Kiss the Sky
by MK Schiller
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Love can move mountains . . .
Strong, athletic, and driven, Tristan Sinclair is determined to fulfill his late brother’s wish to climb Pakistan’s K2, the world’s second highest mountain. He never expects part of the challenge will be getting along with one of his fellow climbers—or that the greatest peril may lie beyond the summit . . .
A passionate, life-long climber, Pakistan born Farah Nawaz is skeptical of the hotshot from Arizona. But as she and Tristan help each other conquer obstacle after obstacle, they find they have more in common than they thought—including a simmering attraction. And when suspicious deaths put them in the sights of a ruthless killer, they’ll have to cover their tracks long enough to find out why—and stay alive for a future together . . .
If she wasn’t surrounded by earthly beauty, she might have noticed Tristan Sinclair more often. She might have studied the ways his muscles bulged against his shirt. She might even have chanced a few long looks of his backside and broad shoulders. Or observed how often he dragged his hand through his thick hair when he was frustrated or gritted his teeth when he was angry. Surely, she would have wondered a thousand times what the band of black with tiny roman numerals tattooed around his left forearm meant. It was a date, exactly one year ago from today.
Did that have anything to do with why he was acting so somber?
But everything else was too beautiful, and she was far too busy so she just didn’t notice. And if she kept telling herself that, she might just start to believe it.
She was doing the cooking tonight. She stirred a kettle of soup and studied the landscape. They were at Camp II. They would be upon the serac soon, a solid ridge of glacial ice. The days would be colder, leaving less time and energy for wayward thoughts. Their days were filled with hiking, setting up supplies, and acclimatizing. Each time the group reached higher ground, they had to settle in and get used to the thinning air for several days. Otherwise they would risk exposure, pulmonary edema, or possible aneurysm. The human body had to adjust to the physical changes.
Ahmed and Tristan discussed the routes they were taking over the next few days. In a big ice climb, there was usually a ratio of ten to one between planning and actual mountaineering. Tristan suggested they leave behind more supplies so they could reach higher elevation earlier. Ahmed was quick to agree.
Tristan had the kind of presence that turned heads. The few women she’d noticed at the Shalimar when they had dinner had paused in conversation to drink him in. Men seemed to affirm and favor whatever direction he gave.
His confidence never shifted toward arrogance, though. Tristan Sinclair was wisdom interlaced with wit. A methodical explorer whose crooked smile made the air at these high elevations even thinner.
She quickly looked away when he glanced at her. This was getting ridiculous. How could hormones live and thrive at six thousand meters? The way he gazed at her, sought her out during hikes, and sat next to her at meals left little doubt the feelings were mutual. That didn’t make them any less dangerous. He released both the calm and the chaos inside of her. If she gave into those feelings, it would result in a tragic storm.
Being the only woman in the expedition meant she had to remain professional and distant. There were strong expectations placed on her, and her failures would be judged more harshly. She had always listened to a tune that others didn’t hear. It had been a difficult road for her, especially when non-conformity was often confused with disrespect. But she had endured the struggles to carve out a life she loved. She wasn’t about to throw away all those years of hard work and a chance to summit for a stupid crush.
“So what does someone need to do to get a cup of coffee around here?”
Malcolm asked, jerking his head toward the fire.
“Make it,” she responded. “I could use a cup of tea myself. Thank you for offering.”
Malcolm laughed good-naturedly, a pretty rare occurrence for him. Except for Ahmed, she hadn’t known the others in the expedition very well when they started out. They’d had a few meet-and-greets via video chat set up by Ahmed. But the days of hiking and camping had caused an easy camaraderie among the team. Even Malcolm seemed less grouchy. Ahmed still narrowed his eyes whenever Tristan and she talked, but he never repeated his warning to her. Then again, she and Tristan had remained friendly, always edging that symbolic line in the sand, the one that had a huge sign posted no trespassing. They had both drawn the line out of necessity. Neither of them crossed it, like an unwritten pact.
MK Schiller is a hopeless romantic in a hopelessly pragmatic world. In the dark of night, she sits by the warm glow of her computer monitor, reading or writing, usually with some tasty Italian…the food that is! She started imagining stories in her head at a very young age. In fact, she got so good at it that friends asked her to create plots featuring them as the heroine and the object of their affection as the hero. She hopes you enjoy her stories and find The Happily Ever After in every endeavor. M.K. Schiller loves hearing from readers.
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