Slippery Slope

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Kicker

Kicker – A triangle shaped ramp made from snow, used for jumping. When you hit one right, you get good air.

Kristy poured some more wine into Hilda’s glass and the rest of what was left in the bottle into her own.

“Ahh – thank you!” Hilda said and settled back in the hot tub.

Hilda had surprised her by asking her to hang out. Kristy looked at her over the top of her almost full wine glass.

Without those thick glasses on, the woman was downright attractive. She wondered why she opted for those heavy glasses instead of contact lenses. It was as if she tried to go out of her way to downplay her looks. Surprisingly, a small cluster of blue stars was tattooed across the top of Hilda’s right breast. It didn’t match up. Kristy had a sense that there was a lot more to Hilda than what met the eye.

“I thought you didn’t drink,” Kristy said.

Hilda arched her eyebrow and looked at her through slit eyes, “I don’t when I have to work. I’m off tomorrow, honey.”

Kristy settled back, too, and closed her own eyes for a moment. Her vacation had done wonders for her morale and confidence, despite having to flee the Bahamas for her life. The two days she had spent with Tom in New York were just amazing. But when she told Brent all that happened, she went very light on the details about Tom. In fact, Brent had seemed immediately suspicious and had asked all sorts of questions about him: How did she know that she could trust him? Why did she think that he would help her? The truth was that she simply hadn’t any choice in the matter. By the time she had finished telling Brent her story, their warm reception at the airport was forgotten by both of them. While Brent was relieved that she had escaped unscathed, he was still angry that she had left so suddenly. Kristy could not remember a time that she had kept anything from him, especially not anything about another guy. They always had shared that stuff. But under the circumstances, Kristy had the sense that flaunting her sexual escapade with Tom was definitely not the way to go.

As if sensing of whom she was thinking, Hilda asked, “So what is the deal Brent?”

Kristy opened her eyes, sat up a little, and reached for her wine.

“What do you mean?”

Hilda shook her head and shrugged, sipped a little wine and put her glass back down.

“I’m pretty direct, Kristy.”

“I can tell that,” Kristy replied.

“And I thought that Brent was, too.”

“He is,” she agreed. Usually, she thought to herself.

“Well, I suggested that he and I could enjoy each other’s company and – “

Kristy laughed, “Enjoy each other’s company?”

Hilda blinked blankly, “Yes.”

“You mean have sex. I thought you said you were direct?”

“Of course,” Hilda answered waving her hand dismissively. “Well, I suggested that and then I kissed him.”

“Wait,” Kristy said, “You kissed Brent?”

“Yes,” Hilda said, “Why, what did he say?”

“He said you kissed him.”

“You didn’t believe him?”

“No,” Kristy answered honestly.

“Why not?”

Because I thought you were so uptight that you could make diamonds in your ass, she thought, but said, “I didn’t know you as well then, Hilda. I thought you were…reserved.”

“I am, generally,” Hilda said, “but I like to have sex, too. Anyway, I kissed him and he just pushed away and said he had to go. Hey,” she said sitting up a little higher, “that was after you came in. I thought you ducked out so quickly to be polite. There’s not anything between the two of you, is there?”

“No. We’ve been friends for a long time so we are really close. But nope, nothing,” Kristy held her breath a little, thinking about Christmas Eve and the gift Brent had given her. As a matter of fact, they had never discussed that gift. She hoped she didn’t sound like she was trying to oversell it but she had already faced the truth – she had been lonely and depressed and on the verge of making a big mistake with Brent. Things had worked out for the best.

“You mean you’ve known Brent all these years and nothing has every happened between the two of you?”

“No - never.”

“Why? Don’t you think he’s hot?”

“Yes,” Brent was sexy.

“And smart?”

“Absolutely.”

“Fun?”

“True.”

“Sweet?”

“Totally.”

“But you’ve never wanted to be more than friends with him?”

“No.”

“Why ever not?” Hilda laughed. “I was around him barely a week when I wanted to hit that.”

Kristy didn’t know what to say. Brent was handsome, smart, fun, nice. He was always there for her. They had been friends for almost as long as she could remember. He had supported her relationship with Derrick when everyone else thought she was crazy. That he was still pissed at her was making her so uneasy. Why did she feel like she needed to make it up to him somehow?

“I don’t know. I’ve just never felt about him that way. And he’s never felt that way about me.”

“Hmmm,” Hilda shook her head, “I don’t know about that.”

“About what?”

“Maybe you don’t feel that way about him, but now that I think about it, I’d bet he feels that way about you.”

“Based on what?”

“Based on,” Hilda began to count on her fingers, “You walk in, he turns me down, you skedaddle out of town, he walks around with a sad puppy dog face till you come back, and – Hey!” Hilda snapped her fingers and pointed at her.

“What?”

“Why were you looking for him on Christmas Eve, anyway?”

Kristy felt her face turn hot. Hilda laughed.

“I get it. A friends with benefits thing, huh? But if you’re really not into him, it’s best it didn’t happen.”

Kristy was annoyed that Hilda hit on that when she had just been thinking the same thing. She decided to go on the defensive, “So, do you like him?”

“Sure, Brent’s hot,” Hilda admitted. “But I’m not looking for anything serious and, apparently, he’s the serious type.”

Since Hilda wasn’t going to let it drop, Kristy decided to play it cool.

“You think so?”

“Absolutely,” Hilda drained her glass. “Brent comes off all, ‘Yo, dude. Let’s catch some fresh powder and slick babes.’” Hilda did a spot on Californian accent, but her Southern twang was back in a flash. “You know - ski-bum, typical dog. But you can tell he’s sweet and sensitive. I mean who turns down no-strings sex?”

Hilda shook her head thoughtfully and continued, “It’s too bad for y’all. You’d make a cute couple.” She reached out of the tub for another bottle of wine and unscrewed the top.

Kristy was about to protest about her and Brent making any kind of couple, when she heard the spa door open and close. They could see a figure approaching but it was too dark to see who it was.

“Who’s there?” Hilda called out.

“Derrick!” came the reply.

The two women gave each other an almost panicked look. For the life of her, Kristy couldn’t understand her own reaction, but she certainly couldn’t understand Hilda’s.

The woman fumbled awkwardly for her glasses and stuck them back on her face, then slunk down into the water, crossing her arms primly over her chest. Uptight Hilda had returned.

Derrick walked up and stopped at the edge of the tub across from Kristy.

“Kristy! How are you?” he asked.

Kristy opened and closed her mouth. For a moment she couldn’t think.

“Fine. Okay. How about you?”

“Good – the news about your little adventure is all over town.”

Kristy and Hilda shot each other a look. Kristy shook her head.

“I didn’t realize that.”

“Oh, come on,” Derrick laughed, “You know you can’t tell Asher a thing. He’s like the town crier.”

Kristy laughed too, “You’re right. I didn’t think to tell him to keep it to himself. It’s no big deal, though.”

“Sounded pretty exciting to me,” Hilda said. “Almost like a movie.”

Derrick looked at her like he was just noticing she was there, “That’s not a bad idea, Hilda.” He turned back to Kristy.

“Really, I was looking for Brent. I heard you were here so I figured he’d be with you.”

Beneath the water, Hilda kicked at Kristy with her foot as if to say, “See?”

Kristy made a face at Hilda and then looked back at Derrick.

“I haven’t seen him tonight.”

“Wow,” Derrick replied, “I can’t believe he let you out of his sight. He looked for you for days. He even sicked that psycho detective on me. He was convinced I knew something about you leaving.”

Kristy was stunned. Brent had told her that he had tried to report her as missing but had no idea that he had done that.

“I don’t know what to say Derrick. It had nothing to do with you. I just – I just had to get away for a few days, that’s all.”

Derrick nodded, “That’s what I figured and that’s what I told the both of them, too. I mean you’re a grown woman.”

“So you weren’t worried?” Kristy asked.

“No. I knew you’d be fine. Then again, it turned out you were kidnapped, so I guess I was wrong. Anyway, nice to see you back in one piece – and if you see Brent, let him know I’m looking for him.”

Derrick went to walk away when Kristy stopped him.

“Derrick, why don’t you just text or call him yourself?”

Derrick shrugged, “I’ve tried him about four times today. He’s not responding.” Derrick lingered for a moment, “You know, Kristy, this thing that happened to you – I really may be able to turn it into something. Do you mind talking to me about it?”

“I don’t think so,” she answered. Although in truth, she’d love to throw Tom right in Derrick’s face and give him every detail.

“Too bad. It could be fun. I could even write in some hot romance for you.”

Kristy glared at him.

“Don’t do me any favors, Derrick.”

He shrugged again, “If you change your mind, let me know.” And with that he turned and left.

Kristy gulped down her wine. Ass! Maybe she would tell him all about Tom. It would serve him right. “Write in some hot romance!” He wasn’t half the man that Tom was. Lucky for her she hadn’t been on that island with Derrick – she’d probably be buried in some sand dune right now.

“What was that?” Hilda asked.

“Ugh. Nothing,” Kristy poured herself another generous glass of wine.

Hilda sat up and leaned forward.

“Kristy, what’s going on?”

Kristy rolled her eyes and sat back for a moment. After everything, Derrick could still infuriate her. Even though he was now nothing to her, he knew every button to push.

“Is there something between you and Derrick?” Hilda’s voice was hushed, her eyes huge behind thick glasses that were foggy from the steam.

Kristy climbed out of the tub and wrapped herself in a towel. Hilda scrambled out after her.

“There was,” Kristy told her.

They both took a seat on the low wood bench that ran along the wall. Hilda grabbed a towel and wiped her glasses, then put them back on her face. She stared at Kristy.

“What happened?”

For the first time, Kristy realized she needed to talk about it.

“We had this ‘relationship,’ she explained. “He was living in LA. I was here. I thought it was the greatest thing. When he would come back to town each year, we would hook up, have great sex, talk like best friends.”

“How long did this go on?” Hilda asked.

“Six years.”

Hilda gasped.

Kristy could hardly believe it herself. Six years waiting for someone who didn’t even care about her. “I fell in love with him, Hilda. But I was stupid - I ignored all the signs. He only called me during work hours. I’ve never even been to his place in LA. He never let me touch his phone. Then this year he moves back to town and I find out that he’s married and has two kids.”

Hilda looked completely shocked, “That bastard.”

“I know – but I can’t blame him entirely. I never asked him for any commitment and he never offered any.”

“Are you over him?”

Kristy nodded, “Totally. But things are really weird between us now, as you can see. He actually accused me of trying to run his wife and son off the road. Meanwhile, I happened upon the accident and actually saved them!”

Hilda put her hand to her forehead, “I can’t believe Asher never told me this.”

“I’m surprised to hear that. Derrick’s wife said there was some woman in the road and that’s why she swerved to miss him. Part of the reason that Asher hired you was because someone vandalized the communications tower that same day.”

“I know all that,” Hilda said. “I mean Asher never told me anything about you and Derrick. It’s just surprising to find out this way.”

“I understand,” Kristy said, “Like Derrick said, Asher’s not one to keep a secret. But Derrick is his stepson, remember, so he probably only told you as much as he thought you needed to know from a security standpoint.”

“You’re right, of course, Kristy! I just feel so bad about all of this. I feel so bad for you. What a nightmare. I guess I shouldn’t be so shocked - guys are scum.” Hilda took Kristy’s hands in hers. “I’m here if you need to talk.”

Kristy swallowed hard. “Thank you so much, Hilda. That really means a lot to me.”

Hilda patted her hand, “Let me grab that wine.”

Kristy smiled to herself as Hilda retrieved the bottle. It was actually so nice to have another woman to commiserate with. It seemed she had made a new friend.

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