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Snow in Love

Snow in Love by Claire Ray
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Welcome to Alaska!

A special welcome to my boyfriend, Jake, the cutest tourist I've ever met!

Explore our natural beauties and untouched wilderness.

Jake and I like to hike our great (romantic!) nature trails. . . .

Enjoy our perfect skiing and snowboarding conditions.

Be sure to catch Will Parker doing his snowboarding tricks. He makes all the girls in town melt. (Except for me. Who needs Will when you've got Jake?)

Experience our world-class resorts and spas.

While you're there, find out what's up with that hot girl Jake brought to the lodge this year. She's probably just his cousin or something. Right?!

Get ready for a vacation you'll never forget!

HarperCollins; June 2009
304 pages; ISBN 9780061957420
Read online, or download in secure EPUB
Title: Snow in Love
Author: Claire Ray

Chapter One

"So, my goal with your dress is total annihilation," my best friend, Abby, said as she pushed a large spiral-bound sketch pad across the table. "In other words, you will look so pretty that Sabrina Hartley cries. Anything less than actual tears and I'll count this as a failure."

I picked up the sketch pad and set my dish full of ice cream on the far corner of our table, where I hoped it would be less of a temptation. Not that I could keep away from it for too long. I mean, my family did own the ice-cream shop in town. There was only so much resisting I could do.

But for the moment my Chocolate Fiesta was forgotten. I was looking at the most exquisite, delicate dress Abby had yet to design.

"Oh! It's so pretty!"

She grinned at me. "Really?"

"Really!" I smiled. "Only . . ."

"What?" she asked nervously.

"Nothing. Nothing. I just don't think my waist is that small." I pointed at the tiny midsection of the dress.

She ignored my comment and leaned over the booth's table, excited by her own vision. "It's going to be so beautiful! Look, I'll put two darts here, for a structured effect, and then the skirt is going to fall in white waves, so that it looks like a snowfall, see? I'm calling it my Princess Snowflake dress." Abby had always been something of a visionary. Where I'd see a routine high school class, she'd see a chance to learn something new. Where I'd see a regular Willow Hill boy, she'd see a handsome prince trapped in the halls of Willow High. Where I saw a pretty sunset, she'd she flames of romance.

Despite her ability to see things where I didn't, I trusted Abby more than anyone, and we were both determined that my dress at the Northern Lights Ball win the Annual Best Costume Contest, or as we called it, the ABC. The winners of the ABC won free ski passes for the Mount Crow Ski Resort. Which would mean that I could actually save the money I earned working at Snow Cones instead of spending it all on skiing. But the real reason that Abby and I were so desperate to win was so the Hated Sabrina Hartley would finally lose at something.

Our list of grievances against Sabrina Hartley was long. Sabrina had moved to our town of Willow Hill, Alaska, in the eighth grade. Right away she was annoying, because she was tall and smart and by far the prettiest girl in school. Her hair was unnaturally shiny—our friend Erin said she probably washed it in Crisco—and she was a great skier, the number one important thing to be in our town. (Her family had moved up here so her older brother could ski year-round at Mount Crow to train for the Olympics.) Sabrina was from California and let anyone within earshot know how much superior life in San Diego was to good ol' Willow Hill. But we hated her for more than just her better-than-us attitude. Her straight A's robbed Erin of her rightful title of eighth-grade valedictorian. And last summer she did something worse: She stole Abby's about-to-be boyfriend, Cam Brock.

Cam and Abby were next-door neighbors, and Abby had loved him from afar for years. (Actually, I guess she had loved him from up close. I mean, they were neighbors!) At the end of the last school year, it had seemed like Cam was finally noticing Abby; he'd asked her to go with him to the Spring Thaw Chili-Cook in Denali, and he'd been spending time at her house "studying." (Read: watching television and holding hands.) Then Sabrina set her sights on him, and bam! No Chili-Cook for Abby. Sabrina and Cam had been an item ever since. An annoying, nausea-inducing item.

Erin and I, to cheer Abby up, declared war on Sabrina, though really, we hadn't done anything except sneer at her. Our mission to rob her of the ABC crown was the first all-out assault we'd planned on her perfect life—what could I say? There wasn't a lot to do in Alaska. Revenge was a time filler. I was nominated for the role of prize-stealer because I was the only one of us with a boyfriend.

My eyes focused on the sketch Abby made of my date, Jake. I could hardly judge men's clothes, but Jake would look so handsome in a tuxedo like she had drawn. Of course, Jake just happened to be the cutest boy I'd ever met, with brown hair that flopped irresistibly over his forehead, deep brown eyes, and one mole on his cheek that was very kissable.

"You're frowning. Why are you frowning?" Abby asked suddenly. Abby was a sensitive girl. I didn't even know I had been frowning and she'd picked up on it. "You're not happy?"

"No! Gosh, they're so beautiful. Totally crown-worthy." I reached for the dish of Chocolate Fiesta ice cream, my favorite. My mother made it by melting chocolate together with crushed hot pepper. Sounded gross, but tasted heavenly. "It's just, are you going to have enough time to make this? The ball is only two weeks away."

Her face pulled itself into a slightly surprised pinch. "Of course! All I need are your measurements. And Jake's so we can get his tux to fit perfectly."

At this I crammed a large, chilly bite into my mouth and peered around the inside of Snow Cones, my family's shop. The bright red booths and vinyl-covered stools were empty, save for two freshman girls poring over fashion magazines at the ice-cream bar. The black-and-white tiled floor gleamed from the hardcore mopping my mother and I had done this morning. Once the sun began to set, there would be so many customers in here I'd barely be able to breathe. But now, it was quiet enough for me to lollygag with Abby and eat a little midafternoon snack. I glanced quickly toward the door, hoping Jake would walk through it. As I turned back around to face Abby, I pulled my cell phone from the pocket of my brown, extra-insulated corduroys. No messages.