I’ve been thinking lately about how long it has been since my last release and all that has happened between The Shoreline and Alyeska. It has been a long time coming for me to complete another book, but with a growing family and full time career, I am happy to say that this one took its sweet time to develop into the gem I am dying to push out to you. It finally came together, and all the pieces it took to finish this puzzle have fallen into place save one. THE RELEASE DATE!
OK, I can’t take it anymore. This week, I’m giving you a sneak peek into this wintery romance, just so you get a taste of the excitement coursing through my veins. This quick glimpse into Kayleigh’s journey to Alyeska Ski Resort and Spa will be the last straw you need to reach my level of eagerness. Get ready, darlings. You’re in for one steamy ride!
Alyeska – 12/2/2016
Copyright © 2016 Lindsay Chamberlin
All rights reserved.
Kayleigh tucked her feet under her bottom and pulled her heated blanket a bit higher to her chin. Her body shook with another cold chill, sending her bones into a chorus of chatters. She sunk further into the oversized fluffy couch, begging for the warmth of the blanket to force the ice that had settled within her core to melt. She knew her hands and feet had to be suffering from frostbite since the highest setting of the heated blanket barely seemed to coax them back to feeling.
Growing up in the deep south of Texas, Kayleigh certainly wasn’t prepared for the arctic mountains of Alaska. What sounded like such a great idea when her brother, Keith, had presented it to her, a weekend away from the hustle and bustle of Corpus Christi to a top of the line ski resort in Alaska for free, was slowly turning into the demise of her smaller appendages.
Kayleigh and Keith had arrived to the Alyeska Ski Resort and Spa, southeast of Anchorage, nearly five hours ago. Since arriving at the hotel, Keith had checked them in to their separate rooms then helped Kayleigh get her luggage to hers. Once her belongings were brought up, Keith said he was going to settle in his room, and he would catch up with her later, but as his younger sister, Kayleigh knew what it meant.
She knew she probably wouldn’t see much of her brother on the trip, but she had hoped he would’ve at least had dinner with her the first night. The whole reason Keith had wanted to come to Alaska was to see his long distance girlfriend, Rachel, who worked at the hotel. She was sure as the clock now struck five in the evening Keith was probably with Rachel.
Kayleigh made a mad dash over to the thermostat for what was about the twentieth time and cranked it higher, turning the knob well past eighty. She quickly made her way back to her heated blanket and covered all but her eyes trying to get warm. She closed her eyes, willing the heat into her body, begging the shivers to cease.
When she opened them again, she looked to the blind drawn window. Night had fallen on the mountains in the near distance, but a warm luminescence shone throughout the resort highlighting large, distinctly shaped snowflakes on their descent to the brave patron’s eight floors below. A young woman in a fluorescent pink jacket caught Kayleigh’s eye as she spun in the snowfall. A man about the same age took the woman in his arms and lifted her off her feet. He spun in quick circles as the woman’s hands and feet swung loose, and plopped into a large snow bank. Kayleigh watched as the couple laughed, smiled and kissed, completely, blissfully happy in the frigid surroundings.
Kayleigh looked to the clock below the television and read seven forty-five. She sunk back into the couch, almost letting herself fall back to sleep, loving the warmth that had taken over the room and settled into her. She closed her eyes, ready to drift back into the steady heat of unconsciousness as beautifully shaped snowflakes fell behind her eyelids while a couple spun, almost danced beneath each gentle snowdrop.
Get up, Kayleigh, she told herself. You are not going to sit in this room all night and not enjoy this free vacation.
She opened her eyes and sat up on the couch, stretching her arms and legs. The room had finally warmed up enough that the heated blanket was becoming a bit hot. She stood from the couch and went to the bathroom.
Before her little nap, Kayleigh had organized all of her overnight belongings in the bathroom and ironed, hung, and folded her clothes before putting them away into their appropriate spots for the weekend. She absolutely hated living out of a suitcase, and felt even more passionately about being tidy. Keith always had called her anal-retentive, but Kayleigh liked to think of herself as orderly.
She ran a brush through her hair, brushed her teeth, and fixed her makeup. On the plane ride, Kayleigh had worn her favorite sweatpants with a matching hoodie, long sleeve shirt underneath, and ankle high fur boots. The second she had stepped off the plane, she literally felt like an iceberg had lodged itself within her chest as she had made a beeline for her luggage, and to the car there to pick them up and take them to the hotel. She had been so thankful when the driver supplied a blanket filled with down feathers. Keith had laughed at her and said he knew she was going to be cold.
Kayleigh’s attire from the plane hadn’t changed much when she arrived to the hotel except now she had her snow pants on over the sweatpants and a down filled jacket over the hoodie and shirt. She was hesitant to take the layers off, worried she would be cold again, but her stomach growled loudly, and the idea of a stiff drink down at one of the resort’s restaurants sounded better by the minute.
“OK, OK, just take it slow,” Kayleigh said aloud to herself as she shimmied out of the puffy jacket. Once it was off and hung back in the closet, she tested her body temperature by walking around her bedroom, just to make sure she wouldn’t be cold without the coat.
“Next,” Kayleigh commanded herself, using the same routine with her snow pants and hoodie.
Now that she was just in her sweatpants and a long sleeve shirt, she knew it was going to get more difficult. She walked over to the thermostat for the twenty first time and turned it close to eighty five.
“Just for good measure,” she assured herself then stripped off her shirt in one quick motion, throwing it across the bed, so she was standing with just her nude wireless bra, definitely going for comfort on the plane ride.
Kayleigh tested her warmth by walking around the king size bed in the middle of the bedroom. She rubbed the satin sheets between her fingers on the last circuit back to the closet, closing her eyes at the feeling of luxury the hotel offered.
The room felt comfortable enough to continue to change, so Kayleigh stripped her sweatpants and laid them across the bed, also, exposing the nude seamless boy shorts she had chosen that morning.
She folded the strewn clothes and placed them back in the closet then contemplated what she wanted to wear to dinner. The hotel was definitely top notch, so she wanted to make sure she conveyed the appropriate attitude and attire to match.
Kayleigh looked at the slim pickings she had brought with her, trying to imagine herself having a good night in any of the outfits. She sighed and picked out two dresses.
The first was a silky slip of a dress which clung to her every curve and draped to the floor in a barely sweeping hunter green train. It was definitely a ritzy dress with its designer tag, but since she was going to be dining alone, she thought it a bit impractical. She wasn’t sure why she had even brought it to Alaska except for the fact she had never actually worn it and thought she might while on the trip.
The second was a long sleeve salt and pepper colored sweater dress. It very clingy with a cowl neckline and long enough to just meet her feet. Depending on when Kayleigh wore it, she either received a lot of compliments or lingering stares.
Kayleigh shrugged her shoulders and went to the long mirror on the back of the bedroom door. She held the sweater dress up to her reflection and contemplated what her night might be like if she were to wear the dress.
She closed her eyes and imagined being the woman who had spun in the courtyard with the man, feeling the warmth she was sure they had to feel for each other in order to brave the freezing temperatures outside. She felt the man’s arms circle around her and laughed like the woman had when he lifted her.
Kayleigh opened her eyes to her reflection staring back at her. She knew she was far from unattractive, but her untamable auburn hair was constantly disheveled with her natural waves cascading down her back, framing her pale blue eyes in an abundance of hair. Her body wasn’t a size zero, but she was proud to have curves in all the right places on her five foot four frame, even if her cheeks were a bit round and exposed her matching dimples on each side of her smile. She wished her lips weren’t as full and her skin so pale for living in Texas, but she knew in her own way she was decent looking despite her track record.
Kayleigh had only ever had one serious boyfriend, and it was during high school about five years ago, so serious might be an overstatement for an eighteen year old. Since then she had been on dates, and the guys all seemed interested in her, but it always turned out either she never called back, or they didn’t. It didn’t necessarily cause any heartache, but it definitely had started to take a toll on her self-esteem, so when Keith offered up the trip yesterday, all Kayleigh had in mind was getting out of Corpus Christi and attempting to regroup and rebuild her self-esteem again.
She laid the dress on the bed and removed the hanger, having made up her mind about wearing it to dinner tonight. She lifted the dress, ready to pull it over her head as she looked down at the nude underwear she had chosen for comfort earlier that morning.
Kayleigh contemplated her choice for a minute with her arms in the air, ready to pull the dress down over her, and debated on whether she wanted to change them, also.
“You girls are going to need a lift in this clingy dress, huh?” Kayleigh asked her chest.
She put the dress back on the bed and opened a drawer on the dresser. She picked through her undergarments knowing she didn’t want to dawn the silky lingerie she had brought specifically for the night she might wear the green designer dress.
“The black bustier might be a bit much under the more casual dress,” she said and chose the black pushup bra and matching thong.
Kayleigh dressed quickly, taking just a second to look at her reflection in the long mirror once she was in the dress. She made her way back into the bathroom and attempted once more to control her mess of hair and apply a bit more makeup.
After five minutes of attempting to tame her mind of its own mane, Kayleigh finally become frustrated enough to comb it out one more time, apply a bit of hairspray for the fly-away’s, then grab her ankle high black heeled boots and force herself out of her room. She took the elevator to the third floor and made her way to the hotel’s bar & grill restaurant. She had read the hotel guide in her room before passing out earlier, contemplating the six different variety of choices offered at the hotel, and decided the cocktail and dinner menu of the bar & grill would be just what she was looking for.
Kayleigh surveyed the restaurant as she walked to the bar. A large stone fireplace sat along the wall next to the booths in the dining room where so many couples were seated; one couple was feeding each other, and another was kissing in their booth. Kayleigh watched the couples for a brief moment before stopping at the bar and taking a seat on one of the stools.
A few business dressed men were congregated at the opposite end of the bar, laughing and holding their beers. A small group of women sat at the bar between Kayleigh and the men, constantly peeking over at them and giggling as they turned back to each other.
There was a pretty decent amount of people, Kayleigh noticed, but not a single person held her attention long enough for her to want to strike up a conversation with them.
“Hello, my name’s Jack. I’ll be your go to guy tonight. What can I get you to drink?” a bartender said, placing a small square napkin in front of her.
“Well, I read your cocktail menu in the room, but what would you recommend as your strongest cocktail?” Kayleigh asked, hoping she didn’t sound like an alcoholic.
“Well, what do you prefer to drink?” the bartender asked, smiling big as he leaned toward her.
Kayleigh was taken a bit back by him due to her lack of experience, but decided to hold her ground, telling herself this is why she had come in the first place, to build herself back up. After all, the guy wasn’t half bad looking with his jet black hair, medium build, and dark eyes.
Kayleigh smiled and tossed her hair over her shoulder, trying her hardest to convey the flirting back. “I prefer a lot of different things,” she whispered and leaned toward him.
“Sounds like you need something dirty,” the bartender whispered back, inches from her face now.
Kayleigh felt the familiar sense of flight push against her stomach, preparing herself to shut down and block the guy out. Instead, she pushed the feeling from her mind and made herself stay put. No way was she backing down now she had come this far in the flirting game.
“So you think you know what I need then?” Kayleigh asked, quirking her eyebrow and smiling as big as she could, knowing her dimples were probably in full force now.
“I think I do,” the bartender said, closing the gap between them in what Kayleigh thought was going to be a kiss, but he pulled away and started flipping bottles while pouring liquor after liquor into one glass with his smile still in place.
Kayleigh leaned back onto her stool, feeling defeated and deflated, but quickly straightened up again, reminding herself the bartender was still in front of her.
“Here you go, Miss?” the bartender asked.
Kayleigh debated for a minute. If she gave this stranger her name, what would happen next? If she gave him a fake name like she always did to guys she met at bars and clubs, would it matter?
Yes, it would, she told herself. Doing the same thing you would at home isn’t going to help your cause this weekend.
Kayleigh lifted her smile again and narrowed her eyes at the guy. “Kayleigh, nice to meet you, Jack,” she answered, lifting her hand to shake his.
“Nice to meet you, too, Kayleigh,” he smiled, taking her hand and kissing her knuckles. He released her hand and placed a light, red streaked drink in front of her. “We call this Firewood Tea. It’s a play on a Long Island drink. Let me know what you think, beautiful.”
Kayleigh looked down at the beverage as Jack walked down the bar to service his other patrons. The red streaks were created from the strawberries at the bottom of the glass, swirling with the mass amount of liquors she had watched Jack pour into the cup.
She used the stir stick to swirl the strawberries in the drink a bit to release their flavor then took a sip from her straw. The second the drink hit her taste buds Kayleigh knew she could drink the concoction all night, but as it slide into her empty stomach, sending its warmth and lubricating her frozen joints throughout her body, she told herself to go slow and get something to eat.
By the time Kayleigh had finished her second drink, Jack didn’t come back again to check on her. She searched the bar for him, wanting food and another Firewood Tea, but not finding him until her eyes landed within the group of women down a bit from her. Jack had one of the pretty, younger women on his lap and kissed her more passionately than Kayleigh thought appropriate in such a public setting as the other ladies squealed and squeaked at their friend’s good fortune.
Kayleigh leaned back on her stool again, overcorrecting slightly with the force of the alcohol swaying her backwards. She felt herself sliding in her stool, knowing three things.
One, she was pretty lit.
Two, her lame attempts at flirting had failed, again.
And three, she was about to fall off her stool and hit the ground pretty hard.
Kayleigh began thinking in a hundred different directions as she started to fall, but those three things rang pretty clear.
Until two strong hands clasped on both of her shoulders and steadied her upright while a hard, warm body straightened her back and heated her skin through the sweater dress.
The warmth seemed never ending from the body holding Kayleigh upright. She imagined in the brief second it was her little piece of Texas in the arctic.
“Are you OK?” a deep voice asked from behind her.
Kayleigh craned her neck to look up at the source of the heat and deep voice. A well over six foot tall man made of all muscle in a very expensive looking suit held her by her shoulders. His bleach blond hair was shaved into the high and tight style you would normally see on military men, and his dark emerald eyes glittered as he looked down at her, but what really caught her attention were his lips, his deep red, full lips.
Kayleigh caught herself smiling at the man, knowing if under different circumstances this would be the man she would try her hardest to strike up a conversation with.
So why aren’t you trying, Kayleigh, she scolded herself.
“Just fine,” she laughed to herself, thinking how lost of a cause it would be to try her flirting game with the man now.
“You sure?” the man asked, releasing her shoulders and pulling the stool next to her closer. The second his hands left her body, Kayleigh felt the chill start to creep its way into her body again. She shivered visibly and grabbed the bottom of the bar as her body swayed.
The man caught her shoulders once more then helped her stand in her heeled boots. “Let’s move to a booth.”
As he helped her to a new table, he placed one arm around her waist and supported her weight.
From another’s point of view, Kayleigh thought, they probably looked like a couple, especially since they were heading to the dining room where every patron was kissing and caressing each other. Kayleigh laughed again as the man helped her into the booth and sat next to her with his arm around her back.
“Have you eaten?” the man asked, using his forefinger to direct her gaze back to him.
Little did he know how hard it was becoming for Kayleigh to look anywhere else. “No,” she answered, trying to hide her slur.
“Good, I haven’t either and was hoping not to dine alone,” the man smiled, bearing his beautifully straight white teeth behind his deep red, full lips, and before Kayleigh could respond, a waitress came over and started to take their order. The young woman was obviously flirting in spite of Kayleigh’s presence and the man’s arm around her waist, but Kayleigh knew there was no way she would ever be able to hang on to such a gorgeous man like the one next to her.
Kayleigh shrugged and pushed air through her numb lips. Oh well, she thought, straightening her dress with her freezing hands. Once she ate something, she would straighten up a bit and try again with Jack if he was done with that other woman. He seemed to be exactly what she needed in order to jump back on the bandwagon of her own sexuality, so she would be comfortable again in meeting and being with new people. Maybe even more comfortable in her own skin.
The woman placed two glasses of water on their table and spoke directly to the man. “Your food will be up in just a few minutes. Anything else you would like from me tonight?” the waitress asked, batting her long eyelashes at the man, trying her hardest to convey the double meaning in her words.
Kayleigh gagged aloud at how desperate the woman sounded and quickly covered her mouth with both of her hands in embarrassment.
Did you really just do that? Kayleigh’s inner voice screamed at her as she stared down at the table.
The man stared at Kayleigh with what seemed like amusement, one side of his mouth turned up in a smile, and his eyes sparkled. When he didn’t answer the waitress for a long moment, she stormed off and into the kitchen.
“She’s probably going to spit in our food now,” Kayleigh said barely above a whisper since her hands were still covering her mouth, but from the corner of her eye, she could see the man was still watching her with amusement.
Kayleigh clasped her hands in her lap and looked down to them. She was sure the man would either say something cruel and walk away, or just tell her to take a hike. She was really hoping for the latter.
More rejection, but she could hardly blame the man in the current situation. She definitely brought this one on herself.
Instead, the man laughed louder than Kayleigh had ever heard before. She knew her laugh was loud, but this man barked a chuckle so loudly, every person in the restaurant turned and stared at them.
Kayleigh’s head popped up as the man continued, completely stunned and taken off guard. His laugh was definitely bass-y and boomed through the open area, but she found herself wishing she could hear more of it.
Kayleigh looked away from the man again, waiting for what he was about to say after he gathered himself, preparing for the worst.
“I think you just made my night,” the man said through small residual chuckles compared to when he had started laughing.
Kayleigh looked to him again and saw the seriousness in his eyes. She couldn’t help the smile creeping across her lips at the realization that she really wasn’t going to have to dine alone tonight, even if it was a lost cause to try and flirt with the man.
“What’s your name, doll?” the man asked, still smiling big.
“Kayleigh,” she said, sticking to her initial instinct of the night and being honest with the man.
“Very unique. Sounds like a southern name?” the man asked.
“Yeah,” Kayleigh answered trying her hardest to keep from showing her attraction for him. Thankfully, the waitress came back with their food.
The young woman plopped their food down and turned away without saying another word. The man grabbed the woman’s hand before she had gone too far.
“I apologize, can I please have some hot sauce before you go?” he asked, batting his own blond lashes at the woman now.
Kayleigh watched as the waitress visibly melted at the man’s touch and flirty eyes. The woman handed over the hot sauce, and the man released her with a quick thanks. He turned back to his food without even giving her a second glance, but the waitress was resilient, if nothing else.
“My offer still stands,” the waitress whispered as she leaned against the table, exposing her cleavage a bit further.
Kayleigh watched in disbelief as the man started eating and completely ignored the waitress. The woman stood at the table a minute longer to flick her hair over her shoulder and walk away in a huff as the man took another bite of his salmon.
Kayleigh looked down at her plate. A large filet of salmon, mashed potatoes and winter vegetables stared back at her as their warm aroma wafted under her nose. She grabbed her fork and dug in. With each bite, her head began to clear, and the drinks strength she had gorged herself with diminished.
When she had finished her meal, having eaten every bit of it, she glanced over at the man as he sprinkled hot sauce on the last bite of salmon, potato and veggie medley on his plate and brought it to his lips.
Kayleigh had never seen anyone in her life, not even in Texas, put hot sauce on salmon, so she wasn’t sure what expression crossed her face.
“What?” the man asked with his mouthful.
“Hot sauce?” Kayleigh asked with a bit more disgust than she meant.
“Don’t knock anything until you try it,” the man said, swallowing his last bite, his Adam’s apple bobbing in his throat as his jaw muscles clenched and released.
Kayleigh felt her body stir deep within as she watched each of his movements, becoming suddenly aware of how out of her league the man was. She sat a bit straighter in the booth and pushed her plate away.
When the check came, the man handed it back quickly full of cash and told the waitress he didn’t need change.
Kayleigh just stared at him.
“You’re doing it again,” he said, leaning back in the booth and holding her gaze intensely.
“I’m sorry, but I didn’t catch your name?” she asked, at a loss for why she hadn’t thought to ask until now.
“Ben,” the man answered, but didn’t offer more. When a long minute of silence stretched into even more silence, Kayleigh took it as her cue to leave.
“Well, thank you for dinner, even though you didn’t have to, but thank you anyways. It was very nice of you, so thank you,” Kayleigh rambled, her sense of flight pushing her to leave the restaurant.
“You’re welcome, even though that was kind of a backwards way of showing gratitude,” Ben laughed.
Kayleigh watched as his eyes squinted and his full lips turned into such a beautiful smile. She couldn’t believe she had even made it this long next to him without bolting. Progress, she told herself, but now it’s time to go.
“Yeah, well, again, thanks,” she said as she moved to get up from the table, hoping he would take the hint and let her out.
“What, you’re leaving?” Ben asked, his smile diminishing as quickly as it had come, disappointment taking its place.
“Well, I would like to go back to my room now, so yeah,” she stammered, feeling the flight turning into panic, wondering how she ended up eating dinner with such a beautiful man in the first place.
No more alcohol for Kayleigh.
“I would really like you to stay. You’ve been great company so far,” Ben smiled the dazzling smile again as his eyes lit up, luring her in.
No way, she thought to herself. “I’m kind of tired from traveling all day, so I’d like to go to bed now.”
“OK, well, can I at least escort you to your room?” Ben asked, completely crestfallen.
Smart girl 101: Never let a stranger follow you to your hotel room.
“I’ll be fine, thanks,” Kayleigh said, practically pushing Ben out of the way so she could leave. He finally stood and let her out of the booth. She turned to him before she made a beeline for the elevators, “Really, thank you.”
Before Ben could respond, Kayleigh left the restaurant as quickly as her heels allowed, and once she was safely in the elevator, she took several deep breaths to calm her nerves.
Chill out, Kayleigh. He was a nice man who helped you out tonight. You’ll never see him again. Besides, he’ll probably go home with that waitress anyways.
As the doors opened and the buzzer dinged for her floor, Kayleigh stepped out of the elevator and met the big smile of Jack, the bartender from earlier in the night.
“Well, hello, Kayleigh,” Jack said, clearly drunk as he slurred his words.
“Hey, Jack,” she responded, side stepping him to exit the elevator, but Jack moved in her way again, pushing her back into the elevator with him. He laid one hand on her shoulder and another on her waist and pinned her back against the wall.
“Where were we earlier?” Jack whispered inches from her face. She could smell nothing but liquor on his breath.
Kayleigh’s mind went blank for a minute. She didn’t know whether she wanted something to happen between her and Jack, just so she could say she was back in the game, or if she should be running scared.
Jack’s lips crushed into hers. His thin lips barely covering her full ones, and all she could think was how drunk he was.
It shouldn’t be like this, Kayleigh told herself. Jack was definitely more in her league, but something didn’t feel right.
Kayleigh broke the kiss by turning her head to the side, but Jack’s lips didn’t stop. He kissed, bit and licked her neck, pulling her sweater dress down, so her chest was close to being exposed.
“Jack, please, stop. You’re drunk,” she whispered, gently pushing on his arms to make him back away, but he only held tighter.
This is what you wanted, Kayleigh told herself, feeling like she was experiencing everything in third person. She couldn’t feel anything but scared and the need for flight.
You wanted to feel wanted and to have a completely inconsequential fling. Well, here it is on a silver platter, and you’re pushing it away.
Jack met her lips again, but the flight had already started swelling beyond reining in.
It’s not supposed to be this way. I’m supposed to feel, she told herself and pushed a bit harder against Jack.
His head popped up, and he stared at her. “What’s wrong?” he slurred.
“I can’t do this,” Kayleigh said, breathlessly. The push of flight overpowered all of her senses.
“Yes, you can. Don’t think you are going to tease me and then not back it up, sexy. You need something dirty, remember?” Jack said, pulling her sweater neckline lower and pulling against the back of her neck for another kiss.
No, no, no, Kayleigh screamed in her mind as she tried to push Jack away again, but he didn’t budge. Around a kiss, Kayleigh yelled as loud as she could, “No!”, but it came out as just a muffled grunt.
Every memory of her past she had tried so hard to forget hit her chest, her lungs felt close to collapsing. She closed her eyes, but images of events she never wanted to remember were bombarding her every thought that wasn’t already consumed in flight. She tried shutting her feelings off, tried to become the shell of a person she was used to being around men, but the urge for flight was too strong, too overpowering, it only amplified her fear.
It isn’t supposed to be like this!
Then there was a soft ding.
And the sound of heavy feet entering the elevator.
And a man’s voice.
“I believe she told you no.”
And just like that, Jack’s body was gone. His weight was no longer crushing her body against the back wall of the elevator. He no longer held tight to her neck or side or dress. He was no longer kissing her, and the smell of alcohol was no longer invading her senses. He was gone just as quickly as a man had spoken aloud.
The man. Ben.