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Online Romance Novel — Chapter 1
Moonlight On Snow: A Love Story
Gant suddenly wished she could celebrate her thirtieth birthday the way her
sister planned to celebrate her own. With all her friends, a dozen of the
hunkiest male strippers, and enough champagne to float a boat. Probably an
aircraft carrier if Courtney’s usual parties were any indication.
sighed. Right now she’d settle for enough champagne to float a tiny toy boat,
but champagne was a scarce commodity on the slopes of the Bitterroot Mountains
of Montana. Haley took a sip from the blue spattered enamel cup and grimaced.
Coffee, even laced with sugar and powdered creamer, ran a distant second to a
crystal flute of chilled bubbly.
her resolve not to succumb to weak female emotions, as her dad would say, Haley felt downright weepy as she watched the
hands on the wind-up brass clock creep toward midnight. The rising wind
accompanied the ticking of the old-fashioned clock in its inexorable journey to
end the old year and begin the new one, bringing her thirtieth birthday with it.
Thirty-years-old! Haley’s shudder couldn’t be attributed entirely to the bitter
cold of the Montana winter. Where had the years gone?
months ago when she and her sister had met in Las Vegas for a week’s vacation,
Haley had cracked every over-the-hill joke she could think of, but she wasn’t
laughing now. Courtney, younger than Haley by five years, had remarked at the
time that Haley was trying too hard to be blasé. Bless her flaky sister’s
heart! Courtney, who somehow had the uncanny ability to zero in on emotional
issues, was on target. As usual.
smiled when she thought again of how Courtney vowed to celebrate her own
thirtieth. Of course, she and Courtney, split apart by their parents’ bitter
divorce, with Courtney raised by their free-spirited mother and Haley by their
stern, no-nonsense father, were worlds
apart in opinions and beliefs.
of the time, she didn’t dwell on how she and Courtney had ended up reflecting
their respective parents’ personalities. Sometimes though, like tonight, she
did find herself wishing she could be more like her younger sister.
looked around her snug log cabin. Maybe she could squeeze one male stripper in,
but only if he didn’t mind dancing on the old red and navy-braided rug in front
of the stone hearth. The silliness brought a smile to her face and took her
mind off her moody thoughts.
she was too focused on work to notice how narrow and, a small sigh escaped her,
how boring her life was. Tonight though, the solitude of the small cabin and the
loneliness of the isolated research station with the wind moaning through the
huge pines depressed her. Even the falling snow had lost its charm after nearly
two months of the blasted stuff, and, now, she had a storm to anticipate
according to the weather reports.
time she accepted a research project, she vowed, she’d make sure it was some
place warm. Like the equator! Right now the tropics sounded like her idea of
heaven. She grimaced. Maybe if she wasn’t so focused on her cold solitude, she
could concentrate on the report she should be writing.
of writing the year-end project report she needed to present to the corporate
bean counter when he arrived next week. She’d spent the last day of her
twenty-ninth year staring into the flames of the fireplace and questioning her
life. Past, present, and future. Another sigh escaped her. Haley didn’t like
the answers she’d found to those life questions. Restless, she tossed her pen
aside, too distracted to pretend to work any longer.
she’d never been one to celebrate the New Year, or even her birthday, she
suddenly wished she were wearing a flashy gold dress and holding a flute of
champagne while she danced with a hunky guy, to use Courtney’s words, in a
hotel ballroom with other noisy revelers. The hunky guy would definitely be the
perfect accessory for such an ensemble.
wistful smile lifted the corners of her generous mouth as she tried to imagine
a tomboy like herself, pony-tailed brown hair and unadorned features, in such a
scene. There was as much chance of her appearing in public in a dress like that
as there was of her having some sexy guy drooling over her.
smile faded. Celebrating New Year’s Eve by running the generator to power her
desk lamp until midnight somehow paled in comparison.
she muttered. “Some celebration.”
glance at the clock showed only five minutes left until her planned Internet
rendezvous with her sister. Haley powered up her laptop. At least Courtney and
her mother always remembered her birthday. Her dad? Well, that was another
story. She’d learned long ago not to expect him to mention it, even if he did
remember the date.
Gant considered sentimentality cheap and something to be avoided at all costs.
No matter how hard Haley had tried to be the daughter her dad seemed to want,
even to following in his professional footsteps, he’d never, not even once,
said he loved her. The closest he’d ever come was a terse, “Good job,
Haley,” when she’d received her doctorate in botany at such a young age.
Another heavy sigh escaped her lips. Heaven forbid that he should ever send a
birthday greeting of any kind.
Haley shoved the lonely thoughts into a corner of her mind as she connected an
adaptor to her cell phone and aligned it with the infrared port on the laptop.
dancing envelope greeted her as soon as she jumped onto the Internet. The
familiar strains of the birthday song began when Haley clicked the New Mail icon. Then the words Happy New Year and Happy Birthday undulated across the
Sis,” Haley whispered through the tightness in her throat. She squeezed
her eyes shut against the tears that had threatened all day and gave herself
another scolding for being such a weepy female. She could just imagine her
father’s scornful expression were he to see her acting like some weak-willed
Suddenly, the laptop beeped shrilly. Haley’s
eyes snapped open. “Well, hell!” How could she have forgotten to
charge the battery? That was just another symptom of this blasted birthday-induced
knew she had only a couple of minutes before the laptop died. She’d be able to
read her sister’s message but wouldn’t have time to send a reply back to
Courtney who was partying on the deck of her latest boyfriend’s yacht.
she scanned Courtney’s email. Midway through, her eyes widened. A frown
replaced her fond smile. Aloud she reread the part that sent a chill of
apprehension through her.
“Momentous birthdays call for memorable gifts.
Remember how we talked about that? Well, I decided to send you something you’d
always remember. <G>”
frowned fiercely at the little symbol meaning grin.
“After all, you only turn thirty once, my genius
sister. You can’t send this gift back. At least not right away. <LOL>”
didn’t laugh out loud as that symbol dictated. If anything, her frown deepened
into a scowl as she slowly read aloud.
“So try to kick back and enjoy this next year!
Oh, and by the way, don’t do anything I wouldn’t do. And that leaves the field
beep punctuated the last word she read. The laptop screen went black.
have you gone and done, Courtney?” she whispered.
sat frozen in her seat, staring at the dead laptop, but her brain raced as she
tried to figure out her devious sister’s plot. When Courtney got it into her
head to do something, nothing stopped her. Especially not common sense.
flash of light streaked across the two windows set in the front wall of the
cabin. Haley looked up. Headlights. Someone had negotiated the treacherous ruts
of what she jokingly called her driveway and turned into the clearing in front
of the cabin. Who could possibly be visiting her at this time of the night?
walked to one of the uncurtained windows and looked out through the falling
snow. An all-wheel drive compact car looking rather worse for wear after
navigating the old logging road up the mountain idled in the clearing.
words hit her with enough force to knock the breath out of her.
Momentous birthdays call for memorable gifts.
sister’s idea of memorable could be summed up in one three-letter word. Men. To
be more accurate, you could make that two three-letter words. Men. Sex.
no. Courtney! Tell me you didn’t!”
opened the front door and gulped a lung full of frigid air.
twelve men pile out of that car, I’m going to strangle you, Courtney!
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