The Tourist Attraction Page 2

Leave it to him to start a viral foodie trend when he just wanted to be left alone.

“Zoey’s a Tourist Trap virgin.” Lana’s voice was husky from her first drink, the flush in her cheeks bringing out color in her neck and cleavage. She leaned in further. A little too far.

Graham waved her back. “Your breasts are in my buns, L,” he said, loud enough so the customers around them would hear.

“Then charge them extra,” she said playfully, glancing at the people behind her.

The man seated at the counter next to them choked on his burger, unable to stop staring. Without asking, Graham reached over and topped off his soda. Being in close proximity to Lana was stressful for all of them.

“Graham, Zoey needs to have a Growly Bear and a Sloppy Dog. This is her first day here, and she has to have the true Moose Springs experience.”

Really? The true experience? What had his little dive come to?

“The Tourist Trap is everyone’s first pit stop,” she continued. “Having a Growly Bear is a rite of passage.”

Didn’t that just run a cold chill up his spine?

Realizing Lana was beaming impishly at him, Graham tossed another fry at her, this time aiming for her forehead. “You’re mean, L.”

“And you’re terribly predictable, love.” Dang, she’d caught it, just like the first.

“Fine, you win.” Lana was relentless when she wanted something, and Graham was too busy to invest the kind of effort it would take to drive her away. “This Zoey needs to ask for herself.”

Lana had a lot of friends, and sometimes one or two never materialized, leaving the extra drinks for her. Since he liked Lana, he let her get away with it, but two Growly Bears was one Growly Bear too many.

Heck, one Growly Bear was one too many, but try telling the masses of resort guests that. A solid third of the night’s clientele were drinking Growlies without the decency to feel ashamed of themselves.

“Poor Zoey flew coach,” Lana continued. “No wonder she’s not feeling well. I told her to join me last week, but no. It’s all work all the time with her.”

“Yes, us selfish plebeians with our jobs.”

Graham handed two burgers and a basket of fries to the customer waiting behind her. He didn’t bother asking how they wanted them. He’d learned quickly that if he gave a Moose Springs Resort tourist options, they’d still be making him read ingredient labels an hour later.

At first, Graham had exclusively taken cash payment, but there were only so many times he could be stared at with confusion by the ultra-rich before he broke down and bought a tablet for credit card swipes.

Lana leaned further over the counter. Yep. Those were a pair of breasts in his buns. As he added grilled onions to the next order of dogs, he put his palm on Lana’s shoulder with the other, gently straightening her. He personally didn’t mind, but Graham doubted the next table would like the smell of Chanel in their meal.

Lana snagged a beer from the tray he was preparing. Before he could stop her, she downed it without blinking.

“Hello, Moose Springs,” she cried out. “Beers for all my new friends, Graham. Let’s get this night started!”

The crowd cheered. Graham groaned.

With a look over her shoulder that could have brought a better man to his knees, Lana sauntered away, beer bottle at her hip as she mouthed “Growly Bear” to him.

With close to forty people in his twenty-five-maximum diner, he’d likely have to bust out the cases of Midnight Sun IPA that had just come in. When Lana said beer, she didn’t mean the cheap stuff. It wouldn’t be the first time that his repeat patroness walked away with a tab well into four digits. When someone had that kind of money…

“You’d never see me again,” Graham murmured as he started making tick marks on a piece of scratch paper to keep track of bottles, adding them as free drinks to the tables of those who claimed their freebies.

Three drinks per customer. That was his rule. One Growly Bear a night. Graham learned the hard way to keep that rule, no matter how ticked off the customers got. They could eat themselves into a coma, but Graham wasn’t going to hose any more vomit off his front walk or be responsible for someone wrecking a Ferrari on the winding mountain road back to the resort.

And if anyone got too angry? Well, Graham always enjoyed tossing crappy customers out of his establishment.

When a momentary hush fell over the crowd, accompanied by heavy boots stomping across the wood flooring, Graham’s lips curved. And as a body took the seat next to Graham’s line of impatient customers, he paused in his work to hand the newcomer a soda and a cheeseburger. No one said a word in protest.

“Thanks.” Easton Lockett’s deep rumble sounded like a freight train with a smoking habit, even though the owner of the voice would never even consider touching a cigarette.

Some people were tall. Some people were built like tanks, muscular and wide. And some looked like they could sneeze and take down a brick building.

Easton was bigger than all that.

Having to duck when he came through the diner’s very normal sized doorway, Easton was beard and man bun above every person in the room. Climbing through the mountains as a wilderness guide his entire adult life had only put muscle on Easton’s massive frame, shrinking the rest of the world down a few notches or two. Graham wasn’t a little guy, but there was something about being near his friend that made him feel itty-bitty.

Itty-bitty never had been a descriptor Graham enjoyed for himself, but when Easton handed him a ham and cheese hoagie, he decided that he’d let it go for the moment.

“Took your time,” Graham told him. “I’ve been waiting on you.”

Glancing at who wasn’t accompanying him, Graham raised an eyebrow. “Should I bother asking where my dog is?”

“Where do you think?” Easton grunted in response. “Curled up in my sister’s lap on the couch.”

“You know, most fur aunts and uncles bring their fur nephews back when the day is done.”

“She likes him better than the rest of us.”

Easton sipped his soda, ignoring Graham’s chastisement as successfully as Graham was ignoring his line of customers. People were used to this sort of treatment at the Tourist Trap. From what the reviews online said, apparently Graham’s lack of customer service was part of the appeal. Since Graham was all for giving the customers what they wanted, he ripped off a third of the hoagie, stuffing it into his mouth.

“Oh man, that’s good. Ash?”

“Yeah. She knows you’re sick of burgers.” Easton shrugged his shoulders. “And it’s not my job to help you with yours.”

“Shame on you. What kind of friend do you call yourself?”

“The kind that thinks you should hire an extra cook.”

Grabbing his air horn from beneath the counter, Graham smirked at his childhood friend. “Naw. There are plenty of bodies in here to help with the work. Push that trash bin into the middle of the room, will you?”

There was nothing like the piercing violence of an air horn screeching through an enclosed space to make everyone wince. With a sigh, Easton stood up and went to the end of the counter, where a fifty-five-gallon trash can with a construction-grade liner waited. Aiming a look of long suffering at Graham, Easton dragged it to the center of the room. The song on the jukebox ended, and everyone was too busy staring at Graham in surprise to put on another one.

This was just how Graham wanted it.

“All right, you dirty people,” Graham called out to his customers. “Time to clean up. No more food until you throw your crap in the trash.”

He lobbed a wet dishrag to a woman in diamond drop earrings, then a second to Lana and a third to an annoyed-looking Easton. Graham gave them all a cheerful wave as he added a stack of clean rags and a little red bucket of sanitized water on the counter between customer plates.

“Wipe your tables, folks, because I’m not the maid. If you don’t like it, the door’s right over there.” Graham pointed toward the entrance, just past a life-size cedar moose bust mounted on the wall. Far more impressive work than any he’d ever successfully carved, the moose’s rack alone was over five feet across. “Don’t knock yourselves out on Frank the Mounted Moose’s magnificence as you leave.”

For some reason, they laughed, as if this was all part of the fun.

While Easton grunted at the customers to throw their crap away, generally terrifying them with his presence, Graham used the rare moment free of expectations to finish his sandwich.

A soft clearing of a woman’s throat was meant to get his attention. Graham ignored her.

“Excuse me.”

“No more drinks until the room is clean.” Graham kept his focus on the hoagie. “Grab a rag, and we’ll get there faster.”

“Actually, I was hoping to just have a glass of water.”

There was a lot of money in this room—and didn’t it disgust him that he could identify an Armani suit on sight—but when Graham glanced up from his sandwich, the woman in front of him looked normal. She was wearing a worn Mickey Mouse sweatshirt and torn jeans, traveling clothes most likely, and her brown hair was twisted up in a messy bun. Actually messy, not those artfully staged messes the stylists got paid to create in the resort’s spa.

Shoving her glasses further up on her slender nose, the woman dug in her pocket. “Extra ice, please.”

In a world of too many Gucci purses, this one used her pockets. Graham liked her already. “Didn’t anyone warn you about the water here?”

His customer tilted her head to the side, a long tendril of grown-out bangs falling into her eyes. “What’s wrong with the water?”

The tendril wasn’t sexy. Lodged in between her glasses and her face, she had to cross her eyes and wrinkle her nose a few times to free it. Amusement curled through him, but Graham didn’t let it come through in his voice.

“Ever seen what a three-quarter-ton moose with a full bladder can do to a fresh spring?”

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