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It's almost noon when Hannah makes it downstairs this morning -- a night of wrestling with emotional tangles is oddly not conducive to an early start.

And, as she kind of expected -- or feared -- Nick is in the lobby when she arrives. She wouldn't go as far to say he's waiting for her; she's not that self-centered, and he's got a perfect nothing-better-to-be-doing look going (though there are always better things to do at a resort, so this is, in her opinion, suspect). But he closes his magazine when he sees her, and stands up, and smiles.

He really does have an incredible smile.

Hannah has, basically, three choices here.

1. She can bolt back into the elevator and run back to her room, with or without bursting into tears first.

2. She can pretend she hasn't seen him, refuse to make eye contact, ignore him if he speaks to her, and march right out the front door.

3. She can smile back and see what happens.

And whatever choice she's going to make, she needs to make it fast.

She takes a deep breath (which she covers by pretending to check for her room keycard) and then she takes door #3.

"Just so you know," she tells him when he comes over, because this needs clearing up, "I'm really not the sort of girl who usually kisses strangers in hotel lobbies."

"Oh, it never occurred to me that you were," he says. Off her slightly disbelieving look, he continues, "No, really. Wouldn't have been much of a bet -- or an accomplishment -- if you were that sort of girl, would it?"

"No, I guess not," she says. "So you cashed your prize in? You seem to be six-year-old sister free."

"Actually, it turns out that one of the many amenities of this fine hotel is babysitting. Which frees me up for more important pursuits. Like skiing. Or snowboarding. Or getting the prettiest girl here to at least tell me her name."

She laughs. She can't help it. "Hannah."

"Vain, aren't you?" he asks, and over her noise of protest, goes on, "So, Hannah, you free?"

Hannah, after another moment's consideration, decides that she is.

His name is Nick Welker, he's from New Haven, Connecticut, and he's a freshman at Brown. He talks about swimming the way Hannah talks about running, and is spending his vacation avoiding (as much as possible) what he calls, "Dad's new family."

He's a shameless flirt, a decent skier, a no-mercy-given snowball fighter, and a great kisser. He has a quick smile and a compliment ready for any occasion, though it's not always easy to tell how sincere he is.

He's a charmer, like Logan without the evil, Hannah decides. She's not surprised when he tells her he's planning to major in political science and go to law school and run for public office.

In Neptune -- or in Milliways, for that matter -- she's glare and tell him exactly how unimpressed she was.

But here -- here she laughs.

Once or twice she blushes.

Rolls her eyes and shakes her head but goes along with it.

She's never done anything like this before -- had a fling, a flirtation. She's had Relationships. Nick Welker is not Relationship material, but for a 72-hour fling, he's just about perfect.

A fling is like ice cream -- it's sweet and fun and gone in five minutes, and while Hannah wouldn't want to try to live on it, but sometimes it's exactly what you want. (The sugar releases endorphins, and the calcium is soothing.)

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Hannah Griffith

June 2009

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