BREATHE DEEP . . . AND JUMP IN
At the ends of the earth, Patagonia is a land where ambition trumps reason and the savage summit of La Aguja lures the most determined climbers. It’s also the last spot a “play-it-safe girl” like Auden Woods expects to find herself. But she’ll lace up her brand-new hiking boots and do whatever it takes to secure a dream job at an adventure magazine . . . even if it kills her. And it just might. When disaster strikes, her only chance at survival comes in the form of the surliest, sexiest mountaineer ever to come out of Scotland.
After a climbing accident cost him his brother, professional mountaineer Rhys MacAskill is at the end of his rope. Redemption is not in his future. That is, until a terrifying storm blows a budding journalist into his tent and it’s up to him to make sure they both survive until morning. Despite the demons weighing on him, Rhys can’t resist the temptation of the charming American and one wild night just isn’t enough.
I clear my throat and project my voice into a shouty rasp. “Sorry. I don’t mean to bother you, but—”
“What do you want?” A guy—not a very happy one by the sound of it—growls from inside.
“Sorry?” I bend closer to the nylon to hear above the deluge.
“What. Do. You. Want?”
My unwilling savior has a testy accent and a worse attitude. British maybe? No one does disdain like the English. Under normal circumstances, I’d swoon. I’m such a sucker for Mr. Darcy fantasies, but this isn’t Pemberley. It’s the Patagonian wilderness.
I lurch backward and trip over a tent peg. The flashlight slips from my grasp and hits the ground, shining on a coiled rope topped by a helmet. A mountaineer. Wonderful. He’s not exactly going to roll out the welcome mat for my inept ass, and I’m the type of girl who hates asking for help carrying groceries to the car. But what’s the alternative? Hypothermic death in a bog?
The tent unzips. My thoughts are jumbled, but there’s enough common sense left remaining to not fall to my knees and praise Jesus, Mary, and all the angels.
The diffuse light reveals the guy inside rising to his knees. Too dark to make out a face, especially when his headlamp burns my retinas. He seems very big, very shirtless, and very alone.
My nails cut into my palms, but no feeling remains in my hands. This damsel-in-distress business sucks. “My tent, see. It’s short a pole, and I can’t set it up. Can I…? Can I…?” Out with it, like ripping off a bandage. Strange my mouth can be so dry when the rest of me is drenched. I have to get inside that tent. “May I come in? Please. I don’t know what else to do.” I have nothing left to say. My social skills toolbox is empty.
A few seconds tick by. “Can’t leave you out there.” He sounds disappointed by the fact. “Come in, then, but those muddy boots stay in the vestibule.”
I step forward unsteadily, half wishing I could see him better, get a good look at the situation, and half not caring. At least I’m going to have shelter, and surviving is worth dealing with the uncomfortable situation. As I bend to unlace my boots, the glow from his headlamp reveals carved abs and low-slung pants barely hanging on to narrow hips. My throat constricts. Looks like tonight will be spent between a rock and a hard place.
About Lia Riley
A British literature fanatic at heart, Lia considers Mr. Darcy and Edward Rochester as her fictional boyfriends. Her very patient husband doesn’t mind. Much. When not torturing heroes (because c’mon, who doesn’t love a good tortured hero?), Lia herds unruly chickens, camps, beach combs, daydreams about future books, wades through a mile-high TBR pile and schemes yet another trip. Right now, Icelandic hot springs and Scottish castles sound mighty fine.
She and her family live mostly in Northern California.