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Snowed In with the Player
Author: Rebecca Jenshak

 


For my favorite twins.

 

 

Stella and I sing along with the holiday tunes as I make the last turn down the snowy street that leads to the cabin. Snow! It’s quite the change of scenery from when we left Valley University, only three hours ago. The sun had been shining and we were sweating by the time we loaded up our Jeep for the holiday break. But here, it looks and feels like winter. I love it.

“I can’t wait to sleep in tomorrow.” My twin sister rolls the window down, letting in the blistery cold air. “We survived our first semester of college!”

“Yeah, we did.” The smell of pine trees and brisk air fills the vehicle, and we breathe it in with matching smiles.

“This was a great idea. We can snowboard, ski, snowshoe, and—”

I cut in to add, “Read by the fireplace, bake cookies, watch movies.”

Stella laughs. “We’ll do all of it. It’s going to be amazing.” She rolls the window back up. “Have you heard from Felix?”

“No. I texted him before we left, but no response. Are we terrible for ditching him for the cabin this weekend?”

“Are you kidding? He probably has plans to throw a party at the house every night until Mom and Dad are back.”

I nod my agreement, but I still feel a stab of guilt.

Our parents are in Cabo until Christmas Eve, taking a much-deserved vacation. They’ve been saying they were going to take one for years, and they finally did it.

It’s weird not rushing home to do all the usual holiday festivities, though. I look forward to it all year—making sugar cookies and decorating them, watching all our favorite holiday movies, and just lounging around and enjoying my family.

Stella and I decided that since Mom and Dad are gone, we’d spend the weekend at our family’s cabin in Flagstaff, unwinding after the long semester before going home. She likes to ski. I like to sit by the fire and read. It’s going to be so much fun. Different, but fun.

Our brother Felix goes to Valley U too, but he finished with classes a day earlier than us and headed home to Scottsdale to housesit while Mom and Dad are gone. And Stella is right. He’s probably stocking the fridge right now and preparing to throw a party.

We’re quiet as we pass the ski resort. The parking lot is packed, and people walk to and from the front with skis and snowboards, dressed in warm layers.

“Ah, it just got real.” Stella bounces in her seat, sending her ponytail swinging around her shoulders. “Tomorrow we should sleep in and then go up to the ski resort and buy passes for the weekend before they sell out.”

“I don’t know if I’m going to be doing that much skiing. I should probably stick to ice skating and snowshoeing.”

“I’ll go on the bunny hill with you until you get the hang of it again.” Her excitement is contagious.

“Deal.”

As the cabin finally comes into view, a familiar orange vehicle catches my eye.

“Uhhh. Are you seeing what I’m seeing?” I ask as I pull the Jeep to a stop behind Felix’s Corvette.

“What is he doing here?” Stella gapes at our brother, standing on the porch of our grandparents’ vacation cabin and wearing a Santa hat but no shirt.

“Freezing to death, from the looks of it.”

He isn’t alone. A group of people fill the small front porch. A couple I recognize as his football teammates, but the others I’ve never seen before. Knowing Felix, he’s already made friends with the neighbors in the short amount of time he’s been here. My brother can and will talk with everyone he meets. And he knows how to throw a party, so people tend to flock to him.

I kill the engine, and the holiday music we’d been listening to on our drive up from Valley U. The mood has officially deflated.

Stella hops out first, and with a grin that’s half annoyed and half pleasantly surprised, shouts, “What the hell, Felix?”

She slams the door behind her and marches toward the cabin. People stare at her as she approaches. I slink down in my seat.

Felix looks surprised, but still smiles, even as Stella continues to shriek at him. His response back is muffled. They hug, but I can tell Stella is still worked up by the way she waves her hands around as she speaks.

Felix walks back to the car with her. I roll down my window and the cold air bristles against my face.

“Holly!” My brother greets me. His eyes are glossy, and he smells like he’s been drinking for the better part of the day. “I can’t believe you two are here.”

“Same. I thought you were taking care of the house for Mom and Dad while they’re in Cabo?”

“I am.”

I get out of the car, and he pulls me into a big hug, squeezing me and lifting my feet off the ground.

“Funny. It doesn’t look like you’re in Scottsdale.”

He ruffles my hair, which he knows I hate. “I’ve got it under control. Don’t worry.”

“Well, that just makes me more worried.” I scan his bare torso. “You’re missing a shirt.”

“Spilled beer on it.” Laughing, he looks from me to Stella and back again. “Why didn’t you two tell me you were coming?”

“We texted you this morning after we were done with classes,” Stella says.

“I was already here. We came up last night.” He pats his front and back jeans pockets. “I have no idea where I left my phone.”

“Typical,” I tease.

He pulls me in for another hug. “This is rad. We can all hang out. How long are you staying?”

“Just the weekend. There is a good chance of snow. We thought we’d ski and hang out for a few days before going home.” An excited smile tips up the corners of Stella’s lips.

“And we thought the party would be at Mom and Dad’s, since you’re supposed to be housesitting,” I chime in. “We can’t all stay here. There isn’t enough room.”

“Sure, there is.” My brother waves off my concern.

It’s a rustic, two-bedroom cabin that’s been in our family for three generations. Our great-grandparents bought the land when there was nothing else around. They built a summer getaway house to escape the brutal temperatures in June and July. The temperatures in northern Arizona are way cooler than just a few hours south, and this is where they’d come on weekends or time off from work.

That was before someone decided to build a ski resort half a mile away. It made the property worth a lot more, but it also meant that a dozen more cabins popped up all around. Most are rentals or vacation homes, but there are a few people that live here year-round.

We came here a lot as kids during the summer. And as we’ve gotten older, Felix, Stella, and I like to come up here in the winter with friends to ski or just hang out. During the winter break, it’s packed with high school and college students. But it’s been a few years since we’ve all been here together.

“Where are we all going to sleep?”

“We’ll figure it out.” Felix throws an arm around each of our shoulders. “Come meet some people.”

Laughing, I shrug out of his hold. “I’ll be right there. I’m just gonna grab some of our stuff.”

Stella goes with Felix, and I walk behind the Jeep to get our things. I know my sister well enough to know she won’t want to change our plans for the weekend, even if it means sharing the small cabin with our brother and his friends.

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