Page 16

Author: Tracy Wolff

“Oh, don’t I know it. You’ve made damn sure we all know it, haven’t you? You f**king prick.”

“Get out.” I turn, head for the staircase. “I don’t need to listen to this.”

Luc moves fast, gets in my way. Refuses to let me pass. “This is exactly what you need to hear.”

“Get out of my way, man.”

“Not until I say what I came to.”

“I think I’ve heard more than enough.”

“You haven’t heard shit. You never do. You’re too locked in your own head, too busy being self-absorbed and tortured and f**ked up to hear what you need to.”

My hands clench into fists. “Get the hell out of my way.”

“What are you going to do? Hit me again?”

“Yes, goddamnit, that’s exactly what I’m going to do if you don’t get the f**k away from me.”

“Have at it.” He spreads his arms wide. “You’re mad at the f**king world. Mad at yourself. Mad at your mother. Mad at your sister. You might as well be mad at me, too.”

I swing my fist into his stomach, follow it with an uppercut to the jaw that lays him out on the floor. “Is this what you want?” I shout at him. “Is this what you f**king want?”

He climbs gingerly to his feet, his fingers probing at the bruise I can already see forming on his jaw. “What I want is for you to man up. Stop being such a pu**y and get your f**king act together. You’re rich—”

“Is that it? Is all this about the f**king money?”

“It’s never been about the f**king money and you know it.” He walks to the bar fridge, pulls out a few ice cubes, and wraps them in a towel. “You’re the most talented snowboarder I know—”

“Ash is—”

“No. Not Ash. You. We’ve been boarding together for over a decade. Been on the pro circuit together for four years. You do shit that no one else can even come close to, and you do it without even trying.”

“That’s not true.”

“Really? What about that inverted 1440 you pulled out of your ass the other day? Has anyone else done that, like ever?”


“Bullshit. If they had, we would have heard about it.” He sighs, presses the ice to his injured jaw, and I feel like an even bigger prick than usual. “Everyone knows you’re the most talented f**king boarder in the world right now. You could take the top spot at the trials. At the X Games. Hell, you’ve got a shot—a good shot—at taking home the gold medal at Sochi, but instead of working on your f**king boarding, you’re drinking yourself into a coma.”

That last hits a little close to home considering what I was thinking only about an hour and a half ago. Not that I’m about to let him see that. “There’s more to life than snowboarding, man.”

“Really?” He looks around. “What?”

“Excuse me?”

“What else have you got in your life but snowboarding?”

“What do you mean?”

“It’s pretty self-explanatory. What the hell else do you have going on besides boarding?”

I don’t say anything, but then he doesn’t expect me to. No one knows how f**ked up my life is, how f**ked up I am, better than Luc. We grew up together. He was there when April died. When my mom f**king killed herself. When my dad told me what I already knew—that it was my fault. That it was all, every f**king thing, my f**king fault.

“Oh, right. You don’t have anything else.”

“That’s not true.”

“Really?” He starts ticking things off on his fingers. “Your father’s a douche who won’t have anything to do with you.”

“Because he blames me for—”

“No. Not because of that. Because he’s a total f**king douche and he doesn’t deserve you.”

“Wow, man. That’s deep. Should we hold hands and sing ‘Kumbaya’ now?”

He flips me off but doesn’t stop with the listing. “You’ve got Cam, a really beautiful girl who’s in love with you, but you’re too busy f**king anything that moves to appreciate her.”

“Dude, I would never f**k around with Cam.”

“You better not or I’ll rip your dick off. Still, if she loves you, then there’s a chance that someday some other girl will. But you’ll never find her if you spend your life wasted and picking up a different snow bunny every night of the week. And I wouldn’t even say anything about that, except I don’t think you even like doing it. You sure as hell didn’t seem to want anything to do with Stacy this morning.”

For some reason Ophelia’s face flashes through my head, but I shut that shit down fast. She made her feelings abundantly clear on Friday night. And it’s not like it matters anyway. Not like I actually give a shit about her or something.

“What else?” Luc asks. “Oh, yeah. Thanks to your parents and a couple of trust funds—not to mention some really sweet sponsorship deals—you’ve got more money than you know what to do with, but you don’t give a shit about that, either. At least not as long as you have enough in your pocket to buy a dozen or so bottles of expensive-ass tequila.

“And you’ve got us. Ash, Cam, and me. Except you’ve spent so much time pushing us away lately, trying to keep us at arm’s length, that I’m beginning to think you don’t give a shit about us, either.

“So tell me, Z. What the hell do you have in your life that’s more important than getting your ass out there on that half-pipe and getting ready for the f**king Olympic trials? Because, whatever it is, I’m just not seeing it.”

Chapter 10


I catch a glimpse of dark hair out of the corner of my eye, and even as I tell myself not to look, that it isn’t him, I can’t help turning my head just to check. Just to be sure.

It’s been three days since Z walked out of my room, and I haven’t seen him since. Not here in the café, not going into or exiting the dressing room on the other side of the lobby. Not even on the slopes when I’m walking to and from work. Not that I’ve been watching for him or anything. It’s just I’d seen him around a few times before Friday night and it seems strange that he’s simply disappeared.

I swear, if I didn’t hear people talking about him occasionally, speculating about his chances for making the Olympic team or winning this year’s X Games, I would think he didn’t exist. Or that I’d made that whole night up.

The movie. The snowball fight. The vulnerability I thought I saw in his face when he drove me home.

It’s that vulnerability that haunts me now, that I-won’t-let-it-hurt-me-even-though-it-obviously-does look of his that makes me feel like shit even though he was using me as much or more than I was using him. Because if it was true, if it wasn’t all an act just to get me into bed, then I can’t help feeling like a total bitch.

Yeah, he made a bet about screwing me—but that was before he even knew me. All he knew at that point was that I had a temper and wicked aim with an iced coffee. Is there any doubt he was pissed when he made that bet?

Not that I’m excusing him, because I’m not. I mean, no matter how you look at it, it’s … ick. Not to mention all I’m-God’s-gift-to-women-and-I-know-it.

But at the same time, Mr. I’m-So-Arrogant-I-Can-Get-Any-Woman-I-Want stopped me in the middle of giving him a blow job because he knew I wasn’t into it. He stopped me. How many guys do I know who would do that? Even Remi, who loved me, would have been hard-pressed to walk away once I was on my knees in front of him.

But Z had. And then he’d asked what was wrong, why I was upset. Even though I’m not stupid enough to think he cares about a girl he just met, I can’t help but remember the way his hand felt sliding down my face. The way his eyes were dark and cloudy as they looked into mine.

Shit. I rub a hand over my face and try to stop being the stupid crazy girl who falls for the bad boy and then wonders why her life is all messed up. I came here to get my life under control, and right now I feel more lost than I ever have except right after the accident. And I don’t understand why.

He’s just a guy. Not even a particularly nice guy. Just a guy, and yet I’ve spent entirely too much time thinking about him since he walked out of my room, face blank and body stiff. He was pissed, I know he was, but he didn’t even bother to slam the door behind him.

I think that’s what bothers me most. A guy with that kind of self-control … there’s got to be a lot more to him than what he lets people see.

“Hey, Ophelia. Can I get a large coffee?”

Shaking my head to clear it, I turn to smile at Harvey. He’s a dishwasher in the kitchen at the main lodge with a serious caffeine addiction. He’s down here at least twice a day ordering the biggest cup of coffee we’ve got. His room at the employee dorm also happens to be three doors down from mine.

“Sure,” I say, filling a cup up with his usual Rain Forest blend but making sure to leave room for the bucket of half-and-half he likes to add to it. “You want a cookie or anything to go with that?”

“I’m good, thanks.” He pays for the drink, then slides a couple of extra dollars into the tip jar even though I’ve told him repeatedly that he doesn’t have to do that.

“What are you reading today?” I ask as he drops the contents of a half dozen packets of sugar into his drink.

He pulls a battered copy of Anthem by Ayn Rand out of his pocket. “A friend recommended it.”

“It’s good. One of the original dystopians, back when they were popular the first time.”

“So you’ve read it?”

“Yeah.” I’ve read a lot of things. Sitting on your ass for weeks at a time while you recover from a drag racing accident will do that to a person.

“Cool. So when I’m done, maybe we can talk about it.”

“Sure. I’d like that. There aren’t that many people I can talk about books with.”

“I know, right?” he says with a grin. I think he’s about to say something else, but another customer comes up to the counter.

I smile at him in apology, then turn to take the order. Harvey smiles back and gives me a little wave before he takes his coffee and book over to a seat beneath the window. He spends the next fifteen minutes immersed in the book and doesn’t look up until his break is over. Then he stands up and catches my eye before giving me a little wave.

I wave back. He’s a nice guy, and I think maybe we’re on the way to being friends. I have to admit it feels pretty good, especially since I haven’t had a friend for a while.

I’ve only got about an hour before my shift ends, and the time goes by pretty quickly since the snow has really started kicking up outside and a bunch of people have decided to hit the lodge early. In fact, I end up working about half an hour after I should have gone home just because we’re so slammed.

When reinforcements finally arrive, courtesy of a couple of the kitchen staff, I shed my apron gratefully. It’s been a long day and it’s not over yet. I’m supposed to have dinner with my aunt and uncle tonight, and the sooner I get there, the sooner it’ll be over.

It’s not that I don’t like them, because I do. They got me this job and have been pretty cool to me—especially since I messed up in the first two positions they put me in. When I got here I didn’t understand that letting the old geezers flirt with me was practically part of the job description, so when a couple of walking midlife crises with fake tans and bad hair tried to make a move on me, I made sure they understood I wasn’t interested. Unfortunately, I was a little too forceful in my rejection of them and complaints were filed.