Focus (Page 59)

“I’ve always wanted to ride a ski lift.” Hailey looked all around in excitement.

“Seriously? You can fly, and you’ve always wanted to sit on a ski lift?”

“It always looks fun in the movies.”

I laughed. “All right. Let’s go live your dream.”

“Hey, I don’t make fun of you when you get all dumbstruck over Pteron stuff.”

“You don’t?” I gave her a skeptical look.

“Okay. Maybe I do.”

We waited for our turn and got on a lift next to a young couple. Hailey was all giddy next to me, and it rubbed off. I always liked skiing, but it wasn’t my favorite activity.

As I expected, Hailey was incredible. After a few runs, she looked like a pro. We decided to try a black diamond. Everything was fine until I fell halfway down the run after slipping on some moguls. I got back up and made it down, but my right ankle was in pretty bad shape. I could feel the swelling beginning, and I knew I should probably get some ice on it soon.

“Are you okay?” Hailey was at my side as soon as I caught up with her.

“Yeah. I can’t believe I’m the one who fell.” I rubbed my ankle.

“Beginner’s luck.”

“Yeah, right.”

She held up her hands. “It sounds nice. I’m guessing this means we’re done for the day?”

“No. You can stay. I’ll take the shuttle back.”

“I can’t let you go alone.”

“I’ll be fine. Besides, I’m sure there’s someone watching us. Do you really think Levi left my safety to just you? No offense.”

“No offense taken. There are some locals watching, and I know Levi sent a few guys up. But they’re supposed to stay back.”

“I figured that much.”

She held out a hand to help me up. “I’ll just make sure you get home okay.”

“Hail, you’re supposed to be having fun.”

“I can come back out.”

I leaned on her shoulder, trying to keep my weight off the bad ankle. “I’m holding you to it.”

We took the shuttle back, and Hailey made sure I had everything I could possibly need before leaving. She really was an awesome friend.

I sat and read for a while before deciding to change into a black bikini to check out the hot tub. We shared it with the next couple of condos, but I doubted anyone else was around. Unless you were a klutz like me, you’d be on the slopes. I slipped into the warm water, hoping it would make my ankle feel better. I closed my eyes and tried to relax.

“Mind if I join you?”

I jumped, surprised that anyone else was home. “Uh, sure.” I tried to avoid staring at Toby for too long. He was wearing only a pair of swim trunks and seeing him without a shirt brought back memories. He must have been freezing.

He sat down directly across from me. “How’s your ankle?”

“How’d you know about my ankle?”

“We ran into Hailey. Andrew decided to stay back with her.” A slow smile spread across his lips. “He was more than happy to see me leave.”

I laughed. “I bet. I can’t blame him. He isn’t the first.”

“I’m sure. You probably know something about that too.”

“About what?”

“Having lots of people want you.”

“Very funny.”

“It’s true.”

I didn’t answer. I concentrated on swirling the water around with my hand.

“You look so good in a bikini.”

“Thanks.”

“I mean it. I have a picture of you wearing that white bikini you had the summer before senior year. Let’s just say I look at it a lot.” He wriggled an eyebrow.

“Get rid of that picture. It’s time to move on.” Despite our conversation the night before, I was determined to make Toby realize he needed to let go.

“I’m not getting rid of it. It’s a nice memory.”

“Memories imply something in the past. Let go.”

“I’m not ready to let go.” His lips were on mine before I’d even processed he’d moved across the hot tub. His arms wrapped around me in a vice grip. The kiss felt good—sweet, familiar, comforting. It was a kiss I knew well, but it was nothing like the fireworks I felt with Levi. It was wrong, completely wrong, and I had to get out of the situation. I pushed against him as hard as I could, but he didn’t budge. I moved my knee, ready to get him where it hurt when he let go and moved back. “You felt something, right?”

I shook my head. “Try that again and you’ll regret it.” I got out and wrapped myself in a towel.

“I won’t regret it.” He smirked. “And I know you felt it. You responded to me.”

I moved inside quickly and jumped in the shower, washing off every ounce of Toby. It felt so wrong. I felt so wrong. I hadn’t wanted him to kiss me, but maybe I’d let it happen. Either way, I needed to see Levi. I got out of the shower and got dressed. I blow dried my hair, wanting every excuse possible to stay in my room until Hailey or my mom came back.

Finally, Hailey came into the room. “Hey, how’s the ankle?”

“The ankle’s fine, but we have to go home.”

“Home? As in to New Orleans?” I saw the excitement in her eyes. I knew she was having fun on our trip, but she missed New Orleans. The cold was never quite her thing.

“I need to see Levi.”

“Are you okay?”

“Yes, I just need to see him.” I paced the room, wanting to leave immediately.

“Should we look for flights?”

“Can’t you fly us?”

Hailey laughed. “You must really want to see him, but I think we can take a commercial airline.”

“Fine. I hope my mom gets back soon.”

I waited until I saw my Mom alone that evening to break the news. “Mom, can we talk?”

“Sure.” She picked up a blanket and walked out onto the back porch. I tried not to look at the hot tub. “Is something wrong?”

“I need to go back to New Orleans.”

“You miss him, don’t you?” She smiled.

“Yes. And I need him to know how I feel.”

“I don’t want you to leave, but I know love when I see it.”

“You’ll forgive me?” I felt terrible that I was leaving right after I got there, but somehow I knew she’d understand.

“Of course, but maybe you can make a trip home after the New Year?”