Anyway, here's the second excerpt from Shredded, the first in my new adult snowboarder series that comes out on February 3 :) Hope you enjoy Z!
In this intense and exhilarating New Adult series debut, a hotshot snowboarder and a rebel with a cause try to let go of the past—and find a future with each other.
Twenty-one-year-old professional snowboarder Z Michaels is the bad boy of Park City, Utah. He’s always had his pick of any girl in town—and on the competition circuit. But underneath his cool exterior is a young man in turmoil, trying to take the edge off tragedy by overindulging in sex and shredding the slopes. In fact, Z’s rash behavior is a thinly veiled attempt to blunt his emotional suffering with physical pain.
Ophelia Richardson isn’t like any girl Z has ever met. Though she’s from New Orleans, she’s no Southern belle—and she’s not shy about being miserable in frozen, godforsaken Park City. But after nearly dying in the same drag-racing accident that killed her boyfriend, she needs a place to heal, both physically and emotionally. The last thing Ophelia wants right now is a boyfriend—especially one as rich and reckless as Z. But Ophelia soon discovers that he isn’t what he seems. If anything, Z may be even more damaged than she is.
Feeling alone in the world, Z and Ophelia find a connection unlike any they’ve ever known. But their tormented pasts pull them in every direction, forcing their relationship into a downhill slide before it even begins—unless they can find the strength in each other to trust, grow, and love again.
I stiffen despite myself, then glance at Luc to see if he’s now plotting to throw off the mountain. But he’s too absorbed in the camera debacle at the moment to pay much attention to where Cam is or what she’s doing.
“What’s up?” I ask her after the silence between us gets uncomfortably long.
“You know you can talk to me, right?”
“Me too.” I shoot her a baffled look. “I thought we were talking right now.”
“You know what I mean. I’m worried about you. We all are.”
Damn. Now it’s a tag-team intervention? What the hell does a guy have to do to self-destruct in peace around here? “I’m fine, Cam.”
“You always say that.”
“Because it’s always true.” My heart’s pounding like I just barged a run, and it’s all I can do to stand still. I wait another few seconds, expecting her to step back, hoping she’ll take the hint and stop touching me. But she doesn’t. Instead, she moves closer, wraps her arm around my waist, rests her head on my shoulder. I can feel it—the pressure building up inside me until I’m like the cork in a champagne bottle that’s been shaken way too much.
When I can’t take it any longer, I step away.
Make a show of zipping up my jacket.
And ignore the look of hurt that flashes across her face.
Immediately the cold seeps back in, but I refuse to react. Cam’s watching me closely, looking for any chink in my armor, and I refuse to give it to her. Refuse to let her in any closer than she already is. She might be my friend along with Ash and Luc, but there are some things even best friends shouldn’t see. Shouldn’t know.
Except . . . “I know this is a bad week for you, Z. You can run from it all you want, but it’s not going to go away.”
This time when she places a hand on my shoulder, it’s pure instinct to knock it off. Pure self-preservation. “Jesus, Cam, will you please just leave it the fuck alone? If I wanted to go all hippie commune and talk about my shit, believe me, I would.”
“It’s not healthy—”
“Really?” I cut her off. “What about my life makes you think I give a fuck about being healthy?”
“Come on, Z.”
“You come on.” I drop my board on the ground, strap my right foot in.
Cam knows what’s going to happen, and she narrows her eyes at me even as she steps back to give me room. “You can’t run away from this conversation forever, you know.”
The adrenaline rush is already starting, drowning out her voice and all the other shit I don’t want to deal with right now. I look back at Luc and Ash, who’ve finally got their cameras mounted and working, and think about joining them on the run they’re about to take. It’s what they’re expecting, and I almost do it. Almost push off and glide over there so we can board the trail together. We’re backcountry, so the run is pretty raw and unstructured, but the truth is it’s just not what I’m in the mood for right now. I want something hard, something that’ll take every ounce of concentration I’ve got. Maybe then I can stop thinking about all the different ways I’ve fucked up.
With that in mind, I strap my left foot in, and without giving the others any warning about what I’m planning, I push off from the little plateau I’m on.
And then I’m fucking flying.
Cam screams as I go over the edge, but the sound is drowned out in the rush as I board straight down the side of this fucking mountain. There’s no real trail, no path to follow, nothing but a narrow crevice with steep walls on either side.
One wrong move and I’m toast—I can slam into one of the jagged walls, plow into one of the huge rocks that spring up every few feet, or just lose control and go tumbling head over heels. But I’m not planning on doing any of the above. At least not right now. This is virgin backcountry chute, and I’m riding this bitch all the way down.
There’s a dip up ahead of me and I know if I hit it at just the right speed and angle, it’ll launch me about twenty feet into the air, so I brace myself, get ready—
Hot fucking damn. I really am flying. I pull a trick, a sick 1080 inverted cab, then bend my knees and brace myself for the first landing. I hit hard but keep control as I rocket down what is now an almost completely vertical chute.
I have one brief holy-shit moment, one quick second to think that maybe this isn’t a good idea after all. But it’s too fucking late to worry about dying. All I can do now is ride.
So I do, twisting and turning to accommodate the rock formations and trees and fucking boulders that seem to pop up out of nowhere. I hit a couple more lips, catch some sick air off them, and manage to bust out a couple more tricks. I pull off another 1440 and a wicked double backside rodeo 1080, but most of the time I’m just enjoying the most kick-ass ride of my life.
In the middle of it all, my sat phone starts to ring. I know it’s Ash or Cam or Luc calling to bitch me out, but it’s not like I can exactly answer right now. I’m too busy trying not to die.
I hit another lip, this one so huge I’d swear it was a manmade ramp if I didn’t know better. Bracing myself, I do everything I can to gather speed going into it, ’cuz the only thing worse than coming off one of these things fast is coming off it slow.
I make it up the ramp, launch out into the air, and have my second—and biggest—oh-shit moment of the ride. Because there’s nothing fucking there. I’m free-falling . . . fifty, a hundred, two hundred feet, maybe more. I can’t tell at this point. It’s fucking ridiculous. The biggest air of my life and I’m too focused on trying to find the ground to even a pull a trick.
Finally—finally—it’s rushing at me. I twist around, try to get a decent look at what I’m going to be dealing with when I come down. The slant is good and the pow looks like it’s packed pretty tight in this area, so I deliberately relax, loosening my limbs so I won’t hyperextend anything when I land.
I land better than I have any right to, on a slope that’s much milder than the one I just came off. I think I’m getting pretty low, figure the ride has to be almost over, so I put everything I’ve got into it, building up my speed for what I figure has to be the last jump. This whole ride has been fucking front, so what the hell. I pull out the trick I’ve been working on in secret, the one nobody knows about and that I’ve never seen anybody land before.
The triple McTwist 1440.
Shaun White invented the double McTwist 1260, made it famous all over the world. But with the right air, I know I can get an extra twist and an extra half rotation, and I can’t think of a better time to try it. I hit the slope just right, gain some sick air, and just go for it.
I nail it.
I fucking nail it, right before I land in the middle of the fucking worst grouping of trees I’ve ever seen. Then I’m speeding down the last section of the mountain, weaving between trees and praying that I don’t slam into one at fifty miles an hour.