Double Diamond by Tanya Hess by Tanya Hess - Read Online

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Summary

Casey Adams had her life all mapped out. As an army brat, growing up with no fixed address or time to develop close relationships, she was finally where she wanted to be for the rest of her life. Here, in North Vancouver, she would grow her small local book store/café to be one of the best in the downtown area, save enough to buy the cottage she had her eye on, meet the man of her dreams, and have 2.1 children and a dog, and then spend her golden years setting down deep roots and nurturing her family. It was the perfect plan.

That is until, one rainy day on the ski hill where Casey was volunteering, Andrew Peterson, sexy, attractive and oozing confidence; corporate Bigwig; and self proclaimed wanderer, crashed into her life, literally, and shook up her carefully mapped out future.

Intrigued by the quiet, shy ski patroller who helped him after his accident on the hill, Andrew found himself looking for any excuse to be with Casey.

Even knowing his disdain for permanence and his desire to keep all relationships light, and her realization that her heart may not be able to survive a short term relationship, Casey still finds herself incapable of resisting his charm.

Will they be able to overcome their differences and make a relationship work? Or are they destined to crash and burn like the other casualties of the Double Diamond?

Published: Tanya Hess on
ISBN: 9781311434562
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Double Diamond - Tanya Hess

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Introduction

This book is set in a fictional area in the Vancouver area of British Columbia, Canada. I lived there for about 5 years in the early 90’s and volunteered on the ski patrol at Mount Seymour; was an avid reader; and had some great ideas for a coffee shop/book store….Of course I didn’t actually get around to starting one, but the idea did work itself into this book years later.

The location is loosely based on the city of Vancouver itself and the surrounding areas as they existed in the 1990s, with a large dose of creative license thrown in to make the locale work for the story. The first aid and operation of a ski hill's volunteer first aid crew are loosely based on my memories of being a member of the Canadian Ski Patrol at Mount Seymour, but any comparison between actual people, places, or events is purely accidental. Many of the CSPS protocols have probably changed since that time, and my memory of processes probably hasn't done justice to the dedication, and time, today's hardy volunteers contribute to keep our local ski areas safe, and I do apologize for any errors or omissions that may give any incorrect impressions.

This novel was written in 6 weeks, while my new baby girl napped. She was a great one for napping for the first….oh, about 6 weeks. It’s a sweet little romance written just to see if I could actually write a full length novel from start to finish. Of course it then took me another 15 years to bring it to a remotely e-publishable state. It was a rewarding process that I plan to repeat. In fact my second and third books are in the first draft stage and I hope to be releasing them to e-publication within the next year. Check out the excerpt from Jesse's Place attached to the end of this story.

I hope you enjoy reading Double Diamond.

Tanya Hess

CHAPTER ONE

His hearing was the first sense to recover. Feeling would come soon. He had a terrible premonition that the coming pain would be something he'd never wish on his worst enemy.

With a low groan Andrew Peterson opened his eyes. He blinked to clear the rain and melting snow from his frozen lashes, and inhaled a long breath of cold damp air. Shit. He exhaled. This can't be good. His words echoed back at him, bouncing off the fog.

He was lying on his back just off the edge of run number 4 of Snowcap Mountain. His right leg was bent in an unnatural angle with his foot buried under a mound of snow near his right hip. Or at least he was going with the assumption it was buried. He was pretty sure if his foot had been cut off he wouldn't be lying here quite so calmly. He'd never lost an appendage before, but he was pretty sure there would be screaming involved.

He hadn’t chosen this spot to have a rest, it had just happened…Suddenly, and, if he remembered correctly, and his leg was any indication, a bit violently. Luckily, or unluckily, depending on his mindset when he considered it, the fall hadn’t been violent enough to knock him out cold; at least he was pretty sure he hadn't lost consciousness. For a normally very confident guy he was feeling a bit unsure of….just about everything. He prided himself on being in control; coming out on top at everything he put his mind to; and winning at all costs. He snorted. He wasn't going to win any prizes for his latest accomplishment, that's for damn sure.

A clump of wet snow fell from the branches above his head with a soft plop. If it wasn’t so cold, and wet, and he wasn’t in so much pain, the sounds of the slowly melting winter forest and hiss of the soft spring rain through the heavy pine canopy would almost be….. relaxing.

The next plop of wet snow skimmed his temple. No, definitely not relaxing, he grimaced, and it was pretty obvious that lying here for much longer wasn't going to be an option, unless he wanted to be buried alive, or die of hypothermia. Neither of which sounded any more appealing than losing his foot.

As he lay in the snow contemplating his options, rivulets of ice cold rainwater ran into his eyes, down his collar, and seeped through his ski pants from too many points to count. He made a mental note to send a letter of complaint to the clothing manufacturer when he got himself out of his current predicament, or maybe he'd just buy them out and sell them off piece by miserable piece. With a curse he hunched his shoulders and tried to bury deeper into his soggy down-filled ski jacket. Unfortunately, as a means to additional heat, it wasn’t terribly effective, either.

Crap. All those retail outlets sold anymore was crap, and the high end ones sold expensive crap. What the hell had happened to quality manufacturing? Pride in workmanship? His ability to stay upright on skis?

With a sigh he carefully moved, flexed, and wiggled, one muscle group at a time, as he took an inventory of the bodily harm he’d inflicted on himself when he fell. He gave up when he reached his right arm. The list was going to be a long one. It was probably safer to just hang out for a few more minutes, get his bearings, and figure out a plan. He wasn’t going to freeze to death that quickly. Or at least he hoped he wasn’t. That would really wreck his vacation plans.

He shivered. Damn.

With a deep breath he reached out the arm that appeared to have suffered the least amount of damage in the fall. Struggling for leverage in the heavy, wet snow he positioned his elbow at his side and pushed himself into a sitting position. He blinked more water from his eyes and examined his surroundings.

He saw fir trees, their branches bending low from the weight of the snow piled on fragile limbs, and snow banks shrinking almost visibly under the steady onslaught of the pouring rain, but not much else past the opaque curtain of rain and the thick blanket of fog. Over the steady drip of melting snow, and the hiss of the unrelenting downpour, he could hear the faint whine of the ski lift, and the ghostly voices of his fellow skiers echoing across the slope. Instead of making him feel better they only emphasized the miserable conditions, and how cut off he was from the hustle and bustle of the beginner and intermediate runs. Not too many skiers would be coming down the double diamond in this weather, he acknowledged ruefully, and if he was being honest with himself, just a little fearfully. Most skiers weren’t as daring, adventurous….or just plain stupid, as he obviously was. He barked out a croaking laugh. The sound echoed back at him again, a bit mockingly this time, he thought.

Andrew turned his head and, squinting his eyes against the downpour, gazed to his left into the woods seeing nothing but the saturated snow covered landscape. To his right he could just barely make out the ski trail through the trees and estimated that it was at least five meters to the edge of the run.

Hell of a jump, he thought. Too bad he couldn’t stick the landing.

Andrew strained to see further, but couldn’t make out where he was in relation to the rest of the hill. Nearly half way down the run, he thought, but couldn’t be absolutely sure.

With a heavy sigh he let the pictures of the afternoon, like puzzle pieces falling into place, flash though his memory. The sudden downpour, splitting off from the girls, enjoying the free feeling of flying over the snowy, although wet, trail and then soaring through the air and tumbling…over and over and over. Angela was not going to be happy. He almost laughed at the understatement. She had trusted him to look after the girls. This was definitely not what she had in mind.

He turned his head to examine the small spindly shrub his left leg was tangled with and gazed way up the large tree trunk only inches from his head. You certainly aren’t on the trail anymore, Toto. He paraphrased the line from The Wizard of Oz with a snort and made an attempt to straighten his leg. A sharp stab of pain sliced through his bent knee and he gave up with a groan. Leaving was obviously going to take a bit more time than he'd originally hoped.

Catching a glimpse of one of his skis lying a few feet away, he carefully twisted around to look for the other. The movement caused something in his chest to grate together. Like a wire brush scraping against concrete: sharp, raw, intense, it hurt like hell. A cold sweat broke out on his brow and the snowy landscape weaved dizzily. A wave of nausea washed over him. This, he realized, was very definitely not good.

Inch by careful inch he lay back into the snow, trying not to jar his injured ribs again. He closed his eyes, pressed one hand firmly against his wounded chest, and focused again on just breathing as he slumped lower against the pile of snow that had formed when he came to a skidding halt. He wiped one half-frozen glove across his face to clear the water out of his eyes, again. Damn this rain. What the hell had he been thinking? This was not skiing weather, and no one would ever convince him otherwise. If it hadn't been for the girls, and their pleading, tear filled eyes, he'd be safely reading in front of a roaring fire right now. A twinge of guilt hit him at the unfair thought; this wasn't the girls' fault, it was a result of his own stupidity.

A fresh wave of pain washed over him. Clenching his teeth, he inhaled as deeply as his aching chest would allow, and then slowly exhaled. It was pretty obvious he wasn’t going to get out of here under his own steam, but that’s OK, it’s a small hill, he told himself optimistically, trying to keep his spirits up; someone would be sure to come along soon.

He hoped fervently that he was right.

Turning his face up to the sky, he looked through the dripping branches of the massive Douglas fir tree that soared high overhead and whistled tunelessly to break the eerie silence. Then, closing his eyes once again, he fell silent and listened… and waited for help to arrive.

CHAPTER TWO

30 minutes earlier

Damn this rain. Casey Adams scowled from her perch on the wooden bench propped conveniently just below the ski lift’s ramp. Trees resembling damp, half closed umbrellas trembled around her, spraying rain and ice chips on her half frozen body. She pulled back the sleeve of her jacket to check her watch for the 4th time in as many minutes. Shift was over at 5 and today it couldn’t come fast enough, unfortunately time currently seemed to be moving backwards.

In the uniform of the Volunteer Ski Patrol with her bright blue first aid pack attached around her waist, her fuzzy yellow toque pulled down low over her copper curls and the hand knit green scarf her sister had made for her last Christmas wrapped tightly around her slender neck, she looking more like a colourful, shapeless, extremely wet, scarecrow than a woman. But womanly was not something she was aiming to be. Professional, competent…. even just warm was more important right now.

Casey wiggled her cold, damp rear-end further back on the seat as she tried to gain some protection from the overhang of the lift station’s eaves and glared disgustedly out at the foggy, white, waterlogged world around her. The unceasing rain pounded at her body, blocking her vision. She could barely make out the next chair coming up the lift let alone tell how many more stupid…she caught the thought, feeling contrite…..not stupid, devoted, determined….maybe a bit desperate, she amended silently, skiers there were after that.

She watched a lone middle aged, rotund woman wrapped head to toe in black garbage bags slip awkwardly from the next chair and splash through the slushy puddles to the top of the green run. The woman took off her scarf, squeezing it to wring out the rain water it had soaked up like a sponge, and retied it around her neck. Maybe stupid was more accurate after all.

Roberta McAdam, her fellow patroller, didn’t look much better as she appeared through the fog. She hopped down from the ski lift chair and half skied, half walked over to join Casey.

Glamorous job we have, eh? Casey asked as Roberta hopped up on the bench next to her.

Roberta propped her skis up so the tails were in the snow and her legs were sticking straight out as if on a footrest, and looked at Casey like she’d lost her mind. Yeah, that’s just what I was thinking. Her smile turned into a laugh as she caught Casey’s eye.

Ok, maybe this isn't quite Whistler, or the Alps. Casey conceded with a smile.

Roberta took off her red toque and twisted about a cupful of water out of it on the ground at her feet. Maybe not, she agreed as she pulled the soaked hat back over her frizzy auburn curls. Their combined laughter brightened the atmosphere for a brief moment.

A lot of Casey’s friends assumed she spent the day saving lives and helping people in danger, but that was only part of it and a small part at that. The rest of the time was usually spent moving boundary lines, cleaning up, helping with security and safety, as she was doing right now, or occasionally even cutting avalanches– a potentially dangerous job that involved skiing across the edge of a cliff that was expected to turn unstable and causing the avalanche to discharge. The logic being that it would release when the build up of snow was still relatively small and could be controlled, as opposed to allowing it the opportunity to catch an unwary skier in its path when it released on its own.

It was true that everything she did contributed to the overall safety of the mountain and it could be fun, even exciting, but glamorous? Not a chance. But she wouldn't change anything about it, even if she could.

Casey watched the skiers descend one by one. Were you out moving the boundary lines on the Pinnacle peak? she asked absently. I heard the snow is melting pretty quickly over that way.

Yeah, Roberta said. She too had her attention on the kids sliding through the slush. It’s melting fast on the southern slopes so we’ve had to put more warning makers everywhere and close off a few of the smaller runs. There’s a lot of mud now.

Casey grunted, I’m not surprised, she said. I still can’t believe how many people still ski in this weather. She shook her head. Back East they wouldn’t dream of hitting the slopes in these conditions.

That’s only because rain would turn all that ice into a skating rink.

Casey laughed, You might be right.

Ooh, look at that! Roberta whistled softly and nudged Casey with her shoulder. He sure is a purty one. She drawled.

Purty didn’t begin to cover it. But Casey nodded anyway as the man, clad head to toe in black Gore-Tex, jumped effortlessly down from the chair and then waited patiently for two small girls in the chair behind him. Once they were off safely he guided them down the ramp. He was tall, well over 6 feet; and ruggedly handsome. He moved like a dancer, strong and fluid, and made skiing in the slush look easy.

He has muscles. Roberta voiced the conclusion Casey had just come to as she watched him move through the heavy snow as if it wasn’t there at all.

Yes, he does. She drawled. They watched for a few more minutes as the dark stranger waited until the two girls were safely on their way down the beginner run and then skied over to the top of #4 and hopped down the double diamond mogul run.

Now he’s someone I wouldn’t mind getting in my toboggan. Roberta referred to the rescue toboggan she was responsible for piloting.

How is it that you can make even that sound dirty? Casey laughed at her friend. And let’s not wish for accidents. I’m heading straight down to the chalet when we finish up here for some hot chocolate. I’d rather not do it by way of the first aid hut.

Mmmm, chocolate. Roberta turned from her contemplation of the area where the man had disappeared. That does sound heavenly.

Yes, it does, Casey agreed. Now stop bugging me, I have a job to do.

Son of A….! Casey broke off the curse she was afraid was going to be too colourful for the family friendly face of the mountain, and scowled as a frigid stream of water found its way down the back of her neck. She pulled the green wool scarf a little tighter around her throat. Her sister picked the colour because she thought it matched her eyes. Casey had been too polite to argue but there was no way her eyes were drab olive green. Bright forest, or a relaxing seafoam maybe, but olive? not a chance.

You guys OK out there? Like a curious gopher, Gerry poked his blond dreadlocked head out of the lift hut door. Even shouting to be heard over the deafening wind as he was, Casey could barely make out his words.

As OK as any idiot sitting in the rain in the middle of the winter, Casey shouted back at the concerned lift operator, her attention still on the batch of skiers sliding off the lift. No falls so far. Knock on wood, or ice.

Why don’t you come in and warm yourself up for a few minutes? Casey managed to piece together from Gerry’s next round of mumbled noises.

Absolutely. Roberta smiled back at him and hopped up to click out of her skis.

Traitor, Casey shot her a mock angry glare and got a smile and perky wave in response. She watched as Roberta climbed awkwardly up the ramp between descending skiers.

You coming, Casey? Gerry called as he slid to one side to allow Roberta room to enter the narrow doorway to the control booth.

Nah, thanks anyway, there’s only a few minutes left to my shift up here. She turned to face the open doorway, I’m afraid if I warm up, I may never want to come back out again. Casey yelled back, and flashed a warm smile at him. Quite a feat considering the rest of her body resembled a sodden block of ice.

Gerry smiled back. If you say so. The wind suddenly died down to a dull roar. He wiped a drop of rain from his cheek and continued in a more normal tone. I just spoke to the lower lift and chair number 22 will be the last skier. We’re shutting this top lift down early tonight. He shrugged expressively. I guess they finally decided the weather was too bad to keep us open.

Casey slanted him a sardonic glance and waved in acknowledgment.

Figures! She muttered under her breath. My shift up here is supposed to end in 5 minutes anyway. She wiped a long spray of water off the yellow sleeve of her jacket.

That’s management for you. Gerry saluted cockily and disappeared back inside. Roberta waved cheekily from her warm, dry seat. Casey was tempted to give her the finger but decided it was a bit too rude a gesture around so many kids, so resigned herself to sticking her tongue out at her. Childish? Yes, but it was better than nothing.

Casey sighed heavily, her breath exploding from her mouth like a mini thunder cloud, and turned back to watch yet another batch of skiers descend from the once truly olive green, now more of a rusty green, chair lift. Two at a time, like brightly coloured soldiers, they slid down the ramp. Some confidently, others with concern on their faces, they all shared a common goal… a safe and fun return to the bottom of the hill. Why they felt they needed to do it on a day like today though, was beyond Casey.

She shivered as her scarf loosened, once again allowing the biting wind access to her tender skin.