Home > Maverick (North Ridge #2)(3)

Maverick (North Ridge #2)(3)
Author: Karina Halle

I don’t give up. I keep going, practically wading, swimming, until I’m at the point where Levi was last standing.

Panic claws up my throat but I ignore it. I have to.

The walkie-talkie crackles, Brett is calling in.

He sounds like a dream.

“Riley! Riley, they’re reporting seismic activity on the slope, an avalanche. Can you confirm? Riley, come in. Over.”

But I have a job to do.

I bring out the shovel from my pack and start digging, frantically at first, then slowly, methodically, as I plow through the top layers.

I don’t even think I’m breathing. My heart is bursting from my ribs.

My eyes sting, my fingers in my gloves burn, my face feels raw and stiff as I realize tears have been running down my cheeks and sticking to my skin.

I keep going.

“Riley. Please come in. Are you okay? Have you found Levi? Over.”

I keep shoveling.

And then I see a slice of orange-colored fabric.

His jacket.

“Levi!” I scream and throw the shovel aside, start digging him out with my hands like a dog after a bone.

I touch his shoulder, his arm, his torso, his neck.

His face.

Eyes closed, skin blue.

Not breathing.

I immediately clear the snow from his mouth and try to clear as much of his body free as possible. He might have broken bones, but I can’t be too slow, too gentle. I have to be quick and I have to save him now.

Summoning all the strength I have left, I bring his upper body out of the snow and feel for a pulse.

Nothing.

Through tears and blubbering words, I start CPR.

I’ve done it many times before on dummies.

I’ve seen it performed on near misses and close calls.

I’ve never had to perform it myself on a real person before.

I’ve never had to perform it on someone I know.

I’ve never had to perform it on my best friend.

The man I love.

And now I am, I’m pumping and breathing into him and counting and crying and my world is falling apart around me. Everything is falling apart, I’m falling apart, how is this world still here?

“Please, please, please,” I cry out, sending prayers up with my heart, my heavy, tumbling heart. “Please be okay, please come back, please don’t die. Please don’t leave me. I love you, I love you, I love you.”

I keep trying, I keep breathing, his cold lips to mine, and I keep crying.

“I love you, I love you, I love you.”

This can’t be it. This can’t be it.

But as time rolls on and the snow continues to fall, blanketing us in a cold embrace, I know.

This is it.

This is it.

No more.

 

 

1

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

 

Maverick

 

 

North Ridge, British Columbia


The texts have been coming in all night.

Are you still at work?

When will you be off?

Come to The Bear Trap!

Drinks on me!

Those were all sent from my friend Delilah, who owns and bartends our local watering hole.

Where the fuck are you?

I’m heading to the Bear, should I wait for you?

I’m pretty sure your dog pissed on the floor, btw, I can’t tell and I don’t want to smell it.

Those were from my older brother, Fox, whom I live with, along with my dog Chewie.

I ignored them. Not to be a dick, but I was at work. Maybe a few years ago I would have had the whole day off as I had planned, but the fact is, ever since I’d been put in charge of North Ridge’s search and rescue team, days off barely exist. Even though it’s early March and in some ways winter is winding down, the mountains and ski slopes are still busy, and there’s usually some idiot who decides to go skiing off course who we have to rescue later. Besides, winter is a bitch, and like they say on Game of Thrones, she’s constantly coming. There’s always a few more storms that swoop in before the season is done.

It’s eleven o’clock at night and pitch-dark out as I park my truck outside the house I share with Fox and glance at my phone, which is lighting up again. This time the texts are from my father, laying it on thick. You know when he uses my real name I’m in big fucking trouble.

John, come to the bar, everyone is here.

You know this is Shane’s big night and he’s your brother.

He looks up to you, you need to be here. Now.

God damn it, John!

I sigh, breath frozen in the air, and lean back in my seat, watching the snow slowly gather on the windshield. I don’t know why I’m dragging my feet about the whole thing, but I am. I’d known for some time that my younger brother was going to propose to his girlfriend Rachel tonight and while I’m happy as hell for them—if there was ever a star-crossed couple that belonged together, it’s those two—I guess it makes me feel a little…old.

Maybe that’s not the right word. I’m turning thirty-one this year. I’m fit as fuck, in prime shape, and advancing nicely in my career, even though it’s a challenge being the boss of my colleagues and friends now. I guess it’s just complicated when one of your brothers decides to marry the love of his life. Makes you wonder why that doesn’t seem to be happening for yourself.

And of course I can answer that question right away. I live in a small town smack in the mid-south of the province of British Columbia. There are about ten thousand full-time residents in North Ridge, and I know I’ve dated pretty much every attractive female within a fifty-kilometre radius.

The term dating is even a bit of a stretch. There’s been less than a dozen I’ve full-on dated, whether for a few weeks or a few months. The rest are just one-night stands and hook-ups. I’m not exactly proud of my reputation (I believe Rachel called me a man-whore and I didn’t correct her) but at the same time, I’m not ashamed of it. I know what I want and it doesn’t seem to be changing anytime soon. With my lifestyle and my line of work, relationships just seem to mess everything up. What’s the point of getting close to someone if it’s just eventually going to end anyway? What woman would not only understand me, but the job that I have to do, how important that is? Not many.

Not that there’s anyone I’d even consider getting close with. It’s been a few months actually since I last got laid, some French tourists who were in town. Yes, I used the plural. What can I say? They liked to share and I loved to let them.

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