When Emily's parents married, they both had worked as hard as Mimi and Papaw, making the lodge a hot spot for locals and tourists. On the day her grandparents decided her parents had been, in their words, "well-groomed," they deeded the resort to them. Yet when needed, they were always there in a pinch. Snowdrift Summit had always been a family operation. The locals flocked to the resort in droves, and tourists from all over the world came to ski the famous slopes, in particular The Plunge.
Other than the six years spent earning her bachelor's and master's degrees at the University of Colorado, Emily had spent her entire life in Loveland, Colorado, living and working at the family resort, which she loved. For a while now, she'd had an itch, an urge to try something different. Not necessarily a new career, but maybe working at a different resort. There were several throughout the state, many of them offering more challenging runs than Snowdrift Summit's. The exception was The Plunge, a massive drop-off on a snow-covered cleft in the rock face where skiers could free fall for almost thirty feet. Then, if you managed to stick the landing on the fifty-degree slope, you had to throw all your weight forward as fast as humanly possible to avoid smashing into the ancient Precambrian rock. From there, The Plunge's upside-down funnel shape opened into an extremely powdery run, challenging even the most expert skiers.
With her experience, Emily knew she could have her pick of jobs at any of the top resorts, though telling this to her family wasn't going to be easy, especially because she knew her parents would be retiring soon. They had fantastic employees—three managers who knew the ropes and the slopes inside and out and would easily take charge. Emily truly hadn't thought about it all in depth.
A waiter passed by with more bubbly. She helped herself to another glass, then meandered through the throngs of guests. Smiling as she crossed the room, nodding at the folks she recognized and giving finger waves to friends she worked with, she managed to weave her way across the large area to the main kitchen without actually speaking to anyone.
Pandemonium filled the commercial-size kitchen. Emily couldn't help but grin. Kathryn, their longtime chef, and her assistants had insisted on catering this event themselves rather than hiring an outside caterer. This had been much to Emily's mother's dismay as she'd wanted all her employees to come as guests, but they'd insisted and she relented.
"You should be out there with your family," Kathryn said as she placed a decorative flower on a plate of hors d'oeuvres.
"I am. I just wanted to see what's happening in the food department. I'm starved." Emily drained her champagne. "I'm already feeling a bit light-headed." She laughed. "From this." She placed her champagne flute on the counter.
Kathryn took a small plate, piling it high with cold shrimp and some kind of cucumber concoction, along with a slice of warm bread with butter. "This should tide you over. No more champagne, young lady," Kathryn said, smiling.
"Thanks," Emily replied, then quickly cleaned her plate. "You're a lifesaver."
"I wish, but no. I just make food," Kathryn told her. Kathryn was from Spain and had attended the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris. She did so much more than "make food."
"What's tonight's main dish?" Emily asked.
"You need to ask? Really?" Kathryn's dark eyes sparkled with amusement.
"No. I thought you might surprise them with one of your delectable gourmet specialties, that's all."
She shook her head. "No way—this is their special day. They must have what they want, even if it's not a gourmet dinner. I cook to please. Always," Kathryn added. "Round of beef and those potatoes they love."
Emily's parents both loved good old-fashioned prime rib with scalloped potatoes and they would have the best, prepared by Kathryn herself, rather than one of her assistants. "Thanks for this," Emily said, waving her hand around.
"It's my pleasure. Now go have fun with the family. I will see you in a while." Kathryn shooed her out of her kitchen.
Unsure if her parents would make their announcement before or after dinner, Emily figured she had best mingle before her mom discovered her in the kitchen.