Excerpt from Descent (A Stone Mountain Mystery Book 1)
Day One: November 28th
Death swept up the mountain and across the frigid snow, giving no warning, no threatening growl, just spreading tendrils, searching for a victim while Stone Mountain Resort buzzed with energy, unaware of the impending doom.
Kalin Thompson gunned the engine of her snowmobile, forced its skis over a mogul, and sped toward the summit of the Alpine Tracks run. The Holden ski team owned the race course for next twenty minutes, and when the local team finished, Kalin planned to ski the gates, just for one run, just for the adrenaline rush.
Her sled hit a patch of ice and slid toward a chairlift tower. She gripped the handlebar and leaned left, edging around the structure, brushing the metal side with her ski pants. Damaging equipment five days into being the director of security at the resort would not impress her boss. She regained control and drove toward the summit. Exhilarated by the ride, she skidded to a stop beside Ben Timlin and let out a whoop.
Giving her a wink that could seduce even the coldest of hearts, Ben said, “Enjoying yourself?”
Kalin glanced around and checked no one was looking in their direction. She leaned over the handlebar, their ski helmets thudded, and she kissed Ben. “I am now.”
At the starting gates, a super-G racer sliced his skis backward and forward, leaning hard on his poles in an aggressive stance, anticipating the signal to launch onto the course. Frozen breath exploded from his lungs as he waited for the skier ahead of him to clear the course.
Kalin undid her helmet’s strap and pulled her neck tube over her chin. “How’s the training going?”
“Not great. I’m surprised Coach Jenkinson hasn’t cancelled the session.”
“More than half the racers either slid off the course or fell. One sprained his ankle.”
“Yup, the course is a skating rink.”
Stone Mountain’s one hundred and fifty-six-person chairlift covered five meters per second from the bottom of the Alpine Tracks ski run to the summit, and the lift clanged around the unloading station, dropping skiers and their gear several meters from where Ben and Kalin waited. Kalin counted the last of the team members arriving at the summit. Six skiers still had runs to conquer before she could ski.
Only razor-thin ski suits protected the racers from the elements. Kalin blinked, and her eyelashes frosted together. She pinched her lashes between her index finger and thumb, melting the ice. Was Ben cold too? She laughed at herself for worrying about her boyfriend. His high-tech ski patrol jacket, filled with first aid and safety gear, protected him more than adequately from the sub-zero temperature.
Ben nudged the skis strapped to the back of Kalin’s snowmobile.
“You can’t ski today.”
“Is that a dare?”
“The racers are having a hard time. It’s too dangerous.”
Listening to advice about being cautious was not Kalin’s strongest asset, but Ben’s expression told her she couldn’t win this one. Still, if no more racers fell, she’d try to talk him into going.
The signal blasted, and the racer between the gates shot his legs backward, his head and shoulders forward, and burst over the start line. He tucked his curved poles around his sides, bent his knees and rounded the first gate. His elbow whacked the second gate, but he kept his balance. He picked up speed, skirted the third gate, and the timing screen showed he clocked ninety-four kilometers per hour. His edges cut the ice and held firm.