“At least we got a break in the snow,” I comment as Zack leads me out to his truck six hours later.
“You’re going to break your ankle in those shoes,” Zack mutters moodily and eyes my Jimmy Choos warily.
“I am not. It’s a party, Zack.”
“We’ll be outside.”
“I’m quite sure Jacob has outdoor heaters,” I reply and study his face as he lifts me into the passenger seat. He looks tired and like he’s aged five years since this morning. “What’s going on?”
“Nothing, I’m just worried about the health of your legs.”
“My legs and I are fine.”
He shakes his head, slams the door, and trudges around to the other side. He pulls away from my house and is quiet all the way through town. He rubs his fingers over his mouth, the way he does when he’s agitated.
Do my shoes really piss him off? I think they’re hot. He liked the boots, so I figured these would turn him on too.
“Did I do something wrong?” I ask softly. His gaze turns to mine and softens. He pulls my hand to his lips and kisses my knuckles, sending electricity to my core.
I shrug and chalk his mood up to hormone changes. Even though they deny it, we all know men have their own version of their period.
The snow has stopped, leaving a beautiful blanket of white over everything. It’s past dark now, and I love looking at the lights on our neighbors’ homes, the fun lawn decorations, and of course, the beautiful trimmings through downtown.
Before long, we approach the turnoff to head up the mountain to the ski resort. The road has been freshly plowed and sanded, and with Zack’s 4×4, I have no doubt that we’ll make it to the top safely.
“I hear all of the Hulls are coming,” I say casually as we pass the Hideaway, the bed-and-breakfast owned by Brad and Max’s younger sister, Jenna. “And Hannah, the new OB/GYN. She’s Grace’s roommate.”
“Great,” Zack replies. His voice is monotone.
“Are you sure you’re okay?”
“You’re not terribly chatty.”
“I’m driving up a bitch of a road, Jilly. Cut me some slack.”
I sink back into my seat and blink at him in surprise. Zack can be moody, we all know this, but he doesn’t usually snap at me.
He sighs and rubs his hand over his lips again, but doesn’t say another word until we’ve reached the lodge. It’s a good thing we came a bit early because the parking lot is already full. Zack pulls into the valet slot right behind Josh and Cara and Ty and Lo, who all rode together.
“Hey, girl!” Cara waves and comes running to me, as quickly as her own heels will carry her.
“Hi! I love your shoes!”
“Thanks. Your jeans are awesome.”
I grin and turn around to show her my backside. “I love my ass in them.”
“You have a gorgeous ass,” Lo adds as she joins us and then leans down to hug me close.
“Holy shit, you’re tall.” I laugh and glance down at her own feet, also in heels.
“She’s perfect,” Ty says and buries his face in Lo’s neck as he wraps his arms around her waist. My brother is in a thick cable-knit sweater with the sleeves pulled up on his forearms, showing off the tats on his right arm. He’s in jeans and Chucks, and after the conversation with Seth today, I feel a softness toward the pain in the ass, so I walk to him and slide into the comfort of his arms when Lo steps away.
“You okay?” he asks softly.
“Yep, just love you.”
He pulls back to look into my face and offers me half a smile. “Love you back. Just stop showing off your ass.”
“No.” I smirk and turn away, running smack into Zack. He’s grinning lazily down at me, and right here, in front of my brother, his brother, and the girls, he pulls me into his arms and kisses the breath right out of me. His hands dive into my hair, holding me firmly, as he plunders my mouth, and when I go weak in the knees, he steadies me against him.
When he pulls back, he smiles up at my brother and says, “She has a great ass.”
“Oh God,” I groan and lean my forehead against Zack’s sternum. “Don’t start something.”
Ty’s quiet for a long moment, then leans in above me and shoves his face close to Zack’s. “Hurt her and I’ll kill you.”
“Hey, everyone! Why are you out here in the cold?” Grace and her boyfriend, Jacob, come out the front doors of the lodge, hand in hand. “Come in! We have heaters upstairs.”
“See?” I whisper to Zack. “I told you they’d have heaters.”
“I still think you’re crazy. Gorgeous, but crazy.”
I glance back at him and my eyes take a trip up and down his long, lean body. He’s in his usual jeans, but instead of a T-shirt and coat, he’s wearing a long-sleeved, gray V-neck shirt under a red puffy vest. Hello, hot stuff.
“I think you’re crazy gorgeous, soldier.” I wink and lead him into the lodge behind our friends. We’re guided into an elevator and up to the penthouse.
“Make yourselves comfortable,” Jacob says as he leads us into the wide space. The river-rock fireplace that mirrors the one in the lobby is aglow and surrounded by plush furniture. The dining table is set buffet-style, the kitchen bustling with kitchen staff, and the sliding glass door that leads out to the balcony is open, inviting us to wander outside.
We grab drinks and a bite to eat on our way out the door to the enormous balcony. It spans the width of the room, and is just as deep, boasting a fire pit in the center, which is lit, and couches arranged in a circle around the fire. There are outdoor heaters in each corner of the balcony, so no space is too cold to be without a coat.
“This is beautiful,” Cara breathes as she gazes up at the ski hill that is currently awash in light from the night-skiing lights.
“Stunning,” I agree. “Thank you for inviting us,” I say to Jacob and Grace, who still haven’t let go of each other. They really are the cutest couple ever; she’s got pretty blond hair and hazel eyes, and Jacob is the handsomest Englishman I’ve ever seen, tall with blond, wavy hair and bright green eyes that he rarely pulls away from Grace.
He’s completely in love with her, and I couldn’t be happier for them.