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Grand Romance by Styles, Peter (1)

1

Alex was going to murder the new bookstore manager.

Okay, so maybe murder was a strong choice. Maybe just punch. Or key his car. Or something.

Ever since that guy had started working the bookstore at the visitors’ center at the Grand Canyon, he’d been making Alex’s life at least ten times more difficult than it had been before.

Alex was a tour guide at the canyon, and a damn good one. In fact, he was in charge of the department at this point, which meant he didn’t get out into the canyon as much as he used to. He missed it, but he also liked being able to train new guides and make sure that visitors were all getting the experience that they deserved.

He enjoyed his job, that’s why he’d been at it for so long. Why he’d stayed at the canyon despite living far away from his parents and brother.

It was also why he hated that Logan was such a thorn in his side. Alex had to interact with the guy on a regular basis. He was making his job go from completely enjoyable to only half enjoyable. If he never had to actually talk to Logan, that might have been one thing. He could handle knowing that a jerk existed if he didn’t have to interact with said jerk.

But as the bookstore manager in the visitors’ center, Alex ran into him all the time. And Logan, for some insane reason, had decided that he could help Alex do his job, that he was better at guiding than Alex was.

And that wasn’t even counting their first run-in. They’d met when Alex had gone in to check out a book another guide had told him about. Instead of seeing Diana behind the counter, he’d laid eyes this gorgeous blond that he’d never met before.

Alex didn’t usually make a policy of dating possible coworkers, even if that coworker was in a different department. That had been his policy back when he’d been a bit of a wild child, sleeping with guests who’d be gone in a week since he didn’t have to worry about commitment. Maybe he’d outgrown that rule for himself.

Ever since his brother had married Kostas, Alex had been thinking about his own relationship status and finding something a little more permanent. So yeah, when he’d seen this tall, nerdy-in-a-cute-way blond with big blue eyes behind sexy glasses and a dress shirt with the sleeves rolled up, he’d been inspired to turn on the charm. He was a good-looking guy, always had been, although he’d personally always thought Ben was the better-looking brother when it came down to it. But dark hair, eyes, and stubble along with being six feet tall did a lot for him. He wasn’t hurting on the attractive scale.

Yet when he’d given the guy his most charming smile, made sure to be seen checking him out, and asked for his name, the reaction had been more like Alex was a plague victim who’d walked in.

“I’m Logan Parker,” the guy had said with his words. His tone had said, I’m wondering what cat dragged you in.

Okay, so Alex had just come back from the canyon and he’d been a little dirty and sweaty. So what? Men loved that, it gave him a rugged charm. Or so he’d been told.

“Logan.” Alex had drawn the word out, leaning against the counter. “Are you one of the summer staff?” They always hired more people in the summer.

Logan had looked supremely unimpressed and had tapped his nametag. “I’m the new manager. Please stop leaning on the counter, you’re getting dirt everywhere.”

Jesus Christ on a cracker.

Alex had pulled back, trying to look a little less… like he’d just emerged from a canyon full of dust. “Right. I’m Alex, I’m the head of the guides.”

“Are all of you going to stomp in here getting mud everywhere?” Logan had replied.

“I don’t know,” Alex had snarked back, unable to help himself, “are all of your employees going to be cranky stuck up snots just like you?”

That had taken Logan aback, his blue eyes going wide, but Alex had already had enough had turned to go. He’d pick up whatever book he was looking for later.

Ever since then, Logan had been a goddamn pain in his side. It felt like every time Alex wanted to go to the bookstore Logan was there. He always had a look on his face like he’d just seen someone dropping a book on the floor. Or eating over an open book. Or some other book travesty.

He never seemed to be in a good mood. Alex had come in all cleaned up once, even wearing a button up shirt because he’d had to go to some important event—he couldn’t remember what it was now—and Logan had just straight up ignored him.

No, more than ignored him, he’d avoided him. Made sure he was on the opposite side of the shop from where Alex was.

It was a real pisser, especially on a day, like today. He had talked about a book on one of his tours, so the tourists, understandably, wanted to find it when the tour ended. Naturally, he took them to the bookshop to point it out.

“I see that everyone is following your recommendation,” Logan pointed out after a third person from Alex’s tour had bought the book. “You should work here.”

Alex couldn’t have figured out Logan’s tone if he tried, so he wasn’t about to try. “Right.”

“By the way, I noticed that the tour routes haven’t changed in the last five years,” Logan added. “I have some books around here somewhere that detail older paths that haven’t been used in a couple of decades that might—”

…was this guy seriously trying to do Alex’s job for him now?

“Thanks, but I think we’re good,” Alex replied. He tried hard to keep his tone from carrying the frustration he felt. Logan had spent the last month standing on the opposite side of the store from him and practically glaring at him. Now what, he wanted to make nice by telling Alex he’d become stale and needed to fix that by—by adopting trails that hadn’t been used in decades and probably for good reason? What the hell?

“Are you sure?” Logan pressed. This was probably the most that he’d spoken to Alex since they’d met. Of course, it was to criticize him like this.

“I’m pretty sure.”

“You should at least read the book. You’d find it interesting. It has some fascinating—”

“I’ll think about it,” Alex cut in quickly. “I have to run to my office, but thanks for the recommendation.”

He got out of that trap as fast as he could.

What the hell?