Allie and the stranger both took a step back. As expected, the stranger, a tall, blond-haired hunk gave her a lingering once-over before flicking his surprised glance back up to her eyes. He had a business card in his hand that she recognized as one of hers.
A potential client. Thank you, God! she thought.
"Hello. Can I help you?" Allie said, recovering first.
He smiled and held up the business card. "I'm looking for A. W. of Alaska Wilde Hunting Service."
"I'm Allie," she said, barely able to contain her relief. The blond hunter couldn't have come at a better time. "Allie is short for Alaska. Come in."
At the sound of another ball bearing hitting the siding mere inches from the man's shoulder, Allie's senses went on high alert. If Mark didn't injure her last hope of some immediate income, he'd drive him away.
But not if she could help it.
"Come inside!" Allie said, nearly dragging the man through the doorway and quickly slamming the door shut behind him.
The stranger's blue-gray eyes widened, but he seemed just as intent on taking in her eyes. She noticed he didn't pull away from her grasp, either.
Slowly, she relinquished her grip on his arm. He didn't feel bulky, like most of the men she met. He was tall and lean, but there was nothing that screamed the word, dominant, about him, either.
The sound of a ball bearing hitting the wall made the man turn back.
"I keep hearing that noise," he said, his brow furrowing.
"Probably a woodpecker. They're a pain in the ass this time of year. Have a seat," she said, quickly motioning to one of the two chairs in front of her desk.
She took advantage of his confusion and pulled his arm until he was alongside a chair.
"And your name is?" she prompted.
Jay took a seat, admiring the fluid way the woman moved, even when she was in a hurry. The shock of her saying she was a guide had already worn off, though a dozen questions were now screaming for answers. Questions were a huge part of his job, but his interest in the dark-haired beauty was more personal.
"For some reason, I expected a—" he said before he could help himself, knowing instinctively it was the wrong thing to say.
"Man?" she asked, leaning toward him, her eyes narrowing.
The motion was disconcerting, to say the least. Jay had to resist the urge to move back.
Alaska Wilde wasn't physically threatening, though she did have a strength about her that gave the impression she could take care of herself — and a battalion of soldiers besides.
"I only had an initial to go by. It was a logical assumption, given that most guides are male." He paused. "Alaska Wilde?"
Her name sounded like a made up name, a pseudonym. Now that Jay thought about it, her name sounded like a stripper name.
"Anyone ever tell you that your name sounds—"
"Yes," she said, cutting him off again. Her eyes narrowed to slits. "I was an exotic dancer — past tense. It lasted one night, so I'm not even sure if it qualifies as an...