32.A Ski Excursion

Sam met Sue at the Salt Lake airport at three o'clock and they drove toward the mountains to the east. Sue was amazed.

"Why, you have a miniature alps here," she said when she caught her first glimpse of Mount Olympus, "but you have no snow. Are you sure that there'll be enough for skiing?"

"Alta, where we're going, has over six feet of base, and by the end of winter, will probably have over twenty. It's five thousand feet higher than the city."

"When will I meet your daughters?"

"They'll be coming up to see us tomorrow, after lunch."

"That's fine; I'd like to find out if I can still ski before I ski with them. It's embarrassing to have children always waiting for you."

They stopped at Stevens-Brown in Sugarhouse to have Sue fitted for a pair of rental skis and then went on toward Alta. As they drove up Little Cottonwood Canyon, Sue was amazed at the way that the scenery changed and when they reached the snow line, her whole demeanor changed. It was as if the world authority on psychoactive drugs had been transformed into a eight year old girl who was seeing mountains for the first time. "Oh, my, how lovely" and "beautiful." She was running out of superlatives when they arrived at the Alta Lodge. They slid their bags down a chute and carefully picked their way down the icy steps. While Sam registered, Sue gazed, enraptured, out the window. When he returned, she squeezed his hand and with the voice of a small child pleading with a parent, said; "Oh, Sam, can we ski now?"

"I'm afraid not. The lifts will close before we could change our clothes. How does tomorrow morning suit you?"

"It's not soon enough! Did I tell you that, when I was growing up, my parents would spend virtually every Christmas vacation in Switzerland?"

"I'll bet you ski like a pro. I've only been at it for about five years. I started skiing because the coming of winter depressed me terribly. It made me feel as if I was getting very old and preparing to die. Skiing gave me something to look forward to when the leaves started falling."

In their room, they unpacked their bags. Sam was already dressed for the area. Sue changed to more casual clothes while Sam sat in an arm chair. When she had shed her clothes down to her panties and bra, Sam could take no more.

"Come over here, Love."

She sat in his lap, held his head in her hands and kissed him very gently, as he ran his hands over the contours of her body, sliding his fingers slowly into the clefts and crannies of her body.

In the lounge, before dinner, they sipped mulled wine and watched the changes in the texture of the snow as twilight darkened. The last members of the Ski Patrol were returning from their end-of-day sweep of the slopes. The walked out on the deck and listened to the silence, broken only by the occasional sound of a night bird. After a minute, the cold forced them to return to the lodge and the comfort of the fireplace.

Sam slept the sleep of the just. When he woke, Sue was gone. A note pinned to her pillow said, "Gone for a short walk. Will return in half an hour. Love, Sue." He went to the bathroom and turned on the shower. He was drying himself when Sue returned, her nose and cheeks red. She kissed him.

"I've never kissed an ice cube before," he said.

"An ice cube, you say!" as she embraced him placing her frozen hands on the small of his back.

"Yowp!!!" he screamed; grabbed her hands and held them behind her back. Then he held and kissed her long enough to warm her lips and hands.

By the time they had finished breakfast, the lifts had started.

"What kind of run would you like?" Sam asked.

"The easiest one that you have. I don't know if I remember how to ski."

"That would be Albion. The locals call it Neversweat."

They rode the lift to the top. After looking at the panorama for a few minutes, Sue started down the slope, with Sam behind her. She made about three snow plow turns, then started stem turns, carefully placing all of her weight on her down hill ski. The stem turns changed to stem Christies by the time they got a third of the way down the hill. By the time they were two thirds of the way down, her skis were together and she was making short turns with the tails of her skis making perfect little commas in the snow. She stopped at the bottom and Sam skied up to her, his skis straddling her's. He put his arms around her and she turned her head and kissed him.

"I guess that I haven't forgotten. What's next?" she asked.

"Next is Sugarloaf, but I don't think I'll be able to keep up with you."

"Then you go first and I'll keep up with you."

They took three runs down Sugarloaf. "I'm a bit tired," Sue said. "If I expect to ski with your daughters this afternoon, we'd better stop."

Sam was glad of that because he was very tired. He was able to keep up with Sue but, since he was not as accomplished a skier, it was more work for him.

They ate lunch while looking out the window at the skiers, who looked like small insects crawling down the hill. A single expert skier slowly moved in wide sweeping arcs down High Rustler, the most difficult run on the mountain. He looked like a fly walking on a white wall.

"Have you ever skied up there?" Sue asked.

Sam laughed, "No, but if you want to do it, I'll wait at the bottom of the hill for you."

"I think not!" she said.

The girls arrived on the one o'clock ski bus. Sam and Sue met them. Lisa, a nubile sixteen year old with bright blue eyes and long blonde hair, rode up the lift with her father, while fourteen year old Ellen, a younger edition of her sister, rode up with Sue. They skied ahead of Sue and Sam and at each stopping point seemed to be deep in conference.

"I think that I'm being dissected," said Sue.

On the next run, Lisa rode with Sue. As the lift moved up the mountain, Ellen said to Sam, "She's very nice. Are you going to marry her?" At fourteen, tact is not a youngsters strongest suit.

"I don't know, but I'm thinking about it."

"Do we have anything to say about it?"

"No, but it would be easier if you liked one another."

"If that's the case, then I think that I like her."

Sam smiled and kissed her on the forehead, "I'm glad!"

The next ride up, Lisa said to Sam "So you're going to marry her!"

"Where did you get that idea?"

"Ellen told me."

"I just said that I was thinking about it."

"Yea, but Ellen said that you seemed pretty sure."

"I don't even know if she would want to marry me."

"Sure she would. Anybody can see that she's madly in love with you."

"I know that she cares for me, but madly in love?"

"If you were a woman, it would be obvious."

So much for my future, thought Sam, the girls have it all decided.

Sam and Sue went up the lift together while the girls were in the chair behind them.

"We can't even kiss," said Sue, "our chaperones are behind us."

"We can hold hands. I think that they like you."

"What makes you think so, Sam? I thought that they were cutting me into small pieces and throwing them away."

"Well, they didn't come right out and say that they didn't want me to marry you."

"You told them that you wanted to marry me! No wonder they were so hostile! I should think that you might ask me first!"

"You mean to marry me? O.K., will you marry me?"

"You know that I would -what I meant was that you should have told me that you were going to tell the girls."

"I didn't tell them, they deduced it."

Sue laughed, then her face grew very serious; "Blimey," she said "I've just been proposed to!" She kissed Sam.

"But our chaperones!"

"I don't care!" said Sue, tossing her head like a rebellious child.

That evening, after dinner, Sue and Sam lay in bed discussing the events of the day.

"What kind of marriage can we have with me in Chicago and you in Salt Lake?" said Sue. "Obviously, we couldn't support two households on our salaries."

"I've thought about that. There's a new medical school opening up in Denver and they're looking for faculty. Nick is going to be head of microbiology and he said that he'd recommend me as their epidemiologist. Would you consider applying there?"

"Of course; that's where we performed our first collaborative experiment -remember?"

"That's one experiment I'd just as soon forget."

"Sam! Didn't you like it?"

"Of course I liked it, but I think that it was the dumbest experiment that I've ever performed."

"I agree that it wasn't the most intelligent thing to do, but it was delightful. As to the Denver thing, I'll attend to it as soon as I get back to Chicago."

"I think that we should apply separately. Knowing a little about how schools operate, if we apply as a couple, they'll try to get us both for the same price. I'll ask Nick to tell no one that we even know each other. If I get a job and you don't, would you consider going as a research associate on someone's research grant?"

"And what if I get the job and you don't -would you consider it?"

"Maybe we had better apply first and decide later."

Each picked up a magazine and started reading. Sam, who was reading Newsweek said, "There's an article in here about Epidemic E. You and I are both mentioned, but not a word about Zabalka."

"Do they say anything about Schneider?"

"They mention Schneider Labs, but say nothing about Harvey Schneider. Since Zabalka's work is secret, Schneider has no way of knowing that Zabalka has cultured the EE virus and that the cultures would probably work much the way he had hoped that the vaccine would.

"How did Schneider take the news about his multi-million dollar aphrodisiac being worthless," Sue asked.

"He had pretty much discovered that on his own by the time I talked to him."

"Still, it must have been quite a shock to him when he found out that it didn't work."

"I suppose it was like finding out for the first time that there isn't any Santa Claus." Sam said.

"Ah, but there's the rub -there may not be a Santa Claus, but there is an Epidemic E and a virus that will give it to you."

"Yes, but you have to risk death to get the benefits."

Sue smiled, "and we can do at least as well without it." She kissed Sam on the lips, "and maybe better!"

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