Alone and snowed in by a massive blizzard in a small Colorado town when he should be skiing with his buddies, Navy SEAL Logan Harper is prepared for a few lonely days. But when he rescues Arianna Moore after she crashes her car outside his cabin, Logan welcomes his alluring, unexpected houseguest. The mysterious woman intrigues him as he looks forward to learning what or who she’s running from.
After a couple of days in close quarters, their mutual attraction leads to both their erotic fantasies being fulfilled, and neither wants the blizzard to end. When her secrets are discovered, will they destroy any chance at love or can their hearts fight for what they want? Can she build the life she always dreamed of?
Logan Harper stood in line at the grocery store wondering why it was so busy on a Tuesday afternoon. The frenzied scene played out more like Black Friday sales at Christmas, with people pushing and shoving their way through the aisles. Women with young kids in tow crammed carriages full of cereal, crackers, and cookies. Others had firewood and batteries. Still others grabbed up sodas and juices. A long line formed at one of the video rental kiosks. Was there a sale he didn’t know about?
He didn’t let the long wait get to him. He was in no rush. It was his vacation and he planned to make the most of it. Once the elderly lady in front of him got her coupons sorted, it was almost his turn to checkout. She reminded him of his grandma, so he made a mental note to give Nana a call, maybe stop by for a surprise visit after vacation.
Then Logan saw it. The reason for the commotion. A blizzard warning for the area blared across a small television in the front of the store. Elderly men stood around the set with their canes, sipping coffee and listening intently. Colorado was used to this kind of weather so Logan didn’t understand all the fuss as he loaded his groceries onto the conveyor belt. Hell, the state was already covered in about three feet of snow from previous winter storms. It being January, they had a long way to go before spring and the snowstorms let up.
“I see you’re stocking up for the blizzard too,” the middle-aged woman running the cash register said as she rang up his items. “This place has been a madhouse since they abruptly changed the forecast early this morning. Never seen anything like it.”
“Actually, I’m just in town for a few days. I welcome the fresh powder though. Meeting some buddies for some skiing,” he said, hoping he hadn’t forgotten anything.
“Oh, that’s too bad.” The lady frowned as if commiserating with him.
“Too bad? Why?” he asked, wondering why he was letting himself be dragged into a conversation when he really just wanted to get the hell out of the chaos.
“Oh, dear. There won’t be any skiing any time soon,” she said, nodding at the television and the weatherman going over snowfall totals.
“Looks like there’s only about four inches expected. No big deal,” he said, pulling his bankcard from his wallet and slipping it in the machine to pay. He’d never get used to paying for groceries without worrying what every little thing cost or if he’d run out of money.
The woman laughed while she helped another clerk bag his groceries. “That’s not inches. That’s feet,” she exclaimed.
All he could do was stare at her while he waited to sign the machine. “Feet?” Looking closer at the television, he saw what she meant.
“Yes, feet. Honey, that blizzard is supposed to last all week. The weatherman is talking about people being snowed in for days. Roads closed. Businesses closed. The governor already called for a state of emergency starting this afternoon. He’s even mobilized the National Guard and prohibited anyone from being on the roads after three.”
Logan had a bad feeling about this as he loaded the last bag in his cart and thanked the lady. Walking to his truck, the skies had turned from sunny to overcast since he’d been inside the last hour. It was cold and the wind was picking up. Shit. The guys weren’t arriving until tomorrow morning. He quickly loaded the bags into the backseat while another customer waited for his carriage.
Once inside the truck, he found the news station and listened as he drove back to the cabin he and his buddies rented for the week. It didn’t sound good since the announcer repeated the same thing that the clerk had. Blizzard coming. Extremely dangerous blizzard. White-out conditions expected within ten hours. Massive snow totals. Road closures. And airport closures by the evening.
Logan swore a mouthful as he hit the button on his steering wheel to dial Miller Daly. No answer. He left a message. “Hey, asswipe, call me.”
Next he tried Cade Granville. Again, no fucking answer. “Where are all you guys? Having a hug fest or something? Call me ASAP.”
Frustrated as all hell, he dialed Chance Wallace and relief flooded him when he answered.
“Aww, what’s up, Logan. Miss us already?” Chance teased.
“Yeah, like an itchy ass. Listen, you guys need to fly out now. There’s a blizzard coming and they’re closing the airports.”
“Just heard about that,” Chance said. “Miller’s on the phone now seeing what he can pull off.”
“All right. Text me the details. I just stocked up on food and liquor. Get back to me when you know something,” Logan said, disconnecting as he turned down the road leading to the cabin. The road was getting icy so he slowed down. Crashing the rental truck would just top off his day.
Small snowflakes dotted the windshield as he pulled into the driveway and drove the half-mile to park in front of the huge log cabin. The small town outside Denver sported a small population with houses spread out, neighbors far away from each other. Good. He enjoyed the isolation and solitude. Better to relax now and be rowdy when the guys arrived.
Stepping out into the frigid air took Logan’s breath away. He spent most of his time in the hot Middle East or South East Asian countries where the sun baked everything in sight. Maybe that’s why the cold stung more right now than it should. He’d become a pussy in the cold weather.
Lugging the bundles inside, Logan was still amazed they’d scored such an awesome place for the week. Man, this was definitely living. The house had every high-end feature you could imagine. Five bedrooms, six baths, fireplace in the living room, chef’s dream kitchen with a woodstove that kicked off some serious heat, large dining room with long mahogany table for twelve, game room in the basement, exercise room equipped with massage tables, sauna and steam room, a wine cellar stocked with hundreds of bottles, and a movie theatre to accommodate ten. And only miles from the best skiing Denver had to offer.
After Logan finished carrying all the bags in, he started a fire in the living room before putting the food away. If there was that much snow coming, he’d chop some more wood just to be on the safe side. No sense running out of logs when there was ample time to prepare. And he sure the hell didn’t want to freeze his balls off doing it in the middle of a snowstorm.
Thank God he’d offered to come ahead of the guys and get everything set up. He’d been itching to get the hell out of the city and onto the slopes for some much needed down time. If they’d all waited to come together then they’d have no damn food. He’d gone hungry before while on missions and growing up, but it wasn’t how he wanted to spend his vacation. The fat juicy steaks in the fridge and tons of other meat would keep them all well fed. Along with the cases of cold beer and whiskey, there wasn’t much else they needed.
His phone rang and one glimpse showed it was Chance. “Talk to me, buddy. When y’all getting your sorry asses here?”
“Bad news, brother,” Chance said, his voiced laced with disappointment. “All flights are cancelled into Denver until further notice. They don’t expect to be operational again for days.”
Logan scowled. “Are you shitting me? You can’t fly in at all? What the fuck? It’s barely snowing yet.”
“Believe me, we’re just as disappointed. Airport said the storm is due to impact the area in the next few hours with conditions rapidly deteriorating. Said something about it suddenly changing course and hitting Denver when it was only supposed to be flurries.”
He scratched his head and paced. “What the hell am I supposed to do here by myself? You have no idea how much food I just bought,” Logan complained into the phone.
“Build snowmen, I don’t fucking know,” Chance said with a laugh. “We’ll keep an eye on things, and if the storm clears in time then we’ll get on a flight.”
“So much for chilling out and hitting the trails. Keep me updated,” Logan said before disconnecting.
It had been hard enough for them all to coordinate their schedules now that all his buddies except him and Killian were hitched. And here he was with single life haunting him again. What good was all this with no one to share? He enjoyed his alone time, but this would be overdoing it.
Looking around at the huge log cabin, he cursed the blizzard’s bad timing. Just what the hell was he going to do in this huge place all by himself and he couldn’t even go outside to ski? Needing to burn off the temper building inside at the unfortunate predicament, he threw his coat and hat on, grabbed gloves and the ax on the porch to go chop firewood. Nothing like manual labor to ease tension.
Outside, he checked the attached garage and pulled his truck inside. He may be stuck with Mother Nature, but didn’t mean he was going to be stuck shoveling out the truck. The garage was massive and could hold about three more vehicles. There were also four skimobiles he’d have to check out once the storm let up. Maybe he could at least get some thrills if skiing was out of the question. Closing the garage, he walked over to where hundreds of logs waited to be chopped.
The snow had changed to an icy mix, covering the long driveway with a shine that would most certainly be slippery like an ice rink. He swung the ax over and over and steadily built a large pile. Taking a break from swinging the heavy metal tool, he hauled armfuls of the chopped wood into the enclosed front porch, mindful of the icy ground. His muscles screamed from the workout, but it felt good to be doing something useful. He feared he’d go out of his mind being stuck out here alone and bored. At least he’d have plenty of firewood.
Thank God, the cabin came with a well-stocked movie library of various thrillers and military movies that he’d perused on arrival. That, plus the reading material he’d been smart enough to pack to get through any flight delays, would hopefully help him pass the time unless either his buddies could arrive or he could go home.
Logan decided to call it a day and hung up the ax inside the porch. He gathered the last of the logs to lug them in and go have a cold beer when a loud bang had him standing upright, fully aware, and ready to attack. With all his senses on high alert, Logan scanned the area in front of him. That was definitely something hitting something. Hard.
He dropped the firewood by his feet and kept his eyes glued to the woods down at the end of the driveway. No sign of smoke. No other sounds. Had he imagined the noise? Could he already be so bored he was hallucinating problems that weren’t there?
Fuck that. He’d heard something. And that something sounded like a car hitting something.
“Shit,” he said, and set out at a jog down the driveway, knowing full well he’d never relax unless he investigated. Just a few steps onto the driveway, he almost fell on his ass from the black ice left behind from the sleet that now turned back to flurries. “Really?” he complained, knowing there was no one to answer him.
Taking to the snow piles lining the length of the drive slowed his pace but kept him upright. The half-mile to the road seemed like an eternity. Once on the road, Logan looked up and down but saw no signs of anyone or anything amiss. There were no vehicles. No houses. Nothing.
“Hello,” he yelled, cupping his hands over his mouth. “Anyone out there? Do you need help?”
No answer. A deer skirted through the woods across the street and disappeared from view.
He tried again. “Hello. Anyone out there? Do you need help?”
He stood and listened for about ten minutes before reaching for his cell phone to call the sheriff, who would be better equipped than him to check this out. Damn it. Left his cell on the charger in the cabin. With one final look in all directions and feeling confident that there was nothing wrong, he walked back to the cabin.
Once inside, the warmth from the fireplace was welcome for his frozen face. The air had gotten bitterly cold and standing in the middle of an open roadway probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do with the winds lashing him.
Picking up his cell, he dialed. “Hello, sheriff’s office? I’m staying in the rental at 1105 Canyon Road. I heard a loud bang out on the roadway about twenty minutes ago and wondered if you could send someone to check it out.”
“What kind of bang would you say it was?” the dispatcher asked in a cocky voice, as if Logan was interrupting him.
“The kind that sounded like a car hitting something. I ran up to the road but saw nothing,” Logan said, picturing a skinny, pimple-faced asshole on the other end.
“Probably nothing then.”
Logan clenched his jaw, wishing he could reach through the phone and grab the twerp by the throat. “Well, could you humor me and send someone to check it out? Couldn’t have been too far from my cabin.”
The man sighed. “We have a blizzard bearing down on us.”
“Well, it ain’t here yet and I know what I heard. Now, if you can’t help me, get me someone who can and do it now,” Logan said, his voice booming through the room with the temper growing inside him. Little freaking idiot.
“Relax. I’ll send a car, but I’m willing to bet it was just snow falling from the treetops. Stuff gets heavy with sleet. Outsiders tend to get skittish to noises around here,” the man said with a know-it-all attitude.
Logan stared at the phone before placing it back to his ear. Did he just call him skittish? He’d never been skittish a day in his life. Counting to ten, he made it to three before speaking. “Send the car. Check it out. God forbid, there’s someone hurt. I’ll make sure you’re held responsible you, dickhead.”
“Now that’s no way—” the man began before Logan hung up.
He poured himself a coffee and stood by the large picture window facing the road and watched for any sign of the sheriff’s deputy sent to investigate. He swore that if the little fucker didn’t send someone then he’d be taking a trip into town—blizzard or no blizzard—to kick his sorry ass, jail or no jail.
Finally, after about twenty minutes, blue lights lit up the road as a police car drove up and down a few times then pulled down the driveway to the cabin. Logan prayed it was the little fucker from dispatch.
He stepped out to greet the deputy, an older, heavyset man who didn’t even get out of the vehicle. Standing in only a heavy sweater, Logan planned to make this short and sweet before he froze his ass off.
“Afternoon,” the deputy said, after rolling down his window and turning off his blue lights. “You the fella who reported a noise?”
“Yes, sir. Logan Harper.”
“Well, Mr. Harper,” he began before Logan cut him off.
“Please. Call me Logan.”
The man studied him for a moment. “Logan. I checked out the entire road in front of your place. Nothing there. Nothing out of the ordinary. No skid marks that would indicate a crash,” he said in a slow, laid back dialog without concern that the noise was anything but a noise. Was Logan the only one with a brain in his head today? Something had to make that bang.
“If I had to guess that’s what I’d say it sounded like, a car hitting something,” Logan offered.
“Well, I couldn’t find the origin of the noise, but I don’t think it’s anything to worry about. This time of year, trees tend to fall under the weight of snow, could’ve been that.” The man handed him a business card. “Here’s my cell just in case you can’t get through the station should you hear anything else.”
“Appreciate it,” Logan said, cramming the card into the back pocket of his jeans.
“You part of the group of military men renting this place out for the week?” the man asked, his hand slung over the steering wheel.
News sure did travel fast in small towns. “Yes, sir. Unfortunately, I’m the only one who got in before the snow. The rest had their flights cancelled.”
“Yeah, this storm was a surprise. Looks to be a real pain in the ass too.” He offered his hand through the window. “I’m Sheriff Rutdger, you give me a call if you need anything.” At least he was friendlier than the dispatcher.
Logan shook his hand. “I appreciate that since whoever is working your phones is an idiot,” he said with no apologies.
The sheriff laughed hard. “Yes, he is. Unfortunately, he’s my brother’s son. I swear he’s a few watts short of a light bulb, but he’s a body and, right now with this snow emergency, I need all the bodies I can get.”
Logan understood. “I won’t take any more of your time, sheriff. Appreciate the follow up.”
“Any time.” The sheriff rolled up his window. Logan turned and walked inside to the welcoming the blast of heat from the fireplace.
Staring back out the window, he watched as the sheriff backed out of the driveway and drove out of sight. At least the man in charge came out to inspect and not the friggin’ phone idiot. But something still didn’t seem right to Logan. How can a noise that loud not have a reason for it? Oh, well. He did his civic duty.
Kicking off his boots near the door, he stretched out on the long couch in front of the TV. Logan was sick of hearing about the weather, so he clicked through the channels until something interested him. Later, he’d check out the home theatre downstairs. Those overstuffed leather recliners looked more than comfortable.
Still, he couldn’t concentrate on the buildings blowing up on the wide screen television. He kept glancing at the windows, something gnawing at his gut.
Cursing, he shut his eyes and willed himself to rest. No sense worrying about something that didn’t need worrying about.
Want to be updated on upcoming Christina James' novels? Then sign up for Christina's Newsletter and you'll receive emails highlighting upcoming books and excerpts. Emails are never shared with anyone else.