kellen slid across the seat and put her hand on the door handle. Annie stopped her. “When I was interviewing you, I asked what your goal was in coming to Yearning Sands. Do you remember what you said?” Kellen met her gaze. “I said I wanted a home.” “Do you feel as if you’ve found what you wanted?” Kellen’s mind produced the globe of the world and spun it like a top. She saw where she was now, on the far edge of the North American continent. She saw those places she feared and avoided: not Afghanistan, not Kuwait, but Maine, New York and Pennsylvania, black holes that swallowed every ray of light and joy. On that day five months ago when she was told she would be released from the Army with an honorable discharge, she had gone looking for a position that would fit her unique talents. At first she had hesitated to come back to the United States. But her first job as a civilian had proved that nowhere in the world was safe. Yearning Sands had proved to be a shelter, and the terror that had once driven her to always glance behind had diminished. She had grown comfortable here in the job. “I could live here forever.” “We would like that. And your friends?” Annie gestured toward Mitch. “The ones we’ve hired. Are they happy?” “I can’t speak for them, but I think so. They came back from combat in need of employment and they found it here, where they could use their skills to make a living. That’s a great thing.” “I want to keep my staff for years. I like to make sure they’re happy.” Annie squeezed Kellen’s arm. “I’m so glad you told me you’ll stay. The resort needs you. I need you.” “Wow. That’s…great.” Kellen broke her hold, snatched up her yellow plastic poncho and leaped into the blustery weather. She pulled the poncho over her head and flagged Leo down.

.

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