Pulse: Sport Romance (The Boys of Winter Book 6)

BOOK: Pulse: Sport Romance (The Boys of Winter Book 6)
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Pulse
Violet Vaughn
Sugarloaf Publishing

C
opyright
© 2015 by Violet Vaughn

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

This novel is a work of fiction. The town and ski area of Breckenridge, Colorado has been embellished to suit the story, and the references to people, events and locations are used fictitiously. Names, characters and incidents are a product of the author’s imagination.

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Acknowledgments

Editing services by Jodi Henley and Red Adept Editing

Cover Design by Kim Killion at Hot Damn Designs

Foreword

L
ove
, lies and legacies...

M
egan Donovan lives
on borrowed time. When her twenty-sixth birthday arrives the carefree lifestyle she maintains will expire. Being a ski bum in Breckenridge was supposed to be her chance to sow wild oats before becoming the next CEO of her family business. Megan didn’t count on finding a lifelong love. She’d take Nick back to New York, but he isn’t the kind of guy that would be happy in her world. Megan can’t ask him to give up paradise for the cruel complications of her family.

Nick Merill has the woman he wants, forever. The trouble is every time he suggests they take their relationship a step further Megan balks at the idea of commitment. But after three years, Nick isn’t willing to wait any longer. When he discovers the real reason she won’t say yes, he must convince she’s worth the sacrifice.

But Megan and Nick aren’t prepared for the complications that come with inherited power. The two must decide it their love can wait out the storm.

Chapter 1

T
he embossed snowflakes
on the invitation are silky under my fingers as I hold it. My close friends Casey and Jason’s wedding is in two months, and while I’m thrilled for them, this piece of paper is going to open up a can of worms I’m not ready to deal with. My boyfriend, Nick, and I have been together for three years, and lately he hints at marriage. The magnet clicks when I put the card on the fridge, and I scowl at it.

I turn to find Nick standing in the doorway, and I wonder how long he’s been there. His jaw is clenched.
Crap.
I walk over and wrap my arms around his waist. “Hey, babe.”

I press my cheek against the nylon of his turtleneck, hoping he’ll get my silent message that I don’t want to talk. Almost every couple in our close friend group is engaged or married, and he has to be thinking about it.

He doesn’t relax into my embrace and pushes me off.

“What’s wrong?” I shouldn’t have asked, because I really don’t want to do this. But I can’t avoid it forever.

He sighs and shoves his hands in the pockets of his jeans. “What are we doing, Megan?”

“Is this about the wedding?”

Nick leans against the small kitchen counter and crosses his arms. “Do you ever want to get married?”

My stomach lurches as I recall conversations we’ve had about children and the future. Discussions you have early in a relationship when you don’t consider the consequences if you’re still together a few years later. I told him I wanted a family someday. He asks, “Or is it that you don’t want to marry me?”

“Nick.” I sigh. He has no idea. “You shouldn’t want to marry me. I’m not good wife material.” Nick’s pain flashes through his eyes, and I think he doesn’t believe me. “There are things about me that you don’t know.”

He uncrosses his arms to grip mine. “Then tell me.”

Tell him.
He says it like it won’t change everything in an instant. “I love what we have, and I don’t want it to end.”

“Megan.” His eyes are soft, and he holds his hand out as he says, “Don’t you know nothing you can tell me about your past would ever push me away?”

I snort. “This is going to sound like such a line, but it’s not you. It’s me.” I turn from him and mumble, “And my family” as I walk toward our small living room. When I get to the fireplace, I reach for a picture of us we have framed and on the mantel. The ornate metal makes it heavy, and the glass is cool under my finger as I trace the face of the man I love. There’s also a group picture from when Nick’s family came to visit. But I don’t have a single one of my relatives. I’ve been pretending they don’t exist.

Nick has followed me, and he asks, “So your plan is to live with me until I finally break things off because you won’t marry me?”

I turn and tamp down my temptation to snap. “I’d marry you in a heartbeat if my life were my own.” My footsteps make our flimsy floor shake as I move toward him to place my hand on his chest. “But it’s not, and I love you too much to inflict my family on you.”

In the years we’ve been together, he’s never met my mother or sister. The only contact I have with them is strained phone calls and my annual trip home.

He says, “That makes no sense. How is your life not your own? You’re with me almost every single day.”

I know.
And the life I love is about to crash and burn. I hug myself as tears form in my eyes. He pulls me against his chest, and I tremble in his embrace as I say, “And they’re numbered. I love you so much.”

Nick squeezes me tight. “Babe. Tell me.”

I swallow down the lump in my throat and pull away before I let myself cry. “We’re going to be late. You should go start the car.”

“Fine. But this conversation isn’t over.”

Nick doesn’t get angry and tends to internalize things. But he goes ballistic when he’s been lied to. So I know he’s beyond pissed when he slams the door hard enough to make the whole apartment shake. I sigh. I’m not exactly lying, I’m just not telling the whole truth.

I open the fridge to grab last night’s leftovers for us to heat up for lunch. The metal forks clink as I add them to my bag while I walk toward the door. Sliding my arm into the sleeve of my parka, I glance out the window at Nick brushing powdery snow from the windshield of his car. We got at least a foot, and I look forward to the hour we get to free ski before we have to teach lessons.

When I get in the car, Nick has the music on, and I guess it’s so I know he’s going to let this go, for now. I reach for his warm hand and kiss his palm.

He says, “I love you. And just so you know, if you came from a trailer park and think marshmallows are supposed to go with sweet potatoes, I can live with that.”

I chuckle at his joke, remembering a Thanksgiving when someone brought the processed food version of the vegetable, and we both were horrified by it.

While he doesn’t know much about my past, last year I let it slip that money isn’t a problem. My car died, and I bought a new Subaru with cash. The Subaru we take to work every day while his capable car sits unused most of the time. But other than buying a vehicle outright, I don’t spend more than I make and work two jobs like most ski instructors.

The majestic Rocky Mountain range is outside my window, and I gaze at it. Snow swirls in the strong winds, making the peaks appear to be lost in patches of fog. It’s overcast, as if the day wants to match my mood. I shake it off and focus on making the best of things.

I ask, “Are you tuning at the shop tonight?” Nick’s schedule changes each week, unlike my set one at a high-end clothing store in town.

“I am.” He turns down the music to ask, “Want to bring me dinner like you used to do?” He winks at me. “We could make out in the back room.”

I squeeze his hand, because I know he’s trying to keep things normal. We’re both good at ignoring things we don’t like. “Should I sneak you a beer too?”

“Would you?” The car slows down as we turn into the employee parking lot at Peak 8 ski school.

“Yes, but it better be a really good kiss.”

Nick pulls into a spot and stops the car. It clunks into park, and he grabs my jacket to pull me close. He kisses me the way he does when we’re free to take things further, and when he’s done, I tingle with lust. He asks, “Something like that?”

I touch my mouth as if I can preserve the sensation of his lips on mine as I nod. Nick’s teeth gleam as he gives me the stellar smile that makes women swoon. And just like that, we’re back to our happy place. For now. Because that can of worms is open, and they’re wiggling out.

L
ater than usual
, Nick and I enter a full locker room. I prefer to get dressed before the crowd, and I sigh as we weave our way through our aisle to our lockers. A metal door clangs shut, and Stacy, the girl who flirts shamelessly with Nick, says to him, “Heather was looking for you. She’s in her office.”

My bag thumps on the floor, and Nick raises his eyebrows at me in hope. He’s been training for the Professional Ski Instructors of America Development Team. Dev team is a step beyond a fully certified ski instructor and the training team for the examiners who test for certification. The resort will pay for time off from work to do intense preparation for the exam. He’s about to find out if he qualifies based on his ability to make it. I lift my hand and cross my fingers before he walks away. I wish I could go with him.

The zipper to my ski pants hums as I pull it up. Dev team was something we talked about doing together. I step up on a bench to retrieve my ski boots from the top of the lockers. The plastic is slippery in my hands as I step down. I catch a glimpse of Nick coming back down the aisle, and he’s grinning. I say, “Way to go, babe!”

When he gets to me, I hug him. “I knew you had it.”

Stacy asks, “You’re going for dev team?”

“Yes.” Nick’s on the quiet side, but I know he’s doing an inner fist pump.

“Nice. Megan’s right, you’ve definitely earned it.”

“Thanks.” He turns to me. “I’m going out with Heather this morning. Sorry to bail on you.”

“No worries.”

He kisses the tip of my nose, and I say, “You’re going to knock this out of the park.”

Nick frowns at me. “You would too. Are you sure you don’t want to do this with me?”

“No. This is your dream.”

But it’s not just his dream. My boot buckle snaps loudly as I close it. When Nick and I first started dating, he told me he wanted to become an examiner, and that’s when I became interested. We worked our way through certification together with the goal. But last fall I backed off when I realized I wouldn’t be able to follow through. Heather stops at the end of my aisle and nods toward Nick. He winks at me.

I say, “Turn ’em right.”

“And left.” He chuckles at our bad running joke as he walks away.

Rick, our supervisor, barks out from somewhere in the locker room, “Donovan! Anyone seen Donovan?”

I yell back, “Here!”

“Private in five!”

I scramble to finish getting ready and out the door. My boots clunk across the floor as I walk by the wooden racks and grab my skis. I jog up the metal steps and make even more noise before I can attach my skis to skate over to the private meet-up sign.

Sweat is damp on my back when I notice who’s waiting for me.
Alex.
My sister is standing there in a fur-trimmed hooded jacket and ski pants from an outrageously expensive skiwear designer. Her helmet is swinging from her arm as she greets me with a smirk. “I figured this was the only way I’d get an hour of your time. You don’t cost much, do you?”

I roll my eyes at her dig. “You must have gotten the beginner’s deal.”

Her eyes squint while her mouth is set in the way I recognize as the prequel to a lecture. “We need to talk.”

I tilt my head at her gear leaning against the sign. “Let’s go.”

Her bindings click as she steps into her skis to secure them to her feet. I lead us to the private lesson line that lets us load quickly. After we get on the chair, I pull the bar down, and our skis thud on the metal footrest.

Wind whistles eerily around a support tower as we bump over it, and a chunk of ice falls from it onto the chair between us. I glance at it, but neither of us brush it off. Wind whistles as silence stretches between us.

Alex finally speaks. “You’re really going to stay here until the last possible moment, aren’t you?”

I lean back and gaze up at the sky. “That’s the plan.”

She huffs. “I don’t get you. Don’t you even want to know your job before you have to do it?”

I lazily roll my head to the side to look at her. We both have the same nose and eyes. Although her eyebrows are a perfectly sculpted version of the ones I sport these days. “I’ve got you. I don’t need to.”

“Jesus fucking Christ, Megan!” The safety bar clangs as she bangs her fist on it. “You’re going to walk into a billion-dollar company and hope I’ll bail you out?”

“Won’t you?” I’m acting so out of character, but I can’t help myself. I’m afraid of losing Nick and don’t want to go home. “We’ll have equal shares in the company, with me being the controlling partner. You won’t let me fail, because that means you do too.”

“Wow. Entitled much?”

Alex brings out my inner bitch who likes this game. But she just pushed a button. I decide to tamp her down and sit up. “I’ll pull my weight, and you know it. I’m pissed that I have to leave my nearly perfect life just because we’ve got a mother with a chip on her shoulder about women in the corporate world.”

“And that you were born first.” Alex shakes her head and glances away from me to gaze at the tree line. “I curse that every day.”

My sister has a temper, and I imagine the things she says every time she thinks about how I’m inheriting what she wants. I soften up, because I know my inability to accept my fate does make her life harder.

“I’m sorry, Alex. I don’t mean to take this out on you.”

Alex’s shoulders slump as she continues to avoid my gaze. “I do know that. But other than getting to ski every day, what exactly is the attraction to this poverty-stricken lifestyle you lead? Why don’t you want to enjoy the power of being the next Forbes 500 lister?”

“How about the fact I didn’t do a thing to earn it? Or that the love of my life lives here?”

Alex turns to me to gaze into my eyes and adds, “Or that you never wanted to be in business, let alone the world of makeup.” She frowns as she inspects me. “Do you even own mascara?”

“Actually, I do. Mother sends me packages.” My sister snorts, and I say, “I wear it sometimes.”

“I get it, you know.” She pulls out a lipstick case that has a tiny mirror. One of the many trademark products of Bellae. “I wish I could find a man who would make me want nothing more than him.” She swipes a berry shade of lipstick over her plump lips, making them appear as kissable as the girls in our company’s advertisements. “Do I get to meet this mystery man who keeps you anchored in the land of”—she pauses to give me the once-over with her eyes, and her lip curls up—“uniforms and snow?”

When I turn twenty-six, my mother will step down, and Alex and I will have equal shares in the company, with me being the controlling partner. I know my actions impact her, and I wish we could go back to the way we were as kids. I ignore her question. “Want to ski something fun?”

Her eyes light up. “You mean Donovan-sister domination?”

I nod and remember the girl who grew up skiing with the boys right alongside me. The one who took as much pleasure as I did in showing them we could do more than keep up.

BOOK: Pulse: Sport Romance (The Boys of Winter Book 6)
2.07Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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