Read Snowbound with a Stranger Online

Authors: Rebecca Rogers Maher

Snowbound with a Stranger

BOOK: Snowbound with a Stranger
13.03Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Snowbound with a Stranger
By Rebecca Rogers Maher

Dannie Marino is hiking with colleagues when a sudden blizzard separates her from her group. She’s rescued by Lee, a dangerously sexy stranger who leads her to a remote cabin to weather the storm.

When the night inevitably ends in an intense erotic encounter, Dannie is both shocked and liberated by her response. But being intimate means letting herself be vulnerable, which isn’t her style. Lee tries to reach out to her, but she avoids any emotional entanglement by pushing him away.

Snowed in and unable to hide from each other, Dannie and Lee must both face up to their most closely guarded emotions. When the storm abates, will they be able to stop running from the past and live fully in the future?

24,000 words

Dear Reader,

I love May. In my part of the world, May is the beginning of two things: beach season and festival season. Granted, beach season is just barely starting in May, but it’s still starting. And with the unseasonably warm winter we’re having, perhaps it won’t be too cold for the beach, even in early May. As for the festivals, well, in my area we’re spoiled for choice. From April to October we have everything from BBQ and beach festivals, to apple, strawberry and watermelon festivals—even a river festival. It seems like every week there’s something new to look forward to!

But if festivals don’t interest you it doesn’t mean you can’t have something to look forward to as well. Each week in May we showcase a variety of new Carina Press titles.

This month we’re proud to present debut author Cynthia Justlin’s compelling novel
Edge of Light.
A true spine-tingling and thrilling romantic suspense, this is one that will have you on the edge of your seat and wondering where this author has been! Get ready for a fantastic read.

Kicking off May, we have
Brook Street: Rogues
by Ava March, which finishes up her fantastic male/male historical novella trilogy. Releasing along with Ava is paranormal romantic suspense author Alexia Reed and her novel
Hunting the Shadows.

Later in May are three historical romances joining the Carina Press lineup. From Jennifer Bray-Weber comes a swashbuckling pirate adventure,
The Siren’s Song.
Alyssa Everett gives us a charming and passionate Regency romance in
Ruined by Rumor.
The White Swan Affair
by Elyse Mady is the third of our historical romance offerings this month.

Not quite historical romance but in the historical period comes Christine Bell’s new steampunk romance
The Bewitching Tale of Stormy Gale.
Join Christine as she takes you on a romantic adventure through time.

Two erotic romance books are sure to satisfy those craving a slightly naughtier story. Check out
Let Me In
by Callie Croix, a hot BDSM novella, and Daire St. Denis’s erotic ménage romance
Party of Three.

Rounding out the month of May are releases from two returning Carina Press authors.
Guarding Jess
by Shannon Curtis is the next novel in her McCormack Security Agency series and the follow-up to her debut title,
Viper’s Kiss.
Rebecca Rogers Maher offers up a satisfying and emotional, yet sexy, read in her contemporary romance novella
Snowbound with a Stranger.

I hope you enjoy this month’s new releases as much as we’ve enjoyed bringing them to you.

We love to hear from readers, and you can email us your thoughts, comments and questions to
[email protected]
. You can also interact with Carina Press staff and authors on our blog, Twitter stream and Facebook fan page.

Happy reading!

~Angela James
Executive Editor, Carina Press

www.carinapress.com
www.twitter.com/carinapress
www.facebook.com/carinapress

Dedication

To Anne

Acknowledgments

Thank you to the entire Carina Press team and especially to Melissa Johnson, an editor who routinely makes me laugh and continues to teach me how to be a stronger writer. Thank you to Lisa Hinshaw and Anne Kadet, early readers of this manuscript, steadfast friends and all-around beautiful people. Thank you to Kevin Maher, my sexy, talented and compassionate husband. And thank you to every nurse, social worker, teacher, firefighter, doctor, police officer, physical therapist and other community worker who puts his or her life and sanity at stake every day for the benefit of our collective health and happiness. I am grateful for your dedication and service.

Contents

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

About the Author

Copyright

Chapter One

She noticed him right away. That wasn’t a good sign.

It was his chest, really. How broad and strong he looked. The way the sun caught the gold stubble of his buzz-cut hair as he stepped off the parking lot. The fact that he wore enough layers of wool and polypropylene to insulate a small army. The way he shouldered his thick pack as though it weighed nothing.

She looked away before he saw her.

The sky was overcast and the air punishingly cold. Dannie breathed in gratefully. The world out here was blissfully simple in its total indifference to her. And she was sick to death of complicated things. Here in the mountains there was one goal only: try not to die. She tightened the laces of her boots and joined the group.

“Everybody ready?”

Dr. Stevens gathered the hikers in a loose semicircle. As the head of her department, he’d been leading monthly mountain hikes for staff and friends for as long as she could remember. Dannie joined in on the occasional free Saturday.

Not that she was the typical joining type or particularly social. Other hikers rarely attempted to strike up a conversation with her. And if they did, she’d offer only marginally polite monosyllables in response to their chipper small talk. Eventually they gave up and talked to someone else.

She couldn’t abide chitchat on the mountain. There was enough noise in her regular life. Up here she preferred silence.

Parking Lot Guy quietly joined the group. The hair rose on the back of Dannie’s neck. She didn’t recognize him from the hospital, and he’d never been on any of the hikes before. She wondered who he was, and then shoved the thought away, irritated with herself.

She wasn’t here to meet a man. She was here to get the hell out of the city. To see some damn nature and relax. To hike until she was too exhausted to think.

“It’s a pretty straightforward hike to the cabin.” Dr. Stevens stared at each of them in turn, the corners of his eyes crinkling. “I hope you appreciate the fact that I’m allowing you cretins to enter my little getaway. Don’t tell the others or they’ll all be banging down the door. Lee, you got the map?”

Behind Dannie a deep voice answered, “Yep. Got it.”

She turned as he looked up and caught the full force of his green eyes.

Jesus.

Briefly he nodded in her direction. He held her gaze a little too long, and when he smiled, she looked quickly away.

“Good. Lee here’s a fine man to have around on the mountain.” Dr. Stevens checked his watch. “Should take two, maybe three hours to get up there. We stop, have lunch and then head on back before the storm moves in. Stick together. No cell reception up here and the trail’s not marked. If you get separated from the group, you’re in trouble. Lee, bring up the rear, all right? I’ll lead.”

“Sure.”

Dannie hastened to the front of the line.

There were six of them this time, including the doctor. At their Brooklyn hospital they called him Dr.
Waldo
. His uncanny resemblance to a certain perpetually missing cartoon character was a source of unending amusement to all the staff. The name lent a certain extra charm to the nature hikes he led. The cloud of red frizz on top of his head shined out like a beacon, even when clamped under a hat. Dannie kept her eyes on that frizz and set out on the trail.

In the mountains it usually took a full hour for her head to clear. Two hours before she could even begin to appreciate the scenery around her. A full day, sometimes, before the constant echo of hospital beeping would flush itself out of her system. For these first few minutes all she could do was walk and breathe. And let the cacophonous thoughts in her head swirl out one by one.

She’d had a patient last week—a woman she’d come to know well over the past several months—who was sick with complications from lupus. Two young kids at home. An immune system like a fucking sieve. Sick all the time with every virus that passed through her children’s school. Yet she never complained. Not once. Every last awful treatment, she took it. Flirted with the doctors. Put makeup on every morning, no matter how bad she felt.

For some reason it got to Dannie. Worse than the sicker patients, the more demonstrably suffering ones. That woman’s iron will agitated her. She found herself avoiding the lady’s room, looking for excuses to let someone else check in on her. What kind of nurse did that make Dannie? What kind of person?

Without meaning to she’d fallen to the back of the line of hikers. Parking Lot Guy was there, chatting with one of the college-student volunteers from the hospital.

Actually he wasn’t doing much talking. Zoe was young—a skinny, outgoing blonde with big doe eyes—and she was regaling poor P.L.G. with stories of her high school field hockey team.

Dannie almost felt sorry for him. Except that he probably wasn’t listening. He probably was too busy thinking about peeling off her parka, like most men would be. And the girl was clearly interested in letting him.

Dannie’s thoughts wandered. Behind her a low voice murmured the occasional “Really?” and “Oh, yeah?” while the volunteer chirped on. Eventually their talk turned to the hospital, to Zoe’s early impressions of medical life.

“I don’t know.” Zoe grew quiet. “I have to admit it’s harder than I expected. Not the hours. I can handle that. Just the—I don’t know—the endlessness of it. Like an assembly line. They just keep coming, you know what I mean? It never stops.” She paused. “That sounds stupid.”

“No. Not at all. It’s overwhelming. Especially at first.”

“Right? I mean I knew it would be. But I guess you can’t really prepare yourself.”

“No. You can’t.”

“At this point, I don’t know how people do it, seriously, for like, ten, twenty years. Do you have to, like, shut down or something, just to keep going?”

Parking Lot Guy—Lee—was silent for a while. Without thinking Dannie turned. For some reason she wanted to see his face.

He met her gaze immediately. His eyes were dark, intent.

“Some do. Yeah. And some find a way not to.”

Quickly Dannie turned and faced forward.

Their footsteps sounded on the quiet dirt path. Around them snow was beginning to fall: huge, thick flakes that appeared out of nowhere and suddenly filled the air and sky. She kept walking.

Dannie loved her job. She always had. She was made to be a nurse. From her preschool days of wrapping stuffed animals in toilet-paper bandages, through high school and nursing school, she had known what her path would be. She had followed it unerringly. One foot in front of the other. She loved her job and she was good at it. Patients told her so. Doctors told her so. Family after family thanked her, often in tears, for the work that she did, for her compassion and her expertise and her unwavering calm.

But what if lately she was only going through the motions? What if, like Zoe said, she had simply shut down?

Well, so what? It was natural. You couldn’t be connected to every act all the time. After years of performing the same duties over and over, sometimes the feelings got lost. Sometimes you just had to fake your way through it and hope that those feelings came back.

She gave a short laugh.

And how’s that working out for you, Dannie?

Thirty-eight years old. Childless. Divorced.

Despite the undoubtedly flawless ostrich approach, the feelings she had lost for her husband had not come back. Nor his for her. And yet on they’d gone, for years, before either of them found the courage to get out.

Actually she never had found the courage. He was the one to leave.

Her pack was feeling heavier now as they approached the incline, but Dannie soldiered onward. She’d hiked another part of this mountain once before, months ago, when the weather was warm, so she knew the terrain moderately well.

No one could call her an experienced woodsman, but she’d certainly done her homework online before hauling herself out here. She knew how to dress for the weather. She knew what to carry and what to leave home. Thanks to a merciless twice-a-week spin class, she was in reasonably good shape.

BOOK: Snowbound with a Stranger
13.03Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

The Madagaskar Plan by Guy Saville
Guerilla Warfare (2006) by Terral, Jack - Seals 02
The Rebel by Julianne MacLean
A Lady by Midnight by Tessa Dare
The Forever Journey by Paul F Gwyn
The Shut Mouth Society by James D. Best
Two Crosses by Elizabeth Musser
Space Between the Stars by Deborah Santana