Brad’s Search : Part 11


I open my eyes as the sun peeks through the curtains. I look to my left - no ice cube. I guess my warmth was enough for her.

I hear a knock at the door.

Apparently my warmth was enough for both of us. As I get out of bed to answer the door, I glance down; I’m not wearing any underwear.

I notice Kelly has stirred awake from the knock. “Kelly, what happened to my underwear?”

Kelly looks down at me and tries to stifle her laughter. “I have no idea. You must have taken them off during the night.”

From behind the door, I hear “Open up, lovebirds.” It was Gary.

I look down and see my pajamas and underwear on the floor. I grab my underwear, pull it on frantically, then scamper to the door. I open the door to Gary with a huge grin on his face.

He looks me up and down. “I hope I’m interrupting something.”

“Good morning to you, too,” I say sarcastically. “And you weren’t.”

“I brought you coffee.”

Gary hands me two piping hot coffees. “I hope you like cream and sugar, Kelly.”

“I sure do. Thanks, Gary.”

I walk to the bed and hand Kelly her coffee. “Gary, you can come in.” I sit at the foot of the bed and take a few quick sips of my coffee. It’s a bit too hot to drink.

“Harry talked with Julia earlier this morning. She and her pack are on the way here and should be here in an hour or so. And good news, Kelly. Julia mentioned that she’s bringing an extra snowboard that you can borrow.”

I noticed Kelly’s nervous expression. I reassured her, “Don’t worry. I’m a bit rusty so we’ll both go easy.”

“Anyway, there’s great breakfast downstairs. You two lovebirds hurry up and get dressed. We’ll meet you downstairs in about twenty.”

“Sounds good; we’ll be right down.”

Gary turns around and leaves the room.

“Kelly, do you want to shower first, or-”

“-Just go ahead. I want to check on a few things first.”

* * * * *

I wrap up my shower and free up the bathroom for Kelly. Unlike her, I don’t have much to check up on. Everyone important to me is all under the same roof - well, everyone important to me that’s still living. I open up the curtains a bit and look outside. We have a great view of Crystal Mountain, where we’ll be skiing and snowboarding. I sit and just take it all in.

Kelly emerges from the bathroom with a “Ready to go?” I hop up, open the door for her, and we head downstairs.

Everyone else is downstairs waiting for us. I notice a new member in our group.

“Brad, I want you to meet Julia.”

“Julia, hi, nice to meet you. I’ve heard lots of great things about you from Harry.”

“Likewise. It’s great to meet you, too, Brad.”

“And this is Kelly. She’s my, er-”

Everyone looks at me and it’s silent for a few seconds.

“-Girlfriend.”

Kelly and Julia shake hands and exchange greetings. We stand around for a few seconds until Gary breaks the silence. “We should grab something to eat. Julia, would you like to join us?”

“The girls and I ate before driving here, so I’m going to go up and unpack with them. But we should be ready to go when you’re done. How about we meet you downstairs then?”

“Sure, we’ll see you then.”

Gary, Harry, Gina, Kelly, Mom, and myself head inside the restaurant for breakfast. They have a pretty big selection: the usual eggs, bacon, pancakes, and waffles. But they also have something I’m surprised I had never seen before for breakfast, given how much I like it: salmon.

We all fill up our plates and go to sit down. I place my plate on the table, but Harry stops me. He whispers so quietly I could hardly hear him. “I don’t think you should sit there.” I glance up and see Stan sitting at a nearby table. “I don’t think I should sit there, either. Thanks for the warning.”

“Well, at least now we know he’s not alone.”

“I don’t really care if he’s alone or not; I don’t want him here period.”

Sharon interrupts our private conversation. “What are you boys talking about?”

Harry nonchalantly covers for me. “What we’re going to do after breakfast. Gary and I are skiing with Julia, and Brad’s going to go snowboarding with Kelly.”

“What about you, Mom?”

“I was chatting with the concierge this morning; he is such a doll. He told me that there is a nearby gondola that goes up Mount Rainier. I told Gina about it and she wants to go do that with me.”

“I’m also a freelance photographer, and I want to see what kind of shots I can get of the mountain.”

Gary wraps his arm around his girlfriend and snuggles her tightly. “Are you sure you’re going to be OK, baby? I don’t want you to freeze out there.”

“You can borrow Brad; he kept me pretty warm through the night.”

I tried hard not to either spit out or choke on my salmon.

* * * * *

The rest of breakfast goes without much more incident. As we get up to leave, I notice Stan’s gone - that’s a relief. We meet with Julia in the lobby and figure out driving arrangements. Julia will meet Gary, Harry, Kelly, and myself at Crystal Mountain. Gina and Mom will ride with one of Julia’s friends to Rainier. We head upstairs to gather all of the equipment and then drive off.

Kelly and I are in the back seat. Gary’s driving, and Harry sits next to him. Harry turns and looks at Kelly. “You sure you’re not nervous about snowboarding?”

“I think I’ll be fine. Is there anything I should be worried about?”

“Where we’re going, it won’t be too crazy. You may fall a few times until you get the hang of it, but you have a great instructor. He’ll do everything he can to make sure you don’t bruise those kissable lips.”

Gary gives Harry a slap on the knee. “Hush.”

We pull into the parking lot and gather all of our gear. Julia gets there with a couple of her friends a few minutes later, and we all head up the lift.

I sit next to Kelly; she’s shivering a bit, but I think it’s more from the cold than the nervousness. I wrap my arms around her to keep her warm.

“Thanks, my grizzly otter.”

We reach the point where Kelly and I disembark. “Have fun, lovebirds. We’ll meet in the parking lot in around an hour?”

“Sounds good, guys. Stay safe.”

“You too.”

I don my snowboard and show Kelly the basics: getting going, making turns, and stopping. She puts hers on and follows my lead. “You’re picking this up really quickly.”

“Thanks.”

I teach her a few more tricks, and then we really get going down the mountain.