Edited by SciFi Nut
I'm a Hospitality Evaluator. That's industry-speak for someone who goes around to competing hotels (and even sometimes our own) and secret shops them. Some would say this existence is rather detached, moving from one place to the next without any true place to call home and although I tend to agree, I enjoy the freedom of being on the road. I set my own hours and I'm basically am my own boss. Can't remember the last time I was told to go somewhere or do something that I hadn't set up in advance with my actual boss. She doesn't care; she's told me I'm the best she's got. I work for the Galaxy Family of hotels, no doubt you've stayed at one of them. From our no-frills motel brand, Good Nite Sleep, to our all-the-frills Emerald Galaxy, we are one of the largest hospitality chains in the world.
Late August is a great time to be in Montana. There's a slight chill in the air at night and the days really aren't that hot. I'd laugh when I'd see the weather in places like Phoenix (118 degrees yesterday) or L.A. (98, downtown). This portion of this Mountain West trip was evaluating properties that were standalones. These days most hotels are built like Walmart and Moran's or Walgreens and DWS: across the street from and next to each other. It's like 5 hotels get together and form a hotelhood. Standalones were usually on the outskirts of a town and away from other hotels. I was after one of three things: to find out what they were doing that put them on our radar, to see if there was an adjacent location that might be good for us to open a new property on or, in rare cases, to see if Galaxy would want to buy the property. In the case of the Bozeman Trails Resort, it wasn't part of a chain, but as I was able to determine from my research, successful. It was about 12 miles east of Bozeman sitting right on Interstate 90, with the only neighbor being a stable.
While I could have made the reservation from my iPhone, I decided to take in the sights at a Bozeman coffee house and use their wireless connection. I found a coffee house that was right off the Montana State campus. As I said, it was late August and I knew school was in session. I was expecting some co-ed scenery to enjoy while I enjoyed my coffee. I must have hit between classes or something, because there were many more young women than I expected. Each one was hotter than the next. I'm not a pig, just a man who likes to look at pretty ladies. I'm in my early 30s, so I'm not old, but to these girls, I was time itself. So I just looked. I'm sure a few of the girls caught me not-so-clandestinely staring at the curve of her underwire bra which rose with the strong, perky swell of her sweater or t-shirt covered chest. Or the way the denim of her jeans molded to her legs just under her ass. I got a few dirty looks, but two decent smiles. I was torturing myself, but it was relatively delicious torture. I wondered how a few of the girls actually got into their jeans. I thought sadly that I'd never find out.
I pulled into the Bozeman Trails Resort parking lot and noticed right away it wasn't the best of times or the worst of times for them. It was most definitely cared for with a nice manicured lawn, well-kept landscaping and a basketball court which had two baskets with nets. The parking lot looked as if it was freshly paved with bright space markers. It didn't look bad, but it seemed a little tired.
I parked and headed into the lobby. For this assignment I dressed as a casual tourist wearing a clean t-shirt and a Dockers shorts. I was a photographer and just passing through looking for things to shoot. The nice part about that cover was that it wasn't really a lie. I always brought my camera gear with me and shot as time allowed. Which it nearly always did. The reason for dressing a certain way was something I did more often at our own properties (versus others) so we could see if they'd treat someone dressed in a business suit the same as someone dressed as I was today, assuming the "customer" acted the same. About half the time, the more business-like I looked, the better my treatment was. Which is unacceptable. Every customer should be treated the same. I know for a fact my reports had gotten more than a few hotel managers talked to.
The lobby was not the nicest I'd seen, but someone clearly cared about it. "Tired" was the word that resurfaced. The registration desk was relatively busy for 5 p.m. on a Thursday; most folks were usually checked in by then or would much later in the evening. A very cute girl (yes, she was a girl) of maybe 17 or 18 was helping an older couple. I simply stood there patiently waiting and I overheard another man at the desk talking with someone on the phone while a customer, who looked rather frazzled, listened intently. Evidently that person had some debilitating car trouble and the desk guy was arranging for a local mechanic to help him out. Impressive.
"I can help you over here," said a voice from somewhat behind a bunch of flowers. I hadn't even noticed someone was there.
I stepped over and my breath caught in my throat. The woman was gorgeous. I hoped I'd concealed my surprise well enough. "Hi. Welcome to Bozeman Trails. I'm Jeannie," she smiled.
I steeled myself, as not to completely act like a moron and offer this woman anything she wanted. Yes, that's how beautiful she was. I mentally took a deep breath. "Hi Jeannie. I have a reservation. Donovan's the last name.
"Hi Mr. Donovan, again welcome."
Jeannie went to work looking up my reservation as I tried not to stare at her beautiful brown hair, neatly pulled back into an oh-so-grabbable ponytail. Her eyes were a bright blue and had been outlined expertly with dark eyeliner, making them appear more intense and larger than they actually were.
"I've got it right here, Mr. Donovan."
"Great. Call me Nick. It's nice to meet you."
She smiled back and it didn't quite seem like a front desk smile. "You already know I'm Jeannie," as she held out her hand to shake mine. I shook it and could have sworn I felt a jolt of something when our hands touched. I thought her eyes got wide for a fleeting moment, as if she felt it as well, but immediately convinced myself I was imagining it. I know a tent began to spring up in my pants and I glad I was standing close to the desk so she couldn't see below my waist.
"You're staying with us for one night?"
"And you wanted a king-sized bed in a room with a fridge ... let's see, on the first floor. Right?"
"You've got it."
"Where did you hear about us?"
"Excellent. Just give me a second and you'll be on your way."
Jeannie dove back into the computer screen and I couldn't help myself. She was wearing a tight, but not-too-tight gray v-neck t-shirt which clung very nicely to her breasts.
She looked up at me and I don't think I was caught. "Give me one second, ok?"
"Sure. Take your time, I'm in no rush."
She smiled, spun around and walked a few steps to look at something in a folder. She was wearing jeans, and just like her top, tight but not-too-tight. It was an ass that would put any of those coffee house girls to shame. I figured she was around my age, maybe older or younger by a year or two. I got an added treat when she walked back over to me. Her top had shifted and I saw her black bra peeking out of her top. Jeannie had a great rack. Probably a heavy C-cup or a nice solid D. I disappointedly noticed the large wedding ring on her left hand.
"Ok, I've got you in 108 which has that fridge you wanted," she smiled.
"Great. The wifi?"
"Just turn your machine on and it should be there. There's no code or anything like that. Here's your key and a coupon for 50% off your second entree in the restaurant."
"Thank you, but I won't need that coupon."
She looked at me for a moment and then realized, "Oh right, you're here by yourself, I'm sorry about that. Let me do this." She took a different pen from the desk and scribbled something on the coupon and stamped it with what looked like a shamrock stamp. "Here's 30% off your entree that you can use if you'd like to eat with us tonight."
I smiled back at her, "That's very kind. Thanks."
"My pleasure. So here's your key and your coupon. You can drive around to the back and park right in back of your room. Your room has a front door and a back door."
"Great. Thank you very much. Have a nice night."
Jeannie smiled, "You too."
I took my key and headed back to my car, but not before I turned around to steal one last glance at Jeannie. She was still looking at me. We shared a grin and I walked out.
As I got into my car, I took a deep breath. "Holy shit. She was absolutely gorgeous. I wish..."
I drove around to the back, found my room, parked and unloaded my stuff. My room was as clean as an operating room, yet the wallpaper, paint and linen looked as if they could stand to be updated. The hotel guest book was a third party job, done with hotel supervision. It told me Bozeman Trails had a pool, hot tub, stables (I didn't realize they were part of the resort), an exercise room, a basketball and volleyball court as well as a four-machine arcade. I made a quick change into a clean pair of shorts and t-shirt then went out to investigate the property.
I roamed around unchecked for about 20 minutes. I peered into other rooms, looked at the vending machines, checked out the stables, even took a handful of pictures and made it back to my room. Bozeman Trails seemed to be, no more and no less, a slightly run-down yet meticulous cared for hotel property. I'd save evaluating the restaurant for tonight and, since it was gorgeous out, I decided to go for a soak in the pool and hot tub.
The pool, like the rest of the place, was very nice. The water was very refreshing. I leisurely swam about 10 laps before getting into the hot tub for a nice soak. My thoughts drifted back to Jeannie. Why was a woman who could easily be a model be working the front desk at a hotel in Montana? She really was gorgeous. And seemingly sweet. I briefly thought about asking her to join me for dinner when I remembered the rock on her left hand. Sigh. That's the one problem with my job; I'm rarely home and hardly ever in one place long enough for anything more than the (very) infrequent roll in the hay. Sure I was lonely, but it's the life I chose.
"Having fun?" a voice from behind me asked.
I jumped and turned around to see Jeannie.
She laughed, "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to scare you."
"No worries," I laughed, "They let you leave the desk?"
"I get to leave every other week," she joked.
"It could be worse."
"You asked if I was having fun."
"A man who listens. Interesting."
"I'm sorry, what?" I joked.
"Ah, so that's how it goes," she laughed. "Nice seeing you again. Back to my afternoon check of the grounds. Enjoy your stay. If there's anything you need, just let us know."
I watched Jeannie's perfect form as she walked away and I started daydreaming about her again until I got out of the hot tub.
I needed to get that chlorine off my body as well as test the actual shower. It passed, in both water pressure and temperature. While I was still only in a towel, I thought about rubbing one out to the mental imagery of Jeannie, but decided against it for no apparent reason. I put on some jeans and a button-down collared shirt and tended to my notes and pictures that I'd put off to enjoy the swim. It was tedious, as most paperwork is, but it was necessary for me to take care of the first part of it while everything was fresh in my mind. I glanced at the clock on my computer and noticed I only had an hour left before the restaurant closed. What's with small towns and rolling up the streets before 9 p.m.? I downloaded and labelled the remaining pictures, made sure my battery was charged and headed to the on-site restaurant.
Hank's Eagle Cafe was just like the rest of the hotel property: cared for, but in need of a freshening up. I was met by the host and shown a booth by a window. Even in the waning light, it was a very pretty view of the countryside.
"Hi, I'm Eduardo, I'll be your server tonight," he said in perfect English flavored with an Hispanic accent, "Can I get you something to drink?"
I ordered a draft beer and decided on the special of the night: Prime Rib with a salad, potato, bread, veggies and dessert. I ordered it rare, like anyone who eats Prime Rib should.
I plugged in my adapter and downloaded the landscape photos from the last two days. It only took about four minutes to pull the nearly 300 images down. There were a few clunkers, but I was mainly pleased with my hobby photos. If I ever gave up this hotel gig, I could probably make a go of it as a landscape photographer.
"Sorry to interrupt, sir," Eduardo said, appearing at the table,
"Here is your salad. Can I get you anything before your entree comes out?"
"Damn that's huge," I remarked, "Just another beer, if you don't mind."
"Not at all. If you don't mind me asking, did you take those pictures?"
"I did. I'm a photographer," I told him, sticking to my not-so-far-off cover story.
"Let me say that you are very talented. Those are beautiful pictures."
"Thank you very much. I try."
He made his leave and I dug into my salad as I finished going through the images. It had some excellent Parmesan Peppercorn dressing and croutons that were rather tangy. I finished reviewing the images and fired up "Die Hard 4." I was enjoying the salad and the witty reparté between Bruce Willis and Justin Long when the entree arrived. I thanked the kid who brought it out, but immediately noticed a problem: it was cooked more well-done than my shoes. I sighed to myself and flagged Eduardo down.
He apologized profusely and took the shoe leather back to the kitchen. Bruce and Justin continued to try and stop Tim Olyphant from destroying everything and I went back to the remainder of my salad. After barely a minute had passed, a man who I'd not seen before came over to my table.
"Sorry to interrupt your movie, I'm Robert, the restaurant manager."
"No worries," I told him as I paused it.
"I want to apologize for the mixup with your dinner. Eduardo told me and I can assure you we're fixing that right now. We're going to make you a new piece from scratch."
"You didn't have to go to the trouble," I lied. When a restaurant screwed up as badly as this, they damn well better go to the trouble.
"It's no trouble at all."
I went back to the movie and within 10 minutes, my new dinner was presented to me. Perfectly. It wasn't the best prime rib ever, but it was decent and I enjoyed it to the point where I might have eaten a little too much. I gave it a solid B and the way they handled the screwup, an A-plus. I was in for a surprise when Robert came over after I asked for the check.
"Eduardo mentioned you didn't want any dessert. Can I change your mind?"
"Thanks, no. No more room." I patted my full stomach.
"It's on the house. Maybe a piece of cheesecake for back in the room later?"
"That's not a bad idea. That'll be great. And just bring the check with that."
"It's on the house."
"Oh thanks. But dinner?"
"No, I meant your whole meal is on the house. We take pride in, well, not doing what happened tonight."
"Thank you very much, that was completely unnecessary," I said truthfully. It was rare for a restaurant to comp an entire meal for travelers who would most likely never be back.
"Not acceptable to us, you know?"
"Actually, I do."
"And besides, Jeannie would kill me if I didn't take care of you after that." This took me by surprise.
"Jeannie? You mean gorgeous Jeannie that works at the front desk?" I blurted out.
"She is very pretty, isn't she? She's also the owner."
"Really? That's interesting. Sorry if I offended you if you're her husband or something."
"No worries at all. I'm not her husband and she's my boss. Let me have Eduardo grab that cheesecake for you."
I was back in my room and had changed back into a t-shirt and shorts. It was just before 11 p.m. and I finished the remainder of my paperwork. I submitted it via our VPN and was done for the day. I was off to West Yellowstone tomorrow to visit two separate properties and then two actual days off to explore Yellowstone. I stepped into the bathroom before I finished the rest of "Die Hard 4" when I thought I heard a knock at the door. I stopped peeing and listened again. Nothing. "And now you're hearing things."
I flushed, washed and pulled a Coke out of the in-room fridge when I really did hear a knock at the door. I was quite safety conscious while traveling, especially when staying at places along Interstates. The majority of folks were simply travelers moving from place to place, but a small percentage were specifically looking to prey on those very travelers. Since a knock on the door at this hour might be trouble, I reached into my other briefcase and made sure my Smith & Wesson 9mm was accessible and loaded.
"Yes, who's there?"
"Sorry to bother you. It's Jeannie, from the front desk."
"Do you want another one?" Jeannie asked.
"Sure, it's not like I'm driving."
Jeannie had stopped by my room to apologize for what happened in the restaurant and to ask me if I'd like to get a drink with her. I was a little bit flustered by her sudden appearance, but think I recovered well enough. When I asked her where we could get a drink, she simply said that ownership had its privileges.
She walked back around the bar of the closed Hank's Eagle Cafe with my new beer and returned to the booth we were sharing.
"Go on. Ask. You've been staring at my ring since we walked over here."
I hoped that I wasn't blushing too badly. "Sorry, I'm just not used to married women asking me for drinks."
"I have a confession to make," Jeannie said as she looked at me thoughtfully, "I'm not married. I'm..."
"No. Widowed actually, three years now. He died in a training accident in the Army."
"I'm really sorry."
"Thanks," she said as she took another drink of her wine. She took a breath. "I'll be honest with you. I'm really not trying to sound conceited, but I know I'm an attractive woman. The amount of men passing through who openly hit on me for an 'on-the-road roll-in-the-hay' was really starting to impact my desire to keep this place. And I love this place. My husband and I bought it years ago and renovated it. Part of him is still here, so..."
Jeannie looked into space for a moment and I steered the conversation away from her dead husband.
"So you put your ring back on to keep 'em away."
"I'll be honest, it worked on me."
"I know. The way you looked at me at the desk."
I covered my eyes with my hand, "Busted."
Jeannie laughed. "Absolutely, but there was something very different about the way you looked at me. A good different."
"I always strive for good different."
"Good to know. I liked you looking at me. I know you felt that jolt when our hands touched at the desk."
I looked directly into her eyes. "I wasn't sure if I imagined it or not."
She placed her hand on mine. "You didn't."
"That's good to know," I nearly stuttered as she slowly removed her hand from mine.
"So, Nick, what's your story? Child at Montana State? Just 'passing through'? You don't look like you're running from someone or something." She paused.
"I've got it. You're from the future!" she exclaimed, her eyes wide. "That's it. You're on a secret mission and you're establishing Bozeman as a portal for your future friends to come through."
She said this so seriously and with such enthusiasm, I have to admit I was a little concerned for a moment until she busted out laughing.
"You should have seen the look on your face," she said as she playfully slapped me.
"Cute, Jeannie. Very cute."
"I prefer to think of myself as hot."
"And that you are. As well as modest."
"Works for me."
"Yes it does," as I paused for a charged moment, "I'm not from the future, I'm a landscape photographer."
I immediately felt guilty for lying to her, but with her motel being the target of my 'mission, ' I couldn't tell her the truth.
"Sounds like a terrific job. What are you shooting?"
"It has its moments. I just finished a run from Sheridan, Wyoming and I'm off to Big Sky and Yellowstone tomorrow. I've been looking forward to Yellowstone."
"That sounds great," she said as she took a long drink from her wine.
"Last time I was at Yellowstone was when I was a kid with..."
My voice trailed off because Jeannie was looking at me as if she had a mission and I was it. Her foot was running up and down and down and up both of my inner thighs. She smiled a very saucy smile. "Something wrong?"
"Nope," I squeaked. "Just need a drink."
I grabbed my beer and took a big swig. Jeannie's foot didn't stop, in fact, it went right for my cock and imparted a very sensual pressure.
"Feels like you could use something else too."