Once upon a snow day, p.1
Once Upon a Snow Day, p.1Part #1 of Meet Cute Romance series by Kait Nolan
Once Upon A Snow Day
Other Books By Kait Nolan
Sneak Peek From Once Upon A New Year's Eve
Sneak Peek From To Get Me To You
Once Upon A Snow Day
A Meet Cute Romance
By Kait Nolan
Once Upon A Snow Day
Written and published by Kait Nolan
Copyright 2013 Kait Nolan
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book, or portions thereof, in any form.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: The following is a work of fiction. All people, places, and events are purely products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual people, places, or events is entirely coincidental.
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Cover design by Kait Nolan
Once Upon A Snow Day
“He wants to meet!”
Isabelle Lawson dragged her attention back to the phone. She was trying to finish typing up the edit letter that had to go out by the end of the day. “Who wants to meet?”
“Haven’t you been listening? Grant!” Impatience and excitement snapped in Leah’s voice.
Isabelle flipped through her mental roster, but the only Grants she should think of were a copy editor she knew at Random House and the hero of a romantic suspense she’d sent out a revise-and-resubmit request on three months before.
I never did hear back about that, she thought and reached for a pen to make note to follow up. “Who the heck is Grant?”
“Why do you need a doctor?” asked Isabelle, adding a notation to the manuscript on the screen for the author to clarify the heroine’s motivation.
Leah made a frustrated noise that sounded like nothing so much as a rabid Chihuahua. “Honestly Isabelle, can I get a moment of multi-task free attention here? I’m starting to think if it isn’t about a character on a page or a deadline, you aren’t aware of The World.”
Given the extreme time crunch she’d been under for the last six months making certain that her new acquisitions were up to snuff and preparing for the release of not one, but two of her biggest debut authors yet, Isabelle decided that was an honest, if unflattering, observation. Guilt pinched, but publishing waited for no man, especially in the race to be the top digital press in the country.
“I’m sorry.” Deliberately, she twirled in her chair until her back was to the laptop. “I swear, I’m paying attention now.”
“Good. Some of us aren’t content just reading about love. We want to actually get out there to find and experience it.”
Isabelle let that gut shot sink in but didn’t rise to the bait. “And Grant the doctor is…?”
“The guy I’ve been talking to on-line for the last three weeks.”
I should have known, she thought.
Several months before, Leah had taken the plunge and signed up for on-line dating. She’d tried to drag Isabelle in with her, but Isabelle decidedly did not have time to waste on such things. Her career was rocketing, and she was well on her way to being exactly where she wanted to be. There’d be time enough for a man in her life somewhere down the road. Along with a hypothetical week at a spa and a two month vacation.
Chastising herself as a bad friend, she struggled to fully plug in to the conversation. “That’s great!” Isn’t it?
“He wants to go skiing.”
“You kick ass at skiing, and it’ll give you an opportunity to show off your curves in one of those little ski bunny outfits you like so much.”
“But what? Have you gotten a creeper vibe?”
“No, not at all. He’s been a total gentleman in all our chats and on the phone. But the alpaca guy was a gentleman until we met,” said Leah.
Isabelle remembered the alpaca guy. He’d showed up for his first date with Leah bearing a pair of fuzzy handcuffs, a whip, and, as it turned out, the full expectation that Leah would be petting something other than his animals.
“If you meet him in public and take your own car, then you maintain control and your escape route should it become necessary,” she said.
“I want you to come with me.”
“On your date? Somehow I doubt Grant would be particularly enthused about that prospect.”
“Not, like, on the date. As a covert observer so I can get your take on him. You know I value your opinion.”
Paint it on thick, Isabelle thought.
“Besides,” Leah continued, “if you come and you meet him, then he’ll know there’s a witness, and you have a face and a name to report to the police if I disappear.”
“Oh, for the love of—” Isabelle rolled her eyes. “Not that I’m necessarily agreeing to this, but when is this rendezvous supposed to occur?”
“Tomorrow! Leah, I can’t just go haring off on a work day to play chaperon so you and the skiing doctor can have a snow day. I have deadlines!”
“First, there is no such thing as a non-work day for you. Second, you always have deadlines. Third, you could totally use a snow day.”
“I have not had a snow day since college.”
“The fact that you say that like it’s a point of pride is a sad, sad thing,” said Leah. “There’s more to life than work, Izzy.”
“Some of us actually love our jobs,” she protested.
“When was the last time you looked out a window?”
“I’m looking out a window right now.” Isabelle rose from her chair and pulled back the curtain so she wouldn’t be a liar. “It looks white and wet and cold. Exactly as it has since October.” Five years in Colorado and she still hadn’t gotten used to the fact that winter meant actual snow for months on end. If not for the summers, she thought.
“Fresh air and some sun, that’s what you need,” Leah declared. “You can’t possibly be getting enough vitamin D the way you hole up in your office, day in and day out.”
“I love how this whole thing has become a favor to me. I am wise to your ways, my girl.”
Leah huffed out a breath. “Fine. I didn’t want to do this, but you leave me no choice. I’m calling in my marker from Vegas.”
The breath Isabelle had taken wheezed out. “Seriously?”
“Seriously. You owe me.”
“You’ve been sitting on that for seven years. I thought we’d agreed never to talk about it, ever again.” The mere suggestion of those events had a headache brewing somewhere behind her eyes. Or maybe that was the fact that she’d been chained to her laptop since 6:30 this morning.
“I’m not talking about it. I’m just calling in the IOU.”
“You really want to waste it on this?” asked Isabelle. “I mean, what if you need to murder your boss and hide the body?”
“I’ll risk it,” said Leah. “Tomorrow. I’ll pick you up at seven. You’ll come with me to the slopes, meet Grant. Once we’re both assured that he’s not an axe murderer, you can take my car and go home to your meetings and manuscripts. You’ll probably only lose out on a couple of hours of work, tops.”
Isabelle sighed. “I’ll see you at seven.”
War was serious business. This particular war had been waged for more than fifteen years, on battlegrounds ranging from football fields to
Thwack! The ball bounced off the wall of the court and came hurtling toward his head. With a twist and a mighty backhand, Brandon sent it winging back toward Travis with all the ferocity of a Viking berserker.
“Point!” he shouted as it sailed past his friend’s racquet with inches to spare. The spurt of momentary victory was sweet and merited a little trash talk. “Getting sloppy, pal. You too busy being moony-eyed over Alicia to keep your head in the game?”
“Oh, it is on, pretty boy.” Travis retrieved the ball and served.
Brandon returned his volley. “Whipped. That’s what you are.”
“No such,” Travis slapped the ball for emphasis, “thing. You’re just jealous I’m getting regular, adult female company.”
Brandon snorted at that and, for a couple of minutes, the only sounds were battle cries, the squeak of shoes, and the slap of racquet against ball. The music of friendship and competition.
Travis edged ahead by two points. “Take that,” he said, with a little victory strut and point of his racquet.
“A temporary state of affairs,” Brandon assured him with a cheerful flash of his middle finger. He tossed the ball to serve.
The jaunty strum of a banjo echoed off the court walls.
“Time out,” called Travis, striding across to their pile of gear in the corner.
“Seriously? Haven’t you heard of the Do Not Disturb function? It’s 6:45. Who the hell is calling you this early?”
Travis didn’t dignify that with a response as he reached simultaneously for a towel and his phone. “Abernathy.”
That meant it was work. It was always work with Travis. Well, work or Alicia these days. She was a nice girl and a good match for Travis. Brandon just wished Travis had a little more free time to split between them. Knowing he was likely to be a while, Brandon passed the one-sided conversation by seeing how long he could bounce the ball on his racquet without dropping it.
Couldn’t pay me enough to put up with that crap, he thought. And, in fact, they hadn’t. No amount of money or corner office had been enough to make him endure the suits, the endless hours, and the stress. Which was why his buddy was the lawyer and Brandon had tossed his law degree only a year after passing the bar. These days he contented himself with being a freelancer, working quite blissfully on his own doing graphic design.
He’d made it to twenty-seven bounces without dropping the ball by the time Travis hung up. “You’re surgically attached to that thing, man. It’s not healthy to be that connected.”
“If I wasn’t connected, I wouldn’t have just found out that court is canceled for the day. Judge Haygert has the stomach flu. This is awesome.”
Brandon lifted a brow. “Probably not to Judge Haygert.”
Travis waved him off. “Better him than me. I can get a jump start on that brief for the Wilson case.”
Shaking his head, Brandon crossed the court and plucked the phone out of Travis’s hand. “You’re wasting a golden opportunity.”
“Hey, give me that.” Travis tried to nab the phone but Brandon just danced back and held it out of reach. “A golden opportunity for what?”
“To take a snow day. There’s six inches of fresh powder out there. Let’s hit the slopes.”
The mix of guilt and desire on his friend’s face was just pitiful. “I should really—”
“You should really take advantage and have some fun. You’ve been working your ass off to make partner since you joined the firm. C’mon.”
“That would be how one actually makes partner,” Travis pointed out.
“Dude, don’t be such a suit.”
“You haven’t seen a suit since your mom’s second wedding.”
“And hallelujah for it,” said Brandon with feeling. “But the point remains, people are more productive when they take actual time off to have fun.”
“Easy for you to say. You’re your own boss.” But Brandon could tell he was wavering.
“All the more reason for you to take advantage of this unexpected gift of a day. Who knows when you’ll get another day off?”
Travis rubbed the towel over his head. “You’re not giving my phone back until I agree to this, are you?”
“Nope,” said Brandon equably, grabbing a water and chugging.
“How ’bout we make a wager. I win this match, you give me my phone and I go into the office and get ahead so that I can maybe actually have a Saturday off for the first time in God knows when. You win, we go skiing today.”
“I am duty-bound to kick your ass to save you from yourself.”
Terms agreed upon, they took their positions and resumed battle. With a two point lead, Travis was cocky. Racquetball was his sport, and he was already semi-distracted by whatever brief his mind had already started working on the moment he took that call. So he didn’t expect the brutal comeback that led to Brandon trouncing him 11-8.
Bracing his hands on his thighs, Travis worked on catching his breath. “What the hell, man.”
“For your…own…good,” managed Brandon. He tossed a bottle of water toward Travis, who barely caught it before it crashed into his head. “Hydrate. We’ve got a mountain to ski.”
“There he is!” Leah bounced in the driver’s seat.
“Black coat, gorgeous, wavy blond hair.”
Isabelle scanned the people milling on the sidewalk and picked out at least three guys that fit that description. But only one of them was checking out the parking lot and rocking nervously on his heels. He got points for not looking like he thought he was God’s gift, though certainly those shoulders ranked high in the eye candy department.
Leah whipped the car into a space and took a deep breath. “How do I look?”
Isabelle surveyed her from head to foot. Leah was one of those people who actually managed to look svelte rather than fat in ski clothes. “Like you’re going to melt the snowcap and knock his ski boots off.”
Leah grinned. “Come on.”
Isabelle knew her well enough to see the nerves build as they crossed the parking lot. Not that they’d show to the Slavic-eyed hottie watching her approach.
His face brightened as she stepped up, as if he couldn’t quite believe his good fortune. Leah?”
Grant the doctor took her hand and leaned in to buss her cheek. “It’s good to finally meet you in person.”
They beamed at each other.
Definitely not an axe murderer vibe, thought Isabelle with a mix of amusement and something she refused to categorize as envy. No sense in envy when there was no time to do anything about it.
When the moment stretched on without either of them looking away, Isabelle took a step closer and cleared her throat.
Leah glanced at her in apparent surprise. “Oh, sorry.”
“Hi,” said Isabelle into the awkward silence.
Grant seemed to clue in that she was with Leah. “And this is…?”
Isabelle offered her hand and a smile. “The witness. Isabelle Lawson.”
Grant shot an amused look at Leah as he took it. “Sensible.” He gestured back toward the parking lot. “Would you like to snap a picture of my license plate?”
Leah’s cheeks pinked. “Sorry. I had a bad experience. One restraining order a year is my limit.”
The humor vanished. “Oh geez.” Grant held up his hand in a Boy Scout salute. “I swear I’m truly single, no criminal record, one of three children, born and raised within spitting distance of Yosemite. I’ve held a steady job since I got out of medical school and have never had a restraining order taken out against me or been charged with any crime.”
“Then you’re already ahead by leaps and bounds,” said Isabelle.
Points for not sounding reluctant about that, she thought. “I think I’ll pass.”
“You don’t ski?” asked Grant.
“I’m from Florida. We don’t ski except on water. Give me eighty degrees and a wakeboard, I’m your girl. This,” she waved to encompass the mountains behind them, “is not my bag.”
“I keep saying I’ll teach her,” said Leah, “but she keeps turning me down.”
“Yeah, we both know how that turned out the last time I let you try. Your version of the bunny slopes leaves me quaking in my metaphoric boots. You go enjoy your black diamond runs and leave me to the hot chocolate.”
“Black diamond, huh?” asked Grant with interest. “I was all set to take it easy on you.”
“Aw, that’s sweet,” Leah crooned, “but you can eat my powder.”
“I like a confident woman,” he said. “Let’s get your gear.”
Hiding a smile, Isabelle pulled out her phone to check her email as she fell into step behind them. There was one from the cover artist for one of the debut authors. As Grant and Leah kept up a steady banter on the way to the car, Isabelle quickly responded with tweaks to the design. The next acquisitions meeting had been pushed back a week. While they unloaded Leah’s skis and poles, Isabelle updated her calendar and made additional notes about what needed to be added to the agenda. By the time they’d strapped Leah into boots, and made their way back to the path up to the lift, she and Grant had obviously all but forgotten Isabelle.
She cupped her hands around her mouth and called after them, “Have fun!”
Still deep in conversation with Grant, Leah lifted a hand in a wave but didn’t turn around. Isabelle stood watching them while they snapped into their skis and made their way to the lift. By all appearances, they were well-matched, and Leah would have a good date, with a positive forecast for more in the future. After the long line of stinkers, she totally deserved it.
“And my work here is done,” murmured Isabelle. Smiling and ready to get back to work, she trudged through the snowpack back to Leah’s Subaru. Only when she reached into her pocket and found it empty but for her phone did she realize she’d never gotten the keys from Leah.
Once Upon a Snow Day by Kait Nolan / Romance & Love / History & Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes