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Josh glanced at Tracy sitting across from him in the limo transporting them up the winding, snow-packed road to Weekend Pass Resort. "I can't believe we won with that lame, crazy sonnet."
"Who knew they'd find it 'refreshingly zany'?" Tracy had been to the salon, and her red hair was a little shorter today than it had been yesterday.
Josh thought the chin-length style was cute. Deceptively cute, considering this was a woman capable of pouring liquid on him when she got in a snit.
She'd decked herself out in designer jeans, sexy-looking boots with four-inch heels and a white turtleneck. Over that she wore a white parka with a blue wool scarf draped around her neck. Dark had fallen long ago, and he couldn't see her face very well in the dim interior of the limo, but he'd noticed in the airport that the scarf exactly matched her eyes. She had great eyes, better even than Miss Piggy.
Tracy had never seemed to care about her clothes before, but she'd gone out shopping with a couple of women from the office a few days ago. They'd probably twisted her arm to dude herself up for the occasion, considering there would be media all over the place. Josh didn't care if he appeared on camera wearing a four-year-old jacket, but women worried about stuff like that.
"You should have taken my suggestion and come up here with Marcy. You like Marcy." Tracy set her champagne flute in its holder so she could unwind the scarf from around her neck.
"I barely know her, and besides, she doesn't deserve the trip. You do. You could've found somebody to go in my place. I offered to bow out."
"That wouldn't have been fair. Entering was your idea."
"And writing something snarky was yours." Joshraised his glass in a toast. "If I do say so myself, we rock. The A-List people were furious that two people from Innovations won."
"Yeah, I'm happy about that. They're such an obnoxious bunch. Still, this trip is so wasted on us."
"Except for the complimentary champagne and the limo ride." Josh took another swallow. "I could get used to that part."
"You know what I mean. It's supposed to be a romantic getaway to Telluride. The way the limo driver closed his back window, I'm positive he expected we'd make out on the way up the mountain."
"Yeah, he probably did. I've always wondered what that would be like."
"Embarrassing, that's what it would be like. He might not be able to hear anything, but he has a perfectly good rear-view mirror."
"Are you saying you'd never make out in a limo, then?"
Tracy shook her head. "Not this chick. I prefer privacy."
So she wasn't particularly sexually adventurous. He wondered how she'd react to the topic he'd been mulling over for days. "According to the Internet, the place is crawling with singles ready to party."
Tracy picked up her champagne flute and sank against the leather upholstery with a sigh. "I have to admit A-List has people talking about Weekend Pass Resort. Have you seen Maddy Lov's blog?"
"I read a couple of entries. I'm surprised she's the guest celebrity this weekend. When we were bidding on the job, I got the sense the owners were on the conservative side. Did you see the video for her last hit?"
"The one where she was practically naked? I think everybody with a TV has seen it. For this gig I was expecting Dick Van Dyke, Angela Lansbury, somebody like that."
Josh finished his champagne and reached for the bottle. "Wouldn't it be sweet if A-List messed up by contracting with Maddy?"
"I've been thinking the same thing. If A-List and Maddy are setting a tone the owners don't like, we can be right there with our business cards."
"See, then it wouldn't be a wasted trip. The Innovations brass would love us to pieces." Josh held up the bottle. "More champagne?"
"Don't mind if I do, then." As the limo rounded another curve, he concentrated so he didn't pour champagne on himself. He might not worry about fashion, but he'd rather not arrive smelling like booze. "So what do you think of that idea going around the office?"
She hesitated. "What idea?"
"That we use this weekend to hook up with someone."
"Oh, that idea." She sounded less than enthusiastic.
"Personally, I think it's worth considering." In his opinion, he and Tracy had grieved over their respective breakups long enough. They might not be ready for long-term commitments, but they should at least get back out there and score some sex.
Her chin lifted a fraction. "Does that mean you intend to hit on women while you're here?"
"I've always hated that expression, but, yeah, I might check out the possibilities." The temperature in the limo dipped a few degrees. "You got a problem with that?"
"It's none of my business, really." Her voice was getting frostier by the minute. "But we'll be sharing a room. You should probably give me a signal, like hanging your Jockeys on the doorknob."
"Oh, for crying out loud. I'm not going to hang my Jockeys anywhere. I wouldn't use our room. That would be gross." Then he had an unsettling thought. "Of course, if you thought you might use the room for that, maybe we could work something out, but I really think"
"Don't trouble yourself. I'm not planning to have sex this weekend."
"And you don't think I should, either, do you?"
"I did not say that." Icicles formed on each word.
"You didn't have to. It came through loud and clear by the way you said, 'I'm not planning to have sex this weekend,' like you had a stick up your ass."
"I resent that! Just because I don't feel like falling into bed with some virtual stranger doesn't mean you shouldn't. Go for it! Be my guest! Screw your brains out this weekend."
"If I get the chance, I sure as hell will. It'll be good for what ails me. And judging from that outburst, I'd say you could use a dose of the same medicine."
He was glad she hadn't accepted another glass of champagne because right about now he'd be wearing it. "Trace, it's been six months. I can't speak for you, but solo sex is getting old. We have a weekend with no specific work obligations, and"
"So we are." Josh peered through the tinted windows as the limo glided to a stop in front of the main lodge, a massive two-story structure of wood and stone. Despite the building's size, it nestled in a stand of snow-covered blue spruce as if it had been there for generations. Golden light from large windows spilled onto pristine snowdrifts.
Josh had always thought he liked the ocean better than the mountains, but a place like this could change his mind. "Gorgeous." He glanced at Tracy, expecting a response. Instead she sat rigidly upright, like a condemned prisoner perched in the electric chair. Obviously his willingness to troll for sex this weekend had freaked her out.
He lowered his voice. "Trace, if it'll make you uncomfortable, I'll give up my little plan, okay?"
"I wouldn't dream of interfering in your sex life."
"Aw, don't be like that. Look, I promise to keep my fly zipped. I'll"
A bellman in a navy parka sporting a Weekend Pass logo on the sleeve opened the limo door, and Josh could only hope the guy hadn't heard that last part.
"Welcome to Weekend Pass." Cold, crisp air tinged with wood smoke wafted into the limo as the bellman held out a gloved hand to help Tracy out.
"Thank you." Tracy unbuckled her seat belt and picked up her oversize hobo purse from the floor. "We'll talk later," she murmured to Josh as she moved toward the limo door.
"Right." Josh half rose to follow her and found himself crouched with his face inches away from her temptingly curved backside. Must be the designer jeans in operation, he told himself. Sure, he might be feeling a tad deprived these days. But no way was he getting a sexual zing out of staring at Tracy Bingham's butt. No way.
Tracy couldn't imagine what was wrong with her. She'd acted like a bitch, when all Josh wanted was a little action, for which she couldn't blame him. He was a normal, red-blooded male with a strong sex drive. She had no good reason to stand in his way, and she'd apologize once they had a moment alone.
The resort looked beautiful so far. The shadowy bulk of the mountains hovered above the lodge, and runs for night skiing glowed along the steep slopes. Tracy had never skied, but if she ever planned to try, this would be the place, where lessons, equipment and lift tickets were free for contest winners.
As the bellman handed her gracefully out of the limo, a good-looking guy with dark-blond hair came forward and introduced himself as Tony Rossi. His black leather jacket looked expensive, and Tracy was glad she'd splurged on a few clothes for the trip. She recognized Rossi's name from all the e-mails they'd exchanged about details for the trip. She hadn't been able to figure out if he was with A-List because he didn't look familiar, and she knew most of the rival agency's people.
"Nice to meet you at last," Tracy said, shaking his hand. Cameras flashed, reminding her about the media coverage she and Josh had agreed to in exchange for this weekend. They'd had to send in photos of themselves along with the sonnet, and Tracy was sure that winners had been partly chosen because they were promotable. To her left, a guy with a camcorder was taking footage of their arrival.
Josh came to stand beside her, and she introduced him to Tony, putting a little extra warmth into the introduction because she was feeling guilty about her behavior in the limo.
"Welcome to Weekend Pass," Tony said as he shook hands with Josh.
"Thanks." Josh returned the handshake and then tucked his hands in his pockets. "I guess we're in the same business as you. Tracy and I are with Innovations, Inc."
Rossi nodded. "I'm aware of that."
"Are you with A-List? Because I don't think we've ever met, and I know most of the A-List people."
Tracy ducked her head to hide a smile. She'd been trying to think of a polite way to find out Tony's role, but good old Josh cut right to the chase.
Tony stiffened. "No, I'm not with A-List. The Walkers hired me to to manage the opening weekend for them."
"Interesting." Josh paused, as if contemplating that fact. "I would have thought A-List would be doing that."
"The agency's handling a few things. They have a couple of their people on-site."
"Who's that?" Tracy asked.
"Evelyn Jacobs and Samantha DeWitt." He spoke the names in a neutral tone, as if to give nothing away. "But I'm overseeing the operation. If you have any problems, it's best to come and see me." He displayed very white teeth in a diplomatic smile. "Not that I expect you to have any problems. You'll both have a great time."
"I'm sure we will." Tracy guessed that Tony wasn't on good terms with Evelyn and Samantha. Tracy didn't blame him. They were a couple of twits. "Anyway, we're thrilled to be here," she said.
"Great." Tony glanced over her shoulder. "Your luggage is onboard, so if you'll both climb in with Mark, he'll take you to your cabin."
Tracy looked over at the little electric cart that now held their luggage. "Aren't we staying in the lodge?"
"That was the original plan," Tony said, "but the Walkers and I decided you and Josh would have more privacy in one of the luxury cabins instead of in a room at the lodge."
Tracy suddenly pictured being all alone in a secluded cabin in the woods sucking her thumb and feeling lonely while Josh Well, she didn't want to think about what Josh would be doing or sucking on. "But we don't need privacy," she said. "A room at the lodge would be fine."
"Just enjoy yourselves," Tony said. "The cabins are the best we have to offer. I like them better than the celebrity suites."
"We appreciate it," Josh said. He took her arm and propelled her across the icy drive to the cart.
"The welcome reception's at seven-thirty, dinner's at eight-thirty," Tony called after them. "There will be a map in your cabin, or call for a cart if you want a ride back here."
"Thanks!" Josh helped Tracy into the cart, which was a good thing because the four-inch heels didn't navigate too well on ice.
"I'm being a pain, right?" she said under her breath.
She wanted to apologize right then for her comments about his weekend plans, but she knew he wouldn't like having her broadcast his business to their driver, so she stayed silent.
Well, as silent as she could be when she was nervous. "It's cold," she said. As if to corroborate that, her breath made clouds in the air.
"It's warmer during the day," Mark said. "And when you're involved in physical activities, you barely notice the cold."
Tracy immediately thought of Josh involved in a physical activityboinking some woman he hadn't met yet. Was that safe? She wondered if he worried about STDs. "It's pretty dark back here." She peered through the shadowy, snow-covered pines and saw lights glowing from windows as they passed cabins spaced fairly far apart.
"Follow the path lights and they'll take you right back to the lodge," Mark said. "Or I can come and get you if you'd rather ride."
Josh settled back in his seat. "I'm sure we can find our way."
Tracy could well imagine why he'd want to learn the route. Then he could navigate it after his rendezvous with some snow bunny. "This looks like bear country," she said.
"It is," Mark said, "but they're hibernating."
"Oh." She tried to think of some other reason that would make walking around after dark a dangerous thing to do. "How about rattlesnakes?"
"They're underground, too," Mark said. "In winter you might see a fox or maybe a snowshoe rabbit. Deer and elk show up now and then. Coyotes are around all year, and the wolves are coming back."
"So you could be walking along this path, and a pack of wolves would suddenly surround you"
"Nope." Mark turned and smiled at her. "Wolves don't attack people. They're magnificent, though, so you'd be lucky if you glimpsed one."
"That's all the more reason to walk the path," Josh said. "Maybe we'd see something exciting."
"Maybe." Tracy suspected Josh would be the one wearing a rut in the path. She'd be the one holed up in the cabin, reading the books she'd packed.
"Trace, you're jiggling your foot."
She stopped immediately. "Sorry." He'd reminded her about it several times during the trip. She'd accidentally kicked him when they were on the airplane.
"You didn't used to jiggle your foot."