Home > A Little Too Close (Madigan Mountain)

A Little Too Close (Madigan Mountain)
Author: Rebecca Yarros

 

PROLOGUE

 

 

Weston

 

* * *

 

January in Upstate New York meant snow, and lots of it. Last night had dumped about three feet, but the skies were crystal blue this morning and perfect for flying over Fort Drum. I didn’t even mind the time it had taken to shovel out before driving out to the flight line, not when I’d spent most of this year on a rotation in the sandbox. I’d take snow over sand any day.

The below-zero temps were something I could live without, though.

I shouldered my helmet bag and walked into the 1-10 hangar, waving at a couple guys on their way out.

“Hey, Madigan,” one of the crew chiefs said as I climbed the stairs toward the locker room. “Harris is looking for you.”

“Thanks.” I gave him the nod and headed to the second floor, looking out over the birds we’d hangered yesterday before the storm.

I pushed through the door into the locker room, narrowly missing Carlson—another pilot—as he reached for the handle. “Shit, my bad.”

“No problem.” He caught the door. “Pretty sure Harris is looking for you.”

“I heard something about that. Thanks.” I headed for my locker.

“I think the promotion list might be out.” He lifted his brows at me and backed through the door, letting it swing shut.

My stomach twisted into knots as I put my gear away and got ready for the day. If the promotion list was out…

Don’t go there.

I wasn’t even in the zone for promotion yet, but getting picked up below the zone would be absolutely mind-blowing. It would also mean I’d have to sign on Uncle Sam’s dotted line for another two years after pinning the new rank.

But if Harris was looking for me—

My cell phone rang in my pocket, and I swiped to answer it before I looked at the caller ID.

“Hello?” I wedged the phone between my ear and shoulder as I hung up my coat on the metal hook.

“West?” Reed’s voice brought me up short.

Not looking at the screen had been a mistake. I wasn’t in the mood for anything my older brother had to say, not that I ever was.

“What’s wrong?” I asked. If something had gone sideways with Crew, our little brother, I would have heard from him directly, which only left Dad.

I wasn’t exactly sweating bullets over a guy who didn’t give a shit about me or either of my brothers. His one and only love was the little Colorado ski resort that had been passed down through our family.

“Why does something have to be wrong?” Reed countered.

“Because you’re calling at six a.m. your time.”

“Actually”—there was a tone in his voice I recognized, the nice one he only used when he had shitty news to deliver—“it’s seven o’clock.”

I glanced at my watch to make sure I had the time right, and my brow furrowed. Then it hit me. “You’re still in Colorado.” Guess he’d stayed after all.

Good for him, but no-fucking-thank you.

“Yeah.” He took a breath, as if summoning the courage for something. “Still working on the new lift and the condos and everything I sent that email to you and Crew about last month.”

“Right. Good for you.” I shut the metal door of my locker. “Look, unless there’s something you need, I’m scheduled to fly—”

“Just let me get this out,” he blurted.

I paused. Reed was flustered. Reed never got flustered. He was Mister Cool, Calm, and Collected at all times. Fuck, the guy hadn’t even batted an eye when he’d left Crew and me to fend for ourselves after Mom died and Dad had disappeared into a bottle.

Reed had gone back to college and lived his perfect little ski racer life until a torn ACL had forced him to pivot to getting his MBA at Stanford.

And me? I’d paused my dream of big mountain skiing to help Mom when she first got sick, and then gave it up completely when she died my junior year, leaving a gaping chasm in our lives. Leaving for college? That was a luxury only Reed could afford. Someone had to be the adult around the house, and as much as Reed loved pretending it had been him, swooping in on his college breaks to play savior, it hadn’t. It had been me, and only me, until I’d kept the promise I’d made to Mom and gotten Crew through high school. Only then had I given myself the permission to dream again, and eleven years later, I’d clawed my way through night and online courses for college and was living that dream as a helicopter pilot for the army.

“I’m waiting,” I said, my grip tightening on the phone. To say that Reed and I didn’t have the best relationship would have been the understatement of the century. I loved him, but I also really fucking loathed the load he’d left me to carry.

“We need a way to bring in high-end clientele while we’re building the condo development. A new income stream since we’re spending some major dollars right now.”

“Not my problem. You’re the one that decided to go back and work with Dad. Not me.” I sighed and rubbed the bridge of my nose, telling myself I shouldn’t care as I fought the pang in my heart that told me I most definitely did.

“I know that,” he ground out. “And Dad is never around. It’s just me and Ava running this.”

“Aren’t you supposed to have that fancy new lift open by November?” That was the typical opening month for Madigan Mountain.

“So you do read my emails. You just don’t respond to them.”

“Get to the point, Reed. My job doesn’t take kindly to being late.” It was one of the reasons I loved the army. I thrived on order and discipline.

“Okay. I’d like Madigan to start up its own heli-skiing operation. It would take the resort to an entirely new level, which is what we’re looking to do with the expansion.”

I sucked in a sharp breath, the possibilities whirring through my mind with the force of a hurricane. The higher peaks and ridges just behind the resort were perfect for that kind of operation. Nothing compared to Telluride or even Steamboat, but we could hold our own.

Not we. They.

“There’s only one guy I can think of who knows the backcountry around here like it’s his personal playground and already happens to know how to fly a helicopter.”

Silence stretched between us as I forced air through my lungs. There was no way he was asking this of me. No. Fucking. Way.

“West?”

“Ask someone else.” The door to the locker room opened, and I turned to see Theo Harris, my oldest friend and senior pilot, walk in, wearing a shit-eating grin on his face and waving a piece of paper in his hand.

“I don’t want to ask someone else.” Reed’s tone took on a desperate edge. “You’re family. This is our family’s business, Weston. Our family’s resort. Our family’s—”

“I swear to God, if you say legacy, I’m going to hang up.” I clenched my jaw.

Theo’s dark brows lifted skyward, and he lowered the paper.

Reed sighed. “You’d have full control of your own operation. You’d just operate under the Madigan logo.”

This wasn’t happening. It wasn’t. But as long he just wanted and didn’t need, then I could turn him down. There were plenty of other pilots he could hire. Plenty of guides too. Just none that could do both sides of it like me. I can’t seriously be contemplating this.

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