Friday, April 15, 2016
Blog Tour Stop -Excerpt from: What Happens in the Alps by T.A. Williams
UP IN THE MAGICAL, SNOW-KISSED MOUNTAINS…
Two years ago, Annie Brewer’s life was turned upside down when her adrenaline-junkie husband died in a tragic climbing accident. So she’s hoping that moving to the beautiful village of Santorso in the Italian Alps will finally put her life back on track!
…ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN!
She might be going into business with her oldest friend – notorious lady-charmer Matt Brown – but men are definitely out of the question for Annie! That is, until she bumps into tall, dark and delicious Alessandro Lago on the ski slopes…and spontaneously says ‘Yes’ to a date!
It must be the crisp, mountain air but suddenly, anything seems possible. The only trouble is, chivalrous Matt is looking more gorgeous than ever…
‘Annie, can I ask you something? What about you? Are you all alone or have you got a boyfriend or a husband? You’re very pretty, you know.’
Annie took a deep breath. ‘I used to be married, but my husband was killed in a rock climbing accident.’ She stopped to take another breath and was pleasantly surprised to have been able to speak about Steve’s death in an almost normal voice.
‘Oh, how awful.’ Rita and Paolina exchanged glances. ‘When did it happen? Were you married long?’
So Annie told them the story. And, for once, she managed to tell the whole tale without breaking down. She told them about how she and Steve had first met at an excruciating drinks party at the British Council, how they had got married in a little church near her parents’ home in South Devon, how they had lived so happily together in Turin until that awful day. But, this time, as she told the story, she found she was recounting it factually, almost emotionlessly, almost dispassionately. And, as she told it, her eyes swept out over the snowy slopes, up the valley towards the high Alps. The sun was reflecting off the ice on the rocky summits, sending sparkling rays out in an explosion of light that disappeared into the vastness of the cloudless sky. The powerful and almost terrifying beauty of the scenery reached deep inside her and a sense of unexpected serenity spread throughout her whole body. She suddenly found she was smiling across the table at the two girls. ‘I loved him dearly, you know, and he loved me, but the mountains were in his blood.’
‘How awful for him, and for you.’ Rita was appalled. Annie managed to keep the smile on her face.
‘It was awful, really awful, but what’s done’s done. I can’t bring him back, however much I’d like to.’
‘Oh, Annie.’ Paolina didn’t know what to say.
‘It’s all right, Paolina. Life goes on. It’s taken me two years to realise it, but I know that now.’ And she meant it.
When it was time to leave, they ran into a problem. First Paolina and then Annie went downstairs to the basement area of the restaurant in search of the toilets. They found them all right, but the queue of desperate-looking women waiting to take their turn was so long, it reached halfway back up the stairs. They looked at each other and Paolina shook her head. ‘Looks like a long wait.’ She gave Annie a little smile. ‘And I’m not sure I can last that long.’ Annie felt the same way, so she came up with a pragmatic suggestion.
‘Into the woods?’
Paolina nodded and they climbed back up to break the news to Rita. They left the terrace and went across to where they had left their skis. Once they were all clipped in again, Annie led them off down the slope. She scanned the trees on either side of the piste until she saw a likely spot. A couple of ski tracks ran into the trees along what was probably a path in summer. She slowed, glanced back at the others and pointed, then skied into the trees for ten or twenty metres until they were safely out of sight of anybody on the main piste.
Paolina wasted no time in stepping out of her skis and disappearing behind a bush. The snow was so deep she had trouble walking in it, but such was her desperation, she struggled through it until she reached her objective. Rita kept guard while Annie sidestepped across to a thicket on the other side of the track. Having seen the trouble that Paolina had had, she decided not to unclip her skis. She took a good look round, pulled down her trousers and squatted, praying that nobody would choose that moment to come skiing down the path.
She had just about finished doing what she had come into the trees to do when, to her horror, she saw something charging straight towards her. She just had time to realise that the big black shape was a very friendly Labrador, when the dog reached her. He was clearly delighted to find her down at his level and he put his paws up on her shoulders and set about licking her face. She put up her hands to fend him off, but he was insistent. Unfortunately, the effect of this weight suddenly pressing against her began to push her backwards. She felt herself moving, slowly at first, but gradually gathering speed, and she realised she was sliding backwards towards the main piste. She ran over a clump of some kind of plant, probably heather, covered in snow, and got a frozen, wet bottom as a result. She had ditched her poles so she scrabbled desperately at the passing branches until, mercifully, she managed to get a grip on something solid enough to arrest her descent. She glanced up and around her. The dog had stopped following her and was sitting in the snow, looking on with what could have been a smile on his face. Another six feet and she would have emerged onto the open mountainside, bare bum on display for all to see. As it was, she was still just about hidden and was able to pull up her trousers without being spotted by anybody. Well, almost anybody.
From behind her she heard hoots of laughter as Rita and Paolina followed her trail in the snow. As Annie got to her feet and zipped herself up, her face glowing with embarrassment, Rita handed her her poles, still unable to utter a word, such was her mirth. Behind her, Paolina concentrated on petting the dog, her shoulders shaking as she creased up with laughter.
‘Well, that’s a lesson learnt.’ Annie was conscious that some of the snow, if not the heather, she had run over was still sticking to her under her clothes and she felt it begin to melt. It was an uncomfortable feeling. ‘Always, always, always take your skis off before having a pee.’
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