The time has come again: a small group of friends are invited to meet at a cabin in Wintercrest Canyon for a three-day weekend just before Christmas. This year might be a bit tricky attending since a blizzard takes over all of northwestern Pennsylvania, and unfortunately, most of the guests won’t end up at the canyon, let alone out of the city.
Scott Harker, a chattering gossip columnist, never misses the Wintercrest Canyon event. Especially this year, since sexy pro skier Booth Cartwell will be at the cabin. The possibility of a powerful blizzard stopping a skiing Olympian is exactly why Harker does anything he can to make the drive. He’s following his hardcore crush and throbbing heart, and is willing to do just about anything to get the man of his dreams.
So buckle up, hang on for the snowy ride, get cozy, laugh a little, and who knows? You might learn a little bit about warming up and falling in love. Let’s kick it in gear and go ...
At the party: Booth and I are left alone after Birk introduces us. This is unexpected, of course, but someone immediately demands Birk’s attention in the kitchen; three bottles of blackberry wine have fallen off the counter and crash to the marble floor. Glass and booze are everywhere. Birk goes running, swears, “Shit!”
Both Booth and I are nervous, mixed for the first time, face to face. My hands shake. He blinks numerous times, licks his bottom lip like a lizard.
Eventually, he says, “What are you drinking, Steve?”
“It’s Scott ... Scott Harker.”
“I’m sorry. Forgive me. I’m bad with names.” He smiles a Hollywood carpet smile, which sinks me, turns me into a puddle of mud or mush or slush or pudding -- something. It’s one of the most beautiful smiles I have ever seen. Plus, his blue-blue pools and black hair melt me. I almost faint to the red-bricked garden, lose my balance, and EMT might need to be called.
“Forgiven.” He’s probably not bad at anything. Liar. Liar. Pants on fire. “A cranberry wine.”
“What?” He blinks ... blinks ... blinks, obviously shaken and nervous because of our fresh twosome.
“My drink. You asked what I was drinking. It’s cranberry wine. Do you want to try it?” I pass it to him.
“Oh. Yeah. Your drink.” He takes the drink and takes a sip. “It’s very dry.” Cringes.
“Not your thing?”
“Afraid not.” He shakes his handsome head, passes the drink back to me. “I’m more of a tequila, apple-cinnamon spiced cider guy.”
He passes me his beverage. It’s strong and on the sweeter side. Nothing shy of alcohol and warms my cheeks, forehead, and the back of my throat. “Not bad. I might have one of those.”
“Do you want to swap?”
“But you don’t like mine.”
“You’re worth it, Steve,” he plays with me, calling me by the wrong name. Winks at me. Grins.
I chuckle as we swap drinks. It’s the first time he hears me chuckle: Oink. Oink. Oink.
“You sound like a baby piggy.”
“A piglet. I know. I can’t help it. It’s embarrassing. I was born this way, as Lady Gaga says.”
“Hell no. It’s adorable. Do it again.”
I do, but not intentionally. Because he does make me chuckle. Because he’s attractive, sexy, down to earth, and easy to talk to. And ... Because ... well, because I like him and we seem to mesh.
This evening continues with much chatter between us. Mostly about our lives. Facts and details unravel in a long conversation titled Who We Are: He grew up in Rochester, New York, with Peggy and Nelson Cartwheel, both clay artists. I was born and raised in Pittsburgh. He graduated from Duke with some type of sports degree I don’t fully understand when he describes the degree in length to me. I attended Pitt four five years with a masters in journalism. He’s professionally skied in two Olympics and has a glass display case filled with five medals, maybe it’s four, I can’t remember; I believe he’s won three golds, a silver, and a bronze, but can be wrong about these quantities; shame on me; I blame it on the alcohol. No, I don’t have awards for writing, but I can gossip on paper as good as that Carrie person in Sex and the City. We both have past lovers. Our shared details are limited and unexciting; just the way we both want to keep them. Neither of us have been married. Neither of us have pets. Eventually, having a few more cocktails together, feeling lighter, happier, we discuss our mutual friend Birk, whom we equally adore, and never have had sexual relations with. And on and on our conversation ensues for another hour, which feels like a few minutes; the easy talk I have never shared with a man and feel like a time warp occurs with him, minutes zipping by. Honestly.
As our chatter proceeds, the moon turns into a fiery ball of orange on the dark horizon, something called a Harvest Moon, and my time with Brook Cartwell feels easy and sweet and fulfilling. There’s nothing boring about him. Nothing shapeless or undignified. I learn that he is a reasonable gentleman, into men opposed to women, and he can woo men easily and be quite the charmer. It becomes rather unpretentious to get to know each other, and another hour together slips into three hours. No, wrong, four hours. Time slides by so quickly and unequivocally. Before I realize it, the garden party is ending and he claims he has to run. And I have to run, even though I don’t; my life is quite uneventful these days, filled with a vat of nothingness. We share a brief hug. Something called a gentleman’s hug that doesn’t allow our chests or nuts to touch. No kissing. And we sperate this evening until we see each other again. Which I hope is sooner than later.
My crush becomes certain as soon as Birk’s party ends. I don’t, and can’t, get the skier out of my mind. No way. All six-three of him takes over my thoughts and I have an affair with him inside my head. I even dream of the man when I go to sleep: somewhere on the beaches of Cancun or walking the streets of Paris near the Eifel Tower; ziplining in the Andes in Peru or Ecuador; lost in the Angola jungle, but safe at his side; filming a movie together on location in Hollywood. No matter how hard I crush on him we don’t go on date or become boyfriends or lovers. Nothing of the sort occurs. Rather, I keep my distance, stay the gentleman I am, and watch him from afar, mostly hard between my legs, always attracted to him.