Going Down: A Steamy Ski Patrol Rescue Romance
Southern boy Dash Newhouse drifts from one mountain to the next, chasing the snowfall. Paired for ski patrol rescue with an unstable first responder, I’m doubtful fortune is shining down on me.
Then one thing leads to *cough* a perfectly irrational hookup that’s hot enough to melt the snow.
Dash’s joie de vivre reminds me that I can’t live life to the fullest while playing it safe. And I can’t deny that his wanderlust doesn’t appeal to me as much as his rock hard abs. But will his antics help me navigate a steady new peak?
NOTE: This short story was originally part of Risking Everything: A Steamy Anthology of First Responders.
Release date: March 5, 2020
Print pages: 103
* BingeBooks earns revenue from qualifying purchases as an Amazon Associate as well as from other retail partners.
Going Down: A Steamy Ski Patrol Rescue Romance
A beautiful, smart and loving person will come into your life
A crowd of early birds swoop into the snack bar swarming around me. I snag my piping hot chocolate off the counter, happy that I kept my right ski glove on. Those cardboard sleeves aren’t the best insulators. I’ve only filled it halfway. There are ice cubes in the freezer at First Aid. We’re supposed to keep the trays filled for smaller injuries, but I consider melting them in my cup preventative care. Otherwise, I’ll be lucky to drink this before my break without getting third-degree burns.
The skiers push me closer to the sliding doors and metal steps beyond that are slope side. I’d normally have dropped my gear off before getting my drink, but I’m running late. The heavy ski boots covering my calves have me walking on my heels and my oversized knapsack and ski bag thud against my back, tripping me as I attempt to move out of the way of others.
The wind whips up and snow swirls around me. Conditions on the terrain today could go either way. Somehow, I’m invisible wearing a red jacket with a big white cross and Ski Patrol lettering. The resort guests will pay attention when they need me, though. Driving the rescue sled across the snow makes everyone rubberneck. Isn’t that a kicker?
I want to be more understanding because when I have free time, I’m the same as they are—unable to wait on the exhilaration, feeling the wind across my face, as I’m flying down the mountain. The fact that I’m paid to ski and a benefit of my job is riding for free? It’s the best thing going.
My phone buzzes in my durable nylon pants. I try to move to the side of the stairs to let the other skiers pass. Someone bumps my arm as I’m unzipping the pocket and the gloved hand holding the hot cup knocks into the railing. I overcompensate, squeezing my drink. The nylon fabric slides against the warm paper and the cup tumbles between the metal treads. The thin plastic top pops off and the icy snow below the staircase melts on contact with the hot chocolate. A steamy aroma floats up to my nose, and my mouth waters at the loss.
“Oops.” A teenage girl stands spurning me from the deck above. Not sorry at all, she tosses a free beverage token in the air, more likely to whip it at me than offer it as recompense. As her group of friends joins her, she shoots me a smug smile and they take off with their snowboards for the closest lift.
I roll my eyes at the sense of entitlement that goes along with purchasing an expensive day pass and focus on the still ringing phone.
“This is Kat.” I answer without looking at the screen.
“Happy belated birthday!” My dad’s voice greets me. “I’m sorry I didn’t see the reminder until right now.”
“It’s okay, Dad.” I rub my forehead, reassuring him. The tips of my glove are still hot from my drink.
My dad deserves credit for trying since my parents split up.
My mom? She did call yesterday… To tell me she and her latest boy-toy, a plastic surgery resident, had signed a lease on a Brookline apartment near Longwood Medical Center. She also mentioned taking him to Aruba to celebrate his birthday next month, which leaves me wondering if mom’s new boyfriend may be younger than me. How else do you explain why the woman who gave birth to you doesn’t acknowledge your birth date?
“I feel awful. You were the one who put the important events on my calendar so I didn’t miss them.” Dad’s guilt flows through the receiver.
“Give yourself credit for remembering Ajji and Thatha’s anniversary.” Whereas my mom doesn’t want responsibility anymore, my father is a train wreck because he’s never had to learn any of this. Before they separated, she took care of everything.
“Did your mom call?” he asks tentatively.
“She told me, Dad.”
Not wanting to be the bearer of bad news, he sighs with relief.
Go figure. My parent’s divorce was finalized yesterday, too. I celebrated the demise of a picture-perfect childhood with a few too many pints. My housemates dragged me home at midnight. Another year older, I put on my big girl panties and got up for work even though I was slow to perk. Then I gifted myself the now empty hot chocolate because that’s adulting. You buy your own birthday presents and wind up parenting a parent.
“I really am sorry,” Dad says again as if he was the one who set the wheels in motion. “I love you.”
“I know.” I also get that he needs me during this transition and to figure out his ski legs. “I love you, too.” I end the call to start my shift on time.
“You’re a sight for sore eyes!” My manager, Chip, calls as the breeze blows me in the building door. “I was afraid you were sick, too. Ski Patrol is falling faster than the snow outside.” Chip coughs into the crook of his arm. “Three medics called out before the terrain was groomed this morning. Maintenance closed the Basin slopes because they can’t get them graded until noon, and the lift for the East Mountain is shut down for repairs. Everyone will crowd into the gondola to get to the top, which means more traffic coming down the center runs.”
“Fun times,” I say with a hint of sarcasm. “Let’s hope nobody decides to duck the barriers and take on the Basin before it’s groomed like those tweens did last time.” Thankfully, there were no lingering injuries that day a cup of hot chocolate wouldn’t fix.
Man, now I want my stupid, scalding-hot, hot chocolate more than ever.
Chip’s gentle laugh at their youthful stupidity quickly turns to hacking.
An awful bug has been going through the resort. Last week it took down ticketing, the rental and the ski and board shops, and administration. We’re quarantined in First Aid. The building stands alone off to the side of the main chalet so the ambulances can get in and out without interrupting the guests. It’s how we wound up being the last ones affected by the plague.
“Stay positive, Kat.” Chip squirts hand sanitizer into his palm as if he’s bathing in it. “Whatever this is doesn’t last long. Plus, everyone in town’s got this bug. That means we’ll lose a percentage of season pass holders. And the weatherman is predicting a heap of the white stuff starting later this afternoon. Only the die-hards with four-wheel drive will travel the pass to get here if they’re more than an hour away.”
“I suppose you’re right.” It comes out a little more chipper.
This is my third winter season at the resort. It’s Sunday and I’m scheduled for the full eight hours of operation. Our normal closing time is six, but there’s always the possibility with the current forecast that visibility becomes nil and the owners shut down early for safety reasons. I’m beginning to comprehend the ins and outs of guest behavior. The crowds are thicker now to get runs in and they’ll disperse as the afternoon wears on, heading for shelter as soon as the snow picks up.
“What did your fortune say this morning?” Chip’s on the resort social media account, poised to type away at the computer keyboard. Everyone knows that fortune cookies are my thing. I’m hooked on the red writer’s opinion on my destiny the way others have to read their horoscope. Chip is waiting for the day it jokes “Help! I’m being held captive in a fortune cookie factory.” However, he’s been using those little slips of paper to increase our engagement and followers and it’s working.
“Don’t post this one.” I hedge. “Make something up.”
Chip waggles his fingers without looking away from the screen. I put the fortune on the counter and he snatches it before I can take it back.
“A beautiful, smart and loving person will come into your life.” He reads the printed words aloud. “This one has possibility!”
“Highly unlikely…And you swore you wouldn’t share the lovey-dovey ones.”
Chip points to the dry erase board on the wall. From smudges and other colors left behind, it looks like the name of my partner for the day changed several times.
“Dash?” I question with a thin veil of skepticism. The name of a new employee this season is written next to mine in red marker. I don’t have anything against Dash per se. It’s that I’ve never paired with him on the slopes and…Well, for as much as all the girls on staff like his smile, he’s a bit odd. For instance, all of Christmas week he skied with antlers attached to his helmet and a light-up red nose on his goggles.
Most everyone considers his antics fun-loving. Except, it’s also obvious when Dash works a shift because the whole place smells like garlic or cumin from his lunch. The poor skier or rider who winds up needing mouth-to-mouth when Dash is on duty will wake resuscitated with lungs full of Panyang or Thai green curry chicken. I’m hoping Dash isn’t a close talker and plan to keep my distance in case he is.
“How about I edit it to: ‘a smart and helpful person will come into your life’?”
“Fine.” I agree.
Chip tosses his chin to the door. “Hey Dash, gear up because I want a pic for this post to show teamwork and camaraderie.” My partner is sauntering in as the clock strikes on the hour.
Dash has on an Army/Navy store parka with fur-lined collar and trimmed duck boots to match. But it’s what he’s not wearing that makes the biggest impression. Dash seems to have forgotten his pants and is on sub-zero walkabout in a pair of thin black long underwear.
I can’t help staring when he unzips the camo green jacket. Over the top of his long sleeves is a second shirt with a skier plunging from a lift and the words: Ski Patrol. You fall. We haul. The tee is funny, but neither cover his firm spandex-clad assets—front or back—making it hard to look away. I push the wide headband I’ve been using as a neck warmer over my face, pretending I need it to keep my braids out of my way. I hope neither of them notice the small flames escaping my collar.
“Got it.” Dash drops his gear in the middle of the commercial-grade carpeted floor and rummages for the red coat that matches mine. “Inside or out?”
“Pose over by the exam table. The flakes outside will obscure the shot.” Chip directs us, clearing his throat.
“Kat, we’re finally doing this together. I’m stoked!” Dash glances at the scheduling board, giving my hand a firm shake before he puts his long blond hair up in a man bun.
How Dash wears his hair on-duty became the subject of an online poll after a female guest commented about how when it was pulled back it made it easier to get lost in his crystal blue eyes. He shrugs on his jacket and I stand a safe distance from him, trying to find a bright side. Snapshots of Dash get about twice the engagement as my fortunes. It’s because no one can smell him over the internet.
His huge arm comes around me and he tugs me closer. I guess personal space isn’t his thing. I’m hit with minty-fresh breath as he smiles and relief washes over me. That is until Dash starts talking about the two hours until lunch and offers to share his Chongqing Chicken.
“What’s that?” I ask, hesitant.
“Poultry with dried chilis, ginger and Sichuan peppercorn. I also have Tabasco Red Currant Brownies fresh from the oven this morning,” he says like they’re a delicacy.
“Thanks, but I’ll stick to a bacon cheeseburger from the snack shack today.”
“Offer’s open if you change your mind. Let’s do this, Kat!”
We hope you are enjoying the book so far. To continue reading...