Stars Over Alaska (Wild River #4) - Jennifer Snow

CHAPTER ONE

Somewhere outside Wild River...

FIFTY-SEVEN HOURS TRAPPED in a vehicle with Selena Hudson had Leslie Sanders contemplating just how important it really was to keep the woman alive.

Selena continued to twitch in the passenger seat. She stretched her long legs out in front of her and scanned the surrounding scenery, which consisted of snow-covered evergreen trees as far as she could see. “How much longer?”

If Leslie had to answer that question one more time, her head might actually explode. “Just a few minutes.” More like twenty, but each second cooped up in the vehicle felt like an eternity.

“But there’s nothing around here. I haven’t seen a house or business or crappy gas station convenience store for over an hour. This area looks deserted.”

That was the point.

Leslie slowed down and scanned for the opening in the trees where the trail, just wide enough for a car, led into the forest. It had been a while since she’d driven out here by herself and this stretch of Alaska Highway was unremarkable.

Seeing the opening at the last second, she took the sharp turn as carefully as possible on the snow-covered roads. Her all-season tires on her secondhand car weren’t a great match for the early spring conditions.

Tall, thick trees on either side blocked the view of the setting sun and cast an ominous shadow ahead.

“I thought you were trying to save my life. This place looks like something out of a horror flick.”

Selena Hudson’s active imagination was an occupational hazard from growing up on movie sets. The Disney child star turned rom-com queen couldn’t recognize the real world when it wasn’t illuminated by fake lighting. “Believe me, this will be the safest place for you.” Hopefully Leslie sounded more convincing than she felt. The farther they’d driven away from LA, the less confident she was.

“Is this even a road?”

“Yes.” Not a great one. Her small car struggled to push through the three feet of snow. Her foot was pressed to the floor and the tires spun, lacking significant traction.

“You sure this car can make it?” Selena asked.

“Yes.” With a small miracle on their side. Getting out and walking the rest of the way didn’t appeal to her. “Just sit tight. We’re almost there.”

Selena sighed but sat back against the seat.

A few minutes and a lot of praying later, Leslie stopped the car and put it in Park in front of a small, secluded log cabin.

“Tell me this is not where we’re staying.” Selena’s unimpressed expression was one Leslie had been prepared for. Only five-star, luxury accommodations were to the star’s liking. “The car ran out of steam, right? That’s why we’re stopping?”

“Nope. This is it. My family’s cabin. It’s safe.”

“Does it even have running water?”

“Yes.” Hopefully. If the pipes weren’t shut off to avoid freezing during the winter months. Truth was, she hadn’t been here in years. Leslie’s decision to bring the movie star to the Alaskan wilderness outside of her hometown of Wild River had been an impulsive one. One she hadn’t gotten official clearance for and one that could very well cost her her job with the Executive Protection Agency in LA. One she hadn’t had time to fully prepare for. But she’d had to make the split-second decision and this was it.

Of course she’d also had to bend the truth a little to get the movie star to go along with her insane idea to drive from California to Alaska, and now the look of terror on Selena’s face suggested she’d never be assigned another client again.

But she’d taken the job to protect people and this had felt like the best and only response to Selena’s stalker moving in.

“You said we were going to a ski resort.”

Leslie nodded. “You can cross-country ski out here.” Her family kept skis and snowshoes in the small shed behind the cabin. Of course they’d need to shovel a path to the shed first.

Selena stared at her. “You know that’s not what I assumed.”

“Well, you know what they say about assumptions.”

“Leslie! You lied to me. In fact, you lied about a lot of things. You took me away from Unicorn—who is an emotional support animal, by the way—and you said this road trip would be fun. It wasn’t. You said we could stop and see things along the way. We didn’t. You said this time together would bring us closer. Spoiler alert—I don’t feel closer to you at all.”

Leslie cut the engine of the vehicle. “Look, I knew you wouldn’t come along if I told you

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