THE CHOICE ~ A Choose Your Own Romance by Ev Bishop
Even as you walk down the hall towards Grant’s office, you’re completely torn about what to do—and it’s frustrating as heck because normally you’re a very decisive person. Or at least sometimes you are. Occasionally.
You knock softly on Grant’s heavy oak door and butterflies dance through you at the sound of his low purr. “Come on in.”
That’s just how his voice sounds. He uses the same tone for everyone, you lecture yourself—but it doesn’t work. You, as always whenever he singles you out, feel special. And that’s why the words that blurt out of your mouth the moment you see his rugged, handsome face come as a total shock.
“Grant, I . . . I’m . . . uh . . .” You shake your head.
He lifts an eyebrow, looking confused and overly—at least in your humble opinion—solemn. So you’re tongue-tied. It’s not exactly a catastrophe. In fact, it’s not even that unusual. Still, you try to be more coherent.
“I just got amazing news.”
Grant visibly winces—which seems like a bizarre reaction, especially when there’s no way he could’ve been tipped off about your trip. You haven’t told anybody, not even Lisa, about it yet.
You rush on before he can say anything. “I’m going on an all-expense paid trip to Canada, to British Columbia actually—to River’s Sigh B & B, this fabulous remote little getaway in the middle of gorgeous nowhere. I’m super excited, but I really hope I won’t see any bears, or at least not up close anyway, plus I don’t know if I’ll enjoy fishing very much, but it was a prize and I never win anything so . . .”
Grant jumps up from his leather desk chair, extremely agitated or something. You stop babbling midstream, and your body droops as if you have something to feel ashamed of. “So . . . I’m going on holidays,” you continue more calmly. “I’m really sorry I won’t be able to help with the project if it’s truly time sensitive—but I really appreciate you thinking of me.”
Grant’s next reaction blows you away. He practically leaps from behind his desk, crosses the room in one long stride, and wraps you in a bear hug.
“Oh, that’s awesome,” he yells—like seriously, literally yells. “Totally awesome, in fact!”
“Umm,” you mumble against his chest. Though he smells absolutely delicious, the physical contact is more than a bit awkward. It’s not a sexually charged hug—not in the slightest—and though part of you feel it’s wrong of you, you’re slightly disappointed by the very solid friend zone cues rippling off him in good smelling waves.
As if hearing your thoughts, he releases you abruptly and stands back. “Sorry, sorry. I’m just so relieved.”
He’s . . . relieved?! You won’t lie. More than a tiny bit of your ego flares with hurt. You’d expected—hoped, even—that he’d be disappointed when you turned down his secret project—not that he’d be happy. And definitely not that he’d be . . . relieved. “What?” you ask. “Why?”
Grant pushes both hands through his hair, then scrubs his face with his hands.
Worry nudges away your hurt feelings. “What is it? What’s wrong?”
“It’s just that I’m a big idiot. I jumped the gun and e-mailed you before I got the go ahead from head office and—”
Ah, everything is crystal clear to you now. “And they kyboshed the new project idea?”
“Not only that,” Grant says miserably, his broad shoulders sagging. “I guess the company’s shareholders are putting on a lot of pressure, making demands . . . not only is there not going to be the new project in the new direction I was hoping for, there are going to be staffing cuts in every department.”
The solemn-bordering-on-glum expression Grant had when you first entered his office, followed by his very enthusiastic “relief” makes sense now. “And you thought I’d be terribly disappointed when you rescinded the offer regarding the special project. That’s really kind, but—”
“No,” Grant interrupts. “I’m so sorry. You’re not hearing what I’m saying, or at least not wholly.”
You study Grant’s concerned expression and deeply creased brow—for once not even getting (that) distracted by his beer commercial worthy good looks. What is he saying? No . . . not that. It couldn’t be that. You’ve got years of seniority. Years. Your job cannot be one of the ones on the chopping block.
He nods as if reading your mind and repeats his “I’m so sorry” line.
“Are you saying I might not have a job when I come back? Seriously?”
“I don’t know anything for sure yet . . . but it’s a . . . possibility. I’m sorry.”
You are suddenly sooo, sooo, sooooooooo glad you chose the all-expense paid holiday to River’s Sigh B & B. You can’t imagine how humiliating it would’ve been to forfeit the trip, to be all excited about the new job “opportunity”—and to have it all be for nothing.
“Well . . . keep me posted, of course—actually no. Just let me know what’s up when I get back from my holiday. I don’t want my trip ruined by any bad news.”
Grant makes a lip-zipping gesture and throws away an imaginary key. You find him oddly unattractive at the moment and that feels like another loss.
“Have a wonderful time,” he says. “You’re a great person. You deserve it.”
“Right,” you say. “Thanks.” But your big trip suddenly seems less sparkly. Yes, it’s an all-expense paid, once in a lifetime treat, but will you be able to live in the moment and enjoy yourself fully, knowing that you might not have a job when you return?
You slowly retreat toward the big oak door, willing Grant to stop you, to say . . . something, anything, you don’t know what . . . but he remains as quiet as your soft-soled ballet flats on the plush carpeting.
# # #
You’re so busy with last minute purchases (you have no idea what might come in handy in the boonies, so you decide to pack a lot of stuff) and with visiting Lucy and your mom (both of whom you tell about the cutbacks, after swearing them to secrecy) that the weekend passes in a blur.
You find it almost surreal to be boarding a plane, then landing in Vancouver and going through customs, then boarding another plane—a crazily small one called a Dash 8—to fly to some little town called Greenridge. Before you even touch down, however, you’re in awe. You’re in an oasis of green, surrounded by the kind of snow-capped, utterly majestic mountain ranges that you’ve only ever seen on TV. You’re a mere six hours and two plane rides from home . . . but you’re in a different world.
Bubbly joy floods through you. Regardless of what the future might hold, you are going to enjoy this trip—absolutely and in every way.
Your optimism and anticipation only builds as you make your way into the small airport and are greeted by a cheery sign announcing your name. You make your way over to the sign and smile at the beaming sign bearer, a pretty, curvy woman about your age, with a mane of crazy red-gold hair.
“That’s me,” you say shyly, pointing at the sign.
The woman’s beaming smile grows even broader. “Hello, me! I’m Jo and I’m so happy to meet you.”
You gather up your luggage—then apologize, suddenly self-conscious about your two massive suitcases and maximum number of carry-ons.
Jo’s laugh is light and tinkling. “Your luggage is nothing,” she reassures you. “If you want to see a heavy packer, you need to meet my sister Sam.”
You can hardly speak on the long drive to River’s Sigh because you’re so overwhelmed by the wild beauty and crazy views that surround you. You have never seen so many evergreens in one place in your life—the road, even though it’s a highway, seems to be cut through a forest. Jo keeps up a light banter though and seems appreciative, even understanding of your silence.
“It’s something else, hey?” she says at one point, momentarily taking her eyes off the highway and following your gawking gaze.
“You can say that again,” you whisper.
Jo smiles, rummages on her dash for something, then hands you a brochure. “You have a decision to make. We’re almost full, but I held three cabins for you to choose from—then I’ll book the two you don’t want.”
A frisson of glee ripples through you as you read the descriptions, and you know your eyes are as wide and shiny as a kid’s on Christmas. “They all sound wonderful. I’ll love whichever one you give me.”
Jo grins and shakes her head. “Not going to happen. This is your dream holiday. You have to choose.”
“What a tough life I have,” you complain happily, then reread the descriptions, and make your decision.
Which cabin do you ask Jo for?
OPTION 1: SILVER ~ Rest, relax and dream your days away in this natural wood, stone and glass retreat. Every surface and item in this luxury space is a treat for the senses, calling to be touched or rested upon—and the bathroom is second to none when it comes to pampering, featuring a Japanese soaker tub, an infrared sauna, and a glass-encased two-person massaging shower.
OPTION 2: RAINBOW ~ The tinkling music and magic of this enchanting cabin’s unique copper, sea glass and antique spoons wind chime will welcome you in and soothe away your cares during your stay. Cozy and comfortable with a well-equipped kitchen, combined dining room, two bedrooms and generous living room, this cedar-walled treat is a perfect getaway for the practical guest who has a whimsical heart. You will find the small round window at the foot of the tub, providing a gorgeous mountain view, especially charming.
OPTION 3: SPRING ~ Sometimes the right holiday in the right place at the right time can heal what ails you or provide a much-needed new direction or perspective. Some even say it can save your life. Spend your evenings stargazing from the narrow deck that wraps the full perimeter of this unique three-floored tower. Revel in the light from the rows of tall narrow windows that fill the open concept kitchen and shared living room on the first floor, the bathroom on the middle floor, and the two tiny bedroom nooks on the top floor. Totally eccentric—but very posh—and totally fun. Possibly designed by someone who wanted his or her own lighthouse—or knew you needed one.
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**Options are now closed. October 2017 Ev’s News subs chose RAINBOW cabin–but it was close, with just 38% of the votes and SILVE and SPRING tied at 31% each.