The Millionaire's Snowbound Seduction

By: Sandra Marton



Nick pulled beneath the canopy, stepped from the truck and unscrewed the cover to his gas tank.

‘Hey there, Mister, didn’t ya see the sign? Station’s closed.’

A man had come out of the clapboard house beyond the pumps and jerked his thumb at a hand-lettered sign tacked to the wall. He had the raw-boned look of an old-time New Englander and the accent to match.

‘No,’ Nick said, ‘sorry, I didn’t.’

‘Well, ya do now.’

‘Look, I need some gas. And you’re probably the only station open for miles.’

‘Ain’t open. Told ya, I’m closed.’

Nick flashed his most ingratiating smile.

‘My truck’s just about running on fumes,’ he said. ‘I’d really appreciate it if you’d let me fill up.’

‘Ain’t no need for gas,’ the old man said, ‘seein’ as there’s no place to go in a blizzard.’

Oh, hell. Nick took a deep breath and tried again. ‘Yeah, well, the weatherman says it’s not a blizzard. And by the time it is, I’ll be where I’m going, if you’ll let me have some gas.’

The old fellow looked him up, then looked him down. Nick found himself wishing he’d taken the time to exchange his black trench coat, charcoal suit and shiny black wingtips for the jeans, scuffed boots and old leather jacket he’d jammed into his suitcase. He’d almost given up hope when the guy shrugged and stomped down the steps to the pump.

‘It’s your funeral.’

Nick grinned. ‘I hope not.’

‘Where you headed?’

‘Just a few miles north.’ Nick peered towards the office. ‘You got a couple of five-gallon gasoline cans you could fill for me?’

‘Aye-yup.’

‘And maybe a couple of bags of sand?’

‘That, too.’

‘Great.’ Nick pulled out his wallet as the old guy screwed the cover back on the gas tank. ‘If you have some candles you’d be interested in selling, I’d be obliged.’

‘Well, at least you’re not a fool, young man, wantin’ to buy ice in Decembah.’

Nick laughed. ‘No, sir. No ice. Just the gas, the sand, the candles… Better safe than sorry, isn’t that what they say?’

‘The smart ones do, anyways. North, ya say. That’s where you’re goin’?’

‘Yes. To North Mountain.’

The old man turned around, a red gasoline can in each hand, and looked at Nick as if he were demented.

‘Ain’t been a soul come through here in months, headin’ for that mountain, and now there’s two of you, in one day.’

Nick frowned. ‘Somebody went up to the cabin?’

‘I suppose. Couldn’t tell ’em naught, either. Had the wrong car, wrong tires, wrong everythin’. Didn’t have no business on that mountain, I tell you that.’

That was for sure, Nick thought grimly. Vagrants, even damn-fool kids with nothing better to do than go joy-riding, could get into trouble in country this isolated.

On the other hand, vagrants didn’t drive cars, and kids around here had more sense than to be out in this kind of weather.

‘Hunters, maybe?’ he asked.

The old man guffawed. ‘Hunters? Naw. I don’t think so.’

Nick slid behind the steering wheel of the Explorer. ‘How many guys were there?’

‘Jest one, but—’

‘Thanks,’ Nick said. He waved, checked for the non-existent traffic, and pulled out onto the road.

‘But it weren’t guys a-tall, Mister. It were just this one pretty little woman…’

Too late. The truck had disappeared into the whirling snow.

The old man sighed. Crazy people, these city folk, he thought, and clomped back inside his house.

* * *

It took twice as long as it normally would have to make it up the mountain.

The drifting snow had buried the road in many places and at times the visibility was just about nonexistent. Nick kept an eye out for another car but there were no signs any had come this way. Of course, with the snow falling so heavily, there wouldn’t have been much chance of seeing tire tracks.

Still, when he finally reached the turn-off that led to the cabin, he scanned it carefully for signs of a trespasser, but there was nothing to see.

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