Authors: Cylin Busby
But Travis just gives you a smile. “You'll see,” he warns. When it's finally your turn, you stand in the right spot with Mitch as the bar comes up fast behind you, hitting the back of your legs pretty hard. “See, it's not so bad,” Mitch turns to you and says. You notice that's he's reaching down to hold on to the middle part of the bar, so you do too. But when you go to grab it, you lose your balance and suddenly fall forwardâface-first into the snow! Luckily, the T-bar goes right over your head, but when you sit up, you see Travis on the next T-bar behind you coming up fastâwith no way to stop!
“Skier down!” Travis yells, and the machine grinds to a halt. Everyone groans and you hear someone say, “Just get out of the way, already!” You go to scoot out of the way, but you're too afraid to stand up on your skis, so you're forced to scooch on your butt. When the guy running the T-bar sees that
you're clear, he turns it back on and the skiers start moving again.
As Travis's bar goes over you, he says, “Head over to the beginner trailâI'll meet you there.”
You look up and see that Mitch is going to take the T-bar all the way to the topâto a really difficult trail. You were looking forward to hanging out with him, but it seems like he doesn't feel the same way about you. What happened to the Mitch you used to know? Maybe he's just in a bad mood and you should give him another chance. You really want to show him that you're not a total klutz and that you can ski! You could get back on the T-bar when it stops, and make your way up there. Or you could stay where you are, on an easier trail, and meet Travis. You decide to:
“Maybe the T-bar is a little much for me,” you admit. “I'm going to go wait for the chairlift instead,” you tell Mitch.
“I'll go with her,” Travis says, and Mitch looks over at him with a smirk. “What?” Travis asks, looking right at Mitch. “You know I hate the T-bar.”
“Do whatever you want,” Mitch says, and turns his back to you bothâobviously, he's not happy.
“Come on,” Travis says, leading the way, and you two take your place at the end of the long line for the chairlift.
“So,” you say, trying to make conversation with Travis, “does Mitch like going to school at Marshall?”
“I think he misses some stuff from his old school,” Travis says, pushing the snow around with his boot. “I'm sure you already know this, but he used to have a crush on you.”
“Really?” You try to act surprised. “Yeah, when he first started at Marshall, he used to talk about you all the time,” Travis goes on.
Even out here in the cold, you feel your cheeks start to turn slightly red, and you look away so that he can't see. “What kind of stuff did he say?” you can't help but ask.
“That you were cute,” Travis says, moving forward with the line. “And he was right,” he adds quietly.
You find yourself looking right into his dark eyes for a second before he glances away. “But then he started seeing this really popular girl and he stopped talking about you,” Travis admits.
“So that's what's going on. I was wondering if maybe he was mad at me or something.” The guy running the chairlift motions for you to step up. After you both sit, Travis leans across you to lock the bar into place, his hand brushing across your knee for a second.
“You okay?” he says, sitting back and taking off his hat. You're busy taking in his super-short dark hair, his intense eyesâ¦. When he catches you staring at him, you quickly turn your head.
“Look at that!” you say, pointing to the top of the mountain where the chairlift is taking you. You can see the dark peak poking through the snow, and skiers all over the trails, zooming down.
“This is the best part of skiing, I think,” Travis says. “I'm glad you didn't want to take that stupid T-bar.”
“I know, right?” you agree. “We would have missed all this!”
“And I would have missed seeing it with you,” Travis says quietly. The way he's looking at you, you can tell he's about to kiss you. The moment is beyond romantic, but are you ready to move on from Mitchâwith his best friend?
You forgot your gloves, so you go back to the room to get them before making your way out to the “bunny trail” for the ski lesson. When you do get there, the lesson has already started. The first person you notice is Bryce Karrâhe's tall and really tan, with blond curls poking out of his knit hat. “Hey, girlie,” he says to you with a wink, “here for the ski lesson?”
All you can do is nod as you look around for your friends. You see Heather standing with a group of girls and go over to join her. “Hot enough for ya?” she jokes, motioning to Bryce.
“Beyond hot,” you agree. “And also way too old for us!”
“Maybe for you,” Heather says, and you both start giggling.
“Seriously, he was in the Olympics before we were born!” you point out.
“I know that, but check out his âassistant,' would you?” You look over and see a really good-looking guy with dark hair pulled back in a ponytail, standing by Bryce.
“He's okay,” you say, just as Zac sees you and waves.
“Hey!” he says, excited to see you. “Ready for the lesson?”
You can tell that Heather is annoyed that he's there. “I have a question for the instructor,” she says, “I'll be right back.” She scoots off toward Bryce.
“Listen,” Zac says, sounding a little embarrassed. “I wanted to ask you something. If you don't have plans tonight, there's going to be karaoke in the loungeâall ages. I'm going, if you want toâ¦.” He trails off.
“Yeah, maybe,” you say, just as Bryce asks everyone to line up in a row.
“Let's all try to point the tips of our skis togetherâmake a triangle by turning your knees and ankles in,” Bryce starts off.
Heather slides into place beside you and whispers, “Bryce and his assistant, Jon, have invited us to hang with them tonight! How awesome is that!” Her cheeks are flushedâand it's not from the cold.
You look up at Bryce as he walks by you, checking your ski position. “Good, let's just turn this one in a bit more.” He adjusts your right ski. “This is
how you put the brakes on, so you want to get it just rightâotherwise, it's a total yard sale out there.”
As his assistant comes up behind him, Heather says, “What's a yard sale?”
Jon laughs. “It's a wipeout where you lose all yours tuffâyou know, your skis, poles, gloves, everything all over the mountain. Looks like a yard sale or something.”
“I get it,” you laugh. Heather was right, Jon is actually adorable close up, with warm brown eyes and honey-colored skin. He moves over to Zac to help adjust his skis next, and Heather whispers to you, “So, you'll come out with us tonight, right?”
You look over at Zac for a second. He's a super sweet guy, and you know you'll have fun if you go to karaoke with him. But hanging out with Heather is always great, tooâand who knows, maybe Jon has a friend for you?
When you're in your rented snowsuit, you head out to meet Molly and Sierra. As soon as you step outside, you're pretty happy that you rented something warm to wear.
“It's freezing out here!” you exclaim as the cold air hits your face.
“I know, they said it's one of the coldest days this year,” Sierra says, pulling her knit hat down over her ears. “Brrrrr!”
Just then, something smacks you in the back with a wet thud. “Huh?” You spin around. “What wasâ¦”
Another snowball smacks Molly in the leg. “Hey!” she yells, and you all look over and spy a couple of guys hiding behind a snowbank, laughing at you.
“Hey, ladies!” one guy taunts as another snowball whizzes by your head.
“You missed!” Sierra yells. “Could they get any more immature?”
“I say we get 'em,” Molly says, leaning over to pick up a handful of snow.
“I came here to ski, not play snowball fight with a bunch of little boys,” Sierra says loudly. “How about you?”
“Well, there was this ski lesson that Zac mentioned, and it's starting right now,” you say, looking over to where everyone is lining up for the lesson. You see Zac in line, and then notice that Heather is there, too.
“Come on, are you going to let these losers win?” Molly says, firing off a snowball. “Help me!”
Even though you are a little cold, you decide to stay in your outfit. “Let's do another run, then,” Sierra says, and you all ski over to the chairlift. As your chair goes up over the mountain, you can look down and see all of the skiers below you on the slopes. “Look at that guy,” Molly points out. “Nice moves!”
“He's good,” Sierra agrees. “And check her out.” She points to a girl in a bright yellow snowsuit, zigzagging her way down the mountain.
“I have an idea!” Molly says, her eyes sparkling. “When we get to the top, let's do the trail that runs practically right under the chairliftâthat way everyone coming up can check out our stuff!”
“That's a really hard trail,” you say. “It's steep and looks icy.”
“But those hot guys who were behind us in line would
to notice us if we skied down it,” Sierra reasons.
As the chairlift carries you higher, you feel your wet jeans practically freezing onto your legsâ
you're so cold, even your thighs are starting to feel numb! “You okay?” Molly asks. “Your teet hare chattering!”
“I might need to get off at the first stop and just ski down to the lodge to warm up,” you say sadly.
“And miss your chance at hotdogging it down the slope in that amazing outfit?” Sierra says.
“Come on,” Molly says. “There will be plenty of time to warm up later tonightâonce we've met those cute boys!”
You have to ski uphill to get to the next stop for the T-barânot an easy taskâbut you do it and finally get yourself up to the trail where Mitch is about to head down. “Hey, wait for me!” you yell over to him.
He's surprised to see you. “I thought you wiped out back there,” he says, smiling. You're so glad to see that his mood has improved now that he's skiing.
“I did,” you admit. “But I got back on and here I am, ready to go.” You slide into position next to him and then look down the slope in front of youâ and get dizzy! “Whoa, that'sâ¦”
“I know,” Mitch says. “It's a black diamond trail called âThe Plunge.' I didn't know you were a good enough skier to go down this one.” He's obviously impressed. So it kills you to have to set him straight.
“Actuallyâ¦” You take another look down the mountain. “I'm, umâ¦”
“Hey!” Someone slides up beside youâit's Zac!
“I thought I might run into you on the slopesâbut not here!” He motions to the steep precipice.
“Yeah, we were just talking about that,” you laugh.
“I already skied this one once and totally wiped out, so I'm headed over there”âhe pointsâ“to a slightly less crazy slope.” Zac takes one look at your face and can tell you're terrified. “If you want to join meâ,” he starts to say, but Mitch cuts him off.
“No way. She's doing the black diamond trail with me, right?” You love the fact that Mitch is finally paying attention to you, but you're just not sure you can go down that dangerous slope. Mitch is looking at you so expectantlyâdo you dare to let him down? You take one more look at the skiers going down the black diamond trail and decide toâ¦
You ski carefully over to the beginner trail and wait for Travis. When he gets there, you expect him to make a joke about how you wiped out, but instead he quickly asks, “Are you okay?” He looks at you so sympathetically that you almost laugh.
“I'm fineâjust a slightly bruised ego!”
Travis smiles. “I knew we should have skipped the T-bar. I hate that thing!”
There's something about the way he says “we” that makes you grinâit's like you're a couple or something. “Ready to tackle this trail?” he asks you.
“I guess so.” You move into position next to him. “I just feel wobbly today.”
“Here.” Travis puts both his ski poles into one hand and holds out his other hand to you. “You just keep your eyes on the trail. I'll hold your hand on the way down, okay?”
Your mind instantly goes to Mitchâwhat would he think if he saw you holding hands with his best friend? Then you remember that he's been a jerk to
you all dayâand as far as you know, he's got a girlfriend.
“Hold your poles like this,” Travis says, putting both of your ski poles into your left hand. He takes your right hand and holds it firmly. “You're gonna be great. Don't worry,” he whispers as he pushes off from the top of the trail and pulls you with him. It definitely helps to have him there holding you upâ even though you
almost fall a couple of times!