Unofficial BLIZZARD excerpt:
The snow, which had started out first as a minor misty drizzling, then morphed into a light dusting of a few scattered flakes, now fell in earnest. Gazillions of thick, fat clots merged together and covered the New York State Thruway faster than the sand trucks and salt spreaders cleared the accumulation. Sloshy gobs of whiteness covered the windshield, turning into thick bricks too heavy for even the Volvo’s mad wipers to deal with.
Mandy cursed her pigheadedness. She never should have left the upstate conference center that afternoon. But she’d been desperate to get away from the pharmaceutical convention. The business meetings with her colleagues had made her temples throb and her neck stiff, physical symptoms blossoming into the raw edges of a migraine that the brightness of the snow did nothing to mitigate. But her gorge had risen when the gaggles of salesman tried to hit on her in bars and hallways, until the idea of spending another second in their company made her bolt. They were all married, like her. But away from home, they figured they’d play.
She wanted to play, too. God, knew she did. But not with any of them. Maybe she longed for sex right now, even a desperate hook-up. It had been a long time since she’d last gotten down and dirty. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d had sex with her husband. But no way would she give any of those pathetic pitch guys at the convention a tumble.
That last telephone conversation with her husband had left her agitated and her stomach in knots from an urgent need to get home and see him. To talk face to face. These days, their hectic schedules left so little time, they communicated mainly by text message and Post-It note.
So yeah, she’d ditched the rest of the convention a day early. She couldn’t bear to stay upstate for another night of unwelcome groping and tired pick-up lines, of drunken colleagues who’d be mortified later when she ran into them sober. All she’d wanted was to get out of that claustrophobia-inducing conference center in upstate New York and return to her home in Sleepy Hollow for the remainder of the long weekend—or perhaps because of— the gloomy weather forecast.
The mild gray sky had not appeared threatening when she’d left; no precip yet falling at that time. And for pity’s sake, she drove a Volvo at her husband’s insistence. Traffic willing and all other things being equal, she might be home in under two hours.
But the weather refused to cooperate. Visibility was nil. She couldn’t follow in the tracks of the car in front of her; or even see the taillights of any cars in front of her anymore. Or anything else except stark, blank stretches of white.
Mandy, girl. You’ve had some bad ideas in your time, but this one tops the hit parade. Better get home in one piece or hubs will whack you.
Terror time. The image of her husband loomed large in her mind. She could no longer concentrate. Inside her gloves, her hands began to sweat. As beads of perspiration sprouted on her brow, she lowered the heat in the car a notch. All alone in winter world and with her stomach clenching in fear, she tightened her fingers on the steering wheel and decelerated. Her right foot rode the brake until the car’s speedometer dipped below 5 mph and didn’t even register a speed. The car slid suddenly, skidding into a wide arc that nearly landed her in a large drift on the shoulder. Her heart pounded and the death grip she had on the wheel made her fingers cramp.
She had to get off the road. Now.
Huge mounds of snow from the last storm had been plowed into high banks on the shoulders, glistening like glaciers, leaving no room for a vehicle to pull over. The steady click and scrape of the wiper blades over the iced windshield mocked her.
Please, please, please. She begged and bargained, promising she’d never do something so stupid again. But she knew herself. She’d always been something of a risk taker. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Even if her husband did force her drive a Volvo, for his peace of mind, not hers. Always a bone of contention between them. Although, with the hand of fear squeezing her innards until her heart sat in her mouth, she conceded he might have a point.
Finally, up ahead, pinpricks of light winked through the darkening night and the frosted windshield, proclaiming a Thruway rest stop.
She guided the car into what she believed to be the parking lot—or the white-blanketed area where she thought a parking lot should be. The gas pumps stood forlorn, like lumpy statuary. Few other cars or trucks dotted the area.
But still. Even if she had to dig in for awhile and the car got buried, she’d manage to find the Volvo in the vast expanse of white through the car’s magnificent GPS system. Or the spring thaw. Whichever came first. Meanwhile, she needed a hot cup of coffee to settle her nerves. Maybe some homemade fudge. Or doughnuts. A dozen or so. A sugar glut. That’s what she needed.
Finding sanctuary at last, among the fast food court, unlimited calories and carbs, and souvenir shops. Nearly all the tables inside the cavernous structure stood vacant. She unwound her scarf, peeled off her gloves and stuffed them in the pockets of her damp coat, then removed that as well, dumping it beside her in one of the empty plastic booths. Still trembling with relief at being off the horrible road at last, she put her head in her hands and took a few calming breaths before scavenging in her bag for her Smartphone. The tiny, blank screen taunted her. No bars. No battery. No email No nothing. She’d packed the charger in her suitcase and hadn’t thought to connect the device to the Volvo’s USB port.
Dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb.
Once again, she pictured her husband’s face. Frowning. She imagined his lecture on the necessity of being prepared, instead of larking off on the spontaneous adventures so dear to her. Not that he was a stick-in-the-mud or anything. Far from it. But their personalities were completely different when it came to stuff like this. Grudgingly, she admitted that Volvo Man saw more horrifying disasters working with FEMA than she ever would. Merely getting stuck in the snow in a rest stop filled with food and electricity and heat probably didn’t qualify as an emergency, let alone a catastrophe.
She rooted around in her handbag again, on the off chance she’d missed something useful to her current situation.
“Is this what you’re looking for, lady?”
Mandy glanced up, startled by the deep, rumbling baritone that echoed loudly in the fairly quiet building. And even more startled by the tall, gorgeous hunk of manhood bundled into a down parka standing next to her table.
I could totally jump him. Right here. Right now.
And don't forget to grab a copy of FROST, if you want a Valentine's Day scorcher!