AFTER THE SNOW MELTS
He’s got to find a way to tell his best friend that he wants him—or lose him forever.
Rich, popular, and gorgeous Bryan Deschamps pines from afar for his best friend. He loathes the idea of helping Elliot score a date for the snow dance. With his time running out, Bryan must find a way to capture his buddy’s attention—and that means boldly leaving an anonymous card in his main man’s locker.
Grateful for Bryan’s friendship ever since he moved from his Ojibway community to Thunder Bay to attend high school, Elliot Wasacase can’t disclose his true feelings, or he’ll lose the one true friend he has. Upon discovering an unsigned card in his locker from an admiring dude, he’s terrified someone knows his secret but suspects the person might be Bryan.
When Bryan’s car breaks down, stranding them on top of the mountain during a snowstorm, the two must either take a leap of faith or let fear and clashing beliefs cost them what they truly desire.
“Envelope?” Elliot also spoke while scarfing back the last of his fries.
Bryan swallowed. “Yeah. I saw you putting it in your jacket.” He used the fry he held to point at Elliot’s breast pocket. “I was on my way downstairs.”
The collar of Elliot’s coat hid part of his face, but his broad nose held a hint of red. “That. Um. Yeah. Uh…”
“Was it from Raquel?”
“I see. Well, who was it from?”
“I dunno. Maybe it’d help if I knew who dedicated the song.” Elliot lifted his head. There was a dollop of accusation in his tone. He met Bryan’s gaze with a searching stare.
The food Bryan had packed away gurgled in his stomach. He grabbed the napkin and wiped his mouth. His salty tongue and dry throat begged for moisture. He lifted the cola from the cup holder, his focus never leaving Elliot’s intense look.
Something crackled between them—a tinge of tension that had been building from the moment they’d met in gym class during the first semester, both assessing one another up and down, panting after a game of basketball while sweat had glistened on their skins. The same heat from that moment coated Bryan’s flesh.
It didn’t matter the temperature was quickly dropping. Nothing could dispel the warmth flowing through his blood. His beating heart seemed to sit in his throat. “Maybe you should ask.”
The fire in Elliot’s eyes flickered out. “Ask who?”
“Ask whoever you think sent the card.”
“Uh…” Elliot shifted and glanced away. He crumbled up his food containers and stuffed them inside the bag. “I can’t ask. I’d look like a total tool asking everyone at school if they sent me a card.”
“But you have an idea who sent it, don’t you?”
The familiar shade of pink claimed Elliot’s cheeks. “Um… no.” He threw open the door. “I need a dart.”
Bryan also got out, since he couldn’t smoke in the car because Dad always did his sniff check. He headed to the wooden railing where Elliot had left his boot prints in the ankle-length snow. Even the spruce trees were weighed down with white.
The sky wasn’t visible because of the storm. The flakes were harsh smacks of ice on Bryan’s face. He reached inside his jacket for his own pack of cigarettes, keeping his head ducked and hood up to ward off the chill of the wind.
“Well?” he asked while sliding the cigarette between his lips. He kept his back to the fierce snowfall.
Elliot moved beside him, also turning his back on the storm. “Well what?”
“Who do you think sent you the cards? Dedicated the song to you?” Bryan was walking on a tightrope, but considering he’d never gotten a sucker punch to the face or heard Elliot sneer at the tokens of admiration, it was apparent he didn’t mind that a dude was digging on him.
“You keep bugging me about this. Never let up.” Elliot’s voice shook. “I… I…”
“I never heard you listen to a ballad before.” To quell his shaking insides, Bryan took a drag off the cigarette. The nicotine did its job and slowed the fierce rapids of angry white water his blood had become thundering through his veins.
“I… I… I think it’s you.” Elliot’s words came out slow and soft.
The blood slowed to a halt. Finally, what Bryan had begged for, wished for, prayed for, was in the open—and it was up to him to respond.
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