Authors: Beth D. Carter
Love Story for a Snow Princess
When Panthea Snow loses her family in a horrific car crash, she needs something to keep her going. She decides to replace one family with another and signs up as a mail-order bride to a man living in the far north in Alaska. When she arrives, however, she realizes she can’t go through with it but is stuck in River Ice, Alaska, until the snow melts in a few weeks.
She meets Paden Winters and is drawn to him despite his moodiness and ill temper. As she gets to know him, she realizes they are both dealing with issues of healing and concealing pain. Only Paden deals with it by cutting himself for sexual satisfaction.
Can a woman who has an abnormal fear of blood and a man who cuts himself ever find happiness? Or are some pains too deep to overcome?
Note: This book contains cutting for sexual pleasure.
Beth D. Carter
Siren Publishing, Inc.
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IMPRINT: Erotic Romance
LOVE STORY FOR A SNOW PRINCESS
Copyright © 2012 by Beth D. Carter
First E-book Publication: July 2012
Cover design by Harris Channing
All cover art and logo copyright © 2012 by Siren Publishing, Inc.
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Love Story for a Snow Princess
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For my father, James, who passed away a week after I finished writing this story. One of the hardest things I’ve ever done was letting him go.
LOVE STORY FOR A SNOW PRINCESS
BETH D. CARTER
Copyright © 2012
Panthea Snow sighed and rubbed her temples with her fingertips in an effort to ease the growing tension headache. She glanced out of the airport’s tiny window, unable to see anything except white snow. She had been told it had snowed early, a freak storm that the weathermen stated was a prelude to a bad winter.
What the hell had she done? What colossal mess had she created?
Really, a mail-order bride? Who does that in today’s society? Oh. My. God.
Thea blinked, roused from her panicked musing to see a tall African-American man standing next to her.
“Yes?” she answered cautiously.
“I’m Yancy Ford, from Illa Partnership Services. I’m here to escort you to River Ice and to meet Mister Caleb Tasker.”
“Oh,” she said. “All right.”
“Let me help you with your luggage,” he said, bending to grab her two suitcases. “This way, Miss Snow. Hank Kirima will be flying us.”
Again, doubts assaulted her. Was it wise to travel thousands of miles to meet a man, one she had never met before, in order to see if they would be compatible for marriage? At the beginning of this journey, it had seemed so easy, so clear in her mind, that this step was vital for her sanity. But now doubts hammered incessantly through her mind.
It was hard to grasp that within a few days her name could change unless, of course, cold feet took hold of her first. Maybe her intended wouldn’t want her. Maybe he wouldn’t find her attractive.
“Miss Snow?” Mr. Ford was looking at her questioningly.
“Sorry,” Thea replied with a shake of her head.
She rose, grabbed her toiletry bag, and followed him. The airport attendant opened the bordering gate for them. As soon as the door to the tarmac opened, a strong gust of wind blew her back a step. Cold, unlike anything she had ever felt before, slithered its way under her coat, causing her to shiver and realize her knee-length parka wasn’t going to be enough against the glacial temperature.
Mr. Ford escorted her through the fierce wind to the end of the runway, where a seaplane waited. The pilot was a middle-aged man, with peppered-gray hair and beard, dressed in a long coat with a big furry hood. Thea eyed it enviously as another gust of wind blew her a few steps back.
“Hank is right over there, Miss Snow.”
Just as she approached Hank Kirima, another forceful gale managed to push her over, face down on the slick runway.
“Oh my!” the pilot gushed and rushed over to help her up. “Are you all right?”
“Just ducky,” she muttered, fighting off a wave of embarrassment.
Hank Kirima was half Eskimo with the broad forehead and flat nose of his ancestors. He gave her a wide grin as he helped her to stand.
“You must be Miss Snow,” Hank greeted warmly, holding out his hand.
She brushed off some loose snow before grasping his hand gingerly and giving him a huge smile, appreciating his easy manner to such a unique circumstance. But then, maybe it wasn’t so unusual for the men living so far north.
“We’ve got to get going,” Hank said, yelling a little to be heard above the strong wind. “The weather is changing fast, and a storm is coming. We’ve got to get out of here, or we’ll be stranded.”
If I’m going to change my mind and go back home, this would be the moment
, she thought. In a flash, the pros and cons came charging back, but the one thing that stuck out in her mind was the thought that she had no one, absolutely no one, left to go back home to.
With a nod, she let Hank help her board, and Mr. Ford sat next to her. Hank stacked the suitcases neatly around both of them then jumped into the pilot seat, handed her a headset, and started the plane. He talked to the control tower as they rolled down the runway, and in moments they were airborne.
“Caleb’s been mighty silent about you,” Hank said to her through the headset.
Surprised, Thea turned to him. “I suppose that’s because we don’t really know each other.”
“Guess so. He radioed me yesterday morning to fly you out, and I think that makes me the only one in River Ice to know he’s gotten himself a bride.”
“Would you want everyone in town to know you went through an agency for a wife?”
Hank grinned and shrugged. “I don’t know. If all the women are as lovely as you, I might sign up myself.”
Thea smiled. “If only your name had been in the book, Hank, who knows?”
A pleasant silence fell as they continued on, and twilight started to dim the cabin. With the sun shining its last rays over the snow crusted earth, everything became awash in violet, red, and gold.
“It’s quite beautiful,” she murmured, forgetting that someone else was listening.
“Breathtaking,” Hank agreed. “The Far North Territory isn’t an easy place to live. You’ve picked a harsh land.”
“Yes,” she agreed, not elaborating.
“But you’ll learn to love it.”
“I don’t know about that.”
“This environment makes you a stronger person,” Hank continued, as if he hadn’t heard her doubtful comment. “Makes you have a heartier resolve.”
“God’s honest truth,” he told her solemnly.
She watched out the window until the sun was gone and night shaded the land below. “I did some research on Alaska before I traveled, of course, but reading about it and seeing it are two different things.”
“Days are slightly different than what you’re used to,” he told her. “Sunrise right now in September is about eight in the morning and sunset around ten in the evening. By Christmas day you’ll only have about four hours of daylight but even then that’s more like twilight.”
“I can’t even imagine that!”
He laughed then pointed. “See that pinprick of light down there? That’s River Ice. It’s on the northern face of the Gates of the Arctic National Forest.”
Nerves suddenly attacked her belly, and her hands balled into fists. “Oh my goodness,” she whispered, more to herself than to anyone else.
“Scared?” Hank asked. She could hear his concern through the headset.
“Don’t you worry none. Caleb’s a good man.”
“He’s a widower, right?”
“Yeah,” Hank replied. “Claire was a good woman.”
Thea didn’t know how she felt about knowing the name of the woman she was going to be replacing.
Hank switched over to talk to the control tower and readied the plane for descent. The whole time, Thea’s heart thumped madly, and suddenly she wished she could call off the whole situation.
The plane landed way too soon for her taste, and once again she was frozen in place when Hank came around to open her door. He gave her a comforting pat. “It’ll be just fine, Miss Snow,” he whispered so only she could hear.
“Please, call me Thea.”
“All right, and you must call me Hank. Don’t you worry, now, okay? You need me, or need anything, you go to the Suinnak.”
“Means ‘good for nothing’ in Inuit.” He laughed. “It’s my sister’s diner. Her name is Miki. She’ll find me, don’t you worry.”
She gave a wobbly smile.
Hank held out his hand, she took it and left the comfort zone the plane had offered her.
Mr. Ford escorted her inside the small, one-room shack that served as the airport. A large generator stood next to the building, ready to be fired up when the electricity failed. They walked inside, and Thea stomped her feet to clear them of the crusted ice that had engulfed her Ugg boots. They had seemed like the logical choice at the time, but now her feet were freezing. Actually, everything was freezing. She frowned as she studied Mr. Ford and Hank, wondering where and when she could go shopping.