One Perfect Night - Bella Andre Page 0,1

had time to do anything but smile back, Mia had grabbed her hand and they went running across the playground, off on the first of what would be hundreds of adventures together over the years.

"Oooh, look at that," Mia said as she pointed at a tall, broad-shouldered guy skiing down the mountain. "I wouldn’t mind getting cozy by the fire with him later."

"What part of our girls’ weekend do you think he’d like better?" Colbie teased. "The manicure or the hair-highlighting session? Or maybe he would be up for trying the new no-mess waxing kit Janet brought."

For the past five years, on the first weekend in February, Colbie and her three closest friends met somewhere in the U.S. This year, they’d rented a house in Lake Tahoe, California, for their girls-only weekend. There was only one hard and fast rule: no men were allowed, not even hot hookups.

"If he likes any of those things," Mia said with a grimace, "I’m out. Besides, he probably wouldn’t want to sit around admiring engagement rings, either."

Their friends Janet and Ellen both were wearing new engagement rings and if Colbie was anything but happy for them, she refused to admit it to herself. Just because she’d caught her last boyfriend locked in the missionary position with the woman he’d sworn was "just a good friend from work" on New Year’s Eve, didn’t give her license to spill sour milk all over her friends’ happiness.

"You could have told them about Rob and what a scumbag he turned out to be, you know."

Only Mia knew what had happened with Colbie’s ex-boyfriend. "I didn’t want our celebration to turn into a pity party." She worked to shake away the image of her ex in bed with another woman. "Besides, I refuse to let him ruin my vacation in one of the most beautiful places in the world." Especially after he’d ruined her New Year’s so thoroughly.

Intent on relaxing her too-tight stomach muscles, she took a deep breath and looked out at the truly spectacular view from her seat high above Lake Tahoe. It really was a winter wonderland. The sky was blue, the air smelled crisp and clean, the fresh snow from the night before was soft and fluffy on the branches of trees. Even before the small jet had touched down at the Lake Tahoe airport two days ago, Colbie’s first sight of the partially frozen lake had taken her breath away.

Plus, there was nothing better than spending time with people who knew her almost better than she knew herself. Yesterday they’d gone out snowshoeing during the day and then spent the night drinking too much and laughing more than she’d laughed since their vacation last year.

Between the gorgeous view and a few deep belly-breaths, she finally started to relax. But as the chair moved closer to the top of the mountain, she knew she didn’t have a prayer of relaxing all the way.

She was mere minutes away from having to face her next challenge: skiing down the hill...and getting to the bottom in one piece. In other sports, like tennis and swimming, she was perfectly coordinated, but as soon as she stuck skis to her feet, they went haywire.

She knew Mia was going to offer to hang back with her once they got off the lift, but Colbie couldn’t stand the thought of getting in the way of her friend’s fun, especially when Mia was a black-diamond girl all the way. Last year they’d all agreed to meet in San Diego for sand and sun, something they didn’t get nearly enough of in Seattle. This year she’d been perfectly happy to let the skiing fanatics like Mia decide the location.

"Thanks for joining me on the lift," she said to Mia, "but I refuse to let you babysit me for the rest of the day. As soon as we get to the top, you’re going to go ski to your heart’s content."

Her friend raised an eyebrow. "Look who’s using the dominatrix voice now."

Mia was one of the prettiest women she’d ever met, but Colbie would always see her as that little girl with the messy pigtails and the missing tooth. "Don’t make me get out my whip," she teased.

"Yes, ma’am," her friend said with a jaunty salute that shook their seat a little too much for Colbie’s peace of mind.

She held her breath as the chair scooted closer to the landing at the top of the hill. Forcing her hands to unclench from the bar she’d