Jin-Pyoo is an Olympic Alpine skier who has been reared all his life to focus on winning a medal. His father is harsh and demanding, but when he orders Jin to stop being friends with ski resort owner, Tolliver St. James, Jin has to decide if he should continue with his Olympic dream or follow his heart.
Tolliver St. James knows that Jin is the man for him. They’ve been in a secret relationship for two years and he wants them to be publicly out, but Jin wants them to keep hiding in the shadows. When Jin’s father forces Jin into an engagement with a woman, Tolliver is afraid of losing his lover forever.
But when Tolliver is caught in grips of an avalanche, Jin knows he can’t live his life without him and it’s a race against time to find the man he loves more than anything.
Be Warned: m/m sex
“You will stop seeing that man immediately,” Jin-Pyoo’s father ordered. The tone in his voice, as well as his rigid stance, brooked no argument.
Jin took a deep breath to calm his anger before he said something he would regret later, but he couldn’t help but argue back. He’d been doing it all his life against his father’s strict Korean heritage.
“His name is Tolliver and he’s my friend,” he said, steady.
Jin’s eyes narrowed. “Because?”
His father snorted. “You know why. The rumors are plenty.”
“Rumors? That’s what this conversation is based on?”
His father held up his tablet. Frozen on the screen was a photo of Jin and Tolliver standing together at the charity event from last night. “I’m basing this conversation on this picture!”
He’d slipped into Korean, which happened when he was extremely mad or agitated. Jin suspected it was a mixture of both.
“That was a party given by Tolliver to raise money for battered and abused women. What? I was supposed to ignore my host? Ignore a very important issue in society?”
“You spend too much time with the man!”
“He owns the resort we’re staying at!” Jin yelled back in Korean. He calmed down, took another deep breath to collect himself, and switched back to English. “He’s my friend and I won’t stop seeing him because of rumors.”
“Your sponsor doesn’t approve,” his father said, and Jin knew he was bringing out his last big gun. “They’re threatening to pull their sponsorship, and you do realize what that could mean, don’t you?”
“Over what?” Jin demanded.
“Scandal of impropriety.”
Jin blinked. “What the hell does that mean?”
“Language, Jin-Pyoo,” his father warned. “The rumors are that Tolliver St. James likes men.”
“So what? It’s the twenty-first century, Father. There’s nothing wrong with being gay.”
His father’s face turned so red he looked like a radish with his scrunched up eyes and pursed lips. “You are Korean! Your sponsor is a Korean company. Being gay is not acceptable, and you being near him only hinders your career.”
“I made the Olympic team,” Jin said quietly. “That’s no small feat.”
“And you failed to qualify for your run. You’re running out of time, Jin-Pyoo. PyeongChang will be your last try for an Olympic medal, that is, if you even make the team at age thirty-two.”
Jin sat for a moment, staring at his father. The old man was right, of course. He was twenty-eight years old now and a skier only had a set number of years. There were always newer and faster skiers on the horizon, and his thirty-two year old joints weren’t as flexible as twenty-year-old joints. But on the other hand, experience and determination meant he had a lot going for him as well. His father had given him every opportunity to win an Olympic medal, and so far he’d come up empty-handed. He was a damn good skier, he knew that, but training for the Olympics was rigorous. After the holidays he would begin the circuit with his fellow competitors, leaving large breaks between seeing Tolliver St. James.
What would his father do if he announced that Tolliver was more than just his friend? That he’d been in a secret relationship with the man for two years now, and he knew that Tolliver was it for him: The one. He couldn’t imagine his life without the man. Jin would never say goodbye to the man who made his blood sing and his heart pound. More than sex, though, Tolliver listened to him. Talked to him like his opinions mattered. There was no way Jin could give him up. He wouldn’t. And if that meant lying to and evading his father, then so be it.
“Did my sponsor threaten to pull their backing?” Jin asked calmly.
“They hinted of their dislike at such a scandal.”
Jin took that as a yes. “You can assure them, Father, that Tolliver St. James is my friend and skiing benefactor. He provides me with free slopes, free spas, and free lodging to help my Olympic career. In return my name draws in vacationers to his resort. If that means attending charity events with the man, so be it. It’s a business transaction, and you know all about business, Father.”
His father frowned. “It is the closeness of your friendship that they frown upon.”
“What will it take for them to relax? What do you want me to say, Father? Tell me and I’ll say it.”
His father got a satisfied gleam in his eye and too late, Jin realized the trap he’d fallen into. “We’ll announce your engagement.”
Jin felt all the breath swoosh out of his lungs. “Excuse me?”
“Tonight, at the banquet dinner being hosted by your sponsor, we’ll make the announcement of your engagement. The press coverage will be perfect timing.”
Jin panicked a little. He hadn’t thought his father would take it this far. He couldn’t have a girlfriend. He had a boyfriend. But how in the hell was he supposed to tell his father that?
“What have you done, Father?”
“It is time you got married. Focused on your career and the Olympics. A wife will help with that.”
“So you just sold me out? To whom?”
His father straightened his shoulders as a pleased look came over his face. “The daughter of my business partner.”
It took a moment for Jin to remember the girl. “She’s twelve!”
“She’s eighteen,” his father corrected.
“I refuse. I don’t want a wife!”