The Millionaire's Snowbound Seduction

By: Sandra Marton



‘Gonna be a bad ‘un,’ he’d said, in the clipped, Down-East twang she hadn’t heard in years.

Holly had smiled politely. ‘The weatherman says the storm’s not going to hit until after midnight. Besides, I’m not going very far.’

‘Weathuhman’s wrong,’ the old gent replied. ‘How far you goin’?’

‘Not very,’ Holly said, looking over at the battered ice machine that stood beside the gas station office. ‘Does that thing work?’

‘Aye-up, it works, though why you’d be wantin’ ice in the dead of winter is beyond me.’

Holly thought of the big ice chest she’d crammed into the trunk. It was stuffed with shrimp, lobsters, lobster tails, butter, clams, oysters and assorted other goodies. Then she thought of trying to explain all that to the old man.

‘I’ve got some stuff in an ice chest,’ she said, leaving off the details. ‘And I figure, just in case they forgot to clean out the freezer and turn it on, up in the cabin…’

‘Cabin on North Mountain?’ The old guy looked at her as if she were certifiably insane. ‘Is that where you’re goin’?’

‘Uh-huh.’ Holly popped open the trunk, dropped coins into the ice machine, then marched back to the car with two bags of cubes. ‘You just about finished there?’

‘Won’t have much worry about the freezer bein’ on, Missy. Storm like the one that’s comin’, you won’t have no power at all. Assumin’ you’ll make it to the top, that is, which you most likely won’t.’

Holly shut the ice chest, then the trunk, and wiped her gloved hands on her wool slacks.

‘Ever a font of good cheer,’ she said brightly. ‘Okay, how much do I owe you?’

‘Chains.’

‘I beg your pardon?’

‘Chains,’ the old guy said. Holly held out a twenty-dollar bill, and he took it from her hand. ‘Bettah still, you ought to have a cah with four-wheel drive.’

‘I’ve driven up the mountain before,’ Holly replied politely. ‘I’ll be fine.’

‘Aye-up, most times, mebbe.’ He cocked an eye towards the sky. ‘ But there’s a storm comin’ in.’

‘Not really,’ she said, even more politely. ‘The weather reports say—’

The old man’s lip curled. ‘Don’t care what they say.’ Carefully, he plopped Holly’s change into her outstretched hand. ‘Storm’s comin’. Bad one. You at least got them new-fangled brakes in that car?’

What new-fangled brakes? Holly almost said. She hadn’t owned a car in years. What was the point, when you lived in the heart of Boston? Besides, she’d spent the past six months in a Tuscan farmhouse, up to her elbows in olive oil, plum tomatoes, and garlic, and the last three weeks on a whirlwind tour across the States, signing copies of Ciao Down With Holly, the book that had come out of her stay in Tuscany. She knew all there was to know about the differences between the cuisines of Northern and Southern Italy, but brakes were something else entirely.

Not that it mattered. She’d be at the cabin before the old doomsayer’s prophecies came true. So she’d smiled pleasantly and said her brakes were just fine, thanks, and then she’d driven off, watching in her rearview mirror as he’d stood looking after her, shaking his head mournfully.

‘Ridiculous,’ Holly had muttered to herself, as she’d made the turn onto the road that led up North Mountain. As if some old man in the middle of nowhere could do a better job predicting the weather than the CNN meteorologists…

Halfway up the mountain, the snow started falling.

At first, the flakes were big and lazy. They settled prettily onto the branches of the tall pine trees that clung to the slope on Holly’s left while sailing gracefully off the precipice to her right. But within minutes the wind picked up and the snow went from lazy to fierce, changing direction so that now she was driving headfirst into an impenetrable cloud of white. And there was no way to turn back. The road was too narrow and far too dangerous for that.

She was driving blind, trapped in the heart of what seemed to be the beginning of a blizzard. All she could do was hunch over the steering wheel, urge the car forward inch by slippery inch, and try not to wonder whether or not she had the ‘new-fangled’ brakes she’d pooh-poohed just half an hour ago.

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