The Legend of Goat Head Lodge

(The L & L Mysteries #3)

by Wendy Lohr

Leyla and Lucien are invited by their friend, Peter Lawson, to spend a week at Goat Head Lodge and Ski Resort. But they soon learn that it may be their last trip as the lodge may have to close due to financial problems. So, when Lucien and Leyla learn of a legend about a hidden treasure on the resort property, they resolve to find the treasure in hopes of helping keep the beloved lodge open. Hunting for clues, they navigate Billie the goat, avalanche control, and ski resort romances. Will the teens be able to find the treasure in time? Or is the lodge destined to be closed?


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Chapter 1

Leyla Richards sighed as she stared out of the window during her last period class. It was the last day before Winter Break and she was both excited and melancholy about getting started with it. Having a break from school is always good, but her friends and cousin were all going to be out of town, which left her with the slightly depressing knowledge that she would be hanging out alone a lot for the next week or so.

Seeing a few snowflakes drift lazily down from the sky, she sighed again remembering that her cousin, Mick Forrester, and three of their friends were all going skiing for a week up at Goat Head Lodge and Ski Resort. Leyla loved to ski and had been to that particularly lodge several times over the years on family vacations with her mom, her aunt and uncle, and her cousins. Of course, she understood that her friend, Peter Lawson, would only think to invite the guys in their group of friends. They were, after all, staying with Peter and his dad, who was the manager at the resort, and that situation doesn’t necessarily lend itself to having a girl tag along, especially one that was a year younger than everyone else.

Not that Leyla’s age really mattered to anyone. She had skipped a grade when she was ten, after she’d moved to Ansalucia with her mother. Leyla, Mick, and Peter were all seniors in high school this year.

“What are you sighing about?” a deep voice whispered in her right ear, startling her out of her wandering thoughts.

Turning towards her best friend, Lucien Vintera, she shrugged and answered back softly, “Just ready for the day to be over with, I guess.”

“Yeah, well you’d better finish your project or you won’t get to start the break the same time as the rest of us,” he warned her quietly, pointing at her computer screen. “Remember, we’re all supposed to go to Chino’s after school.”

“Yeah, you’re right, Lucien. I guess I’d better get my butt in gear,” she responded sheepishly and forced herself to focus on her 2D art project that was due by the end of the class period.

When the bell finally rang, Leyla was literally hitting the Send button to upload her finished project to the teacher’s inbox. Shutting everything down, she quickly grabbed her books and rushed out with everyone else towards her locker. The school hallways were in complete pandemonium as the students jostled one another to get to lockers or head towards the exits.

Even though Leyla was five-foot-six, she had a petite build and was having some difficulty pushing her way through the mass chaos. Fortunately, Lucien and his twin brother, Romi, appeared and plowed the way towards the exit for them. The twins were identical and six-foot-five with fairly muscular, lean builds. With the two of them walking side by side, all Leyla had to do was follow in their wake and any worries of being trampled quickly evaporated.

The three of them met up with Mick and Peter by the fountain in front of the school and the group walked towards Chino’s. Usually they had others join them, but today Sylvie Benson and Dominic Phillips and his sister, Denise, all had gone straight home after school to pack for their trips with their families. Refusing to dwell any longer on the utter boredom she was about to endure over the next week, Leyla looked over at Lucien and asked, “Do you have to work tonight?”

Lucien usually worked nights at Chino’s making coffee drinks. He shook his head and answered with a relieved sigh, “No, thank goodness. Chino gave me the night off since I have to pack for the ski trip. And he’s closing down during Winter Break, so it’s not like I’d miss any work while I’m gone.”

“That’s good, I guess,” Leyla stated distractedly as they entered Chino’s.

It was crowded and noisy, as usual, and it took the group a few moments to find an empty table big enough for all of them. After giving their orders to the waitress, the guys turned their discussion to the ski trip.

“Hey, Mick! Dad said we could take the SUV with the condition that only Lucien and I can drive it. This way we won’t have to drive separate. So, what time do we want to leave tomorrow?” Romi asked, a triumphant look lighting up his violet-colored eyes.

Leyla had remembered Lucien and Romi grumbling for the past few days about ways to try and convince their dad to let them borrow the family SUV. She wondered how they had finally convinced Captain Vintera to let them take it but figured she’d have to wait until later to get that story.

“The earlier the better since it takes about five hours to get up there,” Mick answered as their orders arrived. “Peter’s going to spend the night with me. So, how about you guys pick us up at seven tomorrow morning?”

“Man, you weren’t kidding about early,” Lucien complained and took a sip of his hot chocolate. “Romi, you’re driving first if we’re leaving that early!”

Leyla laughed with the others but had to silently agree with Lucien that seven was ridiculously early for a Saturday morning, especially for the start of the Winter Break. Still, she’d be more than happy to get up that early if she was actually going somewhere fun. Giving herself a mental shake, Leyla took a sip of her caramel macchiato and sighed in frustration when she realized it wasn’t as good as it normally was. Of course, nobody could make her drink like Lucien could.

“What’s the matter with you, cuz? You’ve looked bummed all day today,” Mick observed, gently elbowing her in the side.

She made a face at him and confessed softly so only he could hear, “It’s just that everyone’s leaving to go somewhere but me. I’m not looking forward to staring at the walls of my bedroom for the next week or so.”

“Doesn’t your mum have a book signing next week?” he asked curiously.

Leyla’s mother was a best-selling author and made appearances from time to time to sign and promote her works. Leyla shrugged and replied, “Yeah, but it’s only in Madria and I wasn’t actually planning on going with her.”

A mischievous twinkle suddenly lit up her cousin’s sapphire eyes and he stated mysteriously, “Hang on a sec; I’ve got an idea!”

Watching him curiously, Leyla took another sip of her coffee drink and grimaced. Lucien started chuckling and she asked in slight annoyance, “What are you laughing about?”

“Your face; when you took that sip you looked like you were going to hurl! I thought that was your favorite drink,” he teased, his trademark lazy grin lifting his lips.

“It is when it’s made right,” Leyla conceded with another sigh.

Shaking his head, he joked, “Man, I’ve totally got you spoiled, huh?”

“Maybe just a little,” she answered with an embarrassed grin.

“How about this; because I’m such a nice and wonderful best friend, I’ll go make a caramel macchiato for you, the right way,” Lucien offered, his grin widening in amusement.

Leyla eyed him suspiciously and asked, “And just what will I have to do in return?”

“Don’t worry, I’ll think of something,” he answered mysteriously as he gathered up her drink and left the table before she could protest.

“Hey, Leyla,” Peter called from the other end of the table, keeping her from getting up and going after Lucien.

“Yeah, Peter, what’s up?” she asked, turning her attention to him.

“Mick was just telling me that you didn’t really have any plans for Winter Break,” Peter replied shyly. “I hadn’t really thought about it since I figured you wouldn’t want to hang out with a bunch of guys for a week. But if you’re interested, you’re more than welcome to come with us. I’ll have to check, but I’m sure Dad has plenty of room. And since Romi and Lucien were able to get the SUV, there’s plenty of room for the ride up as well.”

Leyla gave him a startled look, blushed slightly at the invitation, and protested weakly, “Oh, Peter, that’s sweet of you to offer but I didn’t mean for Mick to try and snag me an invite.”

Mick snorted next to her and shook his head as Peter countered, “I’m serious, Leyla. It’d be a lot of fun to have you along. I would have invited you in the first place, but I didn’t think you’d want to come or would feel comfortable being the only girl in the group.”

Leyla could see the sincerity in Peter’s chocolate eyes and looked over at her cousin and across the table at Romi. They all three seemed to think it was a good idea judging by the looks on their faces. Lucien reappeared just then, handing her a freshly made caramel macchiato and asking, “What did I miss?”

“We’re trying to convince Leyla to come with us,” Peter announced, which was a little unusual for him since he tended to be the most quiet one in the group.

“Oh, awesome idea! Yeah, you should definitely come with us, Leyla,” Lucien encouraged with a friendly smile.

“I’d love to, you guys, but there’s no way my mum is going to allow me to go with you all,” Leyla protested even though it did feel really good to have the guys willingly want her to go with them.

“Whatever, Leyla,” Mick retorted, dismissing her protest with a casual wave of his hand. “I bet you I can convince Aunt Julia to let you come with us.”

“Is that so?” Leyla responded skeptically. “I bet you that you can’t.”

She could see her cousin rising to the challenge as he straightened in his seat and asked, “What are you willing to bet?”

Leyla knew her mother pretty well and there was no way Mick could possibly convince her to let Leyla go skiing with a group of guys for a week, especially on such short notice. So, she grinned and replied, “How about if you win and are actually able to convince Mum to let me go, I’ll come over to your house and do your chores for a week? And if I win and you don’t convince her, you have to come over and do my chores for a week?”

“Whoa, you two don’t play around when you’re betting,” Romi observed and gave a pretend shudder at the thought of doing someone else’s chores for a week.

Leyla grinned, knowing that she’d probably win this bet but secretly hoping she wouldn’t. Although she didn’t say it out loud, she actually would clean Mick’s bedroom for a year if he could convince her mother to let her go. But she wasn’t crazy enough to offer that kind of deal. Mick returned the grin and held out his hand as he stated, “It’s a bet, cuz. Be prepared to be my maid for a week!”

The guys laughed and Leyla shook her cousin’s hand as she retorted, “We’ll see about that.”

Mick turned to Peter and asked, “Hey, can you call your dad real quick and make sure it’s okay for Leyla to come with us?”

“Sure, no problem,” Peter replied with a grin and pulled out his cell phone.

While they waited for Peter to finish talking with his dad, Leyla glanced over at Lucien and asked curiously, “So, how did you convince your parents to let you go skiing? I thought your calculus grade wasn’t so great.”

“You’re right; it’s not great. But I just can’t seem to get my brain to understand calculus. So, I promised I would work with a tutor after school two days a week until my grade improves. Which probably means I’ll be doing that for the rest of my senior year,” he shared with a heavy sigh.

“Don’t let him fool you, Leyla,” Romi cut in with a knowing grin. “He’s not going to be too broken hearted about the tutoring sessions.”

“Why do you say that?” she inquired, looking curiously from one twin to the other.

“Because, he has Susan Kim for a tutor,” Romi shared as he wiggled his eyebrows suggestively and Lucien elbowed him in the ribs.

“Shut up, doofus,” Lucien growled, looking a little embarrassed.

Leyla and Mick both started laughing and she retorted, “I feel sorry for Susan already. I hope you behave yourself with her, Lucien. She’s a really nice girl.”

“What? I’m not allowed to like nice girls?” Lucien shot back defensively.

“I didn’t say that,” Leyla responded, not at all phased by his defensiveness. “But she is your tutor and mixing dates in with your tutor is probably not going to help increase your grade any.”

“You never know,” he stated mischievously. “I might actually learn a lot about calculus on those dates.”

“You are completely incorrigible,” Leyla observed in exasperation.

Before she could say anymore, Peter announced excitedly to the group, “Hey everybody, Dad says it’s cool with him if you come with us, Leyla!”

“Sweet!” Mick exclaimed, rubbing his hands together. “Now all I have to do is convince Aunt Julia to let you go and we’re all set.”

The group chatted for a few more minutes while they finished their drinks. Then, Leyla, Mick, and Peter said good-bye to the twins and started walking to Leyla’s house. She kept her fingers crossed all the way there, hoping Mick was right and could convince her mother to let her go with the guys. And if not, at least she wouldn’t be doing chores for a week.

“Mum, I’m home!” Leyla called out as they stepped into the foyer.

“In the den, Sweetheart,” her mother called back and Leyla led the guys down the hallway.

Knocking on the doorframe, her mother looked up from the computer and Leyla said, “Mick and Peter are here too. And Mick wants to talk to you about something really important, if you have a minute.”

“Sure, just let me finish this paragraph and I’ll meet you three in the kitchen,” she responded distractedly, already turning her attention back to the computer.

Leyla knew from years of experience that her mother needed to finish what she was doing before she could focus on anything else. So, she shooed the guys to the kitchen and offered them drinks. The three of them plopped down on the bar stools on one side of the kitchen island and chatted while they sipped their sodas and waited.

A few minutes later, Leyla’s mother came into the kitchen and walked over to the teenagers, ruffling Mick’s hair affectionately as she greeted, “Hi, there, Mick! Hello, Peter. How are you two doing?”

“We’re great, Aunt Julia,” Mick answered for both of them, giving her his best smile.

“How’ve you been, Mrs. Richards?” Peter asked politely.

“Oh, just fine, Peter. I’ve been pretty busy with this new book I’m writing and all the work that’s going into promoting the release of my recent book,” she shared with a proud grin and Leyla couldn’t help but feel a little proud of her mother herself. “So, what was it you wanted to talk with me about, Mick?”

“Well, it has to do with this ski trip I’m going on with Peter during Winter Break,” Mick began and Leyla could hear him using his most convincing voice. “You see, Aunt Julia, I came to realize that my favorite cousin in the whole world didn’t have any plans for the break. And it got me thinking how awesome it would be to have her come up with me so we could spend some time together hitting the slopes and such. And you know we always have a blast up at Goat Head.”

“So, I asked Peter if he thought his dad would mind her joining us,” Mick continued and Peter jumped in real quick, “Yeah, and Dad said it was totally cool with him and that he had plenty of room for Leyla to come with us.”

“Yeah, so, would it be alright with you if Leyla came with us?” Mick asked, giving Leyla’s mother his thousand-watt winning smile.

“Oh, I don’t know, Mick,” she replied uncertainly. “Leyla’s never been anywhere without me and I’d be worried silly about her. I know she’s a good skier but accidents do happen.”

Leyla started to protest, but she felt Mick throw an arm around her shoulders and state confidently, “Now Aunt Julia, you know I would never let anything happen to Leyla. I’d be looking out for her the entire time and so would Peter and Mr. Lawson. She’ll be perfectly safe, I swear!”

“Yeah, we’d definitely make sure nothing happened to Leyla, Mrs. Richards,” Peter added sincerely and reiterated. “We’d really love to have her come with us.”

Leyla’s mother looked at her and Leyla couldn’t help begging with her eyes as she pleaded, “Please, Mum, I’d really, really love to go skiing with Mick and Peter.”

Her mother sighed and asked, “Are you sure your father said it was alright with him, Peter?”

“Yes, ma’am! I called him to make sure and he said he’d be happy to have Leyla come up and ski for the week,” Peter answered truthfully.

“Well, I guess if he said it was alright,” she reasoned softly. “But, Mick, you’ve got to promise me that you’ll look after Leyla and not let anything happen to her. I’m holding you responsible!”

“I promise, Aunt Julia. I’ll definitely keep a close eye on her the entire time we’re gone,” Mick swore.

“Alright, you can go, then,” her mother conceded reluctantly and Leyla jumped up and ran around the island to give her mother a huge hug.

“Oh, thanks, Mum! You’re the best!” Leyla exclaimed happily and didn’t miss Mick making a dusting motion with his hand as he wiggled his eyebrows meaningfully at her.

“Okay, okay, calm down, Leyla!” her mother exclaimed in exasperation. “When are you all planning to leave?”

“We’re supposed to leave tomorrow morning at seven,” Mick answered as Leyla resumed her seat.

“Well, if that’s the case, then you should probably get packed, young lady,” her mother stated firmly.

“Yeah, Peter and I need to go anyway. I’ve still got to pack my stuff,” Mick informed them. “Did you just want to walk over to my house tomorrow morning, Leyla?”

“Yeah, I’ll do that, Mick. Let me walk you guys to the door,” Leyla responded and stood up with them.

Mick gave Leyla’s mother a warm hug and thanked her for letting Leyla go before the three teens headed to the front door. Standing on the front porch, Leyla asked quietly, “Why didn’t you mention that the twins were going?”

“Are you kidding? If your mother knew that Lucien was going, she probably wouldn’t let you leave. You two have a knack for getting into trouble, remember?” Mick teased with a twinkle in his eye.

“Oh yeah, good call,” Leyla agreed sheepishly.

“And don’t forget; you have to do my chores for a week, cuz!” Mick reminded her triumphantly and Peter chuckled.

“Yeah, yeah, I’ll remember,” Leyla stated with a grin. “See you guys in the morning! And thanks again for inviting me, Peter. I really appreciate it!”

“You’re welcome, Leyla,” Peter said shyly and Leyla watched the two guys walk down the street to Mick’s house.

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