It’s his turn to study me. Finally he says, “I don’t care what he says. Z took a pretty hard hit today. If we don’t distract him, he’ll be right back on the half-pipe, and honestly, I don’t think he’s up for it.”
“What do I have to do with that?”
“He’s interested in you. If you come along, he won’t be in any hurry to rush off and try to kill himself again.”
His words are light, but there’s an underlying grimness to them that tells me there’s more going on here than meets the eye. “So I’m bait?”
“Pretty much, yeah.” He grins engagingly, and despite myself, I’m suckered in.
“Fine, I’ll go. Only because I want to see the movie. Not because I want to spend time with Z.”
“Of course not.”
“I’m serious. I’m not going to f**k him to keep him off the slopes, so if that’s what you’re thinking—”
“It’s not. I swear. In fact, I’m pretty much counting on you not f**king him. I—”
“Hey, are you two about done with your secret little exchange?” Z asks as he walks up to us, followed closely by Cam and Ash.
“No secrets,” Luc tells him. “I was just convincing Ophelia to eat and catch the movie with us.”
Z’s brows nearly touch his hairline as he turns to me. “Oh, yeah?”
I like that he’s surprised, though I have no idea why. “Yeah.”
He stares at me for long seconds, those cool blue eyes of his so intense that it takes every ounce of willpower I have to hold his gaze. But if I learned anything in the years I spent hanging on the streets, it’s that guys like this don’t respect girls who back down. So I don’t. Instead, I lift my chin and wait for him to speak first.
I expect a sexual innuendo, maybe an advance. Instead, when he finally does speak, all he says is, “Cool.” Then he brushes past me and heads for the parking lot without a backward glance.
I watch him go.
So much for fending off advances. Looks like he got the message yesterday after all. I breathe a sigh of relief—or at least that’s what I tell myself it is—as I follow him and the others to the car.
I’m in the bathroom at the movie theater washing my hands after eating entirely too much popcorn when Cam walks in, the restroom door bouncing against the wall as she pushes through it.
“Hey,” I say, smiling at her in the mirror.
She doesn’t smile back.
In fact, she ignores me completely—just as she ignores the stalls lining the back wall of the bathroom. Instead, she walks to the sink next to mine and starts washing her hands just as I turn to dry mine.
Silence echoes off the cool tile walls, and though it makes me uncomfortable, I’m not going to be the one to break it. I already tried that—both in here and at the table where she spent most of the evening playing I-can’t-see-or-hear-Ophelia—and I’m done. Sure, it’d be nice to have a friend here in Siberia, and last night I thought that she might be that friend, but hey, whatever. No skin off my nose if she wants to pull that whole I’m-a-bitch-who-hates-you-for-no-reason routine. She’s not the first to throw it at me and probably won’t be the last.
I toss the paper towel into the trash basket and head for the exit without saying another word to her. But just as my hand closes around the door handle, she says, “You’re nothing to him. You know that, right?”
For a second I think about just continuing to walk. But if I do, this thing is going to grow by epic proportions. She’ll think I am interested in Z, which will just lead to more drama. And if there’s one thing I do not need more of in my life, it’s drama. The last year has given me more than enough of it, thank you very much.
“Why should I care?” I finally say, turning around to face her. “He’s nothing to me.”
She snorts. “Yeah, right. I’ve heard that before.”
“I’m sure you have. But that doesn’t make it any less true coming from me. I’m not interested in Z.”
“You sure about that?”
“Yeah. Pretty sure. He’s not exactly my type.”
Cam laughs at that. “If there’s one thing hanging around with Z has proven to me through the years, it’s that he’s every woman’s type.”
She stiffens, looks away. “No. Not mine. We’re just friends.”
“You sure about that?” I deliberately echo the question she had just posed to me.
“Yeah. Pretty sure. He’s not my type, either.” This time when she looks at me, her scowl has been replaced by a genuine smile. “I think I might actually be starting to like you.”
I raise my brows at her. “Is that such a shock?”
“Actually, it kind of is.” She reaches over and pulls the door open. “I spend so much time hanging out with guys—between those idiots out there and my four brothers—I barely remember how to act when I’m with another girl.”
“Yeah, well, not glaring at her like you want to rip her head off is usually a good start.”
She laughs as she follows me through the door. “I’ll remember that.”
We’re almost to the lobby where the guys are waiting when Cam grabs my arm. I turn to look at her questioningly, and for the first time since I met her she looks uncertain. “I don’t normally rat out my friends, but I figure you should know. Z made a bet with Luc that he could f**k you before the end of next week.”
At first I think she’s joking, but the expression on her face is totally serious. “He made a bet?” I ask, completely blindsided, though I don’t know why. Z is exactly the kind of guy to do something like that. And yet I’m still surprised and disgusted and maybe even … hurt?
Ugh. Now I’m just being stupid. I can’t stand the idea that I can be hurt by such a douche bag—can’t stand the idea that I can be hurt at all, if I’m honest—so I push even the thought of it to the very back of my mind. Instead, I concentrate on the sheer ridiculousness of what Cam is telling me.
“I know, I know. It makes him sound like a total tool—”
“Oh, just a little,” I tell her sarcastically.
“Believe me, I’m not defending him. Or Luc. But there are a lot of reasons Z is the way he is. Still, I figured you deserved to know. He can be pretty charming when he wants to be.”
“Really? I haven’t seen that at all.”
Cam laughs, a full-bodied, I-can’t-believe-you-said-that-but-I’m-so-glad-you-did kind of laugh, and somehow I find myself laughing with her, despite the fact that Z is an even bigger creep than I thought.
“So, what did he bet?” I ask when we finally calm down.
I’m thinking twenty bucks or dinner or even just bragging rights, so I’m totally taken aback when Cam answers, “His favorite snowboard.”
For a second I don’t even know what to say, what to feel. What kind of people are these that they can so casually bet away something that costs six, seven, even eight hundred dollars? I didn’t grow up on the streets or anything, but we always struggled at the end of the month. And where I come from, seven or eight hundred dollars is a lot of money. Throwing that away just because of pride or whatever the hell made him make that bet seems absurd. Not to mention arrogant as hell.
“Wow,” I say eventually. “He must be pretty confident that he’s going to get to f**k me.”
For a second Cam looks pained, like she wants to say something else, something more. But then she just shrugs. “He’s got reason to be. I don’t think he meant any harm by it, but I still thought you had the right to know.”
I’ve got a million retorts on the tip of my tongue, but Cam is Z’s friend. She’s loyal to him. And she’s already stretched that loyalty by telling me about the bet in the first place. No need to make her feel any more uncomfortable than she already does.
“It’s no big deal,” I force myself to tell her. “But thanks for the heads-up. I appreciate it.”
She searches my face for a few seconds, and I make sure I’ve got my mask firmly in place. Good thing I’ve had a lot of practice using it over the last year, because it seems to fool her.
But before she can say anything else, the guys spot us and walk on over. “Ready for ice cream?” Luc asks, casually draping an arm around Cam’s shoulder.
She leans into him with a grin. “Are you buying?”
“I am,” Z answers. “I figure I owe you since I kept you all waiting around that damn clinic for hours this afternoon.”
“You didn’t keep me waiting,” I tell him.
He grins at me. “Yeah, but you’re new to Park City. You can consider it a welcome-to-Utah present.”
More like an I-want-to-fuck-you present. As if. I haven’t slept with anyone since Remi and I’m sure as hell not about to start with some punk-ass snowboarder who thinks he’s God’s gift. I eye him up and down. “Funny, you don’t look like the Welcome Wagon.”
“Oh, but he is,” Ash says on a laugh. “Trust me on that one.”
“Yeah,” Luc adds. “Z’s got a whole lot of welcome in him.”
“So I hear,” I answer with a smirk.
Cam chokes on her own spit, then glares at me as Luc pounds on her back. But I just smile benignly. After all, two can play Z’s game, and it’s about time he knows it.
Ophelia really likes ice cream. I mean, she really likes it.
That, or she’s just trying to torture the shit out of me, which I totally wouldn’t put past her. But I’m not the only one aware of how she’s eating her damn cone—one slow, lingering lick at a time. Ash is practically spellbound by her little pink tongue and the crazy wicked things she’s doing with it, while Luc is doing everything he can not to look at her, which only makes it more obvious that he’s aware of what’s going on.
Part of me wants to punch the shit out of my friends for what they’re thinking, but how can I when I’m thinking exactly the same thing? Especially when I’m the one who bet I’d have her in bed by next weekend.
At the time, it was pure self-preservation—no way could I keep standing there while the three of them looked at me like I was one step away from being a basket case—but still, betting I could f**k Ophelia? That’s low, even for me.
Then again, what she’s doing right now is just as low considering she has no intention of sleeping with me tonight—she’s been throwing out hands-off vibes since she ran into me at the clinic. Which makes the fact that she’s all but giving that f**king ice cream cone a f**king blow job even worse. Because even though I know I’m not going to get any action tonight, at least from her, my c**k can’t help but f**king respond to every flick of her tongue.
I’ve given her space all evening, partly because I feel guilty because of that stupid bet and partly because I still intend to win it. Not just because I have no intention of losing my freaking Landlord but because after spending the last few hours with Ophelia, I want her more than ever.
At first she was nothing more than a distraction. Then she was a challenge. Now … now she’s still a challenge, but she’s something else, too. Something more. The thought has me shifting uncomfortably in my chair. I never do more. I never even want more. It’s crazy to think that any of that might change just because some pretty girl with a peaches-and-cream accent dumped a f**king drink down my pants.
“You ready to go?” I demand, more harshly and loudly than I probably need to. But I can’t help it. If I have to sit here and watch Ophelia do obscene things to that scoop of chocolate cherry ice cream for one more second, I’m going to say to hell with space and drag her very sexy ass onto my lap so I can do some obscene things of my own.