The Billionaire's Snow DateBy: Mia Caldwell
I’m going to have to do that tomorrow, I thought bitterly.
The voice of the bellhop behind me brought me back to the present.
“Is everything to your satisfaction, miss? Is there anything I can get you?”
I plopped down on the giant bed and let my arms flop out next to me. I was pretty sure I could just stay here forever.
“No, thank you. I’ll be fine. I think I’m just going to sleep for a few days.”
The bellhop nodded politely and walked out of the room, shutting the door behind him. Tomorrow could wait, maiming could wait.
Tonight? I was off the clock.
The sun was high in the Ostian sky, meaning that it was an especially cold day on the slopes outside the Glacier Bluff. Kynon stood at the top of the steepest slope, adjusting the straps on the boots anchoring him to his snowboard. After he swallowed in a long lungful of cold mountain air, he pulled down his goggles and took in the magnificent scenery around him. It was technically the off season, which meant that a handful of the older, far more eccentric patrons were spending their time in the lobby playing chess and poker and backgammon. This also meant that no one was on the slopes. Kynon didn’t mind one bit; it meant he could showboat all he wanted for the rest of the day without worrying about slamming into anyone.
Kynon had been skiing and boarding the mountains around Glacier Bluff with his family since he was a kid, so he knew every inch of every hazard on the slopes. There was nothing he loved more than shutting out all of the sounds around him, feeling the cold air as it whipped by him, and pretending that he was the only person in the world. As soon as he was able, he started coming up to Glacier Bluff alone, just so he could snowboard or ski without anyone bothering him.
Today, though, it was even quieter than usual. As Kynon flew down the mountain, he didn’t even hear the cry of a mountain bird, or a rustle in the trees as the wind shook the needles of the pines loose. He made it to the bottom of the slopes three times without seeing so much as a marmot or a squirrel, which were pretty common in the area, no matter what time of year it was. The quiet was mildly disarming, but Kynon put it out of his mind, and made his way to catch the lift back up to the top of the mountain.
Under normal circumstances, there would have been at least an attendant or two running the chairlift that brought skiers or snowboarders up to the top of the mountain to start their trip back down, but since no one was out, Kynon had started the works up himself. When he was just ten, one of the guys who worked at the top had taught him how to run the lift, and he’d spent hours just watching people ride up the lift then ski back down.
When you spent months at a time at Glacier Bluff, you had to find ways to entertain yourself, or you’d go crazy pretty quickly.
He was just about to jump up onto the chair as it passed by when he noticed a woman was already on the lift, heading to the top of the mountain.
Where the hell did she come from? he thought as he watched her legs dangling in the air.
But then Kynon noticed something strange. The slopes at Glacier Bluff were set up as such that you didn’t put on your equipment until you were off the lift and had walked to a series of benches where you could suit up safely. The slope was ancient, and his parents thought keeping it “rustic” added to the charm, so it was the only one of its kind on Scandinavia where you had to put on your skis or snowboard at the top.
But the woman on the ski lift was already wearing her snowboard, and seemed to be looking anywhere but ahead of her. That meant she hadn’t read any of the safety information before heading out on the mountain.
Kynon smelled trouble.
He unstrapped from his own board and jumped onto the lift as quickly as he could, catching a chair as near to the woman as he could. He knew the odds were slim that she could hear him, but he tried shouting out to her.
“LADY! Take off your board! HEY! TAKE OFF YOUR SNOWBOARD!”
But the woman didn’t hear him. Kynon knew there was nothing he could do to stop her, but if she tried to jump off the chair lift while strapped in to her board, she was either going to just fall and get tangled in her own legs, or she was going to hit the ground hard and fast, and start sliding down the mountain with no control. And if she was inexperienced enough to get on the chairlift without reading any of the safety information in her room, she would probably end up breaking her neck.
Kynon watched helplessly as the woman jumped off the chairlift, her arms and legs spinning spastically in the air, then hit the ground and began flying down the hill at top speed, her screams echoing off the mountains.