CAN THIS HOLIDAY GET ANY WORSE?
| Victoria |
THE LIGHTS IN THE CABIN suddenly go out before I can step foot outside. The snowstorm outside grows stronger. I stare in horror. The cold winter wind blows into the house and seeps into my jacket, raising goosebumps and chilling me from within. The atmosphere is heavy with a thick layer of snow gusting strongly in a single direction, inhibiting me from seeing five feet in front of me. No, no, no. This can’t be happening.
“Of all the days, today?” I run my fingers through my hair stressfully, glaring at the raging pale white sky.
“Afraid you’ll get your precious boots wet, snowflake?” The insufferable tone, belonging to the shifter I’ve grown to hate, pierces the air around us. Gritting my teeth, I face the snow leopard leaning against the couch. He stares back at me, his lips curled with a condescending attitude and his arms crossed typically over his chest.
“No, I was just leaving.” I smile thinly at him, my hand itching to reach up and wipe that sly smile off his perfect face. His tongue traces his bottom lip, and he chuckles, pushing off the couch and striding toward me. My shoulders tense as he toys with my irritability.
As handsome as this leopard shifter may be, he gets on my last nerve. Ever since I arrived, we never got along. I had taken a flight to visit family for Christmas in Canada, but this very snowstorm caused us to land at a different airport just a few miles away from my destination. From there, I hitched a ride to the nearest town closest to my family, this one. The only place in this town I could stay at was this cabin belonging to Lennox, the cocky snow leopard with an inflated ego.
Turning to leave, I begin to step outside, but a large hand wraps around my bicep and pulls me back. I swallow thickly as his warmth seems to seep through my jacket, but my anger soon overpowers the sensations coursing through. The door closes in front of me, held shut by a pale white hand.
“I may be cold, but I’m not cruel enough to let you go outside in this storm.” He practically growls into my ear in a deafening tone no one would dare to challenge. His proximity stirs everything in me as his crisp cologne wafts over me.
I shake off the feeling churning in my heart, like butterflies filling my stomach as a raging heat envelopes my body.
“It’s not that bad. I can make it to town.” I remain still, my tone determined.
“Snow… did you hit your head on your way here?” He scoffs and turns me to face him. His features conceal his emotions, and a deep frown settles on his face. Not like I’d expect any concern from him anyway.
“Why would you think that?” I take a step back from his hold and cross my arms over my chest defensively. “You think just because I’m from the city I wouldn’t know how to handle walking through a storm?”
“That and you aren’t a shifter.” He raises an eyebrow at me, his icy blue eyes piercing me like an icicle. “You’ll turn into a block of ice before you can reach your fifth step.”
Groaning, I step around him and peer into his living room. “Fine. What do you suppose I do then?”
He shrugs and gestures toward his couch.
“Crash for a night? Beats me.” He lets out a deep breath, looking and sounding bored with me.
“I will not spend another minute on that damn couch, Lennox.” I raise my voice at him, dropping my purse onto the ground to point a finger at him. “It’s uncomfortable and smells like someone dropped fried crap onto it for years.”
“You’re lucky I gave you a cushion to sleep on. Anyone else would’ve left you on the floor without a blanket. If you’re that ungrateful, then leave and freeze out there, snowflake.” He sneers and takes a step toward me, straightening his back and locking his jaw. “Wouldn’t matter to me either way.”
I grit my teeth, painfully this time. I hold his stare in a challenge as the anger within me churns and burns to the core. His eyebrow twitches and a vein bulges on his forehead.
“You bastard.” I pick up my purse and hit his chest with it, pushing him toward the steps upstairs. “You’re one hell of a jerk for that.”
He only chuckles at my attempt at hurting him, as if I were a mere misbehaving child, but he allows me to push him up the stairs. His thick wool sweater feels warm in my grip, and that forsaken scent of his cologne threatens to break through me. I look up at him to give him a piece of my mind, but I find myself transfixed by his gaze. Up close, his blue eyes appear to be crystals, and his blond hair looks soft, the curls having a delicate pattern.
I shake my thoughts away and push him one last time, his firm stance not wavering one bit.
Curse this handsomely irritating shifter.
“I’ll see you at dinner. Try not to make too much noise while unpacking.” He ascends the stairs, leaving me alone to figure out my situation.
That snaps me out of it, and I ball my fists up to keep from throwing the lamp on the pedestal beside me at him.
This is such a nightmare. I’m stuck sleeping on a couch in the impossibly cold night because he’s too much of an asshole to find the key to his spare room just down the hall. This entire place sucks.
Unpacking my bags is quick as I already have everything organized and had previously stored my stuff in the old dresser he dragged down from the attic. The dresser had been dusty and took me quite a while to clean and ensure no bugs would make themselves comfortable in my clothing. Needless to say, as soon as my head hits the couch pillow disappointment hits me.
Staying at the cabin for two days took everything out of me. This man is insufferable with his actions. He always sneers his words at me and scowls whenever I’m in the kitchen. Yet, I still find myself wanting to know what made him this cold and obnoxious to the point of treating me like a nuance. That and he is undeniably gorgeous. The way he handles himself outside in this freezing cold weather awakens something within me, something looming and seductive.
I shift to sit on the couch and peer around the room. The only light source is the windows, and what little sunlight reflects off the snow and peeks inside. The garland over the fireplace and the Christmas wreaths over the windows are shut off. Their once bright colors are now dull without their lights to illuminate. I frown at the Christmas tree heavily ornamented in the corner. It looks so sad with the lights off. This whole place was at least decorated for the holidays, some light and joy for my stay.
I rub my arms with my mittened hands, the temperature inside beginning to drop to a chill. My fluffy cotton blanket seems like it won’t be enough for the night and that worries me. Tugging my sweater closer and tucking my feet covered by my fluffy socks beneath my legs seems to help preserve some warmth. God, these nights to come are going to be nightmarish.
Lennox comes down the stairs holding a toolbox and steps toward the back door. I watch him intently as he opens it, the cold wind drafting over him and not affecting him a single bit. Hell, he’s not even wearing a coat to go out, just a wool sweater to cover that broad chest and what I imagine is an eight pack underneath. What?
Swallowing back, I remain transfixed on the couch as he closes the door and disappears into the storm. I have to control my thoughts, I freaking loathe this man and his actions, yet my subconscious seems to drool over him. If I focus on how he treats me, I should be fine. Or is that the issue? Could I be attracted to his cold, abrasive side? The mystery behind his actions and the dirty aspect of him. How rough he could be in bed because of it. Manhandle me in bed. Would he be the type to tie me to the headboard and have his way with me? His lips on my neck, teeth teasing and nipping my skin. His hands, all over me as I’m helpless beneath him.
Get a fucking grip, Victoria.
The door slams open, and a string of muttered curses startles me out of my thoughts and inner battle with myself. A frustrated-looking Lennox walks into the house, his whitened knuckles holding the broken toolbox tightly.
“I’ll get you extra blankets for your stay. This outage is unfixable without proper tools.” He grumbles out, heading straight for the stairs without looking at me. I stand up at that.
“What about a backup gen—”
“That was the backup. We’re in the dark, Snowflake. Bundle up.” He sighs, his shoulders tensed, and a deeply irritated aura leaks out of him. I don’t dare step closer, but I still have pressing questions.
“I’ll freeze overnight like this, Lennox. Can’t you get the heating back on at least?”
“I’ll light the fireplace in a minute. I’m not a damn magician.” He grumbles, turning around and towering over me. “If you don’t like it, feel free to leave.”
“I really want to, trust me. I’d rather sleep with the wolves over you.” I scoff.
He steps closer and gets in my face. Trouble is behind those stormy eyes.
“Care to repeat yourself, sweetheart? I don’t think I heard you right.”