Page 39

Author: Tracy Wolff

She shakes her head grimly. “With the way he landed, I doubt it. He probably tore his rotator cuff again, maybe broke his wrist. It’s not going to be pretty, that’s for sure.”

That’s all I need to hear. I have no conscious memory of moving, but I must have because I’m on my feet and shoving my way through the crowd in an effort to get out of the stands. In an effort to get to Z. There’s a part of me that’s aware of Ash’s family and Cam following along behind me, but I’m not paying attention to them. I’m totally focused on Z’s body lying prone at the bottom of the mountain, and the paramedics who are even now rushing out to him.

“He’s not moving. Why isn’t he moving?”

“Because he broke his f**king shoulder,” Cam tells me tersely. “It hurts like a bitch.”

“His shoulder?” I hang on to the words like a lifeline as I push my way out of the stands and start trying to weave through the crowd of reporters and fans at the bottom of the hill. “You’re sure it’s just his shoulder?”

“I’m not sure of anything,” she snaps at me, as stressed by the situation as I am. “That’s just my guess from seeing falls like that before.”

“How do we get to him?”

“We don’t,” she says as we finally make it to the front of the barricade. “You wait here while I go check what’s going on.”


“Wait here.” She points to a spot right at the front of the barricade. “I’m a competitor. You’re not. There’s no way you’re getting past the rope line.”

She’s right. I know she is, and yet it’s killing me to be standing here merely watching when Z has just had an accident.

No, not an accident, a voice deep inside my head says. He knows how to land that trick, can do it in his sleep. If he fell on it here, it’s because he wanted to.

I shove the voice back down, refusing to believe it. He’s been doing so well lately, trying so hard. Why would he have me come in for the competition if he was just going to f**k it all up on purpose? It makes no sense.

And yet even as I’m thinking that, I’m seeing all those competitions I watched. All those videos of him nailing a run and then f**king it up at the end, again and again and again. Almost like he doesn’t even know he’s going to do it until it’s already done.

Which is why it’s an accident, I tell myself viciously.

“It’s okay, Ophelia. He’s going to be all right.” Logan’s there now, taking Cam’s place beside me as Z’s friend flashes her credentials to the guards working the line.

“How do you know?”

He manages to grin at me, though his eyes are wide and nervous. “ ’Cuz he’s Z. He has to be okay.”

I’m close enough now that I can see Z is talking to the paramedics, which means he’s alive and hopefully lucid. But he’s still not moving and I’m terrified Cam is wrong. Terrified he’s hurt much worse than she thinks he is.

Gemma rubs my other arm soothingly. “He’ll be fine, darling. God’s been watching out for that boy for as long as I’ve known him.”

Neither are the answers I’m looking for, not by a long shot, but they’re all I’ve got right now, so I decide to take comfort where I can.

Seconds later, my cell phone rings. It’s Ash, so I pick it up as soon as his name flashes across the screen.

“What’s going on?” we both ask at the same time.

Shit. I thought maybe he’d heard something, since he’s at the top of the mountain with a bunch of officials around him.

“I don’t know,” I tell him. “Cam thinks he tore his rotator cuff—”

“So do I,” he says grimly, “Just based on what we saw before they blanked the TV screen. Is he moving around yet? Sitting up?”

The panic gets worse. “No! He’s just lying there.”

I must sound as unhinged as I’m feeling, because Ash suddenly switches to comfort mode. “He’s going to be fine, Ophelia. I promise.”

“Why does everyone keep telling me that? How do you know?”

“Because he’s Z.” He tells me the same thing his brother did.

“What the hell does that even mean?” I demand, so close to hysterical that I no longer care about being polite. “And what the hell happened? I saw him this morning. He seemed totally ready for this competition.”

“It’s a long story,” Ash mutters. “Some reporter got in his head and …” His voice trails off, and that’s when I know, I know, that those ugly suspicions I had were correct. Z did this on purpose. He f**king nearly killed himself deliberately.

He could be lying there paralyzed right now because something set him off. Because he couldn’t deal.

Rage explodes through me, exacerbated by the terror that is still coursing through me. “He did this on purpose. He f**king did this on purpose.”

“It’s not that easy,” Ash tells me. “Calm down and we’ll talk once we know he’s okay.”

“Right. Sure. We’ll talk then.” My head’s so messed up right now that I barely know what I’m saying. “You might call Cam. She got through the barricade and was going to see if she could find out anything more.”

A sudden roar from the crowd has me turning around in time to see Z sitting up with the help of the paramedics. Even from here his shoulder looks messed up, like it’s out of whack, but he’s smiling. Even manages a wave for the crowd with his other arm.

The bastard. The f**king bastard. He promised me he wouldn’t do this again. I told him about Remi, told him about what I saw on those snowboarding videos of him, and he swore to me he wouldn’t deliberately do this again. And yet here we are, the last major competition before the Olympic trials and he goes and makes sure that the whole thing is over for him before it even begins.

The bastard. He could have died. He could have died. It’s all I can think of, all I can wrap my head around right now. That he’s relatively okay, but that he could have died. The fucking, fucking, f**king bastard.

They’re taking him off on a stretcher now, and I see Cam waiting for him on the sidelines. She grabs his hand, holds it tight, but even from this distance I can see tears sparkling in her eyes. The son of a bitch. He’s torturing all of us, holding us all hostage to his mood swings and crazy-ass death wish.

My phone rings again, and I pick it up because I know it’s Cam. “How bad?” I demand.

“Don’t know yet. Paramedics think he dislocated his shoulder, which is actually good. Better than a torn rotator cuff. They think he might have either bruised or cracked a couple of ribs as well, plus his wrist is swelling pretty badly. They’re taking him to Aspen Valley Hospital, and what happens there will determine whether he has to be sent somewhere else.”

“Why would they send him somewhere else?” I ask, alarmed all over again.

“Aspen Valley’s a small hospital. Twenty-five beds. They can deal with a dislocated shoulder and stuff, but if he needs surgery, it’ll have to be done at a bigger hospital.” She pauses. “Do you want me to come get you? You can ride in the ambulance with him.”

I should say yes. I know I should. But all I can see is Z tumbling down the f**king snowboarding course. Z, and Remi in those moments when we plunged over the railing and freefell into the Mississippi. Remi, when they pulled his lifeless body from the car. Somehow it all gets mixed up in my head, and I know I’m going to lose it if I don’t shut all that shit down quick.

“You go ahead,” I tell her. “I’ll catch a ride. Aspen Valley Hospital.”

“It’s the only one in town.”

“Okay. I’ll see you there.”

I hang up from her, dial Ash. He answers on the first ring and I tell him everything Cam has said. I hear Luc in the background, asking questions, but I don’t have the answers. I didn’t think to ask them. I hang up so they can call Cam.

Todd puts his arm around my shoulders and says, “Come on. Let’s get you to the hospital.”

I nod, start to walk with him. But then I remember. “Ash. It’s almost his turn.”

Gemma smiles. “We’ve seen him ride before and we’ll see him again. He’ll be riding later today in the half-pipe and then tomorrow in the finals. We can catch him then.”

“No,” I tell her, moving away. “You stay and watch Ash. I’ll catch a cab to the hospital.”

“You don’t have to do that,” Todd says. “We’re happy to take you. We want to see Z, too.”

Yes, but they shouldn’t have to miss out on seeing their son just because my boyfriend is a selfish prick who doesn’t think of anyone but himself. “He’ll still be there after Ash competes. Stay, watch him, and then I’ll meet you at the hospital.”

“Are you sure?” Gemma seems reluctant, but Todd wraps an arm around her shoulder and whispers something to her. She smiles at me. “Of course, Ophelia. We understand if you want to spend a little time alone with Z before the horde descends.”

“No, that’s not—”

But Todd’s patting my shoulder before moving away. “Do you need cab fare?”

“No! No, of course not. I’ve got it.”

“Okay, then.” Gemma gives me a big hug and a kiss on the cheek. “We’ll see you at the hospital in a little while.”

I nod, because really, what else can I do at this point?

In a daze, I head back to the hotel and grab one of the waiting taxis to take me to the hospital.

The whole ride I’m thinking about Z and Remi, Remi and Z. I’m thinking about Remi dying and how close Z keeps coming to it, too. It all gets mixed up in my head until I can barely see, barely think. Remi. Z. And me, caught in the middle. Again.

By the time I get to the hospital, my emotions are a volatile mixture of fear and anger and sorrow and pain and a bunch more that I’m not even sure about. My head is all confused and I want to cry. I just want to throw myself down on the pavement in front of the hospital and sob at how wrong this has all gone.

I don’t do that, though. Instead, I calmly pay the cabdriver. Walk inside the hospital. Check on Z at the front desk of the emergency room. And then, after they assure me that he’s being taken care of and give me directions to his cubicle, I turn around. And walk right back out the front door of the hospital.

I’m done.

I’m so f**king done.

Chapter 25


She’s not coming.

I tell myself I didn’t expect her to, that I didn’t want her to, but deep down inside, I know the truth. I’ve been waiting for her to walk through that door ever since I got here. Waiting for her to walk in and tell me that she loves me, even though I’m a total and complete fuck-up.

Except she never comes.

Cam comes. So do Luc and Ash and Ash’s parents. Logan. Mitch. A bunch of guys from the competition come by once it’s done. Even a few members of the press camp out outside, waiting to hear what my prognosis is. But Ophelia never shows.

Not that I blame her. I did exactly what I promised her I wouldn’t do, and she walked, just like she promised me she would do.

No harm, no foul. I just didn’t expect it to hurt this badly. Hell, I didn’t know I could hurt this badly. For years I’ve been certain I was completely dead inside.

When I fell for Ophelia, I learned otherwise, but still. I thought, after everything that happened with April, that I was inoculated against feeling this kind of pain. It kind of sucks to find out that I’m not.

On the plus side, despite my complete and utter stupidity, it turns out I’m not nearly as damaged as I should be. As I wanted to be in those few, crazy moments when I lost my shit completely.