My clothes are there, though someone’s taken them out of the dryer and heaped them on the side counter. I slip into them quickly, cursing a little at how cold everything is. It’s never bothered me before, but then I’ve never spent a night snuggled up against Ophelia before, either. In fact, unless I’m totally wasted and just pass out like I did with Stacy, I never spend the night with a girl at all. The fact that I did last night shakes me up more than I want to admit to anyone, especially myself.
I make my way back to Ophelia’s room, hoping she’ll be up so I can talk her into breakfast and a ride home. But she’s still sacked out, and when I glance at her alarm, I realize it’s not set to go off for a couple of hours. Either it’s her day off or she’s working late today.
Either way, there’s some stuff I want to take care of, and since there’s no way I’m going back to bed, I might as well do it now. I can’t stand what almost happened to her last night, hate the fact that if I hadn’t been hiking in—due to my own stupidity—then I wouldn’t have been there and she would have had to fend Harvey off on her own. I hate even more the fact that she might not have been able to fend him off. When I caught up to them, she was almost holding her own, but he’s a big guy. Who knows what could have happened.
Just the thought of Ophelia being raped and/or beaten has rage rocketing through me, and for a minute I can almost feel the bastard’s neck beneath my hands. Men who hurt women that way don’t deserve to live.
Shaking it off, or at least trying to, I add another item to my mental to-do list. Then I bend over, kiss Ophelia’s cheek, and murmur, “I’ll be back in a little.”
She moans, pushes at my face, and I can’t help grinning. Looks like my girl is definitely not a morning person. It’s kind of cute that she’s this grumpy in the morning. Then again, it shouldn’t really surprise me, not when she’s got grumpy cornered all the other times of the day, too.
Pulling my phone out, I text Ash and Luc a quick request before throwing on my jacket and heading out on the same path Ophelia was on yesterday, only in the opposite direction. If I hurry, I can be back before she wakes up.
I pretty much jog the whole way to the resort—it’s a great morning for it. Crisp and clear with air so pure it almost hurts to breathe. Luc and Ash still beat me there, though. I find them in the main parking lot, leaning against my Range Rover and shooting the shit about some of the other guys on the snowboarding circuit.
“Well, you look like you’re in one piece,” Luc says, giving me a critical once-over once he catches sight of me.
“I told you yesterday that I was fine.”
“Yeah, well, we weren’t particularly inclined to believe you—especially when you wouldn’t let us come over last night.”
“You’re turning into a little old grandma, Luc. All this worrying. You should probably get out more. It’ll take care of that.”
He flips me off, but there’s no heat in it. “Yeah, well, you should probably go get laid. It might keep you from jumping off the side of a f**king mountain.”
At his words, I can’t help but think about Ophelia and what we spent most of the night doing. Not that I’m about to tell Luc and Ash about it. Some things are nobody else’s business.
“Where’re my keys?” I ask, holding out my hand.
“Where’s my camera?” Ash counters, holding out his hand as well.
“Right here.” I pull it out of the bag I snagged from Ophelia’s place.
“How’s the footage?”
“I don’t know. Haven’t looked at it yet.”
They goggle at me like I’m crazy. “Are you kidding me? How could you not watch it?” Ash demands. “Didn’t you want to see what you did?”
“Dude, I lived it. What’s going over it again gonna do for me?”
Luc shakes his head at me. “You’re hopeless. You know that?”
“I always have been.”
Ash shoots me a look, but he’s too busy bringing up the footage to say anything. Of course, I’d totally forgotten that it was recording during Cam’s and my little talk at the top of the mountain, so—lucky me—I get to endure hearing to it a second time. While my best friends watch and listen, too.
“Well, fuck,” Ash says, pausing it right before I go over. “I take back all the shit I said. If she was yapping at me like that, I’d probably go off the side of a mountain, too.”
All three of us laugh, and then Ash hits play and we get to watch my trip down that mountain. It always feels a little surreal to me to watch footage from a chest cam—at least of myself and something I’ve done—but Ash and Luc don’t seem to have any problem with it.
They hoot and holler a little bit as the video rolls, and Luc curses when I hit that monster drop, but other than that nobody says anything until we get to the end of the footage. And even then, Ash turns around and starts scrolling back so we can watch it all over again.
“Dude, how big was that drop?” Luc demands. “It went on for f**king ever.”
“It felt that way. When I was doing it, I thought it was probably two hundred feet, but once I was down and looking back up, it seemed more like two hundred and fifty feet or so.”
“Yeah. It’s the only time on the whole run that I thought I might actually die. It felt like the ground was so far away.”
“It was so far away.” Ash shakes his head in awe. “Man, that is f**king Art of Flight shit,” he tells me, referencing the kick-ass snowboarding documentary that showed boarders doing a whole host of things that didn’t look like they were humanly possible.
“That’s right,” I agree. “Travis Rice ain’t got nothing on me.” Then I laugh, because the man’s a genius while I’m just a fuck-up. No doubt a lucky fuck-up yesterday, but still a fuck-up.
“No way, man. This is epic. Seriously epic. Do you know the longest drop ever landed is—”
“One hundred and seven meters. Three hundred and twenty-one feet,” Luc and I finish for him in stereo. Ash is a living, breathing snowboarding Wikipedia, and we’ve heard it all a million times before.
“Exactly. I bet you were close to that.”
“I don’t know, man.” He brings the footage back to my drop, counts the seconds. “If you were dropping at a rate of—”
“Okay, okay, enough snowboarding geek stuff,” I tell him. I don’t know how far I dropped and I don’t care. For me it’s never been about that kind of stuff.
“All right, fine.” He continues scrolling until he gets to one of my tricks. “Is that really a triple—”
“And a 1440—”
“Where have you been hiding this stuff?” Luc demands. “We board with you every day, and while you do some extreme shit, I have never seen you do a couple of those tricks before.”
I shrug. “We don’t always practice together.”
“No, of course not. Only like every day.”
“He did the 1440 the other day, while you and Cam were still sleeping,” Ash says. “It was totally front.”
“Yeah, I bet.” Luc shakes his head again. “Man, you are going to redefine the X Games this year. No one is going to be able to touch you.”
“Forget the X Games. This is Olympic medal shit,” Ash tells him.
“Nah, man. The Olympics are your game. It’s all you this year. Well, you and that kid from Colorado,” I tell him.
“Yeah, right. Neither Luc nor I can do an inverted 1440.”
“Hell, most days it’s all I can do to hit 1080,” Luc agrees. “This is awesome, Z.”
“People are going to go apeshit for this footage,” Ash says. “I can’t wait to get it up.”
“About that …”
He already knows what I’m going to say. “Oh, no. No way. Don’t you dare tell me you don’t want me to use it.”
“I was just thinking, maybe—”
“No! No! You’re too frickin’ modest all the time. You never want anyone to see what you can do, and usually I go along with it, but this is amazing. And it’s almost Olympic trials time. You totally need to get this out there.”
“I already told you, I’m not interested in the Olympics—”
“Yeah, well, we are,” Luc interjects. “This footage is going to get us a shitload of hits and attention on YouTube and the website. And once they’re there, maybe they’ll poke around for a while, see what else we’ve got. This is how you get the Olympic selection committee’s attention.”
“You get their attention by kicking ass at the trials. The Dew championship—”
“Bull. You know as well as I do that it’s as much about swagger as it is about your actual performance during those couple of weeks.”
“You don’t count. You’d agree with anything if it meant getting that footage on the website.”
“While that is true, I still stand by what Luc says. What you did on this video is too awesome to ignore. It’s going up.”
I start to argue with him some more, but I can tell by the look on his face that I’ll have to pry the camera from his cold, dead hand if I have any chance of keeping my ride off the Internet. And f**k it, in the grand scheme of things, what’s the big deal? I’ve got better stuff to do this morning than to stand around here wasting time with these two.
“Fine, whatever. Just don’t make a big deal of it, okay?”
“We’re not the ones who are going to be making a big deal,” Luc says.
I pull a face at him, then say, “I’ve got to go. Thanks for bringing my car up.”
“The footage more than makes up for it.” Ash tucks the camera in his truck, which is parked right next to my Range Rover. “Are you hitting the half-pipe with us?”
“Later. I’ve got some stuff to do.”
“Stuff that has to do with your busted-up knuckles?” Ash asks.
I glance down at my hands. Even though they still hurt a little, I’d pretty much forgotten about them. Otherwise I would have kept my gloves on.
“You need backup?”
I think of Ophelia tucked up in her bed. “Uh, no. I’ve got it.”
“I bet,” Luc says, shooting me a knowing look. “Oh, and speaking of bets, you better forget about snow bunnies and focus on getting with Ophelia or I’m going to be riding your Burton Landlord in the competition this weekend.”
Hell, I’d forgotten about the stupid bet. Now’s the perfect time to tell them I won, but I can’t get the words out. I don’t know what’s going on with Ophelia or me, or what’s going to happen from here. But what happened last night wasn’t about a bet, and if that means having to give up my favorite board, then I’m okay with it. Not happy, obviously, but okay. I never thought I’d say this about any girl, but Ophelia’s more important.
I finally ditch my friends a few minutes later. Which is perfect timing, because the resort’s restaurants just opened and I’ve got one more thing I have to do. I lock my sights onto the main breakfast place, then walk straight through the dining room to the door that leads to the main kitchen that serves the three different restaurants up here at the top of the mountain.
“Hey, Z, you’re not allowed to be back here.”
I pause for a moment as a brunette with big eyes and bigger boobs grabs onto my arm. I recognize her as a girl I spent a few hours with a couple of months back, but I’ll be damned if I can recall her name. Shit. Just more proof that I’m as big a dick as Luc and Cam say I am.