Thursday, January 2, 2014


I love snow and winter. I love skiing, ice-skating, tobogganing, and sledding. But at the moment, I hated that a blinding snow—the weatherman had forecasted only flurries—had sent my little car nose-diving off Winding Road into a steep ditch at seven o'clock at night, only ten miles from my folks' home.
Fighting my way free from my seatbelt and the deployed airbag, I inched into the car's passenger's seat.
I took deep breaths and tried to slow my pounding heart. My body seemed in tact, nothing broken.
There was no cell phone reception out here in the northern part of the state, but my car's motor was still running, the heater pumping warm air. Though the headlights were out, probably smashed, the car's red taillights should be visible from this country road. I'd stay with the car awhile, stay warm, and surely a passerby would spot my taillights and rescue me. I mean, every half-mile or so someone had built a cabin in the woods off this secluded road.
As soon as those thoughts flashed through my brain, the car's motor conked out, plunging the snowy night into eerie silence. My heart beat wildly with panic. By morning, my car would be buried in snow. I'd freeze to death, discovered in the spring after a thaw.
I started to shiver.
I needed to get out of the car, climb out of this stupid ditch to the road, and search for a lane that led to one of those cabins in the woods and hope someone was home. Or the door had been left unlocked.
By the time I reached the road, icy cold gripped me through my parka, but a car's headlights flashed to my left. The driver stopped and jumped out of his vehicle. "Is that your car in the ditch?" a tall man asked, looking amazed in his headlights' glare to see me alone, stranded, and shivering.
I gulped and nodded.
"Get in," he said. "I have a place up the road."
On the way, we exchanged names: Emma Foley and Ryan Mitchell. He asked me if I was hurt and I said no. To my delight, his place was a log cabin home—warm and comfortable.
"You'll have to stay the night," he said with a sympathetic look of concern as he closed the front door behind us. "Tomorrow we'll get your car towed out of the ditch. You want to call anyone? Your husband?"
"My folks, but not tonight. I don't want to worry them."
"Well!" my rescuer said, smiling now. "Are you hungry?"
It was only then that I surveyed his handsome, square-jawed face, and I liked what I saw, including his deep brown eyes and wavy brown hair. "Starved," I admitted. "The last time I ate was, like, five or six hours ago."
"I'm starved, too," he said. "I've had a long day. What were you doing out on a night like this in a blizzard?"
In my rambling answer I practically told him my life story. A graphic designer, I'd moved to Florida after graduating from college. But after being away from home for seven years, I'd decided that this spring I'd pack up and move back to the North Country where I belonged. I intended to spend Christmas with my folks—only a week away—and to surprise them with my news. "But I ended up in a blizzard," I said sadly, "in a ditch ten miles away from home. I can't thank you enough for rescuing me."
"My pleasure," he said, his eyes meeting mine warmly, while my cheeks flushed.
As Ryan threw everything he needed for spaghetti into a pot and I chopped vegetables for salad, he told me he was a wildlife zoologist at the local college.
The spaghetti was delicious. We chatted over our meal as if we were old friends, explaining our jobs and revealing a bit about our lives, each of us single and unattached. Oh my! After we'd cleared the table and loaded the dishwasher, he said, "This place has two bedrooms. You can hit the shower first. I have pajamas you can wear. Too big, of course, but..." His voice trailed off.
"That'll be fine," I said.
He raked his hand through his brown hair. "I never expected to find a beautiful woman alongside the road stranded in a snowstorm."
My cheeks flushed again. My eyes dipped momentarily. When I looked up, I found his gaze lingering on me. "And I never expected to be snowbound over night in a very kind man's cabin," I said softly.
"My pleasure," he said again. "How long will you be here?"
"Two weeks. Then I'll be moving back in the spring."
He nodded, as if he approved greatly and said, "Wonderful!"
We both smiled.
Then we said good night. I showered, and as I lay warm and snug in bed in his flannel pajamas, I decided that being snowbound is something else I like about snow and winter.
The End
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