“Ugh. I know. I am, too. But I can’t be, he didn’t do anything wrong. I’m more mad at myself for how much I felt so soon … and … how excited I am to see him again in a few weeks.” My whole face crinkles into one big crease. “I’m ashamed to even admit that out loud. I need to just be cold with him and not give him the time of day.”
“But really, why would you? Like you said, he didn’t really do anything wrong and maybe he just hasn’t been able to find you,” she finishes hopefully.
I stare her down. “We both know he could have found me if he wanted.
She sighs. “Just wait and hear what he has to say.”
“Yeah, if he bothers to talk to me at all. We didn’t leave on the finest note.”
“Here we are!” Tessa sings and pulls my arm into the store.
Oh, so many choices. So little time. Tessa’s also right about the blue get-up. There will be no denying I’m in the vicinity when I put it on. Ian Sterling won’t know what hit him.
- 6 -
A couple weeks later, I’m packing all my cute new clothes into a suitcase, along with a few books I’ve added, just in case I’m a disaster on the slopes. Oh wait, I’ve packed a half dozen books. That’s going to be heavy. What can I say? I’m a fast reader. It would be so sad to get there and run out of reading material. This is a vacation after all.
After my shopping trip with Tessa, I confess something might have been birthed in me. I finally get what all the fuss is about with shopping. Tessa could not be happier about this new transition. I can’t get too addicted to it, until I have more money under my belt, but it’s really fun to finally spend the money I’ve been saving forever on clothes that I actually really like. I would never say this out loud, but it’s possible that I will be completely fine with just looking good on this trip. And reading. If I have it my way, I will look good while reading. You didn’t hear it here. But really, who needs skiing when I have all these fabulous clothing choices to cover?
Oh gross. I don’t even recognize myself anymore.
But back to the fashion…
My cable knit sweater Uggs are the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever worn in my entire life. I didn’t get the hype about Uggs either, until I tried on a pair. I don’t ever want to take them off, so naturally, I’m wearing them, along with a short cream sweater dress, when I get on the airplane and nervously fly to Denver.
Okay. I should be completely honest. I’ve looked for any kind of diversion, including fashion, to get my mind off of the fact that I’m terrified of breaking a leg. Specifically, I’m terrified of breaking a leg in front of Ian. I have never even had a desire to ski. It’s not come close to crossing my mind since I can trip falling UP the stairs. I can trip over nothing. My own two feet are fully capable of betraying me without any warning. They’re vicious, really.
These thoughts are warring in my brain as I look out the window and gaze into the cotton puff clouds. I guess it’s better than obsessing over seeing Ian again. I won’t deny that I’ve battled pushing him out of my brain, deciding to not overthink anything with him. I will just see what he has to say, if anything, when I see him. Consequently, all I’ve thought about for days are all the ways I can stay OFF the slopes. I have an arsenal of reasons/ excuses to pull out, should anyone corner me about why I’m avoiding my skis.
These theories are all shot to dust during the car ride with my parents to the resort. After many hugs and kisses are passed around, they start right in.
“We’re scheduled to have a skiing lesson at 8 A.M.,” Charlie informs me.
“About that…” I start.
“Your mom and I will join you. You’ll do fine, Rosie.”
“You know how to ski, you don’t need to wait up for me. Take advantage of all this,” I wave my hand, wildly pointing at the snow-covered mountains. It doesn’t work.
“No, I could use a refresher course,” my dad says.
“Me too. How long has it been since we’ve done this?” Charlie pipes in.
This leads to a ten-minute trip down memory lane. The last time they skied was when they spent their anniversary in Lake Tahoe. I tune out for a minute, admiring the beautiful sunset, when I hear Laila’s name. My ears perk up and I rejoin the conversation.
“Have you seen Jeff and Laila yet? Is everyone already here?”
“We saw them briefly as we were leaving to get you. There’s quite a group here.”
“Really? How many?” I want details.
“Oh, I’d say at least fifteen, maybe twenty…” My mom looks back at me and smiles. “Ian asked about you. He wondered if you were coming … seemed surprised you weren’t already with us.”
“Hmmm.” I say with all the nonchalance I can muster. Meanwhile, my insides are doing trampoline circus tricks.
It’s dark by the time we get to Crystal Peak Lodge. The glistening lights of the resort against the backdrop of the mountains and starry sky is a sight to see. Every stressful thought from the last couple of months dims, and anticipation takes its place. This will be wonderful. I am determined to make it so.
I thought I wasn’t ready to see Ian yet, but my eyes scan the lobby, searching every corner for him. All of a sudden, it’s very real that I WILL BE SEEING IAN SOON. I can’t wait. Even if it doesn’t go the way I might hope, I just want to look at him.
“There you are!”
I turn around and am immediately swallowed in a hug from Jeff. Laila stands next to him and smiles, her warmth a few notches cooler than the last time I saw her. It bewilders me momentarily, and then her smile widens and I push my thoughts aside.
“Sparrow, hello! You look so pretty. Did you have a nice flight?” Laila looks me over from head to toe and back up again. I want to ask if I passed inspection.
“Thank you. Yes, it was fine,” I smile.
I’m glad when my parents pick up the conversation. My dad goes to our condo to put my luggage away while my mom and I follow the Roberts to the lodge’s restaurant. Our group is already there and introductions are made all around. Still no Ian. Everyone seems pretty nice. My parents go for the older group—the parental side—congregating to the left side of the huge table and I venture to the younger side. I sit by Wendy, who appears to be around my age. Across from Wendy is Carl, and I think they’re a couple. On the other side of Wendy is a gorgeous blonde, Jade. She’s a bit icy, but I guess you can get away with that when you’re so beautiful. Next to Carl are two handsome brothers, Jake and Jared. I realize belatedly that they’re also brothers to Jade. The J siblings. They could all be models.