Lazy eyes, scarred lip and brow, muscled and tattooed, Julia’s high school best friend — the one who made her heart go pitter-patter — had definitely changed in the past five years.
Stuck at an exclusive ski resort with her family, Julia runs into the gorgeous and enticing Scar Wagner who promises to unwind on the boring trip. And when fate forces the couple too close for Julia’s comfort, she can’t help but wonder whether it’s time to give relationships another try.
After all, when things go wrong, they turn out right.
Note: When Things go Wrong is a short prequel to Cheaters Anonymous with a HFN ending intended for mature audience only
★★★★★ “I'm so glad my wife read this book. I love when Amazon asks my opinion about her romance novels since my email is linked to the kindle account. I didn't read it, but I'd guess there was a lot of talking between steamy love scenes. Maybe the guy was a billionaire, or better yet, a bad boy billionaire. This prequel was probably pretty good at filling in the gaps, at least her gaps anyway. So to anybody considering having their wives read this book, I'd suggest going for it, or at least not knowing or tracking what she's reading.” ~ The Mascot Army, Reviewer
When it rains, it pours, right? Looking across the room at the couple who had forced me to come to the ski chalet, I wished for an avalanche.
Mom and her new boy-toy had been going at each other for hours, and I was already counting down the hours until we could leave. Watching the lovebirds cuddling in front of the stone fireplace, I knew I would rather be stuck in a nursing home, changing diapers. I’d expected someone her age to act more appropriately at a romantic lodge for rich families, but I should have known better.
I buried my face in my hands. This isn’t happening to me!
“Jules, stop it,” my older sister, Zoey, hissed. She shot off her chair, and then pulled my arm. “Sit with me.”
I was more than happy to oblige. I hadn’t believed in romance, bubbling champagne, candlelight or chocolate covered strawberries—which my mom seemed to have stuck into Sid the boy toy’s mouth—in years. My hope for a sustainable relationship had been crushed long ago.
I sat down on the swiveling barstool next to Zoey, and looked away as Sid’s hand slid up Mom’s sweater. At least Sid was loaded—or that’s the impression he’d given us for the past eight months while dating my mom. My worries that he was after her money had eased somewhat as time passed, but Sid had to be at least fifteen years younger than her. He had to have an ulterior motive, didn’t he? I mean, mom was a gorgeous woman, but I’d never pictured her dating someone who could pass for her child. Looking at Sid from a distance, I couldn’t really blame her for wanting that piece of art over dad. He was gorgeous, and they’d seemed to hit it off from day one. I couldn’t help but feel a little happy for her. After the shit my dad pulled when I was still in high school, it amazed me that mom had found a way to trust a man again. Me—not so much.
“What are we drinking?” Zoey asked as she drummed her fingers on the bar.
She rolled her eyes before ordering a gin and tonic with a twist of lime.
What’s wrong with hot chocolate? “With Frangelico liquor, please,” I added.
She rolled her eyes again. “Don’t go overboard, Jules.”
Staying at the exclusive resort hadn’t been bad. If it weren’t for the dweeb who’d had too much beer and relieved himself outside my window last night, or the party family down the hall who had played music until two in the morning, maybe I wouldn’t be in such a rush to leave. I’d gone skiing with Zoey the first two days, and while it was fun, my sister preferred to spend her time in the pool, which only left me the option of secretly hitting the books I had stashed in my suitcase. Studying medicine didn’t leave me much time for breaks. Two more years in medical school and I could begin my residency and be on the way to becoming an ER doctor
Across the room, the lovebirds—Mom the Cougar and Sid the Man-Candy—were at it like a couple of horny teenagers again. I turned away as the bartender passed me a steamy mug of hot chocolate. The glow of the stone fireplace had been flickering since this morning, but no matter how close I sat to it, I was still cold. With the fresh cocoa in my hands, maybe I’d finally warm up.
The slopes would be closing in a half-hour, and the night-skiers would flock to the bar the same way they had each evening. Not that I knew who hung out here after nine; I’d been in bed by then, every night since we’d arrived.
“We need to make the best of it. I think Sid’s gonna propose,” Zoey said.
I couldn’t wait to see Sid’s reaction when Mom rejected him. I knew there was no way she was ready for that kind of commitment. The ex-Mrs. Blakely usually didn’t last as long as she had with Sid. She switched her boyfriends like underwear. But Mom liked to go commando, so that was not a good example either.
“Don’t you think I wish I was back home?” she asked. “At least you’re single and can hook up with anyone you want.”
How did a one week relationship make her not single, and more importantly, so blind? It’d been nine days since Zoey met her current boyfriend, and she was acting like they were in a committed union. My sister was flying somewhere up on cloud nine with all the other romantics.
“Even if he’s gonna propose, why with us here?” I growled. “It’s not like I don’t have anything better to do.” I wanted to slap her silly, so she would wake up and see that Mom was a good example of what happened to couples, but Zoey had blinders over her eyes. Maybe that was a good thing. Maybe being unaware of the trouble relationships would ultimately cause was better than accusing men of every human failure possible.
How could I make my sister understand the merits of being a med-school student when she chose to study dance? She’d spent as many hours stretching and twirling as I had spent with my nose in the books. Though she had reached a level of flexibility I’d never be able to accomplish, it was definitely not brain surgery. Not that I was studying the human mind, but becoming an ER doctor came with sacrificing countless social hours.
“You can put your nose back in your books on Tuesday, Jules. In the meantime, try to enjoy. Mom says it’s getting serious with Sid. Will you show some support for once?”
Sure, throw me under the guilt bus. As if it was my fault that every dweeb Mom dated crushed her.
I looked over to where she sat on Sid’s lap playing tonsil hockey.
“That’s wrong on so many levels,” I muttered, my urge to break them up returning. So far, they had withstood my attempts. After each, I’d felt remorse for about two seconds, and then Sid would look at another woman in a way I knew mom would not appreciate. I knew he would cheat eventually, and I didn’t want mom hurt again. “He’s going to break her heart.”
“Let it be. After what she’s been through with Dad, she deserves to have fun.”
As if on my sister’s cue, the happy couple got up from their seat, and hand-in-hand, left the lounge. Sid adjusted his zipper over the strain in his pants as they headed for their room.
“So do you, Zoey. Why tie yourself down?” I asked.
“I can have fun without Mike here.” She took a longer sip of her drink as if trying to make a point.
“Fun my ass.” I chuckled. “You barely know him and act like you’re married.”
If I knew my sister as well as I thought I did, it would only take a cute smile, a couple of dimples, and two minutes of flirting with the right guy, and she would move on to her next victim. She was another perfect example of why I did not date.
“Oh, Jules. One day you’ll meet someone worthy of your time and effort.”
“Yeah, and that will be about the same time as never.”
“I gotta go to the bathroom and maybe take a dip in the pool. I’ll see you in the morning?”
Yup, that was Zoey’s code for “I’m bored and need to find someone more interesting.”
As I took the first sip of my cocoa, the lounge doors swung open. Pushing each other playfully, three men rushed in like a bunch of adolescents, still wearing their snowboarding suits. At least they were easy on the eyes, and somewhat looked familiar. Zoey should have stayed. The tallest one threw his gloves to the shorter one who made his way across the lounge as if he was going for a football pass.
I ducked as the glove whizzed right over my head.
The one who still wore his goggles, removed his gloves, and got ready for his turn to pass.
I recognized his distinct skull and crossbones jacket as the one I had seen yesterday on the jerk who’d cut me off on the slopes. He was the same ass-wipe who’d decided to write his name in the snow outside my window last night—and hadn't even done a good job at it.
He went back for his pass, aiming his mitt toward his buddy. Unfortunately his throw landed right in my mug.
My hot chocolate turned into a brown stain on my brand new sweater. “Are you nuts?” I screamed. And then the heat of the steaming liquid hit me. “Shit!” I shot off the chair as if a fire had started underneath me. The burn was slow at first, but when it soaked through to my skin, I wished for a tub filled with ice. Focused on the front door, I ran through the lounge and out the door where the cold air slammed into me.
“Are you okay?” a male voice said from behind me.
“It’s hot!” The searing heat was all I could think about until the stranger yanked my white sweater over my head. It stuck on my earrings halfway through, and then I couldn’t see anything. “You’re gonna rip my earlobes off!”
The man swore under his breath and continued manhandling my sweater and me.
Could anything else go wrong tonight? As I was about to start crying from the pain, something cold touched the top of my cleavage, and for the first time since the cocoa spilled, I breathed out in relief.
“I can’t see anything,” I said, trying to get the sweater off an earring.
“Yes, I know. I’m so sorry about this. Hold on. Let me help you.”
His voice was soothing and familiar, but I couldn’t place it. He rubbed snow over my cleavage and where it melted on my skin, it dripped down the valley between my boobs.
Fumbling with my other earring, he finally freed it and gently removed the sweater from my head.
I recognized his bright blue jacket and wanted to roll my eyes, but his dark-hazel eyes distracted me.
“Sorry, Sweets,” he said, meeting my gaze for the first time. He squinted and cocked his head to the side. “Jules?” he asked.
“Scar?” And that fast, all the hate I had for him, and all the obscenities I’d wanted to yell at him, vanished.