X-Treme Love Series, Book 6
Geneva Barton may have changed her ways, but she still knows how to fight. Now she has more to protect than just her reputation. The bitch may be gone, but the fighter just stepped into the ring. And this time she plans to win.
Berk Rigby has returned to Colorado after a three year absence from the sport he loves. After winning the gold medal in snowboarding at this year’s winter X Games, he should be riding high. But when a familiar face in the crowd of fans reveals some shocking news, his whole world is turned upside down. Now his future is more uncertain than ever and he’s not sure he can face it.
As Berk and Geneva come together for a mutual cause, will they find the courage to love again? Or will the mistakes of their pasts drive them further apart?
Life is about second chances.
A chance to forgive himself.
A chance to redeem herself.
A chance for both to start over.
Read an Excerpt
“Holy shit, it’s freezing out here.” Tori tugged her jacket tighter under her chin.
My metabolism was ramped up with pregnancy, which meant my core temperature was like a raging inferno. The brisk winter air of Aspen, Colorado actually felt good to me.
“Oh, I forgot, you’ve got your own little homemade heater inside you.” Tori rubbed my belly. “You’re probably loving this nipple-hardening weather. I swear to God, it’s so cold out here you could freeze the balls off a penguin.”
“What?” I furrowed my brow as I stared at her.
Her teeth were chattering. “It’s an expression about the cold.”
“But you’re from Utah. It gets cold there, too.”
“Yeah, but still. This crap is so cold it would freeze the nipples off of Jack Frost’s momma.”
“You’re insane.” I laughed, thankful that I’d brought Tori with me. “This is his last snowboard run, then I promise we’ll go inside.” I’d never seen a snowboard competition before. Never had a reason to. Until now.
“I’m just givin’ ya hard time, Gen. It’s fine. We can stay out here as long as you need.” Her willingness to go through this by my side, her reassuring smile and warm eyes, gave me the strength I needed to do what had to be done.
“This is it folks, the finals of men’s superpipe,” a voice boomed over the loud speaker.
I surveyed the area. It was packed with X Games fans, out in masses to cheer on their favorite athletes. I was only looking for one.
“Berk Rigby is making his last few adjustments before his final run of the night. He’s had one hell of a showing at this year’s X Games,” the announcer said. “Coming back from what seemed like insurmountable odds, we have to give it to Berk. He’s shredding bigger and better than ever. It’s great to have him back in the sport of snowboarding again.”
My heart sank. This was Berk’s life. Snowboarding was what he did well, apparently. Even if he decided to be a part of our baby’s life, he’d more than likely want to stay in Colorado—or some other equally as cold environment—so he could train. I couldn’t move away from my family and friends. Not now that I actually had genuine relationships for the first time since my mother had died.
A blast of freezing cold air battered my face, unexpectedly chilling me to the bone. I yanked my coat tighter and secured my pink hat on top of my head. “Maybe this is a mistake.” I leaned in close to Tori, trying to speak above the noise of the crowd.
“What?” she asked, never taking her eyes off the giant snowboard run.
I gazed above me at the huge superpipe, as the sportscasters had called it. The lights illuminating the course were over thirty feet tall, and blinding. They looked like the ones used to light up the baseball parks and football stadiums for night games.
The pipe appeared to be nothing more than the bottom half of a frozen tunnel made of packed snow. The course was massive in width and length, and so steep I wondered how the skiers ever stopped themselves at the end. The snow-covered platform that ran along the side of the course was packed solid with fans from the starting point all the way down to the finish line.
Before I could make an excuse for leaving, Berk’s face appeared on the giant screen at the base of the course.
He wore a green and black helmet with several logos stamped across the front and side. Underneath, I knew all his thick, black hair had been cut off and part of me was sad about that. His goggles were wrapped around the top and the camera focused on his eyes. They were intense, completely captivating, and the same brilliant whiskey-colored brown that I remembered.
My stomach fluttered with nervous anticipation. Maybe it’s the baby. No, definitely not the baby.
His eyes rolled heavenward and his lips moved ever so slightly as if he were speaking to someone, or something. My heart clenched, wondering if he was offering up words to his deceased wife and daughter.
I couldn’t do this. It was too much. Berk had already suffered enough loss.
Doesn’t he deserve a second chance?
“You’re not going anywhere, Geneva.” Tori captured my arm, bringing me back to the present. “You’re not leaving Colorado until Berk knows the truth. He deserves to know.” Her face wasn’t condescending or stern, but loving and kind, her bright blue eyes filled with concern for me.
Suddenly the crowd erupted in deafening cheers.
I gazed up and saw Berk hit the first jump. He soared so high I thought he’d fly right out of the pipe. The pole next to him lit up, indicating the height of his jump.
“Holy smokes, Berk’s on fire tonight. Did you see that frontside 1080 double cork?” The announcer’s voice echoed through the mountains.
I had no idea what the hell he was talking about. All these terms were foreign to me. My breath was held captive as I watched Berk fly high into the air, twisting and turning, flipping upside down. Part of me was excited, watching him float effortlessly down the mountain, captivated by his talent. But the other half was scared shitless. What if he fell, what if he injured himself? What if he died?
Within seconds of his run, everything in my periphery disappeared. The only thing I could focus on was the man I knew intimately, who was snowboarding his way down the steep mountain. With every jump he took, my heart followed, my stomach a mass of nerves. I knew nothing about snowboarding, but watching Berk fly down the mountain was like watching perfection. It was effortless for him. This was his passion. Even if he wanted to be a part of his baby’s life, I knew he’d never leave Colorado. And I couldn’t do long-distance co-parenting.
I backed away into the crowd, hoping to make a quiet exit, but Tori grabbed me around the waist.
“No, Geneva. You’re going to do this.”
My eyes focused on Berk’s body soaring through the air, skiing from side to side in the huge pipe. Before I could take another breath, he was at the end of the course, cutting his board sideways and spraying the crowd with a cloud of snow. I could barely see him above the crowd now, but thankfully he was tall.
I held my breath when he removed his helmet. Just as I’d seen on the television at home, his short hair accentuated his native island bone structure. Cutting my eyes to the big screen, it was illuminated with Berk Rigby. The baby kicked several times as if recognizing his father.
Berk’s face was passive, unyielding as he waited at the bottom for his scores.
“That was a near perfect run for Berk Rigby, folks,” the announcer’s voice boomed over the bottom of the mountain. “Let’s see if the judges agree.”
Every spectator’s eyes were glued to the scoreboard, but mine were solidly fixed on Berk. I saw the tiniest lift of his lips in a smile. He knew he’d nailed his run. And without knowing anything about this sport, I knew it, too.
“Berk needs a ninety-four point six or higher to pull into first place and squeak by Paxton Laine from Finland. Will he do it?”
The crowd erupted into cheers and chants as the final score was posted bright—ninety-five point seven.
“Berk has done it! He’s pushed past Paxton Laine to win the gold, folks. Berk Rigby is officially back.”
I couldn’t help but smile as my gloved hands clapped together in a muffled tone.
“Oh my God, that was amazing!” Tori shouted in my ear above the noise of the crowd. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”
I had to admit, Berk’s run looked like perfection. He looked like perfection. I studied his face, now washed with a semi smile that still didn’t reach his eyes. I wondered what was holding him back, why he wasn’t totally ecstatic over the news that he’d won gold.
Suddenly, a woman with long, jet black hair jumped into his arms, her hands wrapping around his neck. He caught her mid-air and his face finally lit up with joy.
“We need to go.” I spoke in Tori’s ear.
“I just need to get out of here. This was wrong. I should never have come.” I turned to leave but looked over my shoulder one last time. From the huge expanse of space between us, Berk’s eyes connected with mine. He shoved the girl away, nearly knocking her to the ground. He launched himself toward the fencing that held the spectators back.
“Now!” I shouted to Tori as I grabbed her wrist and dragged her along behind me.
Berk Rigby had a new life, a new passion and obviously a new love. I was not about to stand here and watch it all unfold in front of me.
I’d never admitted it to anyone, not even to myself, but somewhere in Hawaii I was pretty sure I’d fallen in love with Berk. This was all too much for me. I’d never make him choose. His past life had been haunted by tragedy. He deserved a better life. I wouldn’t be an obligation to him—to anyone. Not any more. Read more…