After Hours with Her Ex(8)

By: Maureen Child


 “Not if I can help it,” she countered, and the flash in her eyes went bright.

 Around them, the day went on. Couples walked hand in hand. Parents herded children and squeals of excitement sliced through the air. Up on the mountain, skiers in a rainbow of brightly colored parkas raced down the slopes.

 Here, though, Sam was facing a challenge of a different kind. She’d been in his thoughts and dreams for two years. Soft, sweet, trusting. Yet this new side of Lacy appealed to him, too. He liked the fire sparking in her eyes, even if it was threatening to engulf him.

 When she tugged to get free of his grip, he let her go, but his fingertips burned as if he’d been holding on to a live electrical wire. “Lacy, you work for me—”

 “I work for your father,” she corrected.

 “You work for the Wyatts,” he reminded her. “I’m a Wyatt.”

 Her head snapped up and those furious blue eyes narrowed to slits. “And you’re the one Wyatt I want nothing to do with.”

 “Lacy?”

 Kristi’s voice came from right behind him and Sam bit back an oath. His sister had lousy timing was his first thought, then he realized that she was interrupting on purpose. As if riding to Lacy’s rescue.

 “Hi, Kristi.” Lacy gave her a smile and blatantly ignored Sam’s presence. “You need something?”

 “Actually, yeah.” Kristi gave her brother one long, hard look, then turned back to Lacy. “If you’re not busy, I’d like to go over some of the plans for next weekend’s End of Season ski party.”

 “I’m not busy at all.” Lacy gave Sam a meaningful look. “We were done here, right?”

 If he said no, he’d have two angry women to face. If he said yes, Lacy would believe that he was willing to step away from the confrontation they needed to have—which he wasn’t. Yeah, two years ago he’d walked away. But he was back now and they were both going to have to find a way to deal with it.

 For however long he was here.

 “For now,” he finally said, and saw the shimmer of relief in Lacy’s eyes. It would be short-lived, though, because the two of them weren’t finished.

 After Lacy and Kristi left, Sam wandered the resort, familiarizing himself with it all. He could have drawn the place from memory—from the bunny runs to the slalom courses to the small snack shops. And yet, after being gone for two years, Sam was looking at the place through new eyes.

 He’d been making some changes to the resort, beginning the expansion he’d once dreamed of, when Jack died. Then, like a light switch flipping off, his dreams for the place had winked out of existence. Sam frowned and stared up at the top of the mountain. There were other resorts in Utah. Big ones, small ones, each of them drawing away a slice of tourism skiing that Snow Vista should be able to claim.

 While he looked around, his mind worked. They needed more cabins for guests. Maybe another inn, separate from the hotel. A restaurant at the summit. Something that offered more substantial fare than hot dogs and popcorn. And for serious skiers, they needed to open a run on the backside of the mountain where the slope was sheer and there were enough trees and jumps to make for a dangerous—and exciting—run.

 God knew he had more than enough money to invest in Snow Vista. All it would take was his father’s approval, and why the hell wouldn’t he go for it? With work and some inventive publicity, Sam could turn Snow Vista into the premier ski resort in the country.

 But to make all of these changes would mean that he’d have to stay. To dig his heels in and reclaim the life that he’d once walked away from. And he wasn’t sure he wanted to do that. Or that he could. He wasn’t the same man who had left here two years ago. He’d changed as much as Lacy had. Maybe more.

 Staying here would mean accepting everything he’d once run from. It would mean living with Jack’s ghost. Seeing him on every ski run. Hearing his laugh on the wind.

 Sam’s gaze fixed on a lone skier making his way down the mountain. Snow flared up from the sides of his skis and as he bent low to pick up speed, Sam could almost feel the guy’s exhilaration. Sam had grown up on that mountain and just seeing it again was easing all of the rough edges on his soul that he’d been carrying around for two years. It wouldn’t be easy, but he belonged here. A part of him always would.

 And just like that, he knew that he would stay. At least as long as it took to make all of the changes he’d once dreamed of making to his family’s resort.

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