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Online Romance Novel — Chapter 4
Moonlight On Snow: A Love Story
Horrified, Haley realized she was fantasizing about
kissing her unwelcome guest. She’d often been accused of having a wild
imagination, but this was more than wild. It was insane. She leaped from the
“Let me just put this away,” she babbled.
“I won’t be but a minute.” She practically ran to the alcove and
yanked the patchwork curtain closed. Her heart beat so loud she was afraid her
handsome visitor would hear it.
Haley tried deep breathing again as she returned the
first aid kit to the top of the chest.
Mentally, she scolded herself. Get control of
yourself, Haley Gant! You’re a scientist. A no-nonsense woman! Not some
soft-hearted female full of romantic notions. With that bit of advice ringing
in her ears, she opened the curtain and stepped out.
She found him looking at her. His smile made her pulse
throb in unexpected parts of her anatomy. And that thought brought an unwelcome
blush to her face. With her hands clasped, she squeezed hard, hoping to
camouflage their sudden tremor. What on earth was wrong with her?
“Your hand should be fine.” She hoped she
didn’t sound as breathless to him as she did to her own ears.
“You’re not a medical doctor too, are you?”
Haley laughed nervously. “No. Not at
Desperate to have something to do, she hurried to the
tiny kitchen and grabbed the dish cloth, wetting it with water from a gallon
plastic jug. As if it were the most important task in the world, she began
wiping down the white enameled steel top of the table that served as a kitchen
“Goodness, when you spend as much time as I do in
isolated research stations, you have to know a good bit about everything.
Especially first aid,” she babbled.
“Yeah, I imagine it’s a problem getting a doctor
to make a house call out here.”
“I haven’t had anyone except the park ranger drop
by since the snow began.” Haley rubbed the old enamel top as if she were
going to make it shine like new.
“Isn’t that kind of a lonely existence?”
Haley stopped her vigorous rubbing of the table.
“Yeah. I mean, don’t you miss people? Family?
She blushed crimson but didn’t reply. Boyfriends? Her?
She could have told him she’d never had a boyfriend because she’d been too busy
trying to win her father’s love by becoming the world’s greatest botanist, but
she shrank from revealing such vulnerability to a stranger. Instead, she
shrugged and turned her attention to the two-burner propane hot plate, wiping
it down as if her life depended on getting it to shine.
“Hey! Take it easy.” He laughed.
“You’re going to rub the steel from that if you keep on applying the elbow
Haley laughed nervously. “You’ll have to excuse
me. I’m expecting the new corporate bean counter next week. I want to make a
good impression.” She stepped away from the stove and ran the wet cloth
over the surface of the small pine table where she ate her solitary meals.
“Corporate bean counter?” he repeated,
“Yes. You know the type. The kind of guy who
sleeps with a calculator clutched in his ink-stained fingers.”
“I take it you don’t like, uh, bean-counters very
“Those people make my life miserable. They
nit-pick every expense report.” She waved her hand around the spartan cabin.
“As if I’m blowing all the company money on a luxury hotel.” She shrugged
and folded the wet cloth over the edge of the plastic dishpan in the dry sink.
“I’ve found the only way to handle them is to not file any reports until
the project is over.”
“Oh, really? That’s very interesting.”
Haley waved away his comment and turned her attention
to arranging the half-dozen metal cups in the small wall shelf above the
counter. That shelf served as a cabinet for the few dishes provided with the
cabin. When she had exhausted that task, she went to the larger wall shelf that
held her food supplies.
“You’re not going to alphabetize that, are
you?” her visitor asked.
Haley reddened and said with a huff, “Of course
not. I was just trying to see if I need to make out a shopping list for my next
trip to town.” She’d run out of pretend domestic chores and didn’t know
what to do next.
“I hate to bother you, but do you have anything
hot to drink?”
She brightened. Relieved, she said, “Great idea.
Why don’t I make some coffee? That’ll warm you up from the inside out. Just
what you need before you leave.”
“You sure sound anxious to get rid of me.”
He yawned, too tired to get in an argument about when he’d depart. “But
coffee sounds good.” He stretched his long legs out toward the fire, but
didn’t bother removing the heavy black overcoat he wore. The events of the last
twenty-four hours were catching up to him with a vengeance.
“I’ll just sit here and defrost. That is, if you
“I don’t mind at all. No problem.” Haley
grabbed the blue granite-wear percolator and poured water in it from the
plastic jug. Thankful to have something to do, she took longer than necessary
to prepare the pot.
The mundane task relaxed her. She found herself
humming an off-key rendition of one of Shania Twain’s upbeat songs. Bemused,
Haley realized the stranger had chased away her birthday blues.
After she placed the percolator on one of the burners,
she said, “Say, mister?”
When she got no response, she turned and walked over
to the couch. He was sound asleep. Watching him, she felt the oddest sensation.
She didn’t understand why she pulled a colorful crocheted afghan from the back
of the sofa and spread it over his legs instead of waking and sending him
There was no harm in letting him take a short nap, she
rationalized. He certainly looked as if he needed it.
Smothering a yawn, Haley glanced at her wind-up clock
on the desk behind the couch and realized dawn was just a few hours away. She
was officially thirty years old and had survived the indignity without a
thought once the man had entered her life. The new year had begun. This man had
entered her life, bringing more excitement than she’d experienced in a long
Musing on the unusual events since midnight, Haley
settled on the other end of the short sofa and indulged her desire to
scrutinize her guest. He was tall. She imagined her five feet eight inches
would put the top of her head right below his chin.
Fashionably styled dark hair, what everyone called the
GQ look, made her wonder how it would feel to her touch. Well-built and sexy,
he was a hunk by any woman’s definition, she decided. How much had it cost
Courtney to send him out to the wilds of Montana?
That was something about Courtney. She never counted
the pennies. Too bad the gesture was wasted. Haley would never have the nerve
to let him do some sexy, alluring strip for her. Still, she could dream.
Smiling sleepily, she yawned. She needed to close her
eyes, just for a minute or two. She’d wake her sexy visitor in an hour, give
him some coffee, and send her birthday present, unwrapped, so to speak, back to
* * *
Haley didn’t know if it was the smell of burned coffee
or the sound of the rising wind that woke her. Maybe it was the warmth of the
man she was snuggled against that set off her mental alarm. She leapt to her
feet and tottered dizzily for a moment as she tried to get her bearings.
With a muttered comment on her lack of intelligence,
she rushed to the stove and turned off the burner.
The smell of boiled coffee hung in the cabin. Her nose
wrinkled. That was bad enough, but what really disturbed her was the sound of
the storm that battered the cabin. She had let the fire die down, and the
temperature must have dropped at least ten degrees. Haley shivered and rushed
to stoke up the fire. Then she hurried to look out the front window.
Her worst fears were confirmed. The storm, obviously
stronger than predicted, had arrived. “No. It can’t be!”
“What’s the matter?” Her guest muttered
Haley turned. For a moment, she’d forgotten about him.
Oh, no! He made matters even worse!
He shook off the red coverlet and stretched.
Unwittingly, she stared at his long-limbed action. She swallowed hard. He
seemed alert and refreshed after his nap. And looked unbelievably desirable.
Reflexively, her hands reached up to smooth the hair that straggled from her
pony tail and hung in her face.
“Are you all right?” Concern shadowed his
Haley shook her head vigorously. “No,” she
said starkly. “I’m not all right. And neither are you.”
“You’re not making any sense, doctor. What’s
“Everything.” Gloomily, she pointed
dramatically to the windows. “Just look.”
He stood and walked over. Peering out, he frowned.
“Where’s my car?”
“Take my word for it, it’s still out there.
“But I can’t see it.” He cupped his hands
around his eyes and pressed close to the window. His frown intensified.
“In fact, I can’t see anything.” He stepped over to the door and
“No! Don’t do that,” Haley cried, but she
was too late. A stinging barrage of icy snow slammed into the room. The burst
of fresh air made sparks whoosh up the chimney.
With a breathless curse, he put his shoulder against
the door and succeeded in closing it. “What’s happening?” His tone
plainly said whatever it was, was her fault.
“I’d say we’re having our first storm of the new
year. We are–.” Haley broke off. She couldn’t voice the word aloud.
Snowbound. They were snowbound.
She swallowed audibly. She was snowbound. Her eyes
Snowbound. With her fantasy man.
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