Chairlift dating was a bad idea. After my third attempt, I skied to the other side of the mountain, looking forward to spend the rest of the day alone. When I saw the black diamond trail, I wondered if I’d rushed it. It was my first day out skiing this season. Still, it was too late now. The alternative was to claw my way back uphill.
Once I positioned myself and started skiing, I eased into my stance with more confidence. I was doing okay. Sure, it was steeper than I wanted just yet, but I cut my skis into the snow with wide turns to slow me down.
I didn’t feel myself lose balance or go airborne, but in the next second, bam! I was eating snow. Without any warning, I’d face-planted. The cold slap of snow on my skin could wake the dead.
Worse, I was moving. Oh no, I was sliding downhill headfirst—and without my skis. Where did they go? As my jacket rode up, snow slid onto my neck. What fun. I attempted to slow myself down, but it was several more heart-wrenching seconds before I halted.
I sat up and wiped the snow from my goggles. My skis must have been knocked loose in the fall. They drifted diagonally downhill in opposite directions. I winced. What a disaster.
A guy in blue skied over and retrieved one of my runaway skis. Another guy in black skied over and grabbed the other. Eek, how horrifying.
I pulled myself up to my knees and brushed snow off my face and stomach. It had already started to melt and left an unpleasant chilly wetness on my skin.
A third guy with a red jacket that indicated he was ski patrol skied over to me and stopped with expert skill. “Are you okay?” He had a deep baritone.
I glanced up at him, mortified. He was massive, as tall as a tree and blocking out the sun with his broad shoulders—or perhaps it was just this angle. I couldn’t see much of his face as he wore a helmet and goggles. Plus, the embarrassment of my graceless fall still stung.
“Yeah, I’m fine, I think.” I tried getting up and plopped back down. “Aside from my bruised ego,” I grumbled.
“Let me help you up.”
As we attempted to get me back on my feet, I stumbled. It was a terrible angle on a steep pitch of the trail. I glanced up. It was also a dangerous spot. Skiers and snowboarders came over the bump where I must have been in a blind spot as they had to swerve to avoid me. If I made it off this mountain without a collision in the next ten minutes, it would be a feat of epic sorcery.
The guy in blue who had retrieved a ski brought it over. Ski patrol guy thanked him and said, “Got it. We’re good.” The guy skied away.
As I tried to slide my foot back into the binding, it kept popping out.
“It’s flatter over there.” Ski patrol guy grabbed my ski. He then motioned ahead to the guy in black who’d retrieved my ski farther down the slope and was trying to climb up to me. “Wait there. We’ll come to you.”
Ugh, I was such an instant calamity out here that three guys had to help retrieve the pieces to put me back together. I plodded through the snow over to the side of the trail with ski patrol guy. He moved quickly downhill and retrieved my second detached ski.
When I caught up, I muttered, “Thanks.”
The guy in black ensured I was all set before he continued downhill.
Ski patrol guy wiped out snow from the binding and popped it into the proper position. He put it down beside my boot. “Here you go.”
I attempted to wedge my boot back in. Nothing. “I can’t get it in.” I tried jamming it in, hoping to end this scene soon enough.
My boot didn’t connect. Worse, the movement shot the ski forward and into the woods.
“Oh no,” I muttered. Humiliation flooded me. My cheeks burned. Now would be a good time for an avalanche to sweep me away.
My wolf stirred inside and roused with sudden alertness.
Then a deep rumble rolled from within his chest. Mate.
Don’t be ridiculous, I replied as I skied over to a snowbank. The woman’s ski had wedged itself in and peeked out, half-buried. The snow was so deep that I had to remove my skis to venture in. I popped them off and planted them upright into a snowbank.
It’s her, my wolf insisted. Can’t you sense it?
I ignored the question. I’m trying to work here.
I grabbed the bottom edge of the ski and yanked it out of its snow cave. “Got it.” I declared in victory as I lifted it for her to see.
“Oh, good!” she shouted from the side of the trail.
It was covered in snow, and I brushed off as much as I could so she’d be able to put it back on. I carried the ski over to her.
As I approached, my wolf declared, It’s her.
I suppressed a scowl and focused on doing my job. What was wrong with him for thinking a woman we barely said two words to and knew nothing about was our mate? We hadn’t even made eye contact yet. She appeared so shaken by the fall, and her face was half-covered by her mask and goggles. Blond ringlets extended from under her helmet, wet from snow—as was much of her.
“Thank you so much for your help,” she gushed with gratitude once I reached her.
“No problem.” After I brushed more snow out of the bindings, I positioned the ski beside her white boot. “Careful, it’s as slippery as a salmon,” I joked to lighten the mood. “Hold on to me for balance.”
“Okay.” She placed her hand on my shoulder and attempted to wedge her foot into the ski.
I inhaled to get a sense of what was making my wolf go so batty. She definitely couldn’t be our mate.
Read what happens next in Match My Fall!