“And I told you, I don’t give a shit about the trials.”
“We know, we know.” Cam punches me in the shoulder. “But let’s pretend just for a minute that you’re normal and you care about things like this, okay? You don’t have to be excited about it, but can you at least let us be excited about it for you? This is f**king awesome!”
It’s something. I’m not exactly sure awesome is the word I’d use to describe it. But it’s something.
My phone rings again, and I check the ID. It’s Mitch, the agent Ash, Luc, and I share. For what looks like the seventh or eighth time. “I think Mitch already knows.” I hold up my phone, shake it a little.
“Yes!” Ash punches the air. “I say we take the rest of the day off the slopes and start planning how we’re going to use this to get you more endorsements—and a shot at Olympic gold.”
I shake my head, start to argue with him about the fact that I want neither of those things. But it doesn’t matter. Ash is off and running, his vision for us—for me—even bigger than it’s ever been before. For now, I’ll just let him run, get the energy out. Then we can talk about what I want versus what he and the others want for me.
“Yeah, let’s go,” Luc agrees, nearly as hyped up as Ash. “Powwow at Ash’s and my place. We’ll start by calling Mitch, see what he has to say, and then go from there.”
Yay. I’m so f**king excited I can barely contain myself. “I’m stopping by the lodge first. I want to see Ophelia.”
“Seriously?” Cam asks. “You’re still going on about her? I thought you’d be over it by now.”
“Over it? He’s got his f**king Burton on the line. Of course he’s not over it,” Luc tells her. “He’s got to bang her before the competition starts on Friday or he loses his soon-to-be-legendary snowboard.”
If I thought it would shut him the f**k up about the stupid bet, I’d give him the thing now, even if it is my favorite. I wasn’t trying to be a disrespectful as**ole when I made the bet, but now that I’m with Ophelia—or at least kind of with her—it seems f**king horrible.
Of course, I could end everything by telling them I won the bet, but that seems even worse. Which means, at least for now, I’m stuck taking all the shit Luc decides to dish out. But as he heads through the huge front doors into the main lodge, I promise myself that payback is going to be a bitch.
It’s late in the day, so the coffee bar is crowded when we get there. Ophelia’s working behind the counter with three other people, and the line is still out of control.
“Maybe this could wait,” Ash says. “We’ve got stuff to do.”
“You can go on,” I tell him, not taking my eyes off the beautiful girl I’ve spent the last two nights with. “I’ll catch up with you guys later.”
“Yeah, I’ve heard that before. We’re not letting you out of our sight.”
He weaves through the crowded room, snags us a table in the back corner. “I just texted Mitch, and he’s got a meeting for the next two hours anyway. We’ve got some time to kill, and we might as well do it here.” He settles into the booth and kicks his feet out like he owns the thing. “I’ll take a large Power O.”
“Me too,” chimes in Cam as she slides in opposite Ash.
“Me three,” adds Luc, settling in next to Cam.
I think about telling them to get their own damn drinks, but who am I kidding? Getting up to that counter is the only reason I’m here.
“Think he’ll do any better than last time?” I hear Luc ask as I walk away.
“I don’t know,” Cam says. “Ophelia seems tough, but he is Z.”
I put my hands behind my back, flip them all off, then keep walking as their laughter sounds behind me. It’s a long line and I prepare myself for the wait, but I’m only standing there a couple of minutes before my phone dings out another text.
I almost ignore it, considering that the ones I’ve gotten so far have been all about shit that doesn’t interest me. But I’ve got nothing else to do, so I figure I might as well look at it. Turns out it’s from Ophelia.
My break’s in ten. I’ll bring your drinks out then. Three Power O’s and a …?
Have you made up your mind yet?
I know she’s referring to the whole give-me-something-sweet debacle that went down the last time I was here, and I laugh out loud. My girl’s a clever one.
Large coffee, black. It turns out I much prefer strong and bitter to sweet.
I send the text, then stay where I am because it gives me a good view of her face. She makes a few more drinks before she pulls out her phone and checks the text. When she does, she turns around to face me and sticks her tongue out at me.
I can’t help but laugh, then fire off one last text.
Promises, promises. Don’t think I won’t hold you to that.
I’m heading back to the table when her last text comes in.
I’m looking forward to it.
I stumble, nearly run into some poor woman carrying a tray of drinks. Shit. I’m never clumsy, but a couple of days with Ophelia and I’m practically tripping over my own feet. This doesn’t bode well for my snowboarding future, but considering how f**king happy I feel right now, I’d say it was an even trade.
When I get back to the table, my idiot best friends all look at me like I’m crazy.
“What? You gave up already?” Luc asks. “It’s like you’re just giving me the snowboard.”
“Chill out. The drinks are coming.”
Cam looks annoyed. “Which of the other girls did you talk into making our order?”
“Guess you’ll just have to wait and see.”
That seems to placate Luc and Ash, though Cam still looks pissed as the guys go back to the website, continuing to check out the stats and trying to figure out if they need to change the home page around to get maximum exposure.
I spend the time barely listening—the web page has never really been of much interest to me—and glancing at the counter every ninety seconds or so, trying to see when Ophelia is coming. It seems forever before I see her walking toward us, a full tray of drinks balanced on one arm.
I can’t help grinning as I jump up to meet her halfway. “Hey, let me help with that.”
For a second she looks like she’s going to fight me for it, but then she lets go with a soft smile. “What do you say you give the drinks to your friends and then meet me around back? I’ve got twenty minutes before I have to be back on shift.”
“I can do a lot in twenty minutes.”
“Yeah, that’s what I’m counting on.” She bites her lip, looks at me from under her lashes. And I nearly dump the whole damn tray on the ground.
Shit. I can barely function. Ophelia’s in front of me, her lush hips wiggling just a little extra, and I’m spellbound by this flirty, sexy side of her. Suddenly I can’t wait to find a little privacy and spend the next twenty minutes making her come.
When we get back to the table, I all but throw the drinks at my friends before reaching for Ophelia’s hand. But, after getting me all f**king worked up, she’s got other ideas. She actually wants to talk to my friends, which normally I’d be fine with. But I can feel her allotted twenty minutes slowly ticking away and I’m not sure I’m going to be able to wait to the end of her shift to get her alone.
For their parts, all of my friends look surprised to see Ophelia standing so close to me. “I didn’t know you guys had gotten to be friends,” Luc says, eyeing me suspiciously.
When I don’t say anything, Ophelia turns to frown at me. I merely shrug, not willing to get dragged into a discussion of why I didn’t tell my friends about her, but then it suddenly seems to dawn on her.
Instead of just going with it, she raises her brows at me and says, “You didn’t tell them you won the bet, did you?”
Fuck. “No.” I shake my head. “I didn’t.”
“You totally should have. You won it fairly spectacularly, after all.” She bats her eyelashes, all flirtatious teasing, and it’s all I can do not to kiss her right here in front of everyone.
The only thing stopping me is, “It’s nobody’s business what we do.”
Luc’s and Ash’s mouths actually drop open while Cam just sits there, staring broodingly into the depths of her drink.
“She knows about the bet?” Ash asks, incredulous.
“You won the bet and you didn’t tell me?” Luc adds. “When did it happen?”
“Again, none of your business.” I’ve never had any trouble when my friends talk about the other girls I’ve slept with, but I don’t like the way this conversation is going. I don’t like them even thinking about Ophelia sexually, let alone discussing when we did what.
“I beg to differ. If I’m giving up my Flow Darwin—” He breaks off as Ash elbows him. Hard.
“I don’t need your snowboard, man,” I tell him.
He whoops in relief, but Ophelia is having no part of it. “I’m sorry, but a bet’s a bet,” she says. “I’d like to think I was worth at least a snowboard.”
“So much more than that,” Lucas assures her. “I’m sure of it.”
I reach over and shove him. “What the hell’s that supposed to mean?”
“Hey! What’d you do that for? I was complimenting Ophelia.”
“She doesn’t need your compliments.”
Now all four of them are looking at me like I’m crazy. Hell, maybe I am. I know I’ve never felt like this about anyone before—happy and protective and horny and scared out of my mind that I’m going to screw it up like I do everything else in my life. It’s not a good combination, and I can’t help wondering if we wouldn’t all do better if I just got off the ride. But that would mean walking away from Ophelia, and I’m not ready to do that. Not even close.
“Again, I beg to differ,” Ophelia says in her haughtiest voice. “I will take all the compliments I can get.” When I start to respond, she holds her hands up. “It’s a girl thing. You wouldn’t understand.”
“You could explain it to me outside,” I tell her, grabbing her hand and pulling her into my side.
“I could,” she agrees, lacing her fingers through mine.
Excellent. I start to tug her away, except my phone chooses to vibrate on the table where I dropped it, announcing that yet another text has arrived. I ignore it—I’ve got better things to do than to worry about who wants a piece of me—but Ash is having no part of it. He unlocks the phone and checks out the latest message. As he reads, the color drains from his face.
“What’s wrong?” I demand, pulling the phone from his hand.
“Mitch just texted. They want to put you on the cover of Sports Illustrated in February.”
“Seriously? That’s what you look so freaked out about?” I shove an annoyed hand through my hair. “I thought something was wrong.”
“It’s for the Olympics issue, Z. They want you to be the cover of the Winter Olympics Sports Illustrated.”
Before I can say anything else about it, Ophelia all but jumps up and down with joy. “Oh my God, Z! That’s amazing.”
Not as amazing as spending the next fifteen minutes making out with her. I start to say that, but she’s already reaching for my phone.
“I want to see,” she tells Ash.
He hands it over willingly, but as she goes to read it she must notice the zillion or other texts that have come in today, because she turns to me. “What happened? It looks like your phone went crazy today.”