Page 2

Author: Tracy Wolff

She’s been skating around the edges of my mind ever since. So yesterday, when Ash mentioned there was a hot new blonde working the coffee stand at the top of the mountain, I put it together and filed the info away for future use.

It looks like the future’s tonight. I figure I’ll head over and chat her up while Cam and I are waiting for the others. Find out her name. And see how long it takes to convince her to take a break so I can get her up against the nearest dressing room wall.

It’ll solve two problems for me—get rid of some of this itchiness that just won’t go away and make sure Cam understands just how little that near-miss out there means to me.

When I don’t immediately respond to her taunts, Cam narrows her eyes at me. “What? Are you afraid you’ve lost your touch or something?”

It’s my turn to snort. “Like that’s ever happened.”

“I don’t know. There’s a first for everything.”

“Not that,” I tell her firmly.

“Well, then, go get my drink.” Her phone beeps and she glances down, reads the text. “And get one for Luc and Ash, too. They’ll be here in about ten minutes.”

“Small or large?”

She looks at me pointedly. “You sure that’s a question you want to be batting around right now? You were the one concerned about frostbite, after all.”

I flip her off, and she returns the gesture as I walk away. I’m not paying attention anymore, though.

Instead, all my attention is focused on the girl working the register. She’s talking to a customer—an older man clutching a cup of coffee in each hand—and grinning at whatever he’s telling her. She’s got a great smile and I can’t help wondering why I didn’t notice that the other night. It’s not as great as her body, which is smoking hot, but it’s still pretty awesome.

And so are her eyes, which are an intense shade of green. They’re kind of wide and sexy, especially when she glances at something out of the corner of them, like she’s done a bunch of times in the last few minutes. She’s got a good mouth, too, and for a second I’m so wrapped up in thinking about what it’d feel like wrapped around my c**k that I don’t even notice when Lila darts straight into my path.

She grabs on to me, wraps her arms around my waist, and presses her firm, sweet body up against mine. I try to move past her, but she’s got a good grip and she’s not letting go. Short of shaking her off—which is a dick move, even for me—there’s not much to do but grin and bear it.

“Hey, Z!” Her voice is breathier than normal and she’s batting her eyelashes so hard I’m afraid she’s going to pop out one of her colored contacts. “You’re looking good tonight.”

“Thanks. So are you.” I reach around, slowly untangle myself from her octopus grip. But she just grabs on to my hands with both of hers.

“You think so?”

Not really. “Yeah, of course.” I look her over, try for something nice to say. “That sweater looks good on you.”

She preens and again I start to move past her, but she won’t let go of my right hand. Instead, she runs her fingertips over my knuckles before prying my fingers out from the fist I’ve unwittingly made. Then she looks at my palm. “Ooh, you have a really deep love line,” she tells me as she strokes one long pink nail along the chained crease. “Do you know what that means?”

“Haven’t got a clue.” My tone implies that I don’t care, either, but she’s not listening. She’s too into the big seduction she’s mapped out in her head, and I rock back on my heels, resigned to the worst she has to offer. Nothing short of a five-man extraction team is getting me out of this before Lila’s ready to let go.

She moves even closer, so close that her mouth is pressed against my ear and her tits are resting against my arm when she whispers, “It means that you are very good in bed.”

Call me crazy, but— “I didn’t think you’d need to read my palm to know that.”

She giggles again, and to me it’s like nails scraping against a chalkboard. “I don’t, silly. I remember every minute of our night together.”

Interesting, since I don’t remember any of it and I wasn’t even drunk. Or at least I don’t think I was. All of the parties—and the girls—are starting to blur together.

Again, I don’t say what I’m thinking. Instead I work on prying her hand off mine. I finally manage to escape, but I only get a few steps away before she throws herself in my path once more.

“Where are you rushing off to? Why don’t you come sit with my friends and me?” She nods toward a table of four other girls, all of whom are staring at me like I’m dessert. Normally I’d be all over that invitation, but right now it couldn’t sound less appealing. Especially when the new girl throws back her head and laughs at something the old guy in line says to her.

I like the sound of it. Like little tinkling bells. I feel like a total pu**y for noticing, but then again, there’s not much about her I haven’t noticed at this point.

“So, Z, what do you think? You want to hang with us tonight?”

When it becomes glaringly obvious that the only way I’m going to get away from her is to knock her down, I drag my eyes away from the new girl and focus on Lila. She giggles a little and the eyelash batting gets worse. “Sorry,” I tell her. “I’ve got plans.”

“With her?” She shoots a venomous glance over at the table where Cam is sitting, fiddling with her phone. “Please. You can do better than that loser. I mean, does she even like guys? Ditch her and I promise I’ll make it worth your while.”

What little patience I’ve managed to hang on to abandons me right there. No one talks shit about my friends. No one.

I shrug Lila off, and this time I don’t bother to be nice about it. “I wouldn’t ditch a one-night stand for you, let alone my best friend.” I look her over, and this time I make sure nothing but disdain shows. “Oh, right. You were a one-night stand.”

She has nothing to say to that. I move past her, trying to ignore how pale she is and the way her eyes are suddenly shimmering with tears. She grabs at my arm, but I shake her off. It’s her own fault. I tried to be nice—I hate guys that are dicks to girls just because they can be—but no one gets away with dissing Cam around me. That girl’s been through too much already. She doesn’t need—or deserve—to get shit from anyone else, especially after what I pulled tonight.

Still, I don’t like making girls cry. It reminds me too much of April, and I can’t go there.

I won’t go there.

By the time I get to the counter, the tension inside me has reached critical mass. Part of me expects my skin to split open under the pressure of it any second now.

The old guy has moved on, thank God, but now there’s a small line of people between me and the new girl. I focus on her to the exclusion of everything else, take this shot at checking her over to block out the rest of my fucked-up life.

She looks good up close, and even though she’s wearing jeans and a turtleneck, both items are tight enough that I can see just how hot her body really is. Too bad we live in the snow, ’cuz this girl should never wear a coat.

I pass the time imagining what I’m going to do to her when I get her alone.

Where I want to touch.

Which spots I want to kiss. To lick. To bite.

With her there are so many that I’m not sure where to start. At the nape of her neck, right below where she’s bundled her hair into that messy bun? At the birthmark right below her jaw on the right side of her neck? Or at the tiny little dimple that flashes in her left cheek whenever she smiles at a customer?

Wherever I start, I know exactly where I want to end up. But now I’m just torturing myself, and by the time I get to the counter, I’m grateful I’m still in my thick snowboarding pants. Otherwise, my interest would be obvious to everyone in the damn room.

“What can I get you?” she asks, her fingers poised over the register. For the first time I realize her nails are painted a funky green that almost exactly matches her eyes—not what I was expecting from her with all those tough-girl vibes she throws out. I like the color, though, almost as much as I like knowing there’s more to her than I thought.

Not that it really matters, I remind myself. I want to f**k her, not get to know all her twists and turns.

“I don’t know.” I let my voice go a little huskier than normal, give her the half smile that usually gets me whatever I want. “What’s good?”

“That depends on what you like.” She mimics my tone exactly, but when I search her face there’s nothing but polite professional interest there. It’s my second clue that I might be in for more than I bargained for here.

Interested despite my less than honorable intentions, I lean against the counter and contemplate my choices. The answer I want to give her has nothing to do with coffee and everything to do with what I’ve spent the last five minutes fantasizing about. But something tells me that kind of approach won’t work with her, not this girl with the deliberately bland face, kick-ass voice, and—I glance down at the hands she still has poised over the register—trembling, green-tipped fingers.

I barely bite back a grin. Looks like I make her nervous, after all. It’s the best news I’ve had all day. “I like just about anything,” I finally tell her.

“Yeah, I’ve heard that about you,” she answers dryly, sounding less than impressed.

“Oh, really? And what exactly have you heard—” I glance down at the black-and-silver name tag pinned to her shirt. “—Ophelia?”

She rolls her eyes. “I think you’ve got a pretty good idea what people say about you, Z. Now are you going to stand there all night batting your eyes at me or are you actually going to order something for your harem?”

“My harem?”

She nods toward Lila and her friends, and this time the look on her face lets me know just how unimpressed she is. Damn. Looks like my reputation really has preceded me. Or Lila’s has. She’s one of the winter regulars who have a lot more money than sense. Somehow I doubt she’s got the intelligence—or basic good manners—to be nice to the barista. Which means I really might be screwed here.

It matters more than it should. Normally I don’t give a shit what people say about me—and they say a lot, especially since Luc, Ash, and I turned pro—but something about the way Ophelia’s looking at me is making my palms sweat. It’s a first for me, and one I’m not all that happy about.

“I barely know those girls.”

“Like that’s supposed to impress me?”

“I don’t know.” It’s the most honest thing I’ve said all day. “What would impress you?”

She eyes me disdainfully. “Way more than what you’ve got to offer.”

So much for honesty. That’s why I work so hard not to put myself out there—it always bites you in the ass. Determined to get control of the situation, I rest my hands on the counter and lean in toward her. Then I turn it on, the look that’s gotten me every girl I’ve tried for since I lost my virginity at the age of thirteen.

Ophelia’s eyes go wide and she bobbles the cup she reached for seconds ago. This time I don’t even try to hide my smile.

“Why don’t you give me something sweet,” I suggest after she’s stared at me for a few long seconds.

“Something … sweet?” Her voice sounds strangled.

“Yeah.” A few strands of hair have escaped her bun, and I reach out to stroke an errant curl before winding it around my finger. “And hot. It’s pretty cold outside.”