Hashtagged By The Mountain Man (The Mountain Men of Linesworth Book 5)
I’m standing there at the coffee counter making a customer’s drink when he walks in. The milk I’m frothing is forgotten, and I zoom in on this mountain man. With his thick beard and flannel shirt rolled up to his elbows, his hair curly and eyes so green, I feel like I’ve fallen straight into a forest. I know he’s the man for me.
Of course, he has literally no idea.
“Can I get you something?” I manage to ask, wishing I were wearing something other than a boring blue apron. Actually, scratch that. I wish I were wearing nothing but the apron. Forward, maybe, but it’s not every day a man like this walks into the coffee shop where I work.
“Yeah, can I, uh, get a…” His eyes scan the menu and it’s like he’s never ordered a cup of coffee before. “What’s that?” he asks, frowning and pointing to the drink I should be finishing.
“Oh!” I pour the milk from the stainless-steel pitcher and then add the extra whip, like the woman ordered, before setting it on the counter.
“It’s an extra hot, raspberry mocha.” I smile up at him, and then lean over to rearrange the daisies that I brought into work this morning. He looks down at me as I fluff the bouquet and for a moment, time seems to stand still.
I swallow, thinking he might say something unforgettable, about how he feels what I feel. How this is the moment he has been waiting for. How I am his dream girl. He doesn’t.
“I’ll get that, the mocha,” he says as if relieved to have it figured out. His eyes are on me and I feel the heat rise in my cheeks. Okay, so maybe there isn’t some sexy banter escaping those perfectly kissable lips of his, but I can do a slow burn. Besides, he’s hotter than the shot of espresso that I just pulled and maybe we both need a second to cool off.
“I haven’t seen you around before,” I say trying not to stare at his beard. His biceps. His everything. A thick beard I want to run my hand over, muscles bulging at the sleeves of his flannel, and hair that I’m inappropriately wishing I could to run my fingers through.
“Yeah, just moved to Linesworth,” he says as I wipe the drool from my mouth. “I’m opening up a bike shop on the other end of town.”
“Oh. That’s great.” I bite back a smile. I’m already picturing myself texting my best friend, Matilda, to tell her that I found the one. “I’m Kensie.”
“I’m Kodiak.” He doesn’t return the smile, exactly. It’s obvious he’s one of those strong and silent types, but he’s leaning over the counter and watching me intently, so I know he’s at least sorta interested. Right?
And a quiet guy is something I can dig; I have enough personality for both of us. Still, his gaze is on me and it makes a beeline straight to my heart. I know I’m hopeless but looking at him makes everything seem possible.
Yes. This could be described as one-sided insta-love, but is there anything so bad about that? Devotion is the cornerstone of any good relationship. I think I read that in a Buzz Feed article once. And everyone knows that is basically real news.
“So, did you move here alone, Kodiak?” I ask, looking down at the mocha, sure that the light in my eyes would betray my not-so-innocent question.
He frowns. “Yes, my girlfriend still lives in Seattle.”
“Oh.” I know I need to make a genuine effort to not reveal my disappointment. So, I give him a broad smile and hand him the drink and force my heart to stop pounding out of my chest.
“It’s nice to meet you, Kensie,” he says.
“Yeah, the best,” I say, feeling jittery. It might be the four espressos I’ve had today but I think it’s because Kodiak causes a shiver to run up and down my spine.
I try not to stare as he sits in an armchair, reading the newspaper, but it’s hard. I keep wiping down tables and sweeping around him unnecessarily.
When he catches my eye, I’m all deer in the headlights, but try to hide my nerves as he gives me the smallest of waves and stands to go.
Realizing the moment is fleeting I shrug and say, “Coming by again tomorrow?”
He smirks. “Should I?”
“Of course, I make the best coffee in town.”
“In that case, it’s a date.” The moment the words leave his mouth, he must realize that they aren’t what he meant but I don’t care.
I laugh. “Wow, Kodiak, you move fast.”
“I didn’t, I mean I have a girlfriend and--“
“I’m just teasing. I get it.”
And I do. Kinda. But mostly I want to see him again.
He leaves the shop and I set my broom to the side, watching as he leans over and unlocks his mountain bike from the bike stand. He stands, stretching his arms overhead and as he moves, the hem of his T-shirt lifts, and a sigh escapes my lips as I rake my eyes over his washboard abs. #SoManyMuscles.
I know I have to take a photo. Discreetly, obviously. Matilda, won’t believe this man is real otherwise.
But he is very real. And here he is, standing right outside the cafe, taking a drink from his water bottle. I know I need to act fast. I grab my phone, crouch down low, and watch through the window.
I take a photo. Or a dozen. And at this moment, I know it’s the start of an obsession. After he rides away, I stare at the photos, cropping them and applying filters and realizing that I shouldn’t be the only one to enjoy this hottie with a naughty body.
Without considering anything besides how dreamy he is, I spend my lunch break creating an Instagram account with the handle @MyMountainMan. I decide, then and there, as I begin uploading half a dozen of the sexy photos, that this feed will feature photos of him and only him.
He comes in the next day. And the next. And the next. He always orders the same thing and we begin to get to know another. It’s clear he’s the Yin to my Yang, the sexy to my sweet.
And, yes, I keep taking Kodiak’s photo without him knowing.
After a week, I show Matilda the account and she thinks it’s a bit stalkerish, but I think of it as a public service. Why should I be the only one to enjoy looking at him as he takes a drink from his mocha, the whipped cream on his lips, giving every woman who follows the account a good reason to change her panties?
After a month, I stop going on dates when asked out by other men. My eyes are only on him.
After two, Matilda thinks I’ve gone off the deep end. She isn’t wrong.
After three, I wish I were screwed. By him.
Kodiak knows my favorite books, what music I like, and what season makes me all swoony--it’s summer, by the way. And I know all about him. He’s overly serious-- picture Mr. Darcy before he realized Lizzie was his HEA. When I can get him to smile, it’s a major win. He’s doesn’t get the The Bachelor and cant’ understand my emotional investment in the Kardashians, but he never judges me. And even though Matilda says a ten-year age difference is too big, I know that when Kodiak looks at me, he sees something he likes. A lot.
I may be in the friend-zone, but I swear there is a spark on his end. There has to be, right? Still, he never leans over the counter as I make his drink and asks me if I’d like to hop on one of the mountain bikes that he sells at his bike shop and take a ride off into the sunset.
So, sure, IRL we haven’t exactly sealed any sort of deal. But that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy the view he offers on a daily basis when he strolls in here, getting his drink and a copy of the local newspaper, reading it cover to cover on his mid-morning break and then staring at the evidence for the next few hours.
And there’s no rule on creating a social media account dedicated to the most perfect man you’ve ever met is there? It’s a compliment. Right?
When Kodiak and I met, he told me about his long-distance girlfriend, which, I mean -- whatever. Of course, I won’t mind if she disappears; I’m not as crazy as I sound. As long as he’s happy, I’m happy. And taking secret pictures of him makes me very, very happy.
It may have started as insta-love.
But now, it’s Instagram-love.
And it’s not just a hashtag, it’s the truth: Kodiak is my mountain man, and what he doesn’t know won’t hurt him.