Wish You Were Here Online - Lani Diane Rich


Freya Daly swatted at a fly buzzing her head as her left stiletto tottered on the gravel under her feet. The ancient log cabin in front of her was maybe four hundred square feet, if that. It looked like it had probably last been weather-treated sometime in the Nixon administration, and the number 4 over the front door hung upside down from one nail, waiting for the right moment to make a run for it.

Dig that, she thought. Hell has a campground.

She squared her shoulders, picked up her leather Louis Vuitton suitcase—no way was she dragging that over Idaho dirt—and started toward her cabin. Time to get to work. She walked carefully up the short path to the cabin and tried to imagine what the hell her father was thinking, sending her out here. Daly Developers acquired swank apartment buildings and five-star hotels and hot restaurants in big cities; they didn’t go out into the middle of nowhere and purchase worthless campgrounds.

Except, apparently, they did. And this was it, the last of the flaming hoops of hellfire she had to jump through to prove to her father she was ready to take over when he retired in the fall.

Time to get jumping, she thought, and then her throat tightened and her eyes started to water and—


She set her suitcase down on the porch and closed her eyes tight against the tears waiting behind them.

Not now. Not again.

“Useless doctors,” she muttered, then reached into her purse, pulled out a box of Tic-Tacs, and shook three into her mouth. Three opthalmologists, a Lasik specialist, and the acupuncturist her sister Flynn had talked her into, and the only thing that could combat her odd condition were stupid Tic-Tacs, which she’d discovered on her own, anyway.

Concentrate, she thought, closing her eyes as she rolled the mints around on her tongue. Minty fresh. Neutral. Unemotional. Calm.

“There we go,” she said as the heat behind her eyes simmered down. She blinked twice, sucked on the Tic-Tacs, and then took in a deep, minty breath. “That’s it. Totally under control.”

She rested her hands against the railing, looking out over the property. She could see three other cabins, and up a path behind the cabins was a massive but aged log home; the owner probably lived there. Another path led through the trees—she presumed to the lake—and beyond that, according to the map she’d seen in her packet of documentation, there was an acre or so of RV lots. The landscape was pretty enough, if you were into that kind of thing, but the infrastructure was crap. Old, decrepit, falling down. Why her father chose this for her last flaming hoop was beyond her.

Not that it mattered. Her job was to secure the place, go home, and take over the company. And that was exactly what she was going to—

“Be careful there.” The voice came from behind her, startling her. She spun around, losing her balance and slamming backward into the railing. She heard a crack, felt the world whoosh around her, and then suddenly, she jerked to a stop in midair. She looked up to see a man with dirty blond hair, two-day stubble, and sharp blue eyes looming over her, one hand fisted around the fabric of her jacket, the other hand braced against the support post that held up the overhang.

“Shit,” she said, and swallowed her Tic-Tacs.

There was a quick yank at her midsection and then she was up onto the safety of the porch, falling into the Adirondack chair across from the railing.

“Ow,” she said as her ass hit the hardwood.

The man took a step toward her, holding out his hand to help her up. “You okay?”

“Super.” Freya ignored his hand and smoothed her skirt. “Thanks.”

He retracted his hand. “Sorry. I didn’t know you were coming in early until a few minutes ago. I’m just fixing some plumbing in the bathroom, and I’ll be out of your way in a second.”

“Really?” She pushed up from the chair, internally calculating how much plumbing issues might take off the asking price during negotiations; this handyman might come in handy. “There are problems? Are they systemic, needing a full rehaul, or just your standard leaky faucet kind of thing?”

He went silent for a beat before answering. “Hot water spigot needs replacing.”

“I see,” she said. “That sort of thing can be indicative of a systemic problem, don’t you think?”

“Um...” He cleared his throat, then said, “This is the best cabin we’ve got at the moment.” He glanced down over