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Hold On (Play On #2.5)
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From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Samantha Young…
Autumn O’Dea has always tried to see the best in people while her big brother, Killian, has always tried to protect her from the worst. While their lonely upbringing made Killian a cynic, it isn’t in Autumn’s nature to be anything but warm and open. However, after a series of relationship disasters and the unsettling realization that she’s drifting aimlessly through life, Autumn wonders if she’s left herself too vulnerable to the world. Deciding some distance from the security blanket of her brother and an unmotivated life in Glasgow is exactly what she needs to find herself, Autumn takes up her friend’s offer to stay at a ski resort in the snowy hills of Montana. Some guy-free alone time on Whitetail Mountain sounds just the thing to get to know herself better.
However, she wasn’t counting on colliding into sexy Grayson King on the slopes. Autumn has never met anyone like Gray. Confident, smart, with a wicked sense of humor, he makes the men she dated seem like boys. Her attraction to him immediately puts her on the defense because being open-hearted in the past has only gotten it broken. Yet it becomes increasingly difficult to resist a man who is not only determined to seduce her, but adamant about helping her find her purpose in life and embrace the person she is. Autumn knows she shouldn’t fall for Gray. It can only end badly. After all their lives are divided by an ocean and their inevitable separation is just another heart break away.
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Whitetail Mountain, Montana
The fresh, cold air stung my cheeks as I stared down the snowy slope through my ski goggles.
“Bloody Nora,” I muttered under my breath, watching mostly kids skiing on what they called the Bunny Hill. There were a few adult beginners but they were with ski instructors.
“You should go out with an instructor,” Catie had said a mere twenty minutes ago, seeming concerned as we strapped on our boots at the rental just across from the lodge.
I’d seen the young instructors, probably college kids making a few extra dollars during the ski season, and they seemed perfectly competent. However, beneath my laidback façade was a great deal of stubbornness and I believed I could do this alone.
It wasn’t like I hadn’t skied before.
I’d also broken my leg the last time I’d strapped on a pair of skis.
“Bloody Nora,” I repeated.
What was I doing here?
Not here in Montana—here. I only had to lift my gaze over the snowy mountains to know why anyone would want to visit Whitetail Mountain. I meant, what the hell was I doing here? Here in snow boots clicked into the skis, wearing goggles, a hat, thick gloves, and an admittedly adorable emerald green snow suit I couldn’t resist buying.
Because what I really wanted to do was go back to the lodge and wait for my afternoon spa appointments to begin. I wanted to lounge by the pool with a glass of wine and write down my life plan. That’s what I was here for. To get some space from my life back in Glasgow and “find myself” in the snowy hills of Montana. Like a heroine in a Reese Witherspoon movie. Just me and my thoughts. And the occasional third wheeling of Catie and her husband Kyle’s annual holiday.
My friend and her hubby were currently on the top slopes as they were experienced skiers.
“Face your fears, Autumn,” Kyle had said before we got on the chairlift that would drop me on the Bunny Hill.
Face my fears. Yes, I knew that’s what this moment was supposed to symbolize.
When I was fourteen I’d broken my leg on a high school skiing trip and I’d vowed never to get on skis again. But this year had been rough and I’d grown increasingly afraid of facing the fact that I was floundering in life. Strapping on a pair of skis was supposed to help me face those fears. If I could ski again, I could get my life back in order.
“What utter rubbish,” I huffed.
Skiing was rubbish! I hated it. You only faced a fear if it was going to make your life better. How was skiing going to make my life better?
A massage would make my life infinitely better.
Decided, I pulled my ski poles out of the snow with a little too much vigor and immediately threw my weight off balance, my skis flying out from under me.
“Oh…oh…” I tried to right my center of gravity but threw myself too far forward. “Oh sh—” Suddenly I was heading down the slope! And I was heading for a woman and a ski instructor and I couldn’t remember how to stop.
“Out of the way!” I warned.
The ski instructor, his expression masked by snow sunglasses, looked up at me and then, instead of getting out of my way, got deliberately in it.
I smacked straight into his large body, winding myself and knocking him off his skis, taking him to the snow.
“Oof!” he grunted, sounding more than a little bit winded himself.
Mortified, I tried to clamber off him. Unfortunately, my knee connected somewhere it shouldn’t.
“Fuck,” he wheezed.
“I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry.” Somehow I got off him without causing him any further injury and righted myself on my skis as he curled into a fetal position in the snow. “Are you okay?”
He waved me off, apparently unable to speak.
I looked at the woman who hovered over him, wincing. “Is he okay?”
She shot me a dirty look. “Does he look okay? If you can’t ski, you shouldn’t be out here without an instructor.”
“I was trying to leave. I slipped and lost control…” I looked back down at the instructor who was taking his time getting up onto his skis. He braced his hands on his knees for a moment and then straightened, his lips pinched together in pain.
It was then I realized how big he was. And even without being able to see his eyes because they were covered by snow sunglasses, I could tell he was quite a bit older than the rest of the boy-men instructors. “Are you all right?”
“I will be.” He put his hands to his hips as I looked up at him. I was tall for a woman at five foot nine but this guy was just tall. He had to be at least six foot three. And broad shouldered.