I looked out through the fog at the sea of smiles and laughs at the other patrons currently enjoying Karaoke night at Peak’s Pub, including my best friends, Jessa and Ally. Karaoke nights were always pretty busy at the pub but thankfully, we’d gotten here in time to grab a table by the front windows and relatively close to the stage; there was no way I could stand without crumbling over right now. There was a large, dark mahogany bar in the center of the room manned by the three usual bartenders who kept the crowd there under control.
I sucked in a loud breath as pain tightened the noose around my lower stomach, every beat from the speakers fell in time with the throbbing inside me. Any other day, I’d make my apologies and call a cab home, but tonight we were out celebrating Ally’s birthday. All day I’d hoped my body would fall in line with the general celebratory sentiment – just for one night – but of course, it hadn’t.
I sent my girls a reassuring smile as they glanced over at me from the floor in front of the stage with worry marring their happiness. Sitting up taller, I held up my glass as a small salute, and did my best to look like I wasn’t dying on the inside.
Everyone had their own trials in life, I just wished that mine were the kind that would still let me enjoy a night out. Instead, all I had to look forward to was more tests, more bloodwork, more fears, more words that I hated hearing, and leaving the doctor’s office with more questions than answers. The only thing I knew for sure was that something was very, very wrong.
‘We are going to talk about this, you know,’ Ally said to me earlier tonight and I promised her that I would, but it was a promise I didn’t want to keep. I’d been having a lot of pain lately and because of it, I’d spent so much time at the doctor’s, I was surprised no one started mistaking me for a member of the staff. Unfortunately, they still didn’t have answers and I didn’t have the strength to try to find some for Ally – or Jessa for that matter.
My hand stole over my stomach. Gosh, I really felt like crap. Why tonight of all nights? I just wanted to go out and have a great time with my girls for Ally’s birthday. Just one night…
But when it rains, it pours – or so it seemed lately.
I glanced up to see Ally’s older brother, Chance, and one of his best friends, Nick Frost strolling through the bar liked they owned the place – the locals might say that they did, being the SnowmassHoles and all…
The SnowmassHoles was the nickname given by a good portion of the town of Aspen to Chance Ryder and his best friends, Nick Frost and Emmett Jameson. They were the local snowboarding rulers of the Snowmass Resort and their attitudes garnered their infamy.
It started in high school when they would host late night snowboarding competitions that they called the ‘Winter Games’ at Snowmass after the resort had closed for the evening. They broke the rules but never got caught. The Games ended with graduation but they still referred to each other by their nicknames, even almost a decade later. Chance was dubbed ‘Pride,’ for being on his way to becoming the greatest snowboarder in the world, and, like the name, he’d fallen and was still trying to pick up the pieces. Emmett was deemed ‘King’ after beating Chance in one competition that Chance insisted he threw. And Nick… Well, Nick Frost was just called ‘Frost’ because the shimmering ice fit his person and his personality.
And it was a cold that always made me shiver.
You don’t care what he thinks about how you look, a small voice inside my head whispered as I averted my gaze from the most gorgeously cold man I’d ever known.
Nick Frost was a Casanova on ice – shaken, not stirred. And to me, he was the most breathtaking of them all. Messy, short brown hair, a jawline that was as dangerous and as sharp as his smile, and a body that I didn’t need to see without clothes on to know that it was as hard and as carved as an ice sculpture.
I wanted to see it, though, and sometimes, I dreamt about it – about him, the man whose chilling and unimpressed stare made my body melt.
He was so painfully beautiful. Unique. Just like a snowflake.
And just as exquisitely cold and crystalline.
Untouchable – disintegrating at the barest brush of real feeling.
And always falling. Always unable to be caught.
Harmless in singularity, except when I waited and watched and wished for too long. Then, he became an avalanche swallowing every perfectly ordered piece of me and spitting me back out into a mess of chaos that I couldn’t handle.
So, I mostly ignored and avoided him. It wasn’t hard; I liked my world the complete opposite of how it seemed he needed his.
His life was the lovechild of excess and cliché. Beautiful, rich boy who wanted for nothing, yet couldn’t seem to ever get enough – parties, women, drugs, and alcohol. And then, he went from high school cliché to sob-story when his dad died unexpectedly right at the end of high school; after that broken didn’t even begin to describe him. At that moment, what happened next was so critical to his future and healing – but whatever was needed to make him whole again, he didn’t get. And the things he shouldn’t want, but couldn’t seem to get enough of were poured on him like buckets of ice water on a football coach after winning the Super Bowl.
The parties were the kind that would have made Prince Harry take off his clothes. The girls, well, I guess I’ll just say there was a rumor that sleeping with Nick Frost was a graduation requirement since almost every girl had done it. Except me; and therein proof that the rumor was false. And the drugs… those got bad after graduation. I didn’t see the result… I didn’t want to. He’d gone from the bunny slopes of weed to the black diamonds of crack in world-record-setting time.
I’d never been to his house or his parties, so maybe these were all exaggerations… but I didn’t think he was that lucky. I, on the other hand, preferred to stay in the background, quietly watching from afar as the most beautiful man I’d ever seen was cut open by life and then proceeded to rip his own guts out. My only explanation for it all was that almost dying was the only thing that made him feel alive.
Chaos fed him; chaos sustained him. Whereas I needed structure and calm and security. I needed it in every aspect of my life because it kept being slowly stripped away from my body.
Tight jeans and a V-neck shirt. Hair that looked like a female had just had her hands buried knuckles deep in it while he was buried… I shook my head. His hair was sexy messy, let’s just leave it at that. In all, he could have passed for a rockstar – the look completed by the joint that half hung out of his front pocket.
I watched them greet the birthday girl, shocked a little when even Frost gave Ally a hug. The shock dissipated when he didn’t look twice at me. It was probably for the best.
“Are you actually drinking tonight, Tamsin?” Maybe I wasn’t that lucky. His voice was smooth, whiskey-covered words burned as I took them in. I didn’t like it when he spoke to me. It was rare – thankfully – but when it happened, my entire body forgot how to function.
I looked for someone to save me, but Chance had said something to Jessa and Ally seemed completely entranced by their interaction. Meanwhile, Nick had stepped right next to me so I doubted any of them could’ve heard what he said.
I shifted in my seat, momentarily forgetting about my stomach cramps. His face was so close – too close – to mine.
“I am,” I gulped, taking another sip of the drink that I shouldn’t be drinking. In punishment, the pangs in my lower abdomen returned with full force, but I definitely wouldn’t let him see my discomfort.
“So, you’re going to let me take you home, then?”
I almost spit out my drink. “Excuse me?”
My whole body trembled. I must have misheard. Nick Frost would never have said that to me. Of all the women in the world, I was not the one that he wanted.
“Tonight,” he repeated calmly. “You’re going to let me take you home, wrap those long legs around my waist, and let me find out if your pussy is as tight as the lid you lock over your control.” He looked down at the drink in my hand. “I figure if you are drinking, tonight is my best shot at making that happen.”
I stared for an awkwardly long amount of time. I couldn’t be hearing him correctly. Nick Frost. Who never had two words to rub together for me, let alone two nice ones, just calmly requested to spend the night inside of me. Technically, he didn’t really request…
“I… umm…” I shook my head. “N-no. No, thank you. Sorry.”
Did I just say ‘no, thank you’ to having sex? Excuse me – to having sex with the hottest jerk this side of Snowmass? Maybe I was drunk. That would explain all of this. It was the only thing that would explain all of this. I was drunk and delusional.
“Alright, Miss Priss.” He swallowed a sneer, enjoying his nickname for me far more than I liked, and shrugged like my answer made no difference to him; he’d just find someone else to sleep with tonight. I felt a small twinge in my tummy – a different kind of twinge from the cramps I’d been experiencing all night, but still painful.
Sadness. Jealousy. Longing. An ache for every dirty and delicious thing that I’d ever heard about him to be done to me.
He nodded to the crowd forming by the stage, saying, “Then pick her.”
Was it the alcohol or was I always this obtuse when he tried to talk to me?
“Pick who?” I squeaked out, bringing my cup to my mouth for another sip. Someone needed to take this drink away from me.
A smirk spread over his face like water slowly freezing. “Pick the woman I’m going to fuck tonight while I’m thinking of you.”
My mouthful of watered-down cocktail spewed back into my glass, only serving to widen his smile, as my cheeks flamed at his insinuation. It was horrible and wrong.
Yet, the part of me that only I had ever touched clenched at the notion that he wanted to think of me while he was screwing someone else. It was a horribly satisfying feeling – dirty and bad and everything that I shouldn’t want to feel but craved more of.
His amused pale blue eyes fell from mine with a sigh. I knew what he thought. That I was all prim and proper and dutifully horrified by his suggestion. Most days and for most people, Tamsin Lucas would have scoffed and scolded. But today was not most days – today a part of me knew I was getting sicker and today I’d ordered a cocktail to try to forget. And most days, Frost wasn’t most people. In fact, at times like this, he was the only person.
All that to say, “Her.”
I felt the spark pass between us as the word slipped from my lips. His head jerked to mine and his eyes narrowed, disbelieving what his ears had heard.
“Her,” I repeated, my eyes gliding over to a buxom blonde who had a t-shirt on that said ‘#askingforit.’ Because that was so classy. Perfect choice for Frost. I couldn’t stop my eyes from rolling, both because of her careless choice of attire and then as I watched his eyes drip languidly over her body.
Looking back at me, his slight nod was cut off by Chance, who was still talking to his sister but moving in the direction of the bar.
“When you decide you’re tired of being so put together, give me a call. I promise, I will make falling apart be the best fucking thing to ever happen to you,” he rasped; but it was the look in his eyes that strangled the breath coming from my lungs – the one that said it was all he was ever waiting for.