The unexpected end of a relationship sends Stephen searching for peace of mind in the tranquil woodlands of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Just when it looks like he’ll be spending his time snowed in with a deck of cards as his only companion, the woman of his dreams shows up on his doorstep.
Audrey is having the worst time of her life. After a phone call that shatters her world, she finds herself stuck in the snow on an impassible mountain road. With little choice but to abandon her car, she seeks shelter in a nearby hunting cabin and meets a man that she had never expected to exist.
The romance that ensues gives Stephen and Audrey a taste of what’s been missing from life, but Audrey has a prior commitment. As long as the storm rages they can be together, but snow can’t fall forever.
The old hunting cabin creaked in a strong gust of winter wind. A biting chill hung in the early-morning air, making the prospect of getting out of the warm bed unappealing. Stephen pulled the covers over his head, leaving only his face exposed, and went back to sleep. By the time he looked outside, a foot of snow had already fallen and was drifted several feet deep in places. The power had gone out during the night, but luckily, he had spent the last two days cutting firewood and repairing the backup generator that had gone on the fritz. An old wood-burning stove sat in the middle of the main room near the dining table. It was mostly used for heat, since the cabin had a modern kitchen, but could still be used for cooking in a pinch. He stoked the fire, tossed in some fresh logs, and put a pot of water on to boil. There was no way he was going out in a blizzard to crank the generator without having a cup of hot coffee waiting when he got back.
Snow had begun drifting up against the door to the outbuilding housing the generator. Stephen shoveled it clear and went inside. He had enough fuel to last for a few days. His friends were on the way to meet him and would probably bring gas for their ATVs. Even with no juice from the power company, they’d still have all the comforts of home for the week. Stephen held his finger over the starter button, hesitating for a second, took a deep breath, and pushed. The generator purred to life as easily as it had two days earlier when he finished cleaning the varnish from the carburetor.
If the weather had been clear, his friends would have been arriving at any moment, but given the blizzard conditions, he could only sip his coffee and hope they’d show. He had already spent two days alone and was going nuts for some company. His life back home consisted of a failed relationship, a dead-end job, and an empty townhouse. The only thing he had to look forward to was hanging out with his buddies, getting drunk, and dreaming of a better future. When the opportunity had come to get off work a couple days early, he jumped at it and headed to the backwoods of Virginia to await his friends.
That unique crunching sound that freshly fallen snow makes when it gets compacted came from somewhere near the cabin, accompanied by the faint noise of an engine revving and tires spinning. The snow had too much of a muffling effect for him to distinguish one truck from another. It could have been any of the guys, but it didn’t make much difference. Someone had finally arrived, hopefully the one with the beer and cigars.
Stephen hurried to the door and gazed out toward the driveway, but no one was there. A blast of wind-driven snowflakes stung his face. If George were the first arrival, like usual, he was probably sitting at the bottom of the steep drive, fighting to lock the manual hubs on his battered old Chevy pickup. He’d have two big adjustable wrenches, one on the hub and the other slotted on to the first for leverage, but brute force never worked on the stubborn things. It took a measure of finesse that Stephen had in abundance, but George could never manage in a stressful situation, like when he was stuck in the middle of a blinding snowstorm.
Stephen quickly bundled up and stepped outside to listen, but all he heard was the wind whipping noisily through the trees. If George was really there, he should have been swearing loud enough for half the state to hear him. Apparently, one of the other guys had beaten him, but that didn’t explain why no one had driven up the hill to the cabin. Stephen carefully made his way down the steep, winding driveway to the road. He hung his head and stared at the tire tracks in the deep snow. They were too narrow to have been made by a truck. He flipped his sock cap up off his ears and held his breath. Nature in all her wintry glory made the only audible sounds.